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[personal profile] virtualvoyages
First, let me apologize for the long pause in writing! I am so sorry, life and a bit of writer's block has slowed me down. I will get the rest of "Conflicts of Interest" written, I promise!

I don't remember exactly when last December I started playing. I know it was slightly after launch, though by game time I was in it from the beginning. I had to replace my computer in order to play (except for the video card) and I know we didn't get the new one made until after the game launched. In any event, I've been playing for about a year, and loving it. Best. MMO. Ever. (That I have played, anyway.)

So... my one year commentary. The game is mostly awesome, but with a few things I wish were different.

I wish the body types for female characters were more varied, especially since I've mainly made female characters. (Because I am deeply shallow and I want my characters to be attractive to me. As in most games, I find it easier to make attractive women. This, I'm sure has nothing at all to do with the fact that all of the female faces appear to be intended to be attractive, but only some of the male faces appear to be intended as such.) Actually, I wish there were more body types for both male and female characters. Even if, in my shallowness, I might still only use the one male body type. (2, for those that play; could probably be described as "athletic" for those that don't - the other options being "tiny," "superheroic" and "linebacker") [The female body types being "tiny," "athletic," "amazon/superheroic (though not as impressive as the male version)", and "chubby". I have female characters of all but "tiny."]

I can't comment much on gameplay, because all of the MMOs I've played have been essentially EQ clones (or so I've been told), and so all have pretty much the same gameplay. (Assuming I even know what gameplay is.) I will say that, odd as it might sound coming from someone who admittedly sucks at video games, I like the much sneered at "cover" mechanic. I wish that the game didn't sometimes decide you want to roll into cover in bad places, or in places where you now don't have line of sight to the target. And I wish that there weren't so many areas later on in the game that are devoid of any real cover. But rolling into cover is fun and, on the rare occasions when I actually time things right, it's kind of awesome to have your enemy's shots do nothing because you're in cover. I also enjoy some of the bouncy stuff that Jedi Knights and Sith Warriors get to do. It makes the fights seem more exciting.

I am irritated that they still haven't added same-sex romance options to the game. I'm also irritated that it appears that only male characters get out-of-storyline flirts/one night stands. I think that the game should have same-sex romance and, if I were designing a game of this type, I think I would make flirt options an addition to the other dialogue options and have them exist for every npc you interact with. The npcs might be offended, horrified, confused, amused, not interested, flirt back, or even hop in the sack with you, depending on their orientation and their opinion of people randomly hitting on them, but it seems like the easiest way to have the flirting be balanced, and allow for the widest variety in orientations and desires of pcs. It's kind of annoying for one's character to encounter npcs they'd like to flirt with and not get the option. (Especially when, as seems to be the case for female smugglers, far too many of the people you're allowed to hit on are kind of... doofy. And sexist. See: Corso, that noble whose butt you save on Alderaan... is it really only those two? *frown* There are two three other people you can flirt with, but they're not doofy, or at least not that kind of doofy.  Unless I've forgotten someone else...)

I also wish the game wouldn't periodically forget that smugglers are criminals, and I wish that the planetary story and class story people had talked to each other more. It is irritating when one gets to be a better (or, I assume, worse) person in your class story than the planetary story allows. It is also irritating when the game won't let you be disloyal to your side, or even neutral. (Especially as there are other times when you flat out commit treason and no one notices!) There should also never be dialogue wheels that have the same option three times with barely any difference at all. (Yes, sadly, this happens. *thwaps writer of those dialogues*) You should be able to play a consistent character through all parts of the game, not periodically be forced out of character by a dialogue that doesn't fit with anything else. This happens several times for good Imperials and makes much of Belsavis completely incoherent for a Smuggler. Especially a Light Side (mostly) one.

Belsavis spoilers: it's a frackin' secret prison facility. A Republic secret prison facility. Complete with mistreatment of inmates (seriously, the "deal" that the dude you're there to talk to as Smuggler gets offered makes it clear that the place is horrific.) and illegal experiments and... it's just straight up capital E Evil. From the Republic. Yes, you get to expose some of the bad stuff, but if ever there was a time for an option to just frackin' shoot quest givers in the head, it's that planet. (And yes, that should be a Dark Side choice, but still.) I wanted to at least have the option to kick the head of the evil experiment stuff in the nuts. It would've been in character. Hell, loading her ship up with the less dangerous prisoners and getting them the hell out of there would've been in character. I don't even get why it's a Dark Side option to make a real deal with the guy you came to talk to. He is waaaaaaaaaaaay better than the people you've just spent the planet helping. WTF, game. W. T. F. (Yeah, yeah, he's a criminal. I'm playing a frakin' Smuggler! I'm a criminal.) I really hope my Jedi and Trooper characters get more of a chance to flip their shit. But I bet they don't.

On storylines. Er...ah... I haven't actually finished any yet, but I can comment on what I've played so far.

The Agent storyline is awesome. (I am in Chapter Three and enjoying the hell out of it. To the point that I will probably play through it again. As in make the same character on my other server again. I also both want to and have reservations about making a female Agent. I would love to romance Vector. He is one of my favorite companions, period. Odd guy that he is. But... Chapter Two spoilers: I am deeply uncomfortable with the mind control plot when applied to a female character. Especially since the people controlling you are men. It's not intentionally giving off threat of rape vibes, but it's really hard for it not to. My mind certainly went there. (I know, rape doesn't exist in Star Wars. That's what I told myself. If it does in the EU, please don't tell me. And please don't point out the Hutts and slave girls and *sticks fingers in ears* lalalalalalalala)

The Smuggler storyline is good. At least until it either jumps the shark or takes a sharp turn into the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism in Chapter Three. Chapter Three spoilers: Rogun the Butcher is working for the Republic and somehow you were hurting the Republic by shutting down his horrible operations. WHAT?????? First off, the guy's been after you for something that's not your fault since Chapter One. Unlike the crime lord it's a Dark Side option to free on Belsavis, Rogun's a bad guy. Except suddenly he's not. And the operations you were shutting down were bad. How were they benefiting the Republic? I know, the Republic is as evil as the Empire, or damn close, half the time, but the game still seems to think they're the good guys. I don't even know what to think at this point.*

The Jedi Knight storyline is better than expected (says the person who hates Jedi), though Chapter Two appears to involve you in an underwear gnomes plot. Step One: steal underwear, Step Two: ????, Step Three: Profit! Only for underwear, substitute The Emperor and for Profit!,'m not sure yet. The Jedi Consular storyline is also proceeding all right, though I'm still only in Chapter One there. I'm not thrilled with the Jedi storylines having your Jedi be exceptional, but I'm not into the whole chosen one thingy anyway and Jedi always have a bit of that. I am having fun with them, despite that. Though I cannot play a proper Jedi and, despite being basically good...most of the time... they're accumulating Dark Side points more than any of my other characters. Part of that is that the Light Side choices are sometimes Lawful Stuck-up rather than good, and part of that comes from role playing those particular characters.

The Bounty Hunter storyline has some massive problems with it. Oh, the storyline is interesting enough so far (I've just finished Chapter One), but it's the only class that can't be played as a good person, and I'm not talking Light Side/Dark Side choices here, I'm talking the actual storyline itself is neutral at best. In order to win the Great Hunt you have to kill a Jedi and the entire crew of a Republic ship. Except, bizarrely, for the Jedi's padawan, who you can spare for Light Side points in the middle of mass murder. WHAT??? I don't know why they decided to make one storyline like this, but one can play good, neutral, or evil (I think? I haven't actually tried to play evil) in the other class stories. I am very disappointed.

The Sith Warrior storyline is interesting, and I'm told gets very interesting in Chapter Two. (I'm still only in Chapter One.) I'm enjoying it way more than I expected to enjoy a Sith storyline. Not only am I leaving a trail of live bodies (like my good agent), but I'm confounding Jedi and the story, so far, fits really well for a person raised a culture of evil, but with a good heart.

I really can't comment on the Sith Inquisitor storyline. It's the hardest for me to get into, somehow. I've only just gotten to Balmorra.

As far as the stories overall, I love the game best when it lets me do surprisingly good things as an Imperial (often rather treasonous surprisingly good things), spare my enemies (except when I'm longing for the shoot-them-in-the-head-or-at-least-kick-them-in-the-nuts option, which, granted, has only happened once), or plays up fun tropes to the hilt. (And I will always have a certain fondness for my Agent going all Honor Before Reason and refusing to bow to Darth Jadus. I'm not quite sure why Jadus is the only Sith the game has actually act like a Sith when back-talked to, but there should've been more of that. Not just because I have a sadistic sense of humor but because the Sith don't need much to break out the Dark Side powers in the rest of the Star Wars universe.)

So, if the game wanted to be even more awesome, it would have same sex romances, more flirts, all dialogue options allow for a consistent (and not necessarily faction-loyal) character, more options to spare (or shoot/kick) people, more amusing sadism aimed at the PCs (including more Sithy Sith), more options to be a good and traitorous Imperial, a storyline that allowed for good Bounty Hunters, and it would remember that my Smuggler is a criminal, damn it!
*The fact that I can't decide if the game is presenting a conflict that is Black and White (but with a lot of good people on the wrong side and a lot of evil people on the good side) or Black and Black (with a lot of hapless good people caught up in it) or meant to be Black and White and the writers failed hard makes my fan fic very hard to write sometimes. In fact, that's why I'm having writer's block at the moment, I think. My knowledge of the world is interfering with my characters making in character decisions. They don't have my knowledge, though. They don't know about Belsavis and a whole bunch of other stuff. Argl.

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