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Obviously, all the plots in an MMORPG are going to be railroad plots (and much of the time in tabletop gaming as well, really), but there's still the matter of whether one feels railroaded or not. Or at least as if one bought the ticket to where the train is going, as opposed to finding out that somehow your ticket to Orlando was now a ticket to Juneau or London or Nairobi. (Halp! This train is teleporting!)

Most of the time, despite inherently having less choice than a tabletop game (where, say, one's Jedi could devote his or her life to correcting the wrongs the Republic is committing, or one's Bounty Hunter could decide that, actually, they'd rather become a rescuer of folks kidnapped by the assorted despicable governments, or whatever), SW:TOR does a great job of presenting stories that flow naturally and feel as if they contain real choices (even if those choices often lack the consequences they really should carry). But sometimes, they flub up badly.

And they - in my opinion anyway - flubbed in Chapter one of the Bounty Hunter and in Chapter Two of the Jedi Knight

Chapter One of the Bounty Hunter story is... odd. (Actually, the Bounty Hunter story continues to be odd, though for slightly different reasons.) I suspect its partly because they couldn't decide exactly what a Bounty Hunter story in the Star Wars universe should be and partly because Bounty Hunting in the Star Wars universe keeps being presented as licensed assassination, even when this makes no sense. I blame Darth Vader's "No disintegrations." line for this.

In the Star Wars universe - especially in SW:TOR, where we repeatedly encounter groups changing people's identities a la Die Another Day - you really don't want to hire out assassination. It gives you no certainty at all that the person you want dead is, in fact, dead. Despite this, Bounty Hunters are assassins. Which would be fine if you didn't have the ability spend Chapter One, up until the last bounty, not killing anyone in story. Every target up to that point is either wanted alive or can have their death faked by you (What did I say about not hiring out assassination in this universe?). Then you get to the final Great Hunt target and you're supposed to kill a Jedi and their entire ship's crew. The fuck?

Not only does that leave the Bounty Hunter, as I've complained before, the only in story mass murderer but it feels like one's control is taken away. Okay, if you've been playing a Dark Sider and slaughtering everyone you've been told to kill, it would feel in character. But if you've been sparing people, having that choice taken away feels wrong. If they wanted Bounty Hunters to be Assassins, they should have had no choice but to kill from the get go.

They did that, I guess, so that the Jedi Order can hunt you and wreck your life for all of Chapter Two (because having your character's life wrecked is a common theme in SW:TOR). Though I can actually think of several fixes - 1) you sneak onto the Jedi's ship and talk to the Jedi, then your Chapter One nemesis screws everything up by killing the Jedi while you're talking to him and has rigged the ship to explode. You fight your nemesis and escape from the ship, but now it looks like you're a mass murderer. (Though this means that you win the Great Hunt questionably.) 2) have actual divergent storylines - DS Bounty Hunters play out as is, LS Bounty Hunters go "nope, not going to commit mass murder" and spend Chapter Two hunted by the Mandalorians instead. (Though this poses a problem for the acquisition of one of your companions.) 3) drop the mass murder part of the story and have the confrontation with the Jedi elsewhere, Jedi is a typical asshole Jedi who commits suicide by Bounty Hunter, and it all plays out much more sensibly.


Chapter Two of the Jedi Knight is worse in some ways and better in others. It's still a potential derail of your character and a definite railroad plot, but, hey, at least you're not a no-choice mass murderer. :) Instead, you're too stupid to live. :(

As mentioned before, in what may be the worst plot in the game, you team up with some other Jedi to kidnap the Emperor and brainwash him turn him to the light Because that's an absolute a-one plan by the greatest minds in the galaxy, clearly. I have trouble imagining a Jedi who would respond to this with "Yup, sign me up. :D" I barely know where to start with this plans list of problems. It's...it's...in game fractal wrongness!

There is a huge ethical difference between *debates Sith while fighting them and convinces them to come try the Jedi way, instead* and *kidnaps Sith so that one can hold them prisoner and try to convince them to try the Jedi way, instead* If the Jedi can't see this, the Jedi are fucked up. (Though, the Jedi are pretty fucked up, so this is at least not out of character for them. Yay?) However, shouldn't your character notice this? Or are Jedi characters assumed to be too, well, Jedi, to notice flaws in the Jedi?

The Emperor may be the most powerful Force User in the galaxy.  Everyone who's faced off against him so far has either been turned to the Dark Side or killed.  And you want to kidnap him and bring him back to Tython where all your little padawans are?  WHAT THE FUCK, JEDI!?  Honestly, I'm surprised the Emperor didn't fake being captured just so he could turn all of Tython to the Dark Side.  The Jedi are lucky that the Emperor wants to destroy all life in the Galaxy so he can play an epic game of Spore, because if he were a more typical dark lord, he'd have pwned them at the end of Chapter Two of the Jedi Knight and probably taken over the galaxy.

The biggest problem?  YOU HAVE TO GO ALONG WITH THIS.  This is the very definition of a railroad plot.  Your character has no in character reason to do this.  Unless blindly following other Jedi is somehow supposed to be in character.  Except other Jedi have massive doubts and some of the most powerful and respected Jedi on the Council, including Satele Shan herself try to talk your group out of doing this.  Where is the "I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going" button!?

Okay, they wanted you to get captured by the Emperor and temporarily turned to the Dark Side because this is a Jedi story thing.  Fine.

Have the Jedi have discovered a powerful Light Side artifact that they think can cure/destroy/whatever the Emperor, so they hatch a plan to sneak it into his hidden base.  Have the team sent to Dromund Kaas/Korriban/the Emperor's hidden base to rescue someone.  Have the Knight sent to stop the incredibly bad plan only to end up captured along with them.  Have the Knight go there to destroy something that the Emperor could use to kill all of the Children of the Emperor long distance. (Though that hinges on the Knight caring about Kira, which could be a railroad problem, too.)

It can't be that hard to come up with plot that won't leave a large portion of your players going "Why is my character doing this!?" can it?  The Smuggler story ended up not being very memorable (I can't remember Chapter Two at all!  Help!), but I don't recall ever asking myself "Why is she doing this!?"  The Agent story is very memorable and I don't recall ever asking myself "Why is he doing this!?" So far,  haven't asked this in either my Sith Warrior's story or my Trooper's story.

I think the basic problem with the both story issues is that they didn't do enough to make the character (and player) invested in the story.  Okay, the Bounty Hunter wants to win the Great Hunt; that's not bad - I can envision all kinds of reasons why that might be.  This Jedi bounty killed Mandalorians when they were sacking Coruscant! Oh the Horror!  Wait... why do I care again?  The Bounty Hunter isn't assumed to be a Mandalorian.  In fact, they're explicitly not.  Yes, Mandalorians are famous for being bounty hunters, but how does that translate to "This Jedi must DIE!"  I'm just not seeing an inherent connection.  "Oh noes, this Jedi killed enemy combatants who were sacking his home! Clearly, he's evil."  Dafuq?  (This problem crops up here and there in non-class-story missions, too.)

It's the same problem with the Jedi Knight.  Yes, yes, the Emperor is the big bad.  Why does that translate into "lets do this clearly going to fail plan"?  Don't get me wrong, seeing how a plan will fail or succeed can be fun.  Even if you know it's going to work/not work ahead of time.  I just didn't feel any connection to this one.  It didn't feel in genre bad (like a number of other questionable plans in the game), it just felt bad.  If it had felt in genre, it would've been much more fun.

Though I suppose I should just be happy that neither involved a superweapon.  The game (and galaxy) has far too many of those.  Though, honestly, at this point, I just find the plethora of superweapons funny.  It's like Pokemon for the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
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