virtualvoyages: an old worn book on a black back ground, a glow at one corner of the book (Default)

As I said in a previous post, I think SW:TOR has killed WoW for me. I am loving having a voice acted story so much that I don't think I can go back. I'll put up with it so I can hang out with my superheroes, but even that will be hard. The moment someone makes a superhero MMO along the lines of SW:TOR, I'm remaking Keith, Raizel, and Kit (Crystal Avenger) in it - assuming I can make a not physically intimidating inventor, a demon-looking girl* with fire powers, and a teenager with dark-looking powers. None of those seem particularly far fetched (see also the fact that I've made them in two superhero MMOs so far with no difficulty at all). So, MMO makers out there, I can haz, plz?

Speaking of things I'd like to haz, the measure of a mook problem irks me slightly when there's an actual story. I know it's, sadly, in genre for my agent to blast his way in to the villain's lair and then try to get the villain to surrender or give up villainy.   Actually, I take it back, the latter part isn't in genre at all, whether we're talking James Bond movies or Star Wars. It is something I like about the game, even if the bad guys keep answering attempted diplomacy with blaster fire. I'd like it even better if, once in a while, the bad guy actually came quietly or gave Kyrian a good reason to let zir go.** I'd also really like it if Kyrian could break into enemy strongholds in some way more subtle than blasting his way in. I know one version of the agent class has stealth, but the game - like City of Heroes - isn't really designed for people to skip most of the fighting. So even if the stealth were as good as in CoH, it wouldn't really be a good solution.

I wonder if one could design an MMO (or other game) that wasn't quite so centered around blasting everything. I'd love to run around sneaking into places, using disguises and breaking and entering and secret passages and whatnot, getting the villain alone in zir study... and proposing that zie give up villainy. Even if 75% of the time zir response was to shoot at me. I think there actually are single player games like that, but single player games don't let you create your own character, generally.

Part of the mook problem for superhero games, at least,  could be solved just by making a Bioware one. You just have options after fighting into the supervillain lair to, depending on the kind of hero you are, call the police and medics in, make an anonymous tip to 911 (effectively the same, but for unauthorized superheroes), or just walk out because you're the Punisher type and don't care about that stuff. Or something along those lines, anyway. (The fact that people can somehow have non-fatal battles while throwing fire and lightning and such like around is a staple of comic books, so I'm not going to worry about exactly how it is that Raizel isn't incinerating her foes. Because comic books, that's why.)

And, of course, if one tied leveling up to something besides defeating enemies, like, perhaps getting all one's points from quests, you could give people options of sneaking into places vs. walking in the front door without penalizing one of the choices. Hell, I wouldn't mind a game that let one get into places like Tom Baker's Doctor Who generally did. The high point of which was when he (I'm pretty sure it was him and not Peter Davison's doctor) walked up to the front door of some place and said: "Hello, I'm an enemy spy. :) "

Yes, I realize that solely quest based leveling isn't fair to people who don't like doing quests, but what the heck are they doing playing a story-centered game? That's like signing up to play tennis, but not wanting to hit a ball back and forth with a racket. Really, people.

I wonder what would happen if a game made *talk your way in*, *sneak your way in*, *get yourself captured and free yourself*, and *fight your way in* all equally valid and entertaining options.  I have this suspicion that *fight your way in* would rapidly become the least used option, simply because the others would be new and different.  And there may be other people like me who've been longing for options.

* Just realized both of my female superheroes are teens, while my male superhero (who isn't super) is an adult. *frowny face* I don't know whether to be concerned about that or not. Keith isn't exactly old and wise - he's small and thin and doesn't really know how to fight and he runs around fighting supervillains because he can, thanks to his inventions. He may be an adult simply because my mind said he needed more time to get good at inventing, while Raizel has natural powers she's spent her whole life using and Kit just had to get used to weird meteorite power (she's still working on the costume design part). But I digress.

** Holy Spoilers Batman!
In the first Imperial flashpoint, I actually wanted an option to let the guy we were supposed to capture go and fake his death or something. He made some very good arguments regarding what he was doing. Of course, that would require the whole group to conspire to commit treason, which would take some brave and reckless Imperials indeed. Would still be an awesome addition to the options. *Take Him Prisoner* *Fake His Death And Let Him Go* *Kill Him*
virtualvoyages: an old worn book on a black back ground, a glow at one corner of the book (Default)
As you can tell, I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic.

And it is AWESOME!  Seriously, it's as if they read my mind for what I thought was desperately missing in MMOs and added about 90% of it.  I am having so much fun, it is unbelievable.  Granted, I am a soloer mostly in MMOs and I'm not sure how well this very story oriented MMO lends itself to grouping, other than with people who are equally interested in the story and who plan to make similar choices.  I've grouped with friends for a flashpoint (dungeon equivalent) and it was fun, but I really don't see myself grouping with random people unless it's for extremely specific things (needing to kill a particular person, say) and then ungrouping immediately.  Though, as this is how I've played in every MMO but City of Heroes pre-veteran rewards, it makes little difference to me.  It might to a more social MMO player.

Though, on that subject, there seems to be actual roleplaying going on in SW:TOR!  So if you've always wanted to roleplay in your MMOs, hop on an RP server and join an RP guild and have at it.  People asking about RP in chat on the two servers I play on (Vrook Lamar and Kath Hound) have been met with variants on "Sure, let's group up" or "I hear guild name does a lot of RP, check them out."  Need I say how different from WoW, at least, this is?  (Which is not to say that there aren't RP guilds in WoW.  There are.  But the general populous, even on RP servers is not friendly to RP.)

I honestly can't decide whether I'm having more fun Galactic Republic side or Sith Empire side (the game is set some ludicrous number of centuries before the movies).  I'm playing a somewhat cynical but basically decent smuggler (Even if she has gotten a few dark side points.) Republic side and she's only getting more and more disillusioned with the Republic.  Empire side I'm playing an agent, who's half-way James Bond of the Sith Empire and half-way a completely soft-hearted traitor.  (I've made all light side choices with him.  It's fun.  And funny, since he's disobeyed orders and done other things that would make Imperial Command not happy.)  Also, if I'm allowed to be an incredible girl for a moment, the voice acting for the male agent is hot.  (Or maybe I'm just a sucker for British accents.)

I should probably explain light and dark side options.  You have dialogues with NPCs for and during quests - not cut scenes like in WoW's Uldum, where you have no input into what happens - but cinematics with dialogue options (like, as far as I can tell, Bioware's other games).  Most of the time, the three options are neutral as far as light side/dark side goes (though very different in flavor), but some of the choices will give you light or dark side points.  For example, my agent had a side quest to stop a woman's husband from running away with her son, who's force sensitive.  He talked to the dad, who made the argument that going to the Sith Academy would either kill the boy or turn him into a monster (the dad was a runaway from the Sith Academy himself).  My agent had the options to kill the father and bring the boy back to his mom to go to the Sith Academy (dark side) or let the father and boy go and lie to the mom (light side).  The Force clearly has no problem with lying.  (And neither does my agent.)

I haven't gotten far enough to know if there are actual storyline differences depending on your choices in the class quests.  I hope there are, but just the flavor differences should make the game replayable in the same class, provided one picks different options.  If there are, then it's got 95% of what I've always wanted in an MMO.  The only thing missing would be different ways of doing quests, though it borders on that at times.  It is so incredibly close to My Ideal MMO.

Now that I've squeeed, I should probably address my minor complaints.  The body-type options leave something to be desired.  Men get to be pre-teen-sized (seriously, the smallest body type looks about twelve to me), "average" (I'll get back to this in a second), superheroic, and fat...if a bit linebackery fat.  Women get to be petite, average (in the sense of typical fictional portrayal of an adventuring woman), a bit Amazon, and chubby.  Personally, I'd throw in several more body types on both genders - men need a small but adult, or at least late teens looking body (an equivalent of the female petite body, basically), a heroic body (between average and superheroic, which is a little "you did steroids, didn't you?"), and a chubby body.  Women need a pre-teen body if the guys are going to get them, a really Amazon body (equivalent to the male superheroic), and a truly fat body to go with what the guys have.  Then the body types would cover a really good range.

Ah, yes, I said I was going to get back to the male "average" body.  I discovered, in looking something up, that the agent's first companion is supposedly five feet tall.  This makes my male agent maybe five nine at most.  (It's very difficult to get one's character to stand next to their companion, so I had to use a line on a wall to compare them.  He might be as little as six inches taller than her.  I am amused.)  Apparently people in the Star Wars universe are a little on the short side for MMO characters.  (If he is five nine, I think that would make him average height in the real world.)  Granted, what I'm calling "average" is still a somewhat slender build.  But it's closer to what one might consider average out here in the real world than any of the other male bodies.  And the female "average" body looks about my size.  I think.  (At this point, if my smuggler turns out to be five foot, I'm not going to be surprised.)

So, we need more body types.  We also need more attractive faces for the men.  (And intentionally ugly faces for everyone.  Not everyone wants to play attractive people.)  As will surprise no one, all of the female faces are attractive.  About half of the male faces are kinda funny looking.  (Unless they look fine on one of the other three bodies...  The faces do change slightly depending on the body you pick.)  It would also be nice if the "complexion" tab wasn't also the eyebrow choice tab.  Basically, the game needs a few more character customization options.  It isn't bad, but it isn't as good as it could be.

Also, we need more player character species.  All of the species from the movies are in game, but we can only play species that amount to "various colors of human."  Twi'lek are the most non-human of our choices, and they're not that non-human.  I know they chose only species that could speak basic for the voice acting, but come on.  Claim our characters are using some sort of translator thingy or something.  Though, I suppose it's also for the romance options.  But, still, they're all sapient species.  And the classes get a variety of species of companions, just have the romances be with their own species or near species if people would be weirded out by a Wookiee romancing a human or something. (Though they shouldn't be.)

Which reminds me, the sooner they add same sex romance options to the game, the better.  Especially if it means that the male and female characters will also be able to flirt with some of the same NPCs who, while not exactly romance options, are still flirtable.  If the game let him, my agent would flirt with or sleep with pretty much anything that's not a Hutt or a Sith (regardless of species) if it kept him out of trouble and got him the information he needed.  My smuggler doesn't seem particularly interested in romance, but that may be because she's focused on getting her ship back.  Or maybe she's just not interested.

In short, the game is awesome!  In fact, it is so awesome, I don't know if I'll ever play WoW again.  (Champions, yes, I'm attached to those characters and have been RPing them in my head since I made them in City of Heroes.  Their stories may be completely in my head, but I still want to finish them.)  But my WoW characters never quite felt like characters.  A couple of them almost did, but never quite formed in my head.  But I suspect even people who've never RPed (even in their heads) in MMOs before are finding themselves thinking about what their characters would do in SW:TOR.

Edit: I originally used "normal" instead of average when referring to the body types.  It belatedly ocured to me that that implied that all other body types were abnormal. NOT what I was going for.  Even average isn't quite right, but I can't think of a better word.


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