Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gone. Forgotten. Apathetic.

The GCW update has come and the official SWG forums still have not changed. The subjects might contain different words, but when arranged together and posted, it’s the same ol’ story; song and dance. (My friends!)

PvP. PvE. Bugs. Lag. Give it time. Cancelling now. TOR. TEF. CMN. QQ. Blah blah.

No, I haven’t tried the GCW update, nor can I care to. It’s just another shiny-grind with a shelf life somewhere north of newly ripened bananas. A meaningful GCW does not mean “planetary control for uninhibited travel port access.”

Not even close.

Now, if the planet were locked down so customers couldn’t reach my stores, or creatures that I relied on for DNA were culled, or mission terminals were removed or heavily taxed, or NPCs were rounded up and held for questioning, or bank terminal and bazaar usage was taxed or restricted, or I dunno, opposing faction bases were destroyed and replaced with the controlling faction, or space travel was… good grief… perilous… or…

Cripes, I could go on all day. Consequences, man. The name of the game is consequences. For victory. For death. For everything in between. But tying a money sink to a travel inconvenience as part of a GCW repercussion must be the result of someone throwing a dart at a board full of possible ideas and picking the one that got skewered no matter what it reads.

They could add consequences later, but that just invites the winging weenie muffins who like life in the easy land to cry about how things got harder. Waah! It’s always better (and easier) to dial back a dire and overly difficult situation then it is to crank it up from “Lame and Easy” to “Challenging and Worth the Sub”.

Six and a half years has taught some of us that. I think only SOE refuses to jot that down in a sticky.

And now for the first time in recent history, PvPers who shed tears about not being able to attack combatants who are attacking their computer-driven allies have a legitimate point; combatants can, through their actions, affect the outcome and victory status of special forces players without repercussion.

Turning it around, a forced PvP solution is not acceptable either. (Though the TEF system wasn’t THAT bad. It didn’t deserve scrapping. It needed development. Consider the aforementioned “dial back” comment; thanks.)

This brings me way, way, back to an idea that I suggested many moons ago. It was an idea that is not too far off the mark with what ultimately was implemented for the GCW. But I’m not afraid to say that the idea was better realized since it took into consideration how players actually… you know… PLAY the game!

After a quick search on the forums, I didn’t find the post. (No shock there.) So it’s summary time.

The idea was to think of a GCW battlefield in terms of concentric circles or rings. In one ring, there would be PvE-related quests and objectives. In the central ring would be PvP.

Actions and outcomes in one ring would affect the other. When a PvE objective was completed, the PvP ring might receive NPC reinforcements, small heals or boosts, or some sort of tactical advantage TBD.

Meanwhile, accomplishments in the PvP ring would affect the PvE region via the same.

Both play styles could co-exist in the same battle without directly interfacing.

By placing the PvE ring around the PvP ring, it becomes the task of the PvErs to stop advancing AI foes from blasting through and throwing down with allied Special Forces in the inner ring.

Oh, blah blah blah, my idea, GCW, more blah… who cares, right? My idea was just one in a sea of ideas that worked with the game engine and learned play styles of the existing player base.

PvP and PvE. Never the twain shall meet and agree to get along. The GCW should not suffer because of this fundamental difference, but rather be designed to take advantage and appeal to both.

So I’m disillusioned. Disenfranchised. I’m still a LOTRO player (for life) and I’m shocked to find myself playing some WoW with my wife. Neither will ever be a virtual home to me like SWG was. But SWG just isn’t doing it for me right now. My subscription is dead, vendors are gone or going, and I find my eyes dry from any cares.

I’ve not played the new GCW updates, but from the outside looking in, I see nothing that appeals to me. I applaud the efforts of the developers, but they just don’t get it. They just don’t understand “Star Wars”. SOE never really got it.

I don’t care any more.

I don’t care.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Make (Galactic) War, Not Love (Festivals)

Do not want. Plain and simple. Do. Not. Want.

I realize that some players like the holiday events. I recognize this on the condition that they learn to realize they are wrong. Life Day has become a mockery even. The Festival of Love was like a mugging of my SWG sanity.

I’m very pleased with the fact that my credit card expired and SOE isn’t able to take my money in exchange for this utter crap.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Look! Up in the Sky!

It’s Fail!


I mean, really. Really?

And while we’re on the subject…


What the HELL is this? Would pixies die if the developers put some – oh, I dunno – Rebel gear into the game that might have appeared in the friggin’ movies?

The rational voice in me says that… well, I think it just phoned in from Hawaii and said “Good luck with your rant.”

The GCW is shaping up to be one of the biggest updates SWG has received in a long time. And yet, my account sits idle and unsubscribed. Why? Well, mostly because my credit card hit it’s planned expiration date and I didn’t get motivated enough to update SOE accounting.

But mostly… I find myself ambivalent. As the GCW development unfolded, I came to realize that it will NEVER be what I want. It can’t be, and that’s through no fault of the devs.

It’s going to be another grind, right? Another race to the reward. Ho-hum. Pointless combat is pointless. The Rebels win in the end. I want to care. Really, I do. But I think I’d rather stay away and be unsure of the disappointment then face a reality where I leap in and encounter it for certain.

Good luck, Imperials. You’re gonna need it. But then again, the Rebel capes don’t look much better.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

You’re Knot Righting Two Rite

If there’s no one minding the simple things like text on the official SWG website, what hope is there for the quality of the game? In the latest Galactic Showcase, the crack community team manages to land five mistakes IN ONE SENTENCE!

Can you spot them all?


“Even Santa wook has his thrown next to Ms. Wook for the people to come visit and listen to the tails of the Worshyr.”
  • Hint #1: Ms. Wook is NOT in the picture.
  • Hint #2: Canon is certainly not a strong point for SWG.

Keep at it, SOE! Your shore to get it write soon!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

After a six and a half year wait, it is a time of civil war in the galaxy. The galaxy is finally going to be divided and all of us will have meaningful tasks to perform to contribute to the war effort.

Or we could just be grinding our way through this monotony in order to land the latest loot and shinies.

Can there really be anything "meaningful" to contribute to a war that has a clearly-defined ending? Spoiler alert! The Rebels win in the end. Also, Vader is Luke's father, Jabba is choked to death, the sarlaac chokes down Boba Fett and Leia loves Luke. (It's not like that at all. He's her brother!).

So go ahead, determined youngster! Join the Imperial faction. Loser.

Pitting the Rebels against the Imperials will always have a tint of "so-what-ed-ness" about it, as long as we're set in this time period AND so long as SOE and Lucas Arts does not say that this is an alternate universe. (Which is a total cop-out no matter what the medium; movies, comics, television, novels, you name it.)
Anything that holds true to canon will have a predetermined outcome. Anything set in an alternate universe will be lame and frustrating. What's a Star Wars fan yearning to live in a virtual Star Wars universe to do?

For six and a half years, we all have been asking and answering that question. Crafting comes to mind. Raising pets. Decorating. Entertaining. Mindless PvE. Collections. Mindless PvP. Space. Consuming everything pushed our way like a thirsty drifter given a strawberry smoothie.

But it really just felt like three long days each looping several times before advancing to the next. I’ll break them down for you to cure you of your doubts.

Ah yes. Pre-CU. The gift of the gods, it was. For many, it was their first MMO. For those who choose to remember, it was heaven on the internet. For those who actually recall, it was a whole lot of nothing with a cool skill system stuck on top to drive us to consume said "nothing" at a ridiculous clip. The "Cries of Alderaan" gave us hope, but gave us nothing in the end.

I'll allow this to encompass all the Jedi Grind Fests as well as the controversial Combat Upgrade. The end result was that all we had going for us was a series of rather fun Village quests, with nearly everyone and their alt accounts ripping up the internets to unlock Jedi. Some will say it was hard work and something to be proud of. Personally, I'll tell you it was a game and there was nothing hard about it at all.

Finally, SOE and LucasArts (or some subset or combination therein) decided that we were all morons and that there was a huge untapped demographic of morons that hadn't yet subscribed to the game. Words were removed along with pets, melee, ... oh you know the list.

But we did get Jedi for free, right? Isn't that the bulk of the subscribers were trying to get on DAY TWO? And now we could be heroes instead of farmers! Icons instead of I Can'ts!

I'm not about to get into the failure of the NGE in this article. The game has improved since then; no doubt about it. But here we find ourselves on the cusp of the next day, DAY FOUR - A SUBSCRIBER DIVIDED.

Trying to get excited about a GCW update is a lot like getting excited about getting a Christmas present from your grandmother. Sure, it's fun to receive and open it up, but there's a really good chance that it's a pair of socks that are too tight.

The Chronicle System blew all the wind from my sails. I was completely dismayed at the grinding requirements that were put in; requirements that were an enormous stumbling block for me to get out the tales that I wanted to tell. Blocks that I just don't have the time or will to overcome. Maybe if this were DAY ONE again! But alas.

So I refuse (or am unable) to get excited about the GCW. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised with such low expectations. From what I've seen so far (and I've only 'SEEN' and not tested), it looks frustratingly contrived, hopelessly repetitive, purely cosmetic, and ultimately meaningless.

DAY FOUR is just the next piece to the SWG saga that will be stuck on repeat.
Star Wars is really about the personalities and the decisions they make. It's set against the backdrop of civil war, a conflict that moves forward and is ultimately affected by the decisions of the characters. At the core of it all: faith and morality; good versus evil, each with their own temptations and rewards.

To suggest that such ingredients cannot be used in a video game is preposterous. Books have been engaging readers for centuries, and the printed word in their hands cannot change dynamically based on the will of the reader. It is set in stone, start to finish, yet it still manages to enrapture.

The old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books broke away from that mold and brought the reader into the story as a character. MMOs are (or should be) no different. Some of the more recent and note-worthy single-player video games have followed suit and have their stories unfold contextually with decisions and actions made by the player for the characters they control. Bioware seems to think they've managed to translate this powerful feature into the MMO genre. It remains to be seen.

Meaningful decisions. That's what SWG lacks. But we do have a choice, you realize. And I'll make mine after I find out if DAY FOUR brings me socks or not.