An Open Letter to BioWare on The Old Republic MMO

As a single consumer, I have very little impact as to what goes on and into TOR.  I am writing this letter to voice concerns over the development of the game and more personally, what would make me happy and want to purchase the game.

My concerns are twofold.  Perhaps the most troubling is the lack of a third faction playable Faction in the TOR universe.  I would like think that the EA-Overmind would have seen the dynamicism a third faction brings to player versus player (PvP) interactions.  The prime example would be Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot that you swallowed not to long ago.  The three way conflict in DAOC virtually guaranteed that some sort of action was going on somewhere in the virtual world.  Certainly, it was not perfect and even tri-faction PvP gets tiresome after awhile.  However, the novelty of two faction PvP wears off even more quickly as there are simply less options available to work with.  TOR seems destined to head down the well worn and unimaginative binary path of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, red vs. blue etc.   You speak of story and characterization as a key part of this MMO, yet when it comes to PvP, all the depth of character and backstory goes down the tubes and it is back to binary basics.

So why bother with the story if you only have two classes of people and motivations?  I could be wrong about his, but at the same time I highly doubt that PvP deviate from the strict “good” vs. “evil” cookie-cutter model (with the Darkside winning because they look ‘cooler’, have the population and cookies).  I propose that with the addition of a third faction, more complexity (more “grey” area ambiguity so to speak) and therefore more interest could be woven into the universe you have chosen to create, because choices are almost never binary in the real world and ambiguity is what creates tension and conflict and most importantly, genuine interest.

If one of the goals in TOR is to create an engaging tapestry for players to work through their respective story arcs, would not the creation of an overall menace to the galaxy increase the cohesiveness and immersion of the experience.  The MMO Rift explores this idea, as they too are a dual faction game, but in certain instances the PvP becomes player versus environment (PvE) for both factions as the emergence of a greater threat encourages them to work cooperatively to protect their world.  Competition is nice, but the most rewarding game-play stems from positive interactions with other people that bring about reward for all those involved (My condolences to the PvP button mashers who sadly think that because they can press buttons in a certain sequence faster than others they achieve some sort of ‘venerated’ status).  The innovation of the Rift MMO should not be ignored.  I could see the Mandalorians in your universe playing the role of the overarching threat to all civilization, making incursions into Republic and Sith space requiring cooperation from both factions to achieve victory.  Sure, beating back the Jedi from Korriban is nice, but saving the galaxy from the insidious depredations of the Mandalor has a nice space opera-esque ring to it.  Consider the variations and depth that could be added to the TOR universe.

I do look forward to trying out the TOR universe, but I see some looming problems that have made my previous MMO experiences (Warhammer, Champions, WoW etc.) feel like ‘more of the same’ rather than ‘oooo…how engrossing’.  Will my input matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not, as money has been spent and decisions have been made on BioWare’s part but I figured I would offer my opinion anyway.

Feel free to leave a comment. :)