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    The Old Republic (TOR) does many things right when it comes to structuring the MMORPG experience, that being said, character creation is an area sadly neglected as choice is limited and inconsequential other than for strictly aesthetic purposes.  They are as follows: Chiss, Cyborg, Human, Miraluka, Mirialan, Rattataki, Sith Pure Blood, Twi’lek, Zabrak.

I bet you’re thinking, “Wow, that is lot of choices Arb.  What could you possibly be talking about?”.  Well as mentioned, the choices are largely ‘just for looks’ as all species share the same attributes.  The lithe Twi’lek is just as dexterous as the plodding Cyborg and has the same amount of endurance as the battle hardened Sith Pure blood.

At the time of the close of the beta, each character class was really nothing more than a paper doll to hang your belongings on. This is not out of the ordinary for MMO’s as you do need to have a reason to adventure; getting all the shiny baubles to put on your character is important after all.  A little more differentiation would have been nice though during the character creation process.

Bioware did give this area a slight nod as they gave each race a ‘social racial ability‘.  However, these abilities are inconsequential to actually game play and could actually have a negative effect in the hands of the stupid.  For instance the human racial ability is called rally – you press it and everyone around you breaks into cheers and jumps up and down.  The serious role players are not happy as someone can make your character do things, albeit harmless things, with no input.  The ‘serious’ role players have been quite vocal already on the testing forums about these racial abilities.   My question is if you are going to make racial abilities superficial, why bother with them in the first place?

Rather than have ephemeral differences between classes, why not give actual bonus that matter to the base stats during character creation?  It would make your choices matter more and enhance your connection with your paper doll.   As TOR seems to have followed WOW in so many areas why not in this aspect in character creation with having meaningful racial bonuses?

Having a unique dance for being a Twi’lek is nice and all, but when the blaster bolts start whizzing about, I’d prefer to be a little more nimble because its hard to bust a svelte dance move while taking a dirt-nap.

   I came in about midstream as far as the overall beta test for TOR was concerned.  The game itself has come a long way since October in terms of graphical polish and some of the mechanics of the game.  The TOR beta recently closed and I would like to say it left a Star Wars shaped hole in my gaming heart, but alas, it did not.  The game was good, but not great.

The much vaunted voice acting was immersive to a certain extent, but because of practical limitations, most of the conversation choices during the voice acted cut scenes were of little consequence to your character or the story arc you happened to be following.  So, playing as a Jedi Knight, I could sass talk my Master, follow my emotions and generally be a jerk during my time on the training planet and I would still get to the end of the content with roughly the same character stats/condition as if I had been the super supreme serene jedi mistress that was truly at one with the force.   Actions with out consequences tend to make the choices offered superficial and therefore unimportant and ultimately skipped over, just like the crusty blocks of quest text prevalent in other MMO’s.

The style of other MMO’s is what I was hoping to avoid in playing TOR.  Therein lies the crux of Bioware’s problem, they need to be different… but not TOO different as to make people shy away from the game.  This leaves TOR looking a lot like WOW, only with a different IP and setting.  Do we really need more of the World of Warcraft style of interaction?  Apparently the answer is a resounding yes.  The problems of TOR begin with the interface…

The GUI of TOR at the time of the beta was not customizable at all.  You could have a total of four visible bars, two along the bottom and one on the left and one the right.  Of course there was the alt-shift hot keyed ones, but those are a pain in the arse, not to mention virtually unreachable while you desperately attempt to stun that damn Sith Juggernaut who is cutting you a new breathing aperture with his lightsaber.  The other problem is, too many abilities and buttons to press while in the heat of combat.  Playing a melee character was pretty much out of the question for me as circle strafing while having to keep someone in range of your glowstick-o-doom and having the umpteen number of hot-keys necessary to beat them down was a little to steep a curve.  Playing  a ranged character was significantly easier, and could easily do the damage that any of the melee characters could do with less button stress.

Stress was common in PVP as all levels where thrown together for most matches, and the extra abilities the higher levels get did make the difference in one on one fights.  However, with a little teamwork and communication the warzones, even for low level characters was fun and enjoyable.  I’ll cover the PVP I did in another post.  :>

This is probably enough for my first post on my TOR beta impressions, I’ll cover character generation and PVP in future posts.

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. Read the rest of this entry »

If there is one thing that makes my eyes widen and drool it is the unadulterated lightsaber porn of the Force Unleashed II trailer.  Witness…

Awesomeness squared~!~   It is horrible I know, but it is like my cortex turns off and the lizard brain takes over and goes…ohhhhh…coooooool.

The other doom of my time is the upcoming MMORPG being put out by Bioware, the Old Republic.  Even the music is fantastic. :)

I will just keep telling myself I am too old for these damn time-sinks and have much more important real life things to do.

I’ve been good, oh so very good. The lures of WoW and Warhammer have found no purchase in my psyche. With a casual flip of the hand I can justify not spending time in their digital worlds as there are a myriad of more productive and rewarding things to do.

However, BioWare goes and does something like this.

What am I supposed to do against such terrible awesomeness?

Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountain… Like wind in the meadow. The days have come down in the west, behind the hills… Into shadow….into the lure of the new SWMMORPG.

How did it come to this?

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