Home Guilds Contact

Author Topic: oddities  (Read 523 times)

December 16, 2011, 03:21:36 PM

Offline arabeth

  • Guild Member
  • Level 3 Poster
  • ***
  • Posts: 194
    • Primary Game

So for a game trying so hard to distinguish itself from WoW while simultaneously copying it as much as possible, I think TOR is doing a good job.  I think they are basically vying for the same target audience (MMO players who do the pay-to-play model), and I seriously doubt there are many of those people left who -haven't- played WoW already, so I applaud their efforts in making the transition as painless as possible.  For example:  last night, I was bored of running through the same incredibly long cave twice, so I instinctively hit "numlock", even though the game had never mentioned its use.  Yup.  Did exactly what I thought it would.

That said, due to the comparison, this draws attention to a few minor... oddities in TOR.  These are things that probably wouldn't stand out except that you're probably (and justifiably) comparing it to WoW or other modern games.

For example:  fully-voiced NPCs!!!  That was one of their BIG deals when making the game, and having voiced NPCs talk to you about quests -is- really cool.  But...  Since all NPCs have to be voiced, the gameworld itself (everything BUT quests) is eerily silent.  You walk past hundreds of people who are not talking.  Some even gesture wildly, but nothing is heard.  Also, thanks to WoW and the Edler Scrolls games and basically every sandbox RPG since Ultima 7, it seems extremely weird that all NPCs are basically frozen in time.  No one goes anywhere, no one does anything; they all just repeat the same few seconds of their life over and over forever.  The sun never sets and the weather doesn't change; the first world I visited is stuck forever on a pleasant May afternoon.  Sure, that makes it easy to find that trainer since he's not wandering around, but everyone else?  Mannequins.  The funny thing is that it works very well for droids:  just not for people.  (Even KOTOR had more activity in its NPCs, which is kind of funny.)  This effect also gets applied to the enemies; groups of them just stand around, waiting to notice you so they can run up and die.  (But it's ok, because they come back so fast you'll see them again on your way back through.)

Then you have the world itself, which feels like the "level design" team was entirely different than the "world filling" team.  Some areas of the game are HUGE and take a long time to get around in.  But on the other hand, there's really just... nothing there.  If it were a book, I'd say edit it.  If it were a movie, I'd cut a few scenes.  There are a few spaces particularly toward the end of the consular prologue that just feel...  barren.  There was just no reason to have such huge levels, populated with almost nothing, especially so far away from everything else.  It's almost like they had planned for more, but then cut it... and left the level intact.

There are also things that only seem odd because if you're going to copy WoW, please copy all the best parts!  (Also see:  why did DDO not have an in-game mail system at launch?  Because FAIL.)  For example, why does character creation immediately launch you into the game?  For a game so concerned with getting you to play alts, why not allow character creation to be separate from game entry?  And sadly, some parts were copied from the WoW of a few years ago, as opposed to the WoW of today; while WoW has been innovating and improving, we're back to some of the older systems that don't work as well and feel dated now.  The idea of having to manually tag flight paths and town portal points is one:  why punish the player for being immersed and forgetting a mechanical, functional thing?  Why not just give it to them?  And while I haven't played with talents yet, having a talent point system - after learning about WoW's "the new way" with the upcoming Kung-Fu Panda expansion - brings us back to all the problems WoW is ditching:  i.e. talent point systems are a trap; there is only "right" and "wrong" talent setups; cookie-cutter is the norm.

The game also has a hilarious thing I like to call the "millennial" effect, borrowed from its single-player roots:  I've only been playing a few hours, but I've already lost track of the number of times I've been told that I am somehow special, that I am different, or that I am unique and good in some extra way (you know, just like the hundred other jackasses jumping around on this platform screaming bigoted epitaphs into general chat).  (It remains to be seen if the game also holds your hand and doesn't allow anything bad to happen to you until level 23, and then suddenly you're told to go get a job even though you have no problem-solving skills or real-world experience, but hopefully the metaphor won't be extended. ;) )

And for a game with a remarkable number of character customization options - which I LOVE and think surpasses WoW completely - the female body type choices are an odd bunch.  Maybe this is just a reaction from someone tired of the media bombarding women with a constant stream of unhealthy images, but I from last to first, I would call them "normal," "gargantuan," "unhealthy thin," and "dying of anorexia."  According to how they are used in the game, they are "plus-sized," "never-used," "normal," and "young-ish."

Finally, the weirdest thing I encountered last night is possibly due to the fact that the pre-order bonus time may have been filled with people who were almost exclusively guilded, but in a game so focused on a single-player experience, the players seemed content to follow suit and not interact with others.  I was routinely ignored on greetings and requests for party invites; I seem to recall WoW - at least originally - full of people who wanted to explore and help.  Then again, this seems to be a massive problem in WoW these days (what with hyper-fast leveling straight to end-game), so maybe TOR just unfortunately imported one of WoW's negatives.  Either that, or maybe everyone is just more of a jerk than they were seven years ago.  It's possible.

All that said, the game absolutely improves on WoW in several ways.  Hearthing to any spot you've (manually) touched is just as good as I always wished it would be in WoW, and the option to loot all corpses in the area in one click is genius - WoW, take note!  (I also love the "you have loot" god-pillar - MUCH better than the tiny sparkle that was so easy to miss in WoW.)  At the same time, I can't help thinking of Rift:  a game that similarly had a big launch and fixed a ton of stuff with the WoW formula, and then delivered it again in spades.  In the end, people realized they'd rather just play WoW than a WoW-clone, and six months later, that game was a ghost town.  Granted, they didn't have the intellectual property of Star Wars backing them up, and I think that's worth a great deal.  But I also think the only company capable of truly cloning WoW is Blizzard.

Anyway, there are a bunch of random thoughts I had to write down after one day of gaming.  :)  In the end, it's still lots of fun, and I know I'll be hitting it again soon!

December 18, 2011, 09:23:51 AM
Reply #1

Offline Marak

  • World of Warcraft
  • Guild Master
  • Level 4 Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 374
  • Professional Smartass
    • Primary Game

  • Awards A member with technical expertise.
I'll give you thoughts so far, the good and the bad. Keep in mind I'm a bit hung over from the party last night. 

I started out with a Sith warrior, and wound up on Korriban. This itself wasn't too impressive. The game at start feels alot like wow, as Arabeth said. Skill trainers, mailboxes, flight points, etc. The char creation, I was not as impressed with. Compared to the original SWG, Skyrim, and other games, it has about as many choices as WoW does. The only difference there being a few, and I mean few, different body size choices. scrawny, male dranei, and fast bastard. I also did not get to pick a voice for my char, like you can in many other bioware games, so my evil sith dark lord sounds like a british game show host. That's ok, being from NJ, I sound evil in my head.

Korriban was bland. The various tombs were all the same recycled graphics and very linear. There is no flair like ellowyn forest and stormwind, or any of the wow major cities. It feels like an old school rpg where people sit around waiting for you to come talk to them. The only movement are the other players and their companions. And aside from a few standout quests, most are the same old find this persons gear on those mobs over there, or click these 4 cannisters to reset the thingy and help a bro out.

My BIGGEST complaint, are within some of the dialogue options of the quests themselves. As someone who has almost exclusively played evil chars in rpgs, (until the Seawolves), I have put up with the lacklaster choices and "consequences" of darker paths. Even in Bioware games, to be evil usually means less choices and rewards. Only Bethesada ever seems to give hugs to we few evil bastards out there. But I figured this time, considering the Sith are evil, and an entire faction of the game, they would get it right.

They did, and they didn't.

Yes, there are much better options for evil, and yes, actually choosing non evil paths can get you a finger wag by your betters, but the actual dialogue trees.. I'm not impressed. I'll give you an example. I came across a quest where I found a creature living in a tomb who asked me to go get him some food from a beastmaster who used to feed him "special meals". It's soon discovered that these special meals are failed acolytes of the academy, and the meals are attuning the creature to the dark side and he's becoming a threat. During the conversation, you are given a choice..  which are marked by dark side points, and light side points. The beastmaster wants you to feed the monster poison to kill it, and end the problem for good. The problem I found, was 1), the choices are poorly explained by your reply, and 2) the dark points option was silly, but I had to take it to avoid gaining light points. When I took the dark side option, I thought I was agreeing to feed the creature poison and kill the unworthy sumbitch. The choice was marked as "I'll feed it." It turns out, that choice meant I was going to feed it more acolytes, not poison. And once chosen, there was no way to backtrack or alter the patch of feeding it acolyte goodies and letting it grow in power (aside from maybe dropping the quest and starting over. But even then, the other option would give light side points). Now maybe I misread something because I was quite buzzed, but this whole quest left me annoyed.

sounds bad so far right? It's not. Because later that night, I experienced something that made it all worthwhile. A flashpoint.

Now this, this was fun. I grouped with some random guy, and Agrim. We had a blast. You would think it was my first time fighting bosses as I made every noob mistake in the book, standing in fire, not running out of aoe attacks, etc. It was still fun. The map level was beautifull and exciting. The scripted cutscenes were fantastic. The dialogue choices made sense, and I enjoyed being part of a 3 way conversation with the other people in my party, and seeing how their choices helped shape the path. If the entire game was like this, I'd almost consent to call it a WoW killer. It was that good. I'm looking forward to more.

Time will tell. They've copied alot from WoW, the good and the bad. I'm hoping this next zone I've arrived in will have more varitey then Korriban.
- Marak / Greebo / Cavindra / IzzyTheFool

"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die".

December 19, 2011, 09:59:15 AM
Reply #2

Offline arabeth

  • Guild Member
  • Level 3 Poster
  • ***
  • Posts: 194
    • Primary Game

(Quickly:  Sorry all for the giant wall of text in the first post; I just wanted to get all my thoughts down, and I had to finish up and post in a hurry so I ended up leaving EVERYTHING.  I hope it's not too bad - and I appreciate anyone who makes it through the whole thing.  :) )

sounds bad so far right? It's not. Because later that night, I experienced something that made it all worthwhile. A flashpoint.
Marak, I could not agree with you more.  I haven't touched the empire character options yet so I can't speak to that, but on Saturday I played through a flashpoint with Evermore and that was, by far, the coolest thing I have done in TOR.  The entire two-player experience is SPECTACULAR:  playing through the entire intro on the first planet solo was pretty amazing (I did the consolar), and they do a great job of making it FEEL cool, but after playing for a few hours with two people I don't want to go back!  Somehow having a multiple-person conversation - all while getting bonus rewards in the way of "social points" - made the scripted events EXPONENTIALLY better!  As Marak said, if you could play through the entire game with another person as your buddy the whole time, it would definitely be a WoW-killing experience.

It makes me feel like all those people running around on the first planet who refused my requests for partying up were not only fools, they REALLY missed out.  It makes the game feel so much more alive - it's hard to even express how much cooler it is.  And when we finally got to a point where co-op play was required, it was even better.  I was absolutely floored by their first "dungeon," even though we wiped twice on the same boss and it took twice as long as I'd hoped it be.  A tighter design and maybe a little more experience on my part would have made it even better, but it really felt like... well, as several guildies put it in gchat:  like you're in a movie.

December 19, 2011, 10:07:03 AM
Reply #3

Offline arabeth

  • Guild Member
  • Level 3 Poster
  • ***
  • Posts: 194
    • Primary Game

Oh, and I did find my first "this is absolutely broken and they are really, REALLY stupid for not doing it" problem/bug in the game:  the auction house when it comes to armor.  I don't know how it handles other items in the game, but my first experience with the AH was to say, "ok, I think I'll see if there are any really cheap headpieces for my character, since I have none."  So pull it up, select armor, select "light armor," and then... search?  What the hell?  Why am I looking at 400 boots?  I don't want a boot, I want a headpiece.  So redo the search - no, I didn't miss any selections to narrow this down.  Ok, how can I sort the results?  No by-slot option?  Ok, so basically I have no way to purchase a headpiece without manually searching through 400 items, which oh-by-the-way I don't even know if headpieces will even be in the list because I don't know the minimum level for one and I just searched for things I could use within the next few levels.  So:  complete fail.

Basically, until they fix this, the auction house is an absolute waste of time for armor - meaning the armor-making trade skills are devalued heavily unless you're making only for you and your guild.  This is completely stupid.  Why in the world would they not include that option?

December 19, 2011, 08:20:21 PM
Reply #4

Rabidrick

  • Guest
You also can't do a text search until you've done a full search.