Monday, January 16, 2012
In the story of the 1001 Nights (or Arabian Nights) the king of Persia decides that all women are unfaithful, and marries a succession of virgins, beheading each one after the wedding night. Scheherazade escapes that fate by telling the king the start of a story each night, so that the king is forced to let her live the next day to hear the end of the story. I can see certain parallels between the fate of Scheherazade and the fate of Star Wars: The Old Republic; right now SWTOR keeps me interested by telling me stories, but I can't help but wonder what will happen once the stories run out. In spite the huge rumored budget of the game, I seriously doubt that SWTOR has stories for 1001 nights. And I guess modern gamers are about as willing as the king of Persia to lop of their previous games' head and replace it with a virgin one.
My main, the trooper, is now level 36 and just started chapter 2 on Balmorra. I already got a bit tired of him, so this weekend I leveled a bounty hunter to level 12. Is it just me, or does the Empire have the better stories? There is a sort of intellectual honesty about the evilness of the Empire, while the Republic comes over as the people who would like to be the good guys, but never really manage. Rumors from PvP players waiting in queues have it that there are far more Empire than Republic players, and I wonder in how far that is related with the quality of the story. My third character is a jedi knight, but I decided to go dark side with him, and see how that works out. The jedi secretly corrupted by the dark side of the force, sounds interesting. Although the "secretly" part is more hypothetical, as he is running around with a "the backstabber" title he picked up on the Esseles.
After 1001 nights the king of Persia decided not to behead Scheherazade, but to stick with her, stories or not. It must be Bioware's hope that the players of Star Wars: The Old Republic go through a similar development: Stay for the stories, then stick around afterwards. Only that the content on offer after the stories run out is rather generic, and it is hard to argue how it is any better than what is on offer in half a dozen other games already. To me it does not appear as if SWTOR has any answers to the fundamental questions and conflicts that the raiding endgame poses in other games. The leveling game in SWTOR is less trivial than in World of Warcraft, but still a game of story-telling and doing quests is not a very good preparation or qualification for an endgame in which many participants expect excellence of execution from the get go, and have very little patience with people who would like to be learning by doing.