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A Tale Of Three Biographies

October 22, 2010

Based on opinions I’ve seen around the community, I gather most gamers care about having a story and lore elements behind the MMOs they play. So I  have to wonder why it is that so many people on the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums will turn up their noses in scorn when it comes to updates like Biographies.

I know it’s not much, and I don’t deny that I would rather see updates related more to the MMO side of things, but why can’t we take reveals like these at face value and appreciate them for the information they do bring? Like the fact that things like biographies, timelines, and inhabitant pages, etc. are important resources that contribute in making our game worlds richer, fuller places to be? I for one think that’s a good thing. And furthermore, it’s Bioware and Star Wars, the former a company known for their story-driven games and the latter a franchise based in an extensive yet finely detailed universe rife with lore. These kinds of updates sort of come with the territory.

Maybe it’s just me. Personally, I believe all knowledge is worth having and yes, I’m one of those people who read every single codex entry in the Mass Effect games and Dragon Age: Origins.

Today’s update includes three new biographies, one for each allegiance:

  • Keeper: Director of Operations for the Imperial Intelligence sounds like your typical sinister spymaster. I can’t remember for sure, but I think he may have been in the book Star Wars: The Old Republic – Fatal Alliance.
  • Bouris Ulgo: Oh, sweet, a mad king. Some speculate a relationship to Trask Ulgo because several forumites have deciphered a bit of the Aurabesh on his page to read “For Trask”.
  • Diab Duin: I’m a big fan of Sullustans! And if he’s the diplomat or representative for an important resource planet, is there a chance that that planet could one day be in the game?

If anything, I wish we could have gotten more information in these biographies. It’s nice reading about these NPCs who will have important roles in the game and all, but without context, it’s hard to feel anything beyond that. Will we personally encounter them in the game, and if we do, are they quest givers, rep leaders, etc. or what? Now that I know their facts and background, I want to know why my player character should care.

Today’s update also included a Fan Friday with a Developer Corner covering concept art creation, but I’m sorry, the greatest thing about that whole article has gotta be these new Ithorian smilies!

20 comments

  1. Cool. A positive comment about the update. I agree, since when is the lore/story not an important update?


    • Story/lore is always important to me. Some people only care about the gameplay and the MMO side of SWTOR, but I want it all!


  2. Considering how much Bioware will be leaning on story in this game, people better start shifting their expectations. And anyway, biographies like this can be a creative way to slip other information into the game. Sad that some gamers can be so myopic.


    • It’s pretty rare that an MMO would have information like this at all for their players and fans, and I think it’s great. People complain when a game is rushed and feels sloppily thrown together, but here’s clearly evidence that SWTOR’s developers have taken a lot of time to craft their MMO all the way down to their NPC biographies, planet profiles and ships information etc, and I think some folks are taking it all for granted.


  3. Diab’s bio was very interesting.
    Keeper’s bio kept reminding of Henrich Himmler..scary and nasty.
    btw I read all the codexs word for word too and click on every npc for more story. hehe


    • Glad I’m not the only one who does that :) I’m pretty sure there were quite a few hours out of all my total hours played that were solely devoted to codex reading!


  4. those smilies are awesome!


    • I agree, even better than the Jawa smiles! :D


  5. i honestly didn’t see any complaints and i’m curious as to who these whiners are. Story is why i’m interested in TOR, unlike most of the negativity i keep seeing about it.


    • Check out that link to the forums at the beginning of the post, that was just one of few threads I saw sprout up today. Last I checked, the number of people who didn’t like the update was still almost double the number of people who say they did. I was happy to see some positive opinions, but they are still outnumbered by the negative comments.


  6. I think Bioware may have had a ‘Fan Friday Lite’ this week because Blizzcon started today and they didn’t want anything pertinent they released to get buried under the multitudes of Diablo III headlines that saturated the gaming press today.

    Sexy new site banner btw!


    • I have heard speculation that Blizzard and Cataclysm might have something to do with the release schedule of SWTOR updates. Also, I didn’t realize this until afterward, but I think people may also have had unrealistic expectations because they noted it was the two year anniversary of the SWTOR website or announcement of the game, or something like that. Why something that would call for something extra special, I don’t know. It was just another Friday to me.


  7. I just want to see the game! I don’t have the time to keep up with the updates on info =( Sounds neat though.

    I love lore but I have to be into a game and like it a lot to care much about it- I’m not even playing this one yet =p


    • I’m normally like that too with unreleased or upcoming games, but Star Wars is something I’ve always been interested in, and I just gobble up any Star Wars lore I can get :D


  8. I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone is a lorehound – because updates like these are excellent for me, but others aren’t as enthused by them.

    I haven’t a doubt in my mind that these three will be in the game. Since Alderaan has been stated to be an area with PvP, and due to the fact that each house (House Thul & House Organa) back a different faction (Thul-Empire vs Organa-Republic), I see “King Crazy” being an important neutral NPC; if the Keeper is the same hologram seen in some of the leaked Imp Agent questing footage, then he is already confirmed to be in the game (and he has an awesome accent.lol); Diab Duin is most likely going to be a prominent figure for Republic players – his flavor text almost screams “give this man a reason to stand up again.” I see all three of the detailed people having a role to play ingame.

    On the subject of the dev corner, I was beyond impressed with the updated concept art of Kaas City. Removing that platform, and making some other changes, really did add something incredible to that landscape. It just FEELS larger, more cavernous. I can’t wait to explore it.

    I think a lot of the SWTOR junkies are just worn down. People tend to worry themselves into the ground when they are in the dark about something. What is the state of things? What if they aren’t talking because they have nothing? Why haven’t they revealed _____? If they don’t have _____ in the game, will they have it at all? When you leave people in the dark, you leave them at the mercy of their own imaginations – and what vivid little suspicion machines they are, let me tell you. Prone to latching onto the tiniest nugget and taking it as truth, or an indication of something yet to come.

    I said this on the Torocast forums, and I’ll say it once more here: if I were in a position to give advice to BioWare, purely from a business standpoint, I would not release jack until Cataclysm launches. Blizzard, as we all know, has a tendency to “sample” aspects of other games. If I were giving business advice to BioWare, I would say just weather the Cata storm – don’t contest that xpac directly, you can’t kill the hype of it and nothing you can reveal will take away the shine. Let Blizzard have their moment, and most importantly, get to the point where Blizzard can only patch exterior aspects of your systems into the game, nothing wholesale.

    I say all that above with a heavy heart. As a fan, I want the info now. In fact, I wanted it yesterday, and last week, and beyond. But from the pov of a business-minded person, I would advise BioWare to continue holding their cards – with tears in my eyes (exaggeration).

    In business, you have to pick and choose your battles; Pick the ones you know you can win, pass on the ones you know would be lost causes. At this point, the smart thing to do is wait for WoW to lay their cards down, then get ready to counter.

    I say this assuming that BioWare has their systems in place, just not completely ready to announce. BioWare’s policy is to wait until EVERY aspect of a system is complete. Just because something isn’t announced, does not mean that it is not nearing completion – or complete, but being withheld until a more advantageous time to announce(i.e. not during Blizzcon, and not so soon that a major competitor will have time to add any important systems into their soon-to-be-released game).

    But sadly, that too is just speculation.lol


    • Definitely I think a lot of fans are feeling impatient. Some of them have been checking in every week for two years now, and with many of us expecting the game in Spring 2011, they do the math and figure it should be only be about 6-7 months away and so where’s the information? There’s probably going to be a flood of it sometime soon, it only makes sense, and I personally speculate we’ll get it around the Christmas season or sometime after. I hadn’t thought the release of Cataclysm would have anything to do with this, seeing as there’s so little time left between now and its ship date; one would think all the ideas have been implemented by now and they aren’t going to be adding anything big, but then again I’m no expert in business or marketing. There’s definitely a logic in doing it things the way you proposed though, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was actually happening.

      As for the way people worry themselves into the ground when they are left in the dark, I completely agree. In a way that was exactly what happened with space combat; by the time it was confirmed for real, some people had been gnawing away at it for so long they forgot to be happy with the announcement but instead just nitpicked at all the ways it fell short of meeting their expectations.


  9. The big thing that Bioware is going to try an to differently with this MMO is give us an engaging storyline. Folks expecting the game to have innovative leveling mechanics, deep sandbox systems, or free puppies in the mail are going to be disappointed. Me on the other hand, I’m just excited at the prospects of narrative in an MMO being taken to the next level.

    And holy cow, those emotes are f-ing awesome.


    • I really hope Bioware hasn’t overestimated their target audience. Story is one of their main selling points, and it is very appealing to me, but is it going to resonate with MMO players on a large scale? Hard to tell. There’s definitely a market for story-driven games, but in many ways it’s a very risky project, especially given the resources and $$ they’ve pumped into its development.

      Re: emotes, i love the winky one!


  10. I’m certainly one of the whiners and complainers you mention. The biographies were nice – but it was a grand total of 8 paragraphs of text, and the Keeper’s information were already common knowledge from other sources.

    To be honest, 2/3 of the people are not really unhappy about the update itself – they are unhappy because the update did nothing to quell rumors of a pushback. The post from the marketing guy didn’t help things either. All he did was fan the flames even higher – which in turn makes you question the intelligence and sanity of their marketing crew who should be the ones doing damage control here.


    • Fair enough, but what would we do even if the rumors of a pushback are true? If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen, and the game won’t release until it’s ready, which is how I would prefer it. Sometimes I think the decision to do weekly Friday updates is a double edged sword — most companies just release news whenever they want, and it could be weeks in between big updates and we just live with it. Bioware has chosen to give their fans more by releasing smaller updates in between, each Friday with more low-key game information but information no less, but some have come to expect big news every week. Anyway, I’m not marketing expert, but I’m sure Bioware’s got theirs and they have their reasons for keeping quiet on certain things. I do predict that more information will be forthcoming once we get closer to the launch window.



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