They’d Be Crazy To Follow Us, Wouldn’t They?

September 3, 2010

Today’s update from Star Wars: The Old Republic doesn’t reveal much more than we already know, but hey, if it’s anything space combat-related and gives me another chance to use a cheesy old Star Wars quote in the title, I’ll take it.

What’s nice is that a Game System section has been added, giving a general overview for Space Combat in the Holonet. One thing of note is that the mission types we’ll get in space are slowly starting to take shape — indeed, we’ll probably get to do some Han Solo style maneuvers through asteroid fields, beat the odds in a Luke-vs-the-Death-Star type showdowns, engage in some dogfighting, and even go on some escort missions (ugh, mind already picturing some not-so-pleasant scenarios involving lumbering capital ships).

I also thought the article was written in a way which makes it clear that the space combat component of SWTOR will be a tunnel-shooter mini-game. The emphasis on “lone starship”, and terms like making travel times “literally fly-by” and being put on a “direct course” say more than enough. It’s almost like Bioware’s realizing expectations for space combat were getting out of hand and they need to get more information out there, stat.

With the understanding that space combat is an optional, alternative single-player experience, I guess I was a little surprised to see the results in this poll. Things aren’t looking too positive as at the time of this writing, people who are happy with the feature still outnumber the ones who aren’t — but just barely.

I admit, my first reaction at seeing those numbers is an exasperated What the hell do people want?! On the other hand, even if I don’t exactly sympathize, I’m also starting to see for the first time the cause for all the dissatisfaction. Simply too much time was allowed for speculation and imaginations to run wild. As usual the policy of only talking about what is 100% ready to be shown proves to be a double-edged sword that can either work in your favor or blow up in your face. However, I certainly don’t agree with the vitriolic sentiment that Bioware brought this on themselves (/facepalm), and in fact if PAX is any indication, they’re out there listening to feedback (so long to the Jedi “Wizard”, hopefully?) and I’m hoping for some more substantial news to roll out this weekend.


  1. It sounds like they will can the “wizard” name, thank goodness. I was glad to see ask a jedi was enjoying the feel of the game..I cant’t wait to read more of his experiences at PAX.

    • Yeah, I so wish I could be there, but glad that there are folks out there who can give us all the details. I am hoping they seriously reconsider the “wizard”, not just saying it.

  2. They really should have been very upfront about it. Game companies make mistakes like this all the time, i don’t understand why. They’d get a lot less hate if they outlined things instead of being vague and choosing their words as carefully as bill clinton trying to figure out the definition of “if”.

    people end up feeling “tricked”, though most of us are used to it by now, the less mature of us rage about it, which is good for nobody.

    • It’s true, I understand why they wouldn’t reveal something unless they were sure they can deliver, but something like the tunnel shooter mechanics could have been hinted at early on…or at least say it’s not going to be free-roam open space. unless they weren’t even sure if they were going to launch with space combat, I guess.

  3. I’m curious to know exactly how it will be as far as space combat goes. On the other hand it’s not a real big deal to me but it does sound interesting as I’ve never really messed with any games which have space combat.

    I’m sort of getting tired of all the tidbits these companies keep throwing out heh. Just tell me what the deal is!

    • When it comes down to it, I realized it’s not a big deal to me either. I already know what I’m looking forward to most is the main game already, with the storyline and questing, and I think of space combat as just an extra treat, really. Unless it flat out doesn’t work, I don’t think I can complain 😛

  4. Excellent briefing on SWTOR, as always.

    I think Bioware is in a real “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation. If they reveal too much then make changes, they’ll be hacked at for “lying.” If they don’t say anything, rumors run rampant. Various expectations get too built up amongst the fans. Not that that has ever happened with this fandom. /eyeroll

    • “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t” Such as it is with all high profile games and their developers, I suppose. I’d be treading carefully myself, if I had to answer to such an outspoken and not always pleasant demographic such as MMO gamers 😛

  5. I know Bioware are gods and all, but did anyone really ever believe they had time to implement a deep spaceflight sim along with their character based MMO?

    I think a tube shooter fits the majority of the iconic SW space flight sequences better than a space sim would have anyway (as has been pointed out by others).

    • Well, judging by the amount of bitterness and rage on the forums, at least a handful of people did.

      A think a tube shooter is fine, for what SWTOR is. It’s not being touted as a space MMO, so there was really no reason for them to include space combat, I’m happy there’s a ship for me to fly and shoot things with at all.

  6. In a lot of ways, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t, as far as marketing. Either you release too much, or not enough to satisfy the truly rabid fan.

    BioWare’s methodology of waiting until systems are 100% confirmed is actually the smartest move they can make, from a purely business standpoint, in a market littered with people who can take innovation and implement it into their own game within weeks of your announcement. Unfortunately, the drawback is that your truly rabid fan — the ones who love to go on forums and scream repeatedly, loudly, just on the off chance you didn’t hear them the first time — are like starved doberman’s who live next to a meat factory that they can never reach, or even really see.

    Honestly, I don’t see that there is a solution to this situation, mostly because you can’t truly satisfy the MMO rabid fan; you just can’t.

    MMO gamers, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you (:P), are not the most patient bunch. They aren’t the most easily pleased, either. In fact, TRYING to please an MMO fanbase is foolish, and damn near impossible. MMO gamers are too used to getting things changed if they cry hard enough about it – that’s why the term “nerf” is synonomous with the Massive Multiplayer Online Game.

    Now, I feel like I should clarify that I love MMO games. Not all people within the MMO community are like what I just wrote. There are some good people who manage to play the game with a level head, and are genuinely decent and kind. That said, there are far too many that are exactly like I just typed. I sometimes feel like I just can’t defend them, at all. It’s like when you hear all men are pigs – I always aspire to be a good, decent man, but even I can’t always defend the way a good portion of my gender treats others. Stereotypes don’t get to become stereotypes until a good number of people from one certain segment fit the billing, right? Well, MMO communities are the same: some good peeps, a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT of impatient “gimme now” people.

    Ugh, preachy rant almost through. I would have deleted this already, but I figured I probably should just give it some context and wrap this abomination up. This is not an essay blog, after all.lol

    The fact of the matter, is that there is a segment of the community that you can never please. If Space Combat had been twitch-based, with free roam capabilities, but looked like garbage, some people would scream bloody murder; if Space Combat had been free roam, but played slow as hell, some people would complain about the speed – or lack, thereof; if Space Combat has been intricate, layered free roam, with twitch-based gameplay, fast, yet diverted considerable amounts of resources away from the ground game, you would have a legion of ground-based gamers going cuckoo bananas.

    The thing that makes me laugh, is that there is a good chance that the majority of people in that poll – probably even some of the detractors – may find something in this system to like once it is released. Just look at the shift that happened in opinion between the time of the PC Gamer release, and the release of the Space Combat video.

    After PC Gamer, the polls showed an overwhelmingly negative response; after the video, as you saw in your link above, the majority is in favor of it. It may not be an overwhelmingly positive majority, but it still means attitudes shifted considerably after having the chance to “see” the system, in action.

    You can only learn so much based on words, or even sight. PAX is already proving that you can’t judge a book by its cover, with regards to SWTOR. One of the things I heard most often about the game, pre-Gamescom, was that it looked like it may leave something to be desired. Since Gamescom, however, the adjective I’ve been hearing most often is that it “feels right”, and that it plays “smooth.”

    My guess, is most people will kick and scream for awhile like a fussy kid, but when its time to actually eat their veggies, they’ll realize they won’t die just because it wasn’t steak. Some may even grow to like the system – once they have a chance to try it for themselves.

    *phew* Ok then, enough. I could write, literally, 10 pages more to add further context (Just one of the negative traits of writers, sue me.lol), but I will refrain.

    P.S. – I wasn’t a huge fan of the Jedi Wizard name, either. Hopefully, Blaine Christine’s comment means a change is on the horizon.

    • It’s true, I’d rather things be 100% before they are announced than not. That way, I can’t get my hopes up and then have the company say they can’t implement it after all and take it away. For example, I remember being disappointed hearing about the scrapping of the path of the titans alternate progression with WoW Cataclysm. I know it was announced as a sort of “brainstorming” session of sorts, but it was still a let down in a way.

      On the other hand, if a person gets disappointed by something that doesn’t live up to the hype they’ve generated in their head, then they have no one else but themselves to blame. That’s why it’s the dev’s best strategy to hold off on information until more is known from a business standpoint, like you said. It’s unfortunate that some people will still no doubt direct their anger unreasonably towards the devs. Personally, I like to remain positive, but refrain from making a mental checklist of features I expect, because doing so is pretty pointless and can lead to nothing but bad news.

      The only thing I’m sure of is that Bioware is out to make the game they want to make. Whatever goals they have, they’re out to fulfill them, and there’s really nothing more I can ask. I know in general I love Bioware games and so it’s safe to assume I’ll love SWTOR as well, and so I’m not going to sweat the small stuff either — if they decide to make tweaks, then great (cough jedi wizard cough 😛 ), if they don’t, I can live with that too as long as I’m still enjoying what I’m seeing from the main part of the game.

      I also think there is a segment of the MMO population that don’t realize that they are not the “average” MMO gamer. And it does irk me sometimes when they wittingly try to speak for everyone else. There are things I like/dislike about the MMOS of today as well, but I’d never ridicule people for having their own preferences or try to force mine on them or say “screw ’em! A game should be made this way or else!”

      I might not always like it, but I know very well there are things I can’t stand but a lot of other people love, and whether or not I express my opinions, I know it’s my problem that I’m in the minority, not theirs. If I was making a game for the general market I’d want it to appeal to more people than not too. It’s only common sense, so I can’t even really get that upset.

      And don’t feel bad about writing a lot, I love reading comments and people’s ideas, and especially if they have a lot to say. Do you write a blog by any chance? 🙂

      • Me? Write a blog? Oh no.lol I wouldn’t have nearly enough interesting things to say to keep people coming back. I don’t consider myself a boring person, but I am more of a one topic kind of guy – I’ll stick with one topic and talk it to death. Nah, I’m alright just checking up on a site, posting a comment if I feel like I have something to meaningful to say, and then moseying on down the road.:)

        I tend to have the same attitude toward people who make sweeping statements. Maybe it is just a pet peeve, but it just rubs me the wrong way when I see someone make a comment like “It’s obvious we all hate this, so you need to change this now before it’s too late!” I am definitely all for hearing both sides of any issue. It is just common sense to wait until you hear both sides before you make any decision. Still, a comment like that is not taking into account the opinions of the other side – it is assuming there is no other side. That just isn’t kosher with me. The people on the other side have just as much of a right to be heard as anyone else.

        Speaking of two sides each having a right to be heard (awesome segue, right?:P), I was wondering if you had heard anything about the case that is going to go before the Supreme Court on November 2nd? I only just heard about it over the weekend from the PAX keynote address given by Warren Spector (which was incredible, by the by). Apparently, this case will decide whether or not video games have First Amendment rights to free speech. If the law passes, video games will be the only entertainment medium that will not have First Amendment rights – and that irks me.

        In his address, he stated that video games have become an artform of their own, a fact with which I completely agree. Video game development is a creative medium; for that reason, it deserves the same level of First Amendment protection as any other creative medium (music, film, art, literature, etc).

        In any case, I figured I would just toss that out there. I’ve been trying to get the word out to any gamers who might be interested. If you have any interest at all in voicing your opinion, here is the website for a group of people that are trying to counter with the gamer side of the argument: http://www.videogamevoters.org/

        Take a look, if you have time. Normally I don’t much care about matters of politics, but I suppose this one hits a little closer to home. Having played video games for as long as I can remember, it is funny how easily you can forget the impact video games can have on your life. I still remember when I had to blow on a plastic cartridge because I thought it would make the game work properly.lol

        I agree with Warren Spector: video games are no longer just a timesink – they are an art form. It would take too long to trot out examples of why it should be considered an art form, but I’m sure any gamers who think about it will be able to come up with a truckload of reasons why video games deserve to be protected as a form of expression, just as much as films, novels, or any other form of media.

      • Yeah I’ve heard about that for a while now, but I had no idea it was all going to culminate on Nov 2nd. I’m with you there — it doesn’t sit right with me at all. Like you, I believe video games are an art form, but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t like the idea of them being regulated differently than our other entertainment like movies and books and music. It just doesn’t make any sense. And it also really bothers me that video games are pulled so frequently into the political landscape and used as weapons, and often times by people who know nothing about them.

        I definitely know where I stand on this issue, but I also feel helpless about it sometimes. For example, I came across a petition I really wanted to add my support to, but you had to be a US citizen, I think, and I’m not one (I’m actually Canadian, but am a permanent resident in the States atm). Still, we all know what regulations did to the video game market in Australia, and I’d hate to see it happen here. I’m going to support First Amendment rights for video games anyway I can.

  7. Honestly, I don’t think there’s much Bioware could’ve done to get in front of the space combat issue. There’s a large group of Star Wars nerds in their 30’s (like me) who are pining away for a remake of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter (or one of the earlier two games).

    That said, I’m not upset in the combat they are doing so much as I’m disappointed in Lucas Arts for not doing a remake. This was a lose-lose proposition for Bioware. They couldn’t leave it out altogether without getting compared to Sony/SWG, and they likely didn’t have the budget to do a full blown space game and maintain the same quality that they have on the ground.

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