I want to shoot him. Let me shoot him.

| Tuesday, January 17, 2012
ESRB Warning: Any sense of choice is merely an illusion.

Welcome to Star Wars: The Old Republic. It has some great story-telling.

Meet Tyresius Lokai, a slimy rodent who I really want to kill. I think they did a masterful job with this guy. He's a serial scammer who has managed to piss off pretty much everyone. Bounty hunters are sent to go kill him. And off they set, guns ready, and hoping to catch the previous guy who failed to do the job. Well, we meet him, and guess what: he's been bought off. Sold his ship and now hangs out with sexy twi'lek babes, doing what anyone else would do if loaded with credits. He's not the first to get bought off, since Mr. Slimerat got pretty damn rich with his tricks.

Finally though, I have him. It's been a long chase, but his droid is dead and my gun is ready. He offers to buy me off, throwing me what I think was a box of credits. I'm immoral, but that doesn't mean I'm unethical. This guy is going down. Beside, he's annoying. Whoever wrote this quest chain did a masterful job of making me hate him. I refuse the offer and he sets dogs on me.

But he's out of time and space. His ship isn't ready to take off and my blaster is ready. Time to get paid.

By him.

Even if I really want to kill him, even if I have already rejected his offer in order to kill him, I cannot kill him. Nope. I am magically compelled to take him on as a companion. That makes perfect sense! Why wouldn't I suddenly drop all my hatred and take on a huge risk like that?

Of course the game won't let me break my story. I mean, their story. That's fine. But is this really the only possible way? Did no one suggest the option to shoot him and as part of my reward I get to hire (for free) a companion which is exactly the same as him? It felt like I'd been playing a racing game and suddenly they replaced the finish line with a wall.

Not happy.

I'm looking forward to the trial or f2p.


Ephemeron said...

From interview with Daniel Erikson, SWTOR's Lead Writer:

"...The famous one is we're not killing off any of the companions because everybody did. And then everybody cried. We saw it again and again and again and again in testing. People test as they're playing the system and they go, "Oh, this is a really cool story. I wonder if they're going to let me do this. Oh no! My healer is gone forever!" Yeah, that did not test well."

So yeah, blame the QQers.

Anonymous said...

The blame is still on the developers.
option 1: Let him elave and he joins you.
option 2: Kill him and a different person approaches you that got scammed, fragged and what not by this guy and pledges to accompany you because you freed the world of this cretin.

Would have been easy enough imo.

Kring said...

Where's the choice if you get the reward anyway? There can't be choices without consequences. And consequences don't work well in an MMO.

Klepsacovic said...

@Ephemeron: "everybody did it" sounds to me like they need to write companions that we don't want to kill!

@Anonymous: Exactly, some simple workaround.

@Kring: Red or blue is a choice. Kill or not is a choice. There can be consequences, they just don't have to be as big as losing a companion permanently. Maybe killing him means you have to hire a replacement. Maybe there are light or dark side points. Approval or disapproval from other companions.

Just because something cannot permanently cripple you doesn't mean it isn't a choice, or I'm going to have a pretty miserable time when I buy a car and they start listing options.

Xintia said...

Yeah as good a storyteller as Bioware may be, occasionally you run up against moments that really drove home the fact that, despite this being an MMO, it is still BIOWARE's story, not YOUR story. I'd have shot this punk and left him for dead too. Not to mention that my Smuggler would have taken the Republic's offer to sign on as a "privateer" and told them to blow it out an airlock. Honestly that was even more disappointing to me. It totally shattered the "image" I had of my Smuggler character. I haven't been able to pick her back up since. :P

Shintar said...

I don't know, companions aren't just "a healer" or whatever, they have a personality and a story. And if they made the replacement different that way, people would still whinge. ("He always disagrees with me, I want the agreeable guy back!") Or they could make the replacement a perfect clone... and that wouldn't be weirder than having a quest where the choice you wanted to make wasn't available?

Klepsacovic said...

@Shintar: I'm suggesting that the replacement essentially be a clone of the original, just with a slightly tweaked backstory so that I can have my cake and shoot it too.

Kring said...

> I'm suggesting that the replacement
> essentially be a clone of the original,
> just with a slightly tweaked backstory so
> that I can have my cake and shoot it too.

That sounds more like a spoiled kid then someone man enough to make a choice and handle the consequences. :)

Tesh said...

I'm pretty sure I keep saying that MMOs should be about the player's story, not the devs' story. Seems obvious to me. *shrug*

GettinJiggly said...

sounds like my first companion on the trooper. by the end of the story arc i hated him. while he gets demoted i get promoted and he is forced to accompany me. while this is ok there should have been other options as the story really made him out to be a total dick and having him be a companion wasn't my first choice.

Klepsacovic said...

@Kring: The problem with "man enough to make a choice and handle the consequences" in a multi-player, one-shot at a quest reward is that the consequences are out of proportion with the choice and available information. What if a healer companion becomes necessary and there is no other way to get one? Should a player be stranded at level 50 because of a choice they made at level 30?

I don't think the "clone" is the best method. I'd rather there be more content with more opportunities, maybe less convenient, but still there.

@Tesh: Should be? That seems strangely pushy for you. I see no problem with devs telling a story, but I think they should be more honest about whose story it is.

Ephemeron said...

So don't think of him as your companion. Think of him as your enslaved prisoner. You're just keeping him locked on your ship until you get an opportunity to sell him into some Hutt's harem.

Tesh said...

Yeah, I should clarify. There's no problem with devs telling a story, but the structure of MMOs is about playing off of other people in a persistent world (whether through direct or indirect interaction). The most interesting parts of that (the parts that drive interest and retention) are going to be the stories that players are enabled to tell because it's a unique part of the genre. Those ephemeral moments of Awesome or Weirdness are what sell these MMO gamespaces as somewhere worth visiting.

Sure, you can get your watercooler/blog discussions about how your Smuggler handled that one moral choice in SWTOR, or how your guild downed the Lich King, but you could get much the same thing talking about an offline game. MMOs simply have the potential to *function* differently from other games, so it's baffling to me that devs seem to want to put the experience on rails. It bothered me in WoW, it bothers me in the core design ethos of SWTOR.

It doesn't bother me because the dev stories are bad, either (though they may be), it bothers me because they aren't letting players *play* in these great potential playgrounds. They are just pushing them through the motions.

So when I say that MMOs *should* be about player stories, it's because I think that's the unique selling point and strength of the genre. That doesn't mean devs should be forbidden to tell stories, just that they might be missing the point if they can't let go of the reins.

Then again, this is a problem I have with game design on a larger scale; way too many devs seem to be frustrated filmmakers, not really *game* makers. It's a different sort of entertainment, this "game" animal, and it can't really be expected to function the same way. It's a spectrum, though, not a binary "sandbox/theme park" dichotomy. *shrug*

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