The Old Republic

LucasArts just released the first cinematic trailer for the KOTOR. Emphasis cinematic. I’ve been making something of an effort not to get sucked into any hype-tornado that might build up prior to the release, not wanting to set myself up for a brutal fantasy-gone-south bashing. I would have loved to work with SWG, with the original team! I didn’t know if I would have wanted to work on the KOTOR MMO (although I know I’d be proud as heck to work with their team, well – aside from a certain crazy German).

Cinematic trailer? Yeah, well the cinematic trailer for WAR was stunning. And making CGI-movies is kinda something LucasArts are good at.

But over these many years I’ve noticed something about Lucas: A certain correlation between the investment in the cut-scenes/trailers and the game itself. Lucas is a very creative place, and perhaps it takes a good product to fire up the artists and the bean counters to invest in a high-grade cutscene, and products that have been licensed but don’t give anyone a boner get given approval to make their own (usually sucky) pre-rendered little clips.

Or perhaps its the other way around – maybe because Lucas Arts went with cutscenes, the Force Unleashed team didn’t get as fired up as they needed to be to pull together and make a kick-ass game (instead of an OK ass-kicking game).

But look, that’s just my speculation and I sense some wishful thinking in it. I’m only even posting it because after watching the trailer, I noticed the Old Republic website link on the page. Watching the trailer had begged an obvious question: Why are they posting a cinematic instead of gameplay, eh? Have they already realized the game looks awful and decided people won’t get fired up by anything but trailers?

So I clicked the link, asking “So, what does it look like?”

It didn’t particularly answer it first, several images that looked like artists renderings. Then I found the screenshots link. It doesn’t look abjectly, eye-demolishingly kick-ass droolable – it’s not going to make you forget the beauty of Unleashed. But that’s good. I don’t want to see screenshots of an MMO that scream “it’s going to need the PC of the future with 8 GeForce 500s linked in SLI backing up your 64 core 9Ghz Pentium 15”; that I’m going to have to run in 800×600 at 5fps until 2015.

But the graphics don’t look retro. And more importantly, the writeups by Damion Schubert finally tipped me towards a cautious optimism. Good stuff on game design, not wishy-washy fantabulous fairy tales about seamless 90km vis distances and other high-tech stuff we know spells fail in MMOs.

So … I’m going to risk it and say … It’s sounding more and more like one to watch for :)

And if you want a little more evidence than just that presented so far… Check out “Combat Tactics” under the classes section of the Holonet… :)

2 Comments

Just to add: There’s one thing I hope we won’t see in SWTOR: Long, hard stuns. PvE MMOs – like Warcraft – are replete with them, and they make PvP in those games utterly suck. It’s not “PvP” when the P on the left hand side can press one hotkey and stun you for 3 seconds longer than it subsequently takes them to kill you.

Warcraft provides a solution to this: the PvP trinket, which breaks you out of all stuns/movement impairing effects. On a 2 minute cooldown. In Warcraft PvP you spend so much of your time out of control of your character I’m not really sure what the point is.

However – stuns, mezzes, charms, all that kind of thing, essential if you want the full spectrum of PvE diversity people expect, but they need to be crowd-control focused: you shouldn’t be able to be cc’ed and slaughtered. It’s one thing to have people fear-kiting mobs, it’s another to have them doing it to players.

Hi,
Just so you know, since yesterday, accessing the main blog page I get a flash error that reads (translated from spanish so message might vary in english):
——————
TypeError: Error #2007: The value of the url parameter must be distinct of null.
at flash.net::URLStream/load()
at flash.net::URLLoader/load()
at com.wordpress.wpp.dotsub::LanguageSelector/initHandler()
at flash.display::DisplayObjectContainer/addChild()
at WPPDocument/initMainVideoHandler()
….
That is on Firefox 3.0.10 on WinXP with Adobe Reader 9.
——————
I’m not much into the PvP side of MMOs, except WWIIO, because I like the “simplicity” of WWIIO where you learn a couple of things and you depend on how well you perform them. In others, how “good” you are depends on the equipment you have bought, how much time you have spent playing and learning an incredibly long list of skills that you have to cmbien and where you have to push such button, wait 2secs then push that one… and it’s a race about who brought the better combination of avatar skills to the fight… not your skills.

I know it also takes skill and you have to waste lots of time to learn how to do it… but it’s not my kind of game.

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