The recent reveal of the latest offering from the Ravenous Hypechatter Beast of TOR, a video clip containing a lot of people talking about the vast number of people talking in Star Wars the Old Republic, showed many interesting snippets of game-play footage, albeit nothing that can be taken as a sworn contract of provision by Bioware yet, and this being the Internet, I’m fairly sure there won’t be any fans out there who have assumed that everything they saw in the video is now gospel and will be in the final release of the game some two years or more hence.
Oh ho ho ha ha ha. Ho.
One of the features that was fairly prominent, it being a video all about the splendid conversational phrases to be had in Star Wars such as “Hello”, “How are you?” and “Is that an Ewok in your pocket, or did you just forget to shave this month?”, was the fact that the Super Happy Mass Effect Conversation Wheel of Alignment Sparkle Time Fun was in full, uh, effect. As we all know, this is the central device in the game by which one navigates line after line of conversation for many, many hours of game-play in an attempt to get a blue alien chick into bed with your female starship captain. It also allows one to interact with other characters in the game too. Apparently. Essentially you get several choices of which way you can take the dialogue, and a lot of the time they will affect your alignment, thus you are often presented with three choices “Kill the kitten”, “Save the kitten” or “I am morally ambivalent to the situation the kitten finds itself in, but not so much that people will find me evil. However, certainly one couldn’t assume that I was good either. I will, therefore, neither harm, nor through an indirect act cause harm to come to the kitten. Unless it is during the process of saving a much prettier kitten”. In essence what you have in many situations is a voice actor trying to land a TV role by over-egging the ol’ thespianism, which you can skip by quickly clicking on the dialogue choice that most represents the way you want your character to turn out. Conveniently, in most cases, this is the top right option for Good, bottom right option for Bad, and the middle one for Oh Grow A Bloody Spine Already.
So what does the fact that the SHMECWoASTF was evident in the TOR video mean? Those of you who said ‘nothing at all, it’s an early release video, things could change a lot in the coming years before release’, well done for listening, have a glass of port. The rest of you, see me in my office after school. But what could it mean, if it were to remain? Well, for one thing, groups could be interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean the sort of painful hideous tedium one would imagine from not only having to wade through hours of hammed-up dialogue to finally get a quest objective put in one’s tracker, but having to watch someone else do it. One can only assume that the player whose quest it is will do the interacting with any NPCs, because otherwise you’d get:
Captain: “Ah thank the heavens, you’re finally here Jedi Master Ewokhumper77! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will you help?”
Captain: “You will? Thank you! Thank you! Go, go now and maybe you can stop them in time!”
Captain: “… Um, was there anything else?”
<Ewokhumper77 points to his party>
Captain: “Ah. Right. Very well.”
Captain: “Ah thank heavens, you’re finally here Shagbacca! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will you help me?”
Captain: “What do you mean you’re entirely ambivalent to my situation? Get out of my sight!”
Captain: “Ah thank heavens, you’re finally here Boobie Fett20639! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will you help me?”
Captain: “No I don’t want to go to bed with you! I don’t care if you *do* have a really big blaster! Now get off my bridge. Yes that means getting off my lap!”
Captain: “Ah thank heavens, you’re finally here HanShotFirst! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will… I hesitate to ask but, will you help me?”
Captain: “What? What kitten?! How would I know if I’m prettier than a kitten?! Go away! “
So you see in all likelihood there will be one person choosing the dialogue options. But what if the other party members don’t want to follow their choices? What if the Bounty Hunter is being a bit too ambivalent for the Sith Lord’s liking? Perhaps the best solution would be to have a vote on it, majority wins. Of course each candidate would want to be able to put their case forward for why their choice is the right one, canvass their target group, maybe a leaflet campaign. Sponsored messages could be posted on the Holonet on behalf of the Liberal Ambivalent Party, or the slightly more right-wing Sith Lords for the Destruction of All Kittens. Then everyone in the group makes their choice for which choice to choose, the votes are counted and then that choice is picked by the Leader of the House of Players. Everyone is happy!
Unless of course someone calls the vote into dispute, claims that the election was rigged, that many ballots were spoiled, and demands a recount. At which point the whole thing becomes a giant PvP bun-fight to determine the winner. In which case my advice would be, let the Wookie Party win.