Tuesday 17 April 2012

Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes

Along with the big 1.2 game update Bioware have reactivated accounts for former Star Wars: The Old Republic subscribers for a week, so I’ve popped a nose back in for a bit of a look around. I had been slightly miffed at missing out on a free month of subscription; active users with a level 50 character on April 12th got an extra 30 days of game time, and I would’ve strongly considered resubscribing to qualify but only found out on April 13th. Since a bit of unhappiness, not least from people without a level 50 character, they’ve tweaked the offer slightly to also cover people who’ve reached Legacy Level 6 across multiple characters, and you qualify if you have an active sub on April 22nd, so I’ll probably dig out the credit card after the free week for a bit more dabbling.

Picking up a couple of Melmoth’s links from yesterday, Richard Bartle talked about the lack of story-focused content in 1.2. The Legacy system does give an incentive for playing different characters, and a levelling boost for alts makes some sense in allowing you to focus on the class missions and perhaps skip some of the content seen on previous characters. Overall, though, individual character-specific stories don’t seem to have changed or advanced since launch.

I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing; I posted about the disconnect between individual stories and the wider game world, something thrown into sharper relief when jumping from SWTOR to Mass Effect 3, and 1.2 turned out to have a secret payload…

While idly browsing the Galactic Trade Space-Auction-House Network, safely tucked away in the heart of the Imperial Fleet, I dropped dead. “That’s a bit strange” I thought, displaying the incredible perception of the Empire’s most astute Agent. I commenced an investigation at once, drawing upon my full reserves of cunning, interrogation techniques and psychological mastery to ask “WTF??/?” in /guild chat. It turned out that I’d contracted the rakghoul plague (as I would’ve noticed, if I wasn’t so fixated on the trade network screens), some NPC chatter and in-game news bulletins started to shed a bit of light on the situation. Spinks and Shintar have fine posts about the event, as Spinks says it’s nicely done, all very organic within the world: “None of this, incidentally, is delivered via quest text from an NPC with a quest symbol above its head.”

I’m not sure if it’s a pointer towards a shift in focus from character-oriented stories to a more world-based narrative, or just the way the updates have fallen, but it’s a pretty interesting event so far. Now if you’ll excuse me I just need to go and rub up against some other infected Imperials at the Giant Rakghoul Plague Party in the cantina…

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