Hubris and Solipsism

•October 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

And why Free-to-Play won’t save The Old Republic.

So, in the shuffle of Spring Cleaning and a rather busy but amazing time at work with a fantastic new project, I missed that the Bioware Big-uns, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, quit over fan backslash over the Deus Ex Mass Effect 3 endings and the totality of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Wow. No, not that WoW. Wow as in “expression of surprise and/or amazement.”

I once commented on the SWTOR boards that I couldn’t help the schadenfreude, due to the hubris shown by Bioware during the development and release of The Old Republic. At the time I thought it a bit of an exaggeration, mostly to highlight the fact that Bioware never wanted fan feedback over anything during beta, and claimed they didn’t need external beta testing at all. There were rounds of closed external beta testing, but players were informed of what they were expected to test, and negative feedback went completely unnoticed.

But judging by the reaction of the big bosses, it seems I was actually hitting very close the mark. They genuinely believed they could do no wrong. They actually were confident they had the formula down to appeal to millions without breaking a sweat. They were incapableof conceiving something coming out of their offices that did not meet critical acclaim.

sol·ip·sism/ˈsälipˌsizəm/

Noun:
The view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.

Their own likes and opinions were the only ones they could conceive.

I don’t think they ever even understood why the backslash was happening. During the SWTOR meltdown, and specially during the ME:3 meltdown, they hid behind EA’s corporate spin control. Then they quit. They lost the enthusiasm based on a few failures.

Taking some time off to get your bearings and do some introspection to find out what’s wrong with your creations is fine. Some people get writer’s block. Others get stuck in a rut. It’s hard. It takes some humility to do that, specially when you’ve spent years creating games that have been, in general, well received by your growing fanbase.

Quitting over the criticism, while giving off the vibe that you can’t do games anymore, and that fans are unappeasable, yadda, yadda, isn’t that. It’s, for lack of a better description, childish. We live in a Politically Correct world, where no kid should ever be exposed to negative feedback, never be told their work isn’t good enough, and never taught how to overcome failure. When they finally fail in the real world, the effects can be devastating. And worse still, the person will not have the mental tools to overcome the setback. Hence changes of career, “I can’t do this anymore”, etc.

I think this is the first time these two have had a serious setback since they founded Bioware. If you look at their Wikipedia Pages, their list of games is nothing short of fantastic. Until they hit the Dragon Age 2 snag, and everything went downhill.

You know what? Grow a spine, get some balls, and learn humility. It’s time to act like grown-ups.

“It’s easy for you to say, it’s not you getting the flames!” I hear the Biodrones say. Sure I have, I have a collection of rejection letters on all sorts of written submissions I can show you. I’ll even show you a silly NaNoWriMo project I have live that was flamed pretty thoroughly at ImpishIdea, go ahead and flame it! (although you’ll be hard pressed to make a flaming mix of anger, thoroughness, and wit that could surpass Stellar Jetman’s excellent burn). I’m quite aware of my limitations and what I offer. Do I care? Do I dislike when I try hard at something and I fail hard? Sure I do! Even more when I fail hard at something important, like what my livelihood depends on (which yes, has happened). But I’m only human, and I know it.

I don’t think these two did, until now. And they don’t seem to have taken well to their newfound mortality. Well, welcome to the real world. Life’s a bitch, and then you die.

Anyway.

What about SWTOR? As I mentioned above, I don’t think free-to-play will save the game, in the sense of “make the millions EA and Lucasarts expected”. Why?

“The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe,” went the quote. If numbers are to be believed, about 40% of people who quit did so while saying they’d continue playing if it was free-to-play.

How did they say that?

When you cancelled your subscription, and were asked to give some feedback, there was a question that went along the lines of:

– Would you return if the game was Free-to-Play? (Yes/No).

Something like that, it’s been too long to remember the exact wording.

What’s the problem with this? The question, and answer, read very differently depending on whether you are Bioware/EA or the player. What Bioware/EA meant was:

– Would you play this game if it was limited and you had to spend money to buy different parts of it, thereby giving us even more money than you’d do with a monthly subscription, specially by buying stupid baubles and pets that can be made by underpaid contractors in Asia on their spare time for pennies? (Yes/No).

You can just feel the salivating, panting breath of the EAware beast thinking about all the money they will be making, thanks to how many people said “YES!” to that.

For the leaving players, it probably read something like this:

– Is the following description accurate? I’d never pay another red cent for this shit. (Yes/No).

Somehow, I retain a healthy amount of  scepticism over the notion that Free-to-Play will bring in the monies. The disconnect is just mind-boggling. Consider the famous Bioware Insider™ comment:

EA blames us and to some extent they’re right to. But it was fan feedback from the day we opened the forums that encouraged us to design it for the fans the way it is and that included making it more like Kotor then an MMO like Wow.

Go back and read my entries on the Sith Inquisitor, and imagine for a second that the original KotOR was like that.

Yeah. Hubris and Solipsism. They genuinely believe this shit plays like the original KotOR.

In a sense, I wish the original KotOR had been like that. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk could have had their meltdown back then, Lucasarts wouldn’t have ruined Obsidian’s sequel by rushing them and forcing an unfinished release (yeah, remember that? Obsidian guys took the fan meltdown a lot better because they made an effort to understand), and someone could have had a shot at making a good Star Wars MMO with the $300 million that were tossed at this voice-acted failure.

The Curtain Comes Down

•July 20, 2012 • 3 Comments

Well folks, if anyone is still reading, it is time to make my final post on the SWTOR adventures of my Lunatic Inquisitor.

I actually thought this wouldn’t happen. I pretty much gave up when I arrived at Alderaan; having played mostly the class story and pushed ahead, I was hopelessly underlevelled, and to level I’d have to actually *play* the “hunt for 10 rats” quests we’re told do not exist, so it was not an enticing prospect. One thing led to another and the sub ran out.

Only, Bioware came up with the “get one month free, don’t leave plz!” thing, and I found out about it when I had about two days left on this “extra” time.

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in. ”

  • Michael Corleone, getting ready to log into SWTOR.

So I held my breath, pinched my nose closed, opened a case of Jägermeister, and set at it from Alderaan to the end of Chapter I of the Inquisitor class quest.

I may or may not have had to spend time in detox and rehab.

I made lots of friends too, and the guys in the white coats gave me a very snugly fitting white jacket. And let me tell you, padded walls are a LOT of fun!

Regardless, what prompted me to write this – by following the FRAPSed footage of my Inquisitor’s adventures, of which I have only vague recollections, and I hope some of the horridness I seem to recall is only the product of drunken hallucinations – is the current hubhub about SWTOR going Free to Play, and the inevitable fallout about how story-driven MMOs will never work, etc.

So I had to put this in writing, as a warning to the future generations: An MMO based on *anything* will fail if said *anything* sucks balls. You can base a console game on motion detection and get the Wii, or base it on motion detection and get the Power Glove.

This is the Power Glove.

So, logged in and ready to play once again, I fire up Fraps, put the headphones on, open the mic so that I may record my own comments in the future, and go at it. My first quest involves blowing up some shit in a base in the middle of the snowfields.

Old me seemed very amused at the new Legacy Tree options… And judging by the subsequent comments about legacy credit costs, lack of “Disfunctional Lovers” relationship option, and something about Andronikos Revel I’d rather not put in print, old me had hit the Jägermeister pretty hard already.

I bitch my way through level 28-29 enemies with a level 25 Inquisitor and-

“SONOFABITCH!”

I pause. The screen is clear, there’s nothing weird going on to justify old me letting out a string of profanity capable of making a drunken sailor blush, but there it is, and then the list of quests  gets highlighted as old me opens the quest log…

Well, son of a bitch.

“Use Your Ship’s Holoterminal.”

It gets me. Every. Single. Time. It’s the most pointless fucking thing in existance, but there you are, you just got to the new planet after navigating the galaxy map, which is what the quest right before this told you to do, and then what? You head out to the planet, but forgot to click the goddamn holoterminal. Why the hell??

It’s not like I can do anything until I click it, and it’s not like I had any other bloody reason to travel to this godforsaken icecube, is it? It’s not like this is interactive and I have any options!

“Will you save the kingdom, hero?”
“No.”
“But thou must!”
“No.”
“But thou must!”
“No.”
“But thou must!”

“Okay.”
“I knew I could count on you!”

-_-

Then it dawns on me. That means Story Time™ is coming!

I hear old me pouring himself a… Sounds like a rather generous serving of Jägermeister. And chugging it down rather stiffly too.

Oh dear.

My Master greases me some, and sets me on my way to meet some Thul woman or another. Yay, excitement. In the meantime, Adronikos has something to say. And as it turns out, Andronikos had nothing to say. The quest was called “small talk”, I don’t think that shit actually qualifies as that.

“Hi, nice weather huh?”

Seriously, how hard is it to write small talk? Fuck’s sake.

Old me agrees.

I have to do this more often: I like this guy. We agree in a lot of things. And he sure knows how to drink.

The Thul woman greases me some more, introduces some Sith that… greases me even more (seriously, I can feel my cholesterol clogging my arteries already), and what do you know, there’s a Jedi waiting for me with the artifact. Ooh, I can’t wait to see how this turns out, the suspense is killing me.

On my way out the sith guy that looks like a throwaway character makes some small talk, flirts with me in a rather reasonable way, and makes himself more memorable than Andy here has managed in two planets questing together. And just to reinforce the point, baldy here makes some hty-hard bittercup comments that make me lose my faith in humanity.

Maybe I can send him to the ship and-

“I Will Devour You™!!”

(I Will Devour You™ is a registered trademark of Khem Val, all rights reserved. Do not use without express authorization of the trademark holder, unless you enjoy being marinated in mint sauce and eaten by a Dashade).

Okay, maybe I could go without compan-

My Brain: “You’re four levels underlevelled you moron.”

Old me gets on a speeder and pours himself another one.

Good for him.

Anyway, I pull through to the next quest and find out the unthinkable: The quest is going to be a romance one. No, really, seems like the plan is to reunite the Jedi dude that has my artifact with his former lover, and make him “fall” that way.

In the distance, I hear the loud whistle of a train locomotive as the clanking sounds of a rail becoming undone become louder and louder. Do I want to watch? Can I avoid looking away? Did I remember to unplug the iron?

The world will never know. Because it’s romance time, and my Sith is getting all smoochie-smooch with the two lovebirds I’m trying to reunite.

Jedi: Rihanna, you tricked me!

(No, ya think?)

Conversation, miraculously, continues. I”m given these options when the Jedi asks what I’m doing:

1) I’m a servant to love.
2) You have something I need.
3) I want you dead.

Hmmm, tough choice, what could I *possibly* choose?!

The horrible dialog continues, but I can hear the telltalle clicking sound of Old me doing something in the background. A moment later a familiar tune greets my ears.

I have been Rickrolled by myself! And old me is actually singing along as the “romantic” dialog continues.

Jedi: I don’t know what to say!
My Lunatic Inquisitor: You know what to say. [Shock].

Old me and I cackle like supervillains, and then Old me presses esc and redoes the whole thing. All the while Rickrolling me.

Mercifully, the two lovebirds bugger off and let me go on with the quest. My tribulations lead me to attack a base of some old family or another (don’t ask me, this whole thing makes so little sense your guess is as good as mine; Old me seems down for the count because all I’ve been hearing for a while are low mumbles even I can’t decipher), and arrive just in time to watch a Jedi make short work of that sith guy I met at the start of the quest.

Oh yeah, that guy. At one point my Lunatic Inquisitor had a shag with him, prompting Andronik-ass to make some quip about having shagged a barmaid or something while I was away (ye gods, this guy is like a caricature that has had the life sucked out of him). Now the writers dropped a bus on him.

And bugger me senseless if this Jedi Elite doesn’t hit like a proverbial truck.

“You’re level 27, he’s level 30.”

Anyway, after getting rid of him, I contact the Thul woman to tell her I’ve won. The dead sith is laying next to the holoterminal table. The Thul woman answers. Dialog ensues. Nobody says anything about the very conspicuous body on the floor right by me.

I haven’t had a moment this awkward since I took that shuttle ride with Khem Val.

But the important thing is that I’m done with this stupid place, and it’s time to go collect my artifact. I rush to the designated spot, kill things for the extra “kill 10 boars quest” we’re assured do not exist, and find myself at the wrong end of a lightsaber.

Why, you didn’t think that the lovebirds issue would be resolved via dialog instead of the designated end-of-quest lightsaber duel did you?

Yeah, I was soooooo surprised. Old me didn’t sound impressed either. I only managed to understand something about lightsabers and something that sounded anatomically impossible to accomplish, but there you have it.

I’m finally done here.

I have all the artifacts.

THE BIG REVEAL IS COMING!

Before that, Andass hit me with one of his specials:

Andy: Need something?
My Lunatic Inquisitor: A massage would be nice…

I brace myself. Come on Andy, you’re a goddamn pirate. I left myself wide open there, go for it!

The Worst Companion In The World*: Go get a slave for that. >:-(

[Conversation Ends]

* Arguably. The jury’s still out, as there’s stiff competition for the title.

I sigh. Old me sighs. This moron really is a lost cause.

“Travel to Dromind Kaas”

I do that, exit the ship, re-enter the ship, and use the holoterminal. Instead of my Master, I am greeted by yet another Sith Lord.

I’ll give you tree tries to try and guess what he said.

“Your Master will betray you.”

I’d have never fucking guessed it. I take a detour to give some poor twat enough volts to light up Vegas for a month and grab yet another artifact (grandpa ghosty’s lightsaber – who took the chance to remind me that my Master will betray me) and go meet my Master, who I still kinda suspect she may betray me at some point. The whole thing is so fucking surreal that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cheshire cat showed up to warn me that my Master is secretly the Queen of Hearts.

It’d be just as stupid, only it’d at least be amusing.

She asks that I leave Andy home (not even the NPCs like him) and take The Superfrog with me instead (you gotta be kidding me!).

I do so.

I meet my Master.

Dialog ensues (oh shit, she’s level 32, I’m 29).

The big reveal comes.

She’s old, she wants my body for her soul, and she’s going to betray me to get it.

*Gasp*

Yeah, I act shocked.

As expected, a lightsaber duel ensues. Khem Val, wearing level 10 rags and a blunt butter knife, kisses the pavement rather soon, but in an amazing display of mastery of the drunken fist, old me kicks her ass and I emerge victorious.

Damn I’m good.

My Master: You… Have defeated me… Apprentice… But there is something… You didn’t… Account for…
My Lunatic Inquisitor: What hidden power could you possibly have?
My Master: The power… OF THE CUTSCENE!!

Yeah, in the subsequent cutscene, the very enemy I just moped the floor with stands up, does some amazing Force-fu, and promptly immobilizes me and places me at the Dark and Ominous ritual spot where the body exchange will happen.

I’d be lying if I said I am surprised. Old me is less than amused though. And I had no idea I could swear so well in German until now.

So, there you have it. All is lost. Or is it? No! Because one little village still resists the Roman invaders and…

I close the comic book and go back to the game. Yeah, the ritual is stopped by the brave intervention of Khem Val.

Then dialog ensues.

No.

No way.

They didn’t…

Old me is PISSING his pants laughing while I stare at the screen in utter disbelief. Yoda as my witness, I couldn’t remember this part, and I could have never imagined it being this bad.

My old Master didn’t die.

Oh no.

No, no, she grabbed a body allright. She possessed Khem Val instead of me. While Khem Val is still in there.

Gollum/Gollum mono-dialog follows between the two idiots. I have my hands on my head while old me giggles as he chugs down what sounded like the last of a bottle of Jägermeister.

Helloooooo, the 80’s called, they want their cheesy plots back!

You know what? I give up. And given the dialog that follows, I believe our disgruntled writer did to right around here. Choice of lines from the stupidity that followed:


My Lunatic Inquisitor: This is what we call a classic reversal of fortunes.


Some Apprentice of my Master: Lord Zash told us of this great destiny that you have just fulfilled!
My Lunatic Inquisitor: Yay me.


What came next? Why, Lara Croft here heading off to search for artifacts and learning how to eat ghosts to become stronger. Where have I heard that before?

And so come to an end all the adventures I could tolerate of my Lunatic Inquisitor. If ever you come across some poor soul lamenting the fall from grace of the story-driven MMOG, point them to these pages. It was not the lack of appetite for a story that murdered the interest.

It was selling shitty fanfic as the story that did it.

Good luck everyone, may the Force be with you.

Let’s talk Piracy…

•March 7, 2012 • 8 Comments

Yes, the P word: Piracy.

Formerly reserved for those who prowled the high seas in search of prey to board and kill, piracy has taken a curious turn in modern times. While it can still refer to that kind of people, nowadays it’s usually reserved for those who make a habit of copying copyrighted material without the permission or authorization of the copyright holder. The original idea was to make that act equivalent to the high seas pillage and robbery of the pirates of old, lawless criminals that were often chased for their terrible deeds.

It failed.

Why did it? Because for some time, “pirates” have earned themselves an aura of, if not respectability, at least of romanticism, and are often viewed as freedom-loving rogues who serve no master but themselves in a bid for freedom from the chains that tie lesser subjects of civilized society.

As José de Espronceda put it in his “Canción del Pirata”:

My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

They are both charming and terrible, killers and lovers, they have a certain romantic angle that makes them that much more special. Or, to defer to an even higher authority, let’s hear it from Tom Sawyer, talking about (robbers) raising ransoms:

“Money. You make them raise all they can, off’n their friends; and after you’ve kept them a year, if it ain’t raised then you kill them. That’s the general way. Only you don’t kill the women. You shut up the women, but you don’t kill them. They’re always beautiful and rich, and awfully scared. You take their watches and things, but you always take your hat off and talk polite. They ain’t anybody as polite as robbers—you’ll see that in any book. Well, the women get to loving you, and after they’ve been in the cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and after that you couldn’t get them to leave. If you drove them out they’d turn right around and come back. It’s so in all the books.”

So yeah. While real life piracy ain’t much of a joke (been to Somalia recently?), the romantic view of Pirates in fiction os something that goes beyond a stereotype, it’s almost an archetype, which as you can see, dates back to the 18th Century or early 19th Century at least. A more than acceptable break from reality. There is a long, rich tradition in literature and, later, cinema, about the pirates of the high seas, and the archetype of the freedom-and-pleasure-loving, charming denizen of the high seas.

So imagine my excitement when my Inquisitor arrived to Tatoonie.

I was going to meet a pirate!

[Spoiler and Rant Mode On]
The story so far: My inquisitor, wearing a whip, a fedora, and an unnatural fear of snakes, has braved all sorts of ancient horrors to recover a collection of ancient artifacts from long-dead Sith Lords and whatnot, so that her master can betray her with them sometime soon, as foretold by damn near everyone I meet.

My Lunatic Inquisitor: Excuse me, officer, do you have the time?
Random Empire Officer: Half past three, Standard Korriban Time. By the way, do you know your Master is planning to betray you?
My Lunatic Inquisitor: Why yes, thank you [Shock him].

Pssst, Bioware, if you want to pull this kind of thing, next time have the writer read “Chronicle of a Death Foretold“, by Gabriel García Márquez.

Seriously.

Along the way, I have encountered some brilliant moments:

Iannos Tyrek: Look, go ahead–take the serum. Take it! I made it just like this datapad specified. It should give you resistance to the stuff in the vault. But there’s also a good chance it’ll kill you. I mean, it was designed for Colicoids, not humans!
My Lunatic Inquisitor: How do you know I’m not a Colicoid?
Iannos Tyrek: (In complete disbelief) Crazy… She’s crazy…

And… Less than brilliant moments:

PacMan (I mean, Khem Val, the always hungry Nom-Nom-Nommer): I followed [Tulak Hord] out of honor and devotion. I was his ally, not his slave.

1) Then why the cage?
2) I beat you too.
3) I can’t trust you.

*3*

My Lunatic Inquisitor: OMG I’m so scared! D:
PacMan: Muahaha! I will devour you!

*Conversation ends*

One day, I’d like my characters to say something that actually matches THE BLOODY FUCKING OPTIONS WE’RE GIVEN!

You know, just to sample once what it actually feels like; for fun. I bet we’ll fall off our chairs in surprise if it happens.

It’s like asking for a pony for Christmas and getting a horseshoe instead.

To the knee.

And be forced to give up adventuring.

By the way, you must think I’m kidding about Khem Val being PacMan. It used to be a joke, yes. Then I got a freaking ghost in my ship.

Grandpa ghosty warned me that…

Wait for it…

My Master will betray me.

Anyway, after eating a powerup pill and a few cherries, and enduring all the godawful clawing-inducing face-tearing dialogue, I’ve made my way to Tatoonie, where I’m supposed to meet a pirate. A Space pirate, but a pirate nonetheless.

I’m excited.

My character is excited.

My Lunatic Inquisitor: I always wanted to meet a real pirate!

No joke, real line from the game. Excitement is in the air.

I decide I have to be suitably prepared for this very special moment. I make my way to Korriban, pay a visit to the headquarters of Holoquin Publishing Corps, kidnap one of their writers, and after a week of hastily written pirate fiction, punctuated by the odd scream of force lightning-induced pain from the poor sod I have chained in the hold of my ship, I feel suitably prepared.

This is going to be awesome.

My Inquisitor feels positively electric.

Bow-chikka-zap-zap baby.

I begin my Princess-in-another-castle questchain, and after talking to a very green bartender, aided by a suitable dose of DC voltage (and by the smell of it, I should have probably lowered the dosage, bodily functions are so easy to disrupt *sigh*), the bartender points me in the right direction.

A room upstairs.

Oh boy.

I enter the room and there’s two thugs talking. One of them tells the other to take care of things because I found them, and promptly tells me to bugger off.

He must be the bouncer of the pirate.

My Lunatic Inquisitor: Excuse me, where can I find your charming, handsome pirate boss?
Andronikos Revel: No, I’m your pirate, Sith.

Wait…

That can’t be right…

THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING TO ME!!

I press ESC, make my way back to the ship, fry the Holoquin writer until he’s reduced to a smouldering pile of overcooked Sunday Roast, and while PacMan cleans up the mess I lock myself into my room to cry into my pillow for an hour or two.

On my way out I give 2V-R8 a massive dose of electricity why shouting “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT YOU STUPID BUCKET OF BOLTS!!!!”

He offers me a foot massage.

I lock myself in my cabin again.

*Sob*

After a stop in the cantina to drown my sorrows in the strongest drink they could offer (it was blue, it glowed, and it had something solid floating inside that squeaked when I chewed it, but I DON’T CARE!), I make my way back to Andy.

Even his name’s stupid.

Goddamit.

The Generic Asswipe tells me that he doesn’t have anything for me, but some girlfriend of his has some info on how to get to the guy that has my artifact this time. He’s French and stole one of my previous artifacts with the help of some local natives.

Wait, wrong film.

Unfortunately.

I take another couple of shots.

He still looks like an idiot. I start to wonder if my liver can take this.

My Lunatic Inquisitor makes a quip about Pet Rock here having a way with the ladies. It was option three in the list. It’s so half-assedly thrown in I’m sure it got to the editor’s desk with only two options and had to be put in in the last minute, because the writer had to be taken into the hospital with alcohol poisoning.

I feel for him, I really do.

I take another shot for his good health and prompt recovery.

In the meantime, my Lunatic Inquisitor makes her way to his girlfriend and she gives me a “cryptic” message and a datapad, and my Inquisitor is apparently happy with it. Moreover, I tell her that I’ll kill 8 Ball if she doesn’t give me what I want, and she tells me: “Oh please, like the script will let you, take a hike poser!”

Just F-ing great. Fuck you very much, Mr. Editor.

I need another drink. The keys are starting to go blurry. Thank goodness for touch typing training.

I finish the bottle.

Dammit, I’m not sure I can stand up and get another one.

The girl “sets up” the meeting with the guy who has my artifact with a dialogue exchange so devoid of life that I am sure it shaved two years off my old age. This *has* to be an error, the writer was sick (or, more likely, hospitalized, or undergoing detox), and they just put the outline of what the exchange was supposed to be about. And nobody noticed.

Maybe the voice actors had a massive case of dysentery and just wanted to get out of the studio ASAP.

Next time, stay away from the tuna.

Anyway, I make my way back to the… the… *Sigh* PIRATE, and he explains what the cryptic message was. His monotone voice is only punctuated by the noise of the fuses going off in his head as the neurons misfire, failing to properly relay through the synaptic gap.

He then says he’s coming with me, because a conversation with the guy who has my artifact is “long overdue”.

I tell him to get stuffed. Not just because he’s such a massive idiot I don’t want him anywhere near my character, but because I DREAD to think what a “conversation” between this digital IQ moron (digital as in “that which refers to the human fingers, which a typical individual possesses ten of”) and someone who was retarded enough to be HIS SUBORDINATE would be.

I don’t want to go there.

I *really* don’t want to go there.

The Bouncer: “Well, as it turns out, the information my babe gave me is encrypted, without me you can’t get it.”

Wait a goddamn minute.

What?

What?!

WHAT?!

I have MADE prisoners SING while interrogating them, LITERALLY, to get information out of them. I know exactly where the woman who HAS the original information is. I have the moron who knows the key to the encryption RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!

I am MADE of Force Lightning for cryong out loud!!

Sing? I could pack this idiot and the girl into my ship, in the cargo hold, next to the charred-out remains of PacMan’s last meal, ship them to Korriban, and not only get all the info I need, I am quite capable of, by the end of it, handing each of them a tall hat and a cane, and have them perform a dancing skit.

Dance, puppet, dance!

Yes. Michigan J. Frog style. And make them perform in front of guests.

IF MY INQUISITOR CAN MAKE MICHIGAN J. FROG DANCE IN FRONT OF GUESTS, I SURE AS HELL CAN GET THE GODDMAN KEY FOR THE DATAPAD FROM THESE EVOLUTIONARY DEAD ENDS!

But nooooooo, my options are along the lines of:

Commander Shepard, can I punch you in the dick?

I’m not joking:

1) On one condition.
2) All right, fine.
3) If you insist.

Why yes, go right ahead and punch me in the dick!

*Wham*

*Wham*

*Wham*

I pause enough to get some ice on my forehead and wipe the blood from my Class-M keyboard (and people ask me why I use such an old-fashioned keyboard…), acquire a second bottle of… I can’t read the label… and accept his offer.

He makes a remark on how he’s going to enjoy blasting his former underling as payback, and how much he enjoys murder and needless violence.

Charming. Only, not.

You didn’t think that’d be all, did you?

I was hoping so, I really was, but it was time for Bioware to show me where the Hammer hangs (German speakers will get that one).

PacMan: What the smeg dude? You are going to trade the ever hungry servant of some Dark Lord or another for a useless lump of meat like this?

Is it some kind of goddamn trick question? Am I? AM I?

IT’S NOT LIKE I HAVE A FUCKING CHOICE IS IT?!

If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be stuck with a freaking mutated toothed frog because I needed him, once, long ago, TO PUNCH A FUCKING WALL, or a useless lump of meat unworthy of the “Pirate” moniker just because my Inquisitor suddenly forgot HOW INCREDIBLY GOOD SHE IS AT GETTING INFORMATION FROM USELESS SODS BY TORTURE!

But nooooo, here I am, stuck in the middle.

With them.

The Two Disgraces™

3) Shut up.

*3*

My Lunatic Inquisitor: I’ve had enough of you, monster.

You know what? Screw it. Just go back to the goddamn ship and shut up, I’m not even going to bother reading the options anymore.

It’s not like it’s going to make a lick of difference, is it? I’m not pressing ESC and redoing conversations anymore. I’m literally sick of it.

Chompity Chomp: The bond between us is strong, but it can be broken.

REALLY? TELL ME HOW!!

I take another drink. Thank goodness I’m Frapsing this, because I’m sure I’m going to pass out on the keyboard at any minute.

Anyway, I take the bald idiot with me…

Wait.

I take the bald HUMAN idiot with me, and we’re off to the races. The “pirates” waiting for us are none-too-happy to see us, so-

Sloth: “Right between the eyes! I love this!”

I… I never…

Stop it. Just stop it.

Right. Now.

Look, you guys have done this before. Remember this?

HK-47 – Definition: ‘Love’ is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope… Love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticule, and together, achieving a singular purpose against statistically long odds.

Remember it? Yes? Good!

Because you’ve gotten it all wrong. HK-47 is a massive sociopath. Really, robotic assassin programmed for it. We love him because of how over the top it is, and how clever and ridiculously funny his lines are.

He’s a comedic sociopath.

Andronikos isn’t. He’s a bully. Only he isn’t. He’s just a massive idiot. It’s not even a textbook bully, It’s like you went to someone who was bullied in school, asked him to describe the bully, and after he finished a, quite naturally, less-than-kind straw description of him, you stuck to it like glue.

Only, you made sure it was even worse.

And then the editor got his mitts on it.

And it went through a round of Google translate from English to Chinese, to Japanese, to French, and back to English.

Twice.

This is just bloody freaking awful. There’s just no other way to describe this wreck. The lines are flat, the dialogue disjointed, the transition terrible, the flow worthy of a river infested with beavers, Andronikos is the most godawful sociopathic lobotomy patient in the history of ever, there is absolutely NOTHING worth saving here. Not even a single goddamn line. It’s just random words somewhat related to killing and enjoyment put through Google Autocorrect.

And you had the AUDACITY of making him a PIRATE.

There isn’t even anything worth making fun of. It’s just THAT bad. It’s worse than bad. This is Star Wars Christmas Special level of bad. It’s soul-fucking-crushing.

I take a break and, after more heavy drinking, I blunder my way to the guy who supposedly has my artifact.

Dialogue ensues.

I brace for impact, making sure ice is handy.

*Wham*

*Wham*

*Wham*

The keyboard takes it better than I do, and soon I’ve regained consciousness and am on my way to the next castle, to find the princess and kill Bowser.

Toadstool: “I’m sorry Inquisitor, Bowser is working with the Bounty Hunter.”

Sand people will have to do. After following the “clues”, we find the dead body of the guy who we were after. Andronikos goes into a rant mode that they got away, yadda yadda.

My Lunatic Inquisitor: Calm down [Shock Andronikos].

Can I have a dose of that? Pretty please? I need it WAY more than The Random Bullybox™.

Andronikos goes on and on about how Sith are sick monsters and all that.

My Inquistor (THANK YOU WRITER! I hope rehab went well, good to have you back) asks the VERY obvious question, “what the hell are you doing with me then?”

It’s a lost cause. Because it’s dialogue time, and it’s my turn to get punched in the dick and take it like Commander Shepard. So I do.

*Wham*

*Wham*

*Wham*

And I’m finally out of this awful planet…

By the way, have you done the main planet questline in this planet with any other character? Yes? Remember what it was about?

That’s right.

Finding another artifact.

Holy Bantha poo on a Pogo stick, can I please get a DD pair of knockers, a massive braid, and some guns? Sunglasses optional. Because I’m starting to feel really inadequately equipped for this job.

But as I was saying, I’m out of this godawful planet.

And you know what that means.

“Welcome aboard” conversation with the new companion. I open my emergency bottle of Single Malt Scotch, take a swig or ten, and feel adequately prepared for whatever is about to come.

Some terrible [Flirt]ing ensues. I thank the Scots and the Loch Ness Monster I don’t remember any of it. But it ends with the massive failure proclaiming… Wait, that’s not exactly true. It ends with whoever is playing Brutus reading the following line:

The Strawman Bully: I’m a liar, and a thief, and a murderer. But I’m good.

I can’t resist it anymore! TAKE ME YOU WILFUL PIRATE PRINCE!!!111oneone1!

So yeah, I have met Andronikos.

He’s really something.

He’s not just badly written. Or lazily so. Or even poorly edited.

No, no, this goes beyond that. This is a deliberate and meticulous work of destruction of every single preconceived notion of fictional pirates, leaving no pebble unturned or scrap of the old pirate bandana. It makes firewood out of the wooden leg, and uses it to roast the parrot.

Only after all that, it was replaced by… NOTHING. And we are left with something I didn’t believe could be created: A charmless, uninteresting, unlikeable Pirate in a work of fiction.

I can only imagine the writer for this particular character either led a very sheltered and nearly illiterate life, away from any other work of fiction ever created in the last three hundred years or so, or went on a fishing trip to Somalia.

Either way, what a job. /golfclap

[Spoiler and Rant Mode Off]

Well, *character*, it’s been nice meeting you.

•February 18, 2012 • 3 Comments

Hello! Welcome to another edition of  “What Would The Lunatic In Me Do?” I’m your host, Walkiry.

Title of the rant may be a bit cryptic, but it sums up perfectly how I feel about “my” SWTOR characters once I hit 50, finish the questlines, and get to The End™.

Only it’s not supposed to be the end, right?

Let’s back up a bit. To the very start:

Play Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ and be the hero of your own Star Wars™ saga

(Emphasis mine).

Now, despite appearances, this is not going to be about not having enough choices (which, as I’ve admitted before, would be night impossible to do, too many of us playing). Or about the abject stupidity some of these choices force on the characters. No, it’s a lot more basic than that.

When I play this game, by the time I’m done, and often way before that, none of “my” characters feel mine.

It’s pretty simple really. We run the quests and do the things that Bioware has prepared for us in-game, but everything about the story and the characters (including the one I’m playing) is so thoroughly laid out for me to follow that there’s nothing left for me to [i]add[/i].

Nothing what-so-***********-ever.

It’s not just the story (singular), but even worse is the backstory.

Take, for example, the Bounty Hunter.

You arrive in Hutta to meet Braden for the Great Hunt. That’s the premise of the story, right? At this point, your character is a blank state and you can start-

Braden: “Hey there bestest buddy ever! Let’s go have a Bromantic shower together!”

Uh…

I back away slowly and a few clicks and some cutscenes later he’s dead, and call me a heartless bastard, but I can’t find myself too disturbed by it. I’ve just met this guy.

Mako: “You heartless bastard! (Told ya) Braden always talked about you, and I always wanted to meet you, and…”
Me: “I barely…”
Mako: “And he set you up for the Great Hunt because he knew you so well!”
Me: “I don’t actually…”
Mako: “And Braden this, Braden that, Braden Braden Braden on a pie, how can you not think about Braden all the time!!”
Me: “SHUT THE **** UP MAKO!”

Mako
-10

And hey, you like Mandalorians? Bounty Hunters and Mandalorians all go together so well!

Me: “Sure, my Bounty Hunter…”

Here you go, meet the Mandalorians for the first time and learn all about them!

Me: “But I already…”

And if you stick with us, you get a chance to join the Mandalorians too! After a bunch of planets and more than half your levels, aren’t we great? We’re letting your Bounty Hunter get involved with Mandalorians! Something your very own personal saga Bounty Hunter has never done!

Me: “But, I wanted…”

What was that? YOU wanted? Awww, isn’t that cute. You’re so lucky we know better!

There is simply NOTHING for me to add there. There’s the Bounty Hunter story, I can play through it, learn about how the Bounty Hunter came to be in the Great Hunt and have a few options to see how his story unfolds, and that’s about it. Everything, from the character’s background to his motivations, has already been boiled, chewed, and pre-digested for me by Bioware.

Feed meh! Because chewing is so much effort. The only thing that’s missing here is forcing a name on him so that everyone stops referring to him as “Hunter”.

Shit, I just gave them an idea, didn’t I?

It gets worse with the Jedi Knight:

The Knight’s ENTIRE BACKGROUND is a few quests worth of having a master (Master Orgus) who sends him on missions on his own before getting himself killed.

You think I’m joking, or exaggerating, right?

RIGHT?

Well, guess again!

Master Orgus  becomes a glowing apparition to guide the Knight because he’s just SO attached to him/her after a few days of non-training (and given half the chance, both the Knight and Orgus will say so, repeatedly).

I’m guessing it’s actually because the booty of my female Knight. Now you know why they don’t fix the big bum bug with the robes. If they do, no more Master Orgus, and the Galaxy dies a horrible death worthy of Khem Val.

*Nom*

Damn dirty old man.

Later on, you learn in a conversation with Kira that he taught the Knight everything he knows.

Well, it’s either that or

Me: “SHUT THE **** UP KIRA!”
Kira
-14

It’s so bloody twisted it actually makes a sick kind of sense. All this Knight does is screw up and send the companions to do missions on their own. You know, like Master, like Padawan.

But don’t worry, once you get in trouble (well, massive EPIC FAIL actually, but why split hairs?), the glowing apparition will come to the rescue.

Just shake that booty for the old man.

*Shakka* *Shakka*

If you feel dirty, go take a fucking shower, because it’s all for the sake of the gosh darn Galaxy.

One can only imagine what kind of retard the Knight was in the academy, if a week of non-teaching by a dirty old man TAUGHT HIM EVERYTHING HE KNOWS!

Can you imagine this failure’s childhood?

“Look ma! I drew this!”
“Ooooh, a starfish! How cute!”
“It’s a SPEEDER! WAAAAAH!”

Fail on Legs. I’m surprised he didn’t skewer himself with the lightsaber the first time he built it.

I’m also kind of glad the companions are the ones doing the crafting and the gathering. This idiot would probably blow up a planet while trying to make a single medkit.

And of course, there’s my favourite one; at a prompt from Kira (I’m starting to see a pattern here, what about letting us kill companions again?) we learn this from the Knight:

“I can’t imagine being anything other than this bland, forgettable Temple past Jedi.”

Well, I completely believe you, but I bloody well can! If you would bloody LET ME!

I think I’ll go for:

“SHUT THE **** UP KIRA!”
Kira
-14

Better than the Consular writer I suppose, I bet he’d stop at:

“I can’t imagine.”

Zzzz.

So, can you? Can you imagine a background for a Jedi that’s in any way better than a forgettable blur of Temple existence easily surpassed by a few holoconversations with a Jedi Master? Well too bad, because that’s what the Jedi Knight is, and don’t you forget it because you’ll be reminded, constantly. TAKE IT AND LIKE IT!

Now, eat your broccoli.

But what about the Inquisitor?

*Wall of text explains you were a slave and arrived at Korriban for the trials*

Well, isn’t it nice to get it all out of the way as soon as possible?

Hah! Gotcha, you thought I was just going to stop there, right? Well, not so fast; you see, there’s a MAJOR TWIST (OMG!).

You see, “Luke, I am your Father” is so overdone.

“Luke, I am your sister!” Been done.

“Luke, the FORCE is your father!” Has been done too (or rather, Anakin’s mom was done by the Force. Bow chikka wow wow, baby! I bet she had a hell of a hangover the next day, since “she can’t explain what happened”).

“Luke, YOU ARE AN ULTRAPOWERFUL SITH IN A LINEAGE OF ULTRAPOWERFUL SITHS AND I’M YOUR GRANDDADDY!”

Now we’re talking! Nothing like one-upping the classics!

I suppose next sequel will be

“Luke, I AM THE UNIVERSE WHO CREATED THE FORCE AND I’M YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER!”

I’d hate to think what the sequel after THAT one will have. I’ll have to involve Chuck Norris and Mr. T. And bacon.

So the Inquisitor was a slave all his life and the grandkid of an amazing Sith Lord Dude you just happened to open the temple to, all at the same *********** time, which is all orchestrated by your Master of course, and boy, you better like the amazing stuff they come up with!

Incidentally, 2 million boxes sold and the Inquisitor is one of the more popular classes. Just how big was Granddaddy Sith Ghost’s harem anyway? And how did he manage to get lekku-less Twi’lek grandkids?

You know what the problem is? The problem is that “Being Revan” was pretty cool, and that playing Shepard makes the character great. You get to see how the Dark/Light sides play out, or the Paragon/Renegade in ME’s case, but you’re playing Revan’s and Shepard’s stories.

But that’s never MY character. It’s YOUR character, Bioware; and the games were enjoyable, including the character, but that’s a single player game where I’m not invited to “create my own saga”.

You’ve hammered so much detail into the player’s characters and their stories and backstories that you have left sweet **** all for me to add to it. Even the Dark/Light side choices aren’t that meaningful, because all they do is, like in KOTOR, let me see how the Light and Dark side stories of your characters unfold, and on top of that one has to RELENTLESSLY chase Light/Dark choices to be at the Light/Dark level necessary to use the Light/Dark side restricted items at the appropriate character level. But that’s YOUR story, they do not define MY character. My character would be defined by a myriad of things you have already decided for me, and I’d have felt a lot more involved if you had at the very least stopped answering questions nobody asked in the first gosh darn place.

You could have spent some effort finding ways to get ME involved. Instead, you spent a lot of effort finding every possible way to hammer YOUR “story” into what was supposed to be MY character even when it was completely bloody irrelevant. Well, fine, but now that I’m done with your character you can have it back.

The writing in this game is confusing the hell out of me

•February 14, 2012 • 4 Comments

Well, servers down for maintenance, that means idle hands, and idle hands are someone’s tools or other.

So, welcome to another edition of “Walkiry has a Rant.” I’m your host, Walkiry 😀

Unlike previous rants, this one isn’t going to be full of anger and fury. Well, mostly. I say this because my problem this time is that I’m confused as all hell. I’m confused by the consistency of the writing, or the lack of thereof.

Let’s recap for a moment. As far as we know, the story has been put together by a team of a dozen writers or so (and editors, I hope… assume… imagine… okay, maybe not), working under the guidance of one, or maybe two people, whose job is to create the general plotlines and keep some sort of consistency. That’s of course my assumption, I have no idea how things have been done or what the process entails.

My confusion, however, comes from the, for lack of a better word, irregularity of the writing. Not just between quests, or classes, or factions, but often inside quests themselves, and sometimes even from one paragraph to the next. It’s confusing as hell, and really throws me off when the story jumps from a high to a low, to a high again, and just doesn’t seem to know where it’s going. I have ranted before about the Bounty Hunter and one of his companions, and let’s not forget the now (in)famous line: “I’ll accept payment in kisses.” (Blargh!).

Why is this happening? Are there too many writers and not enough editors? How is the writing process? Are there cliques that made some writers have more weight than others?

Seriously, all the good lines mixed with bad lines mixed with good plots mixed with idiot balls only come together into one whiffy ball of confusing awesome when one plays the one and only Raving Lunatic class: The Inquisitor.

Hat tip to Fabint for the suggestion of playing the Inquisitor as a bat-**** insane lunatic for maximum enjoyment. From now on, everything I’ll say will be passed through the WWTLIMD: What Would The Lunatic In Me Do?

[Rant and Spoiler Mode On]

So, I chose the class and gender (female inquisitor, oh joy) by random coin flipping based on the accumulated suggestions from the previous ranting threads. So, after creation, the credits roll in and I get the general idea, a [i]former[/i] slave who is about to undertake the trials to become a Sith.

I arrive to Korriban and am greeted by a rather unfriendly dude (overseer, apparently), who tells us we’re all worms and I’m just a slave, yadda yadda, you know the drill. A sweet-as-pie girl named Kory reassures me in the cutest way possible that everything’s going to be all right *hugs* *cuddles*

I want to hug her and pet her and take her home and name her Kory!

Spoiler: She dies. Yeah, I acted surprised too.

Anyway, I’m off to interrogate some dude. So far? I’m bored as hell and the Sith academy has not changed one bit. Remember KOTOR? Yeah, High School Drama all over it, only with more lightning and less singing. In that sense, Korriban doesn’t disappoint. Or it does, depending on your point of view.

I’m expecting someone to try and shake me for my lunch credits.

*sigh*

I get to the interrogation room, I start sweetly enough, and after a couple of questions I hit the dude with some lightning.

*ZZZZZZZZAP*

Ahhh, so good. Just to get  into character you see.

He begs me not to hurt him anymore, and says he’ll do anything.

Among the options to reply, I see the following:

2. Sing

I… I never… I had to do a double-take. Did they just offered me…? WWTLIMD?

*Click*

Prisoner: “What? I… Sure! I mean… What do I…?”

2. Something cheerful.

*Click*

So there I am. Listening to a prisoner *sing* while doing an interrogation quest.

It’s awesome.

It’s awesome for all the wrong reasons. It’s a line tossed at the fourth wall that didn’t quite manage to break it, and it’s awesome. I finish with a *ZZZZZZAP* and leave the interrogation room in a daze. I still can’t believe that happened. Is it even allowed to make something so crazy awesome in this game?

My disbelief only increases when the next trial comes:

Overseer: “Sith dude I’m fawning over, go upstairs and write a note, I’ll send you milk and cookies. Slave (that’s me by the way), go to the bottom of this monster-infested dungeon and retrieve a holocron nobody has managed to retrieve in the last thousand years.”

Oh yeah, WHAT A  SURPRISE! I’m starting to think I should have named my Inquisitor “Kenny.”

So what happens when I get to the place where the holocron is?

I open it and retrieve it, yes, of course, but…

“Open I say!”

*ZZZZZZZZZZZAP*

*Opens*

In one thousand years, not a single Sith has thought of zapping it with lightning.

ARE YOU ******** ME?!

Sith are MADE of 99% lightning and 1% a thin layer of skin to hold it all together!! Seriously. They go through medical droids at the Academy faster than players go through Doritos.

Medical Droid: Please hold still while I inject the Kolto with this metallic syringe…
*ZZZZZZZZZZAP*
Sith: Cleanup in aisle five!

How can you do this after the interrogation room scene? HOW?! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!

Next. Another bottom of a monster infested tomb to retrieve the darkest secrets of some dead Sith Lord or another,. WWTLIMD? Why am I n-

My Lunatic Inquisitor: “Yes, I get it already. You send me into a tomb to do the impossible, hoping I die, and I come back and prove you wrong.”

I can’t *********** believe it. Did… Did my character lampoon her own storyline with a perfectly pitched line bouncing off the fourth wall like that?

I…

What the hell is this?! Seriously, one absolutely idiotic thing after a hilarious scene, and now another great line before you toss me into yet another “tomb of the really scary dude”.

Genius or idiot, just pick one already and make up your mind! You’re going to give me a bloody aneurysm!

I think I’ve just discovered why they call this a themepark MMO. I just found the rollercoaster.

Wheee!

*Thunk*

*Chugga**Chugga**Chugga*

And then it dawns on me. The storyline is, so far, idiotic, boring, more boring than idiotic, and *someone* involved in it, a writer, one of the voice actors, someone, was much too talented to be doing that ****, and even more disgruntled about the crap they were forced to write. Someone who can toss lines at the fourth wall and make them bounce off like that is way too good to be wasted in this crappy… [i]thing[/i].

But here we are. The writer and I. Sitting on a tree. Sithing.

Time for a low. I get back from the quest, and some blonde I have never seen and who doesn’t introduce herself starts talking about… Oh right, holocron, that was the previous quest, this must be Lord… um… Whassherface. She tries to lampshade the idiocy of the holocron and the lightning, saying how curious that nobody tried that simple method… in a thousand years… yeah, it fizzles halfway through as both the voice actress and the writer clearly give up. It’s just too stupid.

Anyway, after a brief pause to kill  the High School bullies (didn’t see THAT coming, did you?), my first companion awaits. Khem Val.

Oh dear god.

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

“BEWARE, I LIVE!”

So, yeah, that’s Khem Val in a nutshell. According to the quest, freeing, defeating, and enslaving this dude is mandatory to unlock the darkest secrets of the Sith Lord WhoeverIsInThisTomb. What lost secrets does this oversized lump of meat know? What powerful Sorcery? What unrivalled insight into the mind of his former Master? What could possibly-

*Thunk*

He punches a wall, and I’m through to the final area.

>_o

RRRRRAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGH!

*puke*

I use the trip to the bathroom to grab a stack of sickness bags because the up-and-down rollercoaster of idioticy and awesomeness is really making me sick, and I get back to the academy.

I’m not even going to go into being stuck with this guy forever JUST SO THAT HE COULD PUNCH A WALL!

I’m contemplating stabbing myself with a rusty spoon on my back to end the suffering. I’m pretty sure I would be able to reach if I dislocated my shoulder.

YOU HEAR ME BIOWARE? I’M SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATING DISLOCATING MY OWN SHOULDER TO STAB MYSELF IN THE BACK WITH A RUSTY SPOON AND MAKE THE PAIN END FOREVER!!

In the meantime, the overseer and his pet are rather surprised and quite annoyed at this turn of events, that I survived and succeeded. A sticky situation, what should I do? What strategy should I use? Sith politics are complex and hard to unravel, is it worth-

Khem Val: “I WILL DEVOUR THEM!”

Or that. Thank you Sinistar.

Anyway, Lord Whassherface shows up, fries my rival, and berates the overseer. I poke the overseer for fun, and he proceeds to threaten me and be all Sithy and all that. Apparently he forgot I’m standing next to one big ugly mofo who was the servant of some Dark Lord and who-

“I WILL DEVOUR HIM!”

Yes, that, the Star Wars version of a Tasman Devil. Apparently my character forgot too. And the writer as well. Because he’s just not big enough obviously. Or maybe they’re in a hurry to put all this crap behind us and move on.

Can’t say I blame them.

I smoulder with unlimited rage at this point.

After getting my lightsaber and killing some idiots, I get my first customization for Predator here.

It’s green.

He’s wearing a purple loincloth.

“Don’t make me angry, you won’t-”

Wait, wait, it’s Khem Val.

“DON’T MAKE ME HUNGRY. YOU WON’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M HUNGRY!”

That’s better. I can’t believe they gave me this customization option. This isn’t carrot and stick, this is cat-o-nine-tails and *********** Ambrosia. JUST MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY!

So on my way to Dromund Kaas I stop at the fleet, and passing through the Cantina the quest symbol appears over The Starving One™.

The Strongest Frog In The World: “I WILL DEVOUR YOU!”

*Quest complete*

For crying out loud, someone get this guy a sandwich!

Did I just order my female character to get this guy a sandwich? Is that why I’m suddenly feeling more manly?

No time to think, rather it’s time to get the regular shuttle down to Dromund Kaas. I make a mental note ask my master for a ship ASAP.

Seriously, after boarding I sent the over-muscled Christmas tree to sit on a different row because I don’t like cramped spaces, and let me tell you, the poor little Twi’lek sitting next to him looked like he wanted to melt into the seat and disappear. And worse still when the stewardess came around:

Stewardess: Peanuts, sir?
Khem Val: I WILL DEVOUR THEM!

Of course, it could have been worse:

Stewardess: Peanuts, sir?
Khem Val: I WILL D- Oh, no thanks, I’m allergic.
Stewardess: I see, is there anything else I could give you?
Khem Val: (Eyeing the Twi’lek) I think I’m set here.

Longest, most awkward flight I’ve ever had to take, let me tell you. I gnaw at my wrists during the loading screen trying to reach the veins and kill myself, but the game finishes loading before I chew through the first tendon.

Damn Raid 0 SATA 3 disks.

Once in Dromund Kaas, I have a run-in with some scary-looking cyborg Dark Lord dude, and we engage in a subtle, complex, play-of-power exchange to generate the canny conflict one would expect in internal Sith politics.

Dark Lord Dude: “G.T.F.O. noob!”
My Lunatic Inquisitor: “No, u!”

I’m not longer in Korriban! I’m not at the academy! This is a gosh darn Sith Lord! STOP THE TEENAGER SCHOOLYARD **** ALREADY!

I toy with the idea of letting the double-jawed wonder here handle it, but that’d entail acknowledging his existence, so WWTLIMD?

My Lunatic Inquisitor: “Go jump in a sarlacc pit.”

I think our rebellious disgruntled writer is losing the fight with his nearly broken spirit. Anyway, time for me to visit my master, Lord Whassherface.

I’ll give you three guesses to figure out what happened.

My Master: “You will go to retrieve something deep inside this Dark Lord enemy territory and kill the unkillable cyborg. I’ll be upstairs drinking wine at a party.”
The One True Muncher: I WILL DEVOUR HER!

Can I give these two idiots ten minutes alone? I don’t care about the outcome, just that it’ll halve my suffering.

Seriously, this is starting to feel like http://angryflower.com/shoes.gif

Wait a minute, Stephen Notley IS Canadian too.

Mind = Blown.

My Master makes a quip about working for her, because as she goes up in the ranks, so do I. Jeez, thanks, I always wanted to play a Remora. Only I get to do all the work too. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE OPPORTUNITY!

And before the servers went down, my next quest.

My Master:”You will go deep into the ominous, forbidden temple and confront the ghost of some powerful Darth Dude, where you may perish.”
Nom-Nom: I WILL D- Uh…. I’m afraid of ghosts.

Don’t worry PacMan, I’ll make sure I bring power-up pills and cherries for you. And call me over-sensitive, but I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe mind you, I might be getting a whiff of a hint of a pattern here.

And what happens next? Why, one of Bioware Vintage Specials™:

Khem Valzzennegger: “The witch (that’s my master btw) reeks of lies.”

STOP DOING THAT GODDAMIT!! It’s bad enough when Mako spots a bad idea and tells my Bounty Hunter, this time even Giant Lamprey Man here is capable of spotting something so blatant it makes him say something other than

“I WILL DEVOUR HER!”

and point it out, and I’m forced to go along with it!

“Dashade, KILL!”

“No dammit, kill ME you moron, and end my suffering!”

*Sigh*

[Rant and Spoiler Mode Off]

Seriously, what the hell is going on here? It’s the same pattern over and over and it’s so worn out it left the running joke station a planet ago, yet there’s someone talented enough in there to toss lines at the fourth wall that crack me up and work in context, and I swear I don’t know whether to cut my veins or grow them long.

Listen, Bioware, I know you think you have some overall vision for the game story. Really, I sympathize. But it ain’t working. You’re killing me here, and you’re killing the writers too.

Here’s my advice:

1) Find who that writer is.
2) Have an earnest, sincere, open-minded discussion about why he’s so disgruntled and address his concerns.
3) Once that is done, LET HIM WRITE THE WHOLE DAMN THING!

There is an alternative explanation of course, and it’s that the writer is actually young and inexperienced, and thus the level of writing varies a lot. If that’s the case.

1) Find an editor, a good editor, willing to work with him.
2) Get them together and do whatever it takes to make sure they understand each other, and the editor helps the better ideas flourish, and that the writer improves in selecting good ideas from the slush pile of bad ones.
3) Put THEM IN CHARGE OF THE WHOLE DAMN THING!

And whatever you do, I recommend you:

4) Get him a gosh darn sandwich, because it’s clear as hell he’s *********** hungry.

I just found out why we can’t kill our companions

•February 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Amidst the discussions about companion characters, one thing that has come up more than once is why we no longer can kill our companions (one thing that had been mentioned before during development, but didn’t make it to the released game.

The official explanation was something along the lines that they didn’t want people to gimp themselves by lacking a companion they may need, or complaining after the fact, no matter how many warnings the “killing the companion option” came with. I was never too convinced by the explanation, as there are ways around the purely gameplay-related issues (like, for example, the “role kits” that were tested for companions to change their role at one point, among others).

At the end of the day I never gave it much thought, the companions were there and if you didn’t like the big lizard or the annoying droid you could just leave them in the ship and have them run errands. I didn’t think any of them were that bad really.

Then, yesterday, I found the reason why we can’t kill our companions. My bounty hunter got Skadge.

I have voiced my displeasure before about the way the Republic has been written, and I thought the Republic-side Voss Quests took the cake for hair-tearing bad writing, but sweet merciful Force, Skadge!

[Rant and Spolier Mode On]

I had no idea this guy was going to be a companion when I first met him, because I’ve pretty much ignored spoilers and stuck to the game itself. The fact that I can’t remember anyone running around with one of these should serve as an early warning.

Our first meeting during the early part of the Belsavis Class Quest turns out to be a sign of things to come, where I find out he’s after the same bounty I am on the godforsaken planet.

If you don’t know, by now I have completed the Great Hunt, where I’ve been hunting targets and every other hunter that came after my target on a regular basis. The fact that this guy is one mother****ing rude boaster whose first act is to threaten me and it all fizzles out without my hard-as-nails, trigger-happy champion of the great hunt Bounty Hunter ripping his ugly face off his skull confuses the hell out of me, but after previous experiences I can figure out he’s going to at least be a recurring character for the quest line.

F-ing great.

Sure enough, this moron shows up, forces his way into every dialog option thanks to the overbearing writer, who I can only assume went through at least three IBM Class-M keyboards putting the “story”line together given the ham-fistedness on display, and on top of that makes a F-ing royal mess every single bloody time and still has the gall to get on my face about it when he fails to do his part on the supposedly “team-up” plans we come up with.

Actually, that bit is possibly well played, since I’d have to be a complete and utter moron to split the hunt with this denizen of the shallow end of the gene pool. Unfortunately, the only other choice on display was to leave the quest to rot (since I can’t abandon it) and never ever progress past the point.

Hindsight is 20/20, and in hindsight that’s actually an attractive option. If you haven’t gotten that far yet with your Bounty Hunter, give it some serious thought.

Anyway, after a series of increasingly idiotic chest-beating Neanderthalian exchanges that I’m sure forced the guy writing them down to handle his pen with a chainmail glove so as to avoid cutting himself with his, only in his mind, razor sharp wit, and break another Class M keyboard while at it (hot-diggity damn I’m good, look at them manly lines!), the oversized slug belches out that he’s coming with me, because dammit all I’m not getting to his target without him.

My options are:

1) Cool! Please come!
2) I still don’t trust you, but you can come.
3) You better make yourself useful.

Champion of the Great Hunt, remember? Going after my own target. A very expensive contract to get my hands on an annoying Republic dog that I need to take down to get to someone who, at this point, has really pissed me off.

And somehow, I’m supposed to be happy as pie that some… thing I want to deface with a mallet is about to join me while claiming it’s [i]his[/i] target?

Like hell!

And that’s when it dawns on me.

It can’t be.

Surely, it must be a temporary thing.

He can’t be a… companion, can he?

I choose at random one of the “yeah, sure, come along while I completely break character after establishing it for 40+ levels based on the quests created by the very same writers“, and Mako proceeds to inform me that it’s a stupid idea.

By Yoda, it’s Voss all over again. Making even my companion see it and inform me of it while not giving me the option of shooting Bowser in the face was a nice touch too. Twist the knife a bit, will ya?

So, with Jabba’s ugly trans-species son in tow, I get to the last quest area to finally find my target. A few lines of more braindead dialog later I have captured the guy (after having Bela Lugosi faceplant during the fight too), and frog-in-a-can tells me that he wants to leave the planet in my ship.

My options are:

1) Something I didn’t see.
2) Something I didn’t see.
3) HELL NO!!

I pressed 3 so fast I don’t think the game had time to render the other two options before I did.

And what does the homeless snail say in response?

“Listen, I’m leaving in your ship, with or without you, got that?”

ARE YOU *********** KIDDING ME?!

This… This… This complete and utter writer’s failure has been nothing but a character-breaking prop that missed the obvious “tough guys making witty over-the-top banter” target by twelve Parsecs, then you have the audacity of making him threaten my Bounty Hunter, and the options you give me to choose an answer from are:

1) Okay, I’m convinced.
2) Oooh, I really like your tough guy routine, please come.
3) OMG please don’t hurt meh! D:

I literally stared at the screen for more than a minute in complete and utter disbelief.

This synapse-impaired oxygen waster should be DEAD. Like this:

1) Try saying that again. [Punch his face in until his tongue comes out of his ***]
2) I said no. [Shoot him until all there’s left is a pestilent greasy stain on the floor, wearing heavy armor]
3) Hey ugly, catch! [Throw live thermal detonator at him]

You have driven me almost at gunpoint down the Bounty Hunter path so that he’s the Champion of the Great Hunt, is on a first name basis with mandalore, and is altogether someone who doesn’t take **** from anybody, and I’m supposed to take a guy who’s been getting on my **** all day, who’s pushed himself on my hunt, and who now goes and threatens me to do something I have no business and no reason to do. And I’m supposed to take it and like it!

Thank you sir, may I have another?

Now I have a prop from Jurassic Park leaning against the wall by the bridge of my ship, to make sure I see its gosh darn ugly face every time I get to the galaxy map to go somewhere else, and who already made me want to punch my monitor in hopes of somewhat reaching him through the internet as soon as it opened its huge mouth on arriving to the ship for the first time.

And look, he’s got a little quest icon on his head now.

“It’s a bad idea.”

That’s what the little voice in my head is telling me. I believe it commonly goes under the name “Common Sense”. It’s a bad idea and it’s going to make me want to punch someone. I shouldn’t click him. Just ignore him. Ignore him. He’s not there. Ignore him…

*Click*

Bowser: Hey, what’s to do for fun in this ship?
Me: Mostly, pushing annoying people into the airlock.
Bowser: Haha! When do we play a round then?
Me: If you keep this up, very soon.
Bowser: Try it, wimp!

*Conversation Ends without a chance to actually push the ******e into an airlock*

“I told you it was a bad idea.”

I want this… this… thing OUT OF MY FREAKING SHIP!

I don’t care if it’s going to “gimp” me.

I don’t care if I don’t have enough companions to run all possible missions/crafting/etc.

I don’t care if my computer will chew my right leg if I do.

I don’t care.

Don’t care.

I don’t want to see that protoplasmic waste of space in my ship, or on my list of companions, or anywhere else near me EVER AGAIN.

But I’m stuck with it. Because we can’t kill companions. And now, I know why we can’t.

Congratulations to whoever wrote this guy, you managed to top the Republic-side Voss writer. And I never thought it possible. /golfclap

[Rant and Spolier Mode Off]

Why the Republic is dead

•January 27, 2012 • 1 Comment

Quite frankly, I’m not likely to play much Republic side anymore. Got to 50 with my Jedi Knight after holding my breath and bulldozing away to get the last quests done, ability delays and non-working instants included, and went Imperial.

Why? The Republic is dead.

No, not in the sense of “not enough players” that is often mentioned in the forum. No, the in-game, in-universe Republic, as presented by Bioware in this time period is dead. Kaput. Finita. Muerta. All that is left is a dessicated husk, and through your adventures you come to realize that you’re serving with the jackals who are fighting for the last scraps of the carcass, trying to feed themselves and starve everyone else.

There’s nothing but petty politicking, backstabbing, hand-greasing and profiteering by any and all means necessary, up to and including things that would make the Emperor blush with envy. You realize this when you set foot in Coruscant, and is only reinforced when, through your travels, you notice that anywhere you go the Republic never offers adequate support to anyone, anywhere, ever. Probably because the politicians are too busy lining their pockets with human trafficking, selling secrets, people, or even planets to the Empire, or just plain being douchebags.

Gonna have to put a rather large spoiler chunk here:

You’ve been warned, spoilers ahead.

Alderaan? Yep, you guessed it, politicking and backstabbing and only that, ever, everywhere, all the time. And everyone takes it in stride, it’s freaking business as usual! Everyone backstabs, everyone is for sale, everyone is corrupt.

Taris? A reconstruction effort worthy of McGyver, consisting of a few people with pea shooters and a few rolls of duct tape. Calling it an “effort” is rather generous. Going to the loo after a week of constipation is an effort. This doesn’t even compare, and not in a good way. Workers are held at gunpoint under inhuman conditions or face months of imprisonment if they want to leave, soldiers get sent to the planet until they die for as many tours of duty as that takes (many years, going by what some soldiers you find say) with no contact with their loved ones.

Of course, that’s nothing compared to Hoth, where the woefully unprepared kids of the Republic Army (who lack guts, conviction, or possibly even a freaking reason to fight for the Republic in the first place) prove themselves to be completely useless. It’s hard to believe whatever you’re chasing in the godforsaken planet is so bloody important when you see how seriously the Republic takes it in the first place, something that repeats itself time and again as you find the Republic army to be less of an army than a bunch of drunken Gungans on a Saturday Night binge.

But even that is nothing compared to Belsavis, where you find out what exactly the Republic has been up to in their “planet prison.” I mean, we’re the good guys here and we’ve got a whole bunch of people trapped in there forever because they were BORN in the planet prison.

Let me repeat that. PEOPLE MADE PRISONERS FOR LIFE BECAUSE THEY WERE BORN IN THE PRISON. AND THAT’S NOT ALL OF IT!

ON THE REPUBLIC SIDE.

Don’t worry, we’re from the Republic, and we’re here to help!

Small wonder that the Voss don’t seem to be able to choose sides between the Republic and the Empire. My advice to them would have been to get armed to the teeth and never let any ship ever land on their planet, no matter which side they represent.

And it all comes together when you get your butt to Corellia. One of the core worlds, pillar of the Republic, yadda yadda. All through the quest line you are shown the narrow minded pettiness of everyone involved as you choose sides time after time without being given the third “burn both sides to the ground” choice. The supposedly super-important planet that drives the war effort for the Republic gets so completely taken over that you have to personally clear of enemies a chunk of land big enough for a shuttle to land, you find out why the Republic army is in shambles (something to do with, literally, trillions of credits embezzled by one of the weapon makers there), and all because, big-***********-surprise, the “powers that be” of the planet have sold it to the Empire.

Again.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I want to grab a flamethrower and burn the Senate building to the ground.

During a special session of the Senate.

With all doors barred.

And windows too, just in case.

In the aftermath of Corellia, Twi’lek whassherface says something to the effect of “if this is what happens in one of our core planets of the Republic, who knows what other planets may be on the brink of something similar”.

Who knows? I do! All of them!

Can I have a sports question next?

And that’s just generalities, there’s so many more quests that will have you shaking your head it’s unbelievable.

So yes, it’s the darkest hour of the Republic, the Empire is gaining ground, united we stand! Or not, rather it’s every man for himself, and do some grabbin’ while the grabbin’ is good. I suppose it’s the inevitable outcome of decades of moral deconstructivism, where good vs. bad is not cool or hip because it’s [i]sooooo been done before[/i]. The current crop of writers we’ve been graced with in this game don’t simply refuse to have a good vs. bad scenario, I honestly believe they’re incapable of creating an inspiring good side at all.

So you’re left with, on the one side, the Empire with the big bad guy trying to take over the Galaxy, and on the other side a motley crowd of tin pot dictators and profiteers who, under the guise of legitimacy, give the Emperor a run for his money, if not in territory conquered, at least in scumbagness. And no matter how much Bioware love their dark and dark grey morality… thing, it’s pretty damn hard to care much when all you’re presented with is plain *********** evil and you have to pick your poison.

Once you reach that point, you may as well do what every actor offered the role of the bad guy in a B-series movie with poor production and terrible script does, and that’s to Unleash the Hog and play it like a Large Ham, go overboard in your quest for UNLIMITED POWEEEERRRRRR, and in general have a grand ol’ time as you romp through the movie set. Because once the world fails to get you involved, that’s all it is, a set for you to follow a script that’s not so great to begin with.

And if I’m going to do that, I may as well choose the side that lets me smite fools when they annoy me or tell Mandalore to go eff himself if I feel like it, instead of the side that treats me like a complete idiot and berates my idiocy for following the only path laid out for me.

Why play the Republic indeed? The sooner the Empire takes over, the better. At least that way it’ll be more obvious there’s a despot in charge, and there’s more of a chance that the general population will rise and free themselves. And if the Republic falls, so much the better.

Bunch of hypocrites, all of them; and will continue to be as long as Bioware keeps writing them I’m afraid.

In the meantime, I have scenery to chew and lightning to shoot from my fingers.