Sh*t I’m Engaged, to The Old Republic.

I skipped the dating phase, force jumped over the “exclusive” period, and went right to putting a ring on its finger. I’m engaged to The Old Republic [TOR]. I went from fearing even going out on a date with TOR and straight to commitment. The ring is purchased (game) and I am already set up for potential alimony payments (monthly subscription fee). I’m fully invested and loving every bit of the honeymoon period.

                        Should she be laughing that much?

In my younger years and admittedly, even in my 20’s, I would get lost in the books that make up the expanded universe of Star Wars. Reading intricate stories about the fringe characters from the movies (especially the bounty hunters) and playing the D&D based Star Wars role-playing game [RPG], provided me an expanded view of the dark and seedy underbelly of Star Wars. It is this dark and seedy underbelly that made my love for Star Wars what it is today, it is also the reason I threw caution to the wind and put on ring on TOR.

So who am I? In the RPGs, I always gravitated towards bounty hunting. It’s true, there’s no better prey than human, or Wookie, or Aqualish, or Nikto, or Gungan… especially Gungan. I was Obok Stillsky, Tusken Raider turned bounty hunter. I was lawful and only took bounties on those who deserved it. I was part of the seedy underbelly but kept my hands clean from a moral standpoint. With age though, I’ve become a bit more dark sided.

My main influence to role-playing my TOR character is derived from Watto’s famous line in the Phantom Menace,”Mind tricks don’t work on me. Only money.” I am still Obok Stillsky but I am a Chiss; a purple skinned, red-eyed hunter, with only one motivation… credits – Mitt Romney would be proud. I don’t negotiate with targets, no matter how sympathetic their story may be. I don’t fear falling towards the dark side if it means getting the results I need on a bounty. What kind of bounty hunter would I be if I didn’t fulfill my contracts?

Perhaps the most famous Chiss of Star War's lore, Admiral Thrawn.

The books and RPGs of my past are now being relived in a digital world. TOR does a wonderful job of further adding to the great Star Wars lore and even throws in a few, rather large, easter eggs that reference games and books of the past. There is actually a Raven (of Knights of the Old Republic fame) cult, referred to as Ravenites, who play a large role in the game play on the planet Dromund Kaas.

The themes I’ve encountered as a money hungry bounty hunter have been mature and fun, even in conjunction with Disneyesque dialogue. A request by a high ranking  Imperial officer to kills his daughter? If the credits are right, Obok will oblige, and did, despite her whimpering pleas. All the gadgets you saw in the movies are there too. Jet-packs, flamethrowers and explosive/electric darts are all at your disposal. Even the great negotiator, the thermal detonator, is available at higher levels.

So from the pages of the RPGs and books has come TOR. Looking to play the stoic Jedi or embrace the dark side? TOR has it. Want to be a Han Solo like smuggler or a shifty Imperial agent? TOR has it. TOR has drawn from the database of Star War’s sources and turned it into one of the first multiplayers I have spent more than four hours in, much more than four hours.  TOR is the marriage of Star Wars lore and underworld-done-right. I have found my future wife and within her world, Gungan bounties are done pro bono.

My Inability to Commit: Keeping My Distance From The Old Republic

There is no other universe that I cherish more than that of Star Wars. From the hippie-dippie Jedi to the skilled stalkers of the Bounty Hunters Guild, Star Wars has been a constant in my life. It has provided me with thousands of hours of entertainment, spurred creativity and brought me closer to certain family members. It has also caused me great pain. The death of Qui-Gon Jinn, of Yoda, and the lack of a death for Jar Jar Binks, have all caused me moments of sadness and, in Yoda’s voice,”Suffering.” One Star Wars related experience, in particular, had a double impact.

One thing that has been on par and now surpassed my love of Star Wars has been PC gaming. When the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game Star Wars Galaxies released in June 2003 I was just getting ready to start my last semester of undergrad and had been anticipating its release. What a perfect game for me to get lost in during the summer before my last semester? Well, it wasn’t. It was a disappointment. I played very little during the free month provided with its purchase. I never played it again. Like Obi Wan on the Death Star it disappeared. Occasionally, like the force, it would whisper to me through news bits on gaming websites. I’d even listen, on occasions, to a podcast that reviewed add-on content, but I never committed to it again.

When news of a new Star Wars MMO (Star Wars: The Old Republic) first started making its rounds I was vaguely interested but mostly brushed it away like a juvenile Bogwing. As more info came out about The Old Republic [TOR] the more interested I became. When BioWare was named the developer of the new MMO, my Jedi senses raised the hairs on my arms. I had been fooled once before by the Lucas hype machine so I still didn’t commit. This time I would wait for the reviews and make an educated decision, not rush rashly towards a choice like some kind of scruffy nerf herder.

Well the reviews are out, and they have been spectacular. I must admit I was hoping  that they weren’t. I was hoping for poor reviews and an easy excuse for me not to commit. I was wanting the Death Star to win this one, by blowing away my desires to play, but with Jedi Masters like those at BioWare, I new this games destiny was greatness. Now it really pains me not to commit, not to play and not enjoy a universe that I consider almost family.

My fear? This game will take too much of my time. This is a worry I’ve never had, for any game. I would actually welcome such a fear for most games and then follow it up with a purchase. Not this one. I am actually hesitant to commit. I am fearful of the amount of time I would invest into this game. Will I eventually change my thought process and hyper jump into the TOR universe? One thing keeps repeating in my head as I continue to fear this purchase, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” I would hate to end up suffering but I hate monthly subscription fees even more.

Fool Me Once, Shame On You…

Can I recover from being spurned by a true love? Am I able to forgive and believe that which is dearest to me has truly changed? She does look different. Honestly, she looks gorgeous compared to when we last parted ways. She looks smarter, acts smarter and, even appears, to care about changing her ways. I don’t know. Can I forgive Star Wars Galaxies [SWG] and commit to her in her new and mature form of Star Wars: The Old Republic [SWtOR]?

You’ve appeared to pick up a few tricks from the time of our last soiree, the kind of tricks that would be useful in the bedroom (expanded dialogue options). Frankly, you appear to be a completely new person (New developer [BioWare] and is in no way tied to SWG except for the the Lucas lore).

The hype behind us potentially dating is persuasive (see this years [2011] E3 cinematic trailer below) and your friends say you are really a new person (previews have been reassuring). I remember that being the case before we dated last time too… Months and months of your friends saying I should date you (huge marketing push with SWG prior to its launch). “You were meant to be together,” were the words coming from my closest friends but none of them actually had spent any time with you (out of my gaming friends from those days I was the only one who actually purchased SWG).

I also remember your requirements of monthly dinners out (monthly subscription fees) rather I actually saw (played) you or not. I couldn’t say no at the time. You were everything I hoped for in a girl (game), but hope and actuality ended up being miles apart.

Now you want me back again and I must confess, you do seem shiny and new. Your implants and nose job (SWtOR graphics engine is amazing for an MMO) look great. I mean your makeup free look of the past was earthy (SWG was coated in the color brown) but your wrinkles would quickly show.

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SWG's Earthy Brown

SWtOR "implant" enhanced look.

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I don’t know. I mean, things are different but there are some glaring similarities. I’ve heard your promises before and you will have a lot of friends that will bide for much of your time and require me to share you (guilds for SWtOR have already been established). Also, loyalty to you will require almost all my free time (MMOs can be very time consuming) and will I get out what I put in (Will quest be rewarding and dynamic as promised?).

Well I have changed too. I don’t jump in head first like I used to. I like to make informed decisions rather than rash ones (read reviews extensively). I think I will wait until other people get to know the new you (player feedback) before I start saving for that engagement ring again.