The Engagement Is Off: Breaking Up With The Old Republic

Obok hasn't aged well under the pressure of monthly payments.

I’ve been hesitant to commit, then I rashly got engaged. I sunk hours of play into my relationship with The Old Republic [TOR], now I’m calling it off. I purchased the game, paid the monthly subscription fees, then I realized I was not happy. I was no longer satisfied being in this costly relationship. The newness of our accord quickly wore off, and all that remained was the constant grind that constantly cost me $15 a month.

The first month passed. The newness of BioWare’s, well done, story arcs dried up like a Tusken Raider corpse sitting under Tatooine’s twin suns. Each time I launched Origin, I would hover my mouse over the TOR launch icon, just to move it away. Obok Stillsky’s bounty hunter blood no longer boiled for dangerous contracts, and my thirst for the Dark Side had been satiated . The only contract I was concerned about now, was the one I had with Electronic Arts.

Blizz, I knew you the least but I will miss you the most.

I never was a Massively Multiplayer Online [MMO] fanboy but I couldn’t resist  the lure of a well funded and developed Star Wars iteration. I realize now, that I will probably never be a MMO regular. TOR had all the makings of an MMO I could enjoy, and honestly it is a well made game but its biggest problem, for me, it’s an MMO. Some of the fault lies with me and the types of games I enjoy playing, which are anything but a MMO. One issue that I take no blame for is the soon to be archaic subscription model, that less and less MMOs are using.

The pain of me leaving is too much for her to bear; she can't stand to look me in the face.

Paying for a game, then continually paying for it on a monthly basis, is and will forever be foreign to me. With great games selling for $15 to $60 (not excluding superbly priced indie games that go for cheaper) that provide 100s of hours of game play, I have trouble justifying a $60 down payment in addition to monthly fees. The subscription model for MMOs are going the way of print and my experience with TOR was my first and last venture into this dying business model.

Not even a free TOR Tauntaun pet will bring me back.

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The Quesh Mess and My Garden of Eaten.

The planet of Quesh, in The Old Republic, is overrun with mutant animals, infected with Republic scum and oozes toxins, unless refined, that are deadly to breathe. My back patio was overrun with insects, infected with rodent scum and oozed toxins from the cigarette butts of past renters. In both the world of The Old Republic and in the world that is my back patio, my goal was clear, clean this place up.

Quesh is inhospitable for the most part; unless you take a serum to help fight the toxic environment, you will quickly die on the planets surface. To add to the hostility of this planet, the toxins can be refined and used as war-turning adrenals, that boost the bodies healing abilities, reflexes and concentration. My patio’s environment was deadly, until winter blew gingerly through and killed the toxic leaves of the suffocating poison ivy and sumac. Once cleared, the patios limited ground space will be converted to produce nutrient rich vegetables.

Obok Stillsky and his companion Torian, go on safari.

The first to be cleared from Quesh’s surface are the Republic troops that stand in the way of both my credits and the Empire’s manufacturing of adrenals. I’ve started my killing spree and I’ve crippled the Republic’s toxic mining abilities. I can taste success and I can already see the credits piling up in my ships cargo hold. After raking, yanking out weeds and shoveling out roots, I can taste the bounty of vegetables in my mouth. I can imagine my refrigerator stocked with carrots and onions.

In the background, the flames of adrenal production.

I’ve laid down the foundation for the Empire’s conquest of Quesh. I’ve left Republic miners dead and even better, buried and alive within the same tunnels they were using to stockpile adrenal agents. I’ve turned the soil of my garden, coined The Garden of Eaten, and put down top soil that will be the foundation of my gardens growth. I’ve lined my pockets with blood-credits of fallen Republic soldiers and I’ve lined my patio with contractor grade edging.

As I near my triumph on Quesh and within my backyard, I become embolden. I start  to plant the seeds of multiple victories over the Republic forces, taking all offered missions. Standing on my patio, I can see the Dark Side within the freshly turned over dark soil. I am energized and my plans for my Garden of Eaten expand like the conquering vines of the Sith Empire
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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.