30/09/2012

Spectating


The above screenshot shows my significant other's Imperial agent. I'm the little face on the bottom left, with the dash next to it, doomed to inactivity. While he's doing stuff, I'm just watching.

If you've never helped someone else with a quest that you didn't have yourself, you might not even have seen Spectator Mode yet. It's what you get put in if you're in a phased area for which you don't have the quest (most commonly because it's someone else's class quest) and a cinematic and/or a conversation occurs. Basically it means that you see what your friend sees, but you don't get to make any decisions. You can help your friends fight their foes, but you don't get to mess with their words.

On the surface, the idea of just watching someone else play the game sounds pretty boring, but actually it really isn't. Thousands of gaming videos on YouTube should be enough to attest to that, though I personally don't care much for watching strangers. Friends and family are a different matter though: if you've grown up with other gamers, you're probably familiar with the joy of looking over someone else's shoulder while they took their turn playing with the only gaming equipment that you had. Maybe I'm also biased because in our pen and paper roleplaying adventures I tend to be the kind of person who spends most of her time watching and listening to the other players instead of speaking up herself. I do want to be involved, but at the same time I appreciate a good show every now and then.

My SO and me levelling a Marauder and a sniper together has been a very rewarding experience in that regard so far. The key probably lies in the fact that I already have an agent at max level, and he already has a warrior who's nearly there, so we each already know the gist of the other one's class story - but we don't know the details.

Last night we both completed Act I of our respective class stories, and I really enjoyed watching him make his way through the agent's first grand finale. I had a hunch that he would go for the darkest of dark side options, but he surprised me by choosing the more morally grey path, which allowed me to see a different outcome than the one I had experienced on my own agent, who had made the light side choice. My favourite moments were the ones when there was a delay in his character's responses and I could tell that he was genuinely hesitant about what to do. The suspense!

It's only one of the ways in which the game is closer to a traditional roleplaying game than any other video game that I've ever played: watching your friend's character being forced to make decisions that might result in enemies flying in your face at any moment if they say the "wrong" thing is definitely a very D&D experience.

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