10/09/2012

What's a spoiler?

Seeing how SWTOR relies heavily on story for its appeal, I think we can all agree that spoilers matter. Knowing how the big plot of your class story is going to end before you actually get to play through it certainly puts a damper on things, even if you have yet to discover the details of how it all plays out. Myself, I was accidentally spoiled for the ending of the Jedi knight storyline on another blog where the writer had casually mentioned at the start of the post that there would be "some spoilers", which didn't sound too bad to me, and then he ended up giving away the two biggest plot points of the class's storyline in two short sentences. Whoa! I still had lots of fun levelling up my Jedi, and there's still a certain appeal to wondering how exactly you're going to get to your final destination once you know what it is, but at the same time I do kind of wonder whether I would have felt differently about the whole knight plot had I not known in advance how it was going to end.

Yet every time I write a post about a class story, I struggle with how much of a spoiler warning I should give. I certainly don't want to ruin anyone's enjoyment of the story, but to be honest I also don't want people to shy away from reading my posts because they are afraid of massive spoilers that might not actually be there. The problem is, where do you draw the line?

I remember when the game had just come out, some people considered even things like revealing the name of your first companion a spoiler. It makes sense in a way, because I've certainly enjoyed the few times when an NPC ended up joining my character unexpectedly, as opposed to me having heard their name before and going "ah yes, this guy's going to be my future healer" as soon as I meet them in game. However, at the same time companion names are something that's incredibly hard to maintain secret, as spoiling yourself for that information can be as easy as clicking on someone else's companion on the fleet. Then again, there's certainly a continuum there as well - companions that are acquired early in the game or that serve as romantic interests naturally get a lot of exposure, but you can go quite a long time without ever finding out about companions that are unromanceable aliens and only join the player character very late into the game.

So, does that mean that talking about companions acquired in the latter half of the game is a spoiler and talking about the early ones isn't? There seems to be a certain expectation in fan circles that everyone must've played at least the first ten levels or so of every class and would thus know about any events and characters introduced there. Also, is it a spoiler to mention that a companion is romanceable?

And then what about story content outside of the class stories? The generic storylines are usually less engaging and thus also have less to lose by being spoiled in some way, but still... there are some surprises there that could potentially ruin someone's fun if they were revealed unexpectedly.

Where do you draw the line? What sort of spoilers do you shy away from and which ones do you not mind reading about?

11 comments :

  1. I may be weird, but I like to know spoilers ahead of time. I'm the type of guy who reads the last 5 pages of a book first. I spoiled a few of the agent's main plot points because I was terrified that I'd screw them up. But as for writing, I don't like to spoil at all. Some folks, inexplicably, are different from me. I'm getting around to having them fixed, but for now I won't ruin their fun.

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    1. I know that some people don't mind spoilers, and I understand the idea of seeking them out because you just can't wait to find out what happens, but I have to admit that what you describe here is kind of new to me. How could you screw up the plot of your class story anyway? It's not like there are any objectively right or wrong decisions to make.

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    2. If you are gunning for a specific ending with the Agent storyline there are pre-requisites early on in the game. You are not allowed to do a few things, or otherwise that ending option is not possible for you.

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    3. Like Cleeyah said, there are DEFINITELY some right and wrong decisions to make as an Agent. And I totally wish I could go back and redo one of them. I'm thinking of rolling a new agent just to get it.

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  2. All I can say is one word: Belsavius. That planet specific questline surprised me, and not just because it was unexpected, but that I felt like it just kept going. Surely, I thought, it was going to come to an end soon, but nooo....

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    1. Belsavis... meanders a bit. You think the story is about one thing, but then it turns it something very different towards the end.

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    2. I don't suppose you've gotten a Smuggler to that planet yet? If you have, the line "Just once!" comes up. I laughed when I heard it.

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  3. I mostly try to avoid spoilers, but sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me, and I go looking for information that doesn't give the whole plot-point away. For the agent storyline, for instance, I got spoiled accidentally about the different ways her story can end, and then I simply HAD to go look for information about how to get the ending I wanted.

    The thing with SWTOR is, that going into the story unspoiled can cost you a lot of time and nerves. Case in point: the endboss for the Agent's Chapter One. It took me several days to get this boss down, and afterwards I learned that there was a way to completely avoid this fight. Cue a big WHARGARBL!!!-moment. (Yes, that one fight has become somewhat of an obsession with me, and I have to bring it up every time... *sigh*)
    A lot of people just don't have that much time on their hands, or a very, very low tolerance for frustration. So they have to judge if they value an unspoiled experience more than being able to play through within an acceptable (to them) amount of time.

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    1. I have to admit, I haven't had any problems with that kind of thing. I make my decisions as I feel they suit my character's personality and let the dice fall where they may. I have faith in Bioware that they won't completely screw me over for making a "bad" decision, since this is an MMO and you can't just reload an earlier save game... and so far they haven't disappointed. :)

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  4. Your sensitivity is commendable, Shintar, but I think at this stage of the game it is simply more difficult to remain unspoiled. I still have not played through half the classes in the game, but I know a lot of the details of their stories from people chatting around in public channels, guild talk, and so on. Recently more than ever, it seems.

    Which is a pity for the newcomers who never got to experience, as we have, the early sense of personal exploration and wonder. It's not something we think about often with all the sub-numbers doom and gloom, but there is still a small stream of people every week who pick up the game for the first time.

    If I were to write a detailed late-storyline post considerate of the unspoiled, I would probably make my intentions very clear in the early paragraphs and let the chips fall where they may.

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    1. Maybe it's the company I keep, but everyone I've played with has been very aware of and respectful about spoiler warnings. I don't remember ever having anything spoiled in general chat either, though to be fair I have that on a different chat tab which is frequently hidden away.

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