22/05/2019

Group Decision Making

I've sung the praises of the group conversation system in the past, and I stand by everything I've said about it. It just makes for a fantastic experience when playing through story content with friends... even in content that you've all done many times before. I was reminded of this while doing a master mode Esseles with three of my guildies (Cal, Mace and Ori) last night.

Naturally, all of us having been there dozens of times before and aiming for quick weekly completion, we hit those space bars to get through all the conversations as fast as possible... but that didn't prevent us from talking on voice chat about what was going on story-wise. The funniest of these chats happened when we entered the engineering deck.

Brief context for any readers who might not know/remember: The situation is that you are on a ship that's been boarded and you are under pressure to quickly get to the bridge to reclaim it. The bridge is locked however, and you've come to engineering to find a way to open it up. You are given two options: A reactor reset, which will achieve the desired result instantly, but also flushes a group of engineers that are trapped behind a force field right in front of you out into space (dark side). Or you can shut down the secondary conduits, which means that nobody has to die, but you have to take an extra two to three minutes to run to the conduits and kill the mobs around them (light side).

Does the gravity of the situation allow for you to take the extra time to choose the "safe" option? The NPC that's accompanying you, Ambassador Asara, doesn't think so and wants to sacrifice the engineers right then and there, but it's up to you to make the final decision.


As soon as we entered, the following conversation ensued on TeamSpeak:

Ori: Ah yes I know, we have to throw them out or Mace is just not going to do anything.
Mace: [laughs]
Cal: I was about to say: check alignments, people.
Me: You sound like someone speaking from experience.
Mace: For some reason light side tends to win a lot here!
Cal: Because who can bear to watch those engineers be flushed out into space every single bloody time?
Me: It's horrible!
Ori: Mace, take a bathroom break.
Everyone: [laughs]
Cal: What are you trying to say here?
Mace: Well, they need help getting out. So I help them get out.
Cal: Oh dear. Well, let's see what happens here.
[All except Mace make their choice on the crucial conversation option.]
Me: The suspense is killing me.
Cal: Roll, Mace, roll!
[He times out and one of us light-siders wins the roll to save the engineers.]
Me: He can't even make up his mind! Or he already went on the bathroom break.
[He times out on the next conversation choice as well.]
Me: Oh come on, making us wait through this is just cruel.
Mace: [laughs] That wasn't my intention, sorry...
Cal: Oh dear.

After that the three of us proceeded to shut down the conduits while Mace chilled with Asara for the next few of minutes, in silent protest of us choosing the goodie-two-shoes option that adds extra minutes of run time to the flashpoint. We all thought this was hilarious.

I have actually had similar - if slightly more subdued - banter about conversation choices in pugs sometimes, but generally speaking, the group finder's "press the button and go", expecting-to-be-in-and-out-in-30-minutes culture is unfortunately very much at odds with this sort of system. For that reason I can completely understand why Bioware has chosen not to include conversations in the newer flashpoints... but at times I do wonder what else we could have had if the game hadn't gone down the route of designing flashpoints primarily for quick and endless repetition by pugs.

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