04/05/2018

5.9 Patch Thoughts & Story Epiphanies

Yesterday was a very good patch day: new content and lots of small fixes of the best kind. Example:
I'm particularly pleased with the tweaks to the trash before Izax though. I do like the idea of the puzzle leading up to the boss, but we've wasted quite a bit of time on it in the past when - despite of understanding what we were meant to do - the "moving pieces" behaved in mysterious ways that prevented us from completing the puzzle. ("How can they not have line of sight? They're right next to each other!")

I was excited to see the mission "Introduction to Conquests" get fixed, as it's very rewarding for alts who complete a conquest for the first time, but it had been impossible to complete for the past few weeks because Bioware had forgotten to update the quest to make sure it actually got triggered by the new conquest system. I immediately had some alts to visit after patching up who had already been waiting to collect their bonus rewards.

And the introductory missions to Black Hole and Section X are back, yes! I never understood why these were removed in the first place, especially with 5.0 making the old daily areas relevant again.

And of course we got the new flashpoint... I will save my opinions on that for another post though. It did cause me to have an only vaguely related revelation in regards to my feelings about MMO lore and stories though. You see, I've often said that to me it's very important that the writers take their own world seriously, which is one of the things I really love about Bioware. And just as often others have countered with arguments like "The real world is already serious enough!" or "Humour is good!", which I didn't really know how to counter, though I didn't feel like these arguments really addressed the heart of the matter.

The newest installment of SWTOR's main story is very earnest and serious, with nothing to really laugh at. It succeeded in evoking all kinds of emotions in me while I played: excitement, curiosity, worry. And yet... I actually made some light-hearted moments for myself too. For example there was one point when it struck me just how lush the environment was, so I decided to go out of character for a minute, put on my trooper's beach outfit and lounged next to a waterfall for a silly screenshot.


At another point, I tried to knock some mobs to their deaths and managed to make one of them bounce off the wall in such a manner that his body came to lie on a narrow ledge... and it emitted a loot beam. In my guild I'm infamous for not wanting to leave any loot behind, so of course I took that attitude here too. First I fell to my death even trying to get to the mob, then I reached him successfully to loot but died afterwards because there was no real way to get back off the ledge without dying. It wasn't really worth it in monetary terms but it's always more about the principle of the thing for me anyway. Throughout the entire sequence I was providing running commentary for my actions to my pet tank and we both got a good laugh out of it. Then it was back to the story and serious business.


And this got me thinking: I'm not averse to making fun of things, but I prefer for it to be my choice. It's easy to take a step back, laugh at some particularity in an otherwise serious story, and then get back into it. But when the whole thing is a big joke from beginning to end, with everything being a parody of something or other and characters spouting movie quotes left and right - that may well be funny sometimes, but if the humour is not your cup of tea it can be hard to enjoy what's left despite of it. An overall serious story can easily include a couple of chuckles here and there, but something that doesn't take itself seriously to begin with will have a difficult time when it comes to getting people to genuinely care later on. At best it's likely to be a very jarring experience. So I do like me a good bit of humour and laughs, but I prefer worlds and stories that can be taken seriously and that the players are allowed to make fun of when it pleases them instead of the devs treating everything like a giant joke from the get-go.

5 comments :

  1. It’s funny really. I remember us both reacting to Nathema being revealed as the Flashpoint location with some disappointment based on the lack of interest in the scenery.

    Now it’s come out and the lore-inspired scenery changes have made it into easily one of the best-looking planets yet.

    SWtOR’s scenery creation in general has improved tenfold over the past year. I’m really excited to see which Planets we get with 6.0, as if they’re even half as good as Nathema and Copero, we’re in for one hell of a treat!

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  2. The only patch that I truly care about is one where they finally fix the lag on companions where you don't have to stop and wait for them to finally catch up with you.

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    1. Can't say I ever noticed that, beyond what I consider their "normal" lag, which I always thought was an intentional way of simulating a person/creature trying to keep up with you but not being able to predict all of your steps and speed changes with perfect accuracy.

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    2. I suspect it's graphics card related, much the same way that the taxis would occasionally vanish while riding to a destination in Nar Shadda and Coruscant.

      I've watched the companions closely, and it's almost as if the companion partially freezes and then gets "unstuck", then spends time trying to figure out your path and catch up. Sometimes it's better than others, which makes me think that the exterior graphics has something to do with it. I changed shadows to low res thinking that might be it, but no luck there.

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  3. You have to zoom out a bit with your mouse, so that you see the comp running behind you always, and they stop falling behind. (Agent Snark)

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