Forum Nostalgia

A couple of days ago I was very surprised to find a post on the official forums announcing that the forums themselves were going to receive a makeover soon (and that's not "soon™" but "soon" as in next week). According to Eric Musco, the current forums are based on "a very old and very custom version of vBulletin [and] it was simply on its way to becoming unsupportable". That makes complete sense to me and I'm glad that they're continuing to modernise everything surrounding the game to be able to continue to support it for many years to come.

When Blizzard modernised the WoW forums a few years ago, they nuked all the old forum content, but Bioware has the lofty aspiration to import all the old posts into the new platform. We'll see how well that works out. I'll be very surprised if all the links to forum posts that I've included on this blog over the last decade actually continue to work - my more pessimistic/realistic expectation is that the move will generate a lot of link rot, but we'll see.

I've also been kind of surprised by how much of an emotional impact this announcement has had on me. I've never really been very active on the official forums as I don't tend to find the discourse there particularly inspiring, but I do tend to read them quite regularly... and I just have a soft spot for that sort of old-school, bulletin board format in general I guess, as similar forums were where I formed my very first connections online in my late teens around the turn of the century (gosh, it feels weird to say it like that). I even met my very first boyfriend on a forum about Transformers (the cartoon from the eighties, not the Michael Bay movies or the electrical components).

While the forum as a concept will remain, I expect the general feel of it to be quite different after the update. There's talk about the new software including "gamificiation" features, which I guess means stuff like upvotes, badges and what not. It just won't be quite the same. Then again, maybe that'll be a good thing and I'll actually feel inspired to post more often myself, who knows.

On a whim, I checked the stats on my current forum profile, and apparently I started 20 threads and made 124 posts in total over the years, which may not be a lot but is honestly more than I expected. Most of them revolved around bug reports or suggestions, which makes sense. While I do use the in-game /bug command sometimes, the official forums are still a primary destination for me when I encounter major bugs, because it does feel good to receive affirmation that a strange new issue is not just affecting me, plus the more attention you can draw to a bug the more likely the devs will make it a priority to fix it.

Occasionally I did post about other things too though, especially in the game's earlier years. For example I asked in March 2012: "How do Republic and Imperial side Quesh stories go together?" (I think the answer is: I still don't really know/they might just not go together.) And in April 2014 I felt the urge to poll people about their favourite and least favourite flashpoints for some reason. Nowadays I'd probably just do that kind of thing on Twitter.

Anyway, I'm very curious about this update and am crossing my fingers that things go well next week. The concept of official forums may be somewhat old-school at this point, but the same could be said about my own attitudes towards that kind of thing and one could argue even the MMO genre itself. I'm glad the SWTOR team wants to continue to invest into keeping that line of communication to their player base open.

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