Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ten Ton Republic

After reading up a bit on a pair of Ten Ton Hammer interviews with the developers of SW: The Old Republic, I've come to a determination about this game...

It will be *worse* than SWG NGE. These developers have a lot of good ideas, but they are trying desperately to clone KOTOR and make it multiplayer, while jamming the game full of all the storylines and plot they couldn't jam into KOTOR 1 and 2. Don't get me wrong, they have a right to include content and story, in fact I encourage it, it's just that they seem to be very wistful of their earlier successes and aren't willing to let it go.

As to my earlier ideas of classes, I have revamped them. I now believe they are going to do a Star Wars d20 system similar to KOTOR. In that system, you can start as any character class and gain other classes if you want. So instead of being a Soldier and only a soldier, you can be a soldier and later a jedi, or (this is different than KOTOR) maybe become a soldier/scout mix. This is more of a Neverwinter Nights and Dungeons and Dragons idea, and if NWN taught us anything, multiplayer sucks when you can't take back bad choices in character levels.

Now, it's one thing to play as a warrior or something in WOW and realize you don't like the class and switch to another class. Usually this happens well before the character has had a huge time investment. The player can re-roll and be done with it. If there's a max level cap to The Old Republic, and you take a character level in a class that ends up being a horrible choice, your character is forever gimped. The only reason I see this as useful is to make jedi hybrids that do not start off as jedi (a la KOTOR). Even then, using a level-based system is infuriating to a SWG vet.

Consequently, I doubt we will see a return of the KOTOR D20 system with it's 20 max level. Most MMORPG's have at least fifty levels, with 60-80 being "normal." This game begs for some sort of skill system. Maybe a combination of SWG's old system and something like project entropia or Final Fantasy XI's weapon skill system. In that way, even if you unlearn professions and skills you retain the usefulness of those weapons.

For example, have character classes that provide things like tactics and specials (maybe even the ability to use specific weapons and armor without penalties). Then have a seperate system of skills tied to different kinds of weapons and armor, as well as those fun things like force powers, and naturally crafting skills. As you use weapons, armor, force powers, crafting skills, etc, your skill level increases (you can even cap skill level according to character level if you want but that seems pointless to me). This lets you use those items with some additional ease (faster reload/firing times, less energy/force required to use it, better crafting results, etc). Then, even if you switch professions, you don't feel like you've lost a bunch of skills. This helps retain continuity and a feeling of the character being real.

Just because I've become an accountant instead of being a plumber doesn't mean I suddenly forget how to use a wrench. Similarly, just because I've stopped my career as a soldier to undergo jedi training, doesn't mean I forgot how to use a blaster.

I'm ranting now, but I feel a shudder in the force the more I hear about SW:TOG.


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