The Social Butterfly Effect

Today I canceled my subscription to Star Wars The Old Republic. I’m a bit bummed by this news, I love the game and so far I’ve had a blast playing it. The time, however, was nigh to prepare myself to walk away. If I change my mind I still have 24 days to renew before my current time runs out. The question you’re all wondering, I’m sure, is why quit playing a game you enjoy playing? Well, the answer and a quick dip into what makes the second M in MMO so important to me after the break.

First some quick back ground. ToR (as it is known in this age of acronym dominance) was a game that had a rocky history with me. When it was first announced I was excited as could be; I’d been a fan of Bioware’s other forays into the Star Wars universe, and their ability to handle a good sci-fi romp were proven time and again with the Mass Effect series. Sometime down the line my excitement for the property and Star Wars in general was crushed mercilessly, suddenly I just wasn’t as big a fan as I once had been. I let updates and news on the game slip past me, tried out a few other MMOs, but kept going back to my first love, WoW. I mocked ToR, kept saying it would be neat for a short time then everyone would come back to WoW, and I wasn’t going to fall for it, I was just going to wait for everyone to come back.

Then I played the beta.

In one weekend my entire view of both the game and the intellectual property was shattered. I changed my mind, perhaps some things about Star Wars could still be good, after all there was a time when I loved the saga, back before Lucas kept messing with something I grew up loving. The game itself was also incredible, fun to play, immersive, truly epic in scope, and it had the ability to find that kid that loved Star Wars in me and get him to get excited about it. When the music kicked in during a flashpoint (the game’s term for a dungeon) I actually felt a little giddy. This was it, this was the game I wanted to play. They got me and I couldn’t wait for the game to come out. I’ve been playing ever since early release, and not once have I disliked the game. Even at max level there was just so much to do to keep it fresh, and with the end game content in this I never felt like I was -working- to play a game like it sometimes felt in WoW. Spending an entire week to gather stuff to make enchants, flasks, food, gear, and all of it just to go into one place once a week to fight the same five bosses over and over became too much of a grind even for me. ToR has none of that. I could spend an afternoon running around and doing some missions on Ilum and have more than enough money set aside for repairs from the raid, and that was all it took, one afternoon to be able to raid. The amount of free time that opens up is unimaginable. But there was still a problem.

As I came to find out, all this free time left me with time to play alts or just go exploring randomly with my max level character. The problem with that was that I was always doing it alone. I’d look and see groups of two or three people in my guild doing the same things I was, but they were always hanging out together. Real life friends getting together to play the game, and here I was constantly alone. Not from lack of trying, before the game launched I tried desperately to get everyone I knew who was interested in the game to sit down together and figure out a place to all play together. In the end everyone just wanted to go do their own thing. I hate playing games alone. I can do it, games like Mass Effect or Alan Wake were great single player experiences, and I can go back and play through them again anytime, but my favorite games are the multiplayer ones. It is the reason I own Borderlands on three different platforms, the reason I have Left 4 Dead and Marvel vs Capcom 3. I wanted to play games with people I know and have a good time. I’m a very casual gamer, I like a good story over a tough challenge; however, I bought Dark Souls (one of the hardest games ever made by man) and loved it because I could play with friends.

I really enjoy the communities around games, as I’ve mentioned more than a few times before, but I really only enjoy it so long as I have friends with me to share the neighborhood with. With Rift I said the game was good, fun, well made, but no one I knew played it so it wasn’t for me. Star Wars might be making its way onto that shelf as well. The game is still lots of fun, I still love it, and the design is absolutely amazing, but playing by myself all the time gets mighty lonely. Hell it is why the Doctor always takes along a companion, he wants to be able to look at something incredible and point at it and say “Hey! You see that amazing thing there? Isn’t that absolutely amazing?”. Even if whatever he points at ends up trying to kill them, it was still worth it to share the experience with a friend.

So I’m preparing to pack up and say goodbye to ToR, not sure where I’ll land after this one. I don’t believe I’ll go back to WoW either, with that I think I might actually be totally done. There’s plenty of good single player games coming down the pipeline, such as Mass Effect 3. Maybe I’ll even write more. Or could be time to find a second job after all.

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About Jeremiah Cochran

The last minute addition to the party that really brings it all together. Let's face it how else could you get past that Balrog without your Gandalf? (Yes I just compared myself to Gandalf, deal) A fan of comics, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, rolling dice, and tapping cards. Essentially he's the nerd renaissance man. Also he can cook. And do laundry (sort of).

Posted on January 25, 2012, in MMOs, Occurrences, Star Wars, Uncategorized, Video Games and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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