Confession time: While I love the latest incarnation of Doctor Who over any of the previous ones — Matt Smith charms the heck out of me — I cannot understand nor tolerate the show’s fixation with the character of River Song. It’s an interesting idea coupled with a lackluster person that the show is trying to shove in my face every step of the way.
Anyway, because of the nature of the Doctor and River’s time-crossed relationship, they’re often known to warn each other of revealing too much information: “Spoilers!”
That’s kind of how I feel about big name, pre-release MMOs these days and the community around them. It’s one thing to have a game come out and then, after the fact, people start creating elaborate guides, filling out quest databases, uncovering secrets, etc. But we’re long past those days. Now, the second the NDA drops — and often before — there are loads of fan sites, blogs, databases, forums, and whatnot where the community’s insatiable demand to be fed endless information is met by an avalanche of spoilers.
I really noticed this with RIFT, earlier this year. A month or so before launch, man, everything about every zone was pretty much online. We already had dungeon guides, the “secret” puzzles in each zone identified and solved, classes extensively analyzed, etc. It went far, far beyond mere previews — which I’m generally cool with — and into territory that would normally be reserved for an MMO one year post-release. Before gamers ever get their hands on their first permanent character, the game’s already been “played” out on the internet.
Do we honestly think it’s going to be any better for SWTOR (or, hey, any of these other major MMOs coming our way)? If anything, it’s already looking to be far worse.
In SWTOR’s case, so much of the game is incredibly prone to being spoiled that I almost don’t want to read any posts about it. It’s not just dungeon guides and hidden bosses littered around the map, but the outcomes of stories, choices, and decisions that are in danger of being exposed to players. Some might say, “Well, just try to ignore it all and impose a self-inflicted media blackout.” That might work to an extent, but it’s hard to be a fan of MMOs and shut your ears and eyes completely to everything being said.
It’s not one of our best qualities as gamers to be so impatient for releases that we demand to know everything right now. Some mystery is good, particularly for one’s long-term interest in a game, and it’s worth investing in a little self-control not to be trying to milk the game dry before one ever really plays it.
I guess my biggest request to my fellow bloggers is this: Please don’t spoil the story. It’s entirely possible to talk about an upcoming game without falling into the trap of revealing everything, just like how move critics can review films without spoiling the endings. Maybe we can’t stop the tide at this point, but we can exercise a modicum of discernment with the topic at hand.