SWTOR: Shh, spoilers!

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.


13 thoughts on “SWTOR: Shh, spoilers!

  1. Geldarion November 15, 2011 / 9:39 am

    I don’t even like to spoil the epic books in lotro for people. And that game has been out for a while. I prefer more abstract discussions like classes, interface design, and companion design.

  2. Lucais Garden November 15, 2011 / 9:40 am

    You die at the end….

  3. Parker November 15, 2011 / 9:48 am

    Great post today Syp! I think this is something a lot of us are concerned about.

    I think the problem stems from the simple fact that spoilers excite some and deeply annoy others, and i can see a reason for both reactions.

    I personally loathe them

  4. Melmoth November 15, 2011 / 9:51 am

    Thankfully you can’t really spoil the story, because in the first SW:TOR expansion George Lucas comes along and retcons the entire thing, then edits all your previous adventures until they’re farcical nonsense.

  5. Nazaniel November 15, 2011 / 10:04 am

    I am having the opposite problem with SWTOR – I want information on how things work, what classes are healers, what type of heals they have, how strong they are comparatively, what the raiding model is, which crafting professions go together and which don’t, etc, and I can’t find it anywhere.

  6. Gazimoff November 15, 2011 / 10:39 am

    Syp, I pretty much agree with you. I’ll sign up to your pledge – no spoiling the story.

  7. thade November 15, 2011 / 12:57 pm

    Pledged and signed. And sentiment echoed.

  8. ScytheNoire November 15, 2011 / 1:48 pm

    From my experiences so far, reading a lot of NDA breaking stuff, no one has really been spoiling the stories. People are being careful not to tell stuff like who the Emperor is or what happens, often because what happens can depend on your choices.

    Spoiler! You can zap people with lightning as a Sith Inquisitor. Wait, but that’s only true if you go the Dark path, so it’s not always true.

  9. bhagpuss November 15, 2011 / 1:50 pm

    As you mention, this all came up before Rift. I commented then that it’s entirely in the hands of the player. I played Rift virtually every day for 6 months and I still play i t several times a week. I couldn’t even tell you the name of a single Rift website.

    The only zone puzzles and cairns I’ve done on any of my characters are the ones I found by exploring in-game. Yes, that means none of my characters has done all of them. I don’t think I’ve even found half of them. I’ve hardly completed any of the shiny collections. My Achievement list is woefully incomplete. Those are all things that are more fun to come across by chance than to tick off a list.

    Looking this stuff up is entirely under my control. I am no more likely to go and look up information on it in game than I am to turn to the end of a crime novel to see who the murderer was. There is other content, however, that I am not interested in stumbling through by dumb luck. I am not going to carry on with any quest beyond the point where it stops being entertaining and starts becoming annoying when I have the option of googling for a clue.

    I’m extremely happy for people to create complete databases of spoilers for any MMO I play because I know that I can and will use them just only when it adds to my enjoyment. In fact, just knowing the information is out there if I need it makes playing more enjoyable, even if I never actually draw on those resources.

  10. Greg M November 15, 2011 / 5:14 pm

    Also, don’t worry too much about River Song. She has a very short half life. Eventually she’s going to the dinner before the trip to the library.

  11. Corleth November 16, 2011 / 3:47 am

    I’m with ‘Bhagpuss’ on this. In my opinion, it’s entirely in the hands of the player.

    When I’m stuck or frustrated, in-game, I like to have the option of looking up the solution. Otherwise, I simply don’t look. It works very well for me, and it’s totally under my control. I never ‘stumble’ across spoilers I’m not looking for (and I rarely look).

    This position is possibly aided by my lack of time, in that I really don’t have the time, or indeed the inclination, to go browsing game related sites or blogs (unless, as I said, I’m specifically looking for something).

    So, for me, as for Bhagpuss, I’m very happy for folks to to create their databases of spoilers – just so I can dip in, on the very odd occasion I need to…. 😉

  12. Barrista November 16, 2011 / 10:26 am

    I don’t view the posting of puzzles, cairns, boss fights, etc as spoilers because these are still things you have to do to yourself and it is easier to ignore these I think. After playing in the weekend beta for swtor though I definitely see the ability for others to spoil the fun. So much so that I really didn’t want to play too much and spoil the release for myself!

  13. Llokki November 17, 2011 / 6:54 pm

    I’ve been actively reading a beta-leaks website and haven’t found story spoilers to be a problem at all…or to even exist for that matter. Most of what I read sticks to mechanics, graphics and such. Where the story is commented on, it is either a broad sweeping comment, such as “I found it really immersive/fun/interesting”, or marked with a spoiler warning.
    So yeah, I don’t think you have to be too worried. Just be careful what you read.

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