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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: The Legacy System: Journey vs. Destination

By Michael Bitton on October 20, 2010

The folks over at Star Wars: The Old Republic fansite DarthHater got a chance to pick the brain of SW:TOR Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert at GDC Online recently and the information gleaned from the interview got the SW:TOR community buzzing once more about the oft-rumored “Legacy System” that may or may not be included in the game by launch.

While no one knows what exactly the Legacy System is, rumors of it go so far back they even predate the official announcement of the game! The basic gist of the system, however it may manifest, is that it encourages replay of the game.

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I like to think there are two general methods of thought regarding the play of MMORPG games. There are those who enjoy the game moment to moment and often don't even ponder the endgame too much, and there are those who hit the ground running once they pop out of character creation and make a bee-line for the endzone. Some of those who fall into the latter category appear to be up in arms over this idea of incentivizing replay value, perhaps reading too much into Bioware’s approach here (wanting players to reroll and experience the content they’ve spent millions upon millions of dollars developing) as evidence that they may be doing this at the expense of focusing on endgame content.

I happen to fall into the former category of players, the leisurely folk who like to experience the journey rather than focus on the destination, and so even if Bioware did focus on giving me more incentive to go through the game with another class at the expense of being focused on the endgame (again, a bit of a logical jump), I suppose it wouldn’t bother me so much.

I’ve been playing the original Guild Wars a great deal lately, trying to get the 30/50 Hall of Monument points in preparation for the eventual release of Guild Wars 2, and I am doing this with a number of friends. One of these friends, who falls into the latter category I mentioned earlier, is waiting for me to catch up to his character and balked when he found out that I was still below level 10 over a day later. Why? Because I was busy doing all the sidequests I could find. He commented that I was “not the right person to play MMOs with”. Some of you reading this are nodding your head in agreement, and I know a few of you are probably laughing because you do the same thing.

Of course, players like me don’t really need extra incentive to go through the game again. In fact, those of you who have been following this column for a while now may not be sure whether I like or loathe Star Wars: The Old Republic in general and there’s a reason for that. I have mixed feelings on the game (yes, it is possible to be neither a fanboy nor a hater!). I’ve mentioned in the past that I currently plan on playing Star Wars: The Old Republic as if it were any other KOTOR game (albeit with multiplayer), with the potential for a good MMO underneath being a bonus. At the very least, I expect Star Wars: The Old Republic to offer me eight great stories to go through. Giving me additional incentive to go through the game the way I planned on doing so anyways? No complaints here!

So, why all the hub-bub? Star Wars: The Old Republic is being developed in a post-WoW world, that’s why. While I realize that the WoW community is huge and likely has a great many role-players, PvPers, and leisurely types such as myself, the vast majority of the WoW culture is centered on the endgame raids that Blizzard churns out for their players to conquer. Bioware has previously commented on the fact that SW:TOR would have raids, and so I really don’t understand the hoopla over giving players incentive to reroll characters. World of Warcraft does this already through the heirloom items system, and I’m willing to bet a good deal of the WoW players reading this article likely have several decked out level 80 characters in their roster. There’s nothing stopping Bioware from delivering a strong endgame offering while still encouraging players to go through the game with different characters to experience the content they’ve toiled so hard to create.

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