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Spoilers Suck

Star Wars: The Old Republic Columns - By Michael Bitton on November 02, 2011

Spoilers Suck

With roughly two months left to go before launch, I’m starting to think about Star Wars: The Old Republic in far more particular ways than I usually would. It’s one thing to digest information and think about how excited you are to play, or becoming less excited due to some reveal you disapprove of, but when you’ve essentially made up your mind you want to play and you can practically taste the game at this point, you start thinking about the logistics of actually playing it in a live environment.

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about spoilers. A lot. I have to say I’ve honestly become a bit paranoid about spoilers in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and for good reason. With storyline being part and parcel of the game experience and with eight storylines to play through and hundreds of hours of content spread between them, there are bound to be spoilers all over the place. Many times they’ll be completely unintentional. Will it even be possible to maintain the mystery of the various storylines in the live game?

I’m not too sure.

I had already planned on completely turning off general chat, possibly forever, come launch. I know idiots will nonchalantly discuss the particulars of some class story in great detail. People will ask for help about this or that major plot decision; debate whether the ending was good enough, and all manner of other details. Some of these people will do this because they don’t think it’s a big deal, but some will do it on purpose just to troll others, e.g. “MALGUS KILLED SATELE SHAN!” Is it true? Is this guy just trolling? You won’t know whether to be legitimately upset or to just think the guy is an idiot. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a new breed of asshole gleefully waiting to /who and send spoiler filled tells to everyone on the planet.

That’s just in game, too. What about Ventrilo or real life conversations?  There is bound to be some overlap in class choices with your friends or guild mates, and you can bet your ass they will be talking about the story over Ventrilo or whatever voice-chat program you use. What can you really do about this? Mute your guild or Ventrilo until you’ve played all eight classes through by yourself? Make your real life friends sign contracts in blood stating that they are not allowed to talk about anything you haven’t yet experienced yourself?

Heck. How about the forums? Whether it’s our forums, the official boards, or the many other gaming forums on the internets, you know those same inconsiderate people you find in-game will be on boards doing the exact same thing.  I can already see the threads with spoilers in the titles, often an oversight, but many times as a way to troll and grief fans.  I can’t speak for other forums, but I’ll let you know this now: if you pull that stuff here, you’re going to be pretty familiar with our Banhammer! 

I realize I’m being paranoid here, but I also think these are legitimate concerns. Spoilers are a problem for many types of entertainment, whether it is games, movies, books, etc.  However, the eight stories, the length of time it will take to play through them, and the many ways MMO players interact with each other promise to make keeping yourself free of spoilers a pretty daunting challenge.  With every passing day, more of the playerbase will have churned through the content. Even if you manage to get through your own class story spoiler free, it’s very likely you’ll end up knowing more than you wanted to about the other stories you planned to play through. Extrapolate that over months or years and people will be talking about story elements quite casually.

This revelation pains me more than any disappointing nugget of information BioWare could probably pull at this point, for one major reason: What the heck is this effect going to have on the community? I play MMOs for the social experience, and as I think about this issue more and more, I feel like I’m going to have to create such a blackout on communication that I won’t really be able to enjoy those community aspects most of us love about MMOs. Living in fear of communicating while playing this game is not something I’m looking forward to. Forget ganking people during questing as a form of griefing, spoiler griefing appears to be an even more potent possibility.

Are you worried about spoilers in Star Wars: The Old Republic? If so, how do you plan on trying to keep yourself spoiler-free? Let us know in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager.