Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Your Twelfth Assignment: Line in the Sand

Alpha Base, come in.  I am stationed above the Republic transport Esseles and using the Imperial warship to hide my Phantom.  The Esseles is currently crippled ... wait, what's that?  The engine room just got vented.  Magnifying image ... are those bodies?

Lock and load, agents!  This past Friday we got a look at the Esseles flashpoint for our intrepid Republic counterparts (aka, the guys who will lose the Galactic War).  The video was narrated by fan favorite Dallas Dickinson who seems utterly surprised that folks are watching the presentation.  "Oh hi, I didn't see you there.  Want to watch the Esseles?  Cool, let's see how the team is doing."  He's just so classy.  Anyways, Dallas Dickinson isn't the real draw here.  The fact that all the douchey Republic players are evil is!  Watch that video right now.  Right now!

Ok, watched it?  What turdbags!  "Oh hello there faithful, hardworking engineering crew.  Oh yes, we could take some extra time and save you guys, but hey, we're all for the quick and easy path.  Enjoy vacuum, assholes!"  I mean, seriously!?  Those are Navy engineers, not just some mercenaries or transients.  FYI, that's exactly how I'm going to play my Jedi Knight.  Arrogant prick.  I think it'll work well.

So, the real point of this post today is to highlight the morality choices laid out in TOR.  In the Esseles flashpoint, there's a very clear choice between right and wrong.  The Republic players, who were probably trying to impress their digital girlfriends, choice to be hard asses and vented the engineering bay.  In the Black Talon flashpoint, Imperial players have the option of killing or sparing the captain of a vessel that ignores a direct order.  These type of morale decisions are prevalent in Bioware games; they make the RPG stand out in MMORPG and have earned Bioware critical acclaim.  Let's take a look at how they craft these story moments.

In nearly every Bioware game, there's generally a *big* choice to be made near the end of the game.  Whether it's Revan's destiny in KOTOR, the fate of the Water Dragon in Jade Empire, Shepard's views on saving the Council in Mass Effect, or the choice of the Grey Warden in Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware games have thrived on presenting the player with the ultimate "line in the sand" moment.  There are definite tells when the line in the sand is coming.  I'll help you identify where that line is.

First Clue!  You're going to a far off place. 
If you have to travel a long distance through some sort of one-way portal, then it's a line in the sand.  Better get all your stuff together before you go!  The game lets you know when this is happening; ie, the Omega 3 relay in Mass Effect 2, the trip to the Star Forge in KOTOR, headed off to fight the Archdemon in Dragon Age: Origins.

Second clue!  He/She's gettin' frisky ...
Your romance options will light up like a Christmas tree when you get to the line in the sand.  Think of it as Bioware's way of saying, "Baby, I may not make it back tomorrow so let's make tonight special."  Your romance partner will display obvious signs and you'll get that trademark fade to black scene.  Bow chicka bow wow!

Third clue!  You have to make a huge choice ... just not yet.
Before approaching the line in the sand, Bioware often gives you something to mull over.  Morrigan's offer in Dragon Age, the Illusive Man's transmission before heading to the Reaper base, the Water Dragon's question before heading to the capitol, and Bastila's dialogue before heading to the Star Forge are all great examples.

Fourth clue!  The big bad is around the corner.
Your archrival/enemy/hated adversary is literally breathing down your neck.  Now it's time give him what for.  Line in the sand by its very definition.

Lines in the sand will be different in TOR because there is no saving and going back ... when you make your choice, you make it.  You have to live with it.  Choose wisely.

And don't be a douche.

Fly safe, shoot straight.  For the glory of the Empire!

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