Monday, February 20, 2012

Adventures with Star Wars The Old Republic

Last November I was invited to participate in the beta testing of Star Wars The Old Republic, a Bioware MMORPG set in the Star Wars universe. I had no experience with MMORPG's but decided that since the price was right, that is free, I could spare a weekend to test it out. On my Mac of course, despite the game only being available for the Windows platform.

Having never played a MMO-anything before I found the experience to be somewhat irritating. Other players, without so much as a by-your-leave, would rush in and kill creatures I was planning to exterminate myself. Only once did a stranger heal me. And most of the chatting seemed to have little to do with the game.

In terms of playability though I found the game to be very playable as long as I was using Boot Camp. Playing using Parallels 7 was more prone to failures. Playing in Boot Camp resulted in failures only after several hours of play. Over all, while I enjoyed the weekend play I decided against buying the game.

After watching the re-release of Star Wars I in 3D in the theatre I reconsidered my decision and since there is no Mac version available at this time, I bought the Windows version. Since I had the beta installed I thought I would be able to get started with a simple update, but unfortunately after updating I found that the game would not go past the launch page.  So I re-installed the game from the discs. Unfortunately after that I still found I could not get past the launch page.  I searched about online and found that someone else was reporting the same problem, and like me had been a beta tester. So I wiped the game completely from my Boot Camp partition and downloaded in from their website. It took 3 days to get a complete download because it would fail multiple times during the download claiming that files needed to be "repaired". I started the process on a Tuesday and although I ran it continuously it didn't complete until Friday morning. A good workout for Windows XP, since I think that is the longest I have run Windows XP on my Mac without rebooting.

Fortunately I have had no problems playing except for occasional crashes to a blue screen. This has happened only a few times in a weekend of play and recovery is generally painless because the state of your game is being saved on the server. A quick reboot and I'm back to within seconds of where I was when it crashed.  My Jedi Consular is now up to level 10 and so far I am enjoying it. My understanding is that for the first 10-15 levels you play the provided storyline and then after that you have more freedom. So basically the first 10-15 levels are like an extended tutorial. You can create multiple protagonists so I will be creating a Sith as well so that I can experiment with their powers and storyline. There are 8 possible protagonists (4 light side and 4 dark side) and each has its own storyline, with some quest overlap.

The hardest part for me so far is that I do not like the interface. You have to use the WASD keys to move your character and the mouse (or key commands) to initiate actions such as attacks. I would far rather point the mouse at where I want to go, a la NWN2.

At this point a few people have tried to get the game to play in a Wineskin, so that Windows is not required, but according to doh123 Bioware changed something between the beta and official release that Wine cannot handle. So at this time the best option for Mac owners is to use Boot Camp and Windows.

If you found this article useful and you choose to begin playing SWTOR or are already playing but have not yet indicated that you were referred by someone, then you can show your appreciation by using my personal referral link.  This will give both you and me in-game rewards as documented at the Friends of Star Wars site here.  

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