Republic Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,281
Having played through both beginnings of Star Wars the Old Republic and Star Trek Online, I wanted to do this quick review to give my impressions of the beginnings of both games.

First, a little back story. I was born in 1982. So my first experience with video games involved my dad's Atari 2600. But the biggest influence on my life was the Nintendo Entertainment System. In my guest blog at Star Trek Online, I discussed how that experience resulted in me having no desire to engage in online gaming. In this case, however, it made me abhor the cut scene.

When I push start on my Nintendo, the game starts! Just a quick status screen and off you go!

But modern games are nothing like this. They all have to have cut scenes. And sometimes they get so excessive that you don't feel like you are playing a game. You feel like you are interacting with a movie. Which is fine if you like that. But to me, movies and games will always be two different animals.

But let's take a look at the two games in question.

The first, Star Trek Online, jumps you right into the character creation screen. With the classic Cryptic library of infinite customization options, you spend several minutes designing your character or you can just have the computer select something at random. It doesn't matter, it is your choice. But once you are done, you are given the option to run the intro.

Now, I first played this game a 10 days after launch. So I cannot tell you if it goes straight into the intro if you are new or not. So, for the sake of this review, I am going to time the frame in to frame out length of the intro video itself. This will also help take into account varying load times for each machine. These videos, regardless of machine, are things you have to watch in real time and speed of your computer won't matter.

The STO intro is two minutes, seven seconds, and 21 frames. (For those of you not in the video business, there are 30 frames per second in the NTSC video format.) This is a nice intro that gives you the basics of the backstory. Right after that, you are in the tutorial. In STO, you can actually skip all of this after going through it once. I am not sure if that is the case with Star Wars. And God, I hope it is.

The SWTOR opening intro comes in at four minutes, 54 seconds, and 1 frame. What on Earth is that all about? And that doesn't count the game opening intro (which what I caught of it was over four minutes and I was already a couple of minutes into it before I thought about capturing it). This is only the video you watch after selecting which side you are on!

And there is nothing here! Just a generic proto-storm trooper fighting against a Reman until a Jedi ninja shows up to dispatch him. There is nothing in this scene that couldn't have been explained in a paragraph. The voice-over itself only lasts a few seconds and it provides more information than the video itself.

Look, if you are a Star Wars fan, fine. But at least let me skip this. But you can't. You are stuck.

Finally, you are given the character customization screen. Coming from a Cryptic game to this, SWTOR sucks at customization. All but two of the races are locked! And what options you do have pale in comparison to what you get from STO. I think you have more customization options for the Andorian antennae than you have body styles in SWTOR!

But once you select a name, um, select a name.. Why is it so hard to pick a name? Are you telling me my character cannot have the same name as any other character in this game? In STO, there can be five Bobs in one team but in TOR God forbid two Bobs exist in the galaxy. No wonder Darth Vadar went to the dark side. Anakin was the only thing his mom could think of that wasn't already taken.

Anyway, once you click 'play' you would think you are going to, um, play.

It takes you to another cut scene! Another cut scene. Are you kidding me? I have to watch more movie before I'm allowed to play? And what's sad is this video has the basic Star Wars opening. That means it is going to include the slow scrolling text that my four year old could read before it leaves the screen.

Okay, so that is an over four minute cut scene when you boot the game, a nearly five minute cut scene once you choose the light side, and now another cut scene that I managed to mess up by actually trying to do something. From what I caught, it lasted at least four minutes, thirteen seconds.

That's a total of at least thirteen minutes of cut scenes before you are ever allowed to do anything (that doesn't break the game). That is freaking ridiculous. In STO, in that same amount of time I could have gone through the library of customization options, watched their intro, and already made it up to beaming Borg out into space!

And it isn't like the STO intro is short on back story or the TOR intro is full of plot relevant dialogue! Most of the first two intros feature fights with very little dialogue. It's just over eight minutes of grunting, generic Star Wars dogma, and light sabers.

That is just too long. I timed myself in Mario and discovered that in thirteen minutes, I could make it to the castle in World 3 on the harder version of the game. That's right. In the amount of time it takes for SWTOR to run its intros I have already made it through eleven of the 32 harder Mario levels where there is a plant in every pipe and the Goombas have been replaced by Buzzy Beatles.

If I'd have taken the warp pipes, I might have beaten the game in that amount of time!
At least thirteen minutes of videos just to play the game is ridiculous! Oh, and guess what happens when you actually start playing the game, you get another cut scene, and another, and another! There are too many cut scenes! Can I just play the damn game?

Escape doesn't work! I tried. I spammed escape and nothing happened. So you better just kick back and enjoy it. Or better yet, kick back and play through Mario while you wait.

******
Bob has a youtube "Let's Play" series for both Star Trek Online and Star Wars The Old Republic. You can catch them both by clicking on my signature pic.
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Last edited by commadorebob; 01-12-2013 at 05:40 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,060
# 2
01-12-2013, 05:47 PM
And this is one of the many reasons why Star Trek is the superior franchise.
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Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,336
# 3
01-12-2013, 10:01 PM
Thanks for the good and entertaining read.

I played SWTOR since pre-launch and left before they introduced their virtual currency store, and I agree that it was like trying to play a movie sometimes. But those cutscenes and the in-game dialogues was/is also one of the very few good things about that game I think, until it got old and time stealing.

Don't know if they changed it, but when I played you just pressed Spacebar to instantly skip past a cutscene (BioWare owe be a spacebar key btw), and you could also find the option to disable every cutscene/dialogue somewhere in the settings. Of course this wouldn't help you much when in a team and the other guys wanted to watch all the dialogue, cause then you'd have to wait for them to finish without anything to look at.

The general quality of programming SWTOR seemed to be very low though, and the load times for zones were ludicrous to the point that I started to plan my dinners before zoning. Also the game made alot of players computers overheat and in many cases to the point of no return (judging by the forum activity at that time). It was this low quality of basic "core" things in SWTOR and the inability to solve alot of issues that finally made me leave.

But yes the option to skip past cutscenes and rendered in-game dialogue should be standard in any game I think.

*Looks at wall of text* Did I do that..?
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 743
# 4
01-13-2013, 12:04 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by commadorebob View Post
Having played through both beginnings of Star Wars the Old Republic and Star Trek Online, I wanted to do this quick review to give my impressions of the beginnings of both games.

First, a little back story. I was born in 1982. So my first experience with video games involved my dad's Atari 2600. But the biggest influence on my life was the Nintendo Entertainment System. In my guest blog at Star Trek Online, I discussed how that experience resulted in me having no desire to engage in online gaming. In this case, however, it made me abhor the cut scene.

When I push start on my Nintendo, the game starts! Just a quick status screen and off you go!

But modern games are nothing like this. They all have to have cut scenes. And sometimes they get so excessive that you don't feel like you are playing a game. You feel like you are interacting with a movie. Which is fine if you like that. But to me, movies and games will always be two different animals.

But let's take a look at the two games in question.

The first, Star Trek Online, jumps you right into the character creation screen. With the classic Cryptic library of infinite customization options, you spend several minutes designing your character or you can just have the computer select something at random. It doesn't matter, it is your choice. But once you are done, you are given the option to run the intro.

Now, I first played this game a 10 days after launch. So I cannot tell you if it goes straight into the intro if you are new or not. So, for the sake of this review, I am going to time the frame in to frame out length of the intro video itself. This will also help take into account varying load times for each machine. These videos, regardless of machine, are things you have to watch in real time and speed of your computer won't matter.

The STO intro is two minutes, seven seconds, and 21 frames. (For those of you not in the video business, there are 30 frames per second in the NTSC video format.) This is a nice intro that gives you the basics of the backstory. Right after that, you are in the tutorial. In STO, you can actually skip all of this after going through it once. I am not sure if that is the case with Star Wars. And God, I hope it is.

The SWTOR opening intro comes in at four minutes, 54 seconds, and 1 frame. What on Earth is that all about? And that doesn't count the game opening intro (which what I caught of it was over four minutes and I was already a couple of minutes into it before I thought about capturing it). This is only the video you watch after selecting which side you are on!

And there is nothing here! Just a generic proto-storm trooper fighting against a Reman until a Jedi ninja shows up to dispatch him. There is nothing in this scene that couldn't have been explained in a paragraph. The voice-over itself only lasts a few seconds and it provides more information than the video itself.

Look, if you are a Star Wars fan, fine. But at least let me skip this. But you can't. You are stuck.

Finally, you are given the character customization screen. Coming from a Cryptic game to this, SWTOR sucks at customization. All but two of the races are locked! And what options you do have pale in comparison to what you get from STO. I think you have more customization options for the Andorian antennae than you have body styles in SWTOR!

But once you select a name, um, select a name.. Why is it so hard to pick a name? Are you telling me my character cannot have the same name as any other character in this game? In STO, there can be five Bobs in one team but in TOR God forbid two Bobs exist in the galaxy. No wonder Darth Vadar went to the dark side. Anakin was the only thing his mom could think of that wasn't already taken.

Anyway, once you click 'play' you would think you are going to, um, play.

It takes you to another cut scene! Another cut scene. Are you kidding me? I have to watch more movie before I'm allowed to play? And what's sad is this video has the basic Star Wars opening. That means it is going to include the slow scrolling text that my four year old could read before it leaves the screen.

Okay, so that is an over four minute cut scene when you boot the game, a nearly five minute cut scene once you choose the light side, and now another cut scene that I managed to mess up by actually trying to do something. From what I caught, it lasted at least four minutes, thirteen seconds.

That's a total of at least thirteen minutes of cut scenes before you are ever allowed to do anything (that doesn't break the game). That is freaking ridiculous. In STO, in that same amount of time I could have gone through the library of customization options, watched their intro, and already made it up to beaming Borg out into space!

And it isn't like the STO intro is short on back story or the TOR intro is full of plot relevant dialogue! Most of the first two intros feature fights with very little dialogue. It's just over eight minutes of grunting, generic Star Wars dogma, and light sabers.

That is just too long. I timed myself in Mario and discovered that in thirteen minutes, I could make it to the castle in World 3 on the harder version of the game. That's right. In the amount of time it takes for SWTOR to run its intros I have already made it through eleven of the 32 harder Mario levels where there is a plant in every pipe and the Goombas have been replaced by Buzzy Beatles.

If I'd have taken the warp pipes, I might have beaten the game in that amount of time!
At least thirteen minutes of videos just to play the game is ridiculous! Oh, and guess what happens when you actually start playing the game, you get another cut scene, and another, and another! There are too many cut scenes! Can I just play the damn game?

Escape doesn't work! I tried. I spammed escape and nothing happened. So you better just kick back and enjoy it. Or better yet, kick back and play through Mario while you wait.

******
Bob has a youtube "Let's Play" series for both Star Trek Online and Star Wars The Old Republic. You can catch them both by clicking on my signature pic.
You do know you can disable all the cinematics in the preferences screen, and you don't have to watch through all the cutscenes if you don't really want to, just press the spacebar to skip them. And TOR has limits almost like STO when it comes to character selection when you aren't a subscriber, if you subscribe, you get access to everything or the same level of access can be bought from the Cartel market for a little cash. And STO's level of character creation isn't really needed in TOR IMO. And it has a few optional extras that STO doesn't have as well, such as choosing moods for characters, it's not much I know, but it's something STO doesn't have yet.
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Last edited by wildthyme467989; 01-13-2013 at 09:27 AM.
Republic Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 826
# 5
01-13-2013, 03:02 PM
The absolute lack of "real space combat" in TOR is what killed it for me.

A game called STAR. WARS. should have epic space combat. Not on-the-rails pretend combat on par with Rebel Assault. STAR. WARS. should let you command one or more ships or fighters or freighters. Instead, we spent time on planets on quests.

Mind you many people enjoy that but it wasn't what I was looking for.

With STO, the VERY FIRST handful of missions takes you to ground/interior locations, and gives you a very healthy dose of real ship-on-ship combat.


From what I heard the TOR engine didn't support space-combat out of the box... I will never understand why they chose an engine that left fully 50% or more of the STAR. WARS. experience out.
-------------
ISE ISE Ba-bee. "If you got the Borg yo... I'll solve 'em check out this shot while my torpedos dissolve 'em"
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5,988
# 6
01-13-2013, 05:57 PM
My main problem with TOR is loading. In STO, it takes a couple of minutes from launcher to playing the game. In TOR, it takes a couple of minutes to get from launcher to character select screeen and about 5 minutes or more to get to playing the game.
Commander
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 394
# 7
01-14-2013, 04:30 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by themarie View Post
The absolute lack of "real space combat" in TOR is what killed it for me.

A game called STAR. WARS. should have epic space combat. Not on-the-rails pretend combat on par with Rebel Assault. STAR. WARS. should let you command one or more ships or fighters or freighters. Instead, we spent time on planets on quests.

Mind you many people enjoy that but it wasn't what I was looking for.

With STO, the VERY FIRST handful of missions takes you to ground/interior locations, and gives you a very healthy dose of real ship-on-ship combat.


From what I heard the TOR engine didn't support space-combat out of the box... I will never understand why they chose an engine that left fully 50% or more of the STAR. WARS. experience out.
This is my main reason for disliking TOR. This coupled with the fact that the ground part of the game is basically WoW. In fact, about the only part of the game worth playing, is the cutscenes.

Did you know, Themarie, that the Hero engine (the engine used in TOR) is fully capable of 3D free flight space combat? They even have a demo for it on their website (Hero engine, not TOR).
Republic Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,281
# 8
01-14-2013, 05:12 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildthyme467989 View Post
You do know you can disable all the cinematics in the preferences screen, and you don't have to watch through all the cutscenes if you don't really want to, just press the spacebar to skip them. And TOR has limits almost like STO when it comes to character selection when you aren't a subscriber, if you subscribe, you get access to everything or the same level of access can be bought from the Cartel market for a little cash. And STO's level of character creation isn't really needed in TOR IMO. And it has a few optional extras that STO doesn't have as well, such as choosing moods for characters, it's not much I know, but it's something STO doesn't have yet.
Hit the spacebar to skip cutscenes? How is that supposed to feel natural? ESC has been used to skip cutscenes since they started showing up in games and now they want us to use the spacebar? That's so counterintuitive! Especially since in almost every video player the spacebar only pauses a video, it doesn't end it.
___________________________
@Commadore_Bob; Joined Jul 2009; That post count + 20,000
Click on my sig to view Family-Friendly Youtube Videos
I also now have a logo shop. Click my sig!
Click here to watch my STO play-through video series.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 281
# 9
01-14-2013, 05:49 AM
I honestly can't tell how much of this is a joke and how much is serious, but I'm laughing and that's what's important.
I miss my _.
Republic Veteran
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,857
# 10
01-14-2013, 06:37 AM
I wonder if the OP ever played the Metal Gear Solid series. The final cut scene for MGS4 is about half an hour long.
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