The other night, I saw a scene for the third time in the smuggler story, and it was the most hilarious thing. I already have 2 smugglers, so as you can imagine, I’ve seen several permutations of various scenes in the story.
Well this time, it was my husband’s smuggler, who is male, encountering one of his previous BSOCK NPC’s. And, anticipating high comedy, he sent Corso, Bowdaar, and Akaavi back to the ship and brought out Risha. Sure enough, that produced a catfight of epic proportions with some serious snark from Tara Strong (she’s really growing on me).
This got me thinking – in order to even access that high comedy, you had to play as a male AND have previously BSOCKED the NPC AND pick the right companion to have with you (of 4 companions that your smuggler has at that point). That’s a hell of a lot of forks and branches that determine what you’re going to see. How many of these little gems have I missed (lots)? How many hours of dialogue has been recorded so that a very small percentage of the playerbase will enjoy it – if they happen to pick the right permutations of dialogue choices plus gender plus right companion.
Here we are sitting on comedy gold, of which each of us will only see a fraction, even as we endeavor to play through all the stories, and in some cases replay the stories. There’s no way I will be able to see each reaction of each companion to each leg of the story.
Meanwhile, there are a ton of unavoidable conversations that are repeated over and over every time we boot up a new toon. How many times have we sat through the tedium of Lew Brell bitching and moaning about his idiot brother, or that Tython twi’lek kid who gets kidnapped by flesh raiders, or that crazy lady on Ord Mantell wanting her video footage, or that nutty sith wanting you to scan bloodlines for purity on Korriban… like a LOT. I know all of these by heart. The desire to see all the different stories is seriously hampered by the tedium of repetition of 90% of the rest.
Now, Bioware has said that a fully voiced game is expensive and – NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Especially when you have 5 or more versions of each story encounter. And there’s not a whole lot of return on that because again, only a small percentage will get each version.
There are some places where you are required to bring a certain companion. I usually bitch and moan about those because inevitably I’m dragged into combat with a companion that is ungeared and unsuited to the role of my character. (Especially that time I had to bring along that dingbat Skadge.) However, I would GLADLY submit to “you must have this companion with you” if it was a matter of snappy dialogue that they wanted me to hear. Yes, please. As long as I had a reasonable expectation that I wouldn’t get jumped upon by something that I could not possibly fend off using that companion.
In doing Makeb, it was necessary to cut down on the permutations and paths, and that’s ok. If we bring back companions into our storylines, however, it’s possible to do it without the necessity of recording 5 different versions of each encounter and exponentially increasing the cost. Pick a companion for each encounter and run with it. Figure out why that companion must be chosen. And then don’t make combat too awful. Done.