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This very short story demonstrates how I consider that SWTOR has missed the occasion of being the best MMO in the history of this galaxy. With this fantasy, we can imagine how a Star Wars fan could have given his heart to a game. It might also allow you to guess my age based on which movie influenced my vision. So, in that galaxy far far away, in the time of the Old Republic, a few young and not so young adventurers formed a crew online...
A few days have past since command was given to prepare for the liberation of Coruscant. Sith forces took control of most quarters about two weeks ago. Both Republic and Sith captains have been planning and preparing for a massive fleet battle and the ensuing ground confrontations. The Republic hopes to break through the Sith planetary defenses, composed of what is expected to be over 80 starships, including a Star Destroyer that can neutralize any captain crazy enough to close in. If they fail to create a passage, too few ground troops and equipment will reach the planet.
Crews are quite excited and setting up. Amongst the attacking fleet, Captain Ioana is in the central bay of her ship and amused as she looks at her crew busy fiddling around consoles, gear boxes and chatting away about tactics. Lari is the bounty hunter and trickster of the lot. He is not the best gunner, but no one is more excited then him by that seat! Her small ship only has one gunnery turret, but a good crew can still pack a punch. Now Zlek is something else. The "hammerhead" (Ithorian) species suits him well. He manages all the oddball tasks others find too geeky. Zlek will master the sensors, countermeasures system, onboard repairs and, if needed, a set of short ranged ion beams. Finally, of course, Ioana has a wookie for a copilot. Ghgle can be annoying of sorts; only talking to those who claim their character can understand Shyriiwook. Meanwhile, Ghgle is efficiently fighting off the stress of the wait by running around the ship activating various amusing props.
Ioana suddenly calls out, "Holy... Well, mates, this is it! Get in position!". "Everyone in I hope, 'cause it's liftoff in 20 seconds," she adds. "Didn't we have the extra tech friend; should we call her in first?" wonders Zlek. "Nope," replied Lari, "She's in the Admiral flagship". "I'm pretty sure she'll have fun in that FS (and die)", types Ioana, just before their screens switch to their ship leaving the spacedock.
The crew placed themselves to the far left flank. They are part of a squadron -12 starships- that hope to rapidly dive towards the Black Sun Territory. In the heat of battle, the squadron is expected to get through swiftly and free a unit of Gree Droids who allied to the Republic.
The crew is now using voice communications only.
"The ground battles with the Gree will be sooo epic," claims Zlek. The crew agrees.
"Oh my! Damn! Do you see that, the Star Destroyer is blasting away at us," calls out excitingly Ioana. "Is it reaching? Is anyone hit?" ask Ghgle. "I don't think our tiny can would survive that," adds Lari. Captain: "No no, they are not reaching yet; looks like they are testing range... and that they clearly spotted our squadron". "So much for sneaking."
The squadron waits for the Green light. It is never given for an unknown reason.
"Incoming! Few ships front-left!" cries Zlek. "Pushing forward!" blurts Ioana. The enemy squadron expected the ships to pull aside, but instead ended up passing by at high speed. The Sith fighters are accidently forced to fight reserve ships further to the rear, while Ioanas' squadron pushes madly forward as planned. "Ooooooy! Got one," screams Lari from his turret.
Zlek suddenly and surprising calls out with an authoritative voice, "Evasive! Evasive captain! Three fregates are heading our way. I did say fregates!" The crew could see their screens shake, along with the sound of heavy canons hitting. The squadron broke up, evading the fregates' powerful blasts. Ghgle suddenly adds a "Arrghtg! They'll blow us to bits if we continue towards the planet." Zlek: "Yep, true". The captain, too focused to speak, moves the ship in unpredictable swirls, bringing it closer to their allied fleet.
"Your gunner here speaking. One fregate is alone on our tail. What about calling the squadron to at least destroy one of the fregates?!" "Roger that. Ioana Squadron, group on my position. Group on my position," orders the captain.
Overstretched by practically a light year, the fregate was able to sustain an impressive amount of fire, but was quite doomed. A flash of light appears as the Sith vessel enters an automated hyperspace jump; indicating its defeat.
"Captain," says Zlek, "the enemy fleet is pretty much on us, now." Sounds of system failures and damage rage through the starship. "Oh wow," Lari said joyfully while firing down an untold number of fighters. "We can do this!" cries the captain somewhat mockingly. The ship does a wild screw path, exits the cluster and uses extra speed to fly again towards the planet. "3, no 4 lock-ons, at least 2 torpedoes," speaks Zlek calmly. "No biggie, all good. Amateurs," continues Zlek. "Yips, 2 more targeted us, can't defend against those now... and...". Major explosion sounds rocked the ship. Sirens sounding. "Gun is down mates," adds Lari. "Er, as copilot, captain, I confirm systems are down," Ghgle said amused. "Well, as captain, I confirm we are still moving forward oddly enough." "Yeah, we have a good inertia motion going for a little while, but we won't make it," reminds Zlek.
The ship is shaken, it feels injured even, and desperately does a hyperspace jump to avoid total destruction. Indeed, exploding and respawning at some base would simply be anticlimatic and a really idiotic concept. The urgency hyperspace jump puts you in a random sector of space only a few light years away. The game shows on their screens a sweet image of their ship drifting in space, half red from molten hull, silently, and it feels somewhat romantic out there in the darkness of space.
"Hmm... Time to breath now!" mockingly says Captain Ioana. "Hehe, that was wicked," replies Lari, still sitting in his gunner seat, but releasing the stress from his fingers. "OMG! Let's fix this beast up and get back in!" burst Zlek. "Sounds good. Captain approved. Everyone else willing?" enquires Ioana.
They took about 8 minutes to patch the ship, and after getting sensors back on, and a few more minutes for the computer to set an astrogation course, they launch back to their Republic fleet ready to help if the battle is not already lost.
You can imagine I was thinking of the Millenium Falcon in the original movie that inspired my generation. I was about seven years old and marveled at the Jedi wisdom and honor, Ben Kenobi being my role model, and was thrilled by the teamwork inside the ship battles. Had SWTOR gone for open world planetary conquests, where Republic and Sith would have struggled for control points through player-driven armies, it would have made for momentous memories. Add to that starship crews composed of players, some of the more iconic species, and particular effects for being Light or Darkside, and it would have made my game.
Of course, there are many things I appreciate of SWTOR. The storylines, especially for Jedis, respect the philosophy. Flashpoints and other instances were quite amusing. The new addition of starfighters (PvP), along with new homes for players, are excellent moves by Bioware.
Our galaxy being mindboggingly huge, so others may make such games in the near future. Moreover, SWTOR seems to be now slightly moving away from the WOW syndrome and may yet be touched by the spirit of Star Wars. It can be done, as the game can easily integrate open world conquest for some planets and starship battles have been integrated.
minor sailor in The Shipwrecked Pirates (getting ready for ESO)
Nb : In this piece, it is implied that all opponents are players.
Picture credit : http://shekaar.deviantart.com/art/Star-Wars-Empire-Ship-405396152
Creative Commons (Reuse allowed)