Home > Champions Online, Star Trek Online > “Buck Bang” or “Immersed in Walls of Text”

“Buck Bang” or “Immersed in Walls of Text”

One of the coolest things about Star Wars: The Old Republic is that every in-game individual, be it a playing character or an NPC, will be fully voiced. Apparently that is too much work for Cryptic Studios, who’s first MMO, Champions Online, has recently come under some criticism from the blogger community.

“It adds something to the game, but I don’t think that VO-ing all of your text provides for that big a bang for the buck in terms of immersion.”
Craig Zinkievich, Executive Producer, Star Trek Online

I couldn’t disagree more. As a gamer, immersion is one of the core elements that attracts me to any game. Syp over at Biobreak has already commented on how NPCs in MMOs seem to always have their feet glued to the ground. This in effect works against the immersion factor tremendously and causes the player to be subliminally aware of the static and stagnant nature of the individuals he or she is interacting with.

bang-buck-or-shut-your-trap-bronzebeard3

I believe the same logic applies to in-game voice overs. Not to belabor the obvious, but you will never walk up to your friend who needs your help moving, only for him to hold up a placard with a wall of text explaining why he needs your help and the logistics involved therein. Voice overs create a unique and stylized sense of immersion. The NPC you are interacting is no longer a cluster of 3D pixels and animation with no personality and no depth. That NPC now has a voice, an agenda and is now a vibrant part of the game world.

What’s more troubling is the rest of Mr. Zinkievich’s statement:

“What we want to make sure we do is be able to have a pipeline, is be able to make content and get that content out to the player as soon as possible after launch, and continue to update the game and continue to do things to the game. Putting that big huge VO section right in that pipeline makes things a little bit more difficult in terms of getting content out.”
Craig Zinkievich, Executive Producer, Star Trek Online

The statement above effectively tells me that the Star Trek Online team is more worried about adhering to strict deadlines than being focused on providing players with a feature-rich immersive world. The pipeline and associated deadlines exist for a reason, yes, but if that reason violates the sense of association with the player or shatters the illusion of it being a ‘living world’, then that pipeline needs to be revamped.

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  1. October 21, 2009 at 8:13 am | #1

    I hear what you’re saying but actually I think it’s pretty cool that they have plans in place to keep updating the game. (I’m curious what Bioware plan to do about that.)

  2. October 21, 2009 at 10:06 pm | #2

    I am not sure what you mean. Traditionally, every MMO gets updates post-launch on a regular basis. So what makes this stand out to you?

  1. October 22, 2009 at 11:48 am | #1
  2. October 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm | #2
  3. November 1, 2009 at 2:48 pm | #3
  4. August 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm | #4

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