How many roads must a man walk down? Forty-Two.
Let’s talk about endgame. It’ll be brief.
It sounds like a odd thing to talk about, since we haven’t even discussed the game yet, but it’ll wrap around to the beginning in a second.
There will be raids. There will be a traditional endgame, once we hit our final level cap. Currently, it’s set to mostly involve sunken space cities from the distant past, but that could change. It’s going to be a while until we get to that part, and we only have sketches and notes right now.
There will be a non-traditional endgame as well. That’s in even sketchier status, and all I have right now is a Risk board with post-its stuck on it. Mostly in Australia.
But that’s fine, because our predecessor had a rich and full endgame. It was called alting. There were so many power combinations, so many different ways to play, that rolling a new concept, rolling a new character, and starting again was as much fun as anything else anyone could do. Many people never got past 30, but had stables of dozens of heroes across multiple servers.
We aim to improve on that just a little bit.
Star Wars: The Old Republic gave every class their own story. We don’t have classes. So you get to pick the story you want to live through. And we can keep adding more and more stories, as the game grows bigger and bigger.
Do you want to clean up your block? Pick the Path of the Street Hero.
Do you want to control your home block? You’re a Ganglord.
Are you more concerned with protecting the world? Be a Protector.
Want to take it over? Be a Conquerer.
Want to explore the fringes of space, time, and reality? Be an Adventurer.
Are you a Detective or a Cat Burglar?
Are you hated and feared by those you protect, or those you abuse? You Monster, you!
If your character doesn’t fit into any of the paths available, and we have more than the ones above, we will have a path for the Hero and Villain. Not to mention the Anti-Hero and Rogue and Vigilante.
If Loredigging is your thing, we will have the path of the City as well.
But what is a Path?
A path is your character’s personal story. Like Star Wars: The Old Republic, we believe in giving your character a personalized story to follow. However, SW:TOR uses only one story per class, combined with a story per world you visit.
We’re going to be a bit more involved than that. Our storylines will be divorced from class, which means we can add more and more as the game grows. Further, they will be more personalized. All Gang Boss, as a descriptor, means is the flavor, where you start from.
Using it as an example, you start as a thug, then take down your own boss to take over his game. But then, say, you come to a choice, even after you have ended an enemy by making him drive over his girlfriend in a monster truck. You can continue down the path of horrible nature, or you can use your charisma to become a celebrity. If you keep working towards the good side, you might even become President. And fight aliens with your super-powers. But that start as a gang boss will mark you forever.
Course, who’d believe a plotline like that in a game?
Our Paths are not highways. They are rivers, that branch and meet. They are the roads you walk, and the choices you make, that lead you to who you are. A criminal can rise to the heights of power, or discover that there are some deeds he can not commit, and fight for redemption. And even in those two extremes, there are variations and choices, as we bring you questions and decisions. Our Alignments update has some hints on the kinds of challenges you might face. And it’s not about how righteous you are, it’s not about being as pure as possible for extra bonus power. It’s about the story you want to tell, and what you think your character would do.
If you are to start as a Paragon and fall, you will be hated more than a villian who started as a simple bank robber. If you are a Detective that lies about results… well, you may just wind up a bit noir, so long as you do it with justice as your goal.
But a Paragon can work his way back, even after executing three men with a piece of their home planet. It will still be remembered. It will mark him. But he can regain trust.
There are characters, like Spider-Man, who wander up and down the spectrum. Batman is often wanted by the police, with varying frequency. And there are those who, like Captain America, have no problem with killing when needed, but can still fall prey to self doubt.
Our alignment spectrum isn’t simply four slices of a spectrum, and your character won’t be in black and white.
I can’t promise a completely unique game experience from start to level cap. But I can say that we plan to have entire zones dedicated to your Path, and the shared adventures you will have will be the strongest we can make them. I can even say that your first twenty levels, we are aiming to make nearly completely unique, barring those adventures we feel everyone should experience.
There will be endgame. There will be raids. But you may choose to never go there. We’re aiming to make this a game you can play not twice, not five times, but ten or more times, and never run out of new places to explore, new things to do.
Coincidentally, we’re not aiming for voiceovers. There wil be hooks for the technology in place if we feel like implementing it, but we’re more concerned about story than voice. There may, however, be voiced significant lines. We’re working out the details - it’s not urgent right now, the important thing is making the game for you.
We’ve got some pretty big hopes for our stories, and one or two of them are starting to fall into place.
Story, though, what is story? It’s not just about words on the screen or FMVs that play for hours. We were there with you. We remember the Incarnate Trial videos. Fun the first time, annoying the 5th, and then it started to get really bad.
Story is about art direction. Clean streets and skyscrapers, versus run down tenements and concrete jungle. Story is about enemies. Story is presentation, it’s mission choice, it’s so many things. And that’s why it’s so wonderful our art director has stage direction experience. We’re going to make this happen for you. Everything is going to tell part of the story. It’s just a question of how and where.
We’re going to give you agency. Choose your own path, choose your destiny.
But we’re going to do more than that. But that’s a matter for the Lead system, and another update later.