I want to take a break from playing tons of games and drooling over E3 coverage to speculate about the way players in Star Wars The Old Republic will travel between planets. With the announcement of player ships, there was immediate speculation about space flight. However, developers were quick to point out that ships do not mean you can fly. Players may walk onto their ship, click where they want to go and sit through a loading screen until they see a cinematic of their ship landing. In fact, there is some strong reason to believe that this is the case.
Personally, I would love to have a system where you had to manually fly your starship through space and enter hyperspace coordinates, but I’m losing my faith that this will be the case. Actually, I never had too much faith in space-flight, but I wanted it so very badly that it clouded my ability to picture SWTOR’s travel system in any other way. I even found myself saying, “SPACE IS COMING” when I first saw leaked information about the ships. But despite all this fangirlism, I have finally come to my senses and looked at the way the developers are talking about their game.
When asked about the navigation system, Rich Vogel said in an article: “Think of the map in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. That’s kind of what our navigation will be for traveling around in your spaceship.”
We’ve seen Mass Effect 2’s travel system, and it’s not space flight. It’d be better to describe space travel in Mass Effect as interacting with a graphical menu. An icon of a ship follows your cursor as you move it around to select the planet you want to load to. Upon selecting your destination, you get a loading screen. If you cancel out of the menu at any time, you’ll find your ship has not moved an inch: You were just interacting with a menu screen.
This is drastically different from the Jump to Lightspeed expansion for Star Wars Galaxies. In SWG, the ship shakes as you pilot it and really moves. You can switch your view from inside the cockpit to outside while you fly towards the Imperial Star Destroyer in the distance. Group members inside your ship can move freely around, or find a nice window to watch as the stars, nebula, enemy ships and space stations fly by.
Now normally, a single developer quote isn’t given too much credit because the person could have phrased their statement poorly, been mis-quoted or mis-spoke. However, there’s reason to believe that this statement was dead-on the money. Approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds into an interview with Sean Dahlberg, he referred to Rich Vogel as “The Canary” because he “sang about something yesterday”.
Sad to say, it doesn’t look like TOR will have a very interesting space travel system.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go QQ more.