And no, it’s not because I was offended or something lame like that. It’s possibly even lamer!
Please note: This is not a game review. It’s a long-form retelling of a recent and enjoyable event that happened to me in-game. Also please note that my views are my own may not jive with GIQUE.
Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), a Massively Mulitplayer Online (MMO) set in the far past of the Star Wars universe, is now available on Steam. I’ve got an actual review for it coming up, but I had a strange experience that I wanted to share first.
For context, should probably explain my (lack of) experience with MMO Guilds first.
A Brief History of Time and My Guild/Fleet Experience.
Time is a human concept that was imagined and popularised so that we humans may notice changes in our environment (and sometimes ourselves). Cool nailed that, moving on the other stuff now.
For the non-gamers out there, guilds are basically huge social groups that your player can belong to. The advantages are usually better equipment (ideal for endgame missions) and having people to help you with your missions, or even just to chat to. The disadvantages are that there are sometimes Guild responsibilities, and that you need to log in every month (or whatever) or else you get booted from said guild.
I’ve only ever been in Guilds in one game, in which they’re actually called Fleets: Star Trek Online (STO).
I originally wanted to play STO for one reason: Role-Playing (RP).
And I mean ACTUAL RP – not the lame ‘Role-Playing’ descriptor that games companies lazily use instead of the actually-correct attribute of ‘Is Set In A Fantasy World‘. LOOKING AT YOU, THE WITCHER SERIES.
I had a lot of fun with the two different STO Fleets I was in, but the game is – well it’s not really very – uh – Star Trekky. So I was never able to find anyone to Role-Play with.
Remember that, because it’s important to the story.
Point is, when I first played STO, I created a cast of characters to use in certain circumstances and also shut up I’m not a nerd, or if I am then I’m far from alone: I’m pretty sure that’s a fairly common thing, especially for people who play multiple MMOs.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Enter Captain Margurette
One of the characters is inspired by an obscure throwaway line in the excellent British comedy show, The Mighty Boosh. There’s a scene where one of the tall male characters says: ‘I am known by many names. Some call me Shatoon, bringer of corn. Others call me Mickey Nine, the dream weaver. Some call me Photoshop.‘
It goes on like that for some time, and the person eventually says (among the many other names) ‘…others call me Captain Margaret’.
Side Note: There’s no real reason for me to have explained all of that. I just wanted to give The Mighty Boosh some love because it doesn’t get enough.
My character in question, Captain Margaret, is a pirate who uses dual pistols. So when I tried Star Wars: The Old Republic all those years ago and realised that it had at least one dual-pistol class, I naturally chose to make Captain Margaret.
Well, a character called Margaret anyway. I wanted to use her title (a displayable ingame accolade earnt by finishing a certain mission) of Captain.
But someone already had the name Margaret, because of course they did. So I used the name Margurette instead, because it looks fancy but sounds the same.
So I did the mission and unlocked the title.
This next part is kind of important: I couldn’t use the title because I wasn’t subscribed. That’s kind of crappy, but to be fair (and I hate to be nice to EA, but credit where it’s due) there’s a LOT of content for non-subscribers.
So, if I wanted my character to be called Captain Margurette, I had a few options:
– Start all over again with a character named Captain Margurette (maybe even Captain Margaret!)
– Unlock the title with cash as a one-off
– Subscribe to the game
However, as all this happened, I was just beginning to go through my ‘I hate pop culture’ phase – a phase that was helped along in no small part by Electronic Art’s (EA, the makers of SWTOR) woefully inadequate so-called ‘support’. Point is, I stopped taking pop culture seriously, which meant I didn’t play games made by so-called Triple-A companies. This phase lasted about 2-3 years, and I still refuse to buy EA games. Fortunately for me, SWTOR is free-to-play.
So yeah, that’s why I never had the title of Captain for that character on SWTOR.
And I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it did.
Until, of course…
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Now Available On Steam!
I know the article might seem like clickbait so far, but I had to explain all of that before I got to the guts of the story so I didn’t have to keep interrupting myself.
When I saw that SWTOR came to Steam in July 2020, I was curious about many things.
Were there any references to the recent poorly received sequels (The Force Awakens etc.)?
How had the game changed in the time I’d spent away from it?
Hell, what was the game actually like? I could barely even remember it, which – that wasn’t a good sign, but I figured I’d write a review of the game so I jumped in (after it took literally two days to download, jesus christ EA).
So I played the game for a bit as a Preferred (mid-tier account without certain restrictions) player because I’d subbed for one month way back when because that was the only way to contact support and no I’m not joking, and no they never even replied, because of course they didn’t.
I’m scrolling through my character list and I see her: Margurette.
That’s when I hatch my evil plan to finally get the title displayed for her: I’d subscribe for another month and justify it by comparing the Preferred experience to the Subscribed Experience. If you’re wondering why it was an evil plan: I’d have to give EA money. Not much, but more than I was comfortable with.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – You Son Of A Bitch, I’m In!
Finally, I had my title displayed! Captain Margurette is now a thing, and a small (and admittedly unimportant) part of my soul feels peace.
Anyway, I’m adventuring through Coruscant (the capital city of the good-aligned faction, the Light side) just doing my missions when I get a Private Message in the chat.
Someone is asking me if I want to be in their guild, because it’s a non-Jedi guild (they have another guild for Force users) and I’m using a non-Jedi character. I briefly consider ignoring it, but something catches my eye: We do role-playing.
Remember before when I said I’d never gotten to do any RP stuff in Star Trek Online? Suffice it to say, my interest was piqued.
I ask them: ‘What would my responsibilities be?‘ because I’m a nerd like that.
They reply: ‘Just have fun and get involved in the RP if you want to‘.
I’m like: ‘You son of a bitch, I’m in‘ because I still love Rick and Morty memes even if I’ve cooled off on the show itself.
They send me an invite, I accept, and then I get back to dual-blasting the multitude of enemies that the game throws at you.
After about 5 minutes, the following appears in the Guild chat, from the Guild Leader: Would all new Guild members please let me know if they’re going to attend the induction?
Um – what?
One part of me went: ‘This game has homework now?‘
Another part went: ‘Dammit I just used a timed Experience Booster, I don’t have time to frig around with social crap!’
But I landed on: ‘DUDE YOU CAN FINALLY DO SOME RP, IT ONLY TOOK LIKE 10 YEARS OF WAITING, SCREW YOUR XP BOOSTER!‘
So, I find out where we’re supposed to go (the Senate Tower in Coruscant, because the Guild Hall ironically isn’t big enough for all of us) and I head there.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Induction Time
So, I’m standing there in a line with the two other new recruits and we’re surrounded by at least 30 other guild members. They’re not there to take part, they’re just ‘getting involved in some role-playing’.
Because this is my first Role-Playing session I start wondering all kinds of things as I watch the Guild Leader walk around. Not run – walk.
Is it wrong for me, a male, to roleplay a female on video game? What things do I need to keep in mind? How do I make sure I’m being respectful to females as a male in a female role? Should I be asking for help as an RP newb? Should I have done research before I agreed to attend this induction? Why the hell am I even having an induction, is this normal for RP guilds?
Because I’d been in my own head, I hadn’t noticed that the Guild Leader had motioned me forward. I moved – I’d forgotten to turn walking on, so I ran to her, in what can only be called a rookie RP move. I turned walking on, and stood in line with the other two recruits.
The Guild Leader gives a speech, and then her lieutenants (Guild Section Heads, more on them in a bit) give us a little speech, and then I’m like ‘Oh good, I only lost like 10 minutes of my XP booster, nice‘.
Oh, you poor sweet summer child – the induction had barely begun! Well, R.I.P. my experience booster but hey – at least I’m finally having an RP experience. You can buy XP boosters in the shop, but not RP experiences!
The induction event then moved to a certain cantina (space pub).
Then the real induction begun.
It lasted for well over half-an hour, probably closer to an hour.
See, because it’s basically a Bandit/Pirate guild, there was also an ‘off-the-books’ vibe to the proceedings. This is why the real induction happened in a Cantina and not at the Senate Tower.
It took me a hot minute to realise those dynamics, but once I’d realised them I was seriously impressed with the level of roleplaying shown by my guildmates.
I’m thinking: ‘This was worth waiting 10 years for. This is everything I ever wanted from an RP session!‘ I was also worried about my XP booster but I knew I was being petty, so I tried to ignore that.
We are then introduced to the Guild Section Heads. There are four, who concentrate on different areas of operating the guild: The one who runs events, the one who runs the PvE (the main game), the one who runs the PvP (player versus player), and – uh – I’ve actually forgotten what the last one did. Sorry, 4th Guild Section Head.
The new recruits are then asked which group we want to join.
I chose the ‘Does the main game’ group because this game is HUGE and I’m not even close to finishing it yet.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – I Like Your Guild But I Can’t Stay On
We are then told the rules for the Guild, all of which are reasonable – even if I balked at one of them.
You represent the Guild now, so don’t be a dick in chat.
Suits me, I rarely use the chat anyway and I don’t even roll that way.
Don’t wear heavy armour in Guild events, for RP purposes.
Suits me, Captain Margurette doesn’t use heavy armour anyway.
Don’t use a ranked title unless you’ve earnt that rank within the guild.
Yeah no worries, I’m happy to roleplay – WAIT, WHAT?
I read it again, but slower.
Don’t use a ranked title unless you’ve earnt that rank within the guild.
I CAN’T USE MY TITLE?
I only subscribed to SWTOR so I could use the title ‘Captain’ for this particular character! And also so I could review it properly but let’s not pretend that the main reason wasn’t the ‘Captain’ title.
Oh wait, I’m panicking over nothing, I can just gain the title in the guild by ranking up!
The induction finishes – or so I think – and we move to a different section of the cantina.
The Guild PvP Section Head says: ‘Is there anyone who wants to fight me (rank up)?‘
I NEED TO DO PVP IN ORDER TO SHOW THE TITLE I’VE SUBBED FOR? PVP, WHICH I HAVE NEVER DONE IN ANY MMO EVER?
Fine, I’ll try the fight and see how I go.
I assume the position and – the Guild PvP Section Head disappears from view. Within 2 seconds I’m dead. FRICKIN’. JEDI. MIND. TRICKS.
I now have to choose between ‘using the title I paid real-world money for like a moron’ or ‘being in a good role-playing guild’.
I only paid for a month and I don’t plan on subbing again. There’s no guarantee that I’ll even have risen up through the ranks in the guild before that month’s up.
Well, you read the title to this post, so you know what I went with. I might make a Jedi character and hit them up though because I REALLY enjoyed the role-playing aspects of the experience.
Speaking of experience: I still had 10 minutes left on my XP Boost.
So hey – at least I had that going for me, I guess.