Just a few random thoughts/stories to cover before the insanity of the SW:TOR launch descends upon us all. The first thing I'd like to do is take a moment to say "Thank you" to the team at Bioware for this game. For all the delays, all the anticipation, through all the setbacks and disappointments, we are finally about to experience the full result of their hard work and vision. So before we get all upset that our favorite feature didn't make the final cut, or that our class needs a buff, let's all say thanks to the people who busted their asses to make this whole thing possible. Kudos, Bioware. May the Force be with this game for a long time to come.
In that vein I would like to especially thank Bioware's "Mouthpiece in Chief," Stephen Reid @Rockjaw. This guy should be nominated for sainthood. The amount of crap he has put up with from people in association with this game has just been epic. The hate directed at him on the forums and on Twitter just makes you ashamed to be human sometimes. But through it all he stuck to the high ground and did his job. The decisions he had to communicate were not made by him. He may agree with them, he may not. But that's not his job. His job was to keep us informed and he did that. Honestly I'd say he did more than that... staying on the forums or posting tweets late into the night. I'm not sure what his role will be going forward after launch, but I can't imagine anyone else doing his job better than he did.
The other thing I wanted to talk about was a story I found on the Yahoo! gaming blog about Mark Hamill at the Spike Video Game Awards. First off, Mark Hamill doesn't get enough credit for the great work he has done as a voice talent post-Star Wars. His work as The Joker (which he was nominated for here) both in games and cartoons has been spectacular. While on the one hand it might feel obvious to "recruit" him as a VO talent for SW:TOR, when you think about it, it simply wouldn't work. His face and voice are already so connected to this universe in a way that cannot be dismissed. And since SW:TOR takes place at a time long before Luke Skywalker, plugging Hamill in would be jarring to say the least.
But the other aspect of this story is the lack of respect for VO talents in general. The entire category didn't even get mentioned on air, or in the online show. Just as gaming in general is struggling for acceptance as an artistic medium, great voice actors are struggling for acceptance as talents in their own right. I would argue that Hamill's voice work is far superior to anything he did on-screen. Yes he will always be Luke Skywalker, but let's be honest, his was far from an Oscar worthy performance. But his voice work? Stellar. And there are plenty of other extremely talented voice actors that deserve equal recognition (Jennifer Hale being a personal favorite.) Maybe SW:TOR will help change that perception. With it being the first MMO with such a heavy VO emphasis, and just the sheer amount of voice work in the game, perhaps it will lead to more acceptance in the gaming community of the importance of this aspect of games.
My posting for the rest of the week will really be dictated by when I am admitted into SW:TOR early access. I plan to post little updates of what I did each day once I am in, and hopefully some screenshots to go with them. If I get enough time in before launch, I will sum up with a full "review" before the official launch so that anyone who is still "on the fence" about the game can get my final impressions before deciding to pick it up off the shelf for themselves.
So keep an eye on here and my Twitter and here's to hoping I'm in the first wave! :)