Playing Star Wars Through the Years
I have a funny history with Star Wars: The Old Republic. I originally played BioWare’s iconic single-player role-playing game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, when that game was released in 2003. I thoroughly enjoyed that game’s narrative, the brilliant new characters it introduced, and the worlds new and old that the game would have the player traverse. I was left with no such feelings for the follow-up sequel, The Sith Lords, in 2004. I felt Obsidian’s deconstructionist nihilistic take on the Star Wars galaxy was not executed as well as they sought out to portray, and I was left wanting.
So when BioWare finally announced the existence of the MMORPG based sequel to KOTOR 1&2 in 2008, I was more than ecstatic. I was also a little concerned about how the game would play out because I had no previous experience with MMO’s at the time. I had only a passing, if not derisive, familiarity with World of WarCraft, a game it seemed that no PC gamer would shut up about. And I wondered, how would Star Wars fit into this mold? I brushed the thought aside and went back to eagerly anticipating the game’s release; a release that would not come to fruition for another three years.
Playing In 2011 – 2016
The Old Republic would completely upend what I thought an MMORPG would be like. The storytelling was immersive; I enjoyed the cast of characters who fought alongside me (I originally played as the Smuggler class and I named my character Action Hank), and I slowly but surely adapted to the new play style. I originally played KOTOR on an Xbox gamepad, but SWTOR was completely set up for keyboard and mouse controls, just like all other MMO’s but I didn’t know this at the time.
I had a funny incident where, when playing the game’s closed Beta, my Action Hank character got so damaged that he lost his pants. My character had gotten damaged to the point where part of his clothing was destroyed. (At the time I didn’t know you could go to the Medical Droid to fix the damage that your character takes on during the events of gameplay.) I felt absolutely embarrassed at the time to be one of the only players, one of the thousands, running around on Ord Mantell without any pants to his name. I actually created a support ticket to ask for help from the developers on this. Thankfully they assisted me in my little problem and I was able to continue onward.
I was most happy playing the game with one of my brothers and a friend of ours. We went on many adventures together, the two of them being the differing Jedi classes, and me being the only guy in the gang with a gun. However as time went on, my brother and our friend eventually stopped playing the game together and soon enough it was just me flying Solo. The problem with that, unfortunately, is that SWTOR (the acronym for Star Wars The Old Republic) was built to be a game that relied on team-based efforts. It wasn’t meant to be played as a single-player role-playing game.
I too eventually gave up on the game but came back in 2016 when I finally had the funds to build a new computer for myself. The original computer I was playing on from 2011 to 2016 just couldn’t quite cut it when it came to playing PC games, but it was powerful enough to allow me to play SWTOR, albeit on its lowest graphical settings. Sadly, before I came back to the game, I had deleted my original Action Hank Smuggler character, and instead created a Trooper character with the same name (very original I know, but so was the 2nd Death Star am I right?). None the less, my adventures continued.
To my pleasant surprise, BioWare had rebalanced the game at this time, 2016, to allow for people who wanted to solo the adventure of the game. No doubt this happened due to the game’s declining population, and the switch from a purely subscription-based game, to a free to play version with an option to subscribe to get more benefits. I absolutely enjoyed the heck out of playing all of the missions by myself, and sometimes I’d even find other players who wanted to team up. In addition to the new Trooper character I created, I also created a Sith Inquisitor character that I named after an original character I used to role-play as online. His name was Darth Yogi (yes, like Yogi Bear, if anybody under 30 gets that reference).
Although the game was great to play through like this, I couldn’t help but to feel that something was missing. After all, it had been marketed as an adventure where YOU can change the fate of the galaxy. I was still missing one component to help make the game a more enjoyable experience. I needed someone to go on this journey with me.
2019 – Rise of the THICCBOIS
Enter the arrival of my friend, fighting game rival, and fellow adventure, Dani Hussain, or DaniPlays as he’s better known as. At this point in time, we had played many games together, mostly competitively. But I offered a suggestion of playing SWTOR together as a more relaxed alternative to games like Street Fighter V or Super Smash Bros Ultimate. I could tell from our first live stream, where we played the game together, that this was going to be an amazing time. We both created Jedi Knight characters and began our quest to save the galaxy.
We had decided to create characters with a large body mass as kind of a joke because most heroic stories feature characters that have an athletic build. Although originally I had intended to create a smaller, skinnier character to act as a physical counterbalance to Dani’s larger character (whom he named Cyber Akuma, after the variation of the Akuma character that appeared in X-Men vs Street Fighter), I decided to go back and create a larger character myself. After all, thick-bois stick together don’t they?
At first, during our live stream sessions, Dani was basically following me around and trying to make sense of playing in an MMORPG. But as time went on, and the game allowed our characters to make moral decisions in addition to taking action, Dani settled more easily into the role of a gallant hero, trying to save a day. It didn’t hurt that he also took a liking to the Jedi Knight’s companion, Kira Carsen. I personally couldn’t care less about Kira, but if the companion character helped him to enjoy the game more, then I was all for it. Things especially got better when we had other friends show up to play the game with us and we’d have nearly a full squad to take on missions. In the original build of SWTOR, the game was built around making up squads of 4 characters (presumably consisting of each character class from the Republic side, or the Imperial side if you were playing those quests) to take on quests. So for the first time since I played the game at launch in 2011, it felt like I had finally gotten to experience what I was missing out on.
And while Dani and I journeyed together on our adventures, we adopted the moniker that we’re now known for. The THICCBOIS. Starting out as a joke about our characters’ obvious large body mass, it became our characters’ nicknames, encapsulating everything we became known for. Silly jokesters, always getting lost and throwing sarcasm and sass at each other at nearly every opportunity. The power of the Force was replaced with the power of the THICC. Of course, even explaining it, it doesn’t make any sense. It was just our way of bonding through an adventure that we had no idea of where it would lead.
However, a couple of months into the adventure, Dani had to deal with the very real and the very important reality of needing to finish his classes for school so he could graduate. And so we would not be able to play SWTOR together again for a few months. I tried to play the game with other friends, but it just wasn’t the same. So I once again ended up abandoning SWTOR for a short while to play other games, like Star Trek Online.
By about May of 2019, Dani and I were back at the adventure, bumbling and getting lost on each and every planet we landed on, and it was great. I’ve played other MMOs besides SWTOR. I’ve played DC Universe Online, Star Trek Online, and Elder Scrolls Online. I don’t claim to be a master of playing MMOs, but each of those games, maybe with the exception of Star Trek, just seemed to be lacking something.
And that something was my friend. So when he came back after having successfully graduated from college, the game was afoot once again.
Playing In 2020
On January 2nd of 2020, Dani and I completed the class story for our Jedi Knight characters. Although playing the same class of characters, both of us had made very different moral decisions. These decisions on the light and dark side scale created vastly differing outcomes for both of our characters. Dani’s character, Cyber Akuma, was knighted as a full-fledged Jedi. My character, Sai-Pheroth, was denied this rank but made an honorary general in the Republic Army.
(Dani’s character, Cyber Akuma, pictured left, becomes a fully-fledged Jedi Knight. My character, Sai-Pheroth, was denied that rank due to his frequent giving into the Dark Side)
The outcomes were very much deserved and neither one of us really had a problem with how our characters’ stories came to an end. The only feeling that came next was the question of, where do we go from here? We certainly could have left off from playing SWTOR and went back to hosting competitive streams on a more consistent basis. But we both knew that playing SWTOR had created a photo book of memories, and neither one of us wanted to quit playing now. Plus there were other classes of characters that we could play as, with hundreds of hours of storytelling right at our fingertips.
So began the 2nd generation of THICCBOI characters. We chose to play on the Imperial side, which allowed us to play as the Bounty Hunter and Imperial Spy classes of characters respectively.
SWTOR has allowed Dani and me not only to have fun adventures and tons of hilarious moments, but it also created opportunities for us to become better friends and to connect with our respective audiences on our YouTube channels. I absolutely feel like I’ve been able to play the game in the way that BioWare had intended for its player base. I no longer have to wonder if I’m playing the game right, or how to acquire clothing for my character, or even how to play the game’s most basic player vs environment, or PVE, functions. Everything is second nature and easy to follow. Except for those maps. Those still confuse me greatly.
Playing SWTOR over the years has had its highs and lows. I’ve left off playing the game for years at a time due to a lack of motivation or not having a group of friends to experience the game with. But I’ve come back to it now with more people willing to game with me than I imagined when I played the game at launch. It’s been an incredible experience that has more than lived up to the quality of storytelling that BioWare created when they first released the original KOTOR back in 2003. Now it’s among my favorite games of all time.
Would I have felt this way without a group of friends to play with? I honestly can’t say. I’m just grateful for the experiences that I’ve had and I hope to continue playing the game until the day comes that BioWare/EA decides to shut it down. And I hope that day is a long way off.
The Force remains strong with this game.
– THICCBOIS OUT –
- Alexander Trapp