Macros, and add-ons, and scripts! Oh, my!

Gaming is a bit like owning a car, it will give you hours of fun, cause you to neglect your girlfriend and best of all, you can soup it up anyway you like. After all, it’s your car, you can pimp it out till the cash runs out, so long as you’re not trying to run the thing on nitro or installing hood mounted cannons. Games should be the same too, right?

Welcome to the world of add-ons, custom UIs and all the other shiny things that make our games work the way we like best. So when Bioware announced ‘no add-ons at launch’ there was an understandable blow-up by many commentators. Over-reaction, much? To paraphrase Daniel Erickson: Absolutely!

The first point: all that’s been said so far is that there’ll be ‘no add-ons at launch’. How can anyone take issue with that? After all, a rushed or poorly implemented add-on could break the game. Then there’s the crazy notion that perhaps it’s a good idea to actually play the release version before thinking about what colour go-faster stripes you want to stick on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no issue with add-ons as long as they’re used in the right spirit. Most of us have used them to improve our game experience and make things easier or quicker, so much so that if we were forced to do without them some would feel, in some way, gimped. I suspect that is why some in the community felt dread at the thought. But is a vanilla experience really such a bad thing? I would suggest it’s not for two reasons. First we’ll all get to start fresh and on a level playing field. No one is going to have an advantage, we’ll all be like new born lambs skipping about the dewy meadows of [insert starter zone here]. Okay, in the case of Hutta it’ll be a polluted bog and Ord Mandell, a shell-cratered wasteland, but you get the idea.  The second point is that it’s going to force us out of entrenched behaviours and while that’s going to be painful for some, it’s probably long overdue because there are some out there who have gone waaaaaaay overboard. I’ve know people who endlessly finesse their customised UI but you need a penicillin shot just to walk across their loungeroom.

However, not everyone is going to like being made to go cold turkey. Let’s face it, opinions range from SWTOR not being different enough from earlier MMOs, to the polar opposite of it not being similar enough and providing avenues for all the nasty little habits we’ve developed. If you are in a gaming rut so deep you need a team of sharpers to get out, I’d take the assist and stop complaining that daylight hurts your eyes.

Apart from wanting a fair and consistent experience for every player, I think it’s clear that the lack of add-on support demonstrates Bioware want YOU to play the game, not an augmented you. Case in point – no auto attack. If you ain’t hitting the keys then you ain’t attacking. All your character is going to do is a series of beautifully animated blocks. This forces you to stay involved in the moment, to maintain situational awareness and I’m all in favour of this. I like a little RP in my RPGs, I want my character to be an extension of me, not be insulated from it. To be honest I find that many things I used add-ons for are already catered for, so I’ve not suffered any withdrawals, but to my hardcore raiding friends and OCD PVP amigos, I’d recommend chillaxing.

To use the car analogy again, it’s the difference between driving an automatic or a manual.

I’ll take the manual anytime.