I remember approaching my mother when I was little and telling her I was bored and that I had nothing to do. She would reply with things like “I could use some help folding the laundry” or “grab a bucket, fill it with soap and hot water, and give the kitchen floor a good mopping.” Needless to say, I found something else to do in a hurry!
As an adult, I have come to understand the wisdom in what she was trying to teach me. Of course I wasn’t going to remedy my boredom with chores! She knew that! But she was challenging my choice of attitude: I was bored because I had chosen to be, and all it took was a little motivation for me to find something to do.
The truth is, boredom is a problem only for the truly unimaginative. Between school, work, kids, and countless other real-life challenges, most of the time our world will provide plenty of things that demand our attention. Every now and then, however, we have a little free time -and how we fill it is completely and entirely up to us. In these times it would make no sense to complain that life has given us nothing to do. Instead, we come up with something to do, most often choosing to channel our time and effort into a recreational activity we find enjoyable. It does us no good simply to “be bored”, always waiting for external motivators to come along and force us into some activity. That lifestyle would make us perpetual victims of circumstance. Instead, the source of activity and motivation must be internal. We must choose -and sometimes just flat-out make up– something fun to do in our free time.
With the glaringly-obvious lack of new group content in SWTOR these days, we find ourselves in a time such as this. For select segments of the player community, BioWare has suggested folding the laundry and mopping the floors. Yes, BioWare is providing content, but many are questioning its replayability. And for some, BioWare is providing mode-of-gameplay options that simply do not hold any interest whatsoever. Any MMO developer’s challenge is to try to maintain balance and keep every segment of their player community satisfied. But when they fail, what is there to do?
In SWTOR’s case, unfortunately, I am afraid there is no solution on the horizon for the hardcore progression raider who plays SWTOR solely for the thrill of conquering new higher-tier operation bosses. At least not yet. The PVP segment is in much better shape now that BioWare has announced a new major warzone coming in April with the release of 4.3 (and a new 4 vs. 4 arena hot on its heels). However, from the perspective of the high-end raiding segment that derives its enjoyment solely from new BioWare-provided group activities, I see and acknowledge the problem.
That said, for the broader segment of players comprised of those who are not quite as focused with regard to group activity, now is the golden age! The dry spell with regard to new BioWare-provided group activity presents an interesting opportunity for the community to create its own group-based content.
One phenomenal example of player-generated group content is the month-long set of events Djredd has designed for the Ootini Knights guild on the Republic side of the Harbinger Server. Djredd’s events include the Ootini Hunt (a galaxy-wide scavenger hunt), Ootini Conquest (a week-long conquest point race to see who can generate the most conquest points), the Ootini Race (two podraces on different planets requiring podracer mounts), and the Ootini Cron (a platforming competition for two different datacrons). The pool of prizes has been growing as the community has taken interest and some have decided to donate to sweeten the pot.
The guild of which I am privileged to be a member, Unholy Alliance on the Imperial side of the Harbinger, frequently undertakes events of its own too. In December we had an end-of-the-year celebration during which we danced while listening to music via Teamspeak, took group photos featuring, among other things, Robert/TheParagade‘s twerking skills, and raced mounts around Jess‘ Tatooine stronghold. We recently had our third birthday bash party celebrating the third anniversary of the guild, an event that featured a scavenger hunt on the guild ship, a costume contest, and ice racing on Ilum. As I write this article, we planning a prom -yes, you read that correctly- for Wookiee Mistake (our Republic-side sister guild) on the 19th of March. And yes, we get to bring a date.
Unholy Alliance also runs regular “WOG” groups (i.e. “What’s an Ops Group?”) designed entirely to be a half-intoxicated, fantastically-awful, easy-going, mistake-filled story-mode operation run for those new to operations and terrible at operations alike. In fact, the more awful the run, the better! Alcohol is a must. Admittedly, WOG is not a competitive operations run, but my point in offering it as an example is that we are leveraging the stale content BioWare provided a long time ago and are putting our own spin on it to make it something that is both new and fun for us.
For the majority of the UA events I have described above, I have been either an observer or a casual participant at best. For every one of them I have had a blast.
Please don’t misread me. I am not arguing that BioWare is not responsible for providing group-based content. They are. The presense of raids and PVP in MMORPG’s are expectations of the game genre set a long time ago by earlier MMO’s. Nor am I arguing that keeping ourselves occupied is entirely the responsibility of the player community. What I am saying is that BioWare should provide some group content, the player community should provide some group content, and there should be a certain sense of balance and interplay between the two. Whether we enjoy ourselves as a player community is a matter of managed expectations, choice of attitude, and positive, upbeat opportunism. Naturally, those with imagination and internal motivation will always have the better time. This principle applies not just to MMO’s, but to all of life. I know because my mother told me so!
Tags: Bioware boredom Djredd Harbinger Ilum MMORPG Ootini Knights Player Content Prom Robert Speeder Race SWTOR Teamspeak TheParagade Third Birthday Bash Unholy Alliance What's an Ops Group? WOG Wookiee Mistake