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Ask Massively: Sort of like literary criticism edition

Eliot Lefebvre

For those of you not familiar with Irish literature and the nonsensical ditherings of some more famous examples of same, you might not realize that today is Bloomsday, a day celebrating the novel Ulysses. If you've never read Ulysses, you're in for a treat... if your idea of a treat is a phone-book sized tome whose plot leaps and bounds like an inert lump of granite. It's a heartwarming tale of a man's growth into boyhood, a boy's growth into surrogate sonhood, and an author's growth into the sort of man who would submit Finnegan's Wake as a serious literary work with a straight face.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's time for this week's edition of Ask Massively. And today's questions aren't going to lie down and take it, since we're fielding questions about Defiance as well as the sometime-this-year-probably release of Star Wars: The Old Republic. As always, if you've got a question you want answered next week, you can send it along to or aim it toward the comment field.

Jejeune asked: Why did BioWare give us a release date of next year for one game while not giving us one for Star Wars: The Old Republic?

There are a lot of possible reasons, but sadly no definite ones that I can point to, since I don't work with the company. (To my eternal sorrow.) So let's play the theory game!

Theory One: BlizzCon is this year, and the odds are good that it will involve the announcement of the next World of Warcraft expansion. A release date might be a nugget of news that the SWTOR folks are holding on to until that announcement to try to steal some of the thunder. (Not exactly a bad strategy, if you can make it work.)

Theory Two: The current release window behind the scenes is "as soon as it's done." The devs have the expected release in mind, but they're hoping to get it out sooner, so rather than announce a date they'll be locked into, they want to retain some flexibility.

Theory Three: BioWare has known all along that it won't be ready for release until next year, but the devs want to keep the game in the minds of potential players and thus quietly keep leaving projected dates of this year around in hopes that no one will notice as the release window quietly slips. This is also known as the conspiracy theory or the "anyone who likes SWTOR offends my sensibilities and I will loudly predict its failure prior to launch" theory.

Theory Four: There are two games to be shown off at E3 for BioWare. One of them is fairly far in development and nearing release, while the other has only a little bit of work finished and won't be ready for a while. How do you make sure that both of the games have news of roughly equal impact?

Theory Five: The devs already did. Didn't you hear?
LileMan asked: So what happens to Defiance (the game) when Defiance (the television series) gets low ratings because no one who doesn't play the game cares?
That depends a lot on behind-the-scenes planning, but my educated guess is that Trion Worlds is smart enough to have planned for the possibility that the game or the show will not be a success. At that point, you just quietly decouple the two, let the unsuccessful part die, and just stop advertising that there was ever meant to be a tie-in between Defiance and a show or vice versa. If both halves are successful, great; if only one works out, well, you can drop the other part and sort of pretend it didn't happen.

Having said that, I think whether or not it will be any good is a bit up in the air. The studio behind the game has at least one major success on the books, and the station behind the show has... OK, it has a checkered past, but let's not forget that this is the channel that brought us some constant geek favorites like Battlestar Galactica and Farscape. (Yes, I'm aware Farscape didn't start there, that's not the point.) It may be prudent to wait and see what happens before declaring the show a failure.
Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!

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