Ludonarrative Dissonance in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Our very own Eric 'sea' Schwarz has penned an editorial on the ludonarrative dissonance in BioWare's oft-discussed MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, or, in other words, the conflict between the MMO's core gameplay and its aspirations of cinematic storytelling. I'll let this brief snippet do the talking:
The Old Republic, in an attempt to cater to MMO-sized player counts, as well as to, I suspect, pad out play-time, hosts far larger game levels. Most planets in the game have a very typical setup in which quest givers are placed at one end of the map, often accessible only through awkward and convoluted transport routes, nestled in over-sized buildings, and their objectives are placed gradually farther and farther away - often with few truly convenient fast travel points in between. Almost all of these areas have dozens upon dozens of enemies which aren't difficult to defeat, but which require frequent resting (for health recovery) to get past. And curiously, every city and large building seems to have a gigantic pillar in the way for culling purposes, but which also takes abour 30 seconds to get around each time.

What this means is that the majority of time in The Old Republic is not spent engaging in adventure and thrilling narrative - it is spent running back and forth, from A to B, typically doing nothing of interest. When you're playing The Old Republic, you're rarely actually questing about, doing Jedi or Sith business, you're either holding down the W key, mashing the same two hotkeys over and over in a combat encounter, or sitting there waiting while hit points regenerate. The the biggest sin of any game is to pad itself out with needless time-wasting tasks, and The Old Republic features this from the beginning and never, ever lets up.

This isn't to say that all games are devoid of pointless travel time. Let's face it, many, if not most games do have environments and enemies created specifically to slow the player down... and many titles, especially traditional RPGs, have a degree of backtracking. And it's a well-known secret that MMOs are often built specifically to make certain tasks take longer than they really should in the hope that it will keep players there longer, thus increasing the probability they will spend more money on subscriptions and premium items. However, in The Old Republic, the size of the environments becomes a major hindrance as simply getting where you need to be is pointlessly frustrating even in early levels. This is a direct and fundamental contradiction to the fast-paced action and adventure that is a Star Wars hallmark, and as a result the thrill of playing as a Jedi Knight or bounty hunter falls off significantly even just a few hours after stating the game.