Monday, April 16, 2012

A Trial by Force Lightning (The Story of a Free One Week Friend SWTOR Trial)- Part III

Sith and Sword Fights

Author: Cob
Flying Sith.  Saber Flaring. 

So far I had shot people in the face and thrown some rocks around. Some of my opinions on the game had begun to crystallize; I liked the Empire since they were more confident and less preachy, using the force is just too sweet to pass up, being sarcastic is fun, and I prefer the light side of the force. Wanting the get the most out of my trial that I could I think my next choice of character was clear. So are you cognizant of what I’m considering? The time had come to beat things about the head and shoulders with a laser sword, Sith style.
Never having been a big fan of melee classes, I still had fun with my Sith Warrior. I only made it to level ten but felt I had a healthy variety of ways to hit things in the face. Vette was also my favorite companion that I used (I like a girl with some spunk). I also confirmed my preference for the Empire. From my limited experience, Empire questing seems more active and aggressive, while the Republic is passive and defensive. When I go questing I want to blow stuff up, get things done. Additionally, being sarcastic is fun, but being sarcastic to a Dark Lord of the Sith is an absolute blast. I only finished the questing on Korriban, but it had locations that I recognized from the old KotOR games and I enjoyed that (if you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of KotOR references). Without playing as an advanced class I don’t have any firm opinions on the class, but I was planning on becoming a Marauder, just because I’m not really one for tanking.

In conclusion, with the game in general I was very impressed. It was a solid dialog driven RPG and an accessible MMO at the same time. The world, characters, and story seems just as deep and interesting as the previous KotOR games, but even bigger this time around. Gameplay was also excellent. Questing seemed varied and engaging, PvP was fast paced and rewarded player skill, and the limited amount of group content I explored was easy to get into and rewarding. The community was something I didn’t really experienced, but that also means that I didn’t run into any glaring negative aspects. All in all a stupendous game, worthy of the Old Republic name (no let-down sequel here). The only thing that I regret not getting to experience was having a ship, but I wouldn’t trust a level 15 with a starship either. 

I would like to thank Eli for sending me the friend trial and playing with me, and also for letting me post on his blog. I would also like to thank BioWare for making another great game. Last but not least, thanks to anyone who reads this ridiculous string of KotOR references and babblings. 
Getting blown up trying to kill some bounty hunting fool
That’s the final part of the guest post and I want to thank my friend for writing it up for my blog.  I had a great time running around and playing the starting planet three times with him.  I will note that having recently been on the Public Test Server earlier before he started his trial, having a character that has sprint at level 1 is very nice and I missed it dearly during the Friend Trial.  If we had had sprint we might have gotten through four or maybe even five characters.  I mean seriously not having sprint for the vast majority of our adventuring experience is a pain but those long runs make for good banter I suppose.  I was pillaging money and deleting all my alts as soon as we hit fleet, because frankly I only have 1 character slot still open and I probably won’t continue on with any of those alts anyway.  At least I was getting legacy experience and a little bit of money from the alts I deleted.

I also wanted to mention at the end of this post that sometime around the beginning of May, Cob and I will be launching a new Diablo 3 blog where we will be discussing our thoughts and adventures on that game.  If you are interesting in checking it out I will be posting more information about it as the time draws nearer. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Trial by Force Lightning (The Story of a Free One Week Friend SWTOR Trial)- Part II

Goggles and Gravel

Author: Cob

It was now time to stop messing around. It was time to forget about a good blaster and start thinking about hokey religions. That’s right; it was time to use the force. I wanted to try the Republic and a Jedi Consular seemed the obvious choice since I stereotyped it as a bit of a “mage class,” and mages get all the cool spells. Now armed with the knowledge that races are kind of pointless, I picked a Miraluka in honor of Visas Marr from the second KotOR. I always thought that Visas was the last of her race, but since I sexed her up as well (boo-ya) I guess I can not only take credit for the existence of Satele Shan, but all the Miralukas as well (you’re welcome).

First impressions are as follows.

1.          Jedi are cool
2.          A spray of pebbles are not as cool as lightning
3.         Huge rocks to the face totally make up for the pebble thing

I also realized how exceptional the character voice acting was. My agent did some nice work with different accents, but I thought that my Jedi had a voice that really nailed the character.

Out of all the characters I played (all three) during my trial, my Sage Jedi Consular was my favorite. With interesting skills and a variety of stuns, combat was very active and fun. I also liked the way she ran with a lightsaber out (it’s the little things that matter, and one thing that I have learned about MMO’s is that character animations are a big deal when you can play a character for hundreds of hours). I never tried any PvP but I can remember getting smashed by a few Consulars on my Agent so I don’t think it would be too bad.

I did get into the crew skill aspect of the game on this character. The fact the resource gathering and crafting could be done anytime and anywhere was classy. I went with Synthweaving, and the armors I could make were pretty good to use at my level. Reverse engineering for better recipes and some material returns was a very tidy way of getting rid of all the extra items that get crafted while grinding levels. My skills capped at level 40 but up to that point I found crew skills to be useful and satisfying. 

        Final Impressions on the Consular

1.     A little bit of the overinflated importance with the whole level five Flesh Raiders threatening the Jedi Temple
2.      The super boring unemotional Jedi personality was restrained to minor characters, unlike the movies (Oh Qui-Gon Jinn, your voice was so gravely, yet your personality was so plain)
3.     Goggles are sexy

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Trial by Force Lightning (The Story of a Free One Week Friend SWTOR Trial)- Part I

          In the last week I invited my old real life buddy to Star Wars with the Friends Trial.  We have been gaming together going on a decade now and we attempt to play as much co-op content as we can get around to.  The weekend before he started his trial we were mixing it up in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer but with his new computer I thought pushing him back into an MMO would be some fun.  I also invited him to write a guest post about his experience he had with the game.  He took up my call to write a post and due to its length I will be splitting it up over 3 parts this week.  So without further ado here is part 1 of the guest post Trial series by Cob.

Snipes and Sarcasm

Author: Cob

I’ll start with a little background to establish my credibility in this quasi review. I am a big fan of the first two Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) games and BioWare games in general. Kicking Jolee Bindo in the face after joining Bastila on the Dark Side is still one of my fondest gaming memories. I also have a history of disliking the sequels to my favorite games (see Halo 2 or Oblivion). I also played World of Warcraft (WoW) for almost two years during my escapist days in college, so I have opinions on what I like in a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). All that said, I enjoyed my time in the Old Republic, and consider it a solid game.
Cob's first character:  Imperial Agent Sniper

                My first experiences were as an agent for the Galactic Empire with aspiration to train as a sniper. I chose this class because I played a Hunter in WoW and figured I would be comfortable in a ranged damage roll. I chose the Cyborg race since I thought that the “keen cybernetic eye,” from the Scan racial ability, that was advertised would aid me in my sniping, I was later disappointed to find that it only meant I had a lame social skill, but no matter. I was joined in my adventure by my good friend Eli. We have been gaming together since the golden days of the Super Nintendo, so a rhythm was quickly established. Once I got through the initial trails of key binding and figuring out the quest log, I notice something. I was playing a dialog driven role playing game (RPG), and one with some solid co-op besides (I really enjoy the conversation roll system). This games definitely seems like it was designed as an RPG first and an MMO second (not meaning that the MMO side was lacking). The story actually makes fairly good sense and all the dialog had good voice acting (at least everything that was in Galactic Basic, the Rodian was an over actor).

It seemed no time at all before I had expanded the Empire’s influence on Hutta, acquired a companion who shared my love of sassing authority, and was ready to head into the wider galaxy. I left without the feeling that I had only accomplished what had already been done by hundreds if not thousands of people before me. This was good and an uncommon MMO experience for me. The fact that all the meaningful quests were class specific, and occurred in my very own instance, left me without the feeling that I was beating any dead horses. The Datacrons hidden around the planets were a nice feature, as I am a fan of exploration and collection, and stat boosts are nice.

Arriving at fleet I was treated to my first Flashpoint (FP) by the level 17 Sith Inquisitor that Eli had brought out to simplify the experience. The first thing that I noticed was that it could be run with two to four people, giving a good range between two player simplicity and four player craziness (be it good or bad), which is cool. The second thing that I noticed was all of the dialog. Yep, I’m definitely playing a dialog driven RPG. I don’t know if it is normal for most parties to just skip through dialog as fast as possible, but as a guy who likes dialog and story when I can get it, I enjoyed it. Other than one death from my early pulling of a boss (I couldn’t resist tossing a grenade into the five pull), we breezed through the FP without troubles. We then ran through it again with an even higher level Sith Warrior of Eli’s to run me through, but this time we ran it with dark side choices. This led to a refreshingly different experience and is another cool feature (a strong argument for the dialog). From my first Flashpoint a gained the feeling that something interesting had just happened (without the overinflated level of importance that some games try to attach to low level content), through meeting with Satele Shan (I knew sexing up Bastila was a good idea), and a shiny new chest piece.

Now I was ready to show the Old Republic my PvPness. The ability to gain experience and credits meant that I wasn’t wasting my time, and the bolstering of my level meant that I wasn’t being a tremendous letdown to my team. These are outstanding features. Even if I was operating with a very limited skill set (sprint was certainly pined after), I felt that player skill was the main deciding factor in my victories or defeats (mostly defeats, I hadn’t quite mastered my skills and key bindings enough for PvP yet). The game types were varied and fun to play. Huttball is an interesting twist on the CTF (capture the flag) archetype, even if I sucked especially badly at it. My only complaint was not being able to queue into a specific game type, but being able to queue from anywhere is very handy.

A few quest on Dromund Kaas later, that I was now over leveled for (thank you PvP experience!), and I was now level 15 and my time with my sniper had come to an end. My impressions of this character were mainly that 15 levels wasn’t quite enough time to really get the character figured out, while also learning how to play the game in general. I did enjoy playing the character and wanted to play more. The character and story was interesting and I liked the way my skills were panning out. I didn’t quite crack the nut that is using cover effectively, but given more time I think it could have led to some interesting play options.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

PTS Adventures in PvP and UI Customization

                Starting about two weeks ago I have been braving the crash heavy Public Test Server (PTS).  Originally I was doing this to see patch 1.2 and, I confess, to get the title for getting a character to level 10 on the PTS.  There is also a title for getting a character to the end of chapter one as well, but let’s face it I am still not quite 50, so probably won’t be getting that title. Source: PTS 1.2Patch notes under general > second bullet point down. 

Novare Coast
Novare Coast Scorekeeper
               Once I hit level 10 I started PvPing (player v player) so I could get a look at the new warzone.  Novare Coast is the new PvP Warzone.  The game is described as “Majority 3-point Domination.”  The goal of the game is to hold at least 2 points.  How is this different from the current Alderaan Civil War Warzone?  In Alderaan Civil War you are taking the opposing team’s ship shield/health down as long as your team controls a turret.  In Novare Coast your team needs to hold 2 points to start taking down the enemies’ bunker.  The points represent artillery posts.  One point is needed to knock the shield protecting the bunker down and a second point is needed to damage the bunker when that shield is down.   Capturing (or capping)  the points also works different such that the more people capping the point the faster your team can cap.  Also note that disrupting the person/people capping does not reset the cap.  Capping of the points works more like a tug-of-war type match.  The map is fairly open but with rugged, hilly terrain.
A look at the terrain
New PvP Queue Interface

Another shot of the PvP queue but scrolled down
Charging up the hill to take the bunker. 

               Being a low level character I didn’t check out much else on the PTS, which coupled with the fact that my game crashed every ten minutes if I was lucky.  After logging in for the fifth or six time I was done with the PTS for the day. 

                However I did get to mess around quite a bit with the new User Interface (UI) customization.  I have some screenshots of the various default plates.  Click them to enlarge. 
To customize your interface

Default Layout

Default in Interface Editor

Extended Bars Layout

Extended Bars in Interface Editor

Retro Layout

Retro in Interface Editor
My Custom Layout

Custom in Interface Editor

Then the last screen is of my new custom setup which is a hybrid of retro and extended bar.  I actually like, or maybe I am just used to, the way extended bar is set up.  I haven’t used an Interface like retro in years and with it I find myself looking at the wrong part of the screen and hunting for the information I need.  I do like my new hybrid of the two interfaces.  I like my chat box down at the bottom better.  In PvP and open world combat elevation changes, i.e. the target being on higher ground, has me often clicking in my chat box and trying to kill enemy by shouting binary mixed with some w’s at them.  SIDE NOTE: Binary does not seem to be an effective way of killing others.   I am still tweaking my custom UI as I go though.

                Here are some more screenshots of my interface with party and operation frames. 
Party Frames.  Unfortunately I only have one person in my group.

Operation frames from a PvP match

Tips for new UI Customization
Moving secondary windows

  •  As mentioned before to show additional bars it is under the UI Editor and not under user interface options anymore.
  •   To move the secondary menus, i.e. inventory, character sheet, etc., toggle on moveable secondary menus in the UI Editor.
  • To enable target on target select the target on target frame in the UI Editor and toggle the enable option.
  • Adding health information
    Target of Target
  • To show health text on health bars select the frame/frames you want to show health text on and toggle on show information text.

Multiple secondary windows open and moved around

These are just some questions people have asked while I was on PTS and I thought others might want to know.  If anyone else has any questions about the UI feel free to ask below in the comments and I will try to get back to you with an answer. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Light Side v Dark Side v Neutral

                As announced at the guild summit there will be legacy bonuses for Light Side V and Dark Side V characters.  At some unknown date Neutral alignment characters are also supposed to get some love.  The legacy bonuses for alignment will be in the form of abilities for all legacy characters.  Also some of these abilities will be combat abilities while others will not. 

Dark Side IV on a Cyborg
                So I am assuming that some social abilities will be available as well.  I guess at some pt I will need to work on a Neutral character.  The best approach for this is to have a set of standards like companions and turn off the show Light Side/Dark Side choices and just play “grey”.   But right now there isn’t much benefit to being neutral.

                The animation of Sith corruption on your character is pretty sweet.  I still think it looks best on Human and Cyborg models, since it pales the skin, darkens the eyes and sprawls the head with spider veins.   I miss the bright red of my Zabrak’s skin as he gets more evil ala goes to the Dark Side.

Light Side IV
                The animation for Light Side is a sweet nothing on the character models.  I would like to see my light characters have a soft white/yellow glow coming off them or something cool.  I have heard arguments that while there is fluff in Star Wars for the Sith Corruption on characters there is no precedence for any hard line Light Side characters.  I will argue that we haven’t really seen any hard line Light Side Jedi in the movies, expect for maybe on the Jedi Council but their characters aren’t deeply wrought in the movies to know if they are truly Light Side V.  But alas I shall have to wait and see what comes with legacy for Light Side V. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Am Not Done Yet

So I am back.  Due to being out of town, busy personal matters and playing Mass Effect I have had little time for swtor.  I am commencing play, well while posting this actually.
Captain Pratt looking sinister and such.

                So to give everyone an update the weekend before I stopped playing I did start my smuggler.  His name is Pratt and not only do I love the name but I like his look.  However I still haven’t played him much.  Side Note:  Congrats to Njessi for dinging 50 on her smuggler.  Last I looked, like a week ago, the group I was looking to level my smuggler with was levels 25-28.  Pratt is level 11.  He is woefully behind and I am sure it is a lost cause to try to catch up to them at this point.  So in summery I am keeping Pratt but staying the course with the Empire.

                My Bounty Hunter (BH) is breathing new life as I respecc’d him to Pyrotech and found that Player vs Player (PvP) is very fun with this spec.  Almost every MMO I have played I am always a healer and mostly do PvE (player v environment).  I don’t know why but I find healing in PvP to be dull.  Not being able to blow someone up is something I sorely miss as a healer.   I also think that when I PvP as a healer I have to rely on my teammates more.  The freedom my BH provides is exhilarating due to even if my team is uber bad I can still hunt down and kill prey on the side.  This makes loses not feel so much of a defeat.  I know I bested people and held my turret control despite the fact my team lost the other turret control because half of them got wiped out while the other half was fighting nowhere near an objective.   I would not feel like I was having much fun though if I was healing my teammates as they attack 3 on 1 and we just trickle our attack at an objective versus using massed assault, but whatever.  On my BH I feel much more control of my life and death, no one around to depend on but myself.  On a plus side, it’s not always a wash and hey winning is great.

                In other news one of my best real life friends will be joining me this weekend for the friend invite deal and my brother will be joining us sometime shortly after that.  I am looking forward to bringing these MMO veterans in to the swtor universe.  All in all it will shape up to be a good weekend.  See you out there. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Meters and Logs

                It seems that on the issue of combat meters everyone has an opinion.  Some people like them, and well some people don’t.  There are many reasons for this.

                Meters aside for a moment people like information.  In swtor, the information that the game provides to a player is very minimal to say the least with regards to combat.  When you get defeated you have no idea of whom hit you last, if you were hit by multiple foes or how hard they hit you for.  You are not given information on how much damage your armor reduced, or your passive damage reduction.  It also doesn’t tell you the damage your shield absorbed or the damage you dodged.  Nor for a PvPer does the game tell you the damage your expertise reduced.  That’s just on the defensive side of the game.  What about offensive moves.  There is no log on critical or how much surge is boosting them by; there is no telling damage boost from expertise.  Then the same goes for healing.  I will say that yes I do have all my fly text on but the fly text doesn’t break down the damage or defense or healing specifically like I am talking about.  Essentially the game does not even have a combat log.  You might be saying wait all this information you seek is in your character panel, and to some extent you are right but the character panel gives ranges and static values.  With a combat log you can see live data on all of these values not rather that just theorycrafting from the character panel.

                Combat logs are invaluable to players and would be a welcome addition.  There is no reason not to have combat logs, which can improve peoples’ personal games. Skipping over to meters, which tend to be lauded or seen with resentment. 

                The positives of meters are that on an individual basis you can see numerical data that shows how effective your healing, damage, or defense is.  From a healing stand point you can see your effective heals, overhealing, regeneration, downtime and criticals.  Some healing tends to be more situational than rotation based letting a healer see where they can use what heal to be more effective.  Granted as a healer you do not need to have meters.  Keeping people alive and in the fight is what gets the job done, however meters can help healers if they want to improve.  The same goes for dps (damage dealers) you do not need meters to do damage if the boss dies and you win all is fine.  On a personal level meters can help you improve your rotation to get more out of your character.  Or as a dps you could go look up a rotation that someone else has made.  They probably did this with meters and you won’t know if it’s working unless you see it on meters yourself.

                The negatives of meters result in each person being held to a standard.  If you are below this standard you are not good enough.  The problem with this is boss fights involve more than just straight damage; there are more times often than not, mechanics to overcome to defeat the boss.  If a player puts out amazing dps but dies 45 seconds into the fight then they aren’t really worth the spot compared to someone that puts out less dps but listens and survives until the boss is down.

From the guild summit they commented on meters and logs some.  From what I understood of what the Bioware team said there will be limited simply command so that you can see what defeated you and with what you defeated someone else with.  They also said that a detailed log showing everything your character does and everything affecting them will be out loaded so that it can be viewed but only out of game.  Also the detailed log is only on a personal level so you can only see your characters information not the entire groups.  Meaning some 3rd party would have to make a program to collect and view this information for groups or in game.

So it sounds like swtor will be getting very accurate out of game logs.  They said they were going for the middle ground with this idea but I still don’t see why having very detailed logs out of game coupled with some less detailed logs in game would be bad.  Having them out of game could be nice for making charts and helping convey the data in a more meaningful way.  But in game I still would like a little analysis of my gameplay and not have to pop out of game to view my data. It will be a nice addition to see what defeated you but even this will probably be given with minimal data.

Meters and logs have their place and are useful.  Some people don’t like meters and aren’t looking to improve themselves and that’s okay.  But don’t go looking to set server firsts with an attitude like that.   So if you are a casual player that’s fine don’t get discouraged by meters just play the game you want to play.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Republic Calling. Do I Pick Up the Holocall?

                I play on a PvP (Player vs Player) server and data has been collected and confirmed by Bioware that in general there are more imperials than republic players on PvP servers.   This is true on my server as well, and needless to say I play on the side of the Empire.  I still have yet to hit 50 on any character but I am working on it with a level 40 Bounty Hunter and a 36 Imperial Agent operative.   So I have spent practically all of my time in swtor on the side of the Empire.  My highest level Republic character is a level 11 Jedi Knight.  I really like the Empire classes and the storylines I have done so far.

                Recently a few friends, that I generally run flashpoints and group quests with, decided they were fed up with the Imperials and are rerolling Republic characters on the same server.  Being the healer of the group they naturally want me to reroll and come with them over to the Republic.  They are only in their teens in the leveling process so I am not far behind if I were to reroll.  Also, not having a 50 I might not be leaving that much behind but as slow as I am leveling if I reroll now will I ever make 50.  With legacy updates coming out with patch 1.2, which is slated for early April, a transition to the Republic would be easier, but waiting that long would leave me well behind them in leveling. 

                The other problem I have is I love my operative so much I can’t not play him, so if I reroll what would I even play as.  I could play the mirror of my class naturally but I just can’t find the appeal of playing a Smuggler scoundrel.  I find the Trooper story interesting but not liking the way my Bounty Hunter heals makes me not want to play a Trooper commando (healer).  I mean I like the class but if I hate how it heals it doesn’t make sense to level one if I want to be a healer in endgame.  Last option: Jedi Consular.  I have yet to heal as a Sith Inquisitor sorcerer or a Jedi Consular Sage.  The healing style is something different than I tend toward, but I’m sure I could adapt.   

                Basically all in all I really like playing Empire.  I have yet to find a guild that I really click with and that has the same goals as me; though not being a 50 yet I haven’t been searching super hard for a great guild.  The guys I like playing with are going to form a guild on the Republic side.  I don’t know what I am going to do.  Either way I won’t stop playing my Empire characters but do I start working on a Republic character.  Help me; I need some advice.

                Side Note:  It would be the best solution for me if my operative would stick to just being a double agent and actually defect to the Republic.  Then I would get to heal on the character that I love to heal on while playing on the Republic with the guys I want to be playing with.  It would be the best of both worlds. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Overuse of AoE

This post was meant to go with the post on crowd control, but as that post grew I broke it up into this second post.  I briefly touched on area of effect (AoE) usage at the end of the CC post. 
Death From Above

                The screenshot shows some Bounty Hunters using the Death From Above ability on me.  This AoE is quite powerful and BH’s get it pretty early on in the leveling process.  This AoE is also a notorious CC breaker as every BH seems to feel that urge to use Death From Above no every multi-mob pull regardless if there are only two mobs or six.

                I have found a growing trend in not only the increase in classes in MMORPG that have AoE abilities but also an increase in the number of AoE abilities.  It used to be that only certain classes and even then only certain specs were strong in AoE damage or healing or tanking.  This was at a point in gaming where CC was not only useful it was required for most pulls.  Only specific fights were set-up to require AoE.  Fast forward to more current MMORPG and expansions; the tank pulls everything and begins to AoE tank, if there was CC either the tank broke it trying to grab the other mobs or a dps jumped the gun to AoE (i.e. Death From Above) shortly after the pull started.  This generally leads to the tank tanking a few guys the dps tanking others and hopefully not, but commonly the healer having to tank mobs from his healing threat.  This common and chaotic pull results in nearly everyone in the group taking damage, which in turn results in a common practice of throwing more AoE heals to keep everyone up. 

                Game designers have tried to set up AoE abilities to cost more to use.  However this has not stopped the rampant use of AoE.  I find it takes less skill and strategy to use AoE all the time.  I personally enjoy coordination, strategy, teamwork, focus targeting and single target abilities.

                Side Note: I do not have a problem with tanks using or having a swipe/sweep move that hits three targets.  This is just a standard tanking ability.  I was a tank back in WoW when this was the only way to grab mobs.  There was a long cooldown oh crap AoE taunt but even that taunt was quite limited.  Now there are multiple AoE abilities that hit everything within 10 m.

                Honestly, what was wrong with single target dps?  I mean sure you had to pay attention and focus down targets, but how hard is that?  Is it that people don’t want to have to coordinate?  The last thing I would want to see happen to MMORPGs is that they start playing like First Person Shooters where you only talk to your friends and do your own thing independent of your objective and maybe this is the way PvP is going.  In swtor only four people can group together to queue for a warzone. 

                Maybe AoE is just the trendy abilities to put in the game or maybe I am coming from way out in left field.  What are your thoughts on CC and AoE use? And thanks to Tor'bac for helping me with the screen. 

Guild Summit is Today

            There is a lot of new information coming out today with the guild summit which EA is streaming live.  It can be found here.  Expect some posts later this week on what we learn and my impressions.  I am looking forward to hearing about what is planned for the legacy system and user interface changes.  Then of course I want to learn about the direction of end game content. The future of crew skills should be interesting as well.

And queue the lightsaber dancing. 
In other news I need to work on a new banner.  Mine is square and lame.  Also I am thinking of working in some screenshots or the likes to jazz up my articles.  The blog is getting a little to text heavy and I apologize for this.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Many Roads That All Lead to 50

               As previously mentioned I have been playing alts quite a bit.  Besides the first 10 levels or so before your toon gets to fleet the experiences are mostly similar and you don’t have sprint so you run and run and run and find yourself only half way to where you want to go.  Or maybe I have just been spoiled by the utility of sprint, which you get at level 14.

                The one aspect of swtor that I do like, since I have alts, is that leveling can be done in a variety of ways.  This can be a turn off to some people.  As when leveling there is just so much content that can be skipped, that is if you want to stay at level with content.  Leveling alts and leveling them differently can allow one to see more content.

                With my Bounty Hunter (BH) I have used all forms of leveling variety from normal quests, heroic quests, class quests, flashpoints (fp), space missions and PvP.  This lead me to doing about every other planet or so before I was just too over leveled and was just finishing class quest then moving to the next planet.

                On my Operative, who is now my main, I only run fp’s and do class quests with some PvP sprinkled in at slow server times.  As in when I can’t find a group to do a fp.

                On my Juggernaut, I am mostly questing and surprisingly enjoying it, as I don’t tend to like just questing that much.

                On my other BH, a Powertech this time I am just PvPing.  I am surprised at how beneficial PvPing can be for non fifty toons.  You get a fair amount of credits and experience in PvP.  My Powertech has been averaging about 6-7 medals a match since he got his Guard ability which allows one of my allies to take 5% less damage and 50% of their incoming damage to be transferred to me.  This ability improves one of my allies to survive longer.  See in swtor the PvP warzones split into two tiers levels 10-49 and level 50.  In the 10-49 warzone everyone gets a buff to make the players stats scale to a level 49 toon.  This puts everyone on a more or less equal playing field.  Really the only disadvantage to being low level in warzones is that your abilities are a bit limited.  PvP can be a real grind anyway so it doesn’t seem to matter that much. 

                Space Missions do offer a real change of pace and a solid amount of experience but they can become very repetitive.  I wish there was a little more variety.

                Class quests are definitely the meat and bones of leveling on all my characters.  They drive the story and guide the player on their journey to fifty.  The class quests are well thought out and fun.   These quests are what make me come back and start new alts.  

                I have enjoyed all the empire storylines so far granted I have only gotten through the first two planets on the Sith Warrior and Sith Inquisitor.  I am through chapter one on my Imperial Agent and up to planet Hoth which is somewhere in chapter 2 on my BH.  I will admit I have a Jedi Knight but he is only level 10 and just got to fleet.  I heard that story was good but until I finish my empire storylines or at least two of them my little Jedi won’t be seeing much action.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is This Too Orange

               In swtor orange gear is moddable gear that you get in flashpoints and through some quest chains.  Moddable gear means you can change the stats by changing out components in the gear itself while keeping the same look.   I like the idea of this because it gives flexibility of style without hurting your toon’s output whether it is tanking, damage, or healing.

                However, me liking the idea does not necessarily translate into me utilizing orange gear to its full potential.  I find it just not practically cost effective to change out my mods/components as I am leveling.  This goes for all my orange gear pretty much if I like the look or not because I know that a short ways down the leveling road I will be getting a new piece of orange gear to replace the old one. The other downfall with the orange gear is that I don’t want to vendor it.  I just can’t bring myself to get rid of my orange pieces even thought they are clogging up my cargo (bank) space.

                Is anyone else having problems dumping their old orange gear?  Is your ship cargo closet full of old orange you don’t wear anymore? 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CC is a Dying Art

                CC stands for crowd control and it is when you disable a mob or another player for an amount of time which takes them out of the fight.  However this post will be mostly directed at PvE (Player vs Environment) content as people still use CC in PvP (Player vs Player) as they should to their advantage.  Thus CC is meant to ease the burden of the tank by granting him less targets to hold threat on.  Also it will ease the burden on the healer since fewer targets are hitting the tank thus taking less damage. Then finally CC allows the dps to better focus down mobs.

                Crowd control works well and can be very effective if used properly.  It can turn a difficult pull into a trivial one.  However, it can slow down the pace of a group.  I find that the time it takes to use CC is worth the extra time spent pre-pull compared to the time a chaotic pull takes, especially if there are deaths and revives.  Not to mention for smoother trash pulls, as in when using CC, there is less downtime between pulls with people healing up.  In swtor every class has a quick out of combat heal/regen ability which is awesome.  No more people not bringing food and water expecting the healers to waste their resources to heal up their unprepared comrade.  I have to say it is a pet peeve of mine that people, especially dps do not heal up in between pulls.  Particularly since Bioware made it so easy to heal/regen between pulls.  But that is a rant for a different time.

                Anyways, with a group on voice chat or even just a group that is well in sync (Side Note: this tends to be people that run together often) then there is no need to mark.  Each person knows who they have to CC and they do it EVERY pull that it is acceptable to use CC.  It is better to over utilize CC than to under utilize CC.

                The key to crowd control ultimately comes down to employing crowd control and then not breaking it accidentally.  In general, I am running mostly with pick-up groups (PUGs), where the tank is usually bad or they don’t trust dps/healers to CC mobs.  The bad tanks break CC with area of effect (AoE) abilities or the dps use AoE or dps intentionally break CC so they can dps/tank their own mob.  This all makes it harder on the healer.  I mean I like a challenge but when I am tanking three mobs via healer threat alone I do not find that fun or useful.  When this happens the tank usually is tanking one mob and the dps are each tanking their own.  There is no kill order, no strategy, just survival.  That is not how pulls should happen.  No one usually dies but still no one likes repairs bills when it does happen.  Side Note:  Being an operative healing is great because I have a great skill called cloaking screen.  So when Sith hits the fan I drop out of combat and save myself the repair bill.  Sorry group mates but you couldn’t have survived the onslaught.

                Tanks shouldn’t need to use AoE to grab three mobs and in the case of swtor most mobs in a pull aren’t all strong/elite so some don’t even really need to be tanked.  But that doesn’t mean tanks shouldn’t leave mobs to attack the healer either.  The healer shouldn’t be pulling agro on heal threat alone.  This is where CC alleviates the problem by breaking the fight down into smaller chunks of damage.

                I remember back in Burning Crusade, (and I know I hate to use to many WoW referances in my swtor blog) when I was mostly tanking in five man heroics while raiding as an off-tank/dps. In the heroics I was running with a hunter, a rogue and either a mage or a warrior for dps.  The mage could pretty easily CC anything.  The rogue would do a sixty second CC pre-pull.  The hunter would grab agro on a melee mob and trap it in an ice block.  The hunter I have to give props to because he could CC pretty much anything I told him to.  Which is impressive for a hunter given their abilities, but alas I digress.  The warrior brought little to the table for CC.  However, these guys made a five pull into a two or three pull providing easy to tank and easy to heal combat situations.

                The more I play MMORPGs the less I see players utilize CC.  In Rift I rarely remember the use of CC and when Wrath of the Lich King expansion came out CC pretty much died in WoW and AoE tanking reigned supreme.  It seems like AoE tank every pull and AoE everything down was the new way, easier, faster, less strategy, skill and planning.  I don’t buy into this though.

 Bioware gave pretty much everyone but tanks CC so obviously they intended people to use it in more than just PvP.  I mean I love to CC as a healer.  I think it is so awesome and it gives me another job to do.  CC is fun to use and as healer I feel I am doing more than just healing when I am also able to use my CC.  Yet people don’t or don’t want to or don’t know how to use CC.  This is why CC  is a dying art. A skill that only old MMO veterans know and few still practice.  As for the newer players it is a skill never learned and never requested.  Here’s to the death of CC may it not stay long buried.

Do you use CC or do you just find it a waste?  Give me your insight into this fine art. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Problems Getting to 50

                In most MMO’s I do not cherish the grind of getting to max level.  I want to be max level as soon as possible so I can do group activities such as dungeons, raids, occasional PvP (Player vs Player) and random shenanigans with friends.  However in swtor (Star Wars: The Old Republic) I cannot stop starting over.  I can’t figure it out.  I really like the different storylines, the different character types and the differences between the Advanced Classes (AC).  Not to mention the mysterious legacy experience that I am getting on all my characters.

                Currently my highest level character is a level 38 Bounty Hunter: AC: Mercenary.  At first I really liked him and chapter 1 of his storyline drove me along but after the end of Chapter 1 and the unlocking of my legacy I have been turning to play my alts more and more just for a different experiences.  I am also finding that I like playing my Bounty Hunter (BH) less and less.  He is mostly there now to gather crafting materials and money for my vast army of alts.

                My BH is specc’d for damage dealing or dps (damage per second) and I picked my BH because he could heal and I like rolling healers.  And as from previous MMO experience it seems easier to level my healers as dps to quickly get to max level then respect to healer.  Swtor is different though; the grind is pretty long but very interesting and engaging.  It is also a game that you can level as a healer or a tank and have little problems and lose barely any time as your damage output is less than a dps.  So I tried healing on my BH.  It is okay and just okay.  I think this is due to the fact that I have been leveling an Imperial Agent: AC: Operative.  I love healing on my Operative.  It seems too that the synergy of leveling as a healing operative is better with my ranged tank companion, Kaliyo, than leveling as a healer on my BH with a healing companion, Mako.  My BH is high enough that he has Gault, a ranged dps, and Torian Cadera, a melee dps, and then he is pretty close to getting Blizz who is a ranged tank.  So once I get Blizz leveling as a healing BH might get better that is if I want to get on and even play my BH.

                My Operative is up to level 30 as of today and he is great fun to play.  Questing on him I find to be a little bit of a bore thought, but stealth definitely helps this a lot.  I also find myself missing sneaking back out of zones I have already cleared once on my non stealth characters.

                I want to start a sorcerer, which is a AC of the Sith Inquisitor, to try their healing but I am holding off for now because I am waiting for the legacy content to be released, hopefully soon like in March.  I want to see what the legacy experience will do for character creation. 

                So recently I have been turning to my tank Sith Warrior: AC: Juggernaut and also my other tank Sith Inquisitor: AC: Assassin.  My Juggernaut has been very entertaining as of late.  I love flying across the screen to attack a mob.  Then my Assassin has stealth so you know that’s nice.  Then most of my other alts are anywhere between levels 5-14. 

Introduction: The Kicker

                Since I am setting up a new blog I figured I had better write a short introduction.  And don’t worry I will keep it brief to kick this Star Wars adventure off.

                Though I was not alive to experience the original Star Wars trilogy (Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) I did get to watch the re-mastered versions in theaters growing up and have thus been a fan ever since.  I was able to attend all the midnight releases of the newer trilogy (Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) and recently watched Episode I in 3D. The 3D was actually not too bad and pretty consistent throughout the movie.  This also gave me the opportunity to introduce my wife to Star Wars for the first time, which was great.  I must also report that though she was reluctant to go at first she ended up really liking it.

                I have also played many of the Star Wars games, including Star Wars Galaxies (both the original hardcode Galaxies and the updated let’s let everyone be a Jedi version).  I have other MMO experience such as World of Warcraft (WoW: vanilla, Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King).  Though I never made the jump to Cataclysm because I didn’t like the direction the game was going.   I also played Warhammer Online, Aion, Age of Conan and Rift, but Rift was the only game besides WoW that I did a fair amount of endgame raiding. The last MMO game that I have to mention I played was Planetside.  I only mention it separately because Planetside was so different and awesome, though I find it hard to explain its awesomeness to others simply due to the fact that the game was such an experience in and of its self. I can’t wait for Planetside 2, definitely will have to try it out.

                I generally tend toward healing classes, and usually the healing class that is more of a hybrid.  I like to heal in endgame but I like to sometimes be a damage dealer aka dps (damage per second) or tank just for a change of pace. Plus I benefit from learning what other people do on fights and how they should be done.  And hey, if I play a hybrid class I can do it all, more or less, on the same toon (your character) which is a benefit.

                I want to conclude with saying that I really enjoy reading blogs and writing them (if I can find the time).  I love all the background lore in MMO’s and getting to know all the ins and outs of the game, especially the character that I play.  I want to see what others are doing with the class and give my opinion on different setups I try.  I hope that you will enjoy my blog if you find your way here.  See you next post.