A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “Star Wars

My Aggressiveness in SWTOR

On Sundays I’ve been playing a Sith Juggernaut in a full group. It requires a particular approach to fights because I’m the only melee person in the group and I need to be quite aggressive a fair portion of the time. To understand a bit, here’s the group breakdown: I’m a melee tank, we have a Powertech – ranged tank, we have a Sniper – ranged damage dealer, and a Sith Sorcerer for ranged damage and healing.

So, typically if there are enemies that aren’t that strong around, the group just goes and if you lag behind, you can catch up at your own pace. If we’re in a very difficult zone (heroic areas or whatever) then we stay together. Typically the fights start with me leaping into an enemy and I’m followed up by the Powertech firing a volley of missiles from his wrist launcher around me, the Sniper starts shooting and, well, by this time I’ve got a case of tunnel vision so I don’t know what the Sorceress is doing.

When we stopped playing yesterday, I switched characters to my Commando. It’s an odd thing, changing your play style entirely in just a few minutes. I went from recklessly diving into combat with no regard for my health to… recklessly starting fights that could be finished in a matter of moments and randomly going “Oops” whenever I accidentally started a fight that wound up being bigger than expected. Um, yeah. I suppose my aggressiveness in play style didn’t entirely go away when I switched characters, but I will share with you one event that happened last night right before I went to bed.

I had just finished the Tatooine Bonus Series and had decided to return to Nar Shadda to see if I was able to do the bonus series there. I was level 31 and riding high on the fact that I was looking cool and kicking ass, so I was a bit surprised to see that the first quests in the bonus series were also level 31… which typically means they’re going to be a little difficult. I decided that I wanted to handle my companion’s personal quest first, so I headed to the Industrial Zone (or whatever it’s called) and turned into this Imperial Warehouse area. I picked up a side quest for the zone that had me destroying Imperial crates and killing at least 3 Sith Apprentices. Around the corner I encountered my first Sith Apprentice… she was a Sorcerer, level 31, and I said to myself before approaching, “If she whips me I’m going to just move on to Alderaan and see about doing this later”. Well, she whipped me… pretty handily I might add. Turns out that going toe to toe with a lightning shooting witch who is a level 31 gold star is a little above a level 31 commando. I put up a good fight, but I only got her about halfway down before she finally kicked me to the curb like a petulant child.

Anyway, I should probably listen to my gut a bit more than I did last night before bed. Oh well. I would like to note that I’m not usually very aggressive in games. It’s typically only after I’ve obtained a certain level of familiarity with the mechanics and the game world itself that I happen to push myself to the limit. In fact, I’m typically the guy who likes to slow down a bit.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Proprietor? Bill please. To the man bleeding at my feet.” – Lando Calrissian


Playing a Jedi Knight in Star Wars: The Old Republic

This week I’ve been focusing on a Jedi Knight turned Guardian on a role playing server. I’ve talked about it recently in my vlog, but I want to talk about the experience a bit more here.

Last night I finished Taris out (including all the Heroic missions) and I started in on Nar Shadda. First of all, let me just mention the difference in terrain between the toxic swampy wasteland that is Taris and the high-rise city planet that is Nar Shadda. When flying to the promenade, it’s entirely floating (as far as I could tell). I think the whole promenade is a skyhook tower. Hm, anyway…

Being a melee based character in a world with guns is an odd thing, but the Jedi Knight comes well equipped for this. I start most fights with a Force Leap, diving into the fray and forcing the enemies to fight at point blank range, and follow up with a Force Sweep (to hit all the enemies around me and briefly stun the weaker ones) or a Blade Storm (which I get a free one after performing a Force Leap thanks to my skill specialization in the defense tree). Then I typically perform a Master Strike (a three-second move that strikes one target three times during the duration) followed up by a Sundering Strike (a move that causes the enemy to lose 4% of his armor while building up my focus). Typically by now, most enemies are dead, but if they’re still kicking, well, I got the Force Push power at level 26 and it’s amazing good fun. You can send someone (regardless of their combat difficulty) flying a good distance away. I like to follow up a Force Push with a Force Leap/Blade Storm combo. It’s very cinematic.

Of late, I’ve been neglecting poor T7-01 as a companion. I find that I really enjoy having my own Padawan following me around and contributing. Further, Kira is a great participant in fights and I just really enjoy her company. We’ll see what happens in the near future, but I’m not entirely too concerned about focusing on one companion over another because, well, you can just buy them presents later to get that affection score up. Everyone’s a sucker for presents apparently.

I’ve really hit my stride playing the melee tank. I do enjoy playing the ranged healer, but right now, this is the most fun I’ve had playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. As a Jedi Guardian, I can handle most things by myself. If it’s a Heroic, all I need is a bit more DPS or maybe a Healer and I’m good to go.

Currently (as of the beginning of the Red Light District on Nar Shadda) I’m level 26. Every time I’ve logged in I’ve done all 5 space missions available to me (the first day I got my ship I went from level 16 to level 21, so I was able to do them twice that first time around and I’ve been able to do them once a day since then). Then I dive into the questing. I think today when I get back to my character (if I decide to play more today) I will be looking for a group to help me with Blood Money in the Nikto Sector on Nar Shadda. It’s a Heroic 2+, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and bring some people along.

Also, I need to develop something for my Star Wars Saga Edition RPG for Tuesday night. My players discovered a strange token on the leader of a group of bounty hunters that attacked them in the Corporate Sector and a clue that’s pointed them to Tatooine. I have no idea what to do with the strange token or what they’re going to encounter when they reach Tatooine. Thus far I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants with regards to the storyline and the campaign events, but I’m not sure how much longer it’ll be appropriate to do that.

With this Star Wars heavy post out of the way, you’re free to go about your business. May the Force be with you.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “That is the one thing I do not worry about. It is my job to live with honor, to defend the Republic, to protect her people, to look after my ship and my weapon and my Padawan… My death is somebody else’s responsibility.” – Jai Maruk


The Birthday Game – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Today’s my birthday. Yesterday I had my party. I invited three friends over to play Star Wars: The Old Republic. You’d be surprised at how much easier it is to coordinate a group when you’re all sitting around the same table.

I was playing my character Kazul the Sith Juggernaut. I was joined by a Sith Sorcerer, a Powertech, and a Sniper. We started by doing the Black Talon twice (the second time was in the vain hope that we’d get more loot, but it didn’t work out so well). Then we moved onto Dromund Kaas. That’s where we really hit our stride and we managed to get all the way up to the Lord Grathan series of quests.

Let me say this about having a group that you just play with: any and all group quests are just a slightly harder coordination challenge for the party. Basically if a heroic group quest popped up into our quest logs, we never broke stride, there was no avoiding the quest like you do when you’re playing solo. We just went, “hey, we’re here, let’s get it done”.

I managed to go from level 12 to level 16 yesterday in about 10 hours. So much fun. Rarely did we ever just sit around doing nothing (the only time we really sat around doing “nothing” was when we were eating pizza and even then we were crafting the whole time).

It was great. I had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to play as Kazul again. She brings out the worst in me, but with all my friends there, it’s just a laughing matter (I’m great at evil laughter by the way).

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Birthdays are just nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake.” – Anon.

P.P.S. “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” – Larry Lorenzoni


Nothing but Star Wars: The Old Republic

Normally I go to bed anywhere between midnight and 2 AM. Lately I’ve been going to bed at 3 AM. I’m quite tired. Here’s why… there’s this itty bitty little game called Star Wars: The Old Republic and it’s like one of those amazingly addictive books where I just can’t put it down until I reach a really good and natural stopping point. Unfortunately, said stopping points are at the end of entire planetary quest series. Well, maybe fortunately… I don’t know.

I have played every single class in the game at least a little bit. As of this writing, my most advanced characters are a Commando, a Jedi Sentinel, a Scoundrel, and a Mercenary. Next Sunday I will be playing a Sith Juggernaut with my friends and I have a Jedi Sage set aside for playing exclusively in a group as well. Now, let me explain… I may have more Republic characters farther along in the game, but I definitely do enjoy playing the Sith characters a lot. I just find it easier to identify with the Republic characters (and the Bounty Hunter) than the rest of the Sith classes. I’m not mean, I don’t take pleasure in doing things just to be evil and so each of my Sith characters unavoidably has some light side points. Hell, my Bounty Hunter has done nearly every light side decision available to him and he’s level 19 or so (he’s done two dark side actions… I tend to suck up to Mako quite a bit because I genuinely like her so much).

I don’t know, I just refuse to cater to my darker nature for more than a bit at a time. I enjoy making good decisions. I enjoy helping people. I enjoy fighting for something I genuinely believe in. I absolutely LOVE the Trooper, the Jedi Knight, and the Bounty Hunter storylines. I think they’re fantastic. I’m still trying to decide the right feeling for the Smuggler storyline… last night I felt oh so right getting my ship, but when I landed on Taris I felt strong irritation at being stopped by customs. Hm, I guess I’m supposed to feel that way… so I suppose it’s super awesome too.

The Sith Warrior and Inquisitor feel very powerful, but I don’t know, I just like the Jedi Knight and Consular. I have more fun approaching fights calm and centered as opposed to angry and brutally. That’s just how I operate.

Until next time,

– Elorfin

P.S. “Is that your hair or a dead womp rat on your head?” – my scoundrel Vyris to a fairly young bounty hunter


SWG and SWTOR – One Game Ends, Another Begins

With the end of Star Wars Galaxies only a few days behind us and the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic a day ahead of us, I find myself experiencing a mix of emotions. There’s a strange sense of expectation… but it has been tempered by experience. It’s hard to explain so I’ll attempt to approach it a game at a time.

A short time after Star Wars Galaxies shut down, I wrote the following…

It’s over. I don’t quite know what to say about it, but I’ll muddle through it.

Earlier today I told my mother that the game she had given me for my 20th birthday was going to stop working soon. She laughed and so did I… but for me it was a sad sort of laughter. She had pre-ordered it for me for my birthday and I waited patiently for almost seven months for it to finally come out. Through the last 8 years, SWG has been there, resting on the desktop of three different laptops, with the promise of wide-eyed wonders that I never really tired of seeing. Even in its final hour, my friend showed me two things I had never seen before: the enclaves on Yavin IV for the Light and Dark Jedi. I was awestruck.

It’s like that feeling you get when you finish a fantastic book filled with camaraderie and the overcoming of struggles where you close the book slowly just to savor the feeling of satisfaction and belonging and then you look at the book and wish it could’ve lasted just another chapter, another page, another word. If only you could have just one more adventure with those characters who you’ve come to appreciate and hold so dear. All you need is just a few more moments…

I ended it on my terms. I refused to sit still and wait for the end. I flew into a dogfight in my red-and-gold-painted X-Wing starfighter and pounded on some enemy fighters. I cried out triumphantly with each victory and when all was done and the game returned me to the character select screen I said my final farewells to those small portions of my identity. Every character I make I invest with a portion of me. Each of those characters was a part of me and I will forever remember them as they were: a small Bothan Spy, a tall Human Commando, a Smuggler-turned-Jedi who I role-played as a Private Investigator, a Medic-turned-Munitions Trader who churned out the best weapons anyone could reasonably expect in an hour apiece, and a Jedi-turned-Commando who always held the line against impossible odds.

I will miss them all quite terribly. If only I’d had just a few… more… minutes…

I kept my promise though: I was there when they turned the lights off.

And now for my thoughts leading into the full launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic…

As I said above, my expectations have been tempered by experience (also reason). I know this is a new game and that Bioware is trying new things. I know that things will not work perfectly and will be adjusted as time goes by. I know that my computer is 3 years old and is at the low end of the spectrum they designed for. I know that I can deal with the chop and the occasional lag. I know this is Star Wars and it’s my sanctuary. That said… I’m worried about putting too much pressure on myself here.

Allow me to attempt an explanation: I’ve got my own guild and my friends are all involved in playing the game. Pretty much it’s all we talk about these days because it’s new and fresh and so forth. There’s this part of me, however, that is forcing me to slow down, to take it easy. I mean, the game isn’t going anywhere any time soon, right? Let’s take it easy! Unfortunately, that’s not so simple. You see, I have this condition called “being male” where it makes me innately competitive. I hate it, but it’s hard to deny that I want to do things before my friends, be better at those things, and show them how much better at said things I am than they are. It’s ingrained in me and the more I resist it, the more frustrating it becomes when they shoot past me and do all those things to me: they’re doing things before I can, they’re becoming better at those things, and they’re showing me how they’re better. I’m trying to go my own pace, but really, it’s all I can do to keep from just logging on one character and blitzkrieg-ing the game as best I can.

What I did, in an effort to streamline my experience was to make 8 characters as soon as possible – one of each class. Then, as I feel like it, I’ve been getting them off their starter planet to their factional fleet, up to customs on their capital planet, and then parking them in their fleet cantina to be used as needed. Recently I was derided for building all my characters and doing this since I can’t start at level one with everyone else if they want to try something different. Really? *headdesk*

Anyways, there’s the sadness of losing one entirely unique experience and the pressure of handling the new experience with my friends. Maybe I’ll be able to communicate this to them, but I don’t know if it’ll come out right. Honestly, I’ve got no idea what to say.

Until next time,

– Elorfin

P.S. “There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in travelling in a stage-coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place.” – Washington Irving


Star Wars Galaxies – Final Days

As some of you may know, the game Star Wars Galaxies is being shut down at midnight eastern time on December 15th. I intend to be in the game when it shuts off. Here are some observations and criticisms I’ve made of the game in the last few days of playing.

I prefer it when I go to an area in a game that I get more than one quest at a time for said area. Put another way, when I get quests for a zone, please give me more than one at a time! I don’t appreciate going back and forth between the quest giver and the quest zone multiple times because sometimes the quest zone is a long way away and aren’t there short and long range communication devices in Star Wars? Galaxies did not start with quests built in. Well, it did, but they were these little quests that didn’t necessarily work all that well and there wasn’t a quest tracker. So, aside from those little quests, the game was devoid of story content until… oh, around the time the Rage of the Wookiees expansion hit. Probably a little before. Anyway, when they did the legacy quest series (a long connected series of quests that eventually take you from Tatooine to Naboo to Corellia, Talus, and Rori) they kind of just did a single series of quests and on planets like Corellia and Talus you can occasionally grab a side quest or two for the dungeon or building you’re about to raid, but for the most part you’re only there for one quest and the chances are pretty high that if there’s a follow up quest for that location, you’re going to have to travel the tens of meters to tens of kilometers back to your quest giver to move the series along and then head all the way back to continue. It just doesn’t feel all that efficient to me.

Also, I feel they got kind of sloppy at the end of the legacy quest series by making it connect almost directly into the Meatlump Themepark. Themeparks are the term that refers to a particular series having a theme and starting out of the same general area. For example, there’s the Jabba Themepark that runs out of Jabba’s palace, the Rebel Themepark that runs out of the Rebel base on Corellia, the Imperial Themepark that runs out of the Emperor’s Retreat on Naboo, and Nym’s Themepark that runs out of Nym’s palace on Lok. Later on in the game, they added the Meatlump Themepark which is essentially a series of repeatable quests in and around the city of Coronet on Corellia (I think… it’s been a while since I’ve done it). Personally, I never found much point in doing this particular themepark. I’ve never been a huge fan of repeatable quests because I’d much rather push on and keep on going than hang around an area for days.

Space needed some love. I understand, when you develop a space combat system and it’s wildly successful, how do you upgrade it? They added more ships, they took the tier system and made it linear, they added a couple of more zones (after Rage of the Wookiees added Kashyyyk space, they added some Ord Mantell space for master pilots). They redid the duty missions so they gave commendation tokens as well… and that’s about it. They never redid or added to the skills each piloting profession gave (Rebels, Imperials, and Neutral pilots each had their own skills). They never overhauled the zones we flew in. After you get master pilot and you tackle the few quests that actually take you into space, aside from Ord Mantell, Kessel, and one other place, there wasn’t much to do in space and my ships became glorified shuttles. Space combat could have been so much more. The players had dreams of guild capital ships where we could launch our own fighter squadrons in guild wars. It would’ve been amazing… but it never happened. When we were told they were developing an Imperial Star Destroyer for the game, we thought it was a guild ship or something… and then they gave us the Imperial Star Destroyer instance for ground combat. It’s not bad, it’s just a little disappointing when they could’ve done so much more.

A little bit separate from the “no love” bit above this, but space combat could be some of the most frustrating in the game. You could be fighting a significantly lower tier ship than yours and still have trouble hitting it because it maneuvers like a drunk bee. However, if YOU maneuver like a drunk bee, the computer controlled enemies can definitely peg you. Further, when you start to lose, you can finish losing really quickly. There’s an eject function in your ship when things go downhill really badly, but your ship has to SIT STILL until you eject. Seriously? That’s absurd. I get it for jumping into hyperspace, but come on, haven’t you seen Top Gun? I’ve been blown up in the process of ejecting before. It’s very lame.

Last night I started doing the Kashyyyk ground quests again. You can’t get into the Etyyy Hunting Grounds without doing some space quests (and some of them are downright hard – you need to be prepared and maybe bring a friend) but that’s not what I want to talk about right now. No, for some reason I was under the impression that there needs to be a feeder quest (a quest that feeds you into the next zone or area from the last one) for new areas and Kashyyyk doesn’t have one. Neither does Mustafar really. I remember when they went live and you just kind of went, “Hey, I guess I’ll go try out that new place,” and you start talking to every NPC that has an icon over their head in an effort to pick up as many quests as possible. Essentially Kashyyyk and Mustafar are overgrown Themeparks with mini-themeparks all over. Just… last night when I set foot on Kashyyyk I felt LOST. I didn’t know who to talk to first or where to even really start. Luckily my friend didn’t have such compunctions so he went ahead and started talking to NPCs and so forth. I don’t know why, but for the first time ever I felt like Kashyyyk was poorly built and arranged. It’s kind of sad but that’s how I felt.

So, I’m still playing Galaxies, at least for now. For the next few days I’m going to be playing every evening and then on the 15th I’m intending on being on it all day. Currently my external hard drive’s power cable is damaged (yay wear and tear?) and so I may or may not be able to record the final days of the game. I guess we’ll see. My hope is that I’ll be able to make a video of each of my old characters before they go away. First my Jedi and Commando on the Flurry server, then I want to build something with my crafter and show off my Mustafarian bunker… and last, I want to hop in my X-Wing on my favorite character just one last time and I want to go to Kashyyyk space and fly around. When the lights go out, I want to be among the stars. My final memory of the game being in an X-Wing I busted my ass to get, to equip, to set up just right for me… the X-Wing that took me nearly a year to get (I screwed up my pilot profession once upon a time in February of 2005) on the one character that I’ve mastered being a Rebel pilot.

Whatever my criticisms, whatever makes me cranky in this game… this was still my first subscription MMO and I will always remember it quite fondly. I said a long time ago, I’d be there till they turned the lights off (ala Zack Allan in Babylon 5) and it looks like I definitely will.

Until next time.

– Elorfin

P.S. “Experience the greatest saga ever told…..yours.” – Star Wars Galaxies tagline


Star Wars: The Old Republic – A condensed history of the Sith Empire

To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to serve the Sith Empire. To me, it seems like the entire point of the Sith Empire is to destroy the Republic and once that’s done, it’ll probably fall apart as infighting and so forth tears it up from the inside. Let’s take a closer, but abbreviated, look at the history of the Sith Empire, shall we?

The Sith civilization was once a race of red-skinned people living on the planet of Korriban. The most famous of these original Sith was Adas, who ruled his empire for approximately 300 years. At his hand, his people were freed from the Rakatan Infinite Empire that we see the last vestiges of in the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. After King Adas’ death fighting off the Rakata, the civilization fell into civil war and regressed into a much more primitive standing. This civil war reduced Korriban to ruins (which it seems to stay in for the rest of time). For the record, King Adas passed away approximately 27,700 years BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, the fight that occurs at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope).

Approximately 6,900 years BBY, exiled fallen Jedi fleeing a battle with their light side counterparts, land on Korriban and immediately subjugate the people there. Thanks to their considerable training in using the Force, the Sith are awed by these newcomers and elevate their new rulers to god-like status. Over the next 2,000 years, interbreeding between these fallen Jedi and the Sith through Sith alchemy allowed for the term “Sith” to be used to define the rulers and the species. Ziost became the capital of this newer Sith Empire and Korriban became a sacred world (mostly thanks to its tombs).

About 5,000 years BBY, the Sith Empire spanned over 100 worlds and still the Republic had no idea where it was (pretty easy to not notice, actually, given the span of the universe). At this time, two Republic explorers stumble upon Korriban on accident. This particular incident and the fallout are covered in the Tales of the Jedi comic series. Essentially what happens is that the Sith backtrace the hyperroute the explorers used to attack the Republic. The Republic manages to counterattack and drive them all the way back to their Empire where they proceed to bomb them into oblivion. Remnants of this Empire hid out on Yavin 4, Dromund Kaas, and other worlds while they waited for the Republic to forget about them. Meanwhile, the Jedi worked to systematically destroy whatever remained of the Sith artifacts, temples, and holocrons in an effort to prevent their use by Dark Jedi or students who could possibly be influenced.

Fast forward to about 4,000 BBY and Exar Kun decided he would be ruler of a New Sith Empire. That delusion lasted about 4 years. He was killed on Yavin 4 in 3,996. His empire was constructed by the Jedi that he managed to convince to join his Brotherhood of Darkness and a Sith cult known as the Krath. Not much of an empire.

A few years down the road in 3,976 BBY, the Mandalorian Wars were all over the place. The Jedi Council refused to participate in the war and so a small group of Jedi, led by Revan and Malak, defied orders and fought on the side of the Republic. After the Mandalorians were defeated in 3,960 BBY, Revan was turned to the dark side and with the aid of his apprentice Malak, proceeded to create his own Sith Empire by use of the Star Forge (an ancient creation of the Rakatan Infinite Empire). These details are covered by the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but long story short, this Sith Empire failed too when Revan was turned back to the light (this is canon) and defeated his former apprentice.

Over the next few years (covered by Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords) the Jedi Order is practically destroyed by Sith Assassins and the like. This activity is eventually stopped by the enigmatic Exile.

In 3,681, the ACTUAL remnants of the Old Sith Empire finally come back to the fore and attack the Republic. In this Great Galactic War, the capital of Coruscant was sacked and the Jedi were forced to seek refuge on the core planet of Tython (where the Jedi got their start). This war ends in 3,653 BBY with the Treaty of Coruscant (which forces the Republic to give up certain worlds to the Sith).

Where the game Star Wars: The Old Republic picks up, there is a cold war between the Sith Empire and the Republic. Conflicts are sparking all over the universe. Things are degrading and this uneasy “peace” will probably not hold much longer.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. I used Wookieepedia to help me get my facts straight (dates, event order, etc) and I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself to get all the information you can. I put links to everything in my article.

P.P.S. “Three centuries after the death of Darth Malak and the end of the Jedi Civil War, the True Sith Empire returned from deep space – attacking the Republic. They began a war unlike any other in the galaxy’s history. The Great Galactic War dragged on for decades. Thousands of Jedi and Sith were slain. Countless star systems were ravaged.” – Jedi Master Gnost-Dural


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Beta Interlude

Originally I had intended to write a post about why I want to serve the Sith Empire/Republic, but I didn’t plan on the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta going through today. Instead, I’m going to embed a video where I’m sharing a bit about my Commando. Last night (well, at three in the morning), I managed to hit level 18 and get my ship: a beautiful BT-7 Thunderclap. The video is of me showing off the interior of such a fantastic vessel. Further, space combat is awesome (if you’ve picked up a few upgrades first… they’re not cheap, but they make all the difference).

Today, my intention is to see just how far along I can get. I can guarantee you that I’ll be making a Commando when this game goes live. I’ve had tons of fun with my beloved badass, Talyta. Enjoy the video!

 

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “The BT-7 Thunderclap is the Republic’s largest and most elite rapid assault ship—streamlined for fast deployment in combat situations. Upgrades requested by Republic Special Forces ensure reliable performance and durability: state-of-the-art armor plating and heavy laser cannons provide exceptional combat capability, modular shield systems protect the Thunderclap from enemy fire, and the ship’s design deflects blaster fire away from crucial components in the event of shield failure. Despite its efficient military design, the Thunderclap is outfitted with all manner of interior improvements. The main deck contains a high-tech command center and briefing room, a secure armory, and a fully-outfitted medical bay. Personal bunk space is above average, and recreational facilities are available for increased quality of life for the squad during extended missions.” – The SWTOR website

P.P.S. As of this posting I’ve done all the space combat missions twice (after upgrading my ship) and I’m now a good way into level 19. I’m getting ready to do some more of my story mission where I need to rescue a Senator. I’m so captivated by the story and I’m going to be sad to see my Commando go. Well done, Bioware, well done indeed.


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be a Jedi Consular

 

The Jedi Consular. Wizards, healers, sages, summoners and sorcerers fall into this category. These are the spellcasters of the Jedi Order. The lightsaber? For basic defense. The Force? Well, you saw the video.

Being a Jedi, they stand for truth and justice. Yet, where the Knight is the combatant, the Consular is much more social, much more attuned to the Force for the purpose of versatility. The Knight uses the Force to leap into combat and gain resiliency and to do more damage. The Consular uses the Force to spray their enemies with rocks, to lift large objects and fling them, to heal their allies, to increase the accuracy of their friends, and many more things. Some Consulars can even disappear as though they were mere shadows. Their roles in the order are also that of Ambassador, Artisan, Diplomat, Healer, Lore Keeper, Researcher, and Seer. They are truly the social workhorse of the Jedi Order and if I were to wield the Force and ever hope to gain some mastery over it, this is the route I would take.

All Consulars walk a noble path and I would be honored and proud to be counted among their numbers. They don’t just fight for the light, some Consulars are the brightest beacons of truth, justice, and the Force.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “A Consular is a specialized kind of Jedi. They focus more on cerebral Force skills. They’re our healers, our researchers, our seers.” – Zayne Carrick

P.P.S. This is the last piece my eight part series about the individual classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic but this isn’t the last I have to say about the game and my desires in the same context. There’s also two more articles I’m going to write in the same vein about why I want to fight for either side in this war. First I’ll talk about the Sith Empire (this will be the hardest one to write) and then I’ll finish with the Republic (so easy I’m practically salivating at the chance to write this one). Expect these in the next two weeks.


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be a Sith Inquisitor

 

Power. Intrigue. Dark knowledge. The Sith Inquisitor embodies these things and they’re oh so fantastic. Also, lightning. Lightning from my fingertips. Are you getting this? LIGHTNING FROM MY FINGERTIPS! THAT IS SO COOL!

Yeah, honestly, the force lightning is the real reason I like the class. Well, also, I like the concept that you’re a slave that moves up to being a Sith. I’m not revealing anything with that, they shared that info in this second video.

 

Initially I said the Trooper would win, but in the end, I honestly think they’re evenly balanced against each other. In fact, I think every class is evenly balanced against each other.

Now that I think of it, I would really like to see how the Inquisitor’s story works out.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “There is a faction of meatbags called the Sith. They want what any rational meatbag would want—the power to assassinate anyone they choose at any time.” – HK-47


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be an Imperial Agent

 

The Imperial Agent. This class is the complete stealth package combined with sniping abilities and a fair amount of backstabbing. Oh, and orbital strikes.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure what to say here about the Imperial Agent. It’s a covert operative and we all know how cool it is to play one. You get to be Sam Fisher in Star Wars. That is so inherently awesome that I think I just freaked out a little. Well, actually, the Imperial Agent allows you to be Sam Fisher, super stealth operative, or a sniper (which we all know how awesome and game changing that can be when you have a sniper on the field).

Yup, this class speaks to me on the merits of “holy crap, you can DO that?” and “I WANNA BE A SNIPER!”. Yes, I became 8 years old again after watching this progression video.

 

Yeah, see what I mean? Complete awesome package, wrapped in awesome, and it even has a little awesome bow tied around it. Or if you’d like, it’s an awesome coated awesome with awesome filling. That’s the Imperial Agent and that’s why I want to play it. It’s a very gut reaction.

I apologize for the brevity of this post, but really, the Imperial Agent videos genuinely speak for themselves.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Imperial intelligence operatives are clearly just as deadly as their Sith superiors.” – Jedi Master Gnost-Dural


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be a Trooper

 

The word “Trooper” is evocative of many different kinds of characters. There’s the Republic Troopers from Knights of the Old Republic, wearing their red, black and orange uniforms, but also the Imperial Stormtrooper in gleaming white. The Trooper is the basic fighting unit of every war and there’s something attractive in that simplicity. In this case, playing a Republic Trooper means versatility and capability, skill and power, explosives and large firearms.

I have a friend who says he’s going to play a Trooper and make dark side decisions (caveat: he’s very practical, so it’s a safe assumption that he’ll make a few light side decisions in there as well) but he cited a quote that was appropriate to his position: “…you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall”. If you’re at a loss, it’s Jack Nicholson’s character from A Few Good Men who says that line (very near the end of the film). The context is that if there’s something distasteful that the public at large doesn’t need or particularly desire knowledge of, you need men like him, men willing to do whatever it takes to protect the nation they’re sworn to protect, on the front lines, on the wall, no matter the cost. I can certainly appreciate that and in some ways I subscribe to that perspective.

If you note in the above video, the Trooper narrator states that, “We did not start this war, and for us, there is no glory in it.” She then goes on to state that they fight out of duty for the principles and the people of the Republic. That. Right there. Selfless service with a desire for peace. In a similar way to my desire to be a Jedi Knight, right there is where I want to be a Trooper.

Here’s a great progression video.

 

I want to be a Trooper because, well, I suppose it’s because it’s like the normal version of the Jedi. Honor, duty, and loyalty to the Republic. Simple, straightforward, and awesome.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. Here’s that quote from A Few Good Men in its entirety: “Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.” – Col. Nathan R. Jessep


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be a Bounty Hunter

 

Rockets. Flamethrowers. Jet packs. Cool looking armor. The Bounty Hunter is the James Bond of the Star Wars universe with all of his gadgets and tricks. He brings a kind of wild west justice to the battlefield and that’s mighty attractive to me. It’s pure, unadulterated fun. Oh, speaking of armor…

 

Bounty Hunters have a major role in the Star Wars universe. The first time they’re actually mentioned (within the Earth chronology of Star Wars) is The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo mentions that “the Bounty Hunter on Ord Mantell changed my mind”. Then, a bit later in the same movie we get ourselves a rogues gallery of Bounty Hunters: Bossk, IG-88, 4-LOM, Zuckuss, Dengar, and Boba Fett. From then on, Bounty Hunters have been included in a fair number of Star Wars games, ranging in functions through Empire At War (a unit you can field to get rid of other special units), Star Wars Galaxies (one of the most popular professions in the game), oh, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (you are Jango Fett for this entire game). In fact, even with his very limited appearances in the original three Star Wars movies, the bounty hunter Boba Fett has been noted as one of the most popular characters in Star Wars… and this is BEFORE books and such came out talking about him.

There’s something alluring about being a self-made man and the Bounty Hunter is the epitome of this. You answer to no one, you travel from bounty to bounty, building a fierce reputation as a guy who gets stuff done. I think we can all agree that this is highly attractive.

Here’s the Bounty Hunter’s progression. I’m definitely a fan.

 

I want to be a Bounty Hunter because they’re completely made of awesome.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Both infamous and anonymous at the same time, Bounty Hunters are far more than mercenaries for hire – they’re heirs to a professional legacy – an ancient brotherhood with a glorious history.” – Star Wars: The Old Republic


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be a Smuggler

 

The Smuggler class in The Old Republic is iconic of a storied profession… at least, in Star Wars it is. Smugglers are legends of skill and bravery (often times rather stupid bravery, but bravery nonetheless). They are the blockade runners, the rebels, and the people who know how to get stuff done no matter the odds. Famous smugglers include Booster Terrik, Dash Rendar, Jorj Car’das, Talon Karrde, Lando Calrissian, Mara Jade, Atton Rand, and of course the dynamic duo of Han Solo and Chewbacca. They fly ships with names like the Pulsar Skate, the Outrider, the Wild Karrde, the Lady Luck, the Jade’s Fire, the Ebon Hawk, and of course the memorable Millennium Falcon.

More than how iconic the Smuggler is, it’s a profession that (in the case of The Old Republic) speaks of the wild west, of lawless frontiers. It’s the everyman drawn to an extraordinary profession who requires a sharp eye and sharper wit. They’re the explorers; men and women looking for ways around the people who would stop them in their journey from A to B. They’re the normal citizens forced into incredible situations that call for great skill and courage.

I want to be a Smuggler because it reminds me of all these things. I want to be a Smuggler because I believe it will be a grand adventure. I want to be a Smuggler because it means even the more normal of Republic citizens can contribute to the war effort. Mostly though, I want to be a Smuggler because I was a Smuggler in Star Wars Galaxies and I have a job to do. I’m Vyris Tykin and I’m here to get the job done. Whatever it takes and wherever it takes me. Also, no matter the Smuggler, they ALWAYS have the fastest ship in the sector.

 

I want to be a Smuggler because it evokes this smirk on my face whenever I’ve played one in the past.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Smugglers can handle just about anything-they fly through asteroid fields, play tag with nebulas and space storms, and they can land on anything. Nothing fazes a good smuggler. I’ve seen them land ships while fighting uneven gravity fields on asteroids barely bigger than their vessels. Gravity shifts, atmospheric turbulence, sandstorms, blizzards, typhoons…you name it, they know how to handle it.” – Lando Calrissian


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be a Sith Warrior

 

Anger, hatred, fear – weapons and tools of the Sith Warrior. The phrase “by any means necessary” is something of a hallmark of this archetype. Admittedly, this isn’t really how I like to handle things. I have a penchant for playing much like I described in last week’s article on the Jedi Knight, however, there’s something visceral about the Sith Warrior… something darkly satisfying.

I think it’s something along the lines of beating something down with a baseball bat, a lead pipe, or something equally heavy. The satisfaction of beating on someone without holding back. It’s very animalistic and it satisfies a deep, dark desire.

Aside from those dark instincts that I’m quite sure a lot of people have, I’d really like to see how the Sith Warrior story progresses. Especially since I will probably make more light decisions than dark (so that I could sleep at night after a rousing day of gaming).

Oh! With regards to approach, the Sith Warrior feels like a “kick in the front door” kind of character. If I just want to get stuff done without hemming and hawwing about how to do it, the Sith Warrior is the way to go. It’s direct, it’s simple, and I fully expect it to be fun (on top of the visceral satisfaction I mentioned above).

Here’s the progression video with obligatory epic music:

 

I want to be a Sith Warrior. It looks like it would be a ton of fun.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. I thought of this quote while watching the progression video again: “If I see one more idiot attacking a Jedi with a blaster pistol, then I’ll kill them myself.” – HK-47


Star Wars: The Old Republic – Why I want to be a Jedi Knight

 

“The Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

I usually don’t start a post with a quote, but this time is very appropriate. To be perfectly honest, I could probably write this entire post about Jedi Knights by using only quotes from the movies and the books, however, this post is about why I want to be a Jedi Knight, not why YOU should play one or whatever. Admittedly, this is going to be difficult to explain because the desire runs deep.

My exposure to Jedi Knights has come through the Star Wars movies, the novels, the games, and the animated shows. I’ve picked up a pretty complete picture of the Jedi Knights throughout the history of the Galactic Republic and the way they became once Luke Skywalker started his Praxeum on Yavin IV.

When I watched the Deceived video I sat back and said to myself, “I have to do something. I can’t let this go unanswered. I have to be a Jedi Knight. I have to fight the Sith and put an end to this.” I’m uncomfortable with this non-stop war between the Light Side and the Dark Side and I’ve never been a fan of enemies who don’t listen to reason and who I can’t sit down with and talk about their perspective over a cup of tea or something. I’m one of those people who would love to sit down with the Joker and just let him tell me why he does what he does and yes, I know he’d drive me to death probably, but sue me, I’m curious and I think everyone should be treated respectfully and as a person. Yes, even monsters.

Anyway, there’s this piece of my personality that gets so energized and pushes me to stand up at injustice and evil and I know that if I had the Force and a lightsaber to back me up, I would. I would step up and be a knight in shining armor (or in the case of the Jedi, brown robes) and I would put my foot down. It’s not a “truth, justice, and the American way” sort of thing, but it’s very close to be sure. The Jedi Knight sees oppression and evil and injustice and he DOES something about it. Jedi Knights step up and DO things for those less fortunate and I have this absolute CRAVING to do that. I want to be the shield of the people, I want to be the shining blade of the Republic and I want to be the light that guides the way for all those who desire peace, prosperity, justice, and equality.

That is the Jedi Knight to me. Warrior? Soldier? No, they are Knights. Not the historical version where they were essentially soldiers of the baron or whatever. I’m talking about the romanticized knights that wear shining armor, that are gentlemen and noble and do not stand for anyone being treated poorly. You know what? Jedi Knights DO wear shining armor: it’s the Force.

Let me share some quotes that have come out of Jedi Knights…

“I’m not a Jedi because I like the hum of the lightsaber in my hand…and I’m not a Jedi because I like being a Jedi. I’m a Jedi because the Galaxy needs Jedi.” – Torr Snapit

“Better a few faithful supporters than a wealth of false friends.” – Adi Gallia

“We are keepers of the peace, not soldiers.” – Mace Windu

“Jedi do not fight for peace. That’s only a slogan, and is as misleading as slogans always are. Jedi fight for civilization, because only civilization creates peace. We fight for justice because justice is the fundamental bedrock of civilization: an unjust civilization is built upon sand. It does not long survive a storm.” – Mace Windu

“The Jedi use their power for good. The Jedi are selfless. They only care about others.” – Anakin Skywalker

“No change comes without conflict. Perhaps my destiny is to be the irritant that forces the discussion, the blister that lets you know your boots don’t fit.” – Kyp Durron

“I don’t believe the training of a true Jedi comes from listening to lectures. I want to teach you how to learn action, how to do things, not just think about them. There is no try.” – Luke Skywalker

And now, the Jedi Knight Progression video. I’m definitely looking forward to trying this out.

 

I want to be a Jedi Knight. It’s a part of my being and I’ve wanted it for a long time.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. Yeah, I want this: “I wear my robe so that I am warm; I carry my lightsaber so that I am safe; and I keep enough credits for my next meal, so that I am not hungry. If the Force wants me to have more, it finds a way of letting me know.” – Kagoro


Discussion – Sharing Memories of A Galaxy Far, Far Away

There’s this person on YouTube who’s been asking me if I could share some of my Star Wars Galaxies memories from before the Combat Upgrade and after and I’m doing my best to accommodate, but there’s a few issues. Let me explain…

1) I’ve been playing this game off and on since it launched. Some of my memories have been lost to the ether between brain cells over the last 8 years.

2) Some memories are extremely personal… especially a couple from the last four years or so. Galaxies entered my life and became a part of it so much that when bad things happened out here, they had effects in there.

3) If I share too many memories too quickly, I’ll be compelled to stop all other projects and stuff and to throw myself into the game again. Just how I am.

So, anyways, for dealing with my “complaining”, here’s a little story of how I’m a massive idiot sometimes. This may be shared on my YouTube channel later today and I might wind up relaying the information a little differently courtesy of memory.

When Jump to Lightspeed came out back in… oh, October 2004… I dove back into the game with a vengeance (I had recently been away thanks to only having a 56k modem connection and we had JUST gotten cable internet when this expansion came out). So, anyways, I didn’t realize that they kept your character around even if you cancelled your subscription, so when I logged back in and saw a naked character in place of my normal guy, I deleted him, thinking I’d been away too long. Alas, I found out later that everything was still there. Oh well. Instead I made my main character Elorfin Thendt on the Corbantis server and another character Vyris Tykin on the Lowca server. Elorfin was made a Rebel pilot and I wanted that X-Wing so badly. So when February 2005 rolled around, I FINALLY got my sweet X-Wing. Unfortunately, this was the time where the developers had to mention that now space alignment was connected to ground alignment and I misinterpreted this information and accidentally quit the Rebel faction, losing ALL the progress I had made in my piloting and losing access to my sweet ride.

I filed a help ticket, but SOE said it was my fault and that there were warnings in place. Unfortunately for me, the warnings didn’t make sense to me at the time. Oh well. Anyways, I got to Master Rebel Pilot by June that year, had my X-Wing back AND had better equipment because of it. I suppose it worked out.

Until next time, read the warnings!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Experience the greatest saga ever told…..yours.” – Star Wars Galaxies tagline.


Discussion – Star Wars Galaxies: The End of a Game

I’m sure some of you have heard by now that one of the big name MMOs is closing shop later this year. The news was broken just a few days ago in time for SWG’s 8th anniversary: SOE is shutting down Star Wars Galaxies on December 15th. I have… difficult to explain feelings on this, so allow me to attempt an explanation with significant backstory.

Back when Everquest was new, I turned to my Mom and told her, “The only game I’ll ever pay to play will be Star Wars.” Little did I realize that shortly there would be a Star Wars game coming down the line (also that I’d pay to play other games). When my 20th birthday rolled around in 2003, my Mom preordered a copy of Galaxies for me and I was ecstatic. I patiently waited until it came out (they bumped it a couple of times, but yeah, it came out eventually) in June of 2003. I was severely limited in playing it because I had a relatively crummy laptop and only had access to a 56k modem at the time, but I was thrilled to be a wanderer in Star Wars. I spent a lot of time in the wilderness on Rori by Restuss (back then an actual town instead of the ruins it is today). I spent a huge amount of time being just a tourist, enjoying the views of the falls of Theed on Naboo, the twin suns of Tatooine, and the seemingly endless plains of Corellia. I took off about six months until we got cable internet for smoother playing.

In October 2004 I got a copy of Jump to Lightspeed and my 6 month hiatus from the game was over. I made new characters and Elorfin Thendt was born into Star Wars Galaxies. I made him a rebel pilot and worked really hard to get myself an X-Wing. When I finally got one, I was thrilled. Then I proceeded to accidentally drop my pilot profession and I had to start all over again. It took me several more months to get back to where I was (yay life?) and then I had even better equipment to work with. Overall, pretty awesome. Plus, some of my friends were getting into it.

Fast forward a bit… Rage of the Wookiees and the Combat Upgrade came out in time for Revenge of the Sith to hit the theaters in May of 2005. Kashyyyk was added to the game and it was awesome. I managed to preorder it and it was good times and new content for all. Later that year, Trials of Obi-Wan came out in conjunction with the New Game Enhancement (which redid the profession system to an archetype system and gave us 80 combat levels to work with). It also introduced more high level content with Mustafar and I fortunately preordered it and landed a desert skiff that could sail over the lava flows on that hellish world.

I have memories of the pre-NGE world. They’re of struggling to get credits, kill monsters by myself, and so forth. The NGE made it so I could solo enough of the game content that I could have a good time on my own for a bit and become more familiar with the game. Further, I was able to ENJOY myself for the first time in a long time. Oh, and also, with all the adjustments, they got rid of the ability queue system so you didn’t wind up sitting around waiting for things to go off. They got rid of the Mind statistic on the HAM bar (Health Action Mind). The downside? Medical centers became entirely useless. I fondly remember spending hours sitting in a med center healing people’s wounds and socializing. It was fantastic, but short lived. Anyways…

The NGE made it so I could finally be competitive in the game. When it hit, I was working on the Force Sensitive skill boxes and so I felt entitled to converting my character to a Jedi. He was a Jedi for quite some time actually, but he kind of stagnated at level 64 while I played a Jedi on another server (Lowca server I believe). Once all my friends quit or left for whatever reasons, I went back to Elorfin on Corbantis. Within a few minutes of just poking around, I met a lovely character and she invited me into her guild. With a grin I agreed and she proceeded to tell me how to rapidly get to level 90. That was 2007 I believe.

To this day, I’m still a member of the guild (Remnants of Mandalore) even through the server transfer to Chilastra (if they still exist, but they did in October 2010). Unfortunately, I’ve been lacking a desire to play the game. I’ve got some personal reasons for that which I won’t go into here, but there are some game related issues I want to point out that have also made me reluctant to play. First, there hasn’t been a significant addition to the game since 2005 with Trials of Obi-Wan. That added a WHOLE PLANET and changed the game entirely. Even Jump to Lightspeed changed how we played the game… it added SPACE and CUSTOMIZABLE SHIPS! Now THAT was CONTENT! Since 2005 we’ve gotten a card game, some holiday mini-game festivals, some PvP stuff, some high-end PvE stuff, tweaks, updates, modifications to existing things… and that’s really it. No guild capital ships (unless you count the collection POBs). No new planets since 2005. No new abilities for space. No new single player ships for space (except high level ones and they tended to be either super fast or game breaking or both, depending on your perspective). So, I got to level 90 and had a jolly good time with my guild, but then newer games came out with new graphics and new mechanics. I started to play Galaxies less and less. I haven’t touched it since October 2010 and I feel bad. I feel it could’ve been so much more than it was. I had a history professor who once told us to look around our campus and note all the new construction and renovations and to remember that if there weren’t any new construction or some kind of renovation going on, that the school was dead. Galaxies felt dead to me after a while and I suppose I was reluctant to let it go… still am. Mind you, I don’t hate the game, I don’t dislike it or even think it sucks, I just wish there could’ve been… more.

Galaxies is no longer the only game I’d pay to play. Galaxies is no longer the only MMO I’d play. Pretty soon, Galaxies will be no more and maybe my guilt or sadness or disappointment regarding the game will be gone, but I doubt it. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend that you know you’ll never see again. I think Galaxies gave me a thirst for online gaming, where I’m not entirely alone in my adventures and where I only have to speak up to find a friend. I find myself, today, as a better gamer because of my experiences with Galaxies.

A while ago… probably in October 2010, I had returned after a very long period of time of not playing. My guild mates were shocked to hear that I’d never actually cancelled my subscription, I just was busy doing other things and they were thrilled to see me on. I told them that I’d never really leave for good and that I’d probably be there when they turned the lights out someday. Well, I intend to be there on December 15th. I want to say farewell to a world of friends, adventure, possibilities and my character Elorfin Thendt. No, not a world… a galaxy.

Until next time, go and explore those new worlds and strange lands. Maybe you’ll find a galaxy waiting for you.

– Elorfin

P.S. “I figured I’d be here ’til they turn the lights out.” – Zack Allan, Babylon 5: Sleeping in Light

P.P.S. “Every Story Has A Hero, Every Hero Has A Destiny, Every Saga Has An End.” – Tagline for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith


Discussion – Some E3 Stuff

This past week was the Electronic Entertainment Expo out in… what, Los Angeles? Anyways, it’s always fun to catch some of the presentations and I managed to watch the EA presentation live on TV. It got me thinking: what else is coming out soon that I’m excited about? So, here we go!

1. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations: I can’t wait to play this game. I haven’t beaten Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood yet, but I know what happens and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of the loose ends tied up. Further, I really want to see Istanbul. They’ve got 6 (SIX!) of the Ubisoft studios working on this game and it’s going to be awesome. Estimated release: Q4 2011 (but I’m guessing November). Here, have a trailer:

 

2. Mass Effect 3: Oh yes. Shepard is back on Earth getting chewed out for what happened in the Arrival DLC about three months or so after Mass Effect 2 and all hell breaks loose. I can’t wait until March so I can be a hero one more time. Estimated release: March 6, 2012. Here’s the trailer for that:

 

3. XCOM: I didn’t realize that this one was coming out until I actually looked for it. I thought it was just being developed extremely quietly by 2k until I saw the trailer. I dunno if I’ll actually be able to play it (yay motion sickness in first person?) but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless. Estimated release: March 9, 2012. Here’s the trailer:

 

4. Star Wars: The Old Republic: Of course I can’t wait for this one. Duh. I love this game. I want to marry this game and have children with it. Okay, maybe that’s a bit too extreme, but still. Can’t wait. I’m expecting the release to be somewhere between November 2011 and February 2012. No real confirmation, but that’s typically when cool stuff happens. Have a trailer:

 

I hope you who read this post enjoy the trailers and look forward to these games at least a bit. Enjoy!

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Creativity perpetually invents itself.” – Paul Palnik


Discussion – The Older Things

Last night I caught The Comedy Awards and was struck by something when David Letterman got on stage to accept the Johnny Carson award: there are people who don’t know who Johnny Carson IS.

Allow me to explain the relevance. I have a young cousin who I love to talk to. She’s really smart and generally awesome. She knows nothing of X-COM, Civilization, Babylon 5, Star Trek, Star Wars, I mean, seriously an empty education. She MIGHT know Firefly, but she only knew of Assassin’s Creed because I told her. She’s grown up never knowing who Princess Leia is or even Queen Amidala. She doesn’t know of Captain Picard or that William Shatner is the original Captain Kirk.

It falls to us, the players of old games and purveyors of older cultural THINGS to pass them on to the younger generations so that they can see the joy inherent in what we love. We need to share our passions with our friends and our children (and our friends children) so that these things will flourish.

I’ve taken it upon myself to start sharing Star Wars with my cousin (among other things) and I’m struggling to do my part. I’m making progress, surely. A friend of mine has started his daughter on Star Wars at the ripe old age of something-under-2.

I think that the real impact that we could have here is that the old is never truly forgotten (unless it really really sucks).

Until next time, spread the good word!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Culture would seem … first and foremost, to be the knowledge of what makes man something other than an accident of the universe be it by deepening his harmony with the world, or by the lucid consciousness of his revolt from it. … Culture is the sum of all the forms of art, of love and of thought, which, in the course of centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved.” – André Malraux

P.P.S. Oh, yes, also… TAGS!


Discussion: MMO Pricing Models

Today I’m going to talk about something that stirs up a lot of feelings in a lot of people all over the net: pricing models.

Here’s the three different primary types here:

Free to Play

Microtransaction

Subscription

Allow me to explain…

Free to Play is just what it says: Free. To. Play. Seriously, you download the game, you install it, you set up an account, and bam, you’re ready to go. It’s that simple. Examples of these games are Champions Online, D&D Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and several of the games I’ve previously mentioned like 9Dragons and ACE Online. For future reference, I’m abbreviating this as F2P.

Microtransactions (I may have explained this in the past, but humor me) are where you throw a few dollars at the game here and there. Typically this goes hand in hand with a F2P model. The point is to purchase in a cash shop of sorts a few extraneous objects or such that you don’t normally get with your usual account. An example of the things that are usually available in such a shop are extra character slots on the server, additional character classes or capabilities, costume items that have no effect outside of changing your appearance, experience bonus items, and so forth. Frequently the company running the game invents some sort of point system that goes with the shop. Champions Online and Star Trek Online both have their C-Store (Cryptic Store) and they take advantage of Atari Tokens. D&D Online and Lord of the Rings Online are both run by Turbine and they each have very similar shops with points named differently (DDO Points and Turbine Points, respectively). Sometimes the company running the game doesn’t even bother to do point transactions. In the case of games like Star Wars Galaxies where there’s a separate card game built into the game, you just buy booster packs and such using your credit card or whatever. Sometimes these points are easy to get (in LOTRO, you can gain Turbine Points by accomplishing deeds that award 5, 10, or 15 points and you can save them up), other times you can only get them by buying them (Star Trek Online), and still other times you can get a stipend of points per month for subscribing (D&D Online and Champions Online each offer 500 and 400 of their points per month, respectively). All in all, you’re typically not spending a lot of money at once (if at all), hence the term “microtransactions”. Me, if I like a game well enough, I’m cool with throwing twenty bucks at it (like LOTRO).

Subscriptions for MMOs have always been a touchy subject but most frequently they’re priced around fifteen dollars a month. Some games (once again, LOTRO) offer the occasional discount to ten bucks a month and a few games out there are five a month (I believe Dungeon Runners used to do this). Sometimes if you buy a bunch of months in a row (like 6 or 12) you can get a discount. $120 bucks a year changes your subscription to ten bucks a month instead of fifteen… which isn’t bad if you intend to play the game for the whole year. Like I’ve implied, subscriptions can run monthly, annually, bi-annually, or whatever. Also, some few games offer lifetime subscriptions where you pay one large lump sum (often enough to buy an XBox 360 or a PS3) for permanent subscription services for as long as the game is up. I recently acquired a lifetime subscription to Star Trek Online for the paltry sum of $300 (hah, paltry) and there’s really no difference between a normal subscription and the lifetime (except for a few nifty concessions). Once upon a time, I said (upon discovering Everquest was fifteen bucks a month) that I would only truly pay to play a Star Wars game. Well, I’ve been proven wrong (DDO, LOTRO, STO and now another SW game is coming out soon).

Admittedly, those are the primary models above, but companies love to mix and match to their own delight. A prime example of this is in what Turbine and Cryptic have  done to their games. Let’s take a look at D&D Online and then Champions Online:

D&D Online offers a free to play model. There is a cash store where you can buy points and spend said points on objects you want. There’s also a variety of subscription options (monthly, 3 months, 6 months I believe) available for those who want free access to all the restricted content that’s available for purchase in the store (more or less). Further, for those who subscribe, you gain 500 DDO points per month of your active subscription. If you allow your subscription to lapse, you downgrade to a “Premium” account which has more benefits than a regular Free account, but considerably less than a subscription. In this case, if you’re playing a class (like the Monk or Favored Soul) that is specifically given to you because of your subscription, you lose access to that character until you purchase the class in another way (via favor or money).

Champions Online has recently gone free to play. There’s a cash store where you can buy points and spend them on objects you want. They also have subscription options, but they also offer a lifetime subscription with additional benefits on top of the standard subscription. The entire game is available to play, but certain quest trees are unavailable except to those who subscribe or purchase said quest packs. For subscribers (lifetime and otherwise) you gain 400 Atari Tokens a month. If you are no longer a subscriber you revert to a “Silver Player” (as opposed to Gold) and lose access to all the things that Gold Players get specifically (you lose access to your Freeform characters and quest packs) until you subscribe again.

Personally, I’m a fan of these combination models. I feel that they appeal to wider audiences and in many cases allow people to try the games until they feel like they want to spend money on it to get the extra stuff (like me with D&D Online, Lord of the Rings Online). Champions Online is now a current favorite for me and I’m highly tempted to get a lifetime account with them.  Don’t worry, I make myself come up with three good reasons before I splurge on something so expensive.

When looking to invest in a game, it’s encouraging that so many are going free to play with subscription options. I’m certainly a fan of being able to try stuff out before buying (like test driving a car). I have a hunch that subscription-only games are going to be phased out in the future and “choose your own pricing model” games will become the business standard.

Regarding the lifetime subscriptions: personally I like to buy and not worry about things any more, hence why I’m a fan of these. Further, Star Trek Online has held a lasting appeal for me in the last six months and I felt it was a worthwhile investment. Also, STO is still a growing game. It’s been around one year (celebrated its one year anniversary the first week of February). If Galaxies had a lifetime subscription option, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Until next time, choose wisely so that you can have a great time!

– Elorfin

P.S. In hunting down links to put up above, I found something particularly awesome that some friends may or may not appreciate. Neverwinter.

P.P.S. I was right about the Dungeon Runners subscription. Booyah.

P.P.P.S. “Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.” – Publilius Syrus


A New Year Approaches

… and with that new year, some new things!

I recently acquired a camcorder (Thanks Mom!) and so I intend to bolster my writings here with video posts as well. Of course, it’ll take some time to get used to using the camera and to overcome my embarrassment at talking to a camera in my bedroom, but I’ll do my best. This will occur after I’ve picked up some extra storage space so I can hold onto some of my videos for later use. Oh, and I’ll have to learn how to edit. Thankfully, the software my camera came with seems very sufficient for my intentions and is rather user friendly (or I’m just a quick study).

I’ve been developing a Star Wars Saga Edition campaign for my friends to play through on the 2nd of January. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they handle some of the obstacles I intend to put them up against. I’m expecting them to steamroll certain parts and hiccup on others, but it’s a role playing game and these things are rarely predictable. It’s very possible that the things I think are harsh on my players will be naught but a gnat against their might and vice versa for the simple tasks I’ve laid before them.

Once they’ve played through it, I’ll give a rundown of the campaign itself. I’m tempted to set up my new camera and record the game itself. I do have 10 hours worth of memory cards for my camera (an 8 GB + a 16 GB memory card apparently = 10 hours). We’ll see how things go. I might forget.

I want to give thanks to the BB-61 blog over at the Pacific Battleship Center website for the added traffic these last few days. It was a welcome Christmas present to share my familial pride of the Iowa with a new audience and I’m excited to expose others to my perspectives on gaming… that is, if there’s an interest.

A quick note, lately I’ve been playing LOTRO, Robotrek, Project Legacy, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I recently finished watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2 (great stuff!) and I just finished reading The Sable Quean by Brian Jacques (part of the Redwall series).

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme a lot.” – Mark Twain


Discussion: Video Game Remakes and Re-releases

I was listening to some video game music on YouTube this morning and I happened to glance down at the comments. There were a couple of people saying how awesome it would be if there was to be a remake of the game to which the music belonged. A few commented that any remake would not be as faithful as we would hope. Mind, that’s just my interpretation of YouTube comments… they’re typically not so verbose or well worded (not to mention improper spelling and grammar).

I’ve been around almost as long as the video game industry. I’ve been playing games for most of my life. Some of the games I grew up on have built up a rather impressive catalog (Civilization just hit its fifth iteration, X-COM is seeing a reboot as a first person shooter without the hyphen, Sim City spawned the incredibly successful Sims series, etc). For the purposes of this discussion, sequels aren’t remakes or reboots, they’re just the logical (sometimes illogical) evolution of a game.

There has been a clamor for remakes and re-releases these days by my generation. We want to see our old games brought back to the fore and given the attention they deserve now in this age of the internet where we can discuss them openly instead of getting a bunch of blank stares from gamers half our age. I’ll get into the age issue later, but for now, let’s take a look at some remakes and re-releases.

In my opinion (and since this is my little site, everything here is my opinion), one of the best remakes/ports has to be the continuing of Lunar: The Silver Star since 1992. I wrote about it earlier here, so I won’t go into too much detail. The original game came out in 1992 on Sega CD (well, the Japanese version; the North American version was 1993), the first remake was Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete for the Sega Saturn in 1996-7, and later released on the Playstation in 1998-9. Further, there was a Game Boy Advance remake in 2002 called Lunar Legend and lastly the Playstation Portable remake in 2009-10 named Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. Each of these remakes showed improvements in the graphics and/or voice acting (especially in the PSP release) and introduced new or different gameplay elements (or in one case, changing the main character’s hobby from playing a harp to playing an ocarina and rewriting the game to reflect that).

In the case of other games (this whole paragraph is now off the top of my head), I own a copy of Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS which is a graphical update from the original. I’m not sure about the gameplay or anything else (except to reflect the touch screen and dual screen nature of the console, which I consider an assumed update). Also, there was a release of Final Fantasy I and II for the PSP, Final Fantasy VI for the GBA, Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI on the Playstation, Chrono Trigger for the Playstation (that added animated cutscenes) and later the Nintendo DS (that has additional gameplay). Even more modern games like Disgaea has been rereleased on the PSP and the DS with appropriate gameplay adjustments and the whole Ace Attorney series originally came out on the GBA and was re-released on the DS. Final Fantasy Tactics got an amazing revisit when it was remade for the PSP 10 years after its original Playstation release and it added cell-shaded cutscenes, voice acting, a rewrite of the script to eliminate some of the mistranslated speech, and multiplayer gameplay.

Also, there has been a resurgence of re-releases courtesy of digital download services like Steam and Impulse. I’ve got full access to X-COM UFO Defense on Steam (which experienced a re-release or two) and Master of Orion II on Impulse. These are both mid-1990’s games that I spent a lot of time playing (and if you look at my Steam profile for X-COM, I still do). With access to old games, I’ve noticed something about myself… I’m BETTER at them now than I used to be. Not just through repetition of gameplay (because I stopped playing them when Windows decided to not let me run them ordinarily), but through the fact that I’m a much more experienced gamer today. I was playing Master of Orion II recently and discovered that the easy difficulty setting was too easy, which was odd because it used to be fine for me. I cranked up the difficulty to average and it was STILL too easy. I think I’m going to kick it up to hard next and see what happens.

For someone like me who grew up with these older games, a remake is a mixed bag. Part of the experience of these older games was dealing with the copy protection and the low resolution, DOS command lines and the early generations of sound cards that could only generate 8-bit music (eventually better). However, I would love to see my old games revisited and updated… better graphics, better music, glitches fixed, gameplay streamlined, but I don’t want any significant changes. Often when there’s a remake, the fear is that the developer will change the fundamental aspects of the game. This is partly unfounded as I’ve never seen a remake that drastically changed the way the game played, but I have seen sequels that are nothing like the original (Master of Orion 3 was a disaster).

This leads me to my perspective: I want to see faithful remakes of the games I grew up playing. I want to see graphical, musical, effects upgrades across the board, but I want the gameplay to essentially remain the same. Sure, some of the fan-made projects for X-COM has made playing the game more interesting and convenient (like a map randomizer to mix things up a bit or a mechanism for the game to remember what equipment was on which team members). I feel that these re-releases on Steam and Impulse could be the beginning of something incredible if companies would tackle such things. Admittedly, most companies are more interested in making new or derivative games instead of revisiting older ones for overhauls. Plus, in the case of some games like X-COM Interceptor, the source code has apparently vanished and any fixes or remakes are just not in the cards. Honestly, remakes/re-releases of games like Lunar, Final Fantasy, and Chrono Trigger are thrilling for me and I jump on them when I can. I love having a portable copy of Chrono Trigger and Lunar and Final Fantasy Tactics. I’d love to see a PSP version of X-COM UFO Defense one day, but seeing as they’ve already started pulling away from the UMD hardware (from what I’ve noticed), I doubt I’m going to get my wish.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. There’s something in it that makes us look upon the things we treasured way back when through our rose colored lenses and value the old over the new. Remakes are a kind of compromise and even today, remakes are often derided as worse than the original. A prime example of this is a forum thread I was reading last night regarding Lunar: Silver Star Harmony on the PSP. In it, some posters commented that it was easier than the original, that it was somehow less than the original. This kind of thinking is dangerous for those of us who would love to see our old favorites revisited in the future. I wonder if these people ever considered that because they played the original, they were somehow better at later versions of the same game. I’ve played Lunar in nearly every iteration and to me, it’s the same game every time. Of course, I don’t have the luxury of being able to play the original Sega CD version next to the newer PSP version. This issue occurs with movies too (anyone notice the whole “I hate the new Star Wars trilogy” thing mostly coming from those people who grew up with the original?). The older we get and the more advanced we become with regards to education and technology, the more critical and demanding we become of our forms of entertainment. Why can’t it be like the good old days? Because those days are long gone, but if you open your mind just a bit, you might find that your favorite story has inspired a slew of others just like it… Master of Orion was the original game that inspired the coining of the term 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate) with regards to video game genres and has since inspired games like Sins of a Solar Empire, Galactic Civilizations and many more. Wolfenstein 3D inspired every first person shooter we have today, from Unreal Tournament to Medal of Honor. It’s good to go back to the beginning to see where it all started and awesome if you experienced it as it happened, but take a look outside every now and again and try something new. I promise, you won’t be disappointed (unless you want to be, in which case, that’s your problem).

I suppose my new point is this: don’t rely on the remakes and re-releases, but if they do come along, vote with your money and let the companies know that their effort in revisiting their older games is a welcome diversion. In the mean time, let developers pay tribute to older games by making new ones and vote with your money on those too. Feel free to compare the old and the new, but understand that if that old game were made today, it would be completely different due to the reduced limitations on technology. Apparently Silent Hill was much scarier back when there was a ton of fog (which was implemented since the hardware was limited in what it could show) and now today you can see all the way to the horizon and things aren’t so scary any more. Be understanding.

Until next time, keep on playing the classics you love and give the descendants a chance to become new classics!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Nostalgia, as always, had wiped away bad memories and magnified the good ones.” from Living to Tell the Tale, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

P.P.S. Yes, I want a remake/re-release of Terranigma. I think out of the three Quintet/Enix titles (Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma) the last one is the best and deserves a DS release at the very least.


Recent absence

My apologies for not writing anything recently. I’ve been wrapped up in games and this kind of took a back seat.

I wish I could talk about what I’ve been playing a lot this past week or two, but I signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, so I can’t give my impressions until later. In the meantime, I’ve been playing D&D Online and I’ve got a game of Civilization IV going with a friend of mine.

I’ve got an article idea bouncing around in my head regarding the player and their familiarity and sense of belonging in the game world. This is something very relevant today, especially in light of the vast numbers of multiplayer online games and the persistent worlds that many of them have. I find myself fascinated by games that have to do with existing mythologies or well developed environments. Examples of these are the Star Wars universe, Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the Forgotten Realms, and Greek Mythology/Homerian Epics. Like I said, it’s an idea, and I hope I can figure out how best to explain it soon.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to secure a ticket to the Distant Worlds Final Fantasy concert. If you’ve read my article about music in games and my article about immersion and the part where I discuss the role music plays, then you’d understand that I’m a huge fan of game music. I especially like it when it’s performed in concert halls and the like. I guess it’s a way of realizing that the music that I grew up with is now recognized as important. Can’t help but feel a bit proud that I got in on the ground floor.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. George Washington fought dragons. Spread it around!