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