A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “SWG

A Follow-Up on Player Housing

Recently I made a post talking about the player housing announcement in Star Wars: The Old Republic and what my minimum expectations were for such an expansion. Let’s address my list now that they’ve made a much more detailed announcement, shall we?

You can only have a place on either Coruscant or Dromund Kaas (obviously faction specific)

Obviously this has been addressed. You can have a place on Coruscant, Dromund Kaas, AND Nar Shaddaa. Since it’s legacy wide, you can maintain all three, but obviously faction specific delineations are present so you can only visit your faction restricted locales. No problem here, but I hope they introduce other locations for residence such as Alderaan or Corellia.

You can’t decorate/move objects around the interior/add objects to the interior at your whim

According to them, you will be able to decorate. I’m not sure as to the versatility of the decoration functions, but we’ll have to see. Right now they say we can personalize our strongholds.

You will be allowed to have amenities in your player house, but you’ll have to pay cartel coins or vast amounts of credits to get them (like on your personal ship and they’d be the same thing just paid for separately, so you’d have to buy the mailbox for your ship separate from the mailbox for your house)

No comment on this, but since there was a mailbox in the background of the initial trailer, I’m going to assume that this is the same as I predicted until proven otherwise (like the mailbox is a fixture everyone gets for free or whatever).

The place will cost a certain amount of credits or cartel coins to purchase and will cost credits to maintain (another of the credit sink locations in the game)

Yup, they’ll cost credits or cartel coins. “You will be able to purchase ownership of Personal Strongholds with credits you earn in-game or with Cartel Coins in the Cartel Market.”

There will be special housing locations you can purchase via the cartel market that aren’t available to people who don’t have cartel coins (maybe not)

No word on this yet, but the Nar Shaddaa Sky Palace is a special location available to people who are subscribed as of the 11th of May.

This will allow for new cartel market items that add stuff to your player house that do nothing but appeal to the part of the player base that loves collecting things from the boxes of stuff

No clue on this one either.

The player house will be impractical to access and therefore will lose a lot of its value to a significant portion of the player base upon its release (there will be much scoffing and derision thrown around about this)

Also no clue. It IS legacy wide though, so it makes it more practical than previously expected.

You won’t be able to interact with the scenery outside of the already existing emotes (by which I mean there won’t be any scenery interaction like laying on a bed by clicking on it, you’ll have to jump onto the bed and use the lay down emote like in LOTRO)

No word on this either, but it’s a safe assumption based on the limited interactions characters can have with scenery right now.

Further, there are some other things to note on their announcement page:

– “Invite Your Friends – Show off your latest collection to friends as you take a moment to relax before your next big adventure.”

This implies to me that you can bring your group to your stronghold (much like you can bring them onto your ship) and you’ll have a variety of objects you can populate the space with.

– “Gain Prestige – Increase your character’s “Prestige Score” each time you add a decoration to your Stronghold – earn top ranking on the public Stronghold Directory and make a name for yourself among the galaxy’s elite.”

Okay. A new metric for measuring my stuff against another’s. Great. That said, this is a good incentive for a decorating community to grow (something I mentioned I missed).

– “Legacy Stronghold Storage – Unlock access to a new type of storage that is shared across your entire Legacy!”

THIS RIGHT HERE is lovely. Shared storage across your whole legacy? Brilliant way of making it practical. I’m sure it’s going to have a credit/cartel coin sink to increase its capacity like all the other storage in the game, but that’s par for the course.

Now, one more massive kicker…

“You will earn a set of starter decorations when you purchase your first Stronghold. Many decorations will be available on existing vendors throughout the game as new rewards for Reputations, PvP, Crew Skills, and more. While some of these decorations will be available for credits and other currencies, many will require components created by crafters. Decorations can also be obtained as loot drops from Flashpoints and Operations. Finally, a variety of unique decorations can be purchased with Cartel Coins on the Cartel Market.”

THIS. THIS IS WHAT I WAS WANTING. All we need to see now how versatile the interior decorating mechanic is and BOOM, I’m sold.

A side note: they’re introducing Guild flagships to the game. I’m not sure what the plans are for the future and they don’t seem to have much in the way of function, but this is already one step farther than Star Wars Galaxies was able to get. Mainly, I remember a rumor back in SWG’s heyday that we were going to be able to have guild flagships, but it never came to fruition. Basically what we got was a special group mission where you invade a rogue Imperial Star Destroyer and fight your way through it to either blow it up or capture it or something. I never did it, but I remember when it launched.

All I can say now is… I can’t wait to see how this all works out. Well, that and, “When can we decorate our starships?”

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. Here’s the latest trailer:

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Player Housing and Great Expectations

Before I say anything of any real quality, you should watch this trailer because it’s what’s inspired me today.

Now that you’ve watched it, allow me to elaborate on what’s up here…

WE ARE GETTING PLAYER HOUSING IN STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC!

Ahem. Pardon my excitement, but I’m always thrilled to have something branded as Star Wars actually welcome me home. Makes me kind of misty eyed.

My first experience with player housing was actually in Star Wars Galaxies. It was a rather robust system too. You could form player cities with mayors and city planning and so forth. I remember fondly my Mustafarian Underground Bunker on Rori (it’s a moon of Naboo, look it up). I had set up the bar area as a kind of hunter’s lodge thanks to a bunch of quests on Kashyyyk giving beast heads as trophies. I even set up some sets of old armor and had a couple of rooms that were nothing but artwork from the game. It took a little work, but I was proud of my home.

I have a house right now in Lord of the Rings Online. It’s a nice little two room hobbit hole across from my kinship house. It serves my needs for having a place to call my own in a game and it’s got a small chest for storing items in it (which is always nice). However, LOTRO’s decoration system is nowhere near as robust as SWG’s system. In LOTRO you have hot-spots where you can place an item and rotate it and whatever, but certain things can only fit in certain spots. In SWG, you could put ANYTHING ANYWHERE in your house. You could dump your entire inventory in one spot. You could build a pixel perfect TIE Fighter out of nothing but blaster rifles and armor plates. You could hang a painting in midair. They also had houses shaped like all kinds of things. Want a Jedi Meditation Chamber? Would you prefer a Sith one? What about an AT-AT or a Sandcrawler? Or how about a house that floats and looks like Cloud City?

You could also have a variety of structures all owned by the same character. So, on my commando, I had the Mustafarian bunker. On my trader, he had access to the bunker and used all his 10 slots for harvesters and factories. Kid you not, I would put down a harvester to mine so I wouldn’t have to sit there all day and then if I had a series of things I needed to build that all required the same components, I’d throw down a factory and pop in the schematic and all the resources it needed and let it rip. Log in a few hours later, tidy up, and go about my business. Each character had 10 “lots” and each structure took up a certain number of those lots. Some structures, because of size, would take up more lots than some and would also have a higher maintenance rate.

Anyway, I’m obviously excited for housing in SWTOR. Unfortunately, I don’t know what the options are going to be. I really hope we can have homes on different worlds and not just the capitals of each faction. I wouldn’t mind being able to have multiple homes either. For example, I could have an apartment on Coruscant, a bolt-hole on Nar Shaddaa, a nice house on Alderaan, and a safe-house on Corellia (just to name a few). I have no idea who would want to live on Hoth or even Belsavis, but I wouldn’t knock it if it was done right. Further, I hope they allow for a robust decorating system. Don’t just give us the place and then not let us make it ours, like with our ships. If I could decorate my ship, I would be SO HAPPY. If I could treat my XS Light Freighter like the home-away-from-home that my old YT-1300 in SWG was for me, I would be so thrilled. In my eyes, customization is king when it comes to player housing. I’ve said it a couple of times now on Twitter, but if they give us the SWG decorating system, I’ll be over the moon with joy. If they don’t and it’s closer to the LOTRO hot-spot decorating system, I’ll be cool with it, because it makes sense and it’s easy to learn. The thing that will hands down tick me off will be if we can’t decorate or move anything at all in these locations. A player house that can’t be decorated is useless to me. Oh, and the player houses HAVE to have a practical thing to them. Maybe they’re conveniently located or you can port to them or maybe they count for getting rest exp. How about extra storage? Does it help foster the community in any way (like everyone in the tower of apartments belongs to the same HOA and they all can hang at the pool as a perk)? Can you sell your deed on the auction hall or trade it to other players? Can you add permissions for other players to come in and therefore have a guild apartment (like a frat house I guess)? Will we get deeds for housing as quest rewards? Will free-to-play accounts have access to this system or not? Will it be stripped down if F2P does have access? Whoa, my questions started ranging there.

I remember fondly the old interior decorating competitions the community would have in SWG. I think if they do it right, there could be an amazing opportunity to do something similar in SWTOR. It adds a level of playability and roleplaying. I’m not just there doing quests, I’m earning credits so I can buy that set of lights that would really compliment my decor or I’m earning these area rugs that will make my new place feel much more warm. I’m hoping this happens, but I’m not expecting it because I’ve learned to keep my expectations kind of low these days, lest I find myself as bitter as those people who hate the Star Wars prequels.

Oh, and if they make it so people can craft housing items (like the aforementioned lights or rugs) or even receive housing items as quest rewards sometimes, well, be still my beating heart.

So, here’s hoping they put a lot of work into this housing system. I’m really hoping for a lot, but I fully expect to have the following happen:

– You can only have a place on either Coruscant or Dromund Kaas (obviously faction specific)

– You can’t decorate/move objects around the interior/add objects to the interior at your whim

– You will be allowed to have amenities in your player house, but you’ll have to pay cartel coins or vast amounts of credits to get them (like on your personal ship and they’d be the same thing just paid for separately, so you’d have to buy the mailbox for your ship separate from the mailbox for your house)

– The place will cost a certain amount of credits or cartel coins to purchase and will cost credits to maintain (another of the credit sink locations in the game)

– There will be special housing locations you can purchase via the cartel market that aren’t available to people who don’t have cartel coins (maybe not)

– This will allow for new cartel market items that add stuff to your player house that do nothing but appeal to the part of the player base that loves collecting things from the boxes of stuff

– The player house will be impractical to access and therefore will lose a lot of its value to a significant portion of the player base upon its release (there will be much scoffing and derision thrown around about this)

– You won’t be able to interact with the scenery outside of the already existing emotes (by which I mean there won’t be any scenery interaction like laying on a bed by clicking on it, you’ll have to jump onto the bed and use the lay down emote like in LOTRO)

Some of these predictions are obviously pessimistic and I hope they’re wrong. Some of them (the credit sink bit) is unavoidable because that’s how the dev team does things (I recall them explaining in a community meeting once): if they introduce a new way of making credits in the game, it has to be balanced with a way to spend credits, and I think the opposite holds true, but I could be wrong.

I hope so hard that things are better than I’m expecting, but by keeping my expectations low, I won’t be disappointed, just sadly justified.

EDIT: A quick note here – in order to get the players invested, you HAVE to make them feel like they own what you’ve given them. You need to allow them to feel like it’s theirs. With allowable customization of the environment that can be suited to the players tastes, you allow that player to take possession of the house or ship or whatever. It encourages them to show it off and say, “check out my sweet pad”, among other things. You want your players to love the house and to keep coming back. You want them to buy into it. The best way to do it is to have as robust a customization system as you can manage. That’s what makes SWG stick out to me even years after it was shut down. That’s why my Iowa in Star Trek Online is my love, because I poured my heart and soul into making her mine with painstakingly chosen components and abilities. That’s why I’m having fun in Diablo III with my Wizard and tweaking his skills and equipment. That’s what sticks with me and gives me stories to share: it’s all about the customization. Give us that and you have my sword, my bow, my axe, and my heart.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “There is no place more delightful than one’s own fireside.” – Cicero

P.P.S. This is too good a thing to leave with just one quote, so… “‘Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam; Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Home.” – J. Howard Payne, Home Sweet Home.


Hunting Rare Loot

I’m sure I’ve shared in the past a couple of stories of how I would hunt for rare loot and how that’s changed over time. Mainly my policy on rare loot hunting is…

DON’T.

Seriously, just forget about it. If it drops, awesome, if it doesn’t, oh well, just don’t worry about it.

Rather than hunt down my old pieces on it, I’ll just relate it all again because why not.

I used to play Ragnarok Online with some friends many many moons ago. Ragnarok Online had one of those mechanisms whereby loot would drop at a percent chance off of particular enemies. You could get this item 50% of the time, this item 49% of the time, this item .9% of the time, this item .09% of the time, and lastly, that rare one for .01% of the time. You get the idea. Well, I had my heart set on the Fin Helm. In the official version of the game, it dropped .01% of the time, but on the server I happened to be playing (it was a private server), loot dropped at x5 of the base rate, so it was .05% for a Fin Helm. I wasn’t happy with the chance, but part of the game was grinding for rare and rare-ish items, so I played along. At the time, they only dropped from one creature which spawned with great regularity on one level of this one dungeon so I felt my chances were better than average. I spent a month there, slaying everything in sight and not a single Fin Helm dropped for me. At the end of the month, I had built up such a level of frustration that one of my friends insisted that I was no longer allowed to search for it or any equivalently rare loot ever again. I agreed, since being that cranky for that long doesn’t exactly do wonders for health. I never did find a Fin Helm of my own but I haven’t played any Ragnarok title in over 5 years now.

So, later when Star Wars Galaxies implemented their Collections system, I participated cautiously and was right to do so. Firstly, some awesome stuff was available through the collections, but some rare items were required to complete a few of them. Jedi and Sith holocrons were among some of the most frustrating things to find and you needed 5 of each of a particular type in order to unlock two separate rewards. One of these coveted items was the Jedi Waistpack, a wearable storage item that only Jedi class characters could use and allowed them to have additional inventory space while wearing their robes (which removed the ability to wear the standard backpacks that everyone else could have). I spent a while looking for the last holocron I needed (I think it was Jedi Holocron #4 of that type, but I honestly don’t recall) and after a fashion, I gave up on it. I even changed classes from Jedi to Commando so I would never need it. The game shut down in December of 2011 and I never did finish that collection or receive my Jedi Waistpack.

These days when I’m hunting for loot off of a particular enemy, I look maybe three times total. If it drops, awesome, if not, I’m able to cope. I existed without the rare loot before I found out about it, I can exist after knowing about it. If that makes sense, you deserve a cookie.

In games like Diablo III or Borderlands 2 where specific enemies have a greater chance of dropping a specific item, I just don’t really bother. I made a half-hearted attempt at finding The Bee shield in Borderlands 2, but I leveled beyond it to the point where I’d have to find it in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode for it to be any good for me. It’s okay though. I played before I knew it existed and I can play without it.

It all comes down to deciding if it’s worth the stress. Do I want to bother with the search? I think some games with rare loot grinding as a mechanic should say, “Don’t bother hunting for rare loot if you get frustrated hunting for your car keys.” It’s really up to you to determine if you can handle such a search. For me, I’d rather not.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “My mother used to tell me: “God knows the age of every tree and the color of every flower. And he knows just how wide your shoulders are. And he’ll never give you anything to carry that’s bigger than you can handle.”” – Mack, Babylon 5, Season 5, A View from the Gallery


Free-to-Play Spaceflight – Star Conflict

The last week or so I’ve been playing a well made game called Star Conflict, available free-to-play via Steam right now. I highly recommend it.

It’s like playing an updated version of Freelancer without the story or the single player mode. Also, there’s three factions and it’s primarily Player-versus-Player. So, a very streamlined version of Freelancer. Kind of.

One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that it’s filled a gap in my gaming desires that I didn’t realize I was missing until I played for a day or two. I haven’t been playing any flight simulators in recent years, what with Star Wars Galaxies going away and the flight mode of Star Wars: The Old Republic being a rail shooter and I’ve been missing the sense of speed, breakneck maneuvering, and missile locks. I’ve really missed the sense of freedom such a game can provide. I know it’s not open world like Star Citizen will be in a few years, but it’s definitely scratching the right itch.

I’ve discovered that I’m okay with PvP content as long as I don’t get penalized too harshly for losing. In this game I’ve been making a fair amount of credits per loss; more than enough to cover my expenses (repair and rearm) and to have some left over to save up for upgrades or new ships. Some play modes have unlimited respawns, others are conditional. It’s very well thought out and I do have to say, I haven’t had this much fun losing a game in a very long time. Seriously, even when I lose a match, I genuinely don’t feel bad most of the time.

Now, past my perceptions and desires and what-have-you, the game is pretty well built for a late open beta release (version 0.8.3 dropped recently). You pick your faction (which is changeable somehow), you equip a ship (over time you’ll gain a variety of vehicles), you queue up for either PvP or PvE (there’s one PvE mission right now and I expect there will be more available in the future), and you do your best to survive while achieving the objectives with the group you’re flying. There’s a lot of ways to play but none of them are guaranteed a win. I’ve seen more than one team go down in flames after a great start and conversely some teams starting poorly have shown amazing recoveries.

There are three types of ships in the game. First you have interceptors: light fighters that are small and nimble and are by default pretty hard to hit sometimes. Then you have fighters: heavier ships that have more firepower and less maneuverability compared to the interceptors. Last there are frigates: large vessels with very poor maneuverability offset by potent firepower and incredible durability. Within each class of ship, there are other roles like Recon Interceptors, Gunship Fighters, and Engineering Frigates. Pick your poison and hope your opponents choke on it.

Thus far I’ve been enjoying riding fire in a Covert Ops Interceptor as a member of the Federation of Free Worlds. I’m not the greatest pilot or even the best shot, but I’m having a ton of fun and I’m picking up stuff as I go.

I hope you give it a try. It’s worth a look for all of you who are fans of flight simulators and spectacular explosions.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. I’ll let the trailer for the Beta Launch of Star Conflict be my quote for the week. Enjoy!


Playing Defensively – Star Wars: The Old Republic

I had a full weekend of Star Trek Online, but I’d like to talk about Star Wars: The Old Republic today.

Last night I hopped into SWTOR to play my level 19 Jedi Sage (level 20 now). I’m walking through the Republic Resettlement area on Taris, throwing rocks and other stuff at some Rakghouls on my way to a quest or three when someone comes over the chat complaining about the game.

He said something along these lines, “There’s 50 levels in this game. You don’t get a speeder until level 25. You waste half the game just walking! This game sucks!”

My response? “Suck it up. Some games started with NO MOUNTS AT ALL.” That shut him up.

Yeah, it’s true, you can’t get the first speeder piloting skill until level 25, but let’s see here… how much of the game is left to play through AFTER you hit level 25?

Content it takes me to get to level 25: Starter planet, factional capital world, first open world, and maybe the first parts of Nar Shaddaa.

Content after hitting level 25: The remainder of Nar Shaddaa, Tatooine, Alderaan, second open world, Quesh, Hoth, Belsavis, Voss, Corellia, and  Ilum.

Half the game? HAH.

Also, there’s a point to doing a lot of walking… it’s called playing the game. I often find myself walking instead of using my speeder because I’m bouncing from resource node to fight to resource node to fight and so on. There’s stuff to do and you can only do it on foot! Oh, also, you shouldn’t be blitzing through the content so fast. The point is to enjoy the experience, not to “beat the game” or “get to 50 as fast as you can”. The point of gaming is in the playing, not in the finishing. Progress is important, but when a game is as savory as SWTOR, you enjoy every little morsel.

Okay, there’s more than just this little thing though. I’m quite tired of people complaining about the games we play. I get it, they’re not perfect. They don’t meet up with your expectations 100%. If you’re that disappointed, why are you playing the game?! It’s all well and good to have a complaint and many of them are entirely legitimate, but seriously folks, a lot of people wind up beating a dead horse in the chat about how the game doesn’t do this right or that particularly well and man it totally sucks.

I’ve had it. I’m going to start telling people to suck it up and deal or quit the game. I’m tired of people ruining my experience just because they’re cranky. These are my games and I enjoy them far more than I don’t and I will share my good experiences with my cautionary ones as a way of sharing my whole experience. Emphasis on the GOOD EXPERIENCES because I want people to share those experiences, not shy away because of some petty issues.

Did Star Wars Galaxies change drastically in 2005? Yup. Did a lot of people leave? Yup. Sucks to be them. They missed out on a great FIVE MORE YEARS.

Do some things not work right in Star Trek Online? You betcha. Is there a work around? Mostly. The developers are working on the game and, as far as I’m concerned, are earning their pay.

Do you have to walk a lot in Star Wars: The Old Republic? Yup. You eventually get speeders, but I like my worlds large and this is the price of doing business. Oh, also… many games didn’t start with mounts of any kind. When I started playing Star Wars Galaxies, I had to walk EVERYWHERE and I didn’t know where anything was. Not only did the “wiki” not exist to guide me to where things were, but also, there was only the forums for communication outside of the game. We also didn’t start out with any quests of any real substance, we didn’t have any skill planners. We had a run skill that took 5 minutes to cool down. We didn’t have levels. We had enemies that didn’t have levels either so you had to “consider” them to determine if you could survive or not. No one knew much about crafting. My first couple of years of play, I was a tourist! I had nothing to do and I had no idea what I could do.

So, before you start complaining about how things are SOOOOOO inconvenient, remember where we came from. Remember that the developers need to balance things a bit. Remember that this is a game and you’re here to have a good time. Remember that others are there to have a good time as well and you should be thoughtful and considerate.

Oh, and don’t be a dick.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “People who are intolerant, categorize and over-react… should all be dragged against a wall and shot.” – Arthur M. Jolly