A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “SWTOR

It’s Been A While

Hey there folks, it’s been a while since I’ve had much of an opportunity to write. I haven’t been gaming exceptionally much of late and life is keeping me extraordinarily busy.

What I will mention is that in the last couple of months I’ve very much enjoyed the Diablo III update, the housing update to Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I’m playing Dragon Age II again.

On the D3 update: my character feels stronger than ever. My wizard is a joy to play and I’m often playing at Torment IV. The new equipment I find really encourages good strong looks at the stats and I appreciate tough decisions at high level regarding equipment.

For SWTOR: The housing system is a lot of fun. I spent an entire evening just decorating my main stronghold (the Nar Shaddaa sky palace). It’s really expensive to expand these strongholds and the Tatooine one is exorbitantly expensive. One of these days I’ll get back into it, I hope.

Tuesday, Borderlands The Pre-Sequel releases and I’m hoping everything goes smoothly regarding the free copy I got at PAX East back in April. I’m really looking forward to the story as well as the new characters and gameplay mechanics.

Later this month, Civilization Beyond Earth is dropping (on the 24th) and I’m very excited for that as well. I’m intentionally avoiding the videos and streams they’re releasing so that I can figure this stuff out on my own. Probably not the best idea I’ve had, but I don’t have much time for watching gameplay videos right now.

In Arena Commander, I’ve been spending time lately trying to improve my piloting skills. I’m pretty terrible, but I feel like I’m getting better all the time. Then again, when you’re the worst, all you can do is get better. I’m a bad shot with the gimbaled weapons removed from my 300i trainer, but I’m figuring it out. The main issue is that the Vanduul will change directions randomly after I fire, so it looks like I’m going to hit and then… nope. Oh well, like I said, I’ll figure it out eventually. I just want to get good at this game because when Star Citizen drops I want to be decent enough at it so I can get beyond the starting areas and out into the universe at large.

Speaking of universes, I’ve been considering investigating roleplaying games to see what their populations are. For example, older games, because of the limited space and capabilities of their platforms back then, have smaller observable and implied world populations than modern games. In Final Fantasy VI, there’s about 15 cities but maybe only a few hundred NPCs you can interact with and an implied few thousand actually in the world. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, there’s many thousands of NPCs and an implied number of millions or billions on some worlds thanks to the draw distance and such. I feel like saving the world or the universe is much less impactful when the world/universe isn’t very big or populated. Just a thought that’s been bugging me for a few years now.

However, it’s back to not blogging for a bit. Balancing school, work, and a social life takes up a significant portion of my time these days and I don’t necessarily have something to write about. Therefore, expect me when you see me.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.” – Gandalf


Coming Up

I’m going to have issues in the near future keeping up with everything that’s going on. Namely, gaming is going to have to take a back seat to work and school. Here’s what’s going on…

Currently I’m working nearly 40 hours a week, 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Starting this Thursday, every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday will have an evening class going from 7pm to nearly 10pm. I’ll have an indeterminate amount of weekly homework to do and my “social obligations” to keep up. As a result, I’m going to be having less and less time to game. All that said, here are the things I’m very much looking forward to…

Civilization: Beyond Earth

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Any and all updates for Star Wars: The Old Republic

The upcoming patch for Diablo III

Now, the two game releases are coming in October and I’ve already got my copy of Borderlands coming to me (courtesy of the free copy I got at PAX East from the fine folks at 2K and Gearbox) and I need to pre-order Civ on Steam.

The upcoming things for SWTOR and Diablo III are big content updates that excite and thrill me (namely Galactic Strongholds and patch 2.1.0 respectively).

Anyway, I’ve got plenty of things to look forward to and in the meantime, I can’t guarantee having enough to talk about here. If I miss a Monday here or there, I hope it’s understood I’m just busy and very possibly have nothing to share.

Until next time!

 – Thomas

P.S. “Better to wear out than to rust out.” – Bishop Cumberland

 


Customer Service Follow-up

This past Thursday I submitted what I thought was a second customer service ticket in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Basically it solved my issue.

It turns out that the same bug that ate my cartel coins also probably interfered with my ticket submission. So, waiting until Thursday to file a second ticket probably wasn’t the best of ideas.

That said, Friday morning I had a response from customer service. They had refunded me my 600 cartel coins and informed me about what had probably happened to my first ticket.

I’m so glad that I was able to get through to CS after a while. I understand that they’re hardworking people and they don’t get a lot of gratitude (mainly because there’s not any real feedback they can get unless they hang out on the forums and that place is the land of negativity). I love how quickly they were able to resolve things for me and I really appreciate the help. I didn’t want to be frustrated with SWTOR and I’m glad I’m no longer.

I went and bought my 13th character slot on Saturday and then went and bought an unlock for a friend… and totally forgot that it takes a day and a half to cool down before I could trade it. Oops.

Anyway, I’ve been playing my Trooper Vanguard in SWTOR lately and I’d like to bang out some more of Taris tonight.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “Delighted customers are the only advertisement everyone believes.” – Ron Kaufman


The Customer Service Tango

I was poking at Star Wars: The Old Republic this past Saturday, and I decided that I wanted to mess around in the character creator without deleting any of my people. Well, as it turns out I had 12 characters and had to buy a new slot. Not a problem. With my monthly stipend of 600 cartel coins, a new character slot was only a few clicks away… or so I had thought.

I opened the Cartel Market, found the Additional Character Slot unlock item, and clicked Buy Now. I got a tiny error message (that I don’t remember what it specifically said) and then nothing happened. Except I still lost 600 cartel coins. There was nothing in my Unclaimed Items page, nothing in my inventory, and I still had 12 character slots. I was confused.

So, I logged out and back in. No change. I switched characters. Nope. I poked around a bit longer but then filed a customer service ticket in game. Alas, upon submitting the ticket, it vanished. Apparently there’s a bug that makes your tickets disappear from your Help Ticket History upon submission. I don’t know if it went through and I don’t remember exactly what I said. Lovely.

Let me say that I absolutely love Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have a six month subscription and I’ve had it since the game launched back in December 2011 (well, technically since January 2012 but that’s because I got a free month with the collector’s edition). I understand that bugs happen and it’s okay. I also understand that customer service may have not gotten to my ticket yet or it may have been eaten by the system. These things happen from time to time and I’m not sore about it.

However, I did pay for something that I didn’t get and that irks me on a more visceral level. So… I think I need to make a forum post tonight about it. I gave them Sunday and Monday to get back to me about it, so now it’s time to hit the forums and see what happens.

Watch as they get back to me as I write my forum post.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos


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:


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.


For the Sake of Chaos

There’s a bunch of games now where you can be either a “good guy” or a “bad guy”. Like in Dragon Age or Mass Effect where you can treat people pretty poorly or in Star Wars: The Old Republic where you can fight for either the Republic or the Empire and then choose to be either Light Side or Dark Side with your conversation choices.

What an odd age we live in where we can consciously choose to be good in conversations and then walk a few feet away and hack innocents to bits in the name of a few gold pieces and some experience points.

I was playing DC Universe Online last night as a villain working for Circe (initially) and part way through the game I started to wonder why the “bad guys” were still being bad when there’s a supposedly global invasion by Braniac going on that threatens everyone. I mean, I understand the whole power struggle going on between the goodies and the baddies, that’s pretty straightforward, but why is Harley kidnapping Robin when there’s obviously more important things to do? Are the villains just more willing to take advantage of any opportunity for personal gain over the heroes? Furthermore, why are the heroes spending so much time dealing with the villains? I can totally understand the Gotham City PD asking for help with drug dealers by the docks, but why are the “main” characters so involved?

I suppose a fair portion of the game is building up your powers so that you’re on par with the major threats the heroes want you to deal with eventually. The occasional run in with the heroes is just them going about their business and responding to situations and “hey, you’re new so I’m going to give you a hand with Bane” or whatever. The villains though just boggle my mind. Circe takes on Doctor Fate and the Teen Titans in order to break Trigon out and unleash him on the world… but why? Is Trigon going to contribute more to fighting Brainiac than the heroes you beat up to free him? Can his contributions even be guaranteed? Or is this because Circe just loves to mess things up and really doesn’t care about the welfare of the world as a whole? If the world is a smoking ruin, would she still have any interest in it or does she have somewhere else to go to muck about?

It’s possible that I don’t really fathom chaos for the sake of chaos. I see the point after a fashion, but I’m limited. I enjoy rules and restrictions (after a fashion as well) but chaos at the expense of everyone and everything is wasteful to my eyes. It’s like the self destructive nature of the Sith Empire. When you sit down to play as an Inquisitor or a Warrior in SWTOR, you can see the issues at their core: you have an elite order who considers everyone but themselves expendable and, even then, considers anyone in power to be useless the moment someone else apparently exceeds their power. It’s exceptionally depressing to wear the mantle of a Sith only to realize that you can’t ever just kick back and enjoy life for a moment lest someone decide that you’re entertaining a weakness and has you killed. I feel like that’s the only reason I never truly enjoyed playing as my Inquisitor: all her “friends” feared her or were plotting to kill her once she let her guard down and so weren’t really her friends. I didn’t get that personal attachment to my companions that I had as a Bounty Hunter or a Smuggler.

Maybe I’m not supposed to understand it. Fear for the sake of fear? Chaos for the sake of chaos? I can comprehend causing fear as a tool. There’s that fear of punishment to keep people following the laws after all and in D&D, intimidate is a skill that can be a great tool in a variety of situations and relies primarily on fear to get things done. I can get behind a little chaos since 100% order is infringing and irritating but 10% order just isn’t enough.

Maybe it comes down to that adage about everything in moderation. A little chaos here and there isn’t too bad, but in the DC Universe you have these people dedicated to a life of making chaos for everyone: poisoning the water supply, stealing the money from the bank, blowing up the train tracks. They see it as amazing good fun, all that chaos, never seeming to recall that they also drink the water and deposit money in the bank and rely on the train for access. In Star Wars you have the Sith offing people just because they’re irritated or what-have-you. It’s certainly not as extreme in Star Wars as it is in DC and mainly because DC characters are exaggerations of these things. Superman is a paragon of do-gooding and the Joker is the king of chaos. Or probably more like the trickster god of “putting something toxic in your drinking water just so you’ll die with a smile on your face”. He’s niche like that.

Is it the whole “live fast, die hard” thought process? Living in the now, with zero considerations, for tomorrow we die? I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m not sure what my point was with all this, but these were some of the thoughts going through my mind last night as I was converting people labeled “innocent” into demons for Trigons’ army. Their screams really bothered me (as do all screams of pain), but I pushed past it so I could get onto other things. Regardless of my personal qualms with the goals set before me, I’m having fun with the fairly visceral gameplay of whacking things with a giant two-handed weapon.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “So that was Gotham’s East End. It’s a dark and dismal place… and I hope you enjoyed touring it!” – Booster Gold