The Diary of Jac
Little did I know yesterday that, peanut butter sandwich in my left hand, mouse in my right, when I clicked on that link called "gmail," my life would be so much more awesomer. And it was, as I laid my eyes upon my Early Access TOR e-mail. From that point forward, law clients got a little less of my attention as my gut boiled with anticipation. I was in.
And it's awesome. I can say that because I have loads of awesomeness in me to compare to. The game experience is just really good. So I want to pass that along. Without spoiling the story or other cool aspects of TOR, let me give you some of my initial thoughts from my gaming experience.
1. Being on with the guild is great. I got an automatic invite when I first launched my character, and was immediately greated by Halc in the familiar and as-to-Halc-appropriate green guild text. Everyone is very helpful and excited to be there. By the end of the day, we were over 100 members and growing. According to Fremoc, that's about 90% main characters too. It's awesome walking around in game and seeing DJB tags under names. After 16 years of being in this club, this is such a cool change, almost a mix of IRC and awesome gaming.
2. The Sith Inquisitor story is rad. That's all I'll say about that.
3. All of the force powers are *very* satisfying to use. Lighting is the bomb. Saber combat feels right for the most part. The most amazing thing is the sound. This game has the most impressive soundtrack and effects I've heard. It flows well and I am really thrilled that they go into combat music at the right times. It's epic.
4. If you played any MMO before, you'll feel right at home here. There are some quirks that need to be ironed out in the interface, but it's good for the most part. Not so close to WoW, for example, that it's a straight copy, but close enough to have a good feel. On the other hand, if you are new to MMOs, there doesn't seem to be a lot to help walk you through things like social functions and guild functions. Just ask us for help.
5. Leveling is the right pace. The game is a little on the easy side, but the second you aren't careful you can find yourself in trouble. They keep skills and crafting away from you long enough for you to get accustomed to the game. It's well-done in that respect.
Couple things that tripped me up:
- No capitals or spaces in names. "Jac" was taken, and "JacCotelin" ended up as "Jaccotelin". weak. Be wary. Also you may want to make multiple characters right away to "reserve" names.
- Turn on the option that shows light side and dark side choices, otherwise you may choose something you think is dark, but it's really light.
I am having a lot of fun so far and look forward to another great night of gaming with my Magical Internet Friends.
Hello again, my friends. I hope that more of you have been able to experience all that is SWTOR, as more early access e-mail came out today and yesterday. Me? I'm still working on pushing my wife to the limits by totally ignoring her. So far, she's been awesome about it.
I did a lot of cool stuff yesterday, but I will save talking about some of it for other updates. Today I want to talk about two cool things I played with yesterday: flashpoints and crew skills.
The later first: crew skills are pretty sweet. I have this big f'in dude named Khel or Khal or something. I click a button, pay 90 or so credits, and six minutes later he comes back with some mat that I can sell on the AH for 150 cred. Not bad. Or I can click a button and he goes away and crafts something for me, like a sweet Rolex watch or a Jedi belt buckle. The concept is a very nice change of pace from the boring crafting in games like WoW where you sit there and mash buttons all day.
I didn't pay much attention to the crew skills I took. I went with Synthweaving, Archeology, and Underworld Trading. They seem to work well together. I'll go back and play around with it more later, but I am impressed with the concept. It's well done and I can see how Bioware stuck to their "keep players in the action" mantra. No more sitting down to craft crap when I'd rather be questing.
So, all during the first flashpoint I visited, I was sending my crew off to make me money. Sweeeeetz.
Speaking of Flashpoints, I played through Black Talon yesterday. I was quite pleased with how it went. I've worried for a while that this would be KOTOR online with no real group interaction, but the Flashpoint I did was rather excellent. We had to work as a team to take things down, and it felt like I was a part of all the action, rather than just having to stick to "click healz lol click healz lol." The storyline was fun to boot.
The most surprising part is that the flashpoint conversation structure works. We had a couple options to be evil and kill people, and it was awesome when all three of us picked the dark choice. The game actually showed one of us pulling out a gun and blowing some dude away. Awesome. I was glad to see the conversation flowed, no matter who was involved. You can tell Bioware took a ton of time to develop this concept, and it works. The Flashpoint was tied into my questline, and it really, really played out nicely.
The guild is still doing awesome by the way. So am I, which may be the cause of at least part of the guild awesomeness.
Jac's tip of the day: make sure you bind at all bindpoints. When you use your Call Shuttle ability you will get a choice of all places you have bound to return to, not just the most recent one. This is a huge one-up on WoW's hearth city concept.
I played a healer in WoW, a priest to be exact. For the couple years that I played that game, stepping into a PvP arena or battle was a suicide run. Impaired movement, three hits, graveyard. I maybe got off 1-2 heals. So, I was never really expecting much out of myself in SWTOR, but I tried PvP anyway.
14 kills later (3rd place on my team of ten), I still suck, but I suck much less. Here’s what’s cool: SWTOR makes it so that every type of class has utility in a PvP match. One-on-one, as a Sith Sorcerer, I could pretty much take on anyone that came my way. If there were a few teammates, we pwned. It was really fun!
The matches I’ve played so far are objective based. One has a series of three turrets, and the game revolves around controlling those turrets. There was even a “story” to go along with it. It wasn’t just some “hey let’s go do some PvP”…they tried to connect it to the larger game.
Playing with DB members is a blast. A few of us grouped up and had a good time playing. It makes a difference when you have people you know playing with you; teamwork is easier when you give a crap about the other folks.
A couple tips I learned today/yesterday:
- If you are in a remote questing area and hate the idea of running back to that area from the spaceport, *do not* queue up for PvP while questing. At the end of the match, you end up back in the Imperial fleet in space. It took me a solid fifteen minutes to get back to my questing area.
- There are PvP-specific consumables that are a bit more powerful and cheaper. They can only be used during PvP, but if you are planning on playing for a while, stock up.
- PvP is a good way to earn creds. Each match that we won got us about 1100 credits. Not bad for 20 minutes play time.
Till next time.
The space missions in SWTOR are a blast. They are just plain fun from start to finish. Yes, they are on rails. Yes, they are pretty easy at first. But man, I woke up wanting to play that minigame inside TOR rather than questing. That says a lot.
I got my ship around level 18 and immediately tried out the space missions. By the time I was done, I was almost level 20. These things are short five-minute bursts of action that give a lot of XP your first run through them. I got out of one mission having received over 15k XP, and that doesn’t count the XP from the kills in-minigame.
There are various objectives to these games. The three I have played were very different. One was an escort mission where you had to keep fighters off of a shuttle. The next was a dogfight in an asteroid field. Then the third was an assault on a space station. All were cool. The part where I went “Holy ****” and was hooked was during the escort mission. We’re flying along, killing stuff and *zoom* two corvettes come out of hyperspace in front of us, blasting away and forcing us to change course. It was awesome. Going up against capital ships is sweet.
The rails stuff may get old, but I expect that Bioware has more up their sleeve with this. In the meantime, it’s cool. And BTW: flying through the asteroid field, even on rails, is not a walk in the park when all hell is breaking loose around you.
Jac’s tips for the day:
- Play the first mission without any ship upgrades. It will make you appreciate the upgrades you get later (like missile capacity). Then immediately go upgrade.
- The game teaches you to select four targets for missiles and then fire. This forces a slow missile re-load process. Alternatively, I figured out a couple missions in that you can quickly fire four missiles at one target by just clicking four times real quick. Makes it easier to take out high-value targets.
In the days of the World of Warcraft, I was rich, adorned with many in-game pixels of in-game currency. Very, very rich. Not quite Chinese-old-farmer-rich, but rich relative to everyone I was playing with. My secret was Inscription as a profession and a huge array of add-ons to manage thousands of auctions.
I come to SWTOR hoping to be rich again. I have been very interested in the economy and the trade network, etc., and haven’t seen a ton of information out there on it. So, I came into the game blind as to how it would work. Here are my (very negative-but-I-still-love-the-game) notes so far:
1. The “Galactic Trade Network” interface is terrible. You can’t go in and search, for example, on any one item without first picking the category and sub-category of that item. So if I want all of the “silks” in the GTN for synthweaving, I need to first select the “Crafting Materials” category and then the “Underworld Trading” subcategory. Very sub-par for finding things. This means that when you are about to sell something, it takes forever to figure out what the going rate is.
2. The GTN limits you to 50 auctions at a time. 50!!! I ran the Underworld Trading missions at least 60 times over the weekend and ended up with a stack of 75 Mullnine Metal (sp?). Those go for 250 apiece, at least, so it’s not like you can sell a stack of 75, or even a stack of 10 really. I need a ton of small-stack auctions, which eats up the 50 limit quickly. At the rate I am going, I will never be able to sell everything. I had hundreds and sometimes thousands of auctions going at once on WoW. This is a huge let-down.
3. You can buy consumables very inexpensively on the GTN. Stims aren’t that pricey either.
4. If you are running companion missions while working the GTN, prepare to be annoyed. Every time a companion comes back from a mission (ie, every 3-4 minutes for some skills, the time it takes to post half a dozen auctions or run two searches), the game closes one of your GTN windows in favor of the mission accomplished window. You get to re-do whatever it is you were doing.
Okay, so I am really, really disappointed with the GTN and economy aspects of the game. That said, I’m happy with one thing I’ve discovered: Slicing. Oh my, does slicing rock. I dropped Synthweaving for slicing at 11:00 pm last night. By 1:00 am I had leveled it to 95 and had earned about 6k credits. All for about two minutes of work total in telling my crew what to do. Slicing is the bomb and is going to easily make up for the crappy GTN.
So, I got home last night to a nasty surprise waiting for me: "Sorry, the servers are down in preparation of the official launch of the game." ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. I lawyer all day long and all I want to do after a hard day of billing people my large hourly rate is play SWTOR. And then they go on and on about this silly "midnight launch" garbage. What do they think this is, a multi-million dollar game that needs to have launch celebrations and preparations?
So, day six was only a couple hours after midnight, and most of that time I spent on the GTN or playing with the guild interface. For those of you who don't know, here are a couple rules I learned last night about the guild:
1. The guild has "Recruit" and "Member" for ranks. The difference is simple: Members have signed up and have a dossier on djb.com. Recruits are in-game only. I didn't know that, and so I may have (but will deny if you ask me) promoted some people to Member that didn't deserve it. Not my fault. The dog ate my rulebook.
2. There's a spot on the guild roster for "Member Notes." We are placing your real DB name in that note along with your dossier #. This allows people to find your # when they want to submit you for a medal. Take a look at your note (guild pane -> details) and if that info isn't there, ask a guild officer to add it. For sure, how else are we supposed to know that Darth Thrustworthy is Shadow Taldrya?
And then here's a couple more tidbits:
3. I was a bit too harsh on the GTN yesterday. Here's one good thing they did: when you don't sell an item, you get your deposit back. That ain't bad.
4. Slicing is the shiz fo sho. I'm rich.
5. I've been checking out the forums at sithwarrior.com and torhead.com. There's some great theorycrafting going on about all of the classes. Check em out.
Question of the day: who has actually looked up game theory on their class for things like skills and rotations?