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Archive for April, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Déjà vu?

I might be alone in the universe but Guild Wars 2 holds no interest whatsoever for me. It’s not that it looks bad and in fact it looks like a great game but it’s just not clicking with me. I had a friend gush over the beta weekend but quite honestly, I did not care. What caught my attention however is the comments I’m gathering all over the place.

Basically we are seeing the same kind of comments I’ve seen for every MMO since ever including WoW. One side is in love with the new game and profess it as the savior of humankind, the other side is intent of showing the game for the blight on humanity that it is and in between them there’s an even more insane group that is rational, level-headed and is trying to bring peace between the two extremes.

So I’ll bring out my crystal ball and predict the future of GW2. The game will launch and lots of people are going to pick it up. Then, most of these are going to realize that GW2 is not the second coming of the Lord, QQ will be had, “game-breaking” bugs will be found and then many will leave. Diverse explanations will be offered, the developer will promess a patch to fix all which will fall short again. After a few months, things will settle and GW2 will go on to become another succesful MMO, even if it did not revolutionize the industry like many hoped it would.

And if anything this proves what I was saying in an earlier post. A lot of players simply hop from game to game with a crazy list of expectations that no game can ever hope to match.. or maybe they don’t know what they want. In any case, all games are bound to fail to meet their expectations.

I don’t know that the solution is exactly but I’m hoping that if I talk about it, if I can make one player realize that maybe, his  dissatisfaction is caused by his own unrealistic expectations, then I will have helped solve the problem.

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Relaxing on an alt

The past two weeks have been crazy. Simple as that. Lots happening at work, I had a tooth extraction go wrong and cause complication (I learned about Dry socket in the process and yes, it’s crazy painful), I got a cold on top and I’ve been feeling miserable all around most of the time. I spend most of my free time just messing around on an alt while feeling hazy from all the meds I have to take.

In the process I seem to have rediscovered my Jedi Shadow which is just awesome to waste away the time without having to think too hard. I can just sit there half-conscious and kill various mobs while I read all about the latest insanities in guild chat. It’s quite relaxing to be honest to be able to quest like that.

Another discovery I made is that Shadow dps sucks until you get around level 19-20… you’re missing too many abilities but after that it’s pretty awesome to stab people in the back while throwing rocks at them. I just love my little whirlwind of death.

So no big revelation today, just a quick post to assure all of you I’m not dead.

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I was asked by a friend what was raiding like in Swtor. He’s currently raiding in WoW and tried swtor some but gave up after a while like many other to run back to WoW. Simply put, he missed many of the features of WoW.

Since I know this is something a few others might be wondering about, I thought I’d write a quick post to talk about Swtor raiding and compare it WoW some. This is my view on things so if you feel I’m missing something feel free to add it in the comments.

General style

On the whole, Swtor raiding is pretty similar to WoW. You have to gather gear, read up on strategy, the holy trinity of healer, tank and dps is still present and most bosses strategy involve not standing in bad coupled with some gimmick.

The big difference I feel is that swtor endgame is a lot less mapped out and intuitive. In WoW, there was no doubt in my mind of where I needed to go and what I needed to raid. Swtor has the player work more to make the switch into raiding and I feel this has hurt it a lot. I know quite a few players who gave up at endgame because they weren’t sure of how to progress at endgame and simply didn’t want to bother with it.

Difficulty

On the difficulty side I’m finding that its pretty similar to WoW too. We have story mode which is normal mode, not too hard but not too easy either as the new raid Explosive Conflict is proving to us. In short, you still need gear and you still need to be able to execute a strategy, rushing in blindly will get you killed.

Swtor hard mode is a bit weird. Most fights are not that much harder than story mode but may have one or two added elements to them and the boss might hit a bit harder. The jump between story and hard mode has more to do with gear than raider skill. And then there’s nightmare mode which would be equivalent to WoW hard mode.

Boss fights style

At first I would be tempted to say pretty similar to WoW but the more I raid in Swtor and the more I’m finding out it has it own style. The big difference between the two games boss fights is that Swtor loves to mix up the roles and tasks during the same fight. Dps might have to tank, healers might have to operate mechanism while a tank might have to run to press on switches.

Not all roles have do something out of the ordinary every fight but there’s pretty much always someone who needs to do something unusual. Then you add in the puzzle bosses (1 per raid so far) and these add another type of encounter we haven’t seen often in other games. Simply put, your ability to kill the boss will depend on if you can solve a puzzle fast enough. It’s not easy at first but it definitively add some more originality to the mix.

In fact originality is how I would define Swtor raiding. The ability to mix in classic style fights with special fights and puzzle bosses in the same raid keeps not only raiding fresh but it also makes thing more interesting for people who might be getting tired of always doing the same dps rotation for the past 5 years.

 

So, that’s pretty much what I can think of right now. I want to close by saying that Swtor raiding is pretty fun and it’s worth a try. I’ll also add that Snark side is currently looking for a tank.

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Missing the game

One comment you will often hear from player playing Lord of the rings online is how the game is their vacation spot, the one place they go to take a break from other MMOs, their home away from home. I know I made comments to that effect. None of us though would pretend it’s a perfect game. Lotro has a ton of flaws, both small and big but we like it just the way it is. In fact if you look a bit deeper you can hear the same kind of comments from long time players of many of the older and/or smaller games, they love their games just the way it is, with all their flaws and qualities.

I have a theory about why that is. These players simply play their game without a long list of expectations about what their game should be. When I pick up Lotro, I know fully well what I’m getting into. Since I’m not looking for something that isn’t there, I can appreciate better what is happening right now and the flaws even become endearing quirks. I’m not constantly frustrated by seeking something that isn’t there.

Opposite of this are players who are looking for something specific in their game. They might know what it is they’re looking for or not but until they find whatever they are looking for they won’t be satisfied. They will pick a MMO, play it until they confirm if the desired feature is there or not and if it’s not present, leave for another game.

What I find sad is that while they are looking they are missing most of what the game has the offer. In fact, the rest of the game becomes an obstacle. For example, if I’m looking for the perfect raiding experience, all the leveling game will seem like a chore to me. I’ll hate every minute of it and if the endgame does not live up to my expectations, I’ll be pissed at the game and probably write long angry post about how it was the worst thing to happen to humankind.

I might never even stop to think that maybe I’m the one responsible for my own terrible experience. In many ways, I find that incredibly sad.

Recapturing that first mmo feeling

One thing you’ll often hear veteran players talk about is how you’ll never experience that first mmo feeling again. I can tell you today that its false because I’m re experiencing it today with swtor and the only thing you  need to do is to play the game without any expectations of what it should be and play it for what it is. Suddenly, Taris that I hated the first time around is now great fun because I’m paying attention to what is happening and getting into the whole storyline instead of just being in a hurry to get out of there and level.

Of course you can still find the game horrible but at least you’ll hate it for what it is, not what you think it should have been.

So I’ll end today post by asking you to consider what kind of player you are. Are you currently seeking that elusive feature and missing the whole game? I know I was doing that quite recently, and just by being aware of it I was able to look at a game in a new light and rediscover it.

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Last night, a few people from my guild and quite a few from The church of Alvis tried to go take down some world bosses on Tatooine for the Rakghoul event title. We did not suceed. For one, the bosses have ridiculous long spawn times that means that if you miss a spawn you’re pretty much screwed. It felt a lot like going after Azuregos in Vanilla WoW with all the good and bad that entails.

But we did have a ton of fun! One of the bosses is situated in a pvp zone and of course, the Empire was there to provide entertainment. I’m really not a fan of pvp most of the time but yesterday, it was tons of fun trying to take down a world boss while fighting off the Empire trying to mess with us. It was chaotic, it was laggy, it was messy, but it was also one of the best night I had in a long time with a completely random world event. I know quite a few players miss the days of Vanilla WoW and these kind of events and I’m here to tell you it can still happen, today, in 2012.

I’m writing this to fight off some of the negativity I’m seeing around the game lately. I get that Swtor is not a perfect game and that it let down quite a few people, myself included for a moment, who wanted it to be their perfect game. That I get, what I don’t get is how according to some people the game is the worst thing to happen to humankind. According to them, the game is doomed and is currently dying.

So in a deliberate attempt to prove them wrong and to prove to them that quite a few people still enjoy the game. I’m going to list a few blogs and guild sites full of people who still enjoy this game. Swtor has true potential for greatness if you allow yourself to see it and I hope these blogs might help someone turn that frown around.

The Snark Side (mah guild!). A guild full of bloggers and awesome crazy people.
The Church of Alvis. Another crazy guild full of awesome people.
Button mashers of the empire. Great empire guild as well as good info.
Republic mercy corps. Semi rp guild and home of more great players!

Hawtpants of the republic. Your swtor center for fashion and lewd stories!
Going Commando. Shintar trip through swtor as well as some actual useful info!
Trooper commando. Lots and lots of guides about endgame. Excellent reference site
Light rank V. Anachan well-written journal. Simply great read.
A new dope. Alas secret swtor blog. Don’t tell anyone
All for the wookie. Kristalys swtor adventures.
Summertime on Hoth. Sex, drama and healing! What could be better?
Imperial intelligence. Good info and great fun. He’s imperial but we won’t hold it against him.
Imperial Medical Corps. Imperials get heals? Who knew?
Dulfy healing corner. Great guides and great sites for endgame info.
I play swtor. One of the rare blogs focused on crafting and gear. A must read if you’re into crafting.
Inquisitive Myth. This one seeks to conquer the galaxy with well laid out graphs! Be careful
Thrown Gauntlet. Sithie tankinking!

And many many more that I’m missing. Please drop a comment if I missed you and I’ll add you to the list.

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Most of the time nowadays, I find anything that has to do with dailies to be incredibly boring, like a chore my mother used to give me to earn my allowance. Most of time it’s some kind of boring, stinky job that my parents didn’t want to do so why not make the little one do it instead right? I hated it then and years later, my disgust for anything relating to chores is still very much alive.

So when I heard that the new Rakghoul world event involved daily, my interest in the event dropped to an all time low. Yay…. more dailies to gather some pointless reward… whooohooo.. But, I figured I should at least do them once while I could.

And I was more than pleasantly surprised. Sure, it’s still dailies and I still have to gather a ridiculous amount of tokens for some reward but, the quests are actually fun to do… Basically, the Rakghoul plague, the Star Wars equivalent of the zombie apocalypse has escaped containment and showed up on Tatooine and now the whole galaxy is in a state of panic. What are you to do?!

Well, you can head to Tatooine to figure out what happened, investigate a crashed starship or if you’re more into scavenger hunts there’s a few you can do to gather pets and other cosmetic items. There’s also world bosses to kill for a title and a lot of people on Tatooine if you like world pvp. Finally, if you’re feeling devious, you can get the plague and work to spread it around by infecting as many people as you can, not unlike the old corrupted blood event in WoW back in the day.

But what really brings it all together is all the little changes everywhere like containment officers and droids in spaceport, panicked refugees, news report, etc… It add a nice little touch to what could be an otherwise static mmo setting. It also made me travel back to Tatooine, a beautifully crafted planet that I skimmed over the first time in the name of leveling… if only for bringing me back to Tatooine, the world event gets my thumbs up.

I’ll conclude by saying that Swtor managed to impress me again. On top of patch 1.2 they added a complete world event that’s actually fun. I know people are saying Swtor is still missing a lot of features that it needs like a dungeon finder but if they keep adding stuff at this pace, I can see it challenge even WoW.

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Patch 1.2 first impressions

So much new stuff!!!! Where to begin?? Quite honestly there’s so much to cover in this new patch that I’ll just go along with whatever crosses my mind.

Is that improved performance?!

I talked to a few people and everyone seems to have noticed an improvement in overall performance. I know my game is more responsive and more fluid. I don’t remember reading about it in the patch notes but I certainly won’t complain. Kudos to Bioware because improving engine performance is not easy and not the most glamorous job.

Legacy overload!

Okay, I spent most of the evening messing with the new legacy system and found out I had too much fun with it. It also triggered a truly bad case of completionism and I’ll have to fight myself to not go nuts trying to check in all the boxes and get all the upgrades.

I do believe this is going to be a very popular feature and likely one that will be picked up by others MMO. The only downside I see so far is that it will prevent the movement of players across server but I’m confident it will do more good than harm. So far, I’m pretty pleased with it.

Free goodies!

I was pretty happy with the free goodies Bioware is giving us. Free pet, free time and incentive for people to come back. But Syp did point out a few valid points about the 50 days issue and I can see how some might feel cheated because they preferred leveling alts.

Final impressions

I’m pretty impressed by 1.2 so far. It does feel now more like what the game should have been at launch and hopefully Bioware will keep adding great features like this at a steady pace. They still have catching up to do but it’s an impressive step in the right direction.

I’m also hoping this will bring some more people into the game. The game switchers and the wow fanbois have mostly left but we’re seeing new faces also. I’m hoping this will convince a few more to join. The game is not empty by any means but the more we are the better and I truly want this game to be a huge success.

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