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Archive for May, 2012

Snark Side has been making steady progress in Operations lately after some rebuilding. We have completed both Eternity Vault and Karaga’s palace on hard mode reliably for the past two weeks and I feel like we have those under control so that’s more gear for us. Plus, we have finally made some progress in Explosive conflict by downing Zorn and Toth so that’s a big relief.

We struggled some with these two and now it’s becoming pretty obvious that our issue was more gear based than skill based which I find somewhat sad. Story mode is touted as a mode for “casual” players wanting to see the story but it is obvious that EC was tuned for people with Rakata gear.  It’s one more thing to add to the long list of “stuff that needs fixing”.

But really my latest sticking point is now the graphics issues a lot of us have in the game. More specifically, some graphics effect simply do not show sometimes for whatever reason and it’s a big issue when a fight is based around dodging lots of circles on the ground.  I have seen raid members stand in bad and when I called them on it they swore they didn’t see anything.

And I believe them too. I have seen for myself as well as other couples in the guild the same scene not showing the same on two computers. I have been hit by effects I have never seen but when I looked over at my roommate computer I saw myself standing right in the fire. Not much else to say except we all pray that they fix it sooner rather than later.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the game and I’m more than willing to cut Bioware some slack on account of a new game, they need time, etc…. But they have to realize they’re racing against the clock and the longer things stay broken or unfinished the harder they get hit.

 

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Swtor: What is missing

Continuing last week topic, I decided to do some research into what people have been complaining about when it came to Swtor. While I may enjoy the game, it doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement and that there’s no sticking points that need fixing. If the game is to be healthy it needs to be able to pull in new players and get some to return. So here are, in no particular order, some of the issues I feel are hurting the game the most.

Lack of group finder

Let’s get the biggest item out-of-the-way first. Yes, I know it’s coming in patch 1.3 but Swtor has now proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that any modern MMO featuring instances needs a dungeon finder. WoW has made this feature a must-have and woe to any company who fails to deliver.

Lack of engine optimization

It’s not normal that in 2012 a game with average graphics like Swtor can have so many issues with its engine. It’s slow, there are bugs and performance in general is poor even on high-end machines. I have some raiders in my raids forced to lower their graphics settings to the minimum when raiding because the screen locks up when there’s too much happening on their screen. PvP is close to unplayable for me because of that issue and let’s not forget how much fun it is to wait five minutes for Tatooine to load.

Poor engine performance is insidious. While its individual effects might not look too bad, it lessens the overall game experience and can make fun tasks tedious. I know of quite a few people who left the game because they couldn’t bear to level an alt through long loading screens again. And if you had any doubts whether it’s possible or not, Tera, a much more beautiful game graphics wise with even more happening on-screen, was running incredibly smooth on my PC that struggles with Swtor pvp.

No branching/options in questing

One of the genius move of WoW up to Wotlk was to offer options when it came to how and where you wanted to level up. You could level exclusively on Kalimdor or Eastern Kingdom, you could mix it up, you could avoid completely a zone you didn’t like, you could mix up instancing, grinding and questing. In short, you had options. Not unlimited options, but still, you had some.

Swtor offers close to none of that. You do the same quests in the same order on the same planets on every single characters. The class quest do give some change but only the first time around. You Jedi knight and Sentinel will still have the same class quests. I know it’s not easy to offer a lot of choice with how Bioware set up their storylines but I believe it needs to happen.  How about branching the quests depending on your ligthside/darkside choice. If your good you go to Planet A, if not go to B? It doesn’t need to be unlimited but some choice would be nice.

Again, Bioware has said they plan to add content to the leveling experience but so far I haven’t seen any realy details on that.

Poor pvp experience

Edit: Take the pvp part with a grain of salt… after writing this Targeter and Shintar both came out saying they love it so it’s entirely possible I’m dead wrong here

I’m not a pvp expert but there are players out there looking for that and so far they all seem in agreement that Swtor pvp is not working right. I don’t think Swtor can afford to alienate all those players.

There’s a lot more that Bioware needs to work on but these four items are what I think are hurting the game the most at the moment. Like I said, personnaly, I enjoy the game a lot but I do understand that in the long run the game needs to be healthy if I am too keep enjoying it.

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Swtor and loving it

By all accounts, Swtor is already past its prime and destined to take its place amongst second tier MMOs, basically all the good ones that are not WoW. It’s not really surprising and I believe most people were already predicting such a fate. So, the game is not dead but it’s not the revolution many, myself included, hoped it would be. I think Swtor legacy will be the storytelling which will probably have to be picked up by other MMOs. In short, drab text-based MMOs are in serious danger and yes, there’s a healthy number of people who believe that storytelling is an essential part of the experience. Right up there with loot and raids.

With this I find myself in sort of odd position. I don’t feel all the doom and gloom. I have a healthy guild, we’re raiding, we’re having fun and I’m just enjoying the game. I know not all is well and that some servers are reporting crazy low numbers but me… not seeing one ounce of it.

So here I am today, wishing the best for a game I enjoy a lot and hoping that there won’t be too much damage during the coming transition phase. If ever Swtor was fall apart I would honestly be at a loss as to what to do and I can’t imagine myself going back to a game like WoW.

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Tera: been there, done that

After about 10 days of playing, I can now safely say that I am done with Tera. To be honest I never expected to play it longer than the free month but I was curious to see how exactly I would get done with the game. Would it be bugs? Quests? Classes?

The answer is much simpler. I simply got bored. Tera has one thing going for it and that’s an interesting combat system. That’s it. It’s not that the rest of the game is awful. The graphics are pretty, the game is relatively bug free and there’s everything you can expect to find in a fantasy MMO. It’s pretty much a clone of WoW, Rift, Lotro and all the other fantasy MMOs that we’ve been playing for the past ten years.

Which is exactly the problem. We’ve been playing this game for ten years before it even released. Unlike what some people like to pretend, setting and story are important features of a game. Mechanics are not the only important aspect. So while Tera has nice mechanics, the setting holds no interest for me whatsoever so I got bored as soon as the new car smell evaporated.

All in all Tera is not a bad game. It’s just a game we’ve already seen before. I just hope other companies take note here and realize that a game is only about numbers.

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Someone asked my about where I was with raiding in Swtor and my thoughts about the raids. Snark side has recently completed Eternity vault Hard Mode, we have Karaga’s palace cleared on normal and we’ve started working on Explosive conflict. We’re making progress from week to week. We did go a bit slower than I had expected but we had to switch a few members in the roster in the past month. However I feel we’re stronger now and more stable so all in all things are going well.

And now in bullet point form my impressions of raids so far.

  • Story mode vs Hard mode: They’re pretty much the same and it’s more a question of gear than raider skill. If you can handle the story mode version, you can adapt to the hard mode version
  • Jump between tier 1 (EV, KP) and tier 2 (Explosive conflict). It sucks. It looks like they tuned it so that you need tier 1 hardmode gear to do EC story mode. Not impressed.
  • Eternity vault. Fun enough introductory raid except for Soa. I hate Soa…
  • Karaga’s Palace. Great raid! I’m having a lot of fun in there. The fights are great, the ambiance rocks and the fights are interesting without being a pain in the ass. Good job!
  • Explosive conflict. Can only comment on the first boss who seems way overtuned for story mode. The forums and even the devs seems to agree with me. Possible nerf maybe?

 

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I hate grammar nazis

So yesterday I had a grammar mistake in my post. I’d like to say typo but the fact of the matter is I used You’re instead or Your and I never noticed. Quite a few people have noted the mistake, sent me messages about it and now it’s corrected, which is all fine and it should have been the end of the story. But I really wanted to share this choice email I got about the issue. It’s a bit lengthy and goes in-depth about the rules of you and you’re so I won’t post all of it here but I felt this part was the best.

Any serious blogger should be aware of the rules I just explained and pay attention to what they write and how they write it. Having an audience is a privilege and your readers deserve a text that is free of grammatical errors. Any less is an insult to them and their intelligence.

Well, dear readers, I am truly sorry for all the mistakes I have made and made you suffer through. I will lash myself until I am worthy of your attention.

Your undeserving servant, Lonomonkey

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It may be not very original but one of the recurring topics over at the New Blogger Initiative is to give a few tips to newer bloggers about how to go about this. You can head over to the forums and you’ll see a ton of valuable information. Still, I figured I would add my own top five of blogging tips and hopefully bring something new.

5.Try to get into the habit of blogging on a regular basis

This is especially true when starting out. An active blog will grow faster than a rarely active one. Sounds simple when said like that but you’d be surprised how some new promising blog dies simply because the author posted once in a blue moon. Your topics don’t always have to be revolutionary, just talk about what’s on your mind.

4 …But don’t blog for the sake of blogging

If you have nothing to say, simply say nothing. Don’t make a post that goes nowhere simply because you feel the need to fill up the page with text. It’s alright to be out of ideas.

3. Shorter is better

I’m often guilty of making post needlessly long. It’s a trait a lot of bloggers have but the best posts are often those that go straight to the point and don’t need two paragraphs of explanation to the get the point. Try getting into the habit of rereading yourself and see if you can shave off some useless text.

2. Don’t blog for fame and fortune

Some bloggers see themselves as the new internet sensation. They dream of millions of readers, of community and all the money that go with it. It’s all pretty pathetic to be honest. The only thing you have to offer is your own opinions and stories and everyone has those.

1. Your readers are intelligent

This is the most important tip I can think of. I’ve seen too many bloggers treat their audiences like five years old kids and be patronizing. They blog like they are the only ones knowing the truth and they share it like it was holy gospel.

Your readers are smart, they can figure things out for themselves, form well thought-out opinions and can read between the lines. Respect them and talk to them like the smart human beings they are.

There you go! Five tips that have helped me out greatly with this blog and I hope it will help someone else too.

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