Archive for December, 2011

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SWTOR: How Will You Tackle Light Side/Dark Side?

December 12, 2011

If you will not turn to the Dark Side...then perhaps she will.

Probably one of the most unique features about Star Wars: The Old Republic is the alignment system — your ability to earn Light Side points or Dark Side points. You can choose to be a paragon of virtue or a master of evil, or neither if you choose to remain “grey”.

During the game test, I played around with my characters’ alignments in every which way, from straight out grinding LS/DS points to trying to remain perfectly neutral.

In retrospect, I don’t really know if that sat well with me. Any time I tried to force myself into a mold, I found myself removed from the game’s story as well as my character. And not only did it take the immersion out of it, we all know BioWare’s idea of what constitutes as LS/DS can be a little whacky as well. Not all the time…but definitely sometimes (as a general rule, if you want Light Side points, side with the orphans! Even if the alternative is the cataclysmic destruction of the entire planet, think of the children!)

I also tried playing “as myself”, i.e. using my own personal moral compass to guide my decisions, but in the end I think my most enjoyable experience resulted from simply roleplaying my character and just letting the LS/DS points fall where they may.

This way certainly made playing my characters more interesting. The Trooper especially was a challenge, since I was constantly thrown into situations where I’m torn between following my heart or following orders. I didn’t think I was going to have so much fun playing the class, but I found myself asking the question “What kind of soldier do I want to be?” all the time, factoring in things like my duties to the Republic, my obligations to my commanding officer, and the well-being of my fellow Troopers. If nothing else, it added a new dynamic to my gameplay, and I don’t think I’ve ever analyzed any of my other MMO characters to this degree or felt a stronger connection to the toon I’m playing.

Ultimately, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to tackle LS/DS, though admittedly there’s very little motivational as of now to go neutral, whereas mastering the Light Side or Dark Side can be beneficial if you want unique alignment items. But since I don’t care about the gear, I think I’m just going to let my character and who she is guide me at launch, regardless.

My plan: On the Republic side, I’ll be playing a Jedi Knight — if I roleplay your typical Jedi, the obvious thing to do will be probably to go Light Side (except when romances are involved, I’ll gladly eat the Dark Side points for that!) But on the Empire side, I’ll be playing a Bounty Hunter, who’s going to be her own woman making her own rules. So who knows with that one?

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True Nord – Thoughts On The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

December 7, 2011

Over the last month I’ve been racking up the hours on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but I know I haven’t been talking about it much. Quite simply, I’d always rather be playing the game than be writing about it. Certainly, I enjoy my time away from MMOs to be by myself and play games like this every once in a while.

I think I’m up to between 100-150 hours in that game (for some reason Raptr doesn’t always seem to log my time on the Xbox correctly, even when I’m connected) and yesterday I finally earned my last achievement. Not counting Arcade games, Skyrim is the only title I have for the Xbox right now that I’ve managed to fully “complete”. I think that alone is testament to how much I enjoyed it; there have been many other opportunities in the past to hit that 1000/1000 mark, but no other game has ever given me the delight and motivation to do it the way Skyrim has.

And yet, I’m still not done, judging by the dozen or so quests I still have left in my log, and I don’t doubt there’s probably a few more out there for me to find. But while I love huge games like this, at some point, I’m always wary of burnout. Despite the varied dungeon designs and gorgeous vistas, beyond doing the main quest lines, things could get a little repetitive.

I also have a tendency to want to do everything all at once — a dangerous habit for someone delving into a sandbox game, because I always end up spreading myself too thin. “A little bit of this, a little bit of that” is how I played, which is what happens when I’m not forced to prioritize. Friends I’ve told this to think I’m nuts, but I basically tracked every single quest (including the Misc. ones) so that my map would be filled with a mess of little markers. Instead of overwhelming me, the sight just made me happy. I think everyone tackles Skyrim a different way, but that’s how I did it — eclectically.

While I bounced between different quest lines with no rhyme or rhythm, I also varied using my abilities and took breaks out to craft whenever the fancy struck me. On the bright side, I think that’s how I reached level 50 so fast, because practically every skill was being leveled concurrently.

I also chose to play a Nord because I’ve always been drawn to the warrior archetype, but ended up being more “thievey” than anything. I love pickpocketing, but I think that has more to do with my curiosity with what everyone is carrying than any actual desire to steal.

I also enjoyed the dragon encounters. They definitely do their job of breaking up the old routine, being random and all. I’m sure everyone has an “unfortunate timing” story involving dragons. The funniest one I’ve heard belongs to a friend of mine, who was on the quest to burn 3 and exactly 3 beehives when a dragon descended upon him and incinerated the entire area, causing him to fail immediately. My own story involves a quest where I had to hand over all my gear in order to infiltrate a fancy function. Literally the second after the NPC took all my stuff, that was when I heard the dragon…and all I had were my party clothes.

So many quests of note in this game, but I think my favorite has to be the Dark Brotherhood story line. Funny how it turned out that way, since it creeped me out to do their quests initially, and I tried to save them for last.

Now all I need is the email that tells me my order of the epic soundtrack has shipped, and I’ll be a happy woman. Like many others, I also ended up purchasing the guide for Skyrim. It was invaluable to me in helping me get around the game’s massive world, and if the need ever arises I guess I can also use this monster of a book to bash in a dragon’s skull. And it’s not even the hardcover.

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Dear Santa…

December 6, 2011

I know my days of sitting in your lap as a little tot may be over, but I figure one can never be too old to write. As well, I hear Rivs, Rowan, Scary, and Scopique have already sent you their regards, and I’m sure they can attest to the fact we’re all children at heart anyway. If I may, I’d like to put forth my wishlist too, because I’ve been really, really good this year. So here goes:

1. Above all else, I wish for good health for myself, my family and my friends. I can’t stress that enough. This holiday season, everyone please be safe, be balanced, be hale and hardy!

2. More time, for both work and play. Time for polishing off my art commission projects. Time for more books so I can finally put an actual dent in my to-read list. Time for more games so I can actually get to experience all the stuff in my Steam library (#$%# Steam sales!)  and my pile of unopened Xbox 360 games. Time for…ah, you get the idea.

3. Let the MMOs we play be successful and profitable. As well, let the ones currently in development like Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World be ever inspired and moving forward. Let the genre flourish, so those who make MMOs can continue doing so for the folks who love to play them. Let Star Wars: The Old Republic live up to expectations — not only because many of us have looked forward to this game for ages or the fact the devs have worked so hard for years, but also because I think you have to be a really jaded and curmudgeony person to actually want to see a game fail. Seriously.

4. One of these days, may I actually get off my procrastinating butt and finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that writer’s block has suddenly set in, right after the community support and self-imposed deadline ended with November. But I’ve come too far not to complete this.

5. Harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan… *crowd is silent* …and world peace!

Aaaaand when quotes from crappy Sandra Bullock movies start coming out, you know that’s a sign to quit while you’re ahead. Oh, who am I kidding? I loved Miss Congeniality.

Anyway, thanks in advance. Give my love to your wife, your elves, and the polar bears you drink Coke with. Take care, and be sure to stay warm up there!

Sincerely,

MMOGC

P.S. Have you heard from Blue Kae yet, or has he gotten himself on your naughty list this year? You know him.

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Screenshot: SWTOR End-Of-Testing Dance Party

December 5, 2011

You know me. It’s just not a real party unless I can dance to the end of the galaxy in a teenie weenie gold bikini. And don’t think I didn’t notice Qyzen the lecherous Trandoshan totally checking me out…

And so ends my six months of  Star Wars: The Old Republic beta. After so long, I have to admit it was quite the heartfelt moment (at least as heartfelt as you could get club-dancing in a slave girl outfit), but as everyone knows, the launch date is almost upon us. On the 15th, early access begins for the first wave of pre-orders. On the 20th, the game will be officially released, and so our galactic adventure can begin in earnest.

What a ride it’s been. My thanks to the BioWare team of course, but I also owe much of my enjoyment to my guild the Republic Mercy Corps/Imperial Mercenary Corps. The pre-launch guild program may be locked now but it’s never too late to join us, and I shall pass on further details such as status of the guild and server info as soon as I know.

Onwards to launch!

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NaNoWriMo: Done!

December 1, 2011

Now that November is over and the final month of the year is upon us, I’m happy to report that my first attempt at NaNoWriMo was a success. 53,874 is the final word count, or at least that’s what it says on my word processor, and I’m sticking with that.

I’ve made it, and at 11:59pm last night I was giving myself a mental pat on on the back for a job well done, but somehow I still feel like I missed my mark. I may have pounded out the 50K words, but ultimately I didn’t finish my novel, and in fact I think there’s about another third to go in this story. So even though I’m done, I still don’t exactly feel that I’m “done” done, and I don’t think I will be truly satisfied until I finish for real — and *sigh*, who knows when that will be.

Do I think I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo again in later years? Definitely. Though, I had no idea how time-consuming it was until I actually did it for myself. In truth, I really shouldn’t have done it this year. It was a crazy month, and in my stubbornness to reach my NaNo goal, I’m sure I overextended — sleep was lost, art commissions are a little behind, household chores were neglected, other hobbies took a backseat, etc. In the future, I’m going to have to think long and hard and evaluate my November schedule before I make the commitment again.

Still, my first ever NaNo was a wonderful experience. No only did it give me a chance to write, it also taught me a a great deal about myself. Apparently, having a deadline is the key. It’s something I’m going to keep in mind for December, or in the new year, if I want to finish my novel. But for now, it’s time to relax.