Archive for the ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ Category

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SWTOR: The Imperial Meatbag Corps

August 9, 2013
hk51c

Look! There’s enough for all of us!

It’s just like the old days! About a dozen people showed up last night for Mercy Gaming’s weekly Star Wars: The Old Republic night, which was a really good turnout.

So naturally, on the agenda last night was something we figured everyone can do together — working towards getting our HK-51 companions. Not many of us have done that quest chain, and it’s definitely one that’s considered “the more the merrier”. The unfortunate catch, however, was that we found out you had to be level 50 just to pick up the starting quest. Ugh.

hk51b

“Friendly exasperation: Oh, Maric, have you gotten us lost again?”

By the end of the night, we managed to complete the opening quests and collect all but two pieces of the HK parts for the scavenger hunt, leaving the final two pieces in the instances to do next week. HK-51, you will soon be mine! I can’t wait for you to call me “meatbag”.

I also have to say, this was like the perfect guild activity and experiencing it was like pure nostalgia. Traditionally, our guild has always liked to organize events to do as large groups in SWTOR. Around launch time, the activities we did ranged from world boss tours and datacron hunts to PvP Friday Night Fights. There just always seems to be something big groups can do as a guild event, things that don’t necessarily involve endgame. I suppose SWTOR has always been kind of special to me in that sense.

hk51

The mad dash to converge on the shiny yellow beam.

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SWTOR: The Sort-Of-Big Ding

August 7, 2013

50BH

I used to take more pride in my collection of levelcapped characters across my many MMOs, but over the last couple of years the time constraints (and real life generally becoming more busy) has made me slack big time. Many games have also seen expansions in that time, raising their levelcap, and I haven’t been very good in keeping up with those either.

Anyway, Level 50 may be the old cap for Star Wars: The Old Republic before they released Rise of the Hutt Cartel, but it was still a big deal for me when my Bounty Hunter hit this milestone last night. It was a journey that only took, oh, I don’t know…almost two friggin’ years?!

I have a Jedi Guardian on the Republic side that has reached endgame, and because of this, I had let my Imperial character languish at 42 and gather dust. With the revival of my guild The Imperial Mercenary Corps and our Thursday “TORsday” nights, I picked her up again and made the push to 50, finally reaching my goal after about two weeks of casual play. Now I suppose my next move will be to pick up RotHC. Next stop, 55 (the new TRUE big ding)!

One interesting thing I did note — SWTOR may very well become the first MMO in which I’ll have a levelcapped character in each of the playable factions. That’s not something I’ve done in any game, not even World of Warcraft where I’m sitting on a stable of level 90 toons (which are all Alliance). I’m just not in the regular habit of alting, and as such if I do, I tend also to stay loyal to one faction.

If my guild hadn’t chosen to reboot IMC, I can’t say with great certainty that I would have dusted off my BH on my own. I’m sort of glad it turned out this way, because apparently I’d been missing out on a lot of great Imperial content.

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SWTOR: The IMC Strikes Back

July 29, 2013
BHship

Home sweet…ship.

In light of the success that Mercy Gaming has had with the implementation of The Secret World Mondays (it’s been our guild’s longest-running endeavor so far), a few of our members have started up similar weekly sessions for Star Wars: The Old Republic. As such, the Darths at the top have declared Thursdays to be TORsdays, and we’ll be breathing life back into our old Empire guild the Imperial Mercenary Corps.

In a way, this return to SWTOR feels a long time coming. Mercy Gaming in its earliest form was assembled around that game, after all. Over time, our gaming circle has drifted from the game and we’ve lost and gained members since.

But now that SWTOR is free-to-play and has a new expansion to boot, I like the idea of going back and revisiting it once more. Actually, this wasn’t even a game I’d wanted to stop playing in the first place, but my daughter was born about a couple months after it first launched and pretty much all gaming stopped for me until that summer. By then, our guild’s presence in SWTOR had pretty much dissolved, and people had moved on to TSW and Guild Wars 2. Anyway, that’s really just my roundabout way of saying that I’m going to take full advantage of TORsdays.

My first goal: to get my Bounty Hunter to level 50. Apparently, she was 42 when I last left her — so close and yet so far to the old cap. After that, we’ll see about getting the expansion and taking her to 55. For the time being, I’ve already committed myself to at least the next two months because I sprang for the 60-day time card. SWTOR may be F2P, but it will make your life a living hell unless you sub. It appears I’ve been dreadfully spoiled by the more forgiving F2P approach employed by Perfect World/Cryptic games.

As of now, I’m sitting at level 45 and in the middle of questing through Belsavis. It’s always a bit frustrating coming back to an MMO you haven’t played for almost a year, especially when everything has changed and you have to redo all your skill points, user interface, etc. Not to mention the biggie, which is I’ve pretty much forgotten how to play my class. Let’s just say I spent the first couple of days back in game getting my ass kicked all over the planet, and leave it at that.

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Read Lately: SWTOR: Annihilation

January 4, 2013

SWTOR AnnihilationI have to say Annihilation is probably one of the better Star Wars books by Drew Karpyshyn, which is quite a relief after the train wreck that I thought was Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan. It’s amazing what a good writer he can be when he’s not being rushed. Now that he is no longer at BioWare, I’m glad he left us with this before moving on to his future endeavors.

For a while we’ve known that Satele Shan, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order during this time in the Old Republic, has a “secret son.” We met Theron Shan when he first appeared in The Lost Suns comic. Now he stars in his own novel, which further explores his activities as an undercover agent and operative for the Republic, but the book also reveals a lot more about his parents’ history and his own mysterious past.

I could tell Karpyshyn had a lot of fun writing Theron’s story. It is my experience that characters in books based on movies/TV shows/video games, etc. very often read like caricatures and hardly ever feel like real people. However, I thought Theron had a clear personality right away, and even found myself taken in by his confidence and dry wit. I also enjoyed acquainting myself the supporting characters like Teff’ith the Twi’lek, whose weak grasp of Galactic Basic was a nice humorous touch, as well as finding out more about Master Gnost-Dural, whom fans of SWTOR will no doubt recognize as the keeper of the Jedi archives.

The story is pretty much your run-of-the-mill fare, but very entertaining nonetheless. There were of course the obligatory space combat and lightsaber battle scenes, but I was surprised at how well done they were. Drew Karpyshyn is extremely adept at writing good action, but I was even more surprised to see how skillfully he tackled some of the emotional issues in this book without making them sound overly contrived or sappy. Like I said, he can be very good when given enough time to develop his characters.

One last thing I should note: I listened to the audiobook of this, courtesy of my library’s digital collection. Though I’m confident to claim Annihilation as a solid entry to the world of Star Wars novels, in the interest of full disclosure I must also mention the possibility that the quality of the audio version may have influenced my opinion. For one thing, it was my first experience with a Star Wars audiobook, so I’ve only just discovered the talent of Marc Thompson, who is probably one of the best audiobook narrators I’ve ever come across. His voices are simply phenomenal, and together with the sound effects and music I was just blown away.

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My Top 5 Gaming Highlights Of 2012

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Here’s my first post of 2013, whose title I confess should really be “My Top 5 Gaming Highlights of 2012…And Then Some” because while 2012 was indeed a great year for games and gamers, admittedly I found myself struggling to come up with pure gaming-related entries for this list. It’s not that I haven’t been impressed with the industry’s offerings this year so much as I find myself with less gaming experiences to draw from, because the truth is I played less games these past twelve months than I have in recent years. Time has been so tight, there are so many games on my to-play list that I never even got a chance to go out and buy, let alone play. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so behind before.

Then again, so much has also changed in my life in 2012! Let’s take a look back at the memories:

5. Pet Battles and the Return of the Dynamic Duo

Pandaren

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th. I won’t go as far as to say it’s my favorite expansion so far, though I’m aware it is for many. Nevertheless, I’m still playing it more than three months later, which is already more than what I could say for its predecessor Cataclysm.

I will say that the new expansion has provided me more reasons to stick around, even after hitting the new level cap. For one, the companion pet battling and collecting system has me hooked — 431 pets to my name so far, and I’m still hunting, always hunting. Also, the mister and I have both taken a break from the endgame grind to work on a couple of Pandaren Monks. More than anything, I love playing MMOs with my husband. Leveling characters has always been our special way to bond, and nothing brings us closer than facerolling our enemies together with our Spinning Crane Kicks.

4. 122 Books

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I’ve always been one to go looking for challenges, which I have to say sometimes leads me to give myself some pretty random dumb goals.

As with most random dumb goals, I didn’t really have a reason for it, but a few years ago I just decided one day that I wanted to read 100 novels in a year.  I attempted several times, coming so close in 2011 at 83 books, and being pathetic I went and retroactively lowered my Goodreads challenge that year to 80 just so I could get the achievement badge. Well, no need to fudge the numbers for 2012; I kicked the challenge’s ass with a total of 122 novels and so you can even say I read enough to make up for last year.

Interestingly, the more I read the lower my average rating for books seem to get. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting more critical, or that more books under my belt just simply equals more mediocre ratings.

3. Mercy Gaming

Mercy Gaming

2012 was a rather turbulent year for Star Wars: The Old Republic to say the least, and neither has it really been smooth sailing for a lot of us who kept our subscriptions going until free-to-play. I think the most gut-wrenching part of it all the worrying I did about whether my Republic and Empire guilds will fall apart. After all, I got to meet and play with an amazing group of players, and I’ll always have SWTOR to thank for that.

I needn’t have stressed myself. The Republic Mercy Corps and Imperial Mercenary Corps may be shadows of what they once were in the game, but many of our members have kept in touch. Rebranded Mercy Gaming, the guild lives on, becoming a multi-gaming community that continues to adventure together in games like Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, The Secret World, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, PlanetSide 2, and many many more. It’s always a party with these folks, who have all become my very good friends.

2. The Secret World

TSW

Never have I ever played an MMO like TSW. The only other game that even came close to capturing my heart and blowing my mind this year was of course Guild Wars 2, but even that gets edged out, albeit just barely. For one thing, while my playtime in GW2 has tapered off until I can find more time in my schedule, I am still playing TSW regularly each week because I just can’t seem to get enough of this game! I suppose it does have a certain je ne sais quoi that made it stand out to me above the rest, and it’s not just the unique genre or playstyle.

For one, I like that it came out of nowhere and surprised me (in a good way). In fact, months after its release it’s still regularly doing that. While it’s far from perfect and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, it does sometimes feel like with every issue update and TSW Monday, I fall hopelessly in love with this game all over again.

1. “Baby Mogsy”

MMOGC Jr

Welcoming our first child in February 2012 definitely made me and my husband a lot busier. While taking care of a baby has left me not as free to do a lot of my hobbies anymore, I’m loving motherhood and I cherish every single moment I spend with my little girl, even though she’s probably the biggest reason why my time spent gaming has dropped so dramatically in 2012! But you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I’d gladly give up anything for her.

Our daughter has changed our lives, bringing us such joy and making us feel blessed each and every day. At 10 months old now, every moment with her is like an adventure. She is just full of surprises, and I don’t want to miss a single one!

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Weekend MMOing

August 20, 2012

The Secret World

Last week I began reining in my playtime for The Secret World, but mind you, not because of a waning interest. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; by Friday night my character had made enough progress to enter The Shadowy Forest for the very first time, which is the second zone in Transylvania.

I’m slowing down now, because every step brings me closer to finishing the story line and I’m dreading the day I will reach the end. Quite simply, the story and writing in this game has blown away. I’d thought Star Wars: The Old Republic was the height of MMO storytelling, but TSW can give it a run for its money. I’m basically trying to savor it while I can, and make the experience last.

So far, the most memorable moment for me was probably immediately right after I completed the quest Virgula Divina. If you play TSW and haven’t done it, 1) you’re in for a treat, and 2) when you do receive this mission, do yourself a favor and don’t attempt it alone at night or right before sleeping. If you don’t play TSW and/or don’t care about spoilers, look up any number of YouTube walkthroughs for this quest chain and you’ll understand why I feel this is the most disturbing, creepiest, most twisted quest I have ever done in an MMO (and also why my thoughts alternated between “Funcom, you guys are so @#%&ed up” and “OMG this is the best quest ever!” while playing it.)

A part of me hopes that spreading myself out a bit better now will allow the monthly content to catch up, as well as most of the cabal who are behind me at the moment. I like doing group content in this game, and have been running Darkness War as well as The Ankh which I did for the first time last week when I went back to tackle it with my friends, many of whom are still questing in Egypt.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I finally ended my continuous-since-launch SWTOR sub earlier this month, in order to free me up to pick up World of Warcraft again. There’s still some time before it lapses though, and it just so happened the game kicked off the Grand Acquisitions Race last week, a world event involving an interstellar scavenger hunt.

I contemplated skipping it, and almost did until it occurred that with my game time ending soon, I might as well finish off my last days in SWTOR by having some fun in it. A week long world event seemed like the perfect opportunity with just the right amount of that for-the-heck-of-it vibe to draw me in, plus BioWare had to go and say the magic words: pet rewards.

After catching wind of issues related to the crowds, I sought to avoid them by waiting until this weekend to complete the event objectives. For the most part, it paid off, though smuggler crates were still plenty scarce.

Having really no alts in this game also kind of came back to haunt me. Most of the rewards you can buy with Tokens of Enrichment during this event are bind on legacy, favoring those who can do this event on multiple characters to increase and pool their token haul. Having only two characters that are high enough for Nar Shaddaa meant that even after doing the quests on my Jedi Guardian and Bounty Hunter, I was still quite a bit shy from the 250 tokens needed for the damn Lobelot pet. Thus it came down to collecting smuggler crates for me, which like most farming stints proved to be quite a pain in the behind.

That was probably the only disappointing thing about this event, because on the whole, it wasn’t bad at all. After the bad month SWTOR has had with its restructuring and layoffs, and despite it being painfully obvious that my character did not speak or have any voiced interaction at all, they still managed to do a decent job. It’d be nice if the event would last a little longer, but a week is still much preferable to month-long MMO events that require tedious daily quest grinding. A scavenger hunt was not only quite unique, I also found it enjoyable…up until the smuggler crates. I feel that world events should inherently be about the fun; you should do them because you want to, without the element of feeling rushed or forced to grind.

In the end, I did manage to get my Hagnoffarl pet for completing the scavenger hunt, as well as the Lobelot. I even debated collecting more tokens for the mount. At that point, however, I had to stop myself and ask if that was truly what I wanted to do with my time. I shouldn’t be doing it if I’m not having fun, and sometimes I just have to step back and snap myself out of it.

World of Warcraft

WoW kept me quite busy this weekend; if I wasn’t on my main, then I was on my baby Mage, leveling with a bunch of people from my TSW/SWTOR guilds who have all started lowbie alts to play together.

On the Mage, I’ve been tearing through Azeroth with Paganrites, who started over with a brand new account with the Recruit-a-Friend invitation that I sent him. I’ve always heard from others about the ridiculous rate of experience gain that veteran and recruit get from the bonus when leveling together, but I am finally seeing this for myself. It’s actually quite disgusting how quickly we’re blowing through the levels.

I’ve given up doing heroics on my 85 at this point, with the pre-expansion patch coming in about a week and Mists of Panderia arriving in about a month. Instead, I’ve been working on dailies.

I know I’ve expressed my loathing of daily quests in the past, but surprisingly, these aren’t so bad for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s been a while since I’ve done WoW dailies so they still feel somewhat fresh, but also there are a crap ton that actually are completely new to me. For instance, I have never done the ones out on Tol Barad Peninsula until a few days ago, and I also just unlocked the Firelands dailies by doing the quest chain last week. It was one big confusing mess, but I finally managed to figure out how many of those quests I should be getting.

The other reason why I haven’t found doing WoW dailies all that terrible: there are just so damn many of them that I don’t have to choose the same ones to do every day. One day I might decide to do the ones out in Deepholme, work up some Therazane reputation. Another day I might mix it up with some cooking or fishing dailies. Sometimes I go out to Uldum to bomb some troops or bash some thieving pluckers. I have so many goals — gaining exalted rep with factions, daily achievements for rewards, getting my guild rep up, just to name a few — that pretty much anything I do will be counting towards something.

Most of these also include a pet reward of some kind at the end (Rustberg gull, dark phoenix hatchling, Pebble, etc.), so that’s extra motivation. Really looking forward to the pet battles in MoP, so I’m putting in extra effort to build up my “menagerie arsenal”.

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SWTOR: Going Down A Path I Cannot Follow

August 1, 2012

(Yes, I made a prequel reference. I realize I deserve to be taken out back and beaten savagely now, but I could not resist.)

It’s official. Yesterday, the news broke that one of the biggest MMOs we’ve seen in years is going free-to-play later this fall, though not too many, least of all us current players, are surprised.

Disappointment abounds though, from EA execs to yours truly. I wish the best for the game, but it does appear — after being continuously subbed since its launch — that this is to be the beginning of the end of my time with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

It’s not that I think a free-to-play model isn’t a good move for SWTOR or that I’ve suddenly decided it’s a bad game or going to be a bad game — the same way I’ve never thought switching to a F2P hybrid model has been bad for Lord of the Rings Online or Star Trek Online. On the contrary, I think it has worked out smashingly for Turbine and Perfect World, respectively.

I’m simply going by history here. Looking back at past experiences, my play time in the two games mentioned above dropped dramatically and ceased completely very soon after the announcement and switch. Maybe things will be different this time, but the data is against me. I can only extrapolate from that and apply it to what I think might happen with me and SWTOR — that I will continue to sub and play as normal from now until the switch, but afterwards I can expect to see my play time taper and diminish.

I really have nothing against F2P. I think it’s a great system which allows for a great deal of freedom and flexibility. I also know that I can go back to SWTOR whenever I want — in fact, it’s an inevitability, if they continue to update the game. But it never fails; rather than draw me in, F2P just tends to make me drift away.

While I love free MMOs, my problem is never having enough time to play them. These days, when a couple hours of game time is all I can manage each night, priority rightly goes to the MMOs to which I pay a subscription fee. I realize the hybrid model means I can always maintain a SWTOR sub even after the switch, but while I’m sorely tempted, being currently neck-deep in The Secret World and having both the Rift and World of Warcraft expansions (all sub games) and their promise of fresh content on the horizon, my economic mind is urging me to save money where I can.

I also tend to be the all-or-nothing type of MMO player, which is probably why I don’t particularly mind forking over $15 each month if it will buy quality content and everything I need to enjoy a game. In the words of my friend and fellow blogger Belghast (whom, by the way, put thoughts to words far better and more coherently than I ever could in his latest blog post), a subscription model is upfront and honest. I know I will never have to worry about encountering a roadblock and having to hit up the item store for the solution. I personally cannot imagine myself playing SWTOR this way, paying piecemeal to get restrictions removed.

For an “all-in” person like me, it tends to be a sub or nothing. That doesn’t mean I won’t find myself resubbing to SWTOR at all, but if my past experience with LOTRO and STO are any indication, it’s questionable whether or not I’ll be able to dedicate myself to the game with the same fervor again (though apparently, my purchase of a Collector’s Edition and the many months of being subscribed adds up to a good number of Cartel points which should last me a while). And let’s face it, when it comes to allocating my limited game time to a free MMO this fall, if anything that privilege will likely go to Guild Wars 2.

That said (and I’m clearly speaking from a bias here), despite witnessing one of the most highly anticipated big-budget triple-A game announcing it’s F2P plans after only a mere 8 months, I don’t think this necessarily spells the end of the subscription MMO. We currently have sub games including niche MMOs that are still flourishing, underscoring a need to keep in mind that each and every situation is different. To me, the message behind this whole situation with SWTOR isn’t so much that F2P is inevitable; rather, it is simply a company doing what it is best for their game.

Who knows how much, how long, how often I’ll find myself in the Old Republic, but no matter what, I wish them the best of luck.

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