Friday, October 2, 2015

The Great Level-Synch Controversy

BioWare announced that with 4.0 players visiting lower level planets will be 'de-bolstered' (i.e. have their stats lowered) to be appropriate for that planet.  They are not the first game to do this, Guild Wars 2 make a lot of use of it.  As expected, it is causing quite a stir in the community.  It has all the normal MMO hyperbole, ranging from "It will kill the game!" to "It is the greatest thing ever!"  Also many claims of quitting.  You know, normal MMO reactions.

My opinion is that it's a good thing.  I've never liked how high levels pretty much break combat formulas.  Now all of a sudden you can't even get hit by the enemies.  The only thing I like about being a higher level is not aggro'ing pointless enemies.  That's it.  But I don't really have to worry about that much.  I have no reason to go to the low level areas, except for the rare event.

BioWare isn't just adjusting levels.  They also added a scaled reward system.  You can now go do Heroic missions and get level appropriate rewards.  SWTOR features quite a few of those, which are now all relevant again.  That provides the player more variety, which is a good thing.  They also hooked up fast travel to these missions  so you don't have to travel all over the planet to get to them.  That's another good thing.  If they add in the Heroic 4's (they may have), that's more group content.  

There are some great worlds in SWTOR and the leveling system just makes them mostly obsolete.  That's a waste.  Now they can be used more.  This is another good thing.  I hope BioWare goes even further and adds new content to these old areas.  It will make the game feel more like a living galaxy.

A lot of folks think it should be optional.  I really don't have an opinion about that, as I don't know enough. Maybe it's just not feasible?  Maybe it's not how BioWare wants to move forward?  If BW wants it optional, that's fine.  If not?  That's fine too.  

I'm looking forward to taking on all those Heroics again though, it'll be a nice change of pace sometimes.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SWTOR Live Stream Highlights

Just finished up watching the SWTOR live stream, thanks to Dulfy.  I missed it live due to kids activities, such is life.  I followed on Twitter, but watching the stream was pretty awesome.  This is the kind of information a lot of us were waiting for.  Overall, I am pretty happy with everything I heard.  It looks awesome.  HOWEVER, I was sad that they still didn't talk about the Alliance system.  Apparently, we'll find out about it very close to launch for some reason.  So, what did I like?

Polish.  Everything looks so polished.  I don't know how to describe it, it all had a great look to it.  I like their new use of purple.  It all looked new.

Quality of Life.  There are lots of small changes that are really awesome.  Temporary Ability Bars now pop up for things like Huttball and your Heroic Moment.  That will make life so much easier.  Legacy datacraons?  Awesome.  Searchable collections?  THANK YOU!  So many little things which will make the experience much better.

Level Scaling.  This is the big one.  When you go to a planet with a lower level range, your stats will downgrade to the upper limit for that planet.  So a 60 on Coruscant will have the stats of a level 18.  Abilities and such are untouched, only stats.  This is sure to cause some controversy but I think it is a great change.  Levels these days just separate players and make content obsolete.  Such a waste.  BioWare has spent time to make rewards from heroic missions scalable, so you get appropriate rewards no matter what your level.  This topic deserves its own post.

Akk Dog.  Eric did show off one of the new kinds of companions you can get, an Akk Dog.  No story with this guy, just combat.  A pretty big hint that the companion system is going to be much more expanded in 4.0.

19 days to go until early access!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SWTOR Happenings

Today should be an interesting day!   At 5pm EST, BioWare will be having a live stream to go over the game changes coming in Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Prior to this, the streams were just showing off gameplay.  Now we get into the functional changes.  I expect we will have A LOT to talk about tomorrow.  The timing of the stream doesn't really work for me, of course.  My daughter has softball practice during it :(  I'll try to see if the wife will go, but I hate to miss it.

We are only 20 (ok, maybe 21) days from the launch of the expansion!  I'm really behind in what I wanted to accomplish before then.  My Trooper's companions are still not maxed out in affection.  I may not make it in time!  I just get too distracted with other activities which are actually engaging.  This week I did a bunch of Bounty Contract missions, just for the currency.

In non-SWTOR news, I fired up STO last night for a change of pace.  I was in the mood to blow stuff up in my Romulan Warbird, so I did.  They announced their Admiralty system yesterday too.  I don't know, seems kind of boring.  I don't really enjoy the Duty Officer system, and this is pretty much the same.  DOFF's don't provide interesting choices or results most of the time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

SWTOR Livestream Impressions - No Spoilers

Over the weekend at Twitchcon, BioWare was there showing off the Fallen Empire expansion.  They had a bunch of guest streamers who all played through a chunk of Chapter One.  I ended up watching a couple of the run throughs.  Some players knew what they were doing, others did not.  Overall, it seemed like a fun event.  Now, on to my spoiler-free impressions.

Quality.  First, the positive.  What I saw was really well done.  BioWare has really stepped up their game.  The cinematic scenes, voice acting, story, and environments were well done.  I really liked what I saw and can't wait to play for myself.  And the decisions we had to make?  They were interesting too.  It really gives me high hopes for the expansion.

Length.  Sadly, it may all not be positive.  It took streamers around an hour to play through most of Chapter One.  I think it is time to accept that might be the average length of a chapter.  That means when it launches, we might get ~9 hours of story content.  When the monthly content starts, it might be just one hour per month.  That will probably not cut it for a lot of people.  Maybe this chapter was just an aberration, but there are indications that it is not.

To BioWare's credit, they are giving players more to do than just story content.  So maybe it'll work out fine.  How long did it take you to finish Rishi and Yavin IV?  I'm going to guess around 9 hours?  I just hope the monthly content is good enough to convince a lot of people to pay $15 a month.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Stronghold Tours: Tamujin's Sith Academy

This time, I hopped on my Bounty Hunter and took a trip to Dromund Kaas to check out Tamujin's Sith Academy (The Ebon Hawk).  Overall, it was a really cool Stronghold with an Imperial vibe.  Lots of neat decorations and layouts.  I especially like the use of dividers in the Med Bay, which I forgot existed.  Sadly, those suckers are expensive on the GTN!  Check it out.

Some decorations from this tour:

Diagnostic Console:

Massive Anti-Air Turret:

Mentor Processing Core:

Office Divider:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Impending Doom?

There is an interesting issue going on in the entertainment world.  Voice actors (for video games) are contemplating going on strike.  Now, I won't go into what they want or the usefulness of unions as that really isn't the point of this blog.  But it might have a major affect on MMO's and especially SWTOR.  I have no idea how their demands would affect the game financially.

BioWare uses union voice actors, so if the union goes on strike that is going to be a pretty big deal for the game.  With the game so focused on story, a strike will certainly delay production, and thus story content.  MMO players (subscribers) don't take content gaps well, so it could be really bad depending on how long it goes on.

I remember the Writers Guild strike a while ago, that screwed up some movies (ahem, Quantum of Solace) and TV Shows (Heroes).  I really hope that it doesn't adversely affect SWTOR.  It's possible they have all the voice work for Season One (Fallen Empire) completed already.  Who knows what other projects they have going which will need it though and Season Two, of course.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The wait is almost over

We received a surprise announcement from BioWare that there will be a two hour SWTOR livestream on September 30th to discuss some major features of Fallen Empire.  This has been long overdue.  There is so much we don't know about the expansion and at that point it'll be 20 days away (early access).  But that's what we got, so I won't complain.

If you are a reddit user, you have no doubt seen some interesting information popping up.  Some via datamining, and some via NDA leaks.  I certainly don't support the latter.  But in about a week we'll  see the official information about all of it hopefully.

I am most excited for [REDACTED] to be discussed.  It's a rather big change that offers a lot of potential.  It will also cause a lot of consternation in the community.  I'm also excited to finally hear about the Alliance system.  It'll play a big part of the game, but we know so very little about how it'll work with the game as a whole.

Reminder: tomorrow starts the SWTOR livestreams at Twitchcon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SWTOR Happenings

It's going to be an interesting week for SWTOR.  Starting Friday, BioWare will be hosting a live stream at Twitchcon, where they will show off some of Chapter One of Knights of the Fallen Empire.  They are having guest streamers, which likely means each one will play through the same part of the demo, just using different classes and making different choices.  So it's really not for us, but more for the streamers followers.  That's ok, new blood is a good thing.

My plan is to watch one of the runs and that is it.  I do try and limit the spoilers, but a a few are alright.  We are only 27 days out from early access too!  I'm keeping pretty busy in game on alts, doing the Stronghold Tours project, and now Bounty Contract week.  This is actually the first time I have done it.  It just never really interested me before.  So far, it is neat.  I like that it is only one mission a day, it makes it very manageable.  There is quite a bit of travel though.

There was a new patch yesterday, which brought a lot of new optimizations to the game.  Nothing really stood out to me while playing though.  Of course, I never had many issues anyway, so hopefully it did help out some people.  The patch also brought some new direct buy items to the Cartel Market.  Really happy to see more of these instead of things just in Cartel Packs.  Hopefully that means it is working out financially for them.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Stronghold Tours: Teevu'nas' House of Light

In this weeks episode, I looked around Coruscant for some interesting Strongholds.  I eventually came across Teevu'nas' House of Light which was pretty nice.  It's more of an elegant and serene Stronghold.  The builder did a neat thing with his trophies to make what looked to be stained-glass art.  You can see it on the thumbnail below.  It was really cool.  This time I had my UI turned off for most of it, so you should be able to get a better view, enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Interesting Times

Well, it has been an interesting week for SWTOR.  Sadly, I won't really go into it due to the methods involved.  I'm still pretty positive about the expansion though.  I really wish we had some official news to talk about.  We're getting class changes, but those generally don't interest me.  I'll adapt to whatever changes are made.

On the official news we do have side, BioWare did announce they are doing a live stream at Twitchcon starting the 25th.  It looks like they will have guest streamers who will play some of Fallen Empire Chapter One.  While I really don't want any more spoilers, how can I resist watching?

Game wise,  I am doing this and that.  Still working my way through Chapter 2 on my Jedi Knight, and doing some decorating.  I also want to do more on my Bounty Hunter, oh, and start a Vanguard and play through the Trooper story again.  I'm really starting to wonder if I'll ever finish everything I want to do.  It's amazing how long content lasts when you have limited time.

Episode 2 of Stronghold Tours should happen soon.  I'm going to make more of an effort to provide links to some of the interesting decorations I see doing the tour.  I know my first question is often, "Where do I get that?"