Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Farewell Massively?

By all indications, Joystiq will be shutting down.  And by association, Massively.  While I never really visited Joystiq, I'm sad to see Massively go.  I know a bunch of good people who have worked for it over the years. I've had my issues with the site, mainly due to covering bad news while eschewing good, but it was still a decent resource at times.

I don't visit many mainstream game sites anymore.  Between blogs and Twitter, I get my fill of news.  Plus, I don't really have to worry about paid advertisements that way.  Are the days of major game sites over?  I don't know, they certainly seem to be in decline.  Add in the wave of journalistic ethics that is going around, I prefer my news directly from the source or bloggers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Slot Machine Controversy

In the recent cartel pack, SWTOR introduced playable slot machines (Contraband Slot Machines) as decorations for Strongholds.  Using tokens bought with credits, players could play them and win some prizes.  These ranged from reputation items to Jawa Junk ( crafting material tokens ).  These housing items proved to be very popular.

There was a problem, according to some including BioWare.  The payout on some of the rewards, especially crafting tokens, was much too common.  This led to slot machines being the ideal way get crafting materials instead of Crew Skill Missions.  It also results in a small subset of players macro'ing them and just playing the slots all day.  Of course, some players ended up making quite a bit of money and subsequently affecting the economy.

BioWare then adjusted the payout rates, quite a bit in some cases.  This led to a predictable backlash from some players.  They claimed the slots were now useless, bait and switch, contacted their lawyers, and brought it up before their judge friends in the Supreme Court.  Typical player threats.  I don't really have any sympathy for them though.

Did BioWare over-nerf them?  Maybe.  I don't really care though.  Slot Machines are toys.  They were never meant to be a major gameplay element.  If you want to blame someone for their uselessness now, try the players who abused them.  Just because something can be abused, doesn't mean it should.  Also, BioWare should have never released them in the state they did.  I'm not sure how the math got approval.

That being said, I still plan on obtaining one of these slot machines for my Nar Shaddaa base.  I'm just waiting for the price on the GTN to come down a little bit.  I doubt I'll play it much though, as I am pretty stingy when it comes to credits.

Monday, January 26, 2015

SWTOR Cantina News

On Friday, BioWare held the latest Community Cantina at PAX South.  There hasn't been much in the way of news coming out of BW, so I was really hoping we would hear something.  Luckily,  I was not disappointed!  Sure, there were not too many details but it was still informative.  Let's see what BioWare has planned.
  • 3.2 comes out in April
  • A costume designer system is included
  • Ziost, a new planet, will also be included in 3.2!
  • Two Game Updates (like GSF and GSH) are planned for this year.  No details give, except Summer/Winter.
  • New Stronghold in the works
  • Togruta race is still coming
  • This year will focus on story, including some more personal ones

I was hoping they would say another paid expansion is in the works.  I was pretty happy with how 2014 went, so I am up for a repeat.  I am really looking forward to April and the addition of more story content.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SWTOR Q&A: The Answers

The Q&A I put together for the Reddit SWTOR community came back!  Big thanks to Hillary (who is moving on) for helping make this happen.  I posted the answers in a Reddit thread, but figured I'd also make them available here.  Enjoy!

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1)  When will 12x return, and in what form?

The overwhelmingly positive response we got from the class story leveling event demonstrates just how much people want to focus on their personal story. We’ll be talking more about what that means later this year.

2)  Right now the collections, achievements, and crafting windows are all sorted into collapsible categories. This would be great, but the fact that the menus always start fully expanded is very frustrating. Why was this decision made and is there any chance of this changing?

I would like to see, in order of preference, remember what I had open/collapsed last time, start with all collapsed, or have a collapse all button. Are there technical limitations preventing these from being implemented? It would be a HUGE QoL improvement for crafters and completionists like me and I think most people would like to see improvements to collections.

We’re painfully aware of the issues with these windows and we’re working on some improvements. It actually requires a rework of the way the data is loaded into the window, so it’s not trivial, but it’s something we feel strongly about.

3)  What is your favorite feature added post launch?

That’s a tough question!  I spend a lot of time decorating my Stronghold, and I’ve had a lot of great experiences with Group Finder.  My favorite feature is probably creature mounts, because everything is more exciting when you’re riding a Tauntaun.

4)  What can you tell us about the costume system?

We’re not talking about that right now. (But if we were, we’d be very excited about it.)

5)  Are there any plans to backport [SOLO] mode to the older flashpoints in the game?

We’ve discussed it as a possibility, especially for our story-heavy Flashpoints. It’s not something we’d do just for the sake of making all group content soloable, but we do have some major story moments that we would like every player to see.

6)  Can old operations and flashpoints be "scaled up" into level 60 content in a way that still allows level 50/55 players to experience the original content while providing more options for end game content at level 60? (Similar to SM/HM except you would select the level first then the difficulty.)

We are discussing how we can give you more options for playing our end game content at high levels. I can’t go into details yet.

7)  Can we get the ability to search for COMPANION GIFTS please? Like a heading for them, and then sub menus for type (military, cultural, trophy, etc) and also possibly rank?

Currently, the best way to search for them is with the “Miscellaneous” heading. I’ll see whether we can improve this.

8)  Gameplay wise, Treek is basically the best universal companion there is. Between having on demand tanking/healing capability from level 1, smart cc, heavy armor and the ability to be kitted out with legacy gear, her skillset and usability are simply superior to any other companion.

Now here's the question: Will we ever see a companion who is as good as that but not an EWOK?

Treek is pleased with your assessment, but she takes umbrage at the suggestion that anyone could ever match her fighting prowess.

We’re looking at some ways to give you more flexibility with regards to which companions are most effective for you in combat. Treek’s universal applicability was originally intended to ensure that she did not suffer from the problem of being redundant or incompatible with your selected combat role. We would generally like you to be able to use the companion of your choice.

9)  What's the road map for Operations? We had a full year of DF/DP and even with NM mode added during the summer months the content got stale pretty quick. Can we expect new Raids (not-NM versions of existing content) in 6 months? 1 year?

Having just launched an expansion with 10 new Ops bosses, it’s not one of our immediate concerns, but we have plans to shake things up a bit before the end of the year.

10)  When can we expect to see the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event again?

You’ll probably see it again this year… once I’ve stockpiled enough credits.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sid Meier’s Starships! No so fast.

Sid Meier... yes!

Starships... yes!

Beyond Earth universe... yes!

Starship design and tactical combat... yes!

Exploration... yes!

PC and Mac support... yes!

iPad support... nooooooooooo!

I was pretty excited up until I read that it was coming out on the iPad.  It isn't a knock against tablet hardware, which is pretty powerful these days.  The problem is the interface.  Sacrifices will be made to support a touchscreen-only setup.  It'll probably result in a more shallow game.  Remember how Civilization Revolutions worked out on the console?  Notice there hasn't been a sequel.

Sadly, this has 'casual' or 'Lite' written all over it :(

Monday, January 19, 2015

Steam does it again!

So yesterday morning, my plan was to play a bit of Rimworld.  As usual, I log in to Forge and see what's going on.  Someone had mentioned that Steam was doing a free weekend for Civilization: Beyond Earth.  If you don't know, I am a Civ junkie.  When I got my first computer (that wasn't a parents), the game I bought with it was Civilization 1.  I had obsessed about that game for so long.  I played the heck out of it and its ancestors.

I'm not really sure why I never tried Beyond Earth before this.  Sure, I had Alpha Centauri, but it never really stuck with me as much as normal Civilization.  The game pretty much fell off of my radar, until this weekend.  I went ahead and downloaded it.  I'm glad I did.  I ended up having a lot of fun and the time just flew away.

It just so happened that the game was on sale (40% off).  Faced with the prospect of not finishing my game, I gave in and bought myself a copy.  The Steam machine does it again!  So for the time being I will be playing Beyond Earth.  The MMO disease will flare up again soon though, so I'll be back to them.

Friday, January 16, 2015

SWTOR Happenings

I'm technically still on my little hiatus from the game, but it is hard to stay away.  I logged in this week to grab the 3rd anniversary rewards.  I had been procrastinating with them, but now I have a bunch.  The galaxy map is probably my favorite decoration.  The paintings are neat too though.

I am still waiting to hear about a road map for this year from BioWare.  Other games have been coming out with them, but crickets for SWTOR.  Hopefully they have something in the works.  No reason they shouldn't unless they are trying to hide something.

We are starting to get information about the next patch, 3.1, at least. So far, the two big ticket items are the Battle of Rishi and Blood Hunt Flashpoints being made into Hard Mode's.  This is nice, as more variety is a good thing.  I won't ever do them, so it does nothing for me.  It's too early to say if this is all we are getting in 3.1 as BioWare keeps adding things.

In the mean time, I am continuing to play The Repopulation.  I'm also starting to get into the mood to play more Rimworld.  This weekend will be a busy one, so we'll see what I actually get to play.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Setting a Goal

In a sandbox MMO, setting a goal for yourself can be really important.  Unlike a themepark MMO, you are not led through the world by your nose from one area to the next.  Sure,  The Repopulation has quests, but nothing like the usual MMO.  If you don't set a goal for yourself, it is very likely you'll end up without any direction and thus leaving the game.

Crafting is a huge part of The Repopulation, which I enjoy.  So my first thought was that I wanted to craft a weapon.  This is a monumental task, requiring tons of materials from all sorts of crafting disciplines.  Can it be done?  Sure.  Is it something a new player should set out to do?  Probably not.  Instead, I set my sights a bit lower.

Stims (or potions) are useful and a bit easier to make.  This is not WoW though, you don't just pick a flower and make a potion.  That's part of it, but there are a lot more steps.  You need the medical compound, you need an injector, and you need some other various ingredients.  The injector was the main hurdle for me, as it requires a Refined Surgical Stainless Steel Bar.  This is made using the Variegated Alloy recipe, which requires a mining skill of 500.

So, it was clear that I was not going to make stims anytime soon.  Instead, I found someone who was already doing it and asked what I could do to help.  He had the skills needed to actually make it, but needed help with raw materials.  So I went out in to the world and started mining and logging.  This got my skills up, plus made me a good amount of credits.

It also gave me something to do, helped me learn the game, explore the world, and generally advance.  I am not at the point where I could craft them all by myself.  The material cost is still daunting, but more about that next time.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Questing in The Repopulation

What's a MMO without some quests?  The Repopulation has them, but they are not like other MMO's.  There are no quest hubs in this game.  While there are NPC's who give out quests in the world, they are usually just repeatable bounty missions where you turn in some item for a reward.

The Repopulation give players quests in their PDA/E-Mail system. They are generated automatically based on the zone which the player is in.  The player can then accept them, or ignore them.  The missions are generated based on all sorts of factors.  For example, if I special enemy has spawned in the zone, you'll often see a mission pop up for it.  Time of day, npc's and such all factor in to the missions generated.  It's a neat system.

Like any good sandbox, this is all optional.  I rarely do missions as I am busy with crafting.  However, there are crafting/gathering missions to be done if you need a little direction or extra cash.  You can also earn abilities through missions.  It's a random chance that this will happen, but it is very nice when it does. One of the interesting aspects of it is that you can't see the rewards of the mission until you complete it.  Apparently a lot can happen during the mission that can change the reward.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Random Friday Thoughts

It's been a rough week.  Seems like the Werit household is still infected by the plague.  Might have to go all Velveteen Rabbit to wipe it out.  I'm still suffering from medicine withdraw, which isn't pleasant either.  Sadly, it could lasts for weeks longer.  It'll be worth it though.

Then of course there is whats happening in France.  I won't go into it, as this is not a political blog.  It's just depressing to see the reaction of my own country though, which is supposed to be a bastion of freedom and the home of the brave.  I really just need to pay less attention to the news and more attention to games.  That's what they are there for right?

Still playing The Repopulation, when I can.  Despite my bad experience, it is overall enjoyable.  I still see the guy in global chat and its all I can do not to confront him. Especially when I see him acting poorly to other new players.  I know that won't help anything though.  Being a dick is not against the ToS.  They have a pretty big patch in the works too.

Well, at least it is Friday.