Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year

So I decided to end 2011 with a bit of the plague.  Ok, I can't be sure that's what it is exactly, but it sure felt like it.  It might have been the worst I have ever felt.  The thought of even sitting down at a computer made me sick.  It takes quite a bit to keep me from my electronic addiction.

Today I am feeling better, maybe around 60%.  Thankfully, this week is pretty useless in most industries so it wasn't a huge deal.  Hopefully by the time the 1st rolls around I'll be fully recovered and start out the new year right.

As for New Years Eve, we have young kids, which means I doubt we'll even see 12am. I hope those of you that have something to do and can actually stay awake, have a great time.  See you next year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Try before you buy

As I have mentioned before, Custom items are one of my favorite aspects of SWTOR.  Like an appearance tab, they allow you to control the look of your character.  What they do better than an appearance tab is keep the items a part of your gameplay instead of setting and forgetting.

Since Custom items are all about looks, it's important to know what look like before you buy them.  To do this, just CTRL Left Click on an item and viola, a dressing room window.  This can be done on vendors, your inventory and the Auction House.  Also, you can check out companion appearances this way too.

Here I am trying on a new helmet, Commando's Helmet, which is cratfable by an Armortech.  You can also see what it looks like on your companion.  There are no class restrictions in the dressing room either.  So try on those Consular Robes if you want.  You can rotate the model in this view as well.

Sadly, you cannot seem to see what a weapon looks like in this view.  I hope they add that feature soon, as choosing the right looking gun is very important for a fledgling Trooper.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

I hope everyone out there had a good Christmas or holiday.  I know I did.  Besides a nice visit with family, Santa ended up being pretty good to me.  I have a pretty big family, so we end up with too many presents.  This is especially true for my kids since everyone likes to buy them stuff.  So what interesting presents did you get?

Here are some of mine...

Star Wars.  I ended up with two Star Wars gifts.  The first I did ask for.  The second was a surprise.  I know they added some 'controversial' stuff to this edition, but how can I resist Blu Ray?

This book was a nice surprise, Star Wars Year by Year:  A Visual Chronicle.   I think it'd be a great coffee table book, the wife does not agree.

Xbox 360.  I got Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: MW3 and Saints Row: The Third. I know, I'm a little late to the party on all three of these.  They will likely last me until next Christmas though.

Lord of the Rings.  This gift was a nice surprise and will have a place on my bookshelf.  Who doesn't love Pez?

Back to the Future.  When I saw these model DeLorean's I just have to have them.  All three will be going up on my bookshelf!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

Wow, Christmas got here really quickly this year.  December used to feel like the longest month of the year.  While it may not be as exciting for me anymore, it is sure fun to watch my kids start to enjoy the holidays.  This year I leave you with two versions of a Christmas carol.  One somewhat traditional, the other not so much.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

TOR Nexus Updates

While most of my free time has been playing games for the last two weeks, I did make some TOR Nexus changes recently.  The TOR Nexus is a portal to SWTOR community content, official news and videos.  It could also be described as a rss and video aggregator focused on Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Tabs.  This is probably the most most noticeable change.  I've move all of the data into tabs based on topic.  This makes the site much easier to navigate and cleaner.

Blog.  I've added BioWare's new community blog to the front page.

PvE.  There is now a PvE section which includes tabs for Flashpoints, Operations, World Bosses and Crew Skills.

Moderation.  I now have the ability to remove links from a topic.  It's made the information which gets displayed much more relevant.

Blue Cross. You will see a blue cross after some links.  If you click on it, it will expand and show more information.  Currently, it shows embedded videos.

You can find the TOR Nexus at:

Let me know if you have any problems or ideas, thanks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WAR for the Holidays

Sadly, we found out yesterday that the upcoming 1.4.5 patch will not be on the PTS in time for the impeding holidays.  It seems they had some technical issues on their internal servers which forced them to hold off for now.  That doesn't mean there is nothing happening to tide us over for the break.  Be sure to read the rest of James' update.

So what are we getting?

Bonus RP.  For as long as Keg's End runs run there will be a holiday bonus to RP and XP.

Dev Discussion.  They will post some of the details involving relics and forts later this week.

Scenario Update.  The new scenario lineup will be pushed out prior to the holiday break.  This includes two 6 vs 6 scenarios:  Gates of Ekrund and Caledor Woods.

One community member had this idea:

One thing that would be very WELCOMED would be unlocking Eternal Citadel during IC siege and unlocking College of Corruption (6v6) during Altdorf siege.

Sounds good to me, and James also said: "I can look at that for the future as something to do, sure."

While it is disappointing that 1.4.5 did not make it to the PTS, these things happen.  Luckily there is plenty to keep me busy ( Holidays, SWTOR, Skyrim ) in the mean time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Since it's launch day

This feels appropriate, and will pass a small part of the queue time away.

Drinking from the XP Fire Hose

One of the small frustrations I have with Star Wars: The Old Republic is the amount of XP you gain, at least early in the game.  By doing all of the quests given to me, I have started to really outpace the content.  On Coruscant it was especially bad.

By the time I was dealing with the Justicar's, I was already 2+ levels ahead of the content.  At that point I started to skip quests which didn't seem important, same goes for Heroic's and Bonus Missions.  By skipping content, I managed to arrive at Taris only 1.5 levels ahead of the content (17.5).  The next planet, Nar Shadaa, starts at level 20, so I am going to have to skip missions on Taris too.

The fact I am being flooded by XP also makes me reluctant to do Warzones and Space Missions, since they also reward XP.  I could really go for an XP off switch at this point.  I've heard the XP situation improves in the later levels, so we'll see what happens.

I really dislike skipping content.  One reason is I might miss out on Custom item rewards.  The SWTOR item databases available have not tied item rewards to missions yet, and TOR missions do not tell you the rewards ahead of time.  I could always go back and do them later, but that just doesn't feel right.

Another reason is that some of the quests are fun and interesting.  I'd really hate to miss the start of a quest chain just because I need to limit my XP intake.  I've also been avoiding Cantina's so I don't build up any bonus XP.

In the near term, there really isn't much that can be done.  I doubt I'll see an XP off option, or a change to the XP rewards in time to be useful to this character.


Monday, December 19, 2011

SWTOR Custom Items

One of my favorite features in Star Wars: The Old Republic is item modifications and custom items.  If you want to read in depth about the system, check out this developer post.  I'll give you a very short version.  Custom items are shells, which you can add mods too all the way through the end game.

That means if you like the look of an item, you can keep it indefinitely.  Custom items (labeled orange) can also be used by your companions.  So you are able to customize their look as well.  This weekend, I did just that and purchased matching A-405 Wraith Projector Assault Cannons for myself and my companion, Aric Jorgen.

I took Armstech as a crew skill, so I was able to upgrade the Barrel on both weapons.  The A-405 cost 14 Coruscant Commendations a piece, but I had plenty.  It looks decent, but I'm sure I'll find something better down the line.

Here is me and Aric with our new toys. 

I love being able to customize equipment for myself and my team.  In fact, I've started to collect Custom gear for companions I may get in the future.  I have a Lightsaber and Blaster from the Esseles Flashpoint, along with some Plasteel pants.

Friday, December 16, 2011

TOR Datacron: And We're Off!

Early Access began this week for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  From my experience, it could not have gone better.  I've had no problems at all, which is a first for a major MMO launch.  BioWare has been busy during this time, so they will be the focus of this datacron.


What's Next?  In a blog post, James Ohlen talks about what we can expect from SWTOR in the near future. I like what I read.  Most of all, I want to see a continuing commitment to solo non-repeatable content.  PvP would be a close second.

Grace Period.  BioWare has relented and given a two day Grace Period.  That means you'll be able to play for up to 48 hours after the game officially launches before you must enter a game code.  This isn't a huge deal for a lot of people since retailers are shipping hard copies early.

Downtime.  It may be a new MMO, but SWTOR still needs scheduled maintenance. In the coming week, they have scheduled several blocks of downtime.  Luckily, a lot of it is being done very early (EST).

Peaks and Valleys.   Invites are still going out for EGA, but today they will start to cover smaller swaths of time.  Back when pre-orders started there was a lot, and now closer to launch there are a lot.  Last i saw, they were getting closer to December, so the end is near!


Jedi Gambit.  Pages four and five are out for the webcomic, Jedi Gambit.  Drop by and take a look!

Gungans. Funny comic from swtor-life, involving those always popular Gungans.  I'm afraid it's not far from the truth.  In a recent Q&A, BioWare mentioned the possibility of Ewoks.  Please, no Ewoks, unless they can be killed.


Ilum.  Torwars has a nice post up with screenshots of Ilum.  This planet looks exteremly well done and I can't wait to get there and check it out for myself.

Security Key.  To help encourage players to use an Authenticator, BioWare has made special items available to those that do.

For more TOR news, stop by the TOR Nexus.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Second Day of TOR

BioWare gave to me... two big guns...

That's me and my new companion Aric Jorgen.  Can you ever have too many huge guns?  The answer is no, you can not.  Apparently, Aric is voiced by the same guy who is Carlton on Psych.  Thought it sounded familiar.

Oh, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Tobias and Rockgut

Beta 4 of Wrath of Heroes will include two brand new heroes.  One you might expect, the other is not really a traditional player class in Warhammer Online.  When Mythic mentioned Tobias, I guessed a Witch Hunter.  I was wrong.

Tobias is a Knight of the Blazing Sun.  He prefers a large 2-handed sword to a shield.  And much like his WAR Live counterpart, he enhances his allies.  No word on what the Blessing of Myrmidia does, but we'll find out soon.

Rockgut is the second hero, a Troll!  Not of the Internet forum variety, but pretty nasty none the less. This guy is a melee healer with some regeneration.  He also likes to burp and throw up.  A classy kind of guy.

It's nice to see a hero from outside the career lineup of Warhammer Online.  There is so much potential in the Warhammer lore, we are barely scratching the surface.

The next Beta session starts this week!

Beta 4 comes with a new version of WoH and will start Friday, December 16 at 11am EST (4pm GMT). The servers will be online non-stop until Tuesday, December 20 at 11am EST (4pm GMT).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day Two of SWTOR

The first day of Early Game Access for Star Wars: The Old Republic has passed.  From my perspective, it was flawless.  Of course, I did get in during the first wave which makes me more positive about the whole situation. I encountered no lag, bugs or server issues at all.  I think that is a first for a MMO 'launch.'

Most of the unhappiness around the community stems from BioWare's staggered invites.  Instead of just opening the doors to 1 million plus pre-orders, they are letting people in a little at a time.  It's all based on when you redeemed your pre-order code, as has been known for a long time.  Those waiting are a bit upset, but from a server stability standpoint: so far so good.

I had a lot of fun on my Trooper, Quentin.  I am really enjoying the story and the atmosphere of Ord Mantell.  The Trooper feels entirely different from his mirror (Bounty Hunter) and all of the other classes I played in beta.  Each story feeling different is certainly one of the games strengths.

Today I plan on finishing up Ord Mantell then starting Coruscant. I currently feel a bit like one of the guys in Die Hard 2, we'll see how it goes with this final mission.  Here is a look at my Trooper at the end of day one:

Just picked up his first Custom grade weapon:  Republic Command Carbine. I could upgrade this bad boy indefinitely, but I won't be using it once I go Commando.  Then I get a mean Assault Blaster!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Here we go!

Early Access for SWTOR has finally arrived.  When I got up this morning and checked my mail I was a little disappointed.  It was past 7am and nothing from BioWare.  I did redeem my pre-order code the morning that they went on sale, so I was pretty sure I'd get access this morning.

I tried to log into the game and the Play button was good to go!  About 15 minutes later I got my e-mail from BioWare.

I created my character on the Sanctum of the Exalted server ( RP-PVE ).  I do not like PvP servers, but that is a post on its own.  Maybe later this week I'll get to that.  This is the server the Multiplayer crew was assigned to, so I figured if I wanted to guild up, it'd be good to be on a server where I know some folks.

Introducing Sergeant Quentin of the Republic Army...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Server Merges Incoming

Late last week, Mythic announced that they will be offering Free Server Transfers for Warhammer Online.  This means another round of server merges is coming soon.  Actually, they will be starting this Wednesday, December 14th.

It will involve four servers:

Gorfang -> Badlands

Karak Azgal -> Karak Norn

This will leave WAR with a total of four servers: 1 US, 1 EU-English, 1 EU-German, and 1 Russian.

I don't think these come as much of a surprise to anyone, especially considering the launch of SWTOR this week (Early Access).  It's not all bad news though.   Merges give the remaining servers a new burst of life which is pretty important when it comes to PvP.  It'll also be nice to play with the folks on Gorfang since I am on Badlands.

This is just in time for the 1.4.5 patch which will bring back Fortresses.  Still no word on when that will be hitting the PTS, but I expect soon.

Being down to four servers is a little depressing, considering where WAR started.  I've had fun for over 3 years though, so I really can't be that down about it.  That's a long time to be playing a game.

Friday, December 9, 2011

TOR Datacron: Early Access is when?

Well, it's been quite a week for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  We found out that Early Access (for those that pre-ordered) will begin on the 13th instead of the 15th.  How often do MMO's start ahead of schedule?    Then we found out there is no grace period to account for shipping delays.  That's a bit odd, as I remember most MMO's having one.


Factions.  Darth Hater had an interesting lore post about different factional conflicts going on in the TOR universe.  These are areas ripe for new content.  I'd love to be able to pick sides and experience a story in the Czerka vs Wookie conflict.

Healers.  Laura from the Force Junkies gives us a breakdown of the different healers in SWTOR.  Since a number of classes can spec healing, it's good to know what each brings to the table.

Early Access.  Syp discusses the whole Early Access situation.  I am pretty happy about getting in potentially two days early.  As for the grace period, not sure it'll affect me.  I'd certainly like a day or two to be sure though.

Tanking 101.  Elicas, also from Force Junkies, put up a guide discussing the basics of tanking in SWTOR. It's a good place to start if you are planning on taking that role.  I will be going DPS or Healer on my main.

Preferences.  Swtor Life has a comprehensive guide to the preferences in SWTOR.  It goes over, in detail, what every option does, pretty helpful if you are not sure.  You can find Part 2 here.


Million Credit Mount.  Well, 1.5 million to be exact. This is a video of a mount which you can purchase from a vendor in the VIP lounge.  It is pretty sweet, if not a little big.

Outlaw's Den.  Check out this video of TOR's Free for All area, the Outlaw's Den.  There are no other players around, so it is more of a tour.

Ilum.  A video of Ilum, TOR's objective based PvP area.  How awesome is that Troopers robot companion?

Subject Alpha.  The Guardians of Peace took a video of their battle with Subject Alpha, a world boss on the planet Taris.

TOR Datacron links and video gathered from the TOR Nexus.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wrath of Heroes Progress

What's this, a post not about SWTOR?  I figured I'd switch things up a bit today and check in with Wrath of Heroes.  WoH is currently in between beta sessions, but seems to be progressing very nicely.  Let's take a look at what's been happening.

New Web Page.  The team over at BioWare Mythic improved the Wrath of Heroes web page, now it has content!  Be sure to stop by and read the latest news.  I'm very glad to see them not just using Facebook.

Progression.  During the last beta, the patch notes mentioned the addition of Mastery levels once you reach 40.  Sadly, that's all we really know about them.  In this news article, they also mention a new progression system.  I can't wait to see what it is all about.  WoH felt like it lacked depth, and this might help.

Black Fire Pass.  A new map was introduced called Black Fire Pass.  You can watch a video of it here.

New Hero.  A new Hero is on his way, his name is Tobias.

Gold.  There is now an in-game currency!  This opens up a lot of possibilities and means we will likely be able to buy some things without using real money.

Reward Spinner.  Another new feature is the Reward Spinner.  When a match is over, you play a slot machine to determine your reward. How many spinners you unlock depends on your performance.

No news on when the next beta is, but I am looking forward to checking it out.  Each session makes large strides from the one before it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crafting Choice

The crafting (or crew skills) system in Star Wars: The Old Republic is pretty interesting.  While it is based off of the run of mill MMO crafting system, it's more broad.  What I like best about it is that you can send your companions out on missions to retrieve crafting materials.  So while I am fighting in a Warzone, I can still be making crafting progress!

As you probably know, my first character will be a Trooper/Commando.  He wears heavy armor and carries a very big gun.  It's time to decide which crew skills I will take.  I like to start with the actual crafting skill, which I've narrowed down to two choices.

Armortech.  This crew skill focuses on making armor (surprise!), which includes heavy.  I've used this in beta with my Bounty Hunter and it produced some nice pieces.  Unlike the next crew skill, I make use of a number of armor items.

Another positive of Armortech is that it makes use of Underworld Trading as a mission skill.  According to this dev post, UT will be able to get Custom schematics.  These are basically shell items you can mod all the way to the end game if you like the look.

Arsmtech.  This crew skill makes weapons, including heavy blaster rifles.  The Commando is all about his gun, so being able to craft the best would be beneficial.  On the downside, my companions and I can only use a limited amount compared to armor.

Despite no need for Underworld Trading, I am still leaning toward Armstech.  The allure of crafting weapons for my Commando is just too much.  Hopefully, BioWare either spreads about the Custom schematics around the rest of the crafting skills, or they are rather common on the GTN (auction house).

For more info on SWTOR crafting, try the TOR Nexus PvE page.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Playing on launch day

It's that time of year again, the launch of a new MMO!  Oh, and it's the holiday season.  In around 9 days, Star Wars: The Old Republic opens up for head start.  I should be able to play on the 15th, but will I?  Absolutely. I'll try to in any case.

A lot of people will tell you to avoid launch day.  Odds are it won't be a smooth experience.  If the servers manage to stay up, you'll just end up staring at a queue indicator.  And even if you get into the game, the starting areas will be jam packed and little progress will be made.  It's hard to argue with those reasons, as they are all true.

I will not be deterred though.  The launch of a new MMO is just a fun and exciting time, despite all of the potential issues.  I think I have been a part of 3 MMO launches:  Warhammer Online, Aion and Rift.  Even though I didn't stay long in the last two, their launches were fun.

I think SWTOR will do pretty well in terms of stability when its doors open.  They have had some pretty big stress tests the last couple of weeks.  During the Thanksgiving Holiday they had 725,000 unique testers log in and play.  I don't think they will have that many on their first day of head start... so they should be able to deal with the traffic.

Sadly, there is no real way to avoid queues.  Some servers are just more popular than others. If you are unattached, you can choose to create a character on that lonely server in the corner.  Still, as BioWare walks the fine line between too many servers and too few there will be queues.

While I do plan on playing when the game launches, I won't be taking any days off from work.  A few hours?  Sure.  That's all part of the fun :)

Need TOR news?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bounty Hunter PvP

Sadly, the SWTOR beta has come to an end.  I was in it for a couple of months and had a great time.  Luckily, the launch of the game is only 10 days away!  A week or so ago I made a video of my level 15 Bounty Hunter Mercenary in the Alderaan warzone.  PvP is better than I thought it would be in The Old Republic, not perfect, but pretty fun.

As you can see from the video, I am doing some healing.  That is one nice thing about the classes in this game, they are all hybrids.  While all Mercenaries can heal, I've been concentrating on the Bodyguard tree which enhances healing.

Once of the interesting abilities Mercenaries get is Combat Support Cylinder.  When active, it changes your spammable attack (pistol shots in my case).  When targeted at an enemy it does damage as you would expect. When an ally is targeted, it will heal them.  It's a small heal, but does not build up an Heat so you can always be using it.

The Bounty Hunter is a fun class and very versatile.  So it comes as no surprise that warzones were crawling with them (and Sorcerers).  Can't go wrong with fun combat and a good story.

Want more SWTOR PvP?  Stop by the TOR Nexus PvP page.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nexus Datacron: First

In the fine tradition of the News from the Front posts comes the Nexus Datacron.  These posts will basically showcase some of the interesting community content for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I will, of course, be counting on the TOR Nexus to help find these gems.  That's enough intro, let's get to the good stuff.


Bantha PooDoo.  The latest issue of the Jedi Gambit is up!  Rackham, who also made the awesome banner for this site, continues his excellent web comic series.

Advanced Respecs.  Torwars has a post discussing the latest news about respecs of your Advanced Class.  Spoiler: no respecs at this time.  I'm not surprised, Advanced Classes are really just classes.

Accessories.  Scary Worlds let us know that in order to get the 'full SWTOR experience' you may need to shell out around $1,000.  This includes all those custom accessories that razor is putting out.

What's my name?  Syp has some concerns about the recently announced Legacy system.  Specifically when it comes to choosing a surname or title.  I'd have to agree with him,  I really don't want to feel rushed to go claim my name.

Patch Notes.  Darth hater posted a copy of the latest beta Patch Notes.  Nothing too major in there, just a lot of bug fixes and polishing.

Data Mining.  Darth hater also posted the results of their data mining the latest patch.  Looks like a ton of items and recipes were added, but not really mentioned in the patch notes.


Easter Egg.  SWTOR does indeed have some Easter Eggs.    This one is pretty awesome and has to do with Night at the Roxbury.

Legacy.  Speaking of the Legacy system, MattOwen07 posted a video showing how it works.

Ilum.  Wondering what SWTOR's PvP planet, Ilum, looks like?  Here is a video tour of the battlefield.

Space.  A look at one of the space combat missions you'll be able to do.  Sure, it's not X-Wing... but it does look cool.

Big Boss.  A video of a lower level Trooper, but includes a look at one of the World Bosses you might find in your travels.  It is beta, so do ignore that invisible assault cannon ;)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Look at WAR

We all know WAR is great for PvP, which mostly involves looking for an enemy, then killing said enemy.  It also has some spectacular scenery. You can get a bit of tunnel vision when on the hunt for renown and miss it.  It also doesn't help that a large part of the game, geographically, is not used in normal PvP activities.

Some of the environments in Warhammer Online are very well done.  Etaew, a blogger, has been taking the time to document some of these great views.  In a series of posts, he provides a number of screenshots from all over the game.

In today's post, he covers Mount Bloodhorn from a Greenskins perspective.  Don't worry Dwarfs, there is one from your perspective too.

Be sure to take a look around his site to see the other zones he has done.