Friday, February 27, 2015

Quite a Weekend

Big gaming weekend for me coming up!  Star Trek Online is having a Double XP weekend (well, longer than that).  As I am still leveling, this will be a big help.  The XP was just pouring in last night between missions and Duty Officers.  I should be a good bit into my 40's by the time it is over.  The great things is that missions scale in STO, so I will not be out-leveling any content.

As if that were not enough, they are also have a ship sale in the c-store.  While I am still leveling, I don't really need any of those special ships.  However, now might be the time to buy my T6 Intel ship, the Faeht Intel Warbird.  It's $6 off this weekend.  Now, a T6 isn't a necessity, but it might just be cool to have.  It looks nice and has some nice abilities.  Plus, I like the word Intel.

So I'm thinking I may as well pick that up while it's on sale.  Spending $24 in the c-store is a lot, but it's really just less than 2 months subscription.  I have no plans to buy anymore ships, so I think it'll be worthwhile.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why I love Forge - #1

Forge, if you are not aware, is a streaming and video highlighting system.  It runs automatically when it sees a supported game, live streaming it.  When finished, you can then easily make highlights/screenshots of your session and share them with the community (or social media).  It requires no extra software like OBS or XSplit.

One of the things I love about the service is that it is all about the games.  I get to watch people play the games they truly enjoy and play on a regular basis.  With services like Twitch and Hitbox, it is often about viewership numbers so people play what they think will bring the people in.  There's nothing wrong with that, I still watch twitch regularly.  It's just a different mindset.

With Forge, I can see how people normally play a game.  Sure, there is no interaction (yet) but that's not a deal breaker for me.  I'm not against a chat system, so long as it is optional and unobtrusive.  I don't want a second monitor just so I can monitor chat.  I also don't want to have to use a mic to effectively communicate with whoever is watching. However, doing that all without interfering with the game I am playing is going to be a challenge.  We'll see what the Forge devs come up with.

Want to try it out?  Click here:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Yesterday, it occurred to me that I don't have any characters at the level cap in any MMO.  Usually, I have at least one.  My SWTOR Trooper is the closest, just half a level from the cap.  I finished up all the new story content and there's nothing I really want to do at level 60 so there I sit.  When the PvP bug bites, I'll be getting him to 60.

I'm making great progress in STO, where most of the leveling is quite easy.  However, I hear 50 - 60 can be quite a task and the story content doesn't fill it all up.  So who knows if I'll actually reach the cap there.  Once I have to start doing repetitive things, it's usually time for me to take a break from the game.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Great Scene

I was playing some STO last night and came across this really entertaining scene.  Where else are you going to see a Gorn and a Romulan in a Wild West showdown?  It takes place on Nimbus III, which is the location of Star Trek 5.  All recorded with Forge, of course :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting back to SWTOR

Recently, Star Trek Online has been my game of choice.  It's been going really well so far.  I am enjoying all of the Romulan content and have worked my way up to level 33.  The old cap is in sight at 50, with the new one at 60.  I hear the story content doesn't really stretch over the last 10 levels, so we'll see if I make it.  Even though I have been playing it a lot, I still don't consider STO to be my primary game.

That honor still goes to SWTOR, even though I haven't played it in weeks.  So what is it going to take to get me actively playing again?

12x.  I just can't play my alts without 12x XP.  This seemed to be quite popular, but BioWare has not mentioned it in a long time.  They did give us 2x XP, but that's just not enough anymore.

New Content.  It looks like the earliest we are going to see new content is late April with Ziost.  That's a little over 2 months, which feels like a long time to go without anything new.

PvP.  I might come back if I really get the urge to PvP.  Right now, I don't really feel like doing that though.

It feels like BioWare has hibernated for the winter.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Man in the High Castle - TV Series

I recently found out that the pilot episode for The Man in the High Castle was available through Amazon Prime.  I happen to have Prime, score!  I had never read the original, but I like history and alternative history, so I gave it a watch.  This was the first Amazon original series I've watched, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Overall, it was actually really well done.  Good acting, good quality all around.  It's no surprise that Amazon already ordered a full season.  Will I watch it when it comes out?  Probably not.

It was really good, but that actually worked against it.  The basic premise of the show is that Germany and Japan won World War 2 and took over the US.  The show did such a good job of portraying it that is was just revolting.  I can't stomach watching week after week of that version of the USA.  I might be able to if the story was about fighting back against the invaders, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  It's more about politics and some weird mysticism.

I do recommend it, if you have a strong stomach :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Exploration is Impossible

In a recent forum poll, STO players put Exploration Missions as their top priority (40%) for the coming year.  Star Trek Online used to have an exploration system, but it was removed.  I think they were just not happy with it and how it fit into the game.  It was basically sectors with randomly generated systems that had some randomly generated missions.  Overall, it was not very engaging.

Exploration is a core aspect of Star Trek, it's in the opening theme.  However, I don't feel it is possible to do it justice in a game.  They key to making exploration good is to make it meaningful.  The old system wasn't meaningful in any way.  But Werit, Elite Dangerous and No Mans Sky!  I don't feel that their systems are meaningful either.  Procedural content lends itself to quantity, not quality.  300 billion star systems is a great tag line, but so what?  What's happening in these systems, anything interesting at all?

Interesting.  In Star Trek,  exploration involved interesting crafted stories.  You need writers for this,  we're just not at a point where this can happen from procedural content.  Now, there are some thoughts that PWE might leverage the Foundry.  However, that relies on players making new content, as old content wouldn't make sense in an exploration system.  The rate at which players will explore will far out pace any content creation, so procedural seems like the only way.

Persistence.  If the worlds you discover just vanish when your done, how is it meaningful?  Making things stick around is not an easy task.  The way STO is setup with quadrants, I just don't see that as a possibility.  You would need a system to re-access every place you visited, as the standard mapping system won't support huge new areas.  However, if everything is bland and boring, why would you want to revisit?

While players want Exploration,  I just don't feel like they can be given a system that will actually meet their expectations.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Truth about SWTOR PvP

I like PvP.  I played Warhammer Online its whole like and PVPed 99.9% of the time.  However, I am under no illusions that SWTOR is a PvP game.  When the latest Producer's Letter came out, there was no mention of any PvP additions to the game.  This, of course, caused a little-big outcry from PvP players.  While few in number, they can make a lot of noise.

It's time to face facts.  PvP in SWTOR is not, and will likely never be a priority.  When I first started to play the game,  I played it for its PvE content.  PvP was a nice distraction, but that's all it was.  So I have never been too invested in that part of the game.  I think it is pretty clear that the focus of the game in story based PvE content.

BioWare is not guilt free though.  They started out with Ilum, made additions to PvP, and even added Galactic Starfighter which was a whole new PvP system.  Looking back on GSF, what a huge waste of resources it was.  I wouldn't feel this way if they continued to support it, but they haven't.  So, in the past, BioWare has tried to keep PvP players around.

That tone has shifted, where they are now doubling down on Shadow of Revan content.  That's the future of the game.  I wish BioWare would just come out and say PvP would only get basic support from here on out.  Star Trek Online did exactly that, the players didn't like it, but at least they knew for sure.

So where should PvP folks go?  Sadly, there really are not that many options for MMORPG based combat with PvP.  Camelot Unchained is about all I can think of and that's still in Alpha.

I miss WAR for PvP :(

Friday, February 13, 2015

Heading Offworld

Stardock/Mohawk Games released their new economic RTS game yesterday: Offworld Trading Company.  By released, I mean early access.  Normally, I'd shy away from early access, but this is Stardock and the guy who made Civ 4.  So they get a pass.  It's available through Steam too.

I don't play RTS's much anymore, I used to though.  This is a new take on the genre, as it's not about combat.  Instead it is about economic decisions with some shady dealings on the side.  The games are meant to be pretty fast and different each time.  Random maps, AI for solo play, and multiplayer are all available.  Multiplayer looks like it will be a big part of its future, with ladders planned.  I'm unsure if I will partake, all depends on how reflex intensive it plans on being.  With no units to command, it may be slow enough for me to compete.

I only played a little last night, but it was fun.  I lost my first game, but I was still just figuring out what was going on.  You can see a clip of my defeat below.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Death from Above

I actually enjoy STO's ground combat quite a bit. It has a lot going on, with all the skills, crew, weapons, and so on. I recently got a Polaron Bombardment tactic module from a lock box, which rains down destruction from above. Combine that with my Photon Grenade ability, and it is quite a light show. For me it is, for my enemies, not so much.

 Test of embedding Forge clips.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I am a blogger

Surprise!  Syp posted an article about the need for both bloggers and game journalists.  I thought it was pretty good.  I agree that there is a need for both.  Although, I can't really speak to the journalist side of things.  It's pretty clear that a journalist I am not.  For one,  I don't write nearly well enough.  That's ok though, I have other strengths (I use that term loosely) that hopefully make up for my lack of writing prowess.

I am also pretty biased, which should be obvious.  I only write about things I like.  You won't find much in the way of posts about games I don't play here.  90% of what I write about is positive too,  I don't find negative writing to be very fun so I don't do it.  Doing in my own way is part of what being a blogger is all about.

I tend to hold journalists to a higher standard, both with quality and perceived bias.  They are usually getting paid for their work, so I expect more.  That being said, I am sometimes compensated too, but never with direct cash.  For example, Mythic brought be down to their HQ a couple of times, put me up in a hotel, fed me, and showed me cool stuff.  I consider that compensation.  As a blogger,  getting involved with the things I already like is a dream come true.

I tend to prefer bloggers to major game sites.  Usually, I go to a blog to read about a game I am playing, or a game I am thinking about playing.  I want to read experiences, so I know what they game is like.  Or if I am already playing a game, to learn something new.  That's the good thing about Massively, they do news, but they also talk about they games they are actively playing.  So I was happy to support their kickstarter.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Duty Officers and R&D

I played a bunch of STO this weekend.  I had to take breaks to do real work ( :( )  and take the kids to see Sponge Bob ( bleh ).  I had a couple of goals in mind, all of which I managed to reach.  I am generally pretty goal oriented when it comes to my MMO's.

Duty Officers.  Available at level 11 (well, more like 12 for me), it gives access to their trading card/crew skill/garrison whatever system.  You collect all sorts of duty officers and send them on missions.  It's a lot more in depth than SWTOR's crew skills, and can be kinda fun.  I like collecting Duty Officers, as there is a large variety and they borrow heavuily from Star Trek lore.  I miss my exocomp Duty officer I have on my Fed character.

Research and Development.  STO has tried a number of crafting systems since it launched.  Is this one any better?  I'm not sure yet.  I unlocked it at level 15 and have just started to play around with it.  I'm not sure I want to start farming crafting materials, so who knows how much I'll be able to do.  It looks like there is a lot to do though.

So it was a pretty successful STO weekend.  I opened up these two systems and did some story related stuff.  During the week my time is more limited, so I'll probably just do a few missions and Duty Officer stuff.

Friday, February 6, 2015

STO So Far

I've been playing STO for about 5 days now.  I'm playing a Romulan who is currently level 9.  I've probably put in ~5 hours.  Usually, I play an episode a night.  So far this is working out pretty well.  I get enough to keep me wanting more.  Overall, I am pretty happy with the game.

Story.  The Romulan story is decent.  It's good enough to make it feel like more than a collection of missions I'm doing to level.  The missions have so far felt pretty different from each other with interesting mechanics/props.

Voice Acting.  The VO in the game is ok.  It's not nearly as bad as when they started experimenting with it, but it is not as good as SWTOR.

Combat.  I've always been torn about combat (space) in STO.  On one hand, it is unique in the MMO space.  On the other, it can feel pretty tedious at times.  This might just be me doing it wrong though.  I have a tough time sticking to one spot on their shields.

F2P.  So far,  I haven't hit any F2P walls.

Graphics.  I like them, there is a lot of neat things to look at.  The Romulan ships look great.

I'm not sure about STO's long term prospects.  I'm not big into group activities and PvP isn't really a focus of the game.  However, there is plenty of content for me to do before I get there.  I look forward to playing every day, so that's pretty good for now.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gateway Drugs

A few years ago, I stopped playing Star Trek Online.  It was mainly due to the fact of very little actual content was being made.  Another contributing factor was the emphasis placed on the C-Store and lockboxes.  Well, it turns out I have changed in the intervening years.

I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point I became ok with the lockbox concept.  It was probably SWTOR, whose Cartel Packs are pretty much lockboxes.  I imagine that the constant F2P bombardment in the industry finally changed my ways. I will regularly buy Cartel Packs now when new packs come out.

Now that I am playing STO again, I find myself willing to buy keys for their lockboxes.  I'm not going to go crazy or anything, as I am too cheap for that.  But since I am a F2P player, I'll send some money their way.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

SWTOR 3.1: Conflict on Rishi

The release date for version 3.1 of SWTOR has been announced:  February 10th!  I wouldn't call this a major content release, they usually happen on even numbers.  Here are the major highlights.  I won't list all of the bug fixes.

Ranked Warzone Arena Season 4 has begun! Get in there and go berserk! Season 3 leaderboards have been archived. 

New Legacy Unlock – Improved Mounting! You can now summon any vehicle or creature mount while moving!

New Hard Mode Flashpoints! Hard Mode Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi are now available through Group Finder in the Hard Mode Flashpoint category at level 60.

The Gray Secant has returned from its travels! Participate in the Relics of the Gree event from February 24th at 12:00 GMT to March 3rd at 12:00 GMT.

Sadly, none of this really does anything for me.  I don't do ranked PvP, or run hard mode Flashpoints.  The Gree event is ok, but there is nothing I want from the reputation system.  So I am not very excited.

I am much more looking forward to 3.2, which should feature some new story content.  That is what gets me going, well, that and new systems.  So I will bide my time while I play some other games.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Boldly Going... Again

Since I am taking a brief intermission from SWTOR, I have been looking at some new games to play.  Star Trek Online caught my eye as I have not played it in probably a couple of years.  They've had the Legacy of Romulas and Delta Rising expansions since I last stepped into the game.  So I thought I'd check it out again.  I've had a character since launch, but so much has changed that it seemed like a good idea to start fresh.

Of course,  it turns out I never transferred my Cryptic account over to Prefect World.  Sadly, this ended up being a manual process where I had to submit a support ticket.  That meant no STO over the weekend :(  Monday night, PWE came through and linked up my old account.  I couldn't leave that 675 Zen behind (and 85k Dilithium).

I've always been a fan of Romulans, even if they are just Dark Elves.  So it was a no brainer that I rolled one.  I get to experience the new content and start fresh.  So far, it is pretty cool.  I am impressed with the visuals of the tutorial world and the voice acting.  Everything seemed pretty polished.

I got to the flotilla and called it a night.  I'm not a huge fan of the starting ship, as I really like the TNG Warbirds.  I'll get there eventually.  I'm also a little bummed I am working for the Romulan Republic, i.e. the good guys.  I like my Romulans evil.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Justice For All

Not the excellent Metallica album.  Elder Scrolls Online is introducing their Justice system in Update 6, which is currently on the PTS.  This update basically allows players to steal from, and kill, non-important npc's in the world.  This has long been a staple of the single player Elder Scrolls games, but is rare in MMO's.  Beyond pick-pocketing your enemies, not too much has been done with theft even in sandbox games.  Your nefarious actions will not go unpunished though, as npc guards will attempt to stop you if you are seen.

Overall, I'm not so sure how I feel about this system.  It is neat, I'll give them that.  And they are adding a whole new skill line to go with it.  However, I'm not sure what the point is.  Players will be able to sell their ill gotten gains at a fence, but is that it?  Is this really just a way for some to make some extra cash?  Update 6 is just the first part of the Justice system, later updates will introduce player inflicted justice in the form of PvP.

I applaud Zenimax for trying something new in the MMO space,  I just hope there is more to it than earning some extra money which is usually not hard to come by.  For more information, check out:

I am actually still subscribed to ESO, and plan on playing again when the update goes live.