Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Starting Space Combat at 45

In the Captain's Chair
At level 45 on my BH I found myself in a predicament - I was out of level appropriate quests. All my quests were recommended for level 47+ which meant I could no longer solo them. So what was I to do? As I saw it I had four options:
A) grind out two levels by killing random level appropriate mobs
B) attempt to PUG flashpoints 
C) space combat

Grinding is obviously very grindy and slow, and also not very fun. If I'm going to grind mobs for hours there better be a mount or vanity pet waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. PUGs are notoriously finicky things. It might take hours to find one, during which I would need to do one of the other options anyway. Once I found one the other players might either suck or be mean. Since I'm pretty constantly on prescription pain meds at the moment that's just not something I want to deal with. I'm not great at space combat and find the experience to be a bit intense. PVP... well, let's just say I'm not winning any matches. 

I decided if I have to be bad at something it might as well be space combat. At least then I'm the only one who would witness my character burn up and die in a fiery explosion of suckitude. I heard that it gives pretty decent XP so I shouldn't have to do it too much before catching up to my quests, right?


Pictured: Fiery Explosion of Suckitude
You can't just go right on in and start running level 45 space combat missions without any experience. First you need to upgrade your ship. According to my husband (who is a space combat veteran) I needed to go to the fleet and buy some Grade 5 ship parts. I would also need like 200 commendations to get some sort of fancy Proton Torpedo Module. >.<

So, off I went. I started running all the old grayed out missions which still gave me fleet commendations. I also slowly earned a bit of experience. I'm up to 108 commendations now, and almost level 46! Soon I think I'll even be able to attempt some of those level appropriate missions. Overall it probably hasn't been faster than grinding mobs, but it has felt like more of an adventure. I've even earned the titles Flygirl and The Pilot, and you can never have too many titles! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Can't we coexist?

Ever since I started following SWTOR oh so many years ago, I've noticed some people can't wait for their game to crush the competition. They speak at length about why their game will be the so-called "WoW Killer". They constantly mention other games that have "failed" or will fail. They take great joy at seeing subscription numbers drop for every game but theirs. They insult anyone who dares enjoy a game other than the one they like. What I can't understand, is why.

Why can't several games be successful? I know there are only so many gamers in the market, but a game doesn't need 11 million subscribers to be fun or profitable. Your game doesn't have to beat every other game for it to continue to be developed. Some games might not appeal to you yet appeal to others and that's fine. Competition is a good thing in this case as it prevents developers from getting lazy; it encourages innovation.

I want every game to succeed, even the ones I can't stand. I want the hardcore PVPers to find a game that makes them happy. I want the sandbox people to find a game that makes them happy. Etc. I don't see them enjoying a different game as a threat to my game. If my game succeeds I want it to do so based on it's own merits, not because all the other games "failed".

Thanks to Derek Thorson for helping create the coexist logo. The letters are from the logos of World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and The Secret World in that order and are property of their respective owners.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Name Inspiration: Found on a Baby Name website. Gaelic in origin, pronounced Shivawn.
Class: Imperial Agent
Advanced Class: Sniper
Spec: Marksmanship
Alignment (traditional): Lawful Neutral 
Alignment (game)Neutral
Romance: Every mother-effin' body

Although I couldn't find an exact match, Siobhan most closely resembles the Judge, Jury, and Executioner trope. Her loyalty lies with the Empire, but not necessarily it's representatives. She has no qualms about going against orders if she feels her superiors are using her to advance their own agendas rather than the Empire's. She is not a fan of needless killing as she believes those left alive could prove useful in the future. However, it is better they "disappear" than help the enemy. She prefers to go about her business secretly and silently, and looks down upon the showy nature of Bounty Hunters. When possible she uses guile rather than force to further her goals as it's often less messy. She is not above using her sexuality to her advantage, with seduction kept near the top of her bag of tricks. She often infiltrates new surroundings by effortlessly conforming to others' expectations, and thus easily earns their trust. Everyone thinks she works for them and that's the way she likes it.

Siobhan didn't actually evolve until I started playing her. Unlike Tamsin and Jaliyah I didn't want to be restricted by light side or dark side on my IA. I have actually turned off the ability to see which choices lead to points on one side or the other to prevent me from using that as a crutch. I was surprised how easily I was able to figure out who she was as I had such a difficult time with Tamsin.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jaliyah I

Name Inspiration: Don't Remember
Class: Sith Inquisitor
Advanced Class: Sorcerer
Spec: Lightning
Alignment (traditional): Chaotic Evil
Alignment (game): Dark Side
Romance: None, for now

Jaliyah is a mix between the Woobie, Destroyer of Words and the Omnicidal Maniac (with of course a dash of the Evil Sorcerer). Like all Sith Inquisitors she was once a slave, and she has never really gotten over that. Even now as a Sith people still look down on her as she is not a Pureblood. By turning all that hate and misery into power she has truly been freed by the force. 

As a girl she was frightened by lightning. She once saw a whole village burn to the ground thanks to lightning's raw energy. After realizing she was force sensitive lightning became a symbol of power that she must bend to her will. It is now her that is responsible for burning down villages, with lightning merely being a conduit. Let the slavers fear her and her new found abilities as she once feared them. 

She is very quick to point out when someone is not giving her the respect her new station deserves, and also to correct anyone who disrespects slaves in general. She feels most tasks she is given are beneath her, but she does them anyway as they offer an opportunity to hone her skills. Killing is not something she does as a job, for the good of the Empire, or out of some obligation - she simply enjoys it. 

Jaliyah is the first character I decided to play after the game was announced. I am very found of lightning and usually play classes that have it as an ability. Jaliyah being my default name for a few years now, I thought it only proper to give it to her. My Republic main shares the name which is why I refer to her as Jaliyah I. 

I knew I wanted to play a straight up evil character, and who better than a Sith? I knew I would most likely not play a Warrior as I'm not a fan of melee classes so the Inquisitor won by default. Once I learned the beginnings of the SI story it was quite easy to come up with the rest of her background and an explanation for her evil nature. 

Monday, January 9, 2012


Name Inspiration: The fantasy novel Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle
Class: Bounty Hunter
Advanced Class: Mercenary
Spec: Bodyguard
Alignment (traditional): Chaotic Good
Alignment (game): Light Side
Romance: Torian Cadera, Mandolorian

Tamsin is your typical Hot Blooded Hero. She is passionate about what she does, but does not take lives for the fun of it. She sees bounty hunting as her own personal form of justice that is above the law. Sometimes she even lets her bounties go if she thinks they deserve to live. She's more likely to freeze her target than kill them outright (unless she thinks those who hired her have a worse fate than death in mind). She always takes the life of Trandoshans however, as she believes it is more cruel to rob them of their jagannath points. She can be very snarky and occasionally cheesy when it comes to conversation choices. Her bark is truly worse than her bite. Although she is passionate and talks a big talk she often falters when it's time to do the dirty work.

Tamsin was one of the hardest characters for me to come up with. I knew from the beginning I wanted to roll a Light Side character, and through process of elimination it would probably be my bounty hunter. It was quite difficult for me to reconcile the Light Side choices with the bounty hunter profession as I'm not used to thinking of them as the good guys. Eventually she just sort of evolved on her own, as certain conversation choices felt more in line with her morality choices than others.

View more screenshots of Tamsin on my Google+ page!

Character Bios

One of the many things I love about SWTOR is that it feels like an RPG. In past MMOs I never bothered to really develop any of my characters. I only rarely delved into the land of role-playing so there wasn't a need. Although I had many alts they all seemed to have the same story, and a similar personality. They would visit the same old haunts and participated in the same kind of activities. They were more like an extension of myself than fictional characters. With SWTOR, all that changed.

Thanks to the morality system I was forced to make a choice - who would this character be? Would she be neutral evil, would she be chaotic good, perhaps lawful neutral? Thanks to the conversation options each character began to develop a unique voice. I started to wonder why each character made the decisions she did. Since in most instances they would make choices (both alignment and flavor wise) I would never make, they started turning into true fictional beings rather than an extension of myself.

As such I believe it is fitting to write a short biography for each of them, explaining why they make the choices they do. I intend to stick to a M-W-F posting schedule, so you should see the first one this afternoon and then the next on the 11th.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Someone Kidnapped my Fiance!

After adventuring on Belsavis my Bounty Hunter Tamsin returned to her ship to find her fiance had gone missing. According to Mako (another one of her companions), Torian had gone to visit a friend at a cantina. Thinking it was unlike him to run off with out her, she tried to contact him via holo with no luck. Suddenly someone else came through the line and and announced that they had kidnapped him! If she ever wanted to see him again, she better go to Hoth. And quick. Anybody able to kidnap a Mandalorian isn't someone to be messed with.
During the quest's duration he cannot be summoned
nor is he present at his normal spot on the ship.
This quest caught my eye because the fact that my BH is courting Torian actually affects the conversation options. My IRL husband is leveling a BH with me so I can see the difference between his dialog choices and mine. Tamsin is able to wonder if the "friend" he went to meet is actually another women with marked jealously,  while my husband asks the same question more approvingly. The way Mako responds to the question is also vastly different. The kidnapper makes jabs at my character, saying her actions will prove whether she believes Torian is husband material, whereas he obvious says no such thing to my husband. Prior to this it seemed whether my BH courted him or not only affected my conversations with him, so it is refreshing to see it affects the broader game as well. This just adds to the replayability of the game, which I think is a very fine thing indeed.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Sister, The Sith

My youngest sister (Sierra, 12) has a learning disability which makes playing some games more of a challenge for her. Thankfully due to SWTOR being almost completely voiced over she doesn't have to deal with her biggest challenge, reading, quite as much as she does with other games. I try and play with her just the same, since she enjoys it more that way anyhow. We also set her up with vent so we can talk easily when we aren't physically together.

She had been leveling a Jedi Consular on Sith Wrym where my Republic alts are, but last night I convinced her to give the Empire another try. Her first character in the game was a Sith Inquisitor but she quickly gave it up because she said the teachers were too mean. =P However most of my friends are on Empire and I was tired of choosing to play with them or to play with her, so with promises of pink Twi'leks I dragged her over.

I'm so proud!
She quickly picked up the SI she abandoned originally, and decided upon her character's morality. If people are nice to her, she's nice to them. If they don't speak English (or common or whatever) and she can't read what they say fast enough, she just assumes they were mean and responds accordingly. =D Before we knew it we were off to rescue her first companion!

And then my silly husband decided it was time for bed. =/

She was able to stay up a little bit later and made it all the way to the fleet before calling it a night. Unfortunately for her, she wasn't sure which Advanced Class she should pick. She asked my mother, but she is as we say... technologically challenged... and told poor Sierra to pick the wrong one. So now instead of a ranged lighting-shooting DPS her character is a double-bladed melee DPS. She's away this weekend at a funeral, so being the kind, wonderful, older sister that I am I promised to level her up a new one if I could. This time I'll make sure to be there for all the big, unchangeable decisions.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Cool guys don't look at explosions
One of the things I love about MMOs is taking screenshots. I don't even know how many I took in WoW, but sadly my computer fried and I lost them all. So far I've posted all my favorites to this G+ photo album, and will probably continue to do so as well as posting them here. Thankfully Google does a much better job of upholding the pictures' integrity than Facebook does, so if I ever lose these I can just re-download them!

Companion Affection: What It Does and How to Get It

Cross-posted from Force Junkies.

As players travel around the galaxy, chances are they will notice their companions’ reactions to conversation choices. These reactions are presented as a score termed Affection, but what exactly does it do? What if a companion hates the players choices? Companions can seem just as confusing as real world people, but it doesn’t take much to crack their code and find the answers.

Companion affection can effect game play in several ways which have varied appeal to different play styles. Crafters will notice that as their companion’s affection goes up, they become more efficient at crew skills. Companions will complete missions and craft items approximately 1% faster for every 750 affection they’ve gained. It’s been mentioned that affection also increases a companion’s crit chance or decreases their failure rate, but so far this has not been confirmed.

Affection also unlocks new conversations with companions, which can then be used to increase affection even more. Players wanting to romance their companions will be able to through these unlocked conversations. The conversations award experience and occasionally result in a companion specific quest, so they are valuable for non-role play reasons as well. Summoned companions let you know when they want to talk to you through a symbol on the top left of their icon. Otherwise there will be a mission offer symbol above their heads the next time you visit your ship. Companions will only talk to you in a “safe place”, which to them means a rest area.

When conversations become available is not only dependent on affection, however. Each conversation requires players to be at a certain part of their class story before it unlocks. Players who have increased their companion’s affection significantly may find they have several conversations waiting for them after reaching a story milestone. Increasing affection rapidly may have the same effect for players who have not reached the conversation cap for their part of the story.

There are two main ways of gaining affection with companions currently, one of which is a little more straightforward than the other. As a player engages in conversation with NPCs certain responses will garner affection gains, while others with result in losses or no change at all. Each companion has their own individual set of likes and dislikes which determines how they will respond to conversation choices. Thankfully Bioware has provided us with a cheat sheet known as the Codex. Each companion has their own page within the Persons of Note section which lists what sort of conversation responses they like or dislike. If a player hasn’t fleshed out a personal back-story for their character it is easy enough to follow those guidelines and increase their companion’s affection. This provides a slower if more steady gain than giving gifts.

Some players will quite understandably not want to bend to their companion’s will when it comes to their personal story, and thus find themselves with a negative affection rating (or a lower one than they would like). These players can still enjoy all the perks of a high affection rating by giving their companions gifts. There are several vendors within the game that sell companions gifts, or players can obtain them by having their companions run missions. This is more expensive than the conversation method, but can also provide higher affection gains faster.

Like conversation options each companion is partial to some gift types more than others. Companions are likely to react to gifts in one of four ways: indifferent (no gain), like (small gain), love (medium gain) or favorite (high gain). At this point there are no gifts which can result in an affection loss. Unfortunately, this information is not provided in the codex. Some of them are self explanatory and easily figured out while others require a little trial and error. Those not interested in figuring it out themselves can find the information they seek on a few fansites already. Flesh Eating Zipper has provided a list in alphabetical order by class, then chronological order by companion. has theirs set up as a table. Both links contain spoliers so browse with caution.

Each gift also has a rank which corresponds with your current affection level. Players who have affection level 3 with their companion will see a smaller gain from a rank 2 gift than a rank 3 or higher of the same type. Additionally affection gained is determined by the quality of the gift, which follows the traditional green, blue, purple color scheme. If combined with a matching or higher rank, purple favorite items can provide huge amounts of affection at once. For example, I was able to get 230 affection by giving one of my companions the Electrum Commitment Ring. It would take quite a few conversations to earn the equivalent.

Alignment Specific Pets and You

Cross-posted  from Force Junkies.

One benefit of choosing the Light Side or Dark Side is the availability to purchase vanity pets. Each fleet houses both a LS and DS vendor who sells one pet each for 25,000 credits. All Light Side players will be able to purchase a Little SandCrawler from their vendors, regardless of whether they have aligned themselves with the Empire or Republic. On the other side of the spectrum Dark Side players can acquire an Interrogation Droid. To purchase either pet players will need to reach tier III, which is +/- 4000 points.

Once purchased players can use the item in their inventory, which imports the pet from the item into the general tab of their abilities page From there players just have to click on the correct tooltip and the pet will be summoned. This system will allow players to carry around all their pets without sacrificing inventory space.

While it is necessary to have a certain number of LD/DS points to purchase the pets, it is not necessary to maintain that tier. Once used the pet can still be summoned even if you change alignments. As you see in the screenshot below, the pet is still out even after I’ve dropped below +4000 points to tier II. It should be possible to obtain both the LS and DS specific pets with a little time and dedication.

Click for Larger Image

Micro Transactions from a Completionist Point of View

(Reposting from my old blog Jaliyah's Journeys - original post date 10/28/11)

Micro transactions are always a hot debate among gamers. As far as I can tell there seem to be five different philosophies concerning them, some of which are better from a collectors standpoint than others. The five are:

  1. No micro transactions whatsoever
  2. Only character changes (sever change, name change, etc)
  3. Character changes and vanity items
  4. Everything but "pay to win" items
  5. Anything goes
As far as the first one is concerned, I'm not 100% sure the people claiming this philosophy are being serious. It seems odd to me that people would be against letting others change which server their character is on, but maybe they see that as a tool for trolls? I know trolls have been known to switch servers or change their name after the server gets wise to their follies, although I'm not sure how common that is. If trolls are indeed the reason for this belief then I can't say there is anything wrong with this viewpoint. In my experience though people who say this often are not including character changes in their definition of micro transactions, so they actually mean number two. 

As someone who has never had occasion to change anything about my character through micro transactions, I'm not quite comfortable saying there is no need for them. I'm an altoholic so I have no problem re-rolling if my server dies or whatever, but I recognize some people detest the leveling process and make good use of these services. Since I don't want to take this ability away from those who use it responsibility this is my personal point of view.

The most popular belief I've seen is that there is nothing wrong with selling vanity items, as "that doesn't take anything away from the game" or "those items aren't competitive". I personally find this to be a very ignorant point of view. Some people seem to find it hard to empathize with people who have an alternative play-style. For those who are completionists it does take something away from the game. It forces people to spend more real world money to play the way they want to. They either have to sacrifice having the whole set or give in to paying the micro transaction fee. This I have a real problem with. Concerning TOR, I also have a problem with the CE Store for this very reason. I understand why games include one in game item in the CE, as a way to represent their real world items in the game, but one item really ought to be enough. I wouldn't have an issue with it if the items were BOE rather than BOP but that is not likely to be so. That would also have it's own problems as CE owners would then have an in game advantage when it comes to earning credits. Either way I think the CE store was a bad idea and I hope they move away from similar things when it's expansion time. 

The forth idea includes everything the third does, plus other helpful items that can also be found in game such as health potions. The idea behind this I suppose is that those who have more time have the advantage over those who don't, and this evens it out a bit (as long as those without time also have extra cash). This I can understand. It's something I could actually get behind as long as all the items in the store, including vanity items, are replicas of those found in game. This would help out those who just want Shiny Pet X without forcing completionists to spend real world money. Sounds like a pretty decent compromise. 

The "Everything Goes" mindset is one I think most people hope will stay confined to the realm of F2P games, but there are a few who don't mind them in subscription based games as well. Quite honestly I'm not sure what their reasons are so I won't comment on that. Since I don't care about progression this is not something I'm ideologically opposed to, as long as it follows the "everything in the store is available through other means in game" rule of the forth idea. However I recognize that people who do care about progression are against it so I would not support it.

Why SWTOR is Better Than a Single Player RPG

(Reposting from my old blog Jaliyah's Journeys - original post date 10/20/11)

Going through all the new SWTOR articles after the embargo drop, I kept seeing the same question in the comments: "Why should I pay $15 a month for essentially a single player game?"

Simply, for a persistent world. Even if you play it mostly single player there is still something to be gained just from it being a persistent world. It can stop being just a game and start to feel like a real RPG where your character matters to you. Even if you decide not to participate in any group content, you will still have experiences with other characters who are not NPCs. This brings a certain level of unpredictability into the game that is just not possible with actual single player games. You can find a social guild and meet other people to share your experiences with even if you choose not to PVP or raid. People who can help you find that last elusive datacron, or suggest a fun path for your next alt.

Speaking of alts, due to this persistent world all your characters exist at the same time. This means that they can help each other out. You can create a whole crafting business by yourself, allowing you to become self-sufficient. An advantage SWTOR has over other MMOs is that your companions on one character can continue their crafting missions while you play another, which I assume will lead to less downtime. You can also transfer funds in between characters which is extremely helpful in most MMOs.

And then, of course, there is the patches. Tell me, pessimistic commenter, can you play KOTOR for 10+ hours a week for a year straight? If you can I would be very surprised. You aren't just paying a sub for the persistent world but also for the almost endless amount of content (at least if they end up with near the amount of content WoW has). Even playing mostly single player you will have so much to do and so many options it should keep you busy for a while. I have never been a raider or a PVPer. Most of my enjoyment in MMOs comes from exploring and collecting. I managed to enjoy WoW for years without ever stepping foot into a current raid (although I did participate in non-raid dungeons and old raids). I have seen no indication that SWTOR should be any different, in fact it seems even more solo friendly.

Most video games are going to run you between $20-50. Lets pretend you normally get a new game every other month. Now let's say that instead of purchasing these games you play SWTOR for 6 months. Total cost of SWTOR: $138 (including the cost of the standard edition + 6 month sub). Total you would have payed otherwise: $120- 300. So at best you save over half your money and at worse you spend an extra $18. So you see, there is really no reason you should let the sub cost keep you from playing.