Category Archives: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Still More SWTOR

So far as play time in SWTOR goes, not too much to report.  I decided to go back to my “main” of my Trooper and just keep working on him for a while.  Since he’s a Cybertech, the item mods he can make will be a big help to all my other toons as they level, so it seems to make sense.  Plus. . .TBH, the Trooper simply feels stronger due to all its AE damage options that the other toons all lack, plus I’m spec’d Combat Medic so I can just send in my pet and keep the pet healed for the fights vs Gold or even Champion mobs.

I’ve got the Trooper up to Tatooine now, but unlike the Shadow, I’m actually running around exploring the map and finding random 1-off quests here and there as well as a ton of quest hubs out in the hinterlands.  I’ve even stumbled into the “Imperial Area” in the south of the map.  As a result of all this, I’m now level 31 on a planet designed to take you from level 24-28.  I’ve also got my harvesting skill of Scavenging maxed out for the planet too — any node I find is gray and doesn’t improve it.  Which is fine — it just means I’m gathering lots of stuff to use to actually make things and level up the crafting skill, after all.  So there’s the gameplay update.  Happy happy joy and all of that.

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Something that’s been cropping up a lot in blog posts and on the SWTOR forums is that a lot of people are complaining of “missing features” and bugs and whatnot.  The typical “fanboi” response is “Well compared to WoW’s launch this is pretty good.”  To which a rejoinder is made “But it’s competing with WoW *now* not WoW-at-launch.”  And then it goes from there in the back and forth with both sides talking past enough other.

I think what’s really going on is that “everyone” has a list of features in their head, probably not even consciously, that an MMO *should* have, and when a new game comes out that’s missing some of those features it makes them go “OMG this is crap!” and then go flame on the forums about what a crappy game it is that doesn’t have this “basic feature” that *all* MMO’s have.

I can see these people’s point — games released now are expected to be on par with other games, regardless of how many years head start the other game may have.  But on the other hand, the devs have only got so many resources to use for development before their investors/backers say “Get it out the door and start recouping costs here!”  So of course they have to prioritize and make sure you have all the *essential* features their game needs to fill their vision, and then the “quality of life” or “fluff” features can come later, while enduring the whining of the gamers that say “This other game that made billions of dollars and thus had a ton of resources to make this feature 5 years after it launched and everyone loved it so now any new game coming out has to have this feature at launch or else it’s a sucky game!”

Even worse is that I’m one of them.  There are several “missing” things that make me shake my head and go “What were they thinking launching the game without this?”  Of course, since I’m enjoying the game and can live without these “missing” features, it does show them to be non-essential and thus left out due to that priority list that the devs must have, so. . . yeah.  I’m sure over time more and more features will be added, and the game can only improve from here.

This takes me to another point:  There are a ton of bugs.  I’m not going to try to list them all off here, there are simply a ton.  And IMO, it’s better for BioWare to squash the bugs and also to get the interface and combat to have a nice smooth snappy feel to it before anything else.  If they get the actual gameplay is to where it should be, and then focus on the “quality of life” stuff, I think that’s the path that will make their players/customers happiest, even if the customers are whining more about the “missing” features than anything.

Another week of TOR

So in the past week I’ve found that a lot of the “playing in molasses” feeling of TOR is directly related to a bug in the display settings that shows you as playing where you’ve set them, but in actuality has you locked in at the maximum settings possible.  The fix for that is easy — just use the “preset settings” drop-down to change to something different than what it shows, then apply, then change it back, or to where you want it, or whatever.  I also found places where people have tweaked their settings in an ini file and reported great success in increasing framerates and appearances.  I’ve monkeyed a little with that, but not too much.  Seems I need to do so some more though, as my character models show a pretty universally gray skin color anymore, rather than the tones I’ve set for them.    So, there will be that done.  Eventually.  It really doesn’t distract me from playing too much, after all, so I’ve not bothered to exit out, do some tweaks, then restart to see how it went.

In the past week or so, my Sage made it to level 21 and is working her way through Taris now.  And the consular I made with the joking intent of going Shadow and being a “tank in a bikini” (due to the social clothing) has apparently become my main character.  I say “apparently” since I still think of my Trooper as my main, even though the Shadow is not only higher in level (28 vs 26) but has also gone farther into the story, having just completed her story arc on Tatooine (though still having the bonus series to do) while the Trooper’s still working on the Red Light section of Nar Shadaa.

Scary thing about all of this was that the Shadow finished up Coruscant at level 20, got level 21 from the initial run through of the space missions, then went to Taris, but I got bored there since I’d just done those quests on the Sage, so I went to Nar Shadaa “level appropriate” instead of having massively over-leveled it.  It made it so there was a little bit of challenge every so often, instead of always breezing through every quest.  And Nar Shadaa is also where you buy the “slave dancer bikini” social gear, so I was already there to buy it anyway.  But anyway, the “scary thing” was that I hadn’t intended to play this toon much at all, much less let it “take over” so to speak.

And in case you wonder, yes, I do get a lot of funny comments when I join a group as a tank and am running around looking like this screenie to the left here.  But I also have kept my mods up to date and blue as much as possible, so I have the best stats of any tank in my level range that I’ve seen — often having 20-30% higher hp than same-level Jedi Guardians.  So it works out 😉

Overall, I think the Sage is probably the stronger soloer of the 2, since I can control when my tank pet gets healed and how well.  Getting the healer pet on Nar Shadaa was a big help for the Shadow, but sometimes his healing still seems a little lackluster, so while much of the time I feel like I’m wearing an unbreakable forcefield, there are also times then my health drops pretty precipitously, and what should be simple fights vs 4-5 mobs sometimes end up with a death.  No idea why I seem to take a ton more damage at times than others either.  Sometimes a “strong” (silver) mob seems to do more damage to me than an “elite” (gold) mob.  Go figure.

Since I’ve gotten my grapshic settings tweaked around and the game feels a lot more snappy as a result, my only real complaint now is the horrible UI.  Sure, there’s still a bit of the “molasses” feeling, but it’s far less noticeable now.  Hopefully UI customization and/or mods will be available soon.

And finally, to close — when I saw the Hutt and I was there in a dancer outfit, it became a moral imperative to take this screenshot:

Happy Gaming!

More TOR

No posting on TOR in a while since I’ve been at home on vacation the past 10 days or so and why post when I can play?

Things progress apace.  My alt-itis is already in full stride, so while my Trooper is up at level 26 now, I’ve also got a level 16 Jedi Sage and a level 15 Jedi Guardian working their way through Coruscant as well.

I’m enjoying the game overall.  My only real gripes are:

  • The UI is atrocious.  The inability to move elements of it around other than the chat windows is extremely fail.  Add in  that moving the chat window is a bad idea becuz then it will overlap the other non-movable windows, and well… there you go.  I also need more space in my hotbars.  My Trooper’s 26 and both bottom bars are completely full, with all my buffs and such over on the right, and the left reserved for the companion bar.  I do have some spaces open on the right, but new skills that I’ll use need to be in the bottom bars.  Of course, I can’t recall the last time I used a few skills, so I could free up a bit of space by removing them, I suppose.
  • I’ve mentioned this briefly before, and seen others complaining about it now also and they’re calling it “feedback.”  I called it “feels like I’m playing in molasses.”  (If you follow the link, scroll down to section 3) Clicking an instant causes the mobs to respond instantly, but you still have to wait for your animation to run, then the thing’s travel time before the mobs are actually affected by what you’re doing.  Clicking a 2nd skill to queue it up while a cast-time spell is going will result in the cast-time skill NOT firing off at the end of its bar, restarting the bar, firing off about 2.3 of the way through, and then it’s a toss-up if your queued skill will actually fire off or not.  Which kinda then goes back to the UI stuff — there’s no visual indicator on the UI if you’ve got a skill successfully queued or not, so quite often you’ll click a skill to queue it and then . . . nothing until you click it again.  Sometimes you get an error saying you clicked to early (another annoyance — if I can queue it I should be able to always queue it.  I’ve got the queue length set to the maximum 1.0 seconds, but with a 1.5 second GCD, it’s still easy to click too fast), but often you just get nothing while you just stand there.
  • Crafting is actually pretty pointless.  Cybertech makes Earpieces which I don’t find easily any other way, but its bread and butter is mods.  Guess what you get on the commendations vendor (and commendations drop like candy)?  Yeah. .. no reason to make mods.  Biochem makes Implants, but anything else (stims and medpacks) really aren’t necessary.  I made myself a nice Willpower+Power stim to use on my Sage and I noticed absolutely no difference whether I was using it or not.  Made an armormech thinking it’d be nice to be able to outfit my companions instead of dinking around with drops or on the “Galactic Trade Network” but you can’t make full sets.  Not in the early levels, anyway.  Just belts and boots to start, then add in some gloves later.  It’s just silly.

That said, I’m having a blast checking out the various playstyles.  Deleted a few of the characters I’d made and showed in the prior post, and then turned around and made more.  Currently I’ve got 6 characters on Sanctum of the Exalted, and they’re all on the Republic side.  I’ll get around to the Sith stories eventually, but for now I’m simply Republic.

Something I am doing as a sort of “proof of concept” is that I made 2 female Consulars 1 to be Sage and 1 to be a Shadow and at level 11 I bought the moddable “Social Clothing” for them and I’m simply upgrading the mods (from the commendation vendor) on them as I level up to see if it’s a viable thing to do.  I’ve only leveled the Sage so far, but … it’s working quite well.  She’s not quite upgraded everything to the max that you can on Coruscant, but I’m only 1 or 2 mods away from that now and, well. . . . . . grouping up for Heroic Missions (3+ commendations per mission, after all) and having 20-30% higher HP than the tank… and then ending up tanking it myself anyway since my dps output is high enough to pull it away.  Yeah, seems to be working quite well.  Admittedly, these tanks have been level 13 so don’t have their tanking stances yet, so that will probably help them out once they get there.

But enough of my yammering.  It’s time for the pretty pictures:

My Commando as he got his ship

Coruscant looks amazing from the roof

But not so nice in the lower levels

Taris is a ruined city world

Nar Shadaa is Vegas in Space!

The new Sage while leveling on Tython

The Sage after Level 11 with "Social Clothing"

Level 11 Heavy Armor looks good on a lizard

Happy Gaming!

SWTOR Day 3 and a Little Rifting too

So last night I began to play my Trooper in earnest, since all the alts are now logged out in cantinas where I want them.  I didn’t play long since I was rather tired, but I got well into level 5 and completed the 1st early quest series and need to head out to the 1st remote quest hub.

Compared to the other starting worlds, I find Ord Mantell to be a bit lacking.  The quest hubs aren’t well designed, everything’s sprawling every which way. . . I’m running and running and running around endlessly.  Add to it that the combat animations are slooooooow and always have to go off 1st before the ability is actually tripped and I feel like I’m playing in molasses while on this world.

After completing that 1st series of quests in the main hub, I didn’t feel like running out to the next hub, as the completionist in me would feel compelled to finish those quests too and I was getting tired, so I logged out after a little over an hour.

Dyed Dark GrayI fired Rift up, since I’d gotten some new gear the other night that I’d told a friend about and he wanted to see the screenshots which I hadn’t taken.  Got in, took the screenies (see to the left for an example), had enough rested xp for a level, so figured I’d burn it out for about a half hour and see how far I got.

At the end of my time limit for myself, a guild group was going to run an instance and needed 1 more dps to fill the group, and I didn’t want to go to bed yet, so I joined up.  We ran the Fall of Lantern Hook and it took about 40 minutes overall.  Not bad considering it was the tank’s 1st time there.  I got my level in there too, so now my rogue is 44.  Only 6 more to go!

Since I was playing the 2 games juxtaposed so closely, I couldn’t help but compare how the combat felt.  Rift felt snappy and responsive, especially in comparison to SWTOR.  Rift tends to have the skills set as “hit the button, skill fires when the cast time is complete (instantly for instants)” and they’ve done an excellent job of having either an instant animation, or an animation that exactly matches the cast time of the skill.  Interestingly enough, there is 1 move that the rogue does that has a longer animation.  It’s an instant, and does fire off instantly, but it’s a huge swing of both swords way out to the sides, and it takes a little bit to pull back out of it.  This serves as a break in the flow of the animation and if the skill didn’t do so much damage I’d be tempted to take it out of the macro just so it wouldn’t have that clunky feel to it.  And that’s just with a long animation AFTER the skill fired off.

Now imagine that *every* skill felt like that but with the delay happening BEFORE the skill fired off.  And yeah, that’s how I feel in SWTOR.  Every skill (even the instant ones) still has some long-ass animation that has to play out before it applies the skill.  Exacerbating the clunky feel is that the mobs react as though they got hit instantly by your decidedly non-instant skill.

So. . . for now, at least, I find myself preferring the SWTOR “4th pillar” storytelling to Rift’s lore, but I vastly prefer Rift’s combat to SWTOR’s.  I did a short foray into the SWTOR forums and am finding similar complaints from others, so we’ll see if BioWare can improve on the feel of the combat as they move forward.  And I’ll continue to play both games, not exclude the one for the other.  Nothing says I can’t like them both, right?

SWTOR 2nd night

More of the same, really.  I got the other 3 alt toons up to level 4 or 5 and logged out in cantinas.  It was past midnight by this point, so I logged out and went to bed.  Tonight I begin playing my “main” in earnest.  The Sith Inquisitor got to level 5 simply by running through the Tomb of Ajunta Pall and then doing the initial quest in the Sith Academy, just as the Sith Warrior did.  The Jedi Consular got to level 4 on the way to the Jedi Temple, but doing the initial quest there only took me to about 4.5.  Seems like the Dark Side really is the easier path. . . .

I’d never done the Smuggler stuff before, so seeing how BioWare worked a “civilian operator” into the military-themed action on Ord Mantell was interesting.  I liked how they mentioned that the separatists had just hit a walker, since that walker being hit is how the Trooper story begins.  Too bad they couldn’t figure a way in the Trooper story to mention that the Separatists were over-running the hangar and stealing any ship in there that they could find.  Ah well, the meta reference was still fun regardless.

I didn’t really get any “action” screenies last night, but I did at least catch what my toons all look like as of now, so enjoy the “portraits.”