Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A look back at the SWTOR stress-test weekend

I sure hope Bioware got their servers stress-tested hard. Because I honestly did not feel much of it.
Sure there where some queues to get in queue to the servers. And one of the in-game stress tests of searching for lightsabers in the knowledge base, went kindda fubar, but other than that... wow. [No never use that word..] other than that... impressive.

The game itself
Looked amazing, felt great, and i did not for a second regret pre-ordering the big CE. As a matter of fact, I think I just might have to get two copies, because mrs. Dwism was very horrible to me, using her feminie wiles to secure the computer (and the game) almost what felt like the entire weekend. Almost.
It was incredible for a seasoned gamer and mmo'er for me to play, but almost just as gratifying to watch a game semi-newb like my wife, having a go at it. And watching her play, made something very clear to me:

This game will never beat wow, it was never meant to either, but it will never get the subscription-numbers that wow does. If it gets 15% of wow's max playerbase, I think the developers are thrilled.

Why? well this game is tailored for a very small and very specific playerbase: mmo gamers who care greatly about story and preferably love star wars. I don't think there are 10 million of us out there tbh. The starting zones are filled with these expectations about the players. You know what a quest looks like, you know how the accept quest - do quest - turn in quest - find sidequests, thing works. You know to be looking at your skills searching for the rotation/mechanics. You know to ignore things like "kinetic damage" and you care about what your answers to questions like "please show those flesheaters justice Jedi" will be and will do.
My wife, did not.

And she has played wow for many years. Some of the stuff above she did know. But as soon as that dialoque wheel turned up the first time, she was ready to turn the pc off. "If they want to tell me an epic story or an interesting story, then I want to know what *they* wanted to answer to these dialogues." She said, when I told her how fantastic it was that you got to decide for yourself what you wanted to say.
I had a hard time arguing with that.

And it wasn't just her. I had to spend way to long figuring out how where and when to select my advanced class. Not which class. But where the trainer was, at what level and how to find the guy who gave me the quest to get the advanced class options.
That is all fine and good, if you knew that at level 10 you had to look for a trainer. Non-mmo gamers won't know to look for that, and I honestly doubt that they will read that crummy little 'clues' scribble on the side. Because who bought *this* game to read quest-texts??

And after I finally managed to find the damned trainer for my Sith Warrior, and trainer the dualweilding talents. I spend a good 30 minutes looking for a vendor that would sell me a second lightsabre. Then I spend 20 minutes finally finding a forum post telling me to first: a) talk to trainer, b) look in mail and c) open inventory to find new item hidding within all those greys, that you can open for your second lightsaber.

That is not taking the player by the hand.

Perspective
Do I sound angry? I am not, I love this game. I am just coming to terms with the fact that this will most likely be a niche game. Thats fine too, as long as the xpacks won't suffer from it. It is just something we have to keep in the back of our heads, if you ask me. WoW was a great game in taking in new players and getting them to actually learn to play their game. From betas starting zones, this is not the same type of game.
I had my dad try it out. He is an old school Star Wars fan, so he wanted to play as Han Solo (ofc, my mom loves Harrison Ford), it started of great! While I was cooking dinner he threw himself at it.

Histoy lesson; my dad bought me my first Super nintendo, and gameboy. Later playstation 1. And we played loads of games together. he isn't one of those "lets sit grandpa in front of the pc and laugh" types. So when he gave up after 5 minutes, because they where shooting at him, and he coulnd't aim at them (think he thought that since they had blasters it was a shooter), I knew. This game is not for beginners. It is for Gamers.

For us gamers, and those beginners with patience and a drive to get to learn it dammit, it is a great game. It just won't suck you in after 5 minutes of gameplay like one certain other mmo.

Before we get to stuff I like 
And while we are at the whinging: WHY oh why did you have to put light/dark requirements on my gear?
There was a great post on the beta tester forum, that summed up said: Why did you do this? min-max players will skip dialogue, quests and story will not be important. Again.
I cannot kill this npc who rubs me the wrong way, because then I won't have light 5 and I won't be able to wear my belt.
FU... count to ten.
All of a sudden your character goes from being either a) an extension of yourself in the star wars universe or b) the type of character to want to be in the star wars universe to this: I don't care about what they are talking about. Just give me my damn light-side/dark side options and points.

This is horrible. This is why I won't raid. Please don't keep this in game. I want my character to only chose dialogue options based on what my character wanted to say or do, NOT because otherwise his boots will suddenly fall of.
Horrible.
Can't we change this? How about one one type of boot exist, but it changes looks depending on how many ranks in dark/light you have. You know, as a reflection of your action instead? It is so easy to solve. Why do Bioware insist on keeping it this way? /sadpandaface

Also, can't we do something about dialogue wheels? How about if you mouseover an answer you get the whole thing, your character is going to say? Too many times in beta did I click something and he said something else. As the best of my recollection one options read: "It might be dangerous for you" and what my goodietooshooe inquisitor said was: "If you oppose me, I'll kill you." ... Yea not really what I wanted to say there really. I was hoping more of the protection sort of way that it could be read. So mouseover and I see the whole thing.
Then you can not do it, when you do not care all that much. Just a thought.

Allright good stuff
This is sort of good in a bad way, but I loved way too many classes to ever justify having a life. I want to see all the stories. I want to see all the places. The weekends biggest video (starfleet Dentists, how I love thee) was one of the things that got me hyped the most. Look at those locals. I want to go there. I want to live and play in this game. Target of target will come very soon. So will addons. Don't worry. Everything will be fixed later. Classes will get fixed so that they are all equally powered. But those locals, are set, and they are awesome. The story is set, and it is awesome.
I bet right now, actors are voicing the next two expansions. Ever thought about that? And we don't even know what the emperor looks like.

For me, this is looking to be an incredibly great game. I love story, I care about lore, I am a mmo veteran. Even at one point I raided at a semi-top level. I've been there, I want that joy again. And star wars seem to bring it.

Biggest problem I have is ristricting myself to one toon at first, and hopefully only 3 in the end. But what order?
Trooper first! I think


If you are on the fence about this game. Please note at the things I am getting upset about. Gear and dialogue-misunderstandings. and none are even major issues in those areas. Conversations DO work. It's just that sometimes not how I wanted them to. Maybe that is actually real life for you right there. You want to tell your prisoner that you fear his life is in danger, and all he hears is "ill kill you" hmm.

But please, fix dark side/ light side ranked gear. Because that sucks.


December 16 see ya'll there (or later)





















Friday, November 25, 2011

Our goal in this weekends beta-test for #swtor - pound those servers

As our kind and generous overlords at Reddit points out, it is important to keep our eyes on the main goal of this weekends beta-test: To pounce on the servers, and hit em hard. The harder the beating they take, the better the actual launch will be (that is my summaries of this text ... that has since been [deleted] for reasons I don't get... Anyway I think the point is solid, the more we bang on the servers, the more Bioware can get good data on the stress launch will cause em, and give them a chance to make launch as smooth as possible.

Here are the talking points as I remember them
 * If you are stuck at authentication or cannot log in. Don't give up. Keep retrying to log in. bang hard on the door, and keep banging
* Report lag, even if it seems obvious, they need to know where the lag-spots are (I acn imagine that the first trading post will be a tough spot all weekend
* Don't log out, ever. Be cruel to them, they harder we are now, the better launch (where it really matters)
* But be forgiving, this is a beta-stress-test NOT a "let me see if this is a game i'll buy" -test. That means that lag will happen, you will disconnect and spend many hours doing so. If you are going to judge a game on those terms you are too stupid to game. Turn off PC, go sit in a corner. Please.


In summary, be happy if you can't log in and keep disconnecting. You are helping to ensure that it won't happen when the game launches.

Be happy that you won't be able to game... yea it's a weird cookie to swallow, but I know it is a mantra i'll keep telling myself over and over and over, when I disconnect or lag or or or.

Happy Betaweekend

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Talent calculator for the trooping tank

Not knowing anything other than a) what abilities do and b) what the talent calc looks like, I've decided to go out where the ice is at it's thinnest and make this build for mah

Shield specialist Vanguard Trooper

If you are not planing to roll trooper the torhead calculator is a great place to toy around with talents for your class/specc - of all the calculators I've seen (three) this one is my personal favorite. Polish is polish, and it looks so very much like the Wowhead calculator im used to (go figure)


Monday, November 21, 2011

How to spend yor time in beta the best way (for yourself)

So let's disregard the main reason we are all going to play beta: stresstesting servers and finding bugs, so launch will be fantastic!
And let us pretend that we are also selfish beings. What is the best way you could spend this weekends beta the best way possible?

Here are my answers to that:

Find your class/race combo

adaram is here to help you out

For those wondering about #SWTOR class/race options. It's not pretty, but it gives you the information from the beta. http://t.co/2bJMlpLS 1 hour ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Find out what your main will look like, copy down those face/hair/tatoo ect scale numbers (aka face type 3, hair style 17, body size 15 ect ect)

Give the classes you are interested in a go! Remember, dps/tps/hps doesn't matter, numbers can be tweaked easily.
For me, Ill be looking at how two tanking classes are feeling. Do I prefer the Jedi knight or the Troopers way of engaging mobs and controlling the battlefield. At least I hope to get an initial idea of where I want to start.

Remember that there is something called mirror-classes There is no need to ruin the story for yourself, if you are looking at the Bountyhunter, roll a trooper. If that Jedi sage is looking like awesomesauce, try out the sith Inquisitor. No need to spoil anything you do not have to.

stuff I liked since nda got lifted (swtor links)

In no particular order:
Outlaw's den

The very unofficial trailer/teaser of the Smuggler... colour me interested! Second class I'll roll now. Hot diggety

Legacy system (all my waking hours are dedicated to finding a great legacy name.. So far: hasaboner, I chose that in order to motivate myself to finding a truly epic one, knowing that otherwise all my toons will have a boner)

Justin.tv's streams. Some bad some great, but boy did I spend many an hour this weekend watching.

The fact that Im now downloading the game for this weekend!!

http://www.torhead.com/ nuff said

Also r2db ( http://r2-db.com/ ) is looking good, it didnt have the same bug, that torheads talent-calc have. However, you can tell that they are not as polished as the guys behind wowhead are. Its like chosing the polish of apple, versus the plentyfullness of andriod. I like both.

Edit: forgot the Red Rancor series of showing dungeons. Cannot wait for pt 3

pt1 of the awesomeness that is directive 7 

part 2 starts kicking things into gear 

and pt 3... is here nau

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Short news: beta weekend confirmed for 25th-28th

http://twitter.com/#!/SWTOR/status/137114739221340160



What more to say?
Oh, yea i'm getting more and more confused as to what class I'll roll.
Now I'm up to 3: smuggler healer or trooper tank or Jedi knight tank. Must be a positive sign.
Hopefully this weekend will help me a little bit to decide, because i am CERTAIN that a stress test doesn't mean constant lagging and chrashing server. Never ever ever


UPDATE
No real update... yet


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Faction change in SWTOR...? unpossible

The people want what they want. And my people (the massive 3 of em in my swtor-guild) want to play Republic.
And since those who insisted we went Empire, or they would not play, have decided not to play either way, we did a quick poll and the votes where in two camps: "I couldn't care less" and "immagoodguyyesREPUBLIC" (my paraphrasing).
So that part was easy. Then came the harder part. faction changing on the website. Could not be done. So I had to delete our guild, created on guild-launch-day, and make a brand new guild with the same name. And the same people. Only, Now I'm set to be a trooper with a really really big... gun



That got me thinking, should old friends decide to stop, and new friends emerge who where Empire, what could I do? In many other games (wow), there is an option to pay some money, and change to the other factions mirror class (or same class for the other faction) - in swtor, that option seems to not only not available, but it does not seem to even be considered.

Q: Can you have a Twi'lek dancer in your starship?
 Daniel Erickson: No, but if you have the CE, you can have a holo of a Twi'lek dancer in your starship.
 Q: Faction change?
Daniel Erickson: NO.

 I intentionally left in the question just before the one about faction change to show how they usually answer a (more or less dumb) question politely and calmly, every question except the faction change one. NO.

This makes sense. This game is not WoW, it is not aimed at people who could care less about story, factions, morale-questions. The crowd who only want to play the game and have fun, are welcome, but it is not catered to them. At least not how I read this.

This is not a game that aims to please as many people as possible, this is a game that wants to tell 8 character specific stories and 1 grand story-arc in the most exciting time in the star wars universe; the time of the old republic. And I hope to the higher powers that I'll only get to play with people who get this.


Think back to the first Old republic game, some parts of the game-play was sub-par, some things where downright frustrating. Same can be said about the Dragon Age games or Mass Effect (DUNEBUGGY YOU*LL BE THE DEATH OF ME), but the story made you keep going.
This is what is being attempted to be made into an mmo. Every Operation, every Flashpoint, every Scenario plays a part in that grand story Arc. (Okay, so Huttball probably pays a smaller part than some of the other scenarios, granted.)

And I do hate. I really really do

For me, this means three things: I'll get to play a Trooper with a really really big gun, and that trooper, will never become a bounty-hunter. Unless I start anew with a bounty-hunter with a frikking flamethrower.. and I just might.
It also means something else; It means that even though I won't have time to grind out gear, or spend weeks raiding to see end game content, I can still feel a purpose in leveling a new toon, because the leveling has a point of it's own, and not just to get to endgame where the real game starts, asap. I love that.

But thirdly, it also means that, for now, I'll have nightmares about the general chat being clustered with old wow-players going "why do I have to kill that guy, lol" "where am I supposed to go nau?" "NO I didn't see the cinematic im trying to get to max level fast, not lol about in n00b zone plox"... /sigh
If I'm lucky they will all roll super evul bad guy Sith, and leave me and my Trooper the hell alone.