Even In Death, WAR can’t be bothered to PvE

Remember how Mythic/Bioware/EA promised power ups for characters to enjoy the last month that they were giving away free?

From the forums:

I have seen players asking about that NPC in /advice so I will just post some info here.

First of all – its NOT power up NPC that offer anything unique or give u some high renown character with gear, gold, mounts etc. Also nothing is for free – war crests is what u need in this case.

War crests are new currency (instead of medailons, insignias and emblems). U get it for rvr activities – killing players, locking zones, doing scenarios and as reward in keep loot bag.

NPC is located in t1 warcamps (Nordland).

It was the beginning of their death within the first two months of the game’s existence, and it continues to be a disappointment right up until the last day. I wonder if WAR might have been successful if they had spent a little more time delivering the MMORPG they promised, and a little less time delivering a glorified MOBA nobody wanted.

Sometimes Bad Is Good: Developer Edition

This will be a two parter, so venture back here tomorrow for the Player’s Edition.  But for now…


Its pretty clear that I’m not a big fan of Bioware at this point in my life.  And they have reeled drunkenly from failure to failure in a way that is almost gawkworthy.   The latest example I can give you is when I went to rename my characters for this past weekend.  I lost out on my first choice because, when you click a character to play that doesn’t have a name and it prompts you to rename, you’d think that you were being prompted to rename *that* character.  The one you just hit the big PLAY button for.  And you’d be wrong.




What I finally figured out I think was that it prompted a renaming process, in reverse order of character creation – in other words, starting with your newest creation and proceeding to your oldest.   In any case, my Jedi Knight ended up with my Sith’s name, and my Sith ended up with…well, about my 8th choice, because everything else was taken.


But when you are that bad, making sloppy mistakes left and right, sometimes, the mistakes actually work in the opposite direction.   Some of them can be hilarious, like when players realized with the new Bolster system in PVP taking into account gear scores, that it was actually better for them, statwise, to fight naked (for even more hilarity, that link is to the French players complaining/rejoicing).   Soon Nude PVP will be the wave of the future.  You can combine it with a dedicated Singles server for even more fun.  The creative side of me desperately wants to shoot a a cover video of Methods of Mayhem’s Get Naked video with Darth Vader taking Tommy Lee’s place, and perhaps the Emperor covering George Clinton’s part with a “Doin’ it Sith style” voiceover.


George knows whats up.


If you have no idea what I’m talking about – be glad.  I wouldn’t either, but working with teenagers sometimes introduces you to parts of live you would never have otherwise known about, lol!


Anyways, to get to the point – there are also times when messing up has an unintended positive consequence for the players – sometimes being bad is good.    Wargaming made a goof in the last update on the Russian servers with a shell price, and the end result was that some players ended up selling off a load of shells for ten times more than they had bought them for.  Instant profit!  But Bioware has to do everything better, so they messed up in real world econ, and I profited.   You are supposed to get 100 Cartel Coins a month for having a security key, right?   Check my ledger…


Again 2


Needless to say, those coins weren’t on my ledger for long.  I burned plenty this weekend, while I could.  Did it make up for all the Bioware fails to get a few extra Legacy perks and an account wide Unify Colors unlock?   Not really.  But it did make the weekend and the playtime more palatable.   I’d like to think it wasn’t a mistake, but rather some nice developer down in the vaults that read one of my posts and had a little “oops” with my account balance, but that’s just my glass-half-full side talking.  It only lasts until I unified the colors on my agent and found that my green chestplate produced some brown pants and a matching brown helmet.   I’d be mad, but since I got it for free…close enough, Bioware.  Close enough.

Counting My Cartel Coins

So, I have 100 of them.  I was fairly interested when TOR released the calculations for initials amounts of coins.  Being a Collector’s Edition person and a Six Month Subscriber mean I was going to get a slew of them.  Turns out the 1900 I was promised I only get if I subscribe again.


Still…I could sub up for $15, which would net me those 1900, plus 500 more complimentary with the sub.  Which is a nice bonus – 2400 coins normally costs $20, not $15.  So that’s not too bad, basically that boils down to in my case is: if you buy coins you get a one time disctount and a complimentary sub for a month as a thank you for being with us in the beginning.  I can live with that.  I also have 100 coins for my security fob – which I won’t complain about any more apparently…


Yet, this is TOR we are talking about here.  Bioware.  EA.  You know they have to have screwed it up somehow right?  I quickly realized there was no price list.  What am I going to get for my money?  Fortunately for Bioware, others have done the dirty work for them.   Assuming those prices are correct (the list is, what, six weeks old at this point)…I tried to figure out what would be on my shopping list:


Authorization: Crew Member Appearance – 325 Coins
Unlock: Additional Quickbar – 250 Coins
Unlock: Additional Quickbar – 250 Coins  (maxes my quickbars)
Customization Control: Hide Head Slot – 350 Coins
Customization Control: Unify Colors – 350 Coins
Customization Control: Display Legacy Name – 100 Coins


For those of you who aren’t math junkies, that comes to 1,625 Cartel Coins.  Not bad.  Especially since those Customization unlocks are one-time deals.  I assume that’s because of coding problems, or any sane F2P program would have made those per character and not per account.  Oh the irony, that the same hackneyed coding that caused this games downfall may also force choke its ability to generate F2P revenue!


Anyway, that would leave me 875 coins.   So then I look at my list of wants but don’t needs:

Major Experience Boost – 120 Coins for 1, 480 Coins for 5
Armor Pieces – 150 Coins each (Level 15), 325 Coins each (level 43)
Authorization: Artifact Equipment – 1200 Coins


The last one may not be necessary, I’d have to log in and check.  And then of course, I have to decide which two characters I’ll be using.  And in yet another fail, I don’t see that you can buy character slots yet.  That would be next on the agenda.


And then there are the things that I have no idea why you would buy:


Customization Control: Display Titles – 100 Coins
Legacy Perk: Improved Speeder Piloting – I/475, II/225, III/225
Weekly Pass: Warzone/Flashpoints/SpaceMissions/Operations – 240 Coins
Authorization: Event Equipment Requisition


The titles in the game were supbar, and since you could only get them by completing missions that everyone was completing – they weren’t really all that rare or unique.  The speeder thing is funny in that its a trap – sure it lets you unlock the speeder earlier – but do you have enough money for that?  I zeroed my cash balance out when I was finally high enough level to buy Piloting I, and I knew I would not hit the cash requirement for II by the required level.  Unless you have ways of making cash hand over fist….waste of money.  Same with the event equipment.  The one and only event I remember took so much pain and effort and awarded you only one piece of armor, which you may or may not have been able to use.  Gee thanks.  And the passes…well, if you want to do those on an unlimited basis, the sub is your ticket, and if not, you probably aren’t running dungeons five nights a week.


Overall, the one impressive money sink they did have was the medical droid.  Rezzing on the spot is a huge time saver, particularly if you are a solo player and don’t have someone to revive you.  At 100 coins a pop though…well, let’s just say its probably the best incentive to not die since corpse and item recovery circa 1999.


The real question here though, for me is this:  do I really want to dump another $20 into this game?  On the one hand, that will pretty much ensure that I can do what I want to do in TOR forever as I please, remaining F2P from here on out.  On the other hand…it wasn’t really a great game for me to begin with.  Maybe I should just take the 100 free Coins a month from my fob and call it even.



The End of a Gaming Era

Saying goodbye to SWTOR has not really been hard at all.  I’m sure I’ll be back when they make the transition to F2P, which seems more and more like a certainty with every passing day.  The fateful day for me is tomorrow, July 18th, when my sub goes dormant.  But there is a date which has caused me a good bit of sadness and melancholy as it approaches:  July 22nd.


You see, July 22nd is the day that my guild will turn off the lights and close and lock the doors for the final time.  Beskar has been one of the greatest guilds I have ever belonged too, and also marks the longest time I’ve ever been in one guild.  Beskar opened its doors back in 2008, if you can believe that, in preparation for the release of SWTOR, which back in those days was thought to only be a year or so away  (Looking at the timeline now, and having done some probing, I firmly believe that at that point in 2008, they were just starting technical development of the game).  I joined up in November of 2010, as the guild was getting ready to mark its two year anniversary, and was anxiously awaiting the promised release date of “Spring 2011.”  As it would turn out, I would be spending my first year in the guild with nothing to do in SWTOR *but* the guild!


Not that I minded.  Beskar had strict rules about being active and present, even before launch.  Be absent from the forums for a week and you were made inactive, two weeks and you were kicked.   Though no absolute posting policy was ever adopted, 50 posts a month was unofficially among those of us who were active considered a good “eyeball test” for making an effort to being an active part of the community.   I wish I had the server stats in hand to give you, but our guild, which mostly hovered around 50 people, carved out a wonderful little home for ourselves.  There was a lot of turnover, particularly as Bioware fumbled the ball  time and again before launch, and continued to back the game up (I wonder if this didn’t hurt launch sales and stability by the way.  I would say we lost 1-2 people per month who just flat decided it wasn’t worth the hell that Bioware was putting people through).   When the game launched, we had around 60 people, chomping at the bit!


Yet, within two months, we had begun bleeding members.  Revved up members who had been waiting three years at that point, lit into the content like a bat out of hell.  We had people who had level capped within a week, and spent the next seven chewing up dailies and pvp and maxing out crafting before realizing that Bioware had neglected to put together an actual world for people to explore, play, and -yes- even live in.


As of right now, we can barely scratch together a dozen members, and most of those are playing on the Republic side (we were an Empire only guild until Bioware belatedly announced that this would restrict your gameplay…) at levels so widely varying that its impossible to group or do content together.  So the guild leader, himself retired from the game, made the decision that it was time to close the doors.   And I am in 100% agreement.  The guild is not even a shadow of what it was a year ago.   And the irony, and the moral, of the story is this:


Every other guild I’ve been in has been killed by either another game, or by internal drama.   Beskar was killed by the game that its members was playing.


Just let that sink in a moment.


So…I will miss the people that I have spent the last two years getting to know so well.  Some of them are moving over to Guild Wars 2 together, some are sticking around in SWTOR for a while longer, one or two are headed to TSW, but the remainder are just….done with MMO’s in general.  That hurts all of us.


I think its appropriate that my guild leader for the last two years have the final word.   While I will miss individuals, I will also miss the environment  and home that Beskar provided me with.  And, like the leader, I know I will not be alone in that:


You might think I’m joking, but by early May, reports were coming in that the game had lost 400,000 subscribers.

So if there’s any saving grace in what was happening, it’s that we weren’t alone. We weren’t some strange mutant strain of gamer that obsesses over a game for years, then hates it as soon as it launches… it seems we had hundreds of thousands of other gamers, literally, who all thought the same thing, to keep us company. It’s an incredible statistic, isn’t it?


Writing from the website and post of his new GW2 guild, he reflects on what the loss cost us, and the hopes we still hold for the future.  But mostly, he is reflecting on the fact that Bioware, like Sony before them, managed not only to fail to deliver a top notch MMO (something that would be frustrating, but understandable), but managed also to kill communities.  Ouch.


To my Beskar vod’e – I wish you all the best in the future, and I hope that whatever game or guild you are headed too, it treats you well, as you deserve, because you are awesome people.


Mishuk gotal’u meshuroke, pako kyore!

Saying Goodbye to SWTOR

I have 5 days left on my sub at this point, and while I don’t have any regrets about my time in the game, or moving on to play The Secret World, I do have some disappointments.

When the game asked me for my reason for leaving, I could have given several:  playing another game, problems with running the game/graphics, dislike my character/game mechanics, etc.  But ultimately, I chose what was the last in a fairly long list:  game did not meet my expectations.

And ultimately, that’s all it is.  Its not a bad game.  But there’s a host of things that I was expecting or wanting that just aren’t there.  Things that ultimately have led, not to nerd-rage, but boredom and disappointment.

Basic Bugs –

There are still some pretty obvious bugs that just haven’t been addressed.  My characters in cut scenes still have no eyeballs.  That’s pretty telling on what is a key feature of a story driven game.   My agent’s best knife attack has a combat animation that is either incomplete or glitched, I’m not sure which.  The end result is that instead of driving a knife home two handed into the mob, it looks like he is doing a point blank hadouken.  Yes I know, I died a little inside when I realized there was a Wikipedia page for that as well.

Pacing and Story –

After my little interaction with the writer of the Agent storyline on the official forums, I thought I was getting an Iain Banks style spy novel.  A character equally comfortable going undercover with a knife as strapping on some body armor and using a gun.   As we’ve repeatedly joked about throughout the game though, I got precious little Cheradenine Zakalwe and a sad abundance of the cheesiest form of James Bond possible.

Of course I’m a Jedi, darling. Come over here and I’ll show you my lightsaber.

Space Combat  and Alternative Options-

I initially defended the tunnel shooter minigame – I thought it was a nice nod to the original arcade games and a fun little diversion.  Until I realized that it was static.  The attacks, the placement of the fighters and the shots they take – all programmed, with no randomness.   Add to that how few missions there really were and…well, its like playing on an Atari 2600, but without the nostalgia.  At least add some modern refinement to the old warhorse if you are going to trot it out.  And that’s pretty much your only option.  Since the game and worlds are so tied to the storyline, if I’m on in a night where my group isn’t…there’s just not a lot to do.  Unlike games like Rift, where I would just zone into the capital and spend a happy hour doing some dailies from the current festival or jumping into some Rifts.

So…The Secret World could not have a picked a better time to launch.  Nor could Guild Wars 2 for that matter.  I feel bad for SWTOR, I really do.  I honestly do not believe that Bioware will be running the show over there much longer.  EA has too much riding on this, and everything Bioware has done has either been too little/too late (see also, the “incentive” for staying on longer than six months – a non-combat pet, and less marks than you could get in a week of grinding), or radical and ultimately not worth the investment (dialogue options for *everything* – hell, I’m surprised you don’t have to have a conversation with the vendor just to spend some commendations).  I believe the EA will eventually move Bioware off the game and onto other things, and let a cobbled together veteran developer team remake the game in a way that is more friendly to a long term stay – or that at least gets them closer to that much touted 10 year lifespan remark.

The Apocalypse is Upon Us!

Yeah, I said it.  First it was Brad McQuaid re-emerging as a developer with Sony.

Now, this, from Dan Stahl, executive producer of Star Trek Online:


The key decision to move STO to F2P over the last year was crucial to our current success and while it was painful along the way, ultimately sets us up for the future. It really makes me wonder if other games such as SWTOR wished they would have launched F2P as well, because converting all the systems over to a new business is a huge challenge.


Yes, that’s right ladies and gents, you heard that right:  Cryptic (the studio that got sold off) and Star Trek Online (the MMO that flopped like the left ear of the Easter Bunny) are concerned about the long term survivability of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  If anyone had told me a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.  But today it not only sounds less than insane, it actually sounds right on the money.


Truly, this is 2012 kinda stuff happening around here lately.

SWTOR Beta: Impressions a la Holonet

As with Rift,  I can’t – won’t – do a review until the game itself it out.  But I can and should now give you my impressions of the game, while the getting is hot.  And I think I may have a little extra insight, because I’ve been in the game for more than just a weekend or two.  Dig?

So this will follow the outline that BioWare themselves gave us via the Holonet, so I can comment on each of the things that BioWare themselves wants us to look at in this game.  In doing so, I think I hit everything you will want to know as well, while steering clear of the same-old, same-old.

First off, though, a word about BioWare:

BioWare is that really smart kid you know off that can make homework disappear, handle advanced equations, never takes notes, and trips frequently over his own shoelaces.  There are some things that they do that are really visionary and are game-changers.   For example, when everyone asked what the TOR endgame was, BioWare said “roll another character.”  And we raged and banged our heads on the wall and everything else.  But now I think many of us are eating humble pie.  I most recently got a trooper to level 11 (I am capping myself to that general level in Beta, for a lot of reasons), partly because this is a class I had zero interest in.  By the time I finished the starter world story arc, I realized that I would play a character whose only ability was Paper/Rock/Scissors just so I could unravel the rest of the story line.  Yes, BioWare is causing us all to go home and rethink our (MMO) lives (see what I did there?).

But this same company BioWare, for all its brilliance has also done some ultra dumb stuff.  Like originally wanting to have Jedi “Wizards” in the game.  And thinking that a tunnel shooter was going to cut it.  And forbidding us from playing really awesome aliens – even though the alien characters have been fully modeled and rendered already and there is no reason not to.  And thinking that they can put out one new build a month and have the game ready in time.  And talking about how we won’t need appearance slots because they have this totally awesome new system to let us a keep the same look for all 50 levels(!)…that only works on rare items (that you won’t get for the first 10 levels…). And limiting what weapons we can and can not carry, because while every John Doe NPC trooper in the game wields a vibrosword for close combat, there is no way in hell that your Trooper will ever touch one.

Blasters Only. No Melee Allowed.

So thank you BioWare, for providing us with a cool product.  Now tie your F-ing shoes, before I cancel my preorder from sheer frustration.

Advanced Classes.  Bioware just may be the first MMO ever to get this down right.  The Might and Magic franchise had some hits and misses with it (but mostly hits), and Everquest II tried it and apparently failed miserably (by the time I got into the game, the feature was gone).   But here it works and works well.  It allows the classes more survivability at lower levels by breaking molds – ranged characters still have a few short range whacks, and vice versa, and gives you time to really figure out just *how* you want to play the class.  And admirable attempts have been made and are being made to keep good balance in the game.   The only really worry here is that BioWare is already flirting with PvP more than it should, and without fail, where developers have made changes to silence the QQ crying of PvPers, there follows shortly thereafter a draft in the room because of the exodus of RP and PvE players.

There is also a nice incentive to try all the advanced classes, using both sides.  The mirror system, paired with the fact that stories are told by class and not advanced class, means that you could play a dual-wielding Jedi Knight on one side, and then get an all new story while keeping the mechanics fresh by hopping over and playing a Sith Juggernaut.  I believe the word I’m looking for here is synchronicity, and TOR has it.  Speaking of which, I’d tell you what my favorite classes are, but I don’t have one.  I love them all, even the ones I didn’t think I’d be playing.   My only standout point would be this:  using cover takes a good 10-12 levels to get use to,and to learn how to use to its full potential.  And when not to use to its full potential. So don’t give up on it at first, because it takes some time to really appreciate what it offers.

Companions.  Its a pet.  I don’t care what BioWare attempts to do to spin this one.   Its a pet.  That said – I don’t have any problem with it.  Hell, most Rift builds have a pet these days.  Why not push the envelope and make lots of pets for us all to collect…hey wait a minute…

Still, a great idea.  And gaining affection is not too onerous.  I still feel like I can play the character as I want to play them, and not worry too much about “picking the right answer” as I often did in the original KotOR series.  Plus, it really lets you play around with them, as they do gain abilities as you go, and can often function in more than one role.  T7 for example, the first Jedi Knight companion, starts out with a tanking stance, but around level 11, gains a DPS stance as well.  I do wish there was more interaction here, but its a nice side-quest/mini-game vibe that I will definitely be looking into, as your affection rating unlocks quests and conversations with the companion.

Crew Skills.  Its not the best system ever invented.  And its very confusing at times to know what you should be picking with any given skill.  Bu its nice in that it can tempt even non-crafters with some fun interaction and missions.  And it is complex and varied enough to reward deep crafters and give them lots of reasons to interact and make the best that they can make.  Basically, while you still have to make a ton of any given item to level up, BioWare took the edge off of that grind by making the breakdown process of those items the way to earn the rare schematics.  So if you are into making heavy armor belts, make enough of them, and you will learn to make a better one.  And eventually, a best one.  Perhaps the coolest is the Biochem investiture, which eventually allows you to unlock medkits that are reusable!   But this also means that crafters will tend to specialize – there is only so much money and time, so if you want to learn to make really awesome gloves, you may have to forgo really awesome boots.  This is great for the economy, and for crafters.

Flashpoints.  I can’t say enough good things about these.  Remember back in the day, when you would gather your friends, some soda and snacks, and run an old school pen and paper RPG?  And the GM would have that adventure book and put your through a scenario?  This feels exactly like that.  And BioWare is no slouch GM either.  You get some nice story touches, some solid loot, and some fun tactical gameplay.  And you can run them again and again if you like, to farm loot, social points, light side/dark side points…the whole nine yards.  Heck, go back with a companion ten levels later and try it solo if you like.   Basically, yeah, its dungeons…but dungeons never felt so good…

The rest of the stuff – Guilds, Operations, Warzones, and Space Combat, I have no tried yet.  I will be playing some Warzones and try to get some Guild information together in the next go around.  However, because of my self-imposed restrictions, I probably will not be in a position to comment on Operations.  Space Combat is a  toss up, but I have a feeling you will see something on it in the next week as well.

That’s all for now.  If things are quiet, its either because I’m playing and having a great time, or I’m so pissed that the egghead is double-checking his advanced history assignment while the basic math assignment lies untouched gathering dust.  ::sigh::

TOR Gets A Release Date

Quietest train I ever heard.

Only thing I can say is that this has EA written all over it. Stephen Reid losing his mind in the release date speculation thread less than a week before the grand announcement? Not likely.

BW wanted to move back into 2012, EA said “hell no” and this was the compromise. A compromise that presents its own set of challenges.

One is logistics. UPS, FedEX, USPS…all logjammed with presents a few days before Christmas – and now we are going to add 500k+ (1m+? 2m+?) units of TOR to the load? Yeah, good luck with getting your box on time.

Two is support. You want those first couple of weeks to be spotless. You need a full team on hand to handle all the crap that crops up. But you are not going to have that.

And that is where BioWare’s lack of experience in this process will come back to bite them in the hindquarters. Because of their refusal to work with their customer base, listen to appropriate feedback, and at times combatative (even belligerent) attitude about “their” game (and they are quite insistent about that, despite years of industry evidence otherwise…I’m lookin’ at you Brad McQuaid) – all of that combines to give the customer base little trust of BioWare as a developer. Blizzard, Trion, and other successful companies have earned themselves some breathing room because of their track record and their ability to stay on top of things. As I saw someone noting this week, Blizzard can wreck and entire character class and people will yell, but they won’t leave (or they will leave and come back). Trion can wreck something and have a solution in place 48 hours later, and people have come to know and trust that.

Does anyone trust BioWare at this point?

I get that we were shooting for the “holiday season” but we are so deep up in the nose of the holiday season that not even a Neti Pot of the Ancients +5 is gonna dislodge us.



So, we are (finally) getting an announcement about and comprehensive FAQ regarding Beta Testing weekends…


a)  After one has already happened

b) After you’ve decided to put them on indefinite hiatus

c) After you reveal (inadvertently?) that you don’t patch the client but require clean installs with every update


and, for good measure, after you…


d) Admit that the first one was a failure


Two thumbs up Bioware.  You have really outdone yourselves this time.  I haven’t seen anyone do this awesome a hack job on themselves since Alganon imploded in a disturbingly catastrophic manner.  For a company that swears up and down that they dead set against giving bad or incorrect information and releasing a quality product, you are doing a great job at failing the former and making people twitchingly nervous about the latter.


I was going to insert an epic fail demotivator, but I couldn’t find one epic enough.


Developer Name Forum -> Thread Date / Time
DavidBass General Discussion -> RSVP to play Flashpoints at Comic-Con!

Originally Posted by DarthStabiclese View Post
Actual question, can we bring cameras or take video of anything we see?

Filming/photography of game footage is not permitted at neither the Hilton nor the Comic-Con booth.


Seriously…what the problem?  Obviously this is not an NDA issue.  And there can’t be any fear of people seeing flaws or you wouldn’t have set this up in the first place.  What possible benefit could come from disbarring pictures and video at this event?

Also…double negative for the grammar police keeping score at home.  So actually…it is allowed.  Fail…or win?