Archive for the ‘ Star Wars ’ Category

SWTOR – Patch 1.2 thoughs

Patch 1.2, aka “Legacy” recently deployed to live servers. It’s SWTOR’s first big patch, and aside from the usual big assortment of class changes we as MMO players are trained to expect from “X.Y” numbered patches, it added a few new features to the game, including guild banks and the promised improvements to the Legacy system.

With the Mists of Pandaria beta also opened, I had decided to stop playing SWTOR until this patch deployed, deciding to focus on a few random goals I had set for myself in WoW. And I guess the best thing I can say about this patch is that since it deployed, I have definitely spent more time in SWTOR than in WoW.

The Legacy improvements are definitely a neat feature. They allow you to create a “family tree” of all of your characters on a given server, showing how your characters are either related or associated with the other. Unfortunately, this tree does have limitations, such as the ability to only set up a single relationship at once, and a maximum of two relations for a given character.

Let me give an example. I have one character that I want to set up as  the father of two others.  I make Kid 1 the child of the father. Now what do I do with Kid 2? Do I make him the child of the father? Well if I do that, I can’t ALSO make him the brother of Kid 1. I have to pick.

This is irritating, but to my knowledge it has no effect on actual game mechanics. You’ll get all the tangible bonuses of the Legacy System regardless of how your tree looks, it’s mostly just an RP thing. I can live with that.

One feature I definitely like is that by reaching level 50 and completing Act 3 of your class quest, you unlock the ability to create any class with that character’s race. So if you finished leveling a Chiss Imperial Agent, you can now create a Chiss Jedi or Sith, or a Chiss Smuggler. It makes for some truly strange and fun characters. And if you don’t want to level an existing character to get that perk, you can also just buy it with in-game credits. It’s a pretty neat little feature, and has me wanting to scrape the credits together to make a Chiss Sith Warrior. (I like the Chiss a lot, can you tell?)

Incidentally, if you want to know, here’s how I set up my “family tree”.

I have three characters (Bounty Hunter, Jedi Knight, and Sith Inquisitor) that are essentially identical in appearance, save for haircuts.  Essentially, I made them look as much like my actual appearance as the game’s character creator would let me.

What? I’ve wanted to be in the Star Wars universe since I was a kid. This game lets me!

So I created a story where the three of them are triplets to my Jedi Consular and a Jedi mother who has since died.  The Consular’s always been something of a renegade. While he stays ultimately true to the light, he’s extremely snarky and borderline disrespectful to his fellow Jedi, and considers the Jedi rules on relationships to be foolhardy and (quietly) ignored them. Incidentally, that attitude makes him a hell of a lot of fun to play.

So whoever this mystery woman was (I haven’t exactly come up with a lot about her, since she’s only peripherally related to their story), she gave birth to three triplets, two of them strong in the Force, the other not. The pair decided to bring them to Coruscant through “intermediaries” to avoid suspicion of their Jedi peers, who would probably not particularly approve of the children’s origin. So they contracted the help of a smuggler ally to present them to the Jedi order as rescued slaves. The Jedi would take care of them, discover their Force sensitivity, and take them in to be trained as Jedi. The third would be given to a trusted foster home, where he would be given a good life his true parents could never provide, but they could at least keep an eye on him.

Unfortunately, while en route to Coruscant, the smuggler’s ship was attacked by ACTUAL slavers, and two of the children taken. Only one would make it to the temple, but he would become one of the greatest Jedi Knights of his generation. The other two would become slaves of the Sith Empire. The non-Force sensitive would grow up never realizing he had brothers and eventually escape using his wits. He would become one of the greatest Bounty Hunters in the known galaxy. The other would eventually be discovered as being strong in the Force by the Sith, and sent to their academy on Korriban, eventually becoming a Dark Lord of the Sith. All three, ironically, would share their father’s feelings on love.

So that’s the basics of the story that my Legacy tree is built on. The other characters are essentially allies or rivals of those detailed above. I think it’s a pretty good setup.

I do have one negative thing about patch 1.2 that I want to talk about, and it relates to the aformentioned Bounty Hunter. I picked the Mercenary Advanced class for him because I liked the whole twin blasters-and-rocketry motif the class had, plus he had a healing tree, which I could use in groups if I so wanted. And it was fun! I enjoyed the story a lot, it takes a lot of elements of the story of Boba Fett, and by the end you really do feel like a badass warrior that everyone in the galaxy should be afraid of.

However, they beat the heck out of the Mercenary in 1.2. They lowered the damage of his main abilities and increased the Heat cost of them as well. Heat is the resource  the Bounty Hunter uses. Each ability costs so much heat, and if your heat levels get too high, you can’t use any abilities that cost heat. Your heat dissipates over time, but the higher your heat levels get, the slower it dissipates. So basically, if you aren’t careful, you can overheat yourself pretty quick.

This was something you had to watch prior to this patch, but in 1.2, they doubled heat costs for several Mercenary abilities, including some of his healing ones, as well as reducing their damage/healing effectiveness. I have tried playing my Hunter a few times since the patch, and while it isn’t so awful that he feels unplayable, he does feel gutted. The damage reduction I can live with, that’s all an issue of trying to balance the classes, but the increased heat costs were done to “encourage more active rotations”. Basically they felt like everyone was using one ability over and over, and they wanted players to use the other ones too.

Except, this wasn’t true to begin with. Good players who paid attention were already using “active” rotations to maximize their damage. These changes don’t make any differences to our rotation, they just make it more unforgiving if we mess it up or get unlucky. It just makes the character less fun, which is the worst kind of change.  Fire mages had this same problem at the start of the Cataclysm expansion. Their spells cost so much mana, they had to gimp themselves into casting weaker spells just to conserve it. It was an extremely unfun mechanic that eventually was patched out.  Hopefully BioWare will do the same. Making classes less fun to play are terrible design decisions. Change the numbers if you must, heck change up rotations if you need to. Just make sure they’re still fun to execute.

Aighty, so there’s my random Patch 1.2 thoughts. I’ve been playing more SWTOR than ever lately, which is awesome, except I can’t stay focused on one class! I have too many things I want to accomplish! And ultimately, i guess that’s a good thing!

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SWTOR Wish list

So, as you’re probably aware, I’ve been playing the snot out of Star Wars, The Old Republic. It’s been pretty awesome so far, though I’ll spare you a full review. I’m really loving the class storylines and the chance to play in the Star Wars universe. It’s crazy fun.

However, the game ain’t perfect, at least not to me. It lacks some polish in areas that World of Warcraft has long improved on, but it’s also made some decisions independent of those issues that I either don’t get or just don’t like as a matter of personal preference. I’ll spare you the former for now, but I’d like to discuss some of the latter category here.

Again, this is strictly my personal taste, so take it how you will.

1. The game needs more “well known” races.

I really think Bioware floundered a bit here. Some of the race selections in this game just make no sense, especially when you look at what ISN’T here. I mean, your standard humans, Twi’leks, and Zabraks are fine. The Sith Purebloods make sense if you know the Star Wars timeline, and are just plain cool. And the Chiss are an amazing addition that I didn’t expect, but really, who doesn’t think the race that Grand Admiral Thrawn, villain of Timothy Zahn’s amazing trilogy of Star Wars novels, isn’t going to be fun to play as. But the rest? You’ve got Mirialans, a race of a VERY background character in one of the prequels. The Miraluka are a race of blind people who only appear in the second KOTOR game and are more or less identical to humans in every other respect. The Cyborg race had potential, but frankly, the “cybernetic” artwork looks less like robotics and more like something you’d wear in a hospital recovery room. I don’t even know where the Rattataki came from. They look similar to the slightly well known character Asajj Ventress (she mostly appeared in the Clone Wars comics and cartoons) but they aren’t apparently the same race at all, so I don’t even know what the deal is there.

So you’ve got a lot of wasted potential there, especially when you look at what’s missing. Just going from the original trilogy races alone, there’s no Wookiees, no Mon Calamari, no Sullustans, no Trandoshans, no Rodians, or any number of races to play as.

(Each link above, by the way, goes to the Wookieepedia entry for a well known member of each of the races that you’d recognize from the films. Just in case you don’t recognize the names. We’ll do it again below)

And while you might despise the prequel trilogy, they did give us some cool looking aliens. And again, far too many of them aren’t playable here. No Kel Dor, or Nautolans, or Togruta, or Chagrians, or Cereans. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, again.

“But Brandon, maybe they just didn’t have time to build graphical models for those races!” you might say. Except I’ve seen 90% of the above mentioned races as NPCs in this title so far. So clealy they could have done it. I just wish they would have. I mean, come on! Who wouldn’t want to play a Wookiee Jedi? That’s just COOL!

2. I don’t like the restrictions that are currently in place for lightsaber blade colors.

Currently in game, once you get at a certain level of dark side or light side “points”, you are unable to have certain colors for your lightsaber. Once you go dark enough, you can’t have blue or green. Going light enough restricts your ability to have a red crystal. Yellow, orange, and purple have no restrictions, though the latter two are apparently somewhat rare.

Yes, I know. You movie-only people will tell me that red blades are a Sith color and no Jedi has them. Well while that is true, there are written examples of Jedi wielding red blades. In the Clone Wars era, both Adi Gallia and the Padawan and later full Jedi A’sharad Hett. Want a later example? How about Leia Organa? She used a Lightsaber described as “ruby red” during her early years as a Jedi.

On the opposite side of things, the Sith Lord Exar Kun continued using his blue lightsaber that he had from his time as a Jedi, and even modified it to include a second blue blade, one of the first double bladed lightsabers ever recorded.

I know the restrictions are in place to cater to the movie folks (or heck maybe even Lucasfilm made them) and to give each faction’s Force-users a more uniform look, but really, they’re just annoying. I’d much prefer to just let it be open to any color you wish.

3. I really wish we could name our personal ships

Early on, around level 16, you get a personal ship. I just want the ability to name them. It would be a neat little touch, some extra personalization.

4.  There are a few, very few, minor art elements that could use an update.

Most of the artwork in this game is nothing short of astonishing. Things just LOOK amazing. Bioware has done an absolutly fantastic job trying to replicate the feel of the Star Wars universe.

Which unfortunately makes the stuff that doesn’t quite measure up stick out all the more.

When you make a character, it doesn’t take terribly long to get them gear that represents their iconic look. Jedi get robes with raised hoods on them. Your Bounty Hunter gets heavy, battle scarred with lots of weapons and a jetpack. Sith get some jet black hooded robes, and eventually a cool mask. The one thing that’s sticking out to me is the Helmets for Bounty Hunters. It’s taken me until my current level to find one that doesn’t look just awful. They look like helmets from ancient Japan. I’m not expecting a full-faced Mandalorian-style helm right off the bat, but something a bit more appropriate to the sci-fi realm would really be appreciated.

Cyborgs need an update, like I mentioned above. The implants that are currently available make them look more like hospital patients and have no real weight to them.

A common complaint I’ve heard concerns the limited number of body type choices for player characters. Most are seeking something more average than what’s available, the current choices are a bit limiting.

 

That’s it, so far. Admittedly it’s a very minor list. That’s really how good this game feels to play, as a Star Wars fan. I”m having a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see where the game goes from here. Again, please note this does not concern gameplay mechanics or features that other games have improved upon, because I feel these are things we can all universally agree are features that need to be added. I’m speaking of things like an automatic random grouping utility, an API for mods, a more customizable default UI, dual specializations, those sorts of things aren’t quite what I was going for here. Those are no brainers.

Anyway, how are you guys enjoying SWTOR and are their any other design choices you would like to see differently?

I dislike all these awesome choices, SWTOR! *updated with videos*

Edit: I’ve embedded Youtube vids which show each of the classes I’m interested in doing what they do best. Watch if you like!!

Anyone who knows me well knows I am TERRIBLE at making decisions. I question myself over and over again. I’m trying not to be this way, I really am, and I have to commend my lovely wife for having patience with me, heh.

But Star Wars: The Old Republic has presented me with one of the harder decisions to make in a long time: Picking which class to start with when the game comes out. There are so many awesome choices, and me being a huge Star Wars fanboy, all of them look appealing in their own ways.

I should state that I had made a decision at one point. I was done, committed. My guild from WoW was going to be on the Sith Empire side, I’d looked over the class choices available to that faction, done the research on what they could do, and picked one. I was good.

Then they announced that they were going to try something new in this game, we were going to establish guilds on both factions for this game, as an experiment. So now we’d have a presence on both the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic sides! Well now my decision isn’t so firm! I have more options to consider! So I started looking over and researching the Republic’s classes, which led me to doing more research on the Empire’s classes, and, well, you see where this goes. I have too many options, all of which sound awesome for various reasons, and now I have no idea how to pick. So I’m asking for…I don’t know if help is the right word, because I’m not sure if I CAN be helped in this matter. Additional information, perhaps? Opinions I hadn’t considered?

Before I list the options, let me explain SWTOR’s class system. Each faction has 4 base classes to choose from. At level 10, your character can choose from 1 of 2 Advanced Classes. At the time of this writing, this choice is permanent, so you have to decide wisely.

The classes on each faction aren’t necessarily different, however. Each class has a “mirror” on the other side. One class and it’s mirror will play very similarly, but their look and feel will be different. For example, the Republic’s Jedi Knight Base class is a mirror of the Empire’s Sith Warrior. Both have one Advanced class that focuses on a Single saber, and the other that focuses on Dual Wielding Lightsabers.  With the Jedi and Sith classes, it’s easy to see the parallels, because they use the same weapons and their Force powers are similar mechanically, though they appear different.

Let’s try another example. On the Republic side, you have the Trooper class. He wears heavy armor, he wields big guns, and throws lots of grenades. His mirror on the Empire side is the Bounty Hunter. Heavy Armor, has rapid fire Blaster pistols, wrist mounted rocket launchers, and other fun toys. You see the idea. Similar design but with different flavor. And of course, their storylines will be completely different. It feels much like a different class.

So now, we come to the options I’ve narrowed down. I’ll list them by their Base Class, then Advanced class, then talk a bit about what the class is designed to focus on and what about that in my own Star Wars interest lures me to the class in question.  And I’ll link each to the SWTOR Wiki, you can go there and read more about the other classes that are available and berate me for not considering them. I can feel the Smuggler fans glaring at me already, heh. Sorry guys, never really wanted to be Han Solo as a kid. Aighty, here we go.


Trooper Commando: The Trooper is the classic armored guy with a huge gun, mostly inspired by the Clone troopers of the prequel trilogy. These guys are the elite troops with the best equipment and most powerful guns. The Commando class focuses more on firepower, whereas the other class, the Vanguard, focuses on building up their armor systems. Consequently, the Commando gets access to the biggest heaviest blaster rifles in the game, and are pretty much capable of filling the air full of blaster bolts! Heavily armored with a huge amount of firepower, ya gotta love it.


Jedi KnightJedi Sentinel: The Jedi Sentinel advanced class is all about the swordplay. This class focuses on dual-wielding lightsabers. That alone is just made of awesome.


Jedi ConsularJedi Shadow: The Jedi Consular splits into very two odd paths. The first one, Jedi Sage, focuses primarily on Force powers, and has a lot of telekenetic based abilities. Hurling rocks or other objects around, or Force pushing things over, that’s their speciality. The Jedi Shadow, on the other hand, is all about stealth, sneaking around, and quickly dispatching foes with a double-Blade lightsaber. Think a good version of Darth Maul here. I love the double-blade lightsaber and the idea of playing a stealthy Jedi that appears out of nowhere and takes down his opponents sounds sweet.


Bounty HunterMercenary: Mercs Dual wield pistols and focus on their wrist and backpack rocket launchers. They don’t have as heavy of armor as their Powertech brothers, but they have more long range damage dealing to make up for it.


Sith InquisitorSith Sorcerer: The Sith equivalent of the Jedi Sage, these guys focus on Dark Side force powers. That means lightning. Lots and lots of Lightning. I make lots of jokes about being a Sith Lord, well if I was, this is the kind of Sith I’d want to be, hurling lightning around like crazy, demonstrating my RAW POWAAAAAAH!


Imperial AgentSniper: I admit, this was the class I was dead set on before the Republic guild became available. Sniper Rifles? Check. Droids you get to control and have blow stuff up? Check. The Chiss as a playable race? Check.

So that’s my choices. I want to have SOMETHING chosen before I start. I mean, sure, I could create another character later, but I would still like to have an idea in mind before I get started on Day 1, you know? So if you have any advice, please share!

Edit: Now that I’ve added character class progression vids for all the classes I’m looking at, here’s the two I’m not thinking about, the Smuggler and the Sith Warrior

I am Titanium Alloy Man! Hrmm….just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Hey again gang. Late update, I know, but there’s a lot that’s been goin’ on.

First of all, from this past weekend, I had an absolute blast in Waco, as usual. I saw Iron Man (more on that later), played a rousing good session of D&D (and got myself two extra players in the process!), got new Star Wars comics (and the first two Outsiders TPBs which are awesome), set a new record on Justin’s copy of New Super Mario Bros (specifically the “Wanted” minigame, 116 in a row, baby!), and in general had an awesome time hanging out with everyone.

I did start getting a little sick before I left, but it left me before I got home. Managed to keep my lunch down the whole drive, heh heh.

Okay, so, Iron Man. I saw it on Saturday with Chris and Justin. Holy crap was it awesome. It is becoming very evident that comic book movie caliber has gone WAY the heck up. Robert Downey Jr was, as I predicted, the PERFECT choice to play Tony Stark. He’s got the look, the attitude, the charisma, and the mannerisms that make it work. With some characters, the actors chosen to play them feels more like “Wow this person does a pretty good interpretation of so-and-so.” Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the X-men films is kind of like that. He’s good in the role, but it doesn’t quite look natural. Downey is the opposite. He’s a natural Stark. You really get the sensation that he IS the man come to life, and you’re watching a documentary about him or something.

The Iron Man armor special effects were absolutely amazing, very well done. Stayed very close to the classic look, while adding in some new things that we hadn’t seen before, like the flare launchers, or the repulsor rays as flight stabilizers. You get several scenes of him testing out various aspects of the armor, such as the rocket boots, or the repulsor rays as weapons, all of which are very cool to see. Probably one of my favorite scenes in the film is his first actual mission in the armor, where he flies to Afghanistan and defeats a terrorist camp that was stockpiling his own company’s weapons. Really shows off what all the armor can do, and at the same time, really gives you the sense of “this is the modern day, and Iron Man is in our world”.
Another example of this is early on in the film, where they do kind of a montage shot with Tony Stark appearing on several magazine covers. Jon Favreau (the film director) made a point of not just using the magazines everyone knows, like “Time”, he made a point of using less popular, but no less good ones like “Wired” or “Popular Mechanics”. Little details like this really cement the feeling that this could very well be reality.

My only real complaint about the movie is that it could have used more action, especially during the last fight scene with the Iron Monger. The sequence in Afghanistan was great, but the Iron Monger fight seemed too short, and with far too much emphasis on brawling. I think maybe a little bit longer sequence, with both of them showcasing a little bit more of their respective weapons capabilities, would have been perfect.

Luckily, I’m going to get to see it again this Sunday, with David, Holland, and Truett.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m going to see them this weekend. Takin’ a 4-day trip down to Houston to hang out, and maybe make some music as well. I’m super psyched. I haven’t seen them since their wedding! Plus I love making music with the Butler guys. “This is Love”, on the whole, was one of my favorite experiences, and I think the resulting album turned out great.

All right, I think I’m going to end this one for now. I’ll see ya’ll surely.

Oh one more thing, who the CRAP is drawing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Legacy now?? The most recent issue for both of those comics has been just UGLY compared to the initial issues.

8944. Seriously.

Day 2 of 2008. Day 1 back at work. Day 8944 in the life of the Bmatt.

As you can imagine, after being off for around 2 weeks, I had a bit of catching up to do. But thankfully we set up some automated tools to keep track of stuff over the shutdown, so they helped a lot. Still, all sorts of great problems arose that we now have to take care of. Hopefully they won’t affect the schedule too badly, although I’m not sure how they COULDN’T. Sigh. Ah well.

Yes I realize that paragraph is extremely vague. I’m not sure how much detail I should go into, from a legal standpoint, so I choose to err on the side of caution.

So, yeah, I have to give some serious love out to Chris and Kelley Stone. Because they very graciously let me stay in their home for two nights and hosted a New Year’s party there as well. Kelley even made me tacos. And they were yummy. Thanks, you guys. I really appreciate it, a lot.

Josh, being awesome, got me the three Star Wars books, including Fury, from the Legacy of the Force series. So far, I have mixed feelings about the series in general. I’m not really sure they’ve made a very clear cut distinction in why Jacen Solo has become a Sith Lord. I read the later books and I find my mind reeling, wondering “How again did Jacen get to this point?” Perhaps I just need to reread the earlier books to get a feel for it again. I still just have a hard time reconciling the earlier portrayals of him with the cruel Lord of the Sith he’s become. I suppose that’s what makes him such a memorable villain.

Still, with two of my favorite characters now dead (Anakin Solo and Mara Jade Skywalker), the best newly developed romance seemingly completely shot (Jaina Solo and Jagged Fel), and the fact that no one can seem to stop Troy Denning from writing more Star Wars books, the last two in this Legacy of the Force series had better end very very well, or I may stop reading Star Wars novels set in the future beyond this series chronologically altogether. I got a little jaded by New Jedi Order (though it ended well), was completely disgusted with the Swarm War trilogy (absolutely pathetic follow up to everything that happened at the end of NJO, Troy Denning owes us all an apology for those abominations), and am waiting for something really really good to happen in Legacy, still, and it’s only got 2 more books to do it in. I seriously need to see Jaina and Jag finally realize they do love each other and are meant to be (which is what was supposed to happen post NJO, but Denning is an idiot), Ben Skywalker step up and show that he is worthy of carrying on the Skywalker name, and Jacen to fall from power in a truly spectacular way, either getting killed by Ben, or by being ultimately redeemed, or both, like his grandfather.

I’ll be disappointed with anything less than that, I really will. And the sat part is, Denning is doing the finale, so it’s almost impossible for me to have any sort of high hopes about it. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong. I seriously hope so.

Anyway, that’s all from me for today. I’ll catch ya’ll later, time to take the Christmas tree down (sigh)

Clone Wars cartoon continued?

More here. Very nice. Animation looks a little odd, certainly not up to Pixar standards, not even close, but it might be fun for a TV series. Looks like it’ll be a continuation of the Clone Wars Micro-Series that aired on Cartoon Network way back when, and it seems they’re trying to get all the voice actors from that series as well.

Let’s hope we don’t get more contradictions with established canonical sources. The one between the book Labyrinth of Evil and the last episode of the Clone Wars cartoon was bad enough.

Aaaaah full out Star Wars nerd time fun.

So yesterday, I went out to the opening day of the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History with Mom. It was extremely cool. They had a lot of costumes and movie props on display, including some of the models they’d shot the space scenes with, along with some exhibits detailing how the special effects were done and how some of the concepts were actually being implemented in real life (such as with cybernetics or future deep-space shuttles). After that, we went to the Omni IMAX theatre where we saw a documentary on special effects, which was very interesting. If ya like Star Wars, it’s a worthwhile $20 to spend. Though you might wanna bring more, because the Star Wars Store is extremely comprehensive, and ya might wanna walk out with a sweet-awesome shirt as well (or in my case, a shirt, a poster, and the Complete Cross-Sections book, heh heh heh). Check out some of the pictures below.



Oh, and if you wanna know about the next edition of Bmatt TV…well I got nothin’ for ya yet. We’ll see what we can do. I just haven’t had any good inspiration, but we’ll see what we can come up with later.

Josh gets back this Friday, so I should be in Waco sometime soon. Catch ya’ll around.