[SWTOR] Notes on bonus missions, slicing nerfs, did WoW ruin PUGS?

aldaraan1

This is a screenshot of my character riding a speeder along a river in Aldaraan, which is a very pretty planet. Because the speeder hovers anyway, there’s no real need to ever swim again once you have one. My trousers aren’t actually green – character classes in SWTOR have strong colour schemes and Sith Warrior is generally black and red.

I’m still having a blast with the game. I got to the end of Act I (each class story is in three acts), had some fairly tight fights and cool scenes, and am now a Sith Lord. Go me! I also have a legacy – which is like a family name. You don’t have to actually use it as a surname, but from now on every time you get xp, you also get legacy xp. I compare it to guild xp in WoW except that we don’t yet know what you’ll be able to get with legacy xp, that’s for a future patch.

I called my Legacy family De’Nevers, after the swashbuckling Duc de Nevers in Le Bossu (if you like swashbuckling films, try to find a copy). I figured if I’m a lightsabre/sword fighter, might as well be related to the best.

I remember vaguely comments from beta that people were concerned that there might not be enough quests to level up with. While this may be an issue on some of the starter planets, after that you’ll largely be rolling in xp. After you have finished the main storylines on a planet, you will open up some extra bonus missions which will usually feature a military quest giver who is in the spaceport. So if you’re pretty sure that you’ve done all the single player non-class quests on a planet, check out the spaceport for the bonus questgiver. Some of the bonus quests are pretty good, but mostly they give good xp and credits/ gold. Other sources of xp/credits are PvP and flashpoints.

I haven’t done a great deal of PvP but the battlegrounds I have seen show clear influence from the WAR devs. They’re interesting locations, with plenty of scenery or buildings to climb up, push people off, and generally PvP around. I have totally failed to figure out Huttball, which is a grab/capture the thingie battleground, because I never quite figured out where the goals were (clearly this is a problem if you do end up holding the ball). One of the others is an Arathi-style “capture and hold these points for X amount of time”, and the other is an attacker/defender setup which resets a few times to give both teams a chance to both attack and defend.

I couldn’t comment on PvP balance at the moment, but there’s no reason why this game couldn’t be as interesting PvP-wise as any best of breed in similar genre. It has a good feel.

Another thing I’m enjoying far too much is playing dress up with my companion/s. While the companions can wear normal gear, quest rewards on each planet will also offer a full set of companion-specific gear, each of which has a different style/ look. Sadly this isn’t orange/ moddable, so you can’t upgrade the stats later. I’m also quite enjoying picking gear for myself, this may be because cut scenes show your character’s face and torso rather more than you would usually see it in MMOs, so you get very aware of what they are wearing.

State of Crafting/ Slicing Nerfs

The patch news this week is that Slicing got an emergency nerf – while people are complaining about this on bboards, I suspect that there may be a later tweak upwards to make it harder to actually lose money on Slicing.

The bboard complaints are not surprising, although it’s interesting to see how many people didn’t see any problems with it. See, a consumer society would be just great if the bank just printed out extra money and gave it to everyone. This would clearly not affect prices, or the willingness of anyone to actually make/do stuff at all. Well.

Truth is, in an MMO, not every crafter enjoys the trading side of the game. Some people are mostly interested in making cool stuff for themselves and their friends – which is something Bioware forgot to figure in. (Maybe they don’t have many crafting nuts in the team.) If Slicing stayed as it was, the people who picked crafting because it was fun (ie. and not as a capitalist moneymaking ploy to bleed the Slicers of their not-very-hard-earned credits) would have ended up being hit very hard. Plus, prices would eventually drift upwards (aside from the crafters who couldn’t be bothered to check the market rate and settled for the default AH prices) and it would become necessary for everyone to have maxed Slicing and be using it all the time if they wanted to actually be able to afford stuff.

The Auction House in SWTOR is far from optimal at the moment. It’s not easy to search unless you know exactly what you want, and the default sales prices are driving me (and presumably other crafters nuts). The default sales price is the price that the system inserts for an item you are selling, you can then edit it manually before placing the item up on the AH for sale. This default price tends to be on the high side for green drops and on the low side for anything else.

So, for example, I know I can sell my implants for upwards of 8k because I’ve done so. But as soon as another crafter is too lazy to check current prices and just sticks some up for the default, that goes down to about 1.2k. I think the default prices prevent the market from finding its own value, which is generally bad for crafters but good for buyers. Although maybe not so good for buyers in the long run because I (and presumably others too) are not going to make things that sell for less than cost.

I never thought I would say this, but this is a game that needs an Auctioneer addon equivalent to help the prices settle and make it easier for crafters to pitch prices at the actual selling rate.

I can’t comment on what the various crafts are like at endgame. But watch out for crafted gear with extra mod/augment slots. Those are produced when a crafter crits, and are likely to be the most desired crafted gear at endgame. I suspect non-critted gear will end up being very cheap because you have to make a few of them until a crit turns up that you can sell for more money  (this is similar to the mastercrafting system in DaoC).

My PUG experiences

PUGs, as in any game, can be good or bad. I’ve had great experiences with PUGs for heroic/ group quests on planets, people being generally cool, willing to explore, and work together. Flashpoint PUGs can be a different matter.

I ran Esseles (the first republic flashpoint) with a PUG on an alt, and it felt like being dragged back into WoW kicking and screaming. The moment we got into the instance, the rest of the group started whining about “press space to get through conversations faster” (it’s the equivalent of gogogo). Someone complained at me rolling greed on an item I couldn’t use, while later rolling need on something they couldn’t use either.

I told them I hadn’t seen the instance before and was planning to watch the full video. They said that was OK, with a hint that I should have mentioned this previously. Since I don’t really care what random people think of me (although these are randoms on my server), I’m not sweating it. But it wasn’t anywhere near as fun as running the flashpoint with a group of friends/ guildies. I wish people would just chill out, accept that some runs will take a few minutes longer, and not harass people they don’t know to rush through faster. It feels like a WoW plague that is spreading, I hope I’m wrong.

On the other hand, planet chat in Tython (Jedi starting zone) on a RP server was worryingly solemn. People were discussing the meaning of justice, and other ethical issues. I don’t know if it is like that all the time, but it was quite cool, and I’ve never seen a general chat quite like it.

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18 thoughts on “[SWTOR] Notes on bonus missions, slicing nerfs, did WoW ruin PUGS?

    • That was on a RP server, which surprised me a bit as I expected them to be a bit less … minmaxy. I’m sure I was just unlucky, just thought I’d record it for future reference. Esseles, to be fair, is a very bitty, talking kind of instance. I was finding the storyline more confusing than Black Talon.

      • Black Talon is definitely the better of the two Flashpoints, IMHO.

        Also, you got a sucky group. I’m on Vrook Lamar, and haven’t had a single Esseles run (across 7 characters that got that high) where there was any push to go faster.

        People rushing through that first flashpoint are missing the point.
        A) It’s a GREAT source of Coruscant Commendations (7 per run), that you can spend on a complete set of gear that (you’ll be throwing away in 3 days).
        B) It’s NOT a great source of XP/minute, and rushing doesn’t help that.

        For maximum enjoyment, I recommend picking light side choices, EXCEPT for the Engineers part. Sometimes you get lucky and The Bad Thing Happens simply because you got TOTALLY lucky with a streak of rolls. It’s hilarious. =)

      • It takes time for people to learn the prices and for the prices to converge on a stable equilibrium. The profit margin you are mentioning is a limited time opportunity, wait and it will be gone. Since I don’t play SW:TOR, I have no idea if your estimate of the possible profit is accurate or not, but I do know that the prices converge over time after expansions/patches/retail releases in MMOs.

  1. There are no goals in Huttball, you just have to carry the ball to the enemy’s side of the map, across the line on the ground. It’s a weird little warzone, and I still feel a little confused every time it pops up for me, eventually getting myself trapped somewhere, but it looks like the kind of battleground that could be huge fun once you really learn how to use all the features of the terrain to your advantage.

    As far as pugging goes, I’ve had good experiences grouping for heroic quests in the open world, but all my flashpoint runs have been done purely in guild groups so far. I’m definitely a little apprehensive about running into gogogo people like you did, but at the same time I’m hoping that they’ll either learn to calm down eventually or will quickly get fed up with the game and leave. Game-design wise TOR feels like it rather encourages people to take their time.

  2. I’m glad you mentioned that there are crafters who craft for the fun of crafting and to make things for their own characters and those of their friends. In my experience most players who craft are like that although you wouldn’t know it to listen to crafting channels or read crafting forums. Just as raiders and minmaxers tend to dominate the conversational space where adventuring is concerned, so traders tend to monopolize the airspace when it comes to crafting.

    Personally I strongly dislike selling anything I make to anyone, either in personal trades or through a broker or auction house. I love crafting but I only like to do it for my own characters or friends for free. Taking money for it, even imaginary money, makes me feel like I have somehow gotten myself a part-time job and that’s the last thing I want out of what’s supposed to be my main leisure activity.

    I quite enjoy selling stuff I’ve found on monsters to other players. It’s fortuitous and unstructured and seems like a suitably adventurous activity. Making stuff in volume to sell at market rates seems about as unadventurous as you could get.

  3. “I never thought I would say this, but this is a game that needs an Auctioneer addon equivalent to help the prices settle and make it easier for crafters to pitch prices at the actual selling rate.”

    I’d settle for default prices that were in line with the return on Slicing.
    Bioware knows (or SHOULD know) what each item of material costs, based on using Companion Missions to fetch them. They know what’s in the recipe. Default GTN Price should be
    (cost of missions run to gather materials in recipe) + (average profit % from having run comparable Slicing missions).

    Is it really that hard?

    Also, Making money on Slicing isn’t hard, and there are very few missions that lose money. Mostly, a bug was fixed that was bestowing Large Credit Box rewards from certain Medium Credit Boxes, and the profit was cut by about half comparartively.
    There’s a guy maintaining a Slicing Results spreadsheet here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0ArCSGLnwZLADdGxYdlhEejBFclBjR3l1N29OaW1kYUE&gid=0

    And I’ve got one of my own that I’m using, somewhat less diligently, and I’ve got mine set up so I can sort it. I’m getting similar results, in that there are only 2-3 missions that consistently lose money. The rest are a reasonable return.

  4. I’ve had a similar experience with group content: heroic quests are great, flashpoints suck with people pressing others to skip dialogues. But it isn’t due to WoW, waiting 10 minutes because some random dude is listening to dialogues gets old pretty fast.

    • Oh yeah. I think the latter has more to do it with it than anything to do with WoW.

      The problem with including a lot of story heavy stuff in instances is that you have to grind them. Because that’s how MMO’s work, apparently.

      The first time, the cutscene or dialogue or whatever is pretty cool.

      The second time, if there’s a choice? Maybe you get to see the other one.

      The third time, people start to develop a certain amount of irritation the person who’s forcing them to wait around while they watch them.

      Additionally, people won’t read a 45 word quest text half the time. I’m not sure everyone is going to actually watch the things.

  5. As a note, some planetary bonus series (Nar Shaddaa and Alderaan come to mind) open up much later than the rest of the planet – you’ll know a lower-level planet bonus series has opened up when you get a class quest to return to your factional fleet (there will be a breadcrumb quest waiting near the class trainers there).

  6. For the most part, I’ve found the groups to be pretty decent and way better than in WoW. Of course, that could be because I’m on a RP server and/or because the game is new. I remember when Cataclysm came out and everyone was taking the dungeons nice and slow :) We’ll see what happens in a few weeks time but I’m hoping the community doesn’t disintegrate once the initial shine of running the Flashpoints wears off,

  7. I think I’ve run eight to ten Flashpoints so far in live TOR (i.e. not counting the times I did Black Talon on beta weekends), mostly Black Talon on various alts but also Athiss and a couple of goes at Mandalorian Raiders – I seem to have skipped Hammer Station on my main. I’ve had one group with a guy who insisted everyone hit space to go faster – who then dropped group suddenly part way through and we completed with three people and had a much more relaxed and fun time chatting away as we did so.

    I’ve had two other PuGs with issues – one guy who ran off solo on Black Talon while the rest of us were fighting the bonus boss, got killed and dropped group (again, we finished with three and had a laugh in the process) and one group that just got killed repeatedly by the enemy boarding part in Mandalorian Raiders (before it was changed so you could CC them, and I have a feeling the merc healing the group wasn’t very good at the job). The majority of the groups have been good though – slightly better ratio than I experienced in Rift and hellaciously better than the last time I played WoW.

  8. Hutball is a lot of fun once you learn the map and the various routes around all the ramps. Only problem is the imbalances you can get in team levels, even with the bolstering of stats. I had a match yesterday where 5 out of 9 opponents were Sith Inquisitors (myself being a Sith Warrior) and lightning was just flying all over the place. Getting chain stunned while getting lightning to the face is annoying, so is the get ball, bubble, force speed scoring tactics. Get the ball into the hands of a level 50 SI and you seem guaranteed to score. That doesn’t stop me from trying though.

  9. My second essles run was with a pug and I had a fine time. One of the guys had been through 3 times he said and still hadn’t defeated the first “boss”. We got through it on our second try with me healing and giving pointers. We had a great time. But if it were another group like you describe, I can see people leaving and criticizing the one guy instead of giving him pointers.

    So, you think the people that are too lazy to properly check the price on the DTM are not going to be too lazy to download an auctioneer map? Those are likely the people you describe who don’t care about playing a market and just want the stuff to sell.

    I’m not sure I agree about the slicing nerf being needed. Slicers were the ones who might pay crafters for their goods or mats.

  10. Pugs in this game atleast on my server seem to be ok. Do not get me wrong I have also had some bad pugs. Me being a tank and having a dps pull before I do really sucks cause threat is really weird in this game. Also if you want to skip dialoge let the group know or make your on speed group.

    PvP need a lot of work before it can compete with other games. Tab targeting only works so well and to click and target someone is rather bothersome. I do also think there need to be level brackets. Me being mid 40′s going against someone level 13 just doenst seem fair.

    Slicing got nerfed bad IMO, so much so I droped it, It was a great money maker but now you are barley breaking even with the creidts you spend for the missons themselves. Check out my blog on here http://swtorhealer.wordpress.com/ give me some advice and such please.

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