[SWTOR] More impressions, is crafting broken, locating screenshots

There’s a dilemma that hits every gaming blogger when a new release comes out and you have limited time. And that is how much time to spend playing vs how much time to spend blogging about it.

cammal

I’ve been playing a fair amount of SWTOR lately, and am unashamedly really enjoying the game. Particular high points so far have been:

  • Class quests. A storyline doesn’t have to be brilliantly original if it’s well told, and these generally are. Arb and I were up late the other night, reminding each other that we needed to go to bed … but just wanting to find out what the next twist in the story was. The storytelling is clever (or manipulative if you prefer) in encouraging you to relate emotionally to what is going on. For example, I found out my contact was under attack by my current enemy and stormed back across the city to let nothing stand in my way as I wiped them out – which is quite appropriately vengeful for a sith warrior really. One of my guildies  decided to switch from darkside to lightside because of lore and something that happened in his class storyline. Scott Jennings relates the point where he succumbed to the lure of the dark side. (I think he’s playing Sith Warrior and I think I know the part he means.) At the same time, no story is going to have this effect on a player unless the player is willing to immerse themselves and allow it to happen. If you hate reading, point out the plot flaws in horror films in the middle of the cinema, and think its lame to care about stories then you’re going to have a very different experience. I did also like the suggestion I read somewhere on rpg.net that if you are a Sith Warrior, any time someone gives you a quest you should have the conversation option to execute them for insubordination. (It would make for a short game, but a bloody one.)
  • Characterisation of NPCs. Not all of them, for sure, but the writing and voice acting means they don’t have to be just blobs giving out quests if you’re willing to go with it. I do also quite like my class companions, it might be different if you hated them. Grand Moff Kilran (in the Black Talon Flashpoint) also has the most punchable voice of anyone I’ve ever met. I so hope you get to beat him up at some point. We had more fun in that flashpoint when we agreed we all hated him and picked all the most belittling responses we could.
  • Companions. It’s funny how my responses to quests are affected by which companion is with me. Vette likes it when I tell quest givers they are idiots and give them lip. Quinn approves of being polite to quest givers, especially if they are empire military types. He really is a Young Conservative at heart so I doubt that romance is going anywhere – on the other hand he’s also really really useful and keen to help and offer advice and he gets amusingly tongue tied if you flirt with him. Plus he’s a healer.
  • Group quests: we’ve done some as guild runs, others with random people, but they’re a nice way to switch up the feel from solo questing if you feel like it. The rewards are also good, but optional.
  • Flashpoints: As above. The social conversation mechanic is fun in practice, and far less irritating than you might think from reading about it. I haven’t run all of the flashpoints so far, because the way they are laid out (you have to go back to the fleet etc) tends to break up the flow of questing. But it hasn’t been hard to find groups when I have wanted to, and it’s been fun to have content to run with guildies when we are feeling sociable.
  • Guild! It’s fun to be guilded with some fellow bloggers, some of whom I’ve never played with before. So I’m enjoying the socialising, hanging out on guild chat or voice chat.
  • The morality: This is bound to be vaguely controversial because the light side/ dark side choices don’t have much effect in terms of game mechanics and the general shape of the storyline won’t change much either. And yet, I think more about the stories and the choices I make. Some of them I see discussed more widely because players disagree with the writing. I hope at least one of the quests will be as discussion-priming as the demon possessed boy in DAO. And the fact that’s possible is why I love the morality meter. And because it makes me think more about my character and where she’s coming from (she’s a spoilt sith aristo who takes lightside choices because she /can/ rather than out of any deep affiliation. And yet, sparing people just because you can may be a step on the path to something better …)

Find the screenshot

If you are wondering where SWTOR puts its screenshots, check two things:

  • Under preferences, check what key is bound to the ‘take screenshot’ option, it may not be the one you are used to.
  • On WinXp, the screenshot directory is My Documents/ Star Wars – The Old Republic/ Screenshots

Is Crafting broken in SWTOR?

Here is the current issue with SWTOR crafting: there is one gathering skill that makes money as if it was going out of fashion, with no associated risk. It is Slicing. If you just want to make money and don’t care about making stuff, take Slicing as one of your crew skills and send all your companions off to find lockboxes all of the time. You will eventually make good bank.

It’s not that all the other craft skills are bad. Cybertech and Biochem in particular can make plenty of things that people will buy. I’ve made enough from Biochem (I can sell implants as fast as I can make them, nothing else really sells so far) to buy my speeder training et al so it’s not by any means bad, but you have to work at it. They just probably won’t make as much as you would from Slicing because you have to acquire materials and then take the risk that a) other people won’t buy your stuff from the auction house or b) competition will drive prices down so that you won’t make much of a profit.

Armormech, Synthweaving, Armsmech and Artificing all make plenty of nice gear that is at least as good as anything you will find elsewhere. But there is competition from quest rewards, PvP gear, and drops from flashpoints.

At the end of the day, it’s the lack of risk in Slicing – it’s guaranteed money – which makes it so unbalanced.

It will also be interesting to see the effects of Slicing on the market. There are fewer people crafting to sell on the AH at the moment because the game is new out, and lots of people take gathering skills (incl. Slicing) as they level. But the prices they sell at are set by the Slicers since they have most money to spend on the AH.

Posing around in WoW

darkphoenix

So this week I finally got exalted reputation with my guild. I still don’t quite get the entire idea behind earning reputation with a guild I was practically a founder member of via quests and instances, surely I should just be able to get rep from the guild officers/ GM.

In any case, WoW being what it is, far too few people actually complain about this and I suspect many prefer the idea that they can earn guild rep via quests and achievements without having to actually talk to anyone. Anyhow, exalted rep let me buy a dark phoenix mount, which will mean something completely different to anyone who ever read/ watched the X-Men.

The eligibility criteria are being exalted with a guild that has achieved guild kills (ie. in a raid group made up mostly of guild members) of the T11 end bosses. So it shows that your guild are capable of talking to each other at least enough for some raiding success. I think the rest of my guild should be justly proud, I wasn’t actually there for either of the kills myself.

sepulchre

And these are some moody shots of Spinks, which shows that if nothing else, being able to fly around Azeroth is good for setting up some pictures. Anyone care to guess where these were taken?

Some screenshots from Lord of the Rings Online

lorien

My burglar rides through Lothlorien, the Golden Wood. This is more of an achievement than it first appears because the elves won’t allow anyone in until they have earned enough reputation, which you do by running some regular and daily questlines.

Some people love this type of gating, others hate it. I was impressed that Turbine had tuned the amount of questing that you needed to do to a semi-reasonable amount. I had a handful of sessions of fairly relaxed questing, which involved some orc slaughter, some collections, some arrow delivery – in other words a reasonable spread of things to do. And I’m coming to the content long after most other people are off to Mirkwood.

So although I can see how people might have been frustrated when the Lorien patch first dropped at being herded through repetitive quests just outside the zone, I found it all quite relaxing. I enjoy the chilled out pace of LOTRO and this worked for me.

I was very glad that I had been advised to head out of Moria and start on the Lorien quests at level 58 though. I think that made the whole experience much smoother.

loriencity

You can tell that you are in Lothlorien from the graphical bloom. I rather liked the effect.

In this shot, my character is outside the gates of Caras Galadhon, the treetop city in the heart of the Golden Wood. And because this is LOTRO, you need even more reputation with the local elves before they will let you in. This was slightly more annoying because within that city were all the conveniences of auction house, vault, and so on.

Again, I was impressed with how the reputation grind was tuned. You get reputation from just about anything you do in Lothlorien, and I gained access to the city just before my character hit 60, which meant that I could bind there before heading off to Mirkwood.

Again, I know the Lorien quests weren’t universally popular. They are weighted towards exploring, gathering, collecting, and talking to NPCs rather than pure slaughter (although there are plenty of opportunities to kill orcs on the outskirts of the golden woods also.) I found it a breath of fresh air – maybe even literally compared with the claustrophobic orc-slaughterfest of Moria. Moving to one zone after the other was a delight, and certainly a change of pace.

So, I enjoyed my time in Lothlorien. It does feel strange to be questing in an almost empty zone. They do also go totally overboard with all the various different reputation items that end up in your bags. Bag space continues to be a huge and ongoing issue with this game.

In the end, I spent most of my tokens on Lorien-styled cosmetic clothing, because I knew I had no intention of hanging around long enough to grind out tokens for more useful gear. Especially since I imagine it gets replaced quickly in Mirkwood anyway. I peg this as one of the things you learn from having played a lot of MMOs, knowing which parts of the outdated endgame you can probably skip.

And in an oddly immersive way, it reminded me of how the fellowship in Lord of the Rings picked up elvish cloaks and clasps  to take on their way.

geode

And one last shot of Moria. In this screenshot I’m inspecting a giant geode.

Screenshot of the Day: Bears with Rockets on their Butts

gunship Quick everyone, on to the gunship!

What could be better than a zeppelin flight? How about … a zeppelin with guns? And jet powered rocket packs?

rocketform

Obviously you have to sign for the rockets first. Darn these goblins and their military bureaucracy, I guess we’re just lucky that there’s no charge. (I think the future of the Horde may be mired in paperwork.)

But this does leave one question in everyone’s mind. Us bipedal types can carry a rocket pack strapped to our backs. But what happens to the bears?

bearrocket1

bearrocket2

HOWTO: Dual Spec

I hopped onto the Euro PTR yesterday to check out the current state of dual specs for myself.  I’m impressed. It’s easy to set up, easy to switch, and easy to understand. Note: I promise this is the last dual spec post until the patch hits.

You start the process off by talking to your class trainer of choice. (Does everyone else have a favourite class trainer who you always go to?)

And the trainer now has an extra option, if you want to learn about dual talent specialization. You’ll also notice that he doesn’t think a warrior’s role is to hit stuff hard with 2 handed weapons. Not much of a trainer, now that I come to think of it.

So you talk to him/her about dual specs and this is what you are told. And finally at the bottom is where you get to spend your 1000g for a shiny new tab on your talent screen.

So you spend your money and then go check your talents. You’ll see a second tab has appeared on the right hand side. Near the top of the window some text now reads “These are your active talents.” In any case, I have the top one selected at the moment and can respec that as per usual.

I can also slot in glyphs and arrange my hotbars just as I would normally.

I can also select the bottom tab and assign points for my secondary spec. BUT until that spec is set as being active, I can’t organise glyphs and hotbars for it yet. So to set up the hotbars, click on the second tab and then on the ‘Activate these talents’ button which will appear at the top of the talent screen when you’re looking at the set that are not currently in use.

It has a 5s cast time, and then you’re set. From what I can tell, it seems to save the hotbars in the state they were in when you last swapped talents. (ie. there’s no special way to save them.)

Last step: both sets of talents are now assigned. You can see that the icons on the right-hand tabs have neatly now changed to show which tree I’m most heavily specced in for each talent set. (Fury and Protection for me, I assume most people can recognise their own talent tree icons).

In this screenshot, I have just finished sorting out my hotbars for Fury and I want to switch back to Protection.

So I look at my talent screen, select the Protection tab, and then hit the red “Activate these talents” button. And 5s later, I’m specced, glyphed, and hotkeyed for Protection again.

Switching Gear

There is also a new wardrobe type function that lets you save gearsets. This is activated from a new button on your paperdoll screen (ie. the one that shows your character and the gear it is wearing).

I wasn’t so impressed with this so didn’t take screenies.  It lets you ‘save’ sets of gear that you are wearing (so first wear the set you want to save, then use the new wardrobe to save it under whatever name and icon you want to choose) and then retrieve them by clicking an icon. There’s no extra storage, the gear is still in your bag.

I found it a bit clunky to use and I think I prefer other addons to for gear switching and don’t plan to use the baked in one. It also isn’t synched to spec swapping in any way that I can see.