Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year Picture Post

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The yeah ends today, and I've been pretty much silent all week due to SWTOR binging and having the week off of work. I took the week off from writing, read a couple books, and gamed. It was a much needed vacation.

As a consolation gift, I wanted to do a end of the year picture post today. I had a handful of screenshots saved up that I thought worth sharing... so here we go.

We'll start with the Skyrim shots. I finished the game right before Star Wars dropped, and took a couple pictures to commemorate where I decided my ending would be. I hit level 50, finished all of the various guilds, skipped the revolution (I didn't feel pulled to join either side, and you don't need to finish it for the main quest), and, at the end, crafted myself some dragon gear out of all the bones I'd collected. Here's a look at the final set (with my wife, Aela the Huntress, beside me in the heavy stuff):

I won't spoil the story, but here's a picture I took after finishing the main quest line. Anyone else think they were going to visit the Fortress of Solitude (not the city)? I expected Consuela to answer: "No, Mr. Superman no here. No. No."

On to Star Wars. I tried to pass along a picture of Coruscant earlier in the week, but it got moved or something. So I fixed that with a different picture. No fireworks in it, but still pretty cool.

My Jedi Shadow is sitting at level 31 in cantina right now, celebrating his own new year. Side note - how would you calculate age in the Star Wars Universe? Would it be your home planet, or is there some sort of galactic standard? Talk about jet lag... "Well, when we left it was next year, but we got in this year. I need a nap."

Besides unlocking the Legacy system (which does nothing but grant you a last name right now for all of your toons), I've recently been hanging around Tatooine. Notice the classic dual suns.

I looked around for a T16, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't been invented yet. Womp rats, however, are most definitely there. And, yep, they don't look much bigger than 2 meters across.

That's all I've got for now! Have a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

#SWTOR - Quick Tips

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Well, the servers are supposed to be down for another... /checks clock, /does mental time conversation (why the hell do they list CST, GMT, and CET. Seems an odd smattering. I'm used to simply subtracting from PST, being on Eastern, but fortunately I live in Indiana (/sarcasm) where we have both the Eastern and Central timezones and all you have to do is drive NORTH to convert between them (up I65, which is really NW, but it's the principle of it). Yes, time zones get me somewhat worked up... wanna fight about it? /makes lightsaber noise.

ANNNYWAY, I think I have about a half hour before the servers are scheduled to come back up. Also, I've cleared out my reader, so you get a quickie article. Here's a collection of things I've learned on my way to level 25 that may be helpful:
  • Found a pretty solid Shadow guide. I believe the link is a reproduction from the official forums, but I was blocked from the forums when I found it. If you know where it's from, feel free to post the link in comments so I can give proper credit. I wouldn't treat this as gospel (game is still pretty new), but it gives you a good idea of what you probably should be doing.
  • There is already a "torhead" site and, yes, it has a talent calculator. Also information on your companions if you want to know.
  • There is a button on the top of your minimap whenever you're in a flashpoint that allows you to teleport out. The first flashpoint we did (Hammer Station, I believe) had a convenient exit, but the next one (Athiss, I think) we ran halfway back before finding the button.
  • The Legacy System kicks in after you complete Chapter 1 of your class storyline, which tends to be in the low level 30's. Just sayin'.
  • There was a Freeze Mob in Times Square on launch day. I live in Indiana, we just had a freeze on launch day. Fortunately, the wonders of YouTube have captured it for us. Pretty epic.
  • Hmm... 15 minutes left, what else do I have?
  • Space Battles seem to be a good way to make money. Especially if you run them during commercials of a show you're watching. I do them during football games. Perfect.
  • I swapped crafting skills from Synthweaving to Artificing (I've done tailoring in other games and wanted something different). Apart from the money needed to raise it back up (see aforementioned practice of copious commercial space battles), it was pretty easy to get back to where I was. You can queue up to five crafted things by just spamming the craft button, so I made things in batches of five for a bit.
  • Still not up. Did I calculate wrong? Let's see...
  • Nope, not just me. I guess I'll go read another chapter of Brandon Sanderson's Alloy of Law... oh darn.
  • I'll leave with this tidbit. Apparently, SWTOR has already reached 1 million subs. Now, that is the initial surge, so let's not get too excited. More importantly, in my mind, is the fact that we've collectively killed 2 billion NPCs. Luckily they respawn like, well, NPCs.
Reading time. I'll be keeping my eye on the server status page...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays

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I know it's late for one, but it's early for the other, and I don't know how much I'm going to be around this week. So, from my family to yours: have a wonderful holiday week and thanks for reading! See you in the new year (if not sooner).

Coruscant at night
(Edit: Switched the image because apparently the intended one got removed from the site I was linking to.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#SWTOR - Jedi Shadow Stats

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We're going to be Star Wars heavy for a bit. I think that's understandable, but I apologize to the WoW folk around these parts. There's just, well, everything to learn about SWTOR and pretty much nothing new to learn in WoW as an Affliction 'lock. It happens.

There was a helpful comment from Targeter yesterday, and it reminded me of a great primer I read over at The Stoppable Force. Stop does a great job of explaining all the stats, so if you're not a Jedi Shadow, feel free to head over there and extract your own gearing plan.

For Shadow's it's pretty simple early on. I anticipate it getting a bit harder at advanced levels, but at least for levels 1-20, you only need to pay attention to two stats on gear: Willpower and Endurance.

Willpower is your offensive stat. It'll make you hit harder in all facets. Endurance is your defensive stat. It will help you live longer and regen health faster. For the most part, you're just looking for the gear with both of those stats on it (it's pretty standard). For mods you're looking for Resolve mods and Force-wielder hilts (for example). For the most part, this should get you through, but if you come across a trade off directly between Willpower and Endurace, just make a judgement call on how you feel. So far I've given Willpower the edge, but I don't feel super-squishy. If you're dying a lot, think about favoring Endurance.  (Not that items also have an armor rating on them, but this is really a secondary concern. It can also help in a trade-off situation, but I don't think it should be a primary consideration.)

It gets a little trickier when you start trying to gear your companion, Qyzen Fess. Even though he's a melee fighter, he apparently falls under the "trooper" paradigm. I assume this is because, though he fights like a Jedi Knight, he's not a force-wielder. As such, his primary offensive stat is Aim with Endurance still being the primary defensive stat. He can wear heavy armor, so armor rating is a little more useful for him, but still more of a secondary concern. Keep him in heavy armor with his primary stats and you should be in good shape.

I did make Qyzen some Jedi Knight gear through my Synthweaving and had him wearing it for a bit, at least until I found something with his primary stat on it. I figured gear is better than no-gear, even if it had Strength instead of Aim. The Endurance still worked, but otherwise you're not going to be able to craft very much for him, which is a shame.

Now, if I could only get my ship. A'ryatha (Fuu) and I are sitting at level 18... we have to be super-close to getting our ships. From what I've heard, most people are getting them before 20. I'm assuming it happens through the class quest and we just haven't gotten there yet. Maybe tonight...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#SWTOR - Vent Push to Talk Service Message

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Push to talk not working for you? It wasn't for me, initially. This is just a quickie service announcement, not a full-fledged double post. The fix is simple and I wouldn't want you to feel as annoyed as I was. The trick is that you have to launch your vent client in Administrator mode. In Windows 7, this simply means right clicking and choosing "Run as Administrator." Or lowering the default defender settings so that everything is effectively run in admin mode. If your PTT key isn't registering in game (worked alt-tabbed out just fine), consider giving this quick-fix a try. Worked for me, and may save you a half hour of frustration.

#SWTOR - Shadowed Beginnings

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It's official. SWTOR launched today! I'm sure this is not really a surprise to anyone, as with early entry and what-have-you, the games been "out" for a week now, and people have been talking about it for much longer. I've been slowly ramping up my own writing about the game here at KeS. I realize this is a WoW blog, but I simply don't want to start a new blog for each game I play. I like having one area to maintain and update. It keeps me here and writing, which I think y'all appreciate, even if it is about other games. Still, in the spirit of being clear, I will tag my Star Wars posts appropriately so that you know what you're getting into at a glance.

I also wanted to lay down a few disclaimers for all and sundry. First, I'm a huge Star Wars fan. Way more than Warcraft or really any other IP. When I was a young teen, I read all the novels. I'm familiar with the Solo twins, though when I went away from the books (there are so many!) for other genres, Jacen hadn't turned Sith yet. My favorite series, incidentally, was the X-Wing novels by Michael Stackpole (I follow his blog as a fledgling author now, too. He seems like a great guy and offers wonderful advice). Warcraft books are, really, a relatively new thing when compared to the plethora of Star Wars literature out there.

Point being, I'm hugely biased in favor of this game. I want to admit that up front. I'm already sucked in and loving it. I have no problem with people who say it's not for them, though. I can understand that, too. Similarly, if you're debating on jumping on your own starship and heading for the galaxy far, far away, don't make your decision based solely on what I say here. I'm definitely going to paint the game in a favorable light. (i.e. - If you buy and think it sucks, don't blame me. I'm biased. I admit it! I'm a fanboy!).

Now that we've gotten that aside, I wanted to pass along some of my initial observations, having played the game to level 16 now. I'm still a newb, still a baby, and plenty of folks are beyond me. Still, writing is what I do, and I'm going to try to put out some helpful information about my chosen classes as I go.

The first class I'm going to play to cap is the Jedi Shadow, Balance spec. I'd done a small amount of research on classes, and I picked balance shadow based on several criteria:
  1. I want a lightsaber. Preferably two. A double-bladed is sweet too. This was as simple as it was nerdy. I know, everyone wants to be a Jedi, right? But I refuse to be sorry for this boyish desire. Shadows work with double-bladed sabers, so this one was easily fulfilled.
  2. I don't want to be completely melee. Perhaps the playstyle that suits me the best in any RPG is "battlemage." That is, I like to have a healthy mixture of ranged and melee. WoW didn't really offer that kind of playstyle. The closest they got (IMO) is with frost DKs that came later. I was already a Warlock at that point, but I do have my DK for PvP. Balanced shadow is supposed to fulfill this, and so far it has.
  3. DoTs are nice. I like DoTs. Especially ones that return some health. I'm still a baby, but balance shadow looks to have this covered as well (from looking into the tree).
  4. The ability to stealth and sprint is totally an unanticipated bonus, but I love it.
  5. Sweet robes. I've never been a big armor guy. In Skyrim, I went whole hog into Light Armor. In SWTOR, I want sweet, mysterious robes. Balance shadow... check
That's all I can think of right now. I'm extremely happy with my class choice so far. It even almost has a Warlocky attitude to it. I know, I know, Jedi are good, but Jedi Shadows are like the Alliance Warlocks of the Jedi Order. They're not blatantly evil, but they may flirt with it. As you might expect, I will not be straight Light Side. I'm playing for more of a "gray" Jedi. We'll see how it works out.

If you've started a Shadow, you'll be looking for light armor with +Endurance and +Willpower on it. Those are our primary stats early on. Armor is nice, but you're going to be squishy anyway. Get good at using your stun and knockback to keep things away.

Generally, I like to stealth into a group, stab one in the back for a good chunk of damage, and then do the knock back ability. After that, I'll throw my DoT on one, stun another, and spray hurl chunks of ground as I'm running toward one for a lightsabery death. I try not to be in a melee duel, instead attempting to use finesse to get some hacks in while keeping baddies at arms length. So far it has worked well for me.

For crafting, I picked up Synthweaving with the Archaelogy and Underground Trading gathering skills. They synergize well with each other and the class, and I've created several upgrades for myself already. After slight research, I think this combination is the best, as you'll want to focus on armor instead of weapons (since you rely a lot on force abilities).

I'm still a newb, so I may be doing things wrong. If you're a fellow Shadow, feel free to let me know what's working for you. I plan to eventually work up a guide like I have for my Warlock stuff. Until then, may the Force guide you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Dealership Service Quest Chain

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Since it's Monday and I spent a good chunk of the weekend helping my mother move (gah my back hurts)... here's something that is only vaguely MMO related but will hopefully make your smile.

So I took my car into the dealer last week to repair an oil leak. It was all covered under warranty, so not a huge deal, but a bit of a hassle all the same. No part was more troublesome than the checkout. Let me recount that proceeding for you.

First, I spoke to the man at the service reception desk, the same bloke that had accepted my vehicle into the ranks of to-be-repaired. He explained that I would need to go inside to the cashier's counter. Very quickly, this is the layout of the dealership. Reception area just inside the entryway. To the right, a doorway to the service area. Through that door, you take a U-turn through another adjacent door to get to the cashier's counter. Also, at the top of that "U" is a small building-inside-of-the-building-office-looking-thingy that will come into play in just a bit. The point here, is that all of these areas are damn near in arm's reach of each other... yet separated by big glass windows. You know, so you can see exactly how far you've gone.

At the cashier's counter, I talked a friendly woman, who informed me that Dennis (and only Dennis) had to print me off a different sheet before we could complete any steps of the transaction. Dennis was apparently the receptionist that accepted my car (different from the guy I just spoke to out there; Dennis was on lunch break). I proceeded back to the original reception person and gave him my best "wtf dude, why didn't you tell me I needed Dennis" look, while being as polite as possible in my retelling of the cashier's quest line. He skipped reading the quest text and went straight to paging Dennis.

At that moment, someone who was definitely not Dennis entered the reception area. This Not Dennis took my papers and promised me that he would take care of it. No sooner had that man's heels clicked out of the reception room than Dennis himself entered, almost running into the man. Dennis gave me his best "wtf do you want, I was trying to eat" look. I explained hastily that Not Dennis had supposedly taken care of it. Dennis seemed satisfied, though mildly annoyed, and directed me back to the cashier's counter.

Shortly, the cashier materialized with papers in hand, printed by the mysterious he-who-is-Not-Dennis-but-has-Dennis-like-powers and had me sign something. Check out complete, I figured she'd pass along my keys, but what she really passed on was a token to redeem my keys at a different vendor. If you recall that building within a building, then you might expect that is where I now needed to go. You would be right. It was the service office.

The service office was lightly staffed with four men for the two desks therein. They all looked at me as if I were some sort of Russian Unicorn, and simply stared until I stated my case. I think it went something like: "Um, lady gave me this thingy and told me to get my keys?" With a grunt and a nod, one of the me snatched the token, matched number to number, and handed over the keys. I had almost turned to leave when I thought to ask: "So where is the car?"

"Just go out the door, it's somewhere in the lot out there. First few rows."

As fate would have it, it was in the third row. It took me much pressing of the lock button (for bat-esque echo-location) to find it.

When I was safely aboard my chariot, I reflected. This was, quite frankly, the Worst Quest Ever. The objective was completed within one quest hub, yes, but with much travel between nodes. The token was redeemed, but I still had to go find my reward. There was no gold. No Valor Points. I did not get any rep with any faction. Were I a developer at the offending dealership, I would quite seriously look into revamping that quest chain. Maybe add a cutscene or two, throw some montage music over the top, and save us all the trouble of watching it play out in real time.

Just sayin'...

Friday, December 16, 2011

They Have Apostrophes

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Fulguralis's eyes fluttered open. White walls reflected white floors mirroring a white ceiling. Light seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. The warlock squinted and sat up.

Well, he was already sitting. This must be a dream. He last remembered laying down, closing his eyes... and then this. It didn't feel like a dream, though. It felt real. Then again, dreams often did.

A shuffle behind him set his back rigid. Someone else was in the room. He spun in a whirl of robes, pulling out his sword.

For a moment, he just stood there. His blade went from a fiery red, to dusky purple, back to red again. All at once, Fulguralis noted the absence of sound. Apart from the rustle of clothing and his own breathing, it was silent.

"I mean you no harm." The voice was calm, soothing even, and Fulguralis felt something brush his mind.

He turned slowly. There, to his right, just out of sword's reach, was another robed man. Except this man's robes were somehow different than what Fulguralis was used to.  It wasn't that they were all that special - drab brown on brown - they just seemed to be fashioned out of a different kind of cloth. As a tailor, Fulguralis expected to recognize it, so it bothered him when he didn't.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"I am Ful'guralis, Jedi Consular of the Galactic Republic," the strange man announced.

The warlock narrowed his eyes. "Are you an orc?"

The man seemed puzzled by the question. "What is this... orc?"

"You have green skin." Fulguralis was studying the man's mouth. His teeth seemed decidedly... un-orcish. And there were patterns of squares tattooed under his eyes.

The man smiled. "I am Mirialan. Does my alien visage unnerve you?"

"You're not as ugly as an orc." Fulguralis shrugged.

"What is your name?" the Jedi asked.

"Fulguralis," the warlock replied.  Remembering the man's titles, he added, "Warlock of the Alliance and, um, Dominator of Demons."

"Then we share a name, how strange."

"Not really. People have the same name all the time."

"Do you spell yours with an apostrophe?"

"Who uses those in a name?"

There didn't seem to be an answer for that.  Instead, the Jedi's eyes went to the drawn sword.

"Interesting vibroblade. Did you craft it yourself?"

"My sword? No. Found it on a dead guy, then enchanted it."

"Enchanted?"

The warlock shook his head. Was this guy dense? "Yes. See the colors? Represents additional power. Enchanted."

"Sort of like a focusing crystal, then."

"Whatever you say, bud."

A subtle swish of the robe revealed metal glinting at the Jedi's waist.  It was a cylindrical device, unlike anything the warlock had seen before. What's more, it didn't appear sharpened anywhere.

"Is that your wand?" Fulguralis asked. There were some crazy wands out in Azeroth.

Ful'guralis pulled out the cylinder. "This?" When the warlock nodded, he explained. "A wand? No. It is my lightsaber."

"Light Saber," the warlock repeated. "So you're paladin, then?"

"A what?"

"A soldier of the Light."

"Well, I try to serve the light side of the Force, yes."

"The Force?"

"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

"So, like, the Sunwell?"

The two men stared at each other across the featureless room.  Though they spoke the same tongue, they were not communicating very easily. It was starting to seem like they came from two very different (yet somehow similar) worlds. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Saga Begins

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This is why I'm a huge nerd, and totally biased toward Star Wars. All it took is those three words atop an email, and my heart started being faster. I feel that I must point out that I'm not usually all that excited about other games. Even WoW. I mean, we did the midnight release thing and it's loads of fun, but there wasn't a big visceral response.

Maybe that's a bit disingenuous. I did get excited about Cataclysm. And Skyrim. And I'm still excited about AC:Revelations (though I'm waiting until after Christmas to buy it with gift cards and have actual time to play it). It's just that... I'm a sucker for Star Wars. The only reason I didn't play SWG was because I didn't learn about MMOs until it was already completely screwed and everyone said not to play it. Even then, I probably would have liked it just because it had lightsabers. (Even so, I'll refrain from simply gushing on here. That sort of writing can get quite dull.)

The point is that I saw the email and thought: "Oh hell yes my saga begins." Immediately followed by: "Crap, I'm at work."

So yeah, I'll be here... working. An inauspicious start to my saga if you ask me. Yet, patient the Force must be. Or something. We'll roll tonight (on Jekk'Jekk Tar), probably around 5:31PM (takes me a half hour to get home). And then... it's on Sith.

(If you're curious, it seems like nearly every wave or pre-orders has been invited now... or should have been.  The first few days were pretty much stuck in July with the initial spike. Then, it apparently expanded quickly, because we didn't redeem until October (I was preoccupied) and a buddy that just got his in the last wave only redeemed a few weeks ago.  So it looks like they planned it so that everyone gets at LEAST 5 days instead of at most like I'd expected with the initial announcement.  I'm assuming this is why they bumped it up two days.  They probably calculated that they could get everyone in if they started x days before, and went with that. Heck, that was probably the plan all along.  Probably could have been communicated a bit better, but they may have been hedging a bit in case things went wrong. From what I hear, though, it's all smooth.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two For Tuesday

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I'm a classic rock station now. Deep radio DJ voice: double shot of Van Halen, comin' up. Then, we're going deep into the vaults for some AC/DC... Okay, not really. Just have two quick points of discussion for today.

First, SWTOR guild server announcements came out yesterday, so a whole bunch of us now know where we're going. If you're looking for me, look no further than the Jekk'Jekk Tar server. I'm following some RL friends there. Likely, I'll just go a Fulguralis for my first toon, so feel free to look me up and say hi.  Also, if you're in the neighborhood and looking for a close-knit, casual group of players (that are still playing other games so won't time will always be an issue), feel free to hang around with us in a more permanent fashion (i.e. find me and run with us a few times... maybe join our little guild).

I also plan to roll a toon on Hidden Beks if they let me as well. It's an EU server, and my old guild Generations is planning to play there. Most of them are EU folks, so we didn't roll mains there since the time change is likely an issue, but I did want to mention them.  If you're an EU gamer looking for a good, casual home... the great people at Gens still hold a special place in my heart, and they've been around forever.

Second, our raid group was short three last night (two of our future lawyers were facing finals), so we ended up checking out the LFR. It was everything everyone said it would be.  We actually queued into a 2/4 group, already in progress, so we only go to experience the last two bosses.  Or I think it said 2/8, but you only do 4 in LFR, right?  It was sort of confusing, but we downed two bosses and then the popup said we'd finished what we set out to do and the group dissolved, so we figured we were done.  The two fights were interesting, puggable, and fun.  I know people say "easy," but I wouldn't go that far.  Not that I find them challenging, just that I think they're tuned right for the situation you run them in.  The challenge is in coordination and leadership, not mechanics.

Also, as was pointed out by K-bear yesterday in comments, for someone coming from 10-mans, it's easy to forget how little the individual (especially DPS) matters in 25-man.  You're not really down and out until half the raid is dead.  There will be fail, but you should still be able to get the bosses down.  It was a lot of fun for the seven of us, together in vent, going in blind.  Plus we got some solid upgrades out of it.  Also, having a 7-raider core likely helped the group... we provided most of the top DPS, plus since we had our own healers, they kept us alive (not necessarily at the expense of others, but probably just a bit... so sue us. XD).

Fun times.  Now, back to your regularly scheduled Tuesday programming.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quick Monday Update

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This is, effectively, the last work week of the year for me. I still have to come in next week for a couple days, but everyone will be gone so it'll be pretty dull. The flipside is that everyone wants everything done this week, before they leave. Makes sense, right?

Being a peon, all I can say is: "Yesh, mi'lord." and "Right away, mi'lord." And if you click on me, several versions of "Wut is it?" until maybe I get pissed and let loose with a special line before going back to the same "Yesh" routine.  Oh, you want me to take lumber to the lumber mill? THEN BUILD IT CLOSER YOU IDIOT.

But I can't say that, I just have to do what the powers-that-be tell me to do.  Also means that this week is going to be a bit busy, so if all of my posts seem sporadic and rushed... well, it's because I'm lugging sacks of gold to and from the ke- oh, now it's a castle.

Gaming-wise, I plan to be busy, too.  Likely, my early-invite to SWTOR will come to be later this week.  It's all very secretive and mysterious, and despite my abundance of medichlorians, always in motion the future is.  Difficult to see my start time must be.

As such, I'm trying to "finish" Skyrim.  I'm sitting at level 44.  The plan is to get to 50 and then finish the MQ.  I've finished all of the guilds, though there are plenty of quests left.  I've not even touched the rebellion (and plan to make peace and save it for a rainy day after the main quest is complete).  There are plenty of daedric artifacts that I've not acquired, and I'm only thane in two holds (Whiterun and Riften).  Thus, I can't really say I'm "finishing" the game.  More like I'm throwing in the towel.  Seriously, Skyrim will suck your life away if you let it.  Almost as bad as an MMO.

I probably would have wrapped up my plans in Skyrim this weekend if it hadn't been for WoW.  For all my complaints about the glossed-over story in the new heroics, they sure are nice to run randomly.  Perfect balance of time-spent and reward-gained, perhaps a little slanted toward the reward end right now (what with all the useful drops).  Ran a few this weekend and, what do you know, it was fun again.  I may get back into the habit, at least until I exhaust the points vendors.

Sadly, I've not been able to try the LFR just yet.  No Dragon Soul raids for me, either.  We're still planning to finish up Rags, and I've just not had nights where I can sit down and raid (apart from the one I've set aside per week).  I suppose that's why I'm happier with the heroics.  I've spent a whole lot of this expansion feeling like I'm a failure at gearing up because, in general, I only get about an hour each night.  Before these new heroics, you couldn't do a lot of useful (for raiding) things in an hour.  Squeezing in a Trollroic was iffy for a while.  I quickly exhausted the usefulness of the out-of-the-Cata-box heroics.  It's nice to have a "quick fix" solution again.

That's all for now.  We'll see how coherent I am later this week.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Austin Was Pretty Hairy

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Fulguralis plants the head of his mallet into the ground and leans up against it, panting. The exceedingly odd man next to him hands him a red ticket. Fulguralis nods and exchanges it for the long wooden hammer.

"Well done," the man says. "Would you like to go again?"

Fulguralis shakes his head. "No, no. I've had enough for today."

"You'll be back tomorrow, though?" the man asks with a wink.

Fulguralis grins. "Of course."

As he turns, the Faire attendant is already hollering at other passerby, having moved on from the warlock. Darkmoon island has been quite busy since the re-opening of the fair. Fulguralis has to admit, the fair-folk had done a great job with the place.

"Stomping good time, was it not?"

Fulguralis turns to the Gilnean addressing him. "Yes. It was, wasn't it?"

The man had been whacking the stuffed moles alongside him in the both just now. Fulguralis did not recognize him at first. The warlock finds that a certain... haze settles over his brain while he's playing this particular game. He doesn't see the other gamers around him, but merely focuses on where that next felling mole will pop up. Then... WHACK. It really was a lot of fun. A great way to blow off some steam too, even if it was a bit closer than the warlock usually fought. Maybe there's something to this melee business?

Fulguralis lets his gaze roam over the friendly stranger.  The man appears to be wearing, of all things, a leisure suit of crushed blue velvet with a frilly white undershirt poking out through the chest.  Brown hair arranged just-so, thick black glasses, and terrible, terrible teeth complete the ensemble. 

Ever since those damn Ethereals showed up, fashion's been... strange to say the least, Fulguralis reflects.  Especially among the Gilneans.

"I've been rather thrilled with the Faire. Certainly has taken my mind off the war," the Gilean admits.

Fulguralis simply nods.  He supposes that is one good reason to go to the Faire: to escape the realities of the struggle against Deathwing.  Wasn't really why he was there, but a valid reason nonetheless.

"I'll admit it," the Gilnean continues. "There are really only two things that scare me, and one is Dragon War."

Fulguralis takes the bait. "What's the other?"

"Excuse me?"

"What's the other thing that scares you?"

The man leans in close. "Carnies. Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands."  He flexes his fingers before leaning back with a shudder.

Fulguralis looks around at the Faire and all of the scurrying attendants.  He raises an eyebrow.

"So, why are you here?" the Gilnean asks.

Fulguralis shrugs. "The tickets?"

The strange man cocks his head at the warlock.  Unwilling to be rude, he changes the subject.  "Ah look. A cannon. And they'll shoot you from it.  Just my sort of thing.  After all, Danger is my middle name."  Just then, a rather scantily clad, plate-wearing woman walks by.  "Hello, hello," the man says, attaching to her like a Gnomish magnet.

Fulguralis rolls his eyes as the man leaves.  All sorts of folk at the Faire.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#SWTOR - Last Beta Thoughts

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I think I mentioned that I got into the SWTOR beta again this past weekend. It was the last one, and a much smaller sampling, so I was compelled at the very least to drop in. I didn't have a whole lot of time, but I did get to spend a few quality hours and go from level 10 to 12. 

When I created my beta toon, I didn't put a whole lot of thought into it.  I've spent gobs of time with character creators before, and SWTOR's isn't revolutionary.  I simply picked the green dude because the Muppet movie was coming out and I wanted to repeat "it's not easy being green" in my head several times.  I found it quite hilarious in my own little world.

Color me surprised, then, when I felt a pang of loss when I considered that the character was being deleted.  I had grown quite fond of the horribly green Luke Skywalker clone (seriously, I did the hair, too).  Furthermore, I felt a bit sad that my sexy smuggler was getting wiped as well, and I'd only played her to level 2.  What the hey-diddle-diddle?  I'm no stranger to character attachment, but so soon?

Spinks touched on it along with some beta notes here:
"My overall impression is that the story emphasis has a much bigger effect on how involved players get with their characters than I first thought."
Exactly!  The voices.  The attitudes.  I just got a little taste and I was sad to see them go.  On the flip side, had I rolled a completely annoying character, I might have been ready to nuke him/her into oblivion.  I assume the lightsaber cuts both ways.

I also found some fair criticism from Gordon at We Fly Spitfires here.  Just trying to be fair and balanced and all that.  The game isn't perfect, and potential players should be aware of what they may or may not be buying into.

Finally, I wanted to give Targeter a proper shout out, since I know how he feels.  It can be hard to face a game launch when you have high expectations, even when you've endeavored to keep them low.  He's struggling with letting his secret (public) love fly.  It's sort of like throwing a really juicy steak to a pack of rabid wolves after you've only had one bite.  You know they're out there, and they're going to tear it to pieces.  Plus, filet is really wasted on the lupine palate, isn't it?  Hopefully there's enough meat to go around and the flavor holds up.

That about rounds up my last beta thoughts. Now comes the hard part: being patient for release.  I even have a single vacation day that I saved all year so I could binge properly on the first day.  (Not that anyone here would scoff at such a practice, but seriously it's the only "me" day I've taken this year.  And we should all get at least one "me" day, shouldn't we?)  Until then, remember that impatience leads to frustration, frustration to fear, fear to anger, anger to the Dark Side.  Isn't that how it goes?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Faire? The Faire!

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All black and brown and covered with hair. Nope, that's not how it goes. (Sorry, little Song of Fire and Ice joke there. Anyone else enjoy the Bear and the Maiden Fair, or is it just me?). Anyway, about the Faire.

Yes, I finally got around to checking it out. A day late, to be sure. And while I complained on Friday about the new heroics (albeit in character), I have no complaints about the Faire. I'm actually suitably impressed. It is not a giant hub, but it is fun. The games are interesting, and it all seems well done. I haven't noticed any glaring issues yet, and even the small things seem to have been thought of.

It almost seems to me to be a Tale of Two Design Teams. There are a plethora of little things that annoy me about the the implementation of the new heroics. They just don't have that same level of Blizz-polish. There are small bugs here and there, and the storytelling is not as fluid as I might like to see. On a larger scale, they're fine. The fights are interesting when working, the venues pretty when you have a moment to take it in, and the cameos by lore characters are fun when you actually get a chance to digest that they're there. However, the demon lord is in the details, they say, and there are some details in the heroics that are even now being hotfixed.

The Faire, though? Seems flawless so far. Is it odd that that surprised me?

In a world of Skyrim and SWTOR, it really is the details that will make or break my playtime decisions. The minor details won't make me completely quit a game, but at the end of the day, I simply want the most fun for my time spent. My time is precious, and there are tons of things competing for it right now. The Faire may well win a temporary spot where the heroics have failed. It's not simply about rewards... it's how I feel when earning those rewards, and the heroics feel to rushed for me. It's more stress, not less.
"Oh come they said,
Oh come to the fair!
The fair? said he,
But I'm a bear!
All black and brown,
And covered in hair!"
I'll leave you with a tip: Did you know there's a trade goods vendor just outside of the return portal (in Elwynn Forest at least)? Yep, Fuu didn't. She went all the way back to Stormwind to get her trade goods. The closer vendor really makes the dailies pretty trivial. Just sayin'.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Let The Dragons Have Him

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Fulguralis stomped from one end of the room to the other. Reaching the far side, he retraced his path. Once he was back where he started, he muttered a few things, and then began the pattern anew. His wife watched from the safety of the bed.

"Your pacing is wearing me out, hun," Fuubaar said.  "What's wrong?"

"What's wrong?" Fulguralis repeated. "What's wrong?" His voice was getting progressively higher. "I'll tell you what's wrong."

But he didn't.  He degenerated to mumbling and stomping.  Fuubaar could make out the occasional "Dragon Soul."  Generally, it was surrounded by profanity.

Fuubaar sighed and watched patiently.  Give him a moment, and he'd burn himself out.  Warlocks were fiery like that.

"Does this have anything to do with traveling through time?" Fuubaar asked.

Fulguralis turned toward her, eyes ablaze.  "Yes, time travel. Exactly! That's a huge part of the problem. They just send us all over time like some sort of chrono-butler. Recording this, and stopping that. And 'oh no, not this possible apocalypse.' And pay-no-attention-to-this-stream-because-it's-simply-parallel-and-doesn't-reflect-your-reality-at-all. But it does. It does."

"Who are 'they,' sweetheart?"

"The dragons, of course. The felling dragons. They have all the answers. And they're so powerful. But not that powerful. Only powerful enough to show up when all the grunt work is done. Oh, and to go crazy and muck everything up in the first place. But ask them to actually do something and all you get is some cryptic answers about time flows and old gods and all this patronizing crap about-"

"I thought you liked Alexstrasza?"

Fulguralis threw up his hands. "To look at, sure. And she's always been nice. But what has she really done?"

"She did take on Deathwing several times, I believe. And her drakes have bailed you out of several sticky situations."

Fulguralis waved that away. "The red dragonflight isn't who I'm talking about. It's all the rest of them."

"Are you mad about Deathwing again, dear?"

"Don't even get me started. I mean, who is this guy? He just flies in, all pissed off at being held captive for a billion years or whatever, destroying stuff. Why was he there in the first place? Oh yeah, because he got corrupted by power! Why? What's his motivation to throw it all away for some power? That's all these dragons want: power. I consort with demons for power daily, and you don't see me losing my head. Why can't these all-mighty dragons handle it? What the fel good are they if all they ever do is give into their baser urges and get used as pawns and such? Weren't they created to protect this world? If so, that dude messed up big time. Talk about a bunch of flawed engineering... look at the dragons."

"Honey, dragons are people, too," Fuubaar said. "Okay, not really people. Sort of elves, but not really. But what I'm trying to say is that they have wants and desires as well. They're just as vulnerable as we are. And don't forget we created the Lich King."

Fulguralis threw a finger. "But that's exactly my point. I get Arthas. He was trying to protect his people, and lost his way. It makes sense. It was a dumb choice, but at least it makes sense. What's Deathwing's excuse? Who was he looking out for? What were his motivations? I mean they want us to go after this guy, but what do we really know about him?"

Fuubaar shrugged. "So what are you saying?"

"It's a dragon problem. That's what I'm saying. The dragons created this mess, not us. Why don't they clean it up? Why do they have to use us?"

"I don't know what to tell you, hun."

"Don't tell me. Tell that Light of yours." He pointed at the ceiling. "It's his... hers... their... its... doing." He walked over and sat on the bed, holding his head in his hands. "All this old god stuff. These aspects. This time travel. These damned dragons. I can't wrap my head around it. And no one really wants to sit down and take the time to explain it. It's all go go go, and I just want know why. That's all. Is that so much to ask?"

Fuubaar patted him on the leg. "It'll be okay. Why don't you put on your gear so we can go try to find some answers?"

Fulguralis nodded for a moment, and then stood up in an explosion of blankets and limbs. "And that's another thing. Do you know how expensive it is to maintain all this gear? It's cloth. Cloth! And I'm paying out the-"

Fuubaar nodded along with the rant. Looks like it was going to be another one of those weeks...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Two for Thursday

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You get another post today. This one is just a quick shout out, though. Promise. Generally, I try to space stuff out, but there's just a lot going on.  So many games!

I wanted to point to the latest SWTOR beta patch notes over at The Stoppable Force.  Stop's a great blogger and I'm glad to see he'll be writing about Star Wars.  He was one of my favorite WoW bloggers back in the day before he went on hiatus.  Anyway, he published the notes in their entirety, so all you midi-chlorians out there might want to go check 'em out.  I know I did.