29/08/2015

Companion Changes

Yesterday's developer livestream (most of which can apparently be found here, not that I watched it myself) finally revealed some more concrete information about what's happening with companions. Here's the summary on the forums, and here are answers to some additional questions that were asked in that thread. I'm actually not that bothered about things like when exactly we'll get which companion back and the exact circumstances of when new companions will join us - I'll be happy to see that once it's in game. However, there were two announcements about mechanical changes that definitely caught my attention.

The first one was that companion gear will cease to matter to anything but their appearance; the companion's power will just scale with your level.

You mean I did all those Yavin 4 dailies for nothing? Nooo...!

You mean I shouldn't have vendored Lord Scourge's original (green) gear because I could have used it to make him look really cool again without gimping him? Nooo...!

You mean my gear spreadsheet will become largely redundant?

Thank god! As Werit points out, companion gear management is a fun little mini-game at first, but the effort involved quickly gets out of hand the moment you start rolling alts - thus also my need for a spreadsheet to keep track of which alt's companions needed what. I do think that being able to get rid of that will be quite a weight off my mind.


Screenshot of my gear spreadsheet ca. mid 2014 - you can tell by the item levels.

In fairness though, it also removes one of the few positives I saw in rolling all the main stats into a single mastery stat - the chance to hand gear down to your companions. Plus, I'll have even fewer uses for surplus commendations now... at least I could use them to gear companions so far. And crafting droid parts will be a thing of the past I guess, since there are no droid player characters and they've never affected apperance...? Still, on the whole I see this as a positive change.

I'm less pleased with the other major announcement, which is that all companions will be able to fill all the roles of the trinity. I've never found it to be a problem that not everyone could do everything (that's why we had so many after all, to be able to choose), and I liked that they had limitations - it felt "right". I prefer my NPCs to follow the same rules as player characters whenever possible, so it made sense that they could only ever fill two different roles, just like player characters. Their chosen roles also tended to reflect their personalities: Can you see Tharan "I'm a pacifist" Thedrax jumping in to tank things? Or timid little Mako? How is HK-51, who loves nothing more than disposing of "organic meatbags", going to heal people? Just the thought of that makes me cringe. We'll see how the actual implementation works out, but I'm not expecting to like it.

25/08/2015

Red Circles Are Overrated

While it's probably going to be a while until we see a new operation, I've been doing some thinking on the subject anyway. Specifically, I've been wondering why I've felt somewhat dissatisfied with the latest crop of operations. The awkward difficulty curve has certainly played into it, but it's not the only reason.

One thing that came to mind was the over-abundance of random circle mechanics. Back in WoW, the raider's mantra was not to stand in the fire, and pretty much since launch, SWTOR's equivalent of this has been "don't stand in the circles". Usually said circles are red, but sometimes they come in purple, orange and yellow as well.

However, when I think back to the early days of the game, said circles weren't actually nearly as common then as they are now. Mainly they seemed to represent enlarged enemy target markers, for example if someone was targeting you with an orbital strike or you were being pelted by some sort of missile barrage. Eternity Vault - still my favourite operation in the game - is actually surprisingly short on circle mechanics with the exception of the first boss, who is a droid and the circles mostly work in the way I just described.

But other bosses don't have them, even where you might expect it. When Gharj goes into a frenzy for example, things get painful in melee but you don't know just how far you have to step back to avoid taking damage as there is no clear indicator. And a big part of why Soa's last phase has always been so hard to tank is that there was no easy way to see where the pylons are going to land. You always had to twist your camera around to look up while also trying to manoeuvre the boss in the right direction and not stand in the wrong place yourself.

Looking back, it feels like the red circles really took off with the release of Explosive Conflict, which is where they started to serve as clear range indicators for abilities that still also had other visual cues, such as the rocks bursting out of the ground on Zorn and Toth or Kephess' big jump. In hindsight this was probably the best of both worlds, giving the player a good idea of what was supposed to be happening from an immersive point of view as well as giving them the means to more easily understand and deal with the encounter's mechanics.

Starting with Shadow of Revan however, it seems to me that circles and other target markers have started to simply become shorthand for "insert a mechanic here". The most egregious example of this that comes to mind is the Underlurker in Temple of Sacrifice. Just how does spreading out in a perfect cross around him protect us from taking damage from his ground smash? Hiding behind the fallen rocks to avoid his rage storm makes sense, but this doesn't. The mechanic's only purpose seems to be to make people step in and out of a ground marker.

Or how about the Colossal Monolith on Ziost? The entire fight is about running in and out of circles, but what does any of it mean?! There is some on-screen text about the monolith exposing power sources and trying to draw energy from the rifts, but none of that really serves as an explanation for why people have to run into certain coloured circles and then into more circles of the same colour and somehow this interrupts the boss's channel. It all just feels incredibly "gamey".

It may be funny to criticise operations of all things for what boils down to a lack of immersion, but to me at least that's something that does matter. The boss doesn't need to have a deep back story or anything like that, but at the very least I should gain some sort of understanding of what moves he has that make him dangerous and why. "Circles appear on the ground and they are bad for you" just doesn't quite cut it.

21/08/2015

Bounty Hunting with Agent Shintar

12x XP is truly wasted on me. Others keep going on about how great it is, and how they wish Bioware would just do away with side quests altogether (/shudder), and yet my Imperial Agent alt on the Progenitor is still only on Alderaan nearly three months after I created her. I do love the story, but I just don't feel compelled to progress it the way others seem to. Maybe having seen all the different class stories by now plays into it, though I know of others who also have and still rush every new alt to the end of the class story as quickly as possible. I'm just happy to slowly putter around, explore and simply enjoy being a part of the world.

Not long ago I ran a random flashpoint to finally get up to Social 1, so I'd be able to complete the quest that introduces you to social points. (Being able to buy the required item from the vendor requires Social 1.) I queued as healer and got a pop instantly, just for my game to hang up on the loading screen. Fortunately my group didn't seem to be too distressed by having to wait for me to restart the game.

We got Mandalorian Raiders and it was a smooth run, though I was a bit shocked by how well we did even though people didn't seem to know proper boss tactics. On the last boss the dps spawned multiple sets of turrets, but somehow we muddled through. I don't think this content will need much nerfing to be able to qualify as role-neutral in KotFE.


Might not be a good idea to stand in that spot, mate...

Another thing I've been doing is Bounty Contract Week whenever it's up. I've found that hunting down a henchman takes about twenty to thirty minutes and therefore fits perfectly into that "play just a little bit before work" time slot that I've got at the moment. I've also been kind of surprised by how much I've been enjoying it. Of course it helps that I get a lot more rewards out of it on the Progenitor, this being a new legacy (so I get XP, reputation and achievements that I wouldn't get on the Red Eclipse anymore). But I'm also coming to appreciate how different this event feels with the single drawn-out daily mission that tries to tell you a story without actually revealing any of the relevant details, as opposed to offering "just another daily hub" like other events. On release I found that odd, but I've got used to it by now.

I've also been finding even the henchman fights surprisingly challenging! More than once the difficulty I had with overcoming them inspired me to upgrade my gear. I even failed a couple of times.

Plus, poking shady characters is fun. Their locations make little sense sometimes, which amuses me all the more. Nothing like seeing someone stand in a pile of his own corpses in the Dromund Kaas cantina, or talking to the shadies on Alderaan, who for some reason all decided to hang out outside of town in fields of snow (and are showing the appropriate "I'm so cold, this place sucks" animations to match).


The only thing I'm unsure about right now are the kingpin missions. Back when the event first came out, I ground through all of them with my pet tank in the first week, but I think since then Bioware changed it so you can only do one a week. I'm not sure how to best go about actually completing one though. I don't have guaranteed help on this server, and finding someone to group up with in my level range would require some luck. It would be even more annoying if I had already picked a mission and it then turned out to be the "wrong" one... I think I'll just keep saving up the completed contract currency for now.

16/08/2015

R.I.P. Red Goo

Information about Knights of the Fallen Empire keeps trickling in at a fairly slow pace, considering that its release is barely two months away. I'm not talking about story spoilers here, but about updates about mechanical changes. I kind of didn't expect anything major to happen that wasn't necessitated by the change to the way Bioware is telling its stories, but it seems that this assumption was wrong. Musco is promising that we'll hear more about things like companions and crew skills soon™, but in the meantime stuff is leaking out both via datamined information as well as via snippets passed on from Gamescom, and it's all kind of awkward.

First off, we have the piece of information that the four main stats aim, cunning, strength and willpower will be rolled into a single stat called mastery. I was initially quite shocked by this announcement, simply because the four main stats are such a core part of the game, and I don't recall anyone ever mentioning anywhere that having a separate stat for each base class was a problem. Sure, new players would sometimes get confused and pick up the wrong stat for their class initially, but was that really an ongoing issue? I can't shake the feeling that this is a case of changing things for the sake of having change, and that's not something I like.

I won't deny that it will have some advantages. First off, there is the aforementioned ease of understanding the system. There should also be fewer wasted gear drops that way, and troopers won't be the only class anymore that can use its old gear as hand-me-downs for all of its companions. All datacrons that give stat boosts will be useful for everyone (though some people might see that as a negative). And people who currently use legacy armour to wear the same gear set on more than one character will be able to pass it on and wear it on even more characters.

The downside is that everyone will have a genuine reason to roll on (pretty much) everything, and of course a major loss of flavour. I expect that Bioware will use this as an excuse to majorly cut back on art assets devoted to gear that comes from drops or vendors, churning out nothing but very generic looking sets that could theoretically be worn by anyone. The whole layout of the fleet will be put in question, because why have four separate vendors for different classes in each section if they are all going to sell the same gear? I'm trying to keep an open mind, but it just feels wrong.

Similarly, major changes are apparently coming to crafting, which is what the title of this post refers to. I don't even want to get into all the details of what's been datamined, but the main thing that struck me was that Bioware is removing a huge chunk of raw materials from the game - from the looks of it basically anything that had more than one "type" will be axed. E.g. up until now there were two types of grade five metals in the game, Electrum and Neutronium, and if you were running a crew skill mission for grade five metals you'd never know what you were going to get. So the plan seems to be to simplify things by removing Neutronium from the game (and turning any leftovers into vendor trash). Then apply the same principle to everything.


Less clutter in my legacy bank? Yes, please.

Once again I struggled with very mixed feelings on hearing this piece of news. My legacy bank is ridiculously full of crafting mats, leaving little room for anything else, so the thought of being able to clear out a lot of those mats is a happy one. A lot of the time, the fact that there was more than one type of metal/compound/whatever was also hugely annoying, because as I already stated you couldn't choose which one you'd get from missions. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been doing crafting for conquest and found herself perpetually short on Electrum while piles of Neutronium were gathering dust in her bank.

Yet at the same time... small imperfections like that give a game flavour and create gameplay opportunities. (Damn, I have all this Neutronium, what do I do with it? Is there anything useful I can craft with it? If I want to sell it, are there times that are better for this than others? etc.) To me, World of Warcraft is an example of how relentless streamlining of everything can slowly drain a game of a lot of its worldly flavour, and I don't want to see SWTOR go down the same route.

Also, personally I'll really miss Red Goo because I have a sentimental connection to that crafting material in particular. I've had bioanalysis and biochem as my main's crew skills since I started playing the game (I had no idea at the time if they were any good; I just picked them because they sounded like the sci-fi equivalent of herbalism and alchemy, which had been my main professions in WoW). Levelling up as a healer, I was usually trailing behind the rest of the group and hoovering up anything that could be bioanalysed even if everyone else was already moving on. Inevitably someone would die from lack of healing and wonder what the hell I was up to. I vaguely remember this coming up in a run with my first guild, and when someone looked at the log to see what I had been looting, he exclaimed something like: "You're letting me die because of Red Goo? Really?" So Red Goo became my excuse for always hanging back in groups and letting people die if they rushed on ahead anyway, even as I moved on to new and higher grade materials. (Not to mention that Red Goo is a lot easier to remember and say out loud than e.g. Biological Compounding Chemical.) I don't know what excuse I'll be giving come coffee time...


Carefree days of Red Goo collection...

Finally, Musco has hinted that they are actively working on making datacrons legacy-wide, something that a lot of people have been requesting on the forums for a long time. For me, this was another letdown. If you go through the datacron tag on this blog, you can go through my archives and observe the slow development of my attitude towards datacrons from complete ignorance and not caring to feeling a sense of adventure when getting my first couple and even perceiving them as an interesting form of group content after a while. Whenever I level a new alt now, I make sure to pick up (almost) all the datacrons on the way, even if I skip most of the quests on each planet. It's fun and progresses my character! But once this change goes through, it will be very pointless.

People will argue that nothing's stopping me from still visiting each datacron on all my alts and that's true, but it's also the typical argument of someone who doesn't care. Nobody's ever said: "Gee, I really like this content, please take away the rewards for it, I won't miss them at all." I also imagine that it will become harder to find help for the datacrons that require a group, because "oh, I could use that on my alt" won't be an argument to sway people anymore.

Overall, it just sounds like Bioware is changing too much at the same time for my liking. Even if those changes turn out to be good for the game, it's hard work for a player to adjust to too many things changing at once, and if everything suddenly feels strange it can make you feel disconnected from the game. I want to have faith in Bioware, because while they've obviously made mistakes over the years, I've never felt like they completely let me down, even after I had to weather the storms of server merges and the free-to-play conversion. It's just difficult when we know so little about their thought processes behind these changes.

12/08/2015

Matches Worth PvPing For

The scene: Alderaan Civil War.

As the teams stand on their factions' ships, waiting for the pre-match timer to count down, I play "count the healers", because it tends to give me a pretty good idea of what sort of game is about to come. Two to three is pretty much the ideal number of healers in an eight-man warzone. If I'm the only one, it's likely going to be painful for me. If there are four or more, it's probably also going to be painful for everyone involved, but in a different way.

I spot another Combat Medic and a Sage healer. The second Sage in the group is a damage dealer based on his set bonus, so all seems well. It makes sense for all of us to go to mid together and support the group.

A Shadow peels off to cap grass. The enemy captures snow, but no cap has happened on our side yet. They sent someone to intercept the Shadow then. She doesn't call for help, but I can see her health going down in big chunks, so I peel off from the main group and run over to the grass turret as quickly as I can.

I mentally mouth a slo-mo "nooo" in my head as I approach the turret and see the Shadow going down before I can reach her. However, I do manage to make it there in time to prevent the enemy Assassin from capping. We spar for a bit, and eventually the Shadow respawns, comes back, and we kill the Assassin together. I feel proud of my timely intervention, even though there was no open call for help.

I return to mid, which still hasn't been capped. The situation seems to be a pretty annoying stalemate, with both teams pushing each other back and forth across the middle. People do die occasionally, but not fast enough for either side to gain a clear advantage. The ships' health bars keep ticking down slowly, but at the moment the Imps are winning since they capped their turret before we got ours. We need mid.

Eventually I spot an opportunity as the flow of battle has pushed the Imps away from the turret again and I start capping. A Sorcerer casts Force Storm above my head, but nothing happens. I don't entirely understand how it works, but sometimes there are situations where the angle of the turret appears to shield me from AoE being cast from the other side somehow if I stand in just the right spot. Whenever this happens, I always wonder if the other guy is going to report me for supposedly hacking the game or something. ("Why didn't my AoE interrupt her?!") Either way, we got mid now and someone types something like "YEEEAAAH" in chat. I don't want to pat myself on the back too much, but I feel like the woman of the match already.

"1 grass," the Shadow calls this time. Again I decide to peel off to help her. We fight off the first attacker, but more are arriving quickly. "2 grass," I type into ops chat, and soon afterwards: "3 grass". We fight valiantly, but nobody else is coming to help from mid and eventually we go down. I feel a little bit of PvP rage welling up inside me. "Why didn't you come to help?!", I want to write into the chat. Or: "Does nobody read the chat?!" Of course, I don't actually do it because it would be pointless and I always find it annoying when other people give in to the temptation. The lesson that people should have supported grass should be pretty self-evident, and if people aren't actually reading the chat, they won't start doing so just to see me rant.

As I res and return to grass in an attempt to take it back, I consider composing a sad tweet about this match. Something like: "That moment when you're totally awesome in a PvP match but someone else causes you to lose. ;_;" Sounds a bit conceited though... The match is not lost yet, but we are falling behind again.

A few more Republic players have shown up to try and take the turret back, but it's not nearly enough. It all feels rather half-hearted. I run in circles trying to stay alive for a while and feel quite dispirited when I finally get overwhelmed by a flurry of lightsabers. However, as I die, I notice that while I was the last member of my team to go down, there are still three Imps at grass. That means that they must be under strength somewhere else... Dare I hope that my team has thought to exploit this?

As I res on the ship once again, I turn right from the landing zone and see that a blue line is indicating someone capping over at snow. Yesss! Someone from my team has gone over there instead and taken that turret. My heroic sacrifice (or something) at grass was enough of a distraction to buy them the time needed.

After that, we manage to hold mid and snow until the end and win.

10/08/2015

Do We Need a Coffee Bucket List?

Back before WoW came out with its Cataclysm expansion, I felt some pressure to complete certain bits of content before the big revamp of the old world was going to cause them to disappear (seemingly) forever. I even got the Loremaster achievement, which involved the completion of a total of over three thousand quests! Okay, so I had already done a large chunk of those beforehand, but it was still a fair bit of work.

In The Old Republic, I've never engaged in any kind of major pre-expansion preparation so far. I only remember that before Rise of the Hutt Cartel came out, I was kind of hoping to clear EC NiM while it was still current content. That didn't happen in the end, but it was no big deal. I simply went back later.

However, with all the changes that Knights of the Fallen Empire is supposed to bring, I've been thinking about compiling a sort of bucket list. First off, there is the matter of operations getting scaled up. Trying to "finish off" Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice is actually incredibly pointless right now, because with the new level scaling they'll still be current content after KotFE comes out.

Instead it's the old operations that we should be worried about, if anything. The old level 55 nightmare modes are still challenging in terms of mechanics - it's only at level sixty that my guild got a lot of them down, and even so we are still missing a lot of achievements. Since we didn't manage to get them while these were current content, the next couple of months until the expansion are pretty much our last chance to snag them while we are still sufficiently overpowered! After that it will all be scaled up to be current content again, and things like the Dread Council on nightmare will probably be too hard for us again. That's kind of... bizarre.


Unless I'm planning to get a whole lot better at the game, time to complete those ops achievements is running out.

And now the latest bit of news from Gamescom has come in, informing us that proceeding into the new content will come with a warning that any uncompleted, old "story" quests will become inaccessible and go away. Of course this raises the question of what's included in that definition. Class and companion stories, sure, but where do you draw the line? What about things like the Seeker Droid and Macrobinocular missions, or planetary storylines? The only reason to remove access to this old content is that it would become too messy and not make sense anymore if people went back to it after becoming the Outlander, but that would apply to pretty much all the current missions...

However, even if we assume a fairly strict definition of what's a story quest, the question still remains of how to deal with the threat of all those loose ends simply being cut off. I confessed not that long ago that only two of my characters have actually completed Ziost, and the more I look around my stable of alts, the more gaps become apparent. Not all of them have completed Yavin (mostly because I chose the operations ending on some and then never got around to taking them there). A few haven't even completed Rishi! And let's not even talk about my level 56 Shadow who has yet to wrap up her last class mission on Corellia... I also can't help but think of a guildie of mine who plays a Shadow tank in our operations sometimes. I remember looking into his quest log once and was horrified to find that he hadn't done his class story past Nar Shaddaa!

Up until now, I haven't felt too bad about any of this (other than the occasional stab of guilt as I find myself thinking that I should really play this or that character more often), because if in doubt I could always go back and do any content that I had missed later. If the coffee expansion takes this option away, I'll have to think carefully before taking any of my alts into it. It might be worth finishing up some stories now to be ready for the big release in October. Or will I be able to live with simply discarding content that I haven't completed on that particular alt, as long as I've done it on several others? Then again, maybe some of my alts will simply refuse to become Outlanders, level up through flashpoints and PvP and keep hanging out in the past indefinitely...

08/08/2015

Pondering the Outlander Trailer

On Wednesday Bioware revealed a new KotFE trailer at Gamescom, this one consisting mostly of in-game cut scenes. Considering their poor track record with trailers like that, this one was pretty good. More than anything however, it provided me with a lot of food for thought about the upcoming coffee expansion.



First off, I wasn't aware that Darth Marr had such a huge fanbase. I didn't even notice him standing off to the side when I first watched the trailer. But the YouTube comment section for the video is filled with exclamations like "Marr is alive!", "So glad to see this, I would have unsubbed if they had killed Marr off", or: "Can I have him as a companion please?" I mean, I like Darth Marr as much as the next person, but I was still surprised to see such an outpouring of love for him.

Personally I was more focused on Lana's appearance in the trailer. She seems to have got her hair straightened out, which is fine I guess, but somehow she also worked herself up to a body type three, which feels very weird. So while the Empire was being crushed, she was busy hitting the gym? I dunno.

The thing I personally found the most striking were the graphics. The new characters and their environments look sooo much more detailed than what we're used to! Even their body language seems more refined. You'd think that would be an all-around good thing, but personally I'm not so sure. Just look at these two screenshots of Emperor Valkorion, his surviving son and the Jedi knight character from the trailer, courtesy of Massively OP:


Valkorion has all these wrinkles on his face! And not just because he's old, the textures are just that much more detailed. You can even see his knuckles in detail! And then you look at that player character with his cartoonishly smooth face, and it just looks extremely odd, like they are not even characters from the same game. That worries me a little, as I can see that kind of thing pulling me out of my immersion while playing.

Finally, the big question that was raised by this trailer was that of decisions. It ends with Valkorion telling the knight that he doesn't have to oppose him and that he can join him instead. My first thought on seeing this was actually: "Why are they ending with this? We all know that nobody will be able to join the bad guy, they'll just get players hyped over nothing." But with Bioware emphasising that our choices will make a bigger difference in KotFE, who says that this won't be possible? Werit had an interesting post on this subject, followed by some thoughtful discussion in the comments. The question is: How far could Bioware let the story deviate? Because there needs to be a common thread again at some point, nobody can realistically keep telling a story with constantly multiplying branches.

Letting the player choose whether to side with Volkorion or not might very well be doable however. It would indeed have to result in some very different gameplay at least for a while, but that doesn't mean that it can't merge with another story thread again at some point, e.g. if Volkorion betrays you later and therefore becomes your enemy again.

I am definitely more intrigued by the upcoming story progression now.

04/08/2015

Living the Unranked PvPer's Life

Expect to read some more posts about PvP until I inevitably forget about it again.

One thing that I've been enjoying about doing regular PvP again for the past couple of weeks is the way it brings me in contact with the server community, for better or worse. I've always enjoyed "people watching" on the fleet, taking in the ridiculous names and even more ridiculous outfits that some people come up with.


I wonder if he knows the song?

Ever since the introduction of strongholds however, I haven't been spending nearly as much time on the fleet as I used to, as the lure of my personal crafting nodes and the legacy bank keep pulling me back into my stronghold. I still have reasons to be on the fleet, but not as many. In a similar vein, my PvE pursuits have all taken place in a very sheltered environment as of late, which is to say in guild runs. As I find less time to pug, I also see less of the server community at large.

In random warzones on the other hand, even if I group up with some guildies beforehand, there are always other peope along for the ride, not to mention the opposition. You run into some weird characters, like these two Vanguards who were punching their mechanical sandbags in sync all the while until the forcefield went down.


You start to remember certain guild names, on both factions, and learn that some of them bode well for the match to come and that others don't. You find yourself wondering what in the world possessed some people to choose their particular character and/or guild names.


And of course, sometimes you meet "acquaintances" from other blogs or from Twitter, which is even more fun.



Never did get past the door that Madmar (@swtorfamily) was guarding.

And sometimes you just get to enjoy random fun moments like an arena match where your entire team consists of Sages. What more needs to be said?

01/08/2015

When did that happen? (Czerka)

I've said before that I'm not a huge fan of dailies. I'm happy enough to do them occasionally if they benefit me in some way, but I don't really do them just to pass the time, nor do I like it if a game makes them feel mandatory.

Nonetheless the Czerka weekly was one mission that I often picked up on alts before doing a random flashpoint, because it was the one weekly quest associated with dailies that also required two flashpoint runs, and there was always a chance that my random flashpoint might end up being one of the required ones, which would then allow me to kill two birds with one stone if I did the dailies as well. I didn't want that opportunity to go to waste. It was therefore with some surprise that I noticed yesterday, when I logged on one of said alts with the Czerka weekly in her log, that it had been changed to not require runs of Czerka Corporate Labs and Czerka Core Meltdown anymore.

Instead, both were replaced by a single new [Heroic 2+] quest to kill a newly placed champion droid. I went to check it out and found that at level sixty I could solo said droid with ease. I reckon that it should be possible for lower levels as well, though class and gear will probably matter somewhat in that case.


I also tried to find out when this change actually happened and Reddit quickly educated me that it was apparently made with 3.2: "[WEEKLY] Czerka Dissolution and [WEEKLY] Czerka Takeover no longer require completion of the two Czerka flashpoints. Instead, a new daily Heroic 2+ mission has been added to the mission terminal on CZ-198."

I wonder what Bioware's thought process behind this change was. My own guess would be time. When CZ-198 first came out, I actually applauded the step to connect the "group" portion of the weekly to flashpoints instead of heroic quests, as you have reasons to run those other than their connection to dailies, which introduced a new dynamic to getting the weekly done. Plus with the group finder it's always been easier to find a group for a flashpoint than for a heroic quest (as its functionality for finding heroic groups remains woefully inadequate to this day).

However, looking at it now, the end result was obviously that doing the Czerka weekly took quite a bit more time than any of the other planetary weekly quests. Even assuming instant pops and a good group, running through both Czerka Corporate Labs and Core Meltdown would probably take you at least thirty minutes, if not longer. For comparison, most heroic quests associated with weeklies can be done in about five to ten minutes these days. I wouldn't be surprised if this put people off doing the Czerka weekly, even if they did the regular dailies. So I suppose in the interest of keeping things equal this change makes sense.

Did you know about this change?

26/07/2015

Blog Stuff: Twitter & YouTube

I remember a few years ago, when Twitter first started to become a thing among bloggers, there was a lot of discussion about whether it was replacing blogging or whether it was merely a complementary form of communication. I've certainly seen some bloggers "disappear" onto Twitter in my time. However, regardless of whether one thinks that Twitter contributes to the death of old-school blogging or not, it seems to have become pretty widely accepted that having a Twitter account for your blog is a thing, even if you only use it to promote your blog posts. Personally I held out for quite a while without one, but by now more than two and a half years have passed since I created my own. These days I see very few holdouts that blog without having a Twitter account as well.

I've come to accept it, but I have to admit that Twitter still hasn't grown on me. It's just too chaotic, which is why I can't bear to look at my Twitter feed for any length of time. Random cat pictures are mixed with real life announcements and gaming achievements, and it's just too hard to follow any kind of narrative. I guess I could see how it might be entertaining to look at on your smartphone during your commute on the train or something like that, but I don't have a smartphone and when I'm at my desktop, with the option to play a proper game or blog, Twitter just feels like a waste of time most of the time.

I'm not even sure it's that great for blog promotion to be honest. I can see that I get a fair amount of traffic from it, but I'm not sure how "valuable" those clicks are. What I mean is that there have been times when I've posted the link to a new blog post on Twitter and got people replying to just the headline, blatantly showing that they hadn't bothered to read the actual post. That kind of thing is a bit disappointing.

Sometimes genuine readers also decide to reply to the post via Twitter instead of via the comment section, which always makes me a little sad because it limits discussion, and unlike the comments on the blog post, which are stored with the post for as long as the blog exists, Twitter responses tend to disappear into the aether and are hard to track down later on.

Still, there are some perks to using Twitter as a blogger. Sometimes when I'm having a moment that makes me feel like shouting out into the world, without having enough to say to make a blog post out of it, Twitter does the job quite nicely.
Also, while I find that you can't communicate very effectively via Twitter, it is great for simply connecting to other people. The #SWTORFamily hashtag is a great example. Whenever I find a great blog post somewhere else, it's nice to be able to share it around by re-tweeting, even if I don't have anything else to add. Twitter is also a great source of SWTOR community news... such as that Njessi of Hawtpants of the Old Republic is back in game, woo!

In other news... YouTube! I can't believe it's been over a year since I last posted a video here! I still enjoy making them but have been somewhat starved for time since I started working full time, and video-making can be quite time consuming, even if the result is very basic. However, until very recently I also had an even more pressing problem: lack of disk space. I had to give up creating videos of our operations boss kills because every couple of attempts my hard drive would be full and I'd have to go delete things again or stop recording... but you never know which attempt is going to be the succesful one! It just didn't work.

Fortunately this has been resolved with a new disk which is currently solely dedicated to Fraps and lets me record things to my heart's content again. It's just a shame that I can't promote them more because YouTube broke Blogger's YouTube sidebar widget some time ago. You can still see the newest videos by going through the Google+ page on the sidebar or straight to the channel page, but of course updates are not as prominent there as they were on the widget.

Here's our latest "new" boss kill, featuring some eighties rock! Surely you can't go wrong with that?