Monthly Archives: November 2011

SWTOR: A story female gamers can enjoy

I participated in beta testing last weekend and can now say, thanks to the lifting of the NDA, that SWTOR features female-friendly characters and scenarios.

While running around on a Trooper last weekend, I encountered a variety of NPCs, both male and female, that had stories that fell under different categories. There was the desperate mother, the angry spy, the ambitious commando and more. I am not going to go into specifics. Why spoil the story for everyone?

It’s not enough to use a variety of male and female characters. If all of the characters fall into particular stereotypes, then they lack the potential to grow. In other words, not every woman is desperately waiting for her husband to return from the fighting and every man can’t be the do or die tough guy. It’s harder to play a female trooper who follows a dark path if every female NPC is cut from the same stereotypical mold. When that does happen, it can feel like a player is playing a male character with the skin of a female.

Feeling as if I was playing a female character was important to me. The game requires a player to maintain some degree of interest in the story. The only way to immerse yourself is to feel comfortable with your character. It’s harder to care about a game if you don’t care about what you’re playing. And as we all know, bored players often quit and subscriptions fall.

So bravo, BioWare, you did what every video game should do: make it appealing to male and female audiences.

Eventually (I hope), this won’t be an anomaly.

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Filed under Gaming, MMORPG, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR

X-Wing: Mercy Kill hitting shelves in August

Aaron Allston’s much anticipated book X-Wing: Mercy Kill hits shelves Aug. 12, 2012, according to a post by ES on Facebook. As we already knew, the book will come out in hardcover.

Next August is a good time to be a Star Wars fan.

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"Once Upon a Time" turns fairy tales into a modern day adventure

I wanted to be Cinderella-when I wasn’t imaging I was escaping the Death Star- as child. I watched the Disney movie and read books all the time. Meeting Cinderella at Disney World was my dream as a small child.

Years later, I found myself watching the new ABC show Once Upon a Time. Once Upon a Time is about a group of fairy tale characters that are stuck in the real world. A woman named Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is the only one who can save them, not that she completely believes that everyone around her is a fairy tale character. Her son, who she gave up for adoption, brought her to Storybrook, Maine. The first three episodes featured Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), The Queen (Lana Parrilla), Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), Jiminey Cricket (Rapheal Sbarge) and others.

The fourth episode, The Price of Gold, featured Cinderella. You can imagine my excitement at this newest character.

Cinderella makes a deal with Rumplestiltskin to leave her horrible life. You’ll have to check out the show to find out what he wants. Her real life self is a pregnant teenager who ran away.
What makes Once Upon a Time such a fascinating, fun show is the blend of real world and fairy tales. The show jumps between the two, revealing the past of the various characters. Last week’s episode showed how Snow White and Prince “James” Charming met. It features a rich cast of characters that don’t fall into the stereotypical fairy tale roles. Snow White, for example, is strong, smart and can take care of herself. She and Prince Charming (or James, if you prefer), have an equal partnership.

Many of us look fondly upon fairy tales. Once Upon a Time winds those stories into a delightful modern-day setting. Each episode moves the story along while explaining the backstory. It’s one of those shows that viewers are sad to see the end.

Is it Sunday night yet?

Once Upon a Time airs at 8 p.m. on Sundays on ABC.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta Weekend is almost here

Another SWTOR beta weekend is coming up and I lucked out with an invite. It looks like this is going to be a huge beta weekend.

I have to admit that while I’m excited to have a chance to play the game, I’m hesitant to do too much. For one thing, I’m not going to play a class that I intend to play at launch. This means no Imperial Agent for me.

As each class has their own story and the choices/specialization makes variants to the story, it’s possible to see some differences if you played a class multiple times. I don’t know if there are enough differences to make it worth it for pure story purposes, though. If you wanted to play a different specialization, however, then it could be worth it. Therefore, technically, if a person played a Jedi Knight Sentinel in Beta he wouldn’t ruin the entire story for a Jedi Knight Guardian.

Either way, there are too many similarities for me to run around as an Imperial Agent Sniper and later play an Operative in the game. Too repetitive. And repetition can lead to boredom.
We don’t want that.

That’s why I’m glad that I wasn’t in the other Beta testing sessions. Sure, one would have been fun, but had I had access on and off for a year, it would have sucked out some of the fun. In addition, constantly starting over isn’t my cup of tea. I do plan to play multiple classes; of course, I just don’t see making multiple of the same class to play difference specialization.
Depending on what is implemented later in the game, it could be irrelevant. It’s always a possibility that players will get to trade a huge stack of credits for a new specialization or duel specs.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not going to race through this game like a caffeine-fueled Super Mario Bros. race (remember to earn those 99 lives) on a Sunday afternoon. Same goes for Beta.

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Filed under Star Wars, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR

SWTOR: Stop, take a deep breath and stay calm. Release is almost here.

A portion of the TOR community is going nuts. It was announced what fansites were coming to the fan site summit and people went bat crazy if they weren’t invited.

Because, apparently, BioWare knows every single podcast and fansite there is without prior contact. I mean really. Do people honestly think that Stephen Reid and co. spend hours each day search for each new podcast and fansite? Dream on.

Reid made a tweet on Monday stating:

“Hey #SWTOR fansites: if we don’t know you exist, it’s hard to work with you. Get in touch. Email fansites@swtor.com and say hi.”

He’s right. Unless a site or podcast takes the time to alert BioWare of their presence, how will their existence be known?

My Twitter field has been full of retweets originating from TOR sites I’ve never heard of griping about their exclusion from this event.

I have no idea how BioWare selects who to invite, but if it were my call I’d select people who stayed in frequent contact with me and had high traffic.

Yes, people can feel angry that they were left out. It’s within a person’s right to feel anger about a situation. It’s their right to discuss their anger with others. The problem arises when that anger controls their actions. Personal attacks, throwing fits and insults only make the situation worse. With so many taking their frustrations to Twitter, chunks of conversations are missed or ignored and more fights erupt. It’s making the community an ugly place to be. Too bad the official forums were on that boat a long time ago.

With less than two months until release, some people may feel as if they are at the end of their fuse. All the stress, anticipation and disappoint are coming to a head and an issue would normally seem minor acts as a spark to the fire. Conflict-heavy zones are a turnoff to many. No one wants to hear about how Tom or Abby didn’t get a free pass to play the game, especially when he or she feels entitled to it.

No one is entitled to a free pass. No one is entitled to anything just because he runs a fansite or podcast. For that matter, being a fan for over three years or owning the Collector’s Edition doesn’t mean you are entitled to anything either.

Yes, it’s disappointing not to be recognized. Go ahead and be angry, but please, stop and think before igniting fights. It’s gotten way out of hand.

If you want to make it, you have to network. You have to talk to the right people. End of story.

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Filed under Star Wars, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR