Category Archives: Star Wars The Old Republic

The constant attacks on female gamers need to stop

Over the past few days, the horrible comments on Anita Sarkeesian’s video asking for support for her Kickstarter Project Tropes v. Women in Video Games (warning: the comments are high offensive) have caused various appalled reactions with women and men around the Web. Sarkeesian’s goal is to research hundreds of female game characters and discuss the issues that appear in a video series. She previously discussed the issues in her video series TV Tropes v. Women, looking at the various boxes female characters find themselves in (damsel in distress, straw feminist, ect.).

She posted the video on June 4. As of 6:46 p.m. today, viewers lefts 11,742 comments. The majority of the comments feature horrible, offensive and disrespectful slams at Sarkeesian, women, Jews, homosexuals and others. Sadly, not a single degrading comment on the video is a surprise.

Trash talking is a common part of video games. It doesn’t matter what game it is, if people can talk to one another, insults fly. Listen to some gamers talk about a fight. The term “rape” is often used in addition to racists, sexist or other derogative terms. The use of the word “rape” is never okay to use. Defeating another character is not raping her. Rape is a horrible, forced act that in no way should be used as a term to describe an accomplishment or feat. Many who use these terms would never say such remarks in person. The virtual world creates the idea that a player can be someone else. Unfortunately, the worse side of people appears often.

I’ve been insulted in games. I’ve refused to log onto Vent and TeamSpeak channels because I couldn’t stand the horrible insults throw between not only the various players but at the ones they played against. The types of insults thrown out are so hateful that it’s impossible to ignore them. It doesn’t just bother the group being insulted. I’m not Jewish and it makes me sick to hear a player use a slur.

While some gaming companies do respond when in-game harassment occurs, they aren’t helping the problem enough. A Blizzard employee helped me out when another male character sent constant harassing messages during an instance run in World of Warcraft. I don’t know if the player was punished or what came of it, but the employee seemed to take the issue seriously. The way that these companies feed the problem is with the portrayal of female characters and a lack of screening of in-game chat.

Log into World of Warcraft. One of the loading screens shows a Night Elf with her breasts almost completely exposed. The Night Elf dance looks like something in a person would see in a strip club. Make a character in Star Wars The Old Republic. All the female characters have large breasts and can’t be overweight like the male characters. I remember when I first found out about Tomb Raider. The boys in my class couldn’t get over the fact that Lara Croft ran around with huge breasts. The majority of their conversations about the game discussed her body. There’s not enough action taken against hateful insults. While it’s impossible to catch every incident, more effort can be put into enforcing the cessation of harassment. Some type of system that flags certain terms would make a difference.

It’s not a secret that many women love video games. The negative atmosphere makes it difficult to enjoy the game fully, though. How many great gamers don’t raid with groups or stay out of battleground because of harmful words? How many gamers avoid games that involve conversing with others because of this problem?

The insults on Anita Sarkeesian’s video prove her point repeatedly. The comments are hate speech. If a politician or other public figure said some of the comments written on the page, he would be ostracized. It is not okay to insult women or anyone else. It is not okay to belittle or disregard a female gamer. Players can cheer when they defeat another player in a player versus player setting without saying that they “raped that bitch.” Many of the comments tell Sarkeesian to “go back to the kitchen” or reference that it’s a travesty when “ovaries try to think.” These types of comments reduce women to objects.

The comments also show that the word feminist is grossly misunderstood. A feminist wants equality, not superiority. Feminists are not trying to squash men into subservient beings or take away their jobs. I want to be able to play a video game without reading sexist insults or be able to find a good book series featuring a good female character without searching for hours online only to find that the woman becomes a stereotype. The sad fact is that the people who do make such horrific statements and have these beliefs hold far too much power over the market.

Check out Anita Sarkeesian Tropes videos and her Kickstarter project Tropes v. Women in Video Games to find out more information about the ways the media stereotypes women, the project’s status and other information.

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Filed under female geekdom, feminism, Gaming, MMORPG, Star Wars The Old Republic, World of Warcraft

SWTOR: Character transfers June 12, Patch 1.3 announced

Those curious about Star Wars The Old Republic can play for free—up to level 15—in July. Depending on how fast a player levels and what quests he completes, he should end somewhere near the end of the second world. Some may end up with their ships.

Let’s be honest. BioWare/EA needs to do something to bring players back to the game. Even though I cancelled my subscription, I have some times left so I logged on last night. I played the smuggler over on Hoth for a few hours. While playing, I remembered why I enjoyed the game. Then I went to the fleet to complete Chapter 2 of the story and amount of people on the fleet reminded me why I quit. Four. Four people and all four were in my guild.

Character server transfers are supposed to start June 12. Thankfully, BW and EA planned so people can’t pick a server that they think will contain a high population.

From SWTOR.com:

Therefore, we made the decision to strictly limit the initial phase of the Character Transfer Service to only allow transfers from selected groups of origin servers (where you’re moving a character from) to selected individual destination servers (where you choose to move a character to) based on the player populations of the origin and destination servers. In some cases, a large number of origin servers will be eligible to move to a single destination server. In others, very few origin servers will be transferring to existing high population destination servers. Remember, the goal here is to push almost every destination server to an active population that’s higher.

While the transfers are the immediate concern, additional content is also an issue. At E3, fans received details about patch 1.3: Allies. Features include a group finder feature, new unlockables for the Legacy system (including using a speeder at level 10) and adaptive gear among other things. With the transfers, people should be able to play Flashpoints, Warzones and Operations. Being able to play the content could make a huge difference in the number of players that stick with the game.

My decision to resubscribe lies in the success of character transfers. I need to be able to join a PVP or Flashpoint without sitting around for an hour. As I’ve said before, the game is fun, but it needs people there. A huge content update would help, but content doesn’t do any good if no one is around to play it. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that the transfers do start on June 12.

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SWTOR didn’t live up to the market demands of today’s MMORPG players

ImageElectronic Arts laid off employees on the Star Wars The Old Republic team. Game subscriptions dropped almost 25 percent, according to a article by Shack News.

Quick frankly, this isn’t a surprise.

I cancelled my own subscription yesterday and here’s why: there’s nothing to do. In order for a MMORPG game to work, players must be online. Waiting an hour and a half to enter a battleground without a complete group is not fun. It’s ridiculous. Two Sundays ago, my guild wanted to run the Eternity Vault. There weren’t enough people logged in the guild—let alone Fleet—to make this happen. I am not paying $15 a month to level up characters that I won’t be able to use when they hit 50.

Five years ago, the lack of content would have been okay, but not anymore. Look at the successful MMOs. Why do people stay or go back to World of Warcraft? It’s because there are more features. If I don’t want to raid or PVP, I can do other things like crafting (while possible in SWTOR, it takes a long time), earn some achievements or earn reputation. At no point did I expect SWTOR to have scads of features like WoW. I never wanted them to be just like WoWs.

People quit the game for various reasons. Excessive bugs, for one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to reset a class quest, hoping that it wouldn’t ruin my quest line. I can’t tell you how many times I heard people say the high level raids glitched out. And while glitches happen in all games, there comes a point when it’s more frustrating the game is worth. I’ve had to send in my companions to distract glitched enemies to finish quests. Quests on Hoth and Tatooine that everyone completes.

SWTOR simply didn’t offer enough to keep players subscribed. Is it fun? Absolutely. Does it capture Star Wars? Yes, but it’s not worth $15 a month. I like the story and the characters. If it weren’t an MMO, then sure, I’d keep playing. Pay the base fee and that’s it.

At this point, the free-to-play option may be SWTOR’s only hope. People who didn’t want to subscribe to a game might pick it up. In addition, old players might come back. Realistically, I don’t see this ever happening—even if it saved the game.

There were far too many servers at the beginning. Of course, there would be queues at the beginning but that’s okay. Everyone wants to log on any chance he could. A month or two later it would die down, not only from people who quit for various reasons, but not everyone will be trying to be online all the time. Think about it. If you had to wait 15 minutes to log on, would you log off as quickly? Probably not. Participation increases, there aren’t hour-long queues, flashpoints and operations are feasible.

Server transfers are coming, so they say. Maybe it will help, but I don’t know if it is enough to bring people back. I don’t know if I would return.

While SWTOR is a fun game to play, it doesn’t live up to what the MMO market demands. It’s unfortunate that it turned out this way.

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Asking for equality in Star Wars isn’t sexist

Star Wars is no longer centered on Luke Skywalker. In addition to his relatives, there’s Jedi, Sith, smugglers, clones, droids and more in multiple eras. Unfortunately, that rich cast of characters is mostly male.

Every few months, Twitter and the blogosphere erupt in criticism regarding the demand for more female characters of quality. One popular argument, as mention in a recent EU Cantina column that argued writer Nanci’s own piece regarding women in Star Wars, is that it’s sexist to make such demands.

Sexism (Merriam-Webster)

1. prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women
2. behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

We are asking for equality not dominance. We aren’t not stating that the women should crush the men in numbers and presence. That request does not match the definition of a sexist person. There’s no excuse why more women characters can’t appear.

It takes less than a minute to rattle off 10 great, developed male characters in Star Wars. Naming 10 developed female characters take longer. Winter, Iella and Mirax are all great characters but lack the page time to be as fleshed out as most of the men. The potential is there. Grab it, Del Rey.

Another argument seen around cyberspace is why male fans should have to read female dominated stories. If a female fan wants to enjoy the Star Wars universe, she has no choice but to pick from dozens of novels lead by men. Tatooine Ghost and Dark Journey come to mind in regards to female leads, but after those, it takes some digging. If someone wants to read a great male lead, well, he can close his eyes, point at a stack of books and probably find a good one.

When we ask for more female leads, we aren’t stating that the male leads go away. That type of misconception is common in almost every women’s rights issue. Add more women in the workplace? Men will lose their jobs! Allow women to vote? Oh they can’t do that. They’re not educated enough and make rash, emotional decisions. Title IX discriminates against men because their sports lose funding, some say. No, Title IX does not state that schools must cut men’s teams to make room for women’s; it calls for equal funding. The institutions make the decision to cut the male teams. Remember, the woman’s rights fight isn’t even 200 years old in most countries. In the United States, we haven’t even been able to vote for 100 years.

The women’s rights movement was and is not about surpassing men in society. It’s about equality. Equality in everything, from jobs, politics, sports, pay and schooling to movies, television and books.

Most Star Wars books contain two or more main plotlines, each with its own lead or pair of lead characters. Multiple books use all male leads. And while some of these stories would work for specific characters (like Corran and Wedge in Rogue Squadron), there’s no reason why new stories couldn’t contain plotlines lead by all females or one led by a female.

The argument that a female-led book wouldn’t sell is weak. It’s no grand secret that women are a huge part of the buying market. We buy male-led books. To assume that men wouldn’t buy a book featuring Jaina, Leia, Winter, Padme or another woman character is insulting to many male fans and shows a lack of consideration for both genders.

Star Wars isn’t a “man’s world.” I can’t recall hearing about George Lucas stating that no women were allowed to view his movies. He created one of the best female heroines. Princess Leia is a cultural icon and not because of her metal bikini or hair buns (though those are icons of their own). Her take-charge attitude turns the typical princess role upside down. She’s not underneath any of the men in her life, no matter what they do or say. Telling Princess Leia what she has to do doesn’t work out well. While she’s had plenty of screen/page time, she hasn’t led many novels, usually falling second to Luke.

Just as there is a place for male heroes, there is a place for female in all eras. Satele Shan is the Grand Master of the Jedi during the period that Star Wars The Old Republic takes place. She’s one of the several great female characters the game developers and writers created.

The answer isn’t to throw in random female characters with no development. Just because a character is a woman does not make her a good character. We want female characters that are worth it, not cardboard placeholders. To assume that all we want is a female’s presence is offensive. A character that lacks any real substance isn’t useful.

The desire for equal treatment and character dispersion isn’t an out-of-this-world idea. It’s logical. If the situation was reversed, odds are that men would feel slighted. By continuing to put off or ignore the call for worthy female leads, the Star Wars universe narrows itself instead of grows. It can only last with new ideas and seizing opportunities. Using female leads will only help the fandom, not hinder it.

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Filed under Expanded Universe, female characters, female geekdom, Jaina Solo, Luke Skywalker, Star Wars, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR

SWTOR: BioWare, we need server mergers

SWTOR needs server merges.

Yesterday around 4:45 p.m. EST, 11 players were on the Republic Fleet and 100 on the Imperial Fleet. Yes, other players were on other planets, their ships and other locations, but 11 is still a horrible number for that time of day. The server I play on isn’t one of the smaller ones, either.

The players need server merges just as much as BioWare does. There’s no way to balance out the number of Republic and Empire players. More people play Empire, especially Sith Inquisitors it seems. As Star Wars fans know, the Dark Side is more seductive. Force Lightening looks cooler. Chocking someone in the Force creates a Darth Vader moment. Quite frankly, the imbalance doesn’t matter. Huttball makes the PVP queues more bearable for the abundant Empire players, as they can play themselves.

It’s incredibly difficult to find a group for a Flashpoint or a full PVP during certain points of the day due to the sheer lack of players per server. Not only do group activities suffer, but also the Galactic Trade Market. Finding gear, mods and other items is an incredible challenge when nothing is up for sale.

BioWare needs to merge the servers before they lose more players. The key aspect of MMORPG is the interactions with other people. While the game needed more servers back at launch, this is no longer the case. Trim the numbers down.

Weekend evenings see more players logged on both sides. It’s the rest of the time that suffers the greatest. Players want to see scads of features, like dungeon finder and cross-server PVP, but none contains the urgency like server merges do.

Some players reroll characters on other servers. Many of us don’t want to redo the entire class story and that should not be necessary. As customers, it’s not our job to find workarounds for such an issue. Playing guess what server contains a high amount of players on a regular basis is frustrating, pointless and annoying. Players needed to redo the same classes repeatedly just to interact more with other players will not keep current players or attract new ones.

Server merges benefit everyone. The players aren’t scrambling for others. BioWare eradicates the risk of losing subscriptions due to frustrated customers leaving because there aren’t enough people online. It will take a bit of tech time, but in the end, it can only improve the gameplay experience.

 

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SWTOR Review: Jedi Knight class story wavers, but ends strong

Nadia, my Jedi Knight, ended her class story standing with the rest of the crew in front of Grand Master Satele Shan and a grateful crowd. In a moment that was pure A New Hope, T7 booped, applause rang through the ship and there the heroes stood. The only thing missing was the first notes we’ve heard after the credits countless times.

Instead, the quest acceptance box popped up and the Jedi Knight class story came to a close.

While leveling my Jedi Knight, I ran with my husband’s Jedi Consular. We’d do class story quests together, so I’ve seen a good chunk of the Consular. Of the two Jedi classes, the Knight is much more militaristic and action-packed. Though the Consular must defeat his own share of enemies and Sith, the Jedi Knight seemed to have more such missions. Given the roles, it makes sense. Ultimately, these differences in class story can act as a strong indication of which Jedi a person wants to play.

By Act Three, it’s clear what Nadia’s final task will be: facing the Sith Emperor. On the way to the throne room, I had to choose whether to save a member of the crew or leave him. I choose save, much to Lord Scourge’s massive dislike (he has almost -1000 affection towards Nadia). T7 is the only companion the Jedi Knight can take on the final mission because the Emperor can’t influence a droid. (So make sure to upgrade T7’s gear). Immediately the fight reminded me of the Force phantoms Lumiya created in Betrayal. The confrontation is a satisfying end, but the final dialogue options with the Emperor seemed skewed with Light/Dark points. I chose the Light Side option and earned 50 points. Given the Dark Side option, it seems as if the decision warranted more than 50 points. Generally speaking, there are far less Light Side point options than Dark.

The Jedi Knight contains a consistent military tone to it. It’s very common solider, right in the middle of everything. It felt very “Star Wars.” I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to feel as if they are on the front lines.

While watching the Consular story, I was constantly reminded of Obi-Wan. Earning the Master title much earlier than the Jedi Knight, the position on the Jedi Council, the negotiating, it’s all there. The Consular drips Obi-Wan (if played completely Light) like the Smuggler bleeds Han Solo. The Consular heals and saves.

Most of the final confrontations for the varying planet storylines are roughly the same. A bit of variety with the fight mechanics would have been nice to see. If it were a group event, the term “tank and spank” comes to mind. Those fights were always nice in World of Warcraft after dealing with a raid boss with a nasty quirk.

My only major complaint is occurs when the crew works to capture the Emperor. The Jedi falls to the Dark Side. There’s no option to avoid it. The Emperor invades the mind and influences horrible acts that are never revealed. BioWare also doesn’t say how long the Jedi Knight is in the Emperor’s clutches.

This story point isn’t right. The option should exist to allow players to try to trick those around her that she’s fallen; only she hasn’t. The Jedi is now tainted and there’s not a thing a player can do about it. The only point, it seems, is to push Dark Side favoritism. The move was so out of character it was ridiculous.

Aside from that incident, the Jedi Knight storyline is quite enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone wanting to feel like Anakin Skywalker, Jaina Solo, Corran Horn and other Jedi warriors.

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SWTOR: Reaching level 50

I hit 50 today.

I’ll be honest; the most exciting part about hitting max level wasn’t seeing my level change. It was that I could put the purple crystal that’s been burning a hole in my inventory for a few days into the slot on my lightsaber. I still have to finish Corellia and the Jedi Knight class quest.

It was my goal to have a purple lightsaber as a Jedi Knight long before I ever made Nadia. I’ve always liked the purple lightsaber, first introduced via Jaina Solo. The purple lightsaber seems sleeker than the blue or green, for some reason.

At first, I’d heard that only the Sith could have purple. Then, a person in the guild mentioned that he thought a world boss dropped it. A couple days ago, BioWare added in some crystals that players could purchase with their hard-earned credits. The vendor selling these crystals will disappear at the 1.2 patch. There’s a white crystal, too. I haven’t seen anyone with that yet. It costs a couple million credits.

I was on Corellia, waiting for my husband to arrive with his Jedi Consular so we could start questing. He opened up a trade window upon arrival and there it was a purple lightsaber crystal. It sat in my bags, waiting. As a side note, I did have the credits for it and planned to purchase the coveted item when I returned to the fleet. The funny thing is that the crystal is a great gift.

Nadia’s all decked out in a new chest piece (so long, caped crusader) and new boots. She’s not wearing a hood anymore. I’d forgotten exactly what her hairstyle was. I haven’t seen it for around 40 levels.

I plan to try to finish the class story this weekend. Until then, you can find me running around the warzones with a purple blade.

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