Category Archives: SWTOR

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: Utilizing vanity pets and events

Confession time: I’m a vanity pet pack rat.

Vanity pets serve no real purpose. They don’t add stats (at least none I’ve seen). They just follow the character around the area.

Nevertheless, I can’t get enough of the things.

The other day I received my Tauntaun in SWTOR. He’s adorable. Look at that face. How can anyone say no to that?

The vanity pet collecting started during the first round of World of Warcraft. My friend gave me the duplicates she had and we’d go out pet hunting when there was nothing better to do. I didn’t have many on my little gnome Rogue, but it was fun.

The second round of WoW, when I played Horde, was different. I collected more than 100 of them by the time I quit. I know, I know. That’s a lot of time and gold. It didn’t matter what the pet was; I tried to collect it. The floating skull, a scorpion and a tabby cat, I had no criteria.

I didn’t have time to earn enough DNA samples to buy the Rakghoul event pets nor have I had a chance to look for the few out there that come from the eggs. There aren’t many in TOR yet, but let’s hope BioWare will remedy that. Monkey lizards, nerfs, crystal snakes and little destroyer droids would all be great to see.

Fun stuff like vanity pets and events give MMOs an extra “umpf.” Vanity pets are simply fun while events give people some to do that breaks up the monotony that plagues gamers. It seemed as if people loved the Rakghoul event. I didn’t mind it, save for the plague. It was rather annoying to have to buy vaccines for the lower level players all the time just to quest without interruption.

Little gaming events bring players together in another way. Years ago during Brewfest in WoW, I beat the boss so many times trying to help as many people as possible earn the mount. I’d lucked out and received it at the first drop. Shortly after that, it was time for the Halloween event. None of the people I typically ran with earned the flying broom mount, but it was fun fighting the Headless Horseman up at the old Scarlet Monastery.

These types of events encourage players that don’t normally associate to work together. PVP and PVE players want the goodies.

In addition to boss fighting, there’s also gathering of items, using wands, throwing petals and so many more activities available through WoW’s holiday events. TOR’s Rakghoul event captured a similar spirit.

It’s necessary to introduce new activities for players to do to keep subscribers (in addition to other issues). Bored players eventually leave.

TOR’s first event was a disease outbreak. Rather than make it a holiday, they went with a logical epidemic. The events don’t need to be galaxy-wide. What about a sabaac or other game event on Nar Shaddaa? Bring in the idea of Treasure Ship Row on Corellia and hold a weeklong festival. Events could be based around the planet’s lore.

The possibilities are limitless for both events and pets.

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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: Romancing a Jedi

Nadia, my Jedi Knight, received her first Dark Side points last night. She made it all the way to 45 without a single incident.

I didn’t have her kill someone or take the easy way out of a situation.

I let her marry Doc.

When I first learned about the romance aspect of SWTOR, I was intrigued. I’m a major fan of The Sims games and all of the fun relationship angles those games permit. I hadn’t tried SWTOR-style love out on any of my characters until now. Nadia was the first who gained a companion where that was an option. I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to romance Doc because of the Dark Side point factor. When I created Nadia, I didn’t picture her as the straight and narrow Jedi. I wanted her to have a bit of an edge.

Instead of working on Voss, I decided to raise the relationships with my companions. That unlocked some quests, giving me about a fourth a level. Not bad at all, really. I gave gifts to my companions, mainly Doc and made several trips to the ship for conversations. It’d be really helpful if BioWare did something so that the conversations with companions would work in cantinas. It’d save on time.

During my conversations with Doc, I had several opportunities to take the romance path but I didn’t. I wonder if the outcome would have been the same if I’d gone with the “let’s have some commitment free fun” instead of dragging out several conversations and raising his affection level.

Finally, Doc proposed. Good timing too, as I was on my last Courting and Luxury gifts (items he prefers). I debated it for a couple minutes before agreeing to it. The funny thing was while Nadia had flirted, they had yet to kiss.

What happened next surprised me: BioWare actually showed the ceremony. When my husband’s Sith Warrior married Vette, all he saw was a black screen for a moment and that was it. I figured the same thing would happen with all the other characters, which may have contributed to the lack of push to explore the romance angle. Not with Doc and Nadia. A gold droid appeared (looked like C2) to lead the ceremony, “I do” were said and vows declared. How awesome is that?

In addition, Doc’s proposal was probably one of the most entertaining ones I’ve ever heard. I wish I’d known it was going to happen. I would have made a video of it.

Now that my Jedi’s taken the forbidden path, I’m glad I followed that story option through. The Dark Side points are somewhat annoying, but she is a Knight of the old Order. Love is a big no (even though someone important is breaking that rule). I can live with the 50 points and subsequent others for the sake of the romance. I’m curious as to how it will play out later in the game. Will the other companions aboard the ship notice something? Is Kira going to tell the Jedi Council? I hope some type of conflict occurs. Nothing soap opera-like, of course, but an interesting twist. For example, given Kira’s past with the Sith Emperor, she owes the Jedi Knight character quite a bit. Is that enough to keep her quiet? I can’t see anything happening, but the possibilities are fun to ponder.

Showing the actual ceremony gave the game something extra. It made the characters seem a little more interesting. The companions sometimes go off on missions of their own. All players see is a black screen for a second, 99 percent of the time. There was one with Kira that involved actually traveling to Nar Shaddaa. Being able to see what was going on between Nadia and Doc made a huge difference in play.

This development easily makes the list of my favorite moments in the game so far. I can’t see it being knocked off, either.

Most importantly, it put romance into the TOR story. I’ve discussed before about how importance romance is to a story. Arguably, the most important characteristic of SWTOR is that it feels like Star Wars. It feels like it during battles or missions, but adding romance completes the package. It wasn’t enough to allow players to select a romantic interaction. Actually seeing it made the story more concrete. How many times have readers complained about a major romantic moment happening off-camera? (Example: Jaina and Jag’s reunion in Vortex

A quick YouTube search revealed that other classes show a ceremony also, like the Smugglers and Imperial Agents. I’m glad to see that BioWare included these weddings in the game.

Now if only we could see those strange Twi’lek wedding rituals Vette spoke about…

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Checking in with SWTOR

Well, we’re a little more than a month out from the official launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Funny, it feels as if it has been out longer. It often seems that way with games, doesn’t it?

Right now, I am working my way through Balmorra on my Jedi Knight. Thus far, I think Tatooine is my favorite planet. Balmorra is fine, Alderaan is good, but there was something about the way Tatooine was set up and laid out that I really enjoyed. As for the planets I don’t care for? Taris, not that that is a surprise to many players. Dromund Kaas comes in second on that list.
I changed my spec to Focus and noticed a huge improvement on damage done. It’s great in PVP. My damage counts have jumped up considerably, as have kills and medals.
I think that’s one of the nice things about taking time to level: you can experiment more. I’d rather try out a spec and not like it at level 20 or 30 than mess with it at 50. It took a few times to figure out a rotation I liked, but the result was satisfactory.
The ability to try out new play styles is important in a MMO. It gives players more options and ways to improve. In World of Warcraft, I tried out Fire Mage for a few levels. That didn’t do it for me. I was an Arcane kind of player. I did use Frost in PVP often. WoW introduced dual specialization awhile back, which made it easier to switch. I’m not sure if that actually helped the issue of lack of tanks and healers.
Speaking of tanks and healers, SWTOR has an abundant amount of tanks running around but not many healers. That’s unusual to see after WoW. I can’t tell you how many times I spent time looking for a tank. In this game, everyone searches for healers.
SWTOR doesn’t offer this. If they did, then would they eventually allow players to change advanced classes? I’m not sure if I like that idea. Yes, it is annoying to need to decide the specialization at level 10, especially if you haven’t played them, but it does require players to pay attention to the game.
In the next coming weeks, look for entries about romance, The Phantom Menace and more SWTOR adventures. And if you are new to the game or MMOs, check out my Q/A with Fangirl Blog here.

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