Decisions, Decisions

Today, ladies and gentlemen, it is with a heavy heart that I must confess something to all of you. This hasn’t been an easy decision for me to make, but, unfortunately, it’s one that has to happen. No, this isn’t as serious of a decision as, say, closing down this blog. That’s just not going to happen. I love gaming and talking about it when I can too much to do something like that. However, your intrepid author is going to have cease coverage of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

It isn’t a problem with the game, it’s mechanics, or the content that I never saw. I want to get that out of the way right now. The game was entertaining, and my guildies are all fantastic. However, I’ve hit a point where I’m just not having fun with it any more. I’ve seriously been coming up with ways to avoid the game because of that. It isn’t anything that anybody’s done, mind; it’s just that I’m not having the fun with it that I thought I would.

Not only that, but finances are a little limited for me right now. In the real world, I work a part-time job that currently does not give me a lot in the way of hours and I consider myself lucky that I get the shifts that I do at all. I’m looking for a second job right now (or at least something better), but until that happens, I’m limited in my funding and can only maintain one game subscription at a time. I figure that subscription should belong to a game I still actively enjoy.

So, as of today, I cancelled my SWTOR subscription. Perhaps I might pick it up again in the future, but, for right now, that’s just not in the cards.

The Great Server Transfer

As we all know, Bioware has been making some interesting changes lately to SWTOR. One of these seems to be making mega-servers, and, to accomplish this, they have been offering us free server transfers to certain destination servers of their choice. Honestly, I didn’t think that Lord Adraas, the server I’ve had since launch in December, would ever be touched. I had been under the impression it was one of the larger RP servers, and, if anything, would have been a destination server.

Turns out I was wrong somewhere, as, last week, free transfers opened up from Lord Adraas to The Ebon Hawk.

Up until my guildies mentioned something to me over Twitter, I honestly had no idea this was something that was open to us. Because I had these strange beliefs about our home server, I didn’t even think it was a possibility. However, we collectively decided to make the leap and move over. To my surprise, the server transfers went through very quickly, despite the quoted time for each transfer being about an hour. In about ten or fifteen minutes, I had all of my girls moved over and everything was just as I had left it. Bioware, if you ever happen to stumble upon this and read this post, thank you again for the speed in which all the transfers happened. I loved that I was able to be online and playing again in a matter of minutes as opposed to a few hours.

There were a few renames I had to do, of course, but that was to be expected. I was saddened that I lost both the unique names I had associated with one of mine, but I was able to claim her surname as her Legacy name on the new server, so I was still able to keep a piece of her (thankfully; she wouldn’t have been the same, otherwise). However, my guild was also faced with the unexpected dilemma of choosing a new guild name. To be honest, though, I like our new name better than our old one. >> Hail to JOUST Squadron!

As of today, new servers are open for transfer, so check the list to see if your server is on there. Yours might become a destination server, so if that’s the case, see who might be coming to join you. If you’ve made the decision about server transferring and are faced with similar problems like my guild and I were, Anexxia of Inquisitor’s Roadhouse has some wonderful tips regarding choosing new names for yourself and your Legacy and some fun ideas for new guild names, so be sure to check those out.

I will say, though, that it’s nice seeing a ridiculous number of people on the Republic fleet. I’m so used to there being only a handful of us there. :( It was kind of lonely.

Leveling and Legacies

I used to think that the only people who powered through content in MMOs were the truly obsessed, the addicted, or only existed on sitcoms where geek culture takes some sort of prominence. I’m definitely not one of those people. I am, however, the kind of person who typically likes to savor their content. I’d rather take my time and see what there is to see. As a roleplayer who doesn’t normally raid, there really isn’t much for me to do in terms of “endgame content”, anyhow. What’s the point in rushing, anyway? The majority of the people who do rush to level cap often tend to sit in general chat wherever they are and complain about the lack of endgame content. I certainly never wanted to be one of those people, and I was perfectly happy taking my time killing things and slowly progressing through the content.

Then Bioware had to go and screw all that up by unleashing patch 1.2 in Star Wars: The Old Republic last Thursday.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the patch. I was. What was there to hate about racial unlocks, family trees, and a whole slew of other new things that came along with it? (Not to mention the stealth inclusion of the rakghoul plague spreading to Tatooine, but I digress.) The new patch meant that something I’ve wanted since the game began was almost within my reach: a twi’lek bounty hunter. I really don’t know what it is about the race that I love, but I love everything about them, and when the game had first begun and we had limited information as to what twi’leks could be, I was a little disappointed that they couldn’t be bounty hunters. This disappointment grew exponentially upon game launch when it turned out there were twi’lek bounty hunter trainers. I was very sad. With the new patch, however, as soon as I got a twi’lek to level 50, I could finally have my wish. It really didn’t take long for this to set in for me.

Out of the two twi’lek characters I had, the closest to level cap by the time the patch rolled around was Bel’neven, my Sith Sorcerer, who was level 40 at the time. Keeping this in mind, there was really only one thing to do: go on a leveling binge. I had the day off, after all! So, after going out to stock up a bit on necessary supplies, I went a little crazy. That first day, I was fortunate enough to get Bel’neven to level 45 and get her off of Belsavis. I’ve been working on her ever since, and then, late last night, I finally achieved the dream:

After a brief conversation with Khem Val, Bel'neven finally hits level 50.

Needless to say, I was excited and had to flail about it over twitter. (I even got an early congratulations from the official SWTOR twitter account! I’m still floored about that.) Was it worth it? I can honestly say that, yes, I feel like it was. By the time I hit Corellia, the Sith Inquisitor storyline was really picking up, and I was excited to see where it would go. I won’t go into the specifics here, if only because that’s another post unto itself. I will say, though, that if there’s one thing Bioware really knows how to do, it’s create a good story and keep you invested in it. You may switch to other alts, but you still remember most of what’s going on. You’re still invested in the arc, your character, and your character’s companions. So, yeah, definitely worth it. Now I can finally explore the bits of the galaxy that were previously unknown to me, and PvP my little heart out with other people at my level.

Plus, you know, there’s that wonderful added bonus of finally being able to start my twi’lek alt army, starting with the twi’lek bounty hunter I’ve yearned for. Be afraid, citizens of Lord Adraas. Be very afraid. ;)

Not So Scary After All

I’ll be the first to say that new things can, and often do, terrify me. Change is something that I honestly find scary, even though I know I shouldn’t. After all, change can be good. Unfortunately, if you were to thrust me into something that I knew absolutely nothing about whatsoever, I’d panic. I’ll admit that right now. I’m a panicker. It’s what I do.

And yet, somehow, when a guildmate of mine and I had been talking about warzones (SWTOR’s version of battlegrounds), I thought diving into one without a friend was a good plan. Now, prior to the other night, I had never even touched warzones. Operations and flashpoints are also things I’ve never really touched, but, you know, that’s something for another time. Warzones, however, are infinitely more terrifying. Now, you have to understand that on the Imperial side, I’m a Sith Inquisitor and a healer, besides. My primary goal is healing people and making sure the people who are qualified to take out the opposing team can actually do it. Unfortunately, being a healer in a battleground is the equivalent of being a giant target. See, once the opposing team knows you’re the healer, you might as well have one of those giant flashing neon arrows over your head. They will come after you, and you may wind up a smear on the floor if you can’t heal yourself quickly enough.

Despite the fact that absolutely terrified me, despite not knowing what the hell I was doing, I thought it was a wonderful idea to queue up for a warzone. It was only when the queue popped that I started to panic. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, what warzone I was going to be thrust into, or even what the goal of said warzone was. Despite this, I clicked the button to enter the warzone anyway, and was faced with a loading screen I did not recognize at all. Now, I know I could have asked what we were supposed to do once we all came into the warzone (that I later learned was the Voidstar), but I decided against it. Instead, I plunged in, taking minimal instruction via BG chat. Apparently, Voidstar’s two rounds: one where you attack and another where you defend, all in the span of a few minutes. All in all, I think things went pretty well, since both sides never let the other near the datacore, and there were victories all around.

Emboldened, I plunged in again. At least if I got Voidstar again, I’d know what I was doing! It was not to be, however, as I found myself in Alderaan. This time, someone asked if we had any healers in the group, and I was brave enough to pipe up and tell them that I was. Someone was kind enough to bubble me, and the battleground began. I had the most fun in Alderaan, I think, and I found it to be a much friendlier experience than the Voidstar had been. As the Empire ran out to claim the center turret, I followed, and there I remained throughout the battleground, keeping everybody alive as much as I realistically could. Some were higher in level than I was, others were lower, but, to my surprise, I helped make some of the people around me unbeatable, and, under my watch, most of us were. In Alderaan, I didn’t die nearly as often as I had in the Voidstar, and, in the end, several members of our little band even voted me an MVP!

I’m not certain what an MVP vote does once the warzone is over, mind, but the fact that people had voted for me at all made me all kinds of happy, and gave me the confidence to dive in again. This time, I got Huttball. I was most certainly not a fan of Huttball. I died many times there, mostly due to not knowing what the hell I was doing, but I tried to heal whoever was carrying the ball as quickly as I could. Sure, I died several times doing it, but, you know, that happens.

In the end, when all was said and done and I returned to the Imperial fleet, I realized I was actually enjoying myself. Sure, I had no idea what I was doing and I had died multiple times, but I was having fun nonetheless! And I was earning commendations I could spend on pretty moddable gear once I hit level 40 so I could finally wear something that actually matched. Long story short, I tried something that honestly scared me, and it turned out that I had fun doing it. I encourage everybody to give something like that a try because it really isn’t as scary as you might think it is. You might even have fun.

Breaking Point

Everybody has a breaking point. Everything can be fine and wonderful until one little thing happens to tip the scale and cause you to snap. It happens all the time in the real world. Sometimes, you can cover it well. Other times you can’t. As always, what can happen in the real world can happen in a virtual one, too. Our characters are no exception to this, and, sometimes, snapping winds up ruining everything. These are their breaking points, something that will cause them to act in ways you as the player might not have been prepared for, and it can yield some very interesting stories in the end.

I’d like to share one such example with you. Now, I’d like to preface the following story by saying that I’m aware it’s SWTOR-specific. However, as everybody has their own personal breaking points, the concept is in no way specific to any one game. From a roleplaying perspective, our characters are people, too, and they will react as they will to certain events. Some will react more dramatically than others.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Sith Inquisitor storyline as dictated by Bioware, you begin life as a slave (made worse for those who choose to play an alien as the Empire dislikes aliens immensely), but are discovered to be Force-sensitive and are raised for a very specific purpose to become Sith. I won’t say what that purpose is because, you know, spoilers. Suffice to say that in your trials, one Sith Lord likes you the best and makes you her apprentice. As you go throughout the galaxy, obtaining various artifacts, a few of the NPCs may make note that you used to be a slave. If you’re an alien that isn’t a pureblood Sith, they’ll make note of that, too. Rather loudly. According to them, you’re inferior whether you like it or not.

Now, my Inquisitor is a twi’lek woman by the name of Bel’neven (or Belne Ven, if you choose to break her name down into it’s core components). I don’t have to use Bioware’s given storyline as a base to work with for IC purposes, and yet I do anyway. Belne is a former slave, and she knows it. She doesn’t particularly try to hide it, either. She is what she is and she’s come to accept that. Since her status has been raised, however, she feels like she owes the Empire, but there’s a part of her that’s still… a bit pure-hearted, I guess you could say. As a result, I opted to make her a healer, and I’ve mostly been choosing the Light-side dialogue options for her. The reason being that I think it’d be interesting. After all, killing everything in sight doesn’t always get you to your end goal. Sometimes, you need to be diplomatic.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as planned. I had broken my Light-side streak once already on Korriban. Once Belne arrived on Balmorra, one quest in the course of the Inquisitor’s class storyline forced me to break my Light-side streak again. An Imperial that she had been dealing with decided she wouldn’t get what she wanted from him unless she found his son, another Sith, who had gone and gotten himself caught by Balmorran rebels. So, after slugging through Balmorra and dealing with all sorts of crap from various people, she grudgingly decided to find the man’s son for him. Once she found him, the human Sith apprentice decided the best course of action was to greet her by calling her a filthy alien.

At that point, Belne snapped. The “filthy alien” had just torn through a number of people and, oh, look at that! She hadn’t been stupid enough to get caught. She was there to save his butt, and he had to start off being ungrateful. So, to her, it made perfect sense to call him an insufferable fool in return. The sniping continued for a good few minutes, and I kept being prompted with a choice to let him go. I could have, but then he made the mistake of mentioning a Sith weapon he had been after, which I thought Belne’s master might want. Power, after all, is very important to the Sith, and the weapon could be an additional edge.

In the end, the jerkiest Sith apprentice Belne had come across since Ffon on Korriban told her he wanted out of the cell he was trapped in and I was prompted with three dialogue choices: I’m sorry (but you have to die), No (the only way you get out of that cell is in a body bag), and let him go (for the… what… fourth time? Fifth? At that point, I lost count). I weighed my options. I could take the insults like a man and let him go. After all, opinions at likes mouths; everybody’s got one. However, she was above letting people call her a filthy alien now. She was Sith, damn it, and that earned her a certain amount of respect from anybody, whether she was an alien or not. She wasn’t about to just let him walk out of there, not after that, especially after she had tried to negotiate and tried to get him to give her the holocron that revealed the location of the Sith weapon. She had tried to be nice, and being nice hadn’t worked so well. The only option was to kill him. She didn’t want to piss off his father, either, but, in the end, I chose the first option, fighting happened, and Belne emerged victorious, complete with a new weapon to show off to her master once she saw her again.

The whole incident, however, got me thinking. Generally, Belne is a nice woman, at least until you insult her. All bets are off at that point. For Belne, that’s her breaking point. Like it or not, she’s Sith now and she will be treated as such. Fail to do it and shit will hit the fan. This, also, was what sadly got the ex-apprentice’s father killed shortly after when he failed to show the proper respect. The fear was nice, though.

So my question to you, dear readers, is this: what is your character’s breaking point? What’s one thing that will cause them to snap?

Learning to Love the Gun

As I’ve mentioned several times over Twitter, I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to have gotten in to test Star Wars: The Old Republic not just once, but twice. It has opened my eyes to a wonderful galaxy of things that I never thought possible. The way each quest is presented to you is quite unique, and the things you choose can affect your character one way or the other. Do you allow the person who tried to kill an Imperial to live and serve the Empire or do you kill that person for the attempt right then and there? Upon seeing a woman getting smacked around considerably, do you step in to defend her or allow this to continue? The fact that we have these choices is something unique to The Old Republic, something I love, and seeing it all come together, even in a beta format, is nothing short of incredible.

Quite possibly the best thing about the beta, however, was that it allowed me to test the various classes that I had been waffling between for ages. I did let myself test the Jedi Consular, and I discovered very quickly that it felt like I was coming home after a long time away from it. After coming to that realization, I had to stop playing for fear of spoiling the story for myself and I knew I had to come back to this class after launch. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same resolve with the Sith Inquisitor, taking the character (not once, but twice) through their trials on Korriban and winding up with my first companion character. I’m planning on taking her a bit further simply so I can explore the talent trees in a bit more depth (and so I can figure out whether or not my Consular will be wielding a dual-bladed saber or a single one).

However, on the last few days of my first weekend in beta, I decided to do something different. I decided to try out a class I had no desire to play come launch, just to see what the story was like. High on my list of classes I was so certain I wasn’t going to touch was the Trooper. In the past, the trooper had been presented to me as a heavily armored tank, the exact sort of thing I swore to myself I was never going to be. I tried that back in World of Warcraft and I sadly came to the realization that tanking was too high-stress for me. Back then, it was the very last thing I needed in my life. However, after exploring the trooper a bit more, I came to the startling realization that if I chose the Commando Advanced Class option, I could heal. Healing I could do! And, from the sound of the things I had heard at the time, it seemed like they would be similar to paladin healing in World of Warcraft. I could do that! Paladin healing had always been my favorite kind of healing!

Armed with this knowledge, but still very certain I was going to hate the trooper in spite of this, I logged into the beta that first beta weekend and rolled myself a trooper based on one of my oldest characters: a paladin from the Warcraft universe named Damaris Vordane (called Vordane in-game). Once I finally adjusted her looks to SWTOR standards, I logged in, the opening crawl rolled, and I was ready. Vordane’s story, same as the story of every trooper in the game, began on Ord Mantell, where the Republic was fighting valiantly against separatist forces. Even as I made my way through the first few minutes of the opening movie, I knew something was something off about the separatists, namely that they seemed to have weaponry and knowledge they definitely weren’t supposed to. By the time the opening movie was over and Vordane was ready to set foot into the world armed with little more than a gun and the clothes on her back. She knew with absolute certainty the separatists had to be stopped before they destroyed everything she loved with a cannon they had stolen from us.

At the time, I had just finished playing a few levels of a smuggler, and I found myself missing having the cover system to hide behind at first. However, the more I played my trooper, the more I realized I wasn’t missing it at all. I had a giant rifle, after all. Four or more average level mobs? No problem with a big-ass gun! A stronger mob and an average one? Also not really a problem once you got the rhythm down. I had an amazing gun, and I was going to use it.

As the story continued to unfold during this most recent beta weekend, so did Vordane: a soldier dedicated to the Republic and doing what was right. She didn’t need the Force or any other fancy gimmicks. She was a soldier. She didn’t need to be anything else. What she had was her conviction and her faith that they would be capable of doing the right thing in the end, and, you know, a big-ass gun. I suspected things were getting bad for me when I discovered I had gotten a gun that I fell in love with before I had gotten the chance to take it anywhere (I dubbed it Bertha), but I pushed it aside, engrossed in the story. By the time I was done with Ord Mantell, I was confronted with several plot elements I had never anticipated, and it was in that moment, faced with that surprising plot twist, that I said something I honestly never expected to.

“I’m in love.”

Vordane the trooper around level 9 or so, about ready to leave Ord Mantell.

That’s right. The one class I told myself I would never like or love was the one I had fallen completely head over heels for. It was the perfect class. I got to stand at a distance and shoot at things, but I was well-armored enough for it to almost not matter if I got hit. I was a freaking wrecking ball with a gun, and I didn’t care what got in my way.

Even now, as a commando that has gotten hold of a cannon (this thing is the best thing ever, I swear) and her own starship, I still love it. I’m still trying to make sense of the abilities I’ve got, but I know I’ll be back. I’ll probably have an all-new character ready to go by then, as Damaris’ proper story lies outside of SWTOR, but I’m definitely having a trooper in my alt arsenal.