Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stress Test? You Got That Right!

Beta test weekend #2 done. Not nearly as enjoyable as the first weekend. When they said stress test, they meant it.

The first weekend wasn’t too bad when it came to the lag. (And I’m calling it lag whether it was server lag or fps issues. My toon was lagging one way or the other.) This weekend was downright unplayable at points. There are quite a few threads with complaints about the same, so I know I’m not the only one. Here’s one that had a solution of sorts. I tried it, and it helped. It did not fix the problem, however. The game went from unplayable to barely tolerable.

Now, I don’t have a top notch gaming rig by any means, but I figure that if I can play WoW, Rift, DCUO, Skyrim, etc with the graphics settings all the way up and have no issues, then I should be able to run SWTOR on the lowest settings with no problems. That’s just simply not the case. (And btw, on the absolute lowest settings, all players and npcs changed to polygons… yeah, fun)

And I get that this was a “stress test” weekend. They were intentionally running high populations on the servers to see if they could handle it. Well, test failed, my friends. When the server instance was only showing around 100 people, I mostly had no issues. Of course, if I entered a cantina, forget about it. Everything slowed down. The same was true if I entered a fight with more than 3 mobs. Too much movement on the screen made everything slow down/skip. I guess it just makes things more challenging, right? Now, when the population reached 300... let's just say UGH! 

Right now, I’m hoping that BioWare takes all of this into consideration before the launch. I’m sure they’re interested in keeping the game playable for as many people as possible. (Unlike the people on general chat and the forums who keep saying things like “LOL, you teh sux! get a better computer n00b!!11!”) Heck, they even make the last questions you answer before logging out about how much lag and fps issues you have. I think this shows that they give a damn.

So, here’s to December 20. You can’t come soon enough.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age

I figure I'll hop in on the whole lightsaber color discussion. I mean it's such an important topic that could totally alter the game and how we... No seriously. Color?

Ok, ok. I get it. For some people (read: Star Wars Nerds) you don't mess with the holy trilogy. I count myself among those people. George Lucas made three movies that were the yardstick by which I measured all other movies throughout my childhood. You don't F with that. But remember this: George Lucas F'd with that.

Does he have the right? Sure. His movies. Do I have to like it? Hell, no! I don't like the new trilogy. I don't like the changes he made to the original trilogy (Greedo shoots first????) but guess what? It happened. I can't change that. And if you go into the EU, there's plenty of inconsistencies and changes. That's why there's retcon. That's why there are "canon" and "non-canon" stories.

Back to lightsabers... You know, the point. Sometimes I forget.

There was a progression for color. First, it was red for Sith and blue for Jedi. Then, when the special effects department for Return of the Jedi said "hey, having trouble seeing Luke's lightsaber in the blue Tunisian sky," someone said "uhm, how's green sound?" Bingo! Two Jedi colors. The EU added yellow, cyan, gold, black, copper, blah blah blah. I'm pretty sure there is even a pink one in there somewhere. All this time, though, only Sith get red and red is the only color Sith get. And then Lucas added purple because Sam Jackson is a bad muther f'er.

Is there really any rhyme or reason to any of it? I mean, if you're a Sith during the age of the Rule of Two, I'm sure the best way to hide your existence is to wave around a red beacon rather than blend in. And yes, I know that SWTOR doesn't take place during the Rule of Two. But with lightsaber crystals being somewhat rare, don't you think that Sith, with their belief in survival, would sorta take what they can get rather than make a fahion statement?

For the people that say a lightsaber defines the user, why put all Sith into the same box (color-wise at least). And the really epic thing about SWTOR is that we, the players, get to define the universe. And yes, it would be alot easier to tell Jedi and Sith apart in PvP, but that distinction doesn't exist for other classes. Be happy with the red nameplates for opponents.

George Lucas made changes and added things that we don't like (JarJar, Jake Lloyd's acting, etc.) Well, let's get him back by changing his whole lightsaber color scheme to something that makes sense: we choose. Us. The players. The fans. The Jedi. The Sith. The one that really matter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

No More NDA? Well then... First Impressions

Now that the NDA has been lifted, it’s time to actually talk about SWTOR.

Since I have an 18 month old, I can only really play after she goes to bed (usually around 8pm). That means over the playtest weekend, I really only logged on in the evenings and during her Sunday nap. I learned something important about myself too… I can’t game until 3am anymore. God, I’m old.

Well, onto the game. I’ll hurry up and get the only complaint out of the way. A little laggy at times. This was a common complaint that I heard from, well, a lot of people. Ok, now with that out of the way…

SWTOR is friggin’ awesome. EPIC even.

I started out with a Jedi Consular. I wanted to try out a Jedi/Sith class and from what it looked like on the server I was on, so did about 75% of everyone else. I mean, who didn’t want to be a Jedi after watching Star Wars when they were a kid? Ok, so some of us wanted to be Han Solo, but really, none of us are ever gonna be that cool. I also started a Sith Warrior, but I didn’t play it past level 4. Of course, I only got to level 10 with the Consular too, but like I said, I have an 18 month old.

In all, it was like playing KOTOR, but with hundreds of other people (dammit, I said that in my last post). You know what? It bears saying again, because KOTOR was a great game. This is just the next step, and what a step! The quests follow a personal storyline that lets you flesh out who your character is and what effect they have on the galaxy. It doesn’t feel like you’re just doing the same old “go gather # of this” or “go kill # of that” and run back and forth like a simple errand boy. The quests are basically one long chain of events that comprise your early Jedi training. Cool, right?

Now, I said before I only had one complaint, and it is only one. What follows isn’t complaints, just observations and such.

I would love to see a few more non-storyline quests thrown in to give you a little more to do while you’re traveling from point A –  point B. Yeah, these may be the gather/kill quests that I just knocked, but I’m talking about just some extras to throw in around the storyline ones. The difference is that in games like WoW, DCUO, Rift, FFIX (which are my MMO experiences), the gather/kill quests are the norm with a few chain/storyline quests thrown in here and there. So, kudos to the storyline quests, but I like to be kept busy too.

I will say that anything else that I found a little off was so minor that I didn’t notice it unless someone pointed it out. But then, after they did point it out, it was like it was screaming at me. For instance, the map seems like a series of tubes connecting hubs. You go to one spot on the map, then follow a path to the next spot on the map. It doesn’t leave much to exploring a world (At least this is the way it was on Tython, so if it’s different on other worlds, don’t jump down my throat. I told you I only got to level 10.)

I’m looking forward to the next beta weekend. Even more, I’m looking forward to the launch. But I’ll hang with beta for now. Looking forward to my first flashpoint. I decided to go with the Sage for heals which hopefully will make it easier to get into that flashpoint. I’ll have my thoughts on healing after that.

Love and chowMein,


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Out With The Old - In With The New

So, I quit playing WoW a few months back. (See a lot of my old posts for why. I thought Cata had changed things, but I was wrong.)

Then I heard that BioWare was working on Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have played their previous offerings, which were quite honestly AWESOME. The KOTOR games were great. I played both of them multiple times through. So, when I heard they were making an MMO... yeah, I had to change my pants.

Then I got my playtesting invite. Damn... another pair of pants.

I don't want to violate any part of the confidentiality agreement, so I won't say much other than EPIC. It's like playing KOTOR with hundreds of other people. No idea if I'll be playing Republic or Empire when it goes live, but I've got another PT weekend or so to decide.

December 20 (or sooner if I get early game access) can't come soon enough.