The big news this week is that the PTS has been updated with patch 2.0 which is the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion patch. The highlights, obviously, are the increase in level cap to 55, a change to warzone bracketing and expertise, new gear, increase in crafting cap, a new Operation and the addition of a Legacy wide Achievement system – complete with inappropriately placed capital letters. Are “Legacy” and “Achievement” proper nouns? What about “Operation”?

Anyway, there’s lots of good info out there about the changes, new gear etc. Here’s a few links to be going on with:

All in all, there’s a lot to be looking forward to – although I’m sure there’ll be lots of grumbling when a full analysis of the skill tree changes is available. Some observations and thoughts of my own though:
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Grey Secant

A green acute situtation

I haven’t attempted the new Gree event dailies yet. I logged onto my Trooper and did The Impossible Sector space daily (worth 260 reputation points towards the Republic Armada) and then deliberated going back to Ilum. Then I logged onto my Inquisitor and spent the rest of the evening PvPing and skipping gaily around Balmorra executing people just because I wanted to see what pattern their blood would make on the floor. No really – that’s the actual reason my Assassin gave to some guy shortly before I killed him.

My avoidance of the blue nonagon of Ilum is possibly because I don’t like feeling pressured into having to rush to get as many reputation points as I can before the event stops in a couple of weeks. Also, when it comes down to it, I have a white vertex with dailies, even if they are orange sphere. Sure it’s fine as an easy way to make credits but in a game that gives me several stories to play through, progressing my other characters is green obtuse.

But, personal feeling aside, after speaking to someone who had already maxed their affection with the Gree for the week, I have decied to pick apart some of the maths about the event to better understand the task ahead of me, generate appreciativeness and form a red parallel.
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Don’t you know who I am?

Patch 1.7 is being released tomorrow and with it comes a new event, based on the Gree and taking place on Ilum, and the addition of factional reputation along the lines of many other MMOs that have gone before it. The introduction of a reputation system can mean only one thing: invasion grind.

I don’t know how I feel about a reputation grind. They were a major part of the end-game grind in vanilla WoW but the only one I ever bothered with was getting to Exalted with the Frostwolf Clan in Alterac Valley for the epic mount reward. I largely ignored them in LOTRO – except for the Tailors guild as it was a good way to level tailoring – and at the moment, I can’t see any reason why I would want to do it in SWTOR.

Personal preference aside, however, there are some interesting design choices that have been made that were outlined in a devloper blog published last week.
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Last night Rouf ventured to Section X on Belsavis to try out the new dailies. I was interested in finding out where the HK-51 quest line started – I don’t know how difficult or bugged the quest is but I still don’t see that many people with him as a companion on fleet – and ended up doing something I’ve never done before in any MMO.

I healed in a group.

Well, okay, that’s not entirely true – I mean, I did heal but there was also a Sage so I sort of did DPS too. Not very well. But I did tranquilize elite mobs like a boss! We even managed to finish the quest – which might not seem like a big deal except that it took us 3 attempts to defeat the Dread Guard Legion Commander.
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The Galaxy Is Yours

Rouf finally hit level 50 last night.

Quick recap: Rouf was the character I started playing during the early start phase before the game launched. I got him all the way up to level 30 (or whatever it was) to get my Legacy name and then switched over to playing a Vanguard who got levelled up to 50 first. Now, over a year after he set out on his journey, Rouf has reached level cap. He’s also the first character to have finished his Chapter 3 story so that’s a bonus (my Trooper still has a couple of missions to go).

So how was it?

I’ll be honest and say that, on balance, I prefer playing the Trooper. I never really got to grips with the Scoundrel playstyle – or, more to the point, felt that it was a bit of a slog. This may well have been because I spectacularly failed to keep gear current and also because, for the last five levels, I was running a hybrid Sawbones/Scrapper spec to try and get some benefit from both healing and DPS. Not that it matters, because he’s level 50 now.
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p517 Starship Upgrades

Starship Upgrades 101

Yeah, I know it’s been a while. And here I am, new year and all, with a post that is more a reference for me to collate into one place all the info I need about SWTOR starship upgrades after trying to sort out Grade 2 parts for my alts. This will be a work in progress as I haven’t even looked at the Grade 7 parts that were added in patch 1.6.

(I appreciate this is a beginners guide for something that is over a year old but in the interests of telling the whole story) If you’re going to try out Space Combat in SWTOR, once you’ve got your starship the first thing you need to do is kit it out. Why would you want to do Space Combat missions? The simple answer is credits and XP. Being on-rails, you know that a mission will only take about 5 minutes at most and doing two missions for the daily space combat quest you can get will earn a substantial chunk of change and experience and fleet commendations to buy special upgrades, Grade 7 upgrades and some social pilot outfits.
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p495 XCOM EU

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
Arthur C. Clarke

I’ve always been fascinated by stories about an alien invasion of earth – a trait that’s mostly a result of a childhood spent reading HG Wells’ original text – and listening to Jeff Wayne’s classic musical adaptation of – “War of the Worlds”, as well as coming home from school to watch a series of classic science fiction films on BBC2 – movies like George Pal’s 1953 adaptation of Wells’ classic, Don Siegel’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “This Island Earth”, “The Thing From Another World” and Robert Wise’s original “The Day The Earth Stood Still” (arguably not an invasion film as such but a great film nonetheless.) At the same time, one of the most influential films of my formative years, aside from Star Wars, was Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of The Third Kind”, an admittedly more benign alien invasion film but mysteriously creepy and captivating nevertheless.

Fast forward to the mid 90s and the arrival of the turn based strategy game, “UFO: Enemy Unknown” (as it was called here in the UK). I was an Amiga owner at the time and found the demo on a magazine coverdisc. I went out and bought the full game the very next day. I loved it. Of course, this was before I’d discovered the internet so I was totally unaware of quite how popular the game was – but as a game, it inspired me and I played it solidly until I finally beat it and drove the aliens off.

18 years later, the aliens returned.
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GW2 hasn’t kept my attention and that’s mostly down to the rather earnest fantasy setting of the world. The gameplay, for the most part, is great and easily accessible but I spend a lot of time wondering how SWTOR might benefit from adopting some of the gameplay elements. One of the most obvious features to take on would be Dynamic Events and here are the three main reasons I think they’d be perfect for including in one form or another:

  1. Players can take part without needing to group
  2. Players complete events by fulfilling a variety of tasks that all contribute to the overall progress
  3. Events can change a landscape depending on whether they’re won or lost.

For me, the best thing about GW2s dynamic events was that feeling of all the players present working together. You didn’t have to pick up a quest and you didn’t have to form a group and, because of the lack of mob tagging, you were quite able to contribute to the group effort as long as you were nearby. I found the events extremely satisfying, even on the rare occasion that we lost.

So how would it work?
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I find The Secret World to be an odd game: I can’t stop thinking about it even though it annoys me intensely. I’ve tried it three times now, the first time being in an open Beta weekend back in May and last week I played the (new improved) three day trial. Of the three occasions, this last was the time I enjoyed the game the most – but even then I didn’t finish the requisite number of quests to get an extra couple of days because I knew, ultimately, there wasn’t any point.

It’s frustrating: on paper, this game is something that I thought I might really get into with the modern-day setting, a Lovecraft-inspired narrative and classless, free-form character progression – but it’s the execution and, in all likelihood, my expectation that disappoints me.
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I signed up for the three day trial of The Secret World again this week in order to better formulate my opinions as to why I am one of those who didn’t rush to reward innovation and support Funcom in their hour of need. Before I share my thoughts, here’s an old post I wrote a few years back, first published on July 13, 2007 over at Kill Ten Rats.

I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams.


MMOs based on a literary IPs: Turbine have done it with the generally well received Lord of the Rings (Chicken Play edition ™) and Funcom are in the beta test of their game that is based on and inspired by the chronicles of a certain Conan T. Barbarian esq. by Robert E. Howard. (Nitpickers amongst you may be feeling the need to point out that he was never referred to by Howard as Conan The Barbarian. I know!) Personally, I’m looking forward to Age of Conan a lot although I’m not entirely sure when I’m actually going to have a machine capable of rendering the lands of Hyboria in all their sumptuous glory. What I’m surprised about is that there hasn’t yet been an announcement of an MMO based on the Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos.

Okay, there’s a browser based MMO called Cthulhu Nation and there’s another one in development called Cthulhu Fhtagn! (sic) [2012 EDIT: no movement on this game since 2009 and still not live] but I’m thinking of something with a little more production value to it (although Cthulhu Nation, a turn based and grid based game is a good way of passing 10 minutes or so) and perhaps more in the way of, say, graphics and being more like a virtual world. (I should add that Funcom’s recently announced project “The Secret World” sounds very inspired by Lovecraft although doesn’t explicitly state it’s based on his works.)

I will confess, at this point, that I’ve never played the Call of Cthulhu pen and paper RPG game and so I can’t say whether the mechanics of that game could translate well into a digital medium. Perhaps it would be better if a Lovecraft MMO didn’t try to use the same mechanics to avoid any alienation of new players and to stop the existing fans from whining about “how they’ve missed the point of the CoC ruleset” (because you know they will). The nearest I’ve come was when a friend introduced me to the board game “Arkham Horror” which was nothing short of fantastic.

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