Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SW:ToR Open Beta Weekend - Some Thoughts

As always I am very happy to play a great MMO (or any game for that matter) when I get the chance to. Sadly though - I was slightly disappointed by the build that was made available during ToR's Open Beta Weekend, though I am not disappointed by the game one bit!

The build that was put up this past weekend had a few bugs, that for me, made the game unplayable for the most part. I do however have faith in the BioWare team that they will be fixed by launch. As of now ToR has its release candidate build up and ready to be played on (though none of the servers are up currently). So to me this is a very GOOD sign in how far this game has come over the years.

I have every bit of faith that the game will be one of the greatest MMO's to date, and seeing how fast the team in Austin stomps out many of the issues - I have to say this game will be very playable for almost all of us come Early Access and Release.

I have played in enough Beta Weekends to not be aggravated by the few bugs that occurred (clipping issues for both graphics and terrain, crafting issues, and some other very minor things). For the most part I let these slide, as at the moment I am not completely interested in playing beta - I am waiting for launch to do my playing right now.

I know there is (and was) a fair amount of talk about how ToR is just like WoW - but for the most part, I feel as if ToR is a breed of its own. Yes there may be things from WoW, but honestly how many things did Blizzard and WoW take from all of the other popular games at the time Vanilla came out. For the experienced gamer, you could easily point out the items that came from games like EQ, DAOC, UO, AC1 - the list goes on.

For people to say ToR is anything like WoW is ridiculous. In the market of creating online games - a lot of thought processes are "rehashed" as many of the developers either come from the previous company where these ideas worked in sustaining a player base, or they know the ideas work and use them to score and all out success for the game (hopefully - I've already seen how things went with SWG trying to do the same).

My theory on this is - lets put all of the stuff about how a game is like another, and just play it! If you don't like it, cancel your account or STFU. It's not worth it in a community aspect to gripe and complain about how something is or was - unless someone in that game actually CARES about your degrading thoughts of the game.

I have always disliked the aspect of "Chuck Norris" jokes in a chat or things hateful toward the game (but they always happen). Again, if you don't like what you see - cancel your account and save yourself an extra $15 every month instead of ruining the atmosphere fro everyone else trying to play.

I pretty much hated that in the Weekend Test - yet I know all the "kiddies" are coming out of the wood work now (from WoW) and are testing the amount of patience the CSR Staff has (and also the players who enjoy the game).

Lets hope a lot of these "tards" will be gone by launch - off the forums and from the game itself.

Here's to a successful launch and smooth running early access! I for one hope to see everyone at launch and have the chance to play with them! As for now - I'm out. See you all sometime soon!



Saturday, November 19, 2011

The State of the Game - NDA Lift for ToR + Our Own Review

I know many of you will say, "Why another post / review on this game! Enough is enough already." But for those of you who read our page, I thought it would give you another way to look at things (especially from someone who has been around MMO's since the Dawning of the Age).

First off I would like to say that many of us who have put our input into the topics in this post, are former SWG Players off of the Chilastra server. Many of us (all of us) have been looking forward to this game since it was announced way back in the day -  and needless to say, we all feel we have been slightly burned by those over at SOE due to what became of that game.

So now for the real meat and potatoes (which for any ladies out there I am I meat and potatoes kind of guy), our look at the world of SW:ToR and all of its little gizmos and buttons that make the game what it is (or isn't).

The Voice Acting

This has to be one of the features many of us enjoy(ed) during our game play time for several various reasons. For one - the lack of having to read a bunch of mindless quest text, along with the feeling of immersion in the world of ToR.

I have seen many of the articles out there at the moment - yet I still feel this is one of the key features in the game that makes it what it is. The fact that (to me) you feel like you ARE in some aspects your character while watching these "cut scenes"  play out in front of you along with the options to make you "choose wisely" gives the game a fair amount of depth that many other MMO's (hardly none) have had to date.

This can been seen even more when you go into an "instance" (for lack of a better word) and have your friends in the part with you. The choices you and your party make will infact play a role in how "the story" of the "instance" comes together for you and those around you - as everyone in the part will see the cutscene and the dialog from the character that is speaking.


I have to see - the ability to just jump right in and start playing comes almost right out of the gate. None of those horrible starter tutorial things that many games have built into them aside from the occasional "helpful tip" that is displayed - which is not intrusive to your UI and makes you want to smash your face against your keyboard every time one has popped up (even though you selected to turn them off).

 The lack of an "auto attack" was a little unnerving to me at first - but as you progress you become accustomed to how your character "works" in combat with out that feature and keeps you at your keyboard for most (if not all) of a fight.

This in turn could help with a lot of the "stand in an area and go afk for an hour" things players do that is common in other games of the genre. If you need to go afk, my advice, log out!


Coming from a game like SWG - this has to be one of my least favorite, but also one of the few MMO's to date that do crafting this way - so I do give a big "thumbs up" to it also.

Item crafting almost has that "WoW-ish" style to it in an aspect of,  farm node A, aqcuire rare item B, have them both in your inventory, hit craft, wait. The addition of reverse engineering (ala WoW (disenchanting) or many of the other games that have a "deconstruct" or "salvage" option))  generally helps in leveling up your skill faster to get back resources - but it also helps to keep market quantities somewhat lower (as many people want the mats).

Though - I felt at a lose when I found out I could only have *1* crafting skill combined with 2 harvesting skills, or 1 general harvesting - and 1 harvesting that requires your companions to run the "missions" for items. Even though the companions do your craft and certain missions for you to get the items - you will still gain skill levels in that field.


I do enjoy them, and they do help very much so. Yet having one feels like I am playing Dragon Age with a ToR skin on it. A fair amount of  aspect of DA:O are in the game (companion gifts, affection points), though somehow I still believe the system can be refined.

Some of the interactions seem, "out of whack" - like having companions go down elevators and then holding up to engage in combat ( think of a very useless Alistair (which for the most part I felt he was :P )).

There is also the romance option to get your "cyber phunk" on with your companion (shade of Morrigan and Leliana anyone?), which unlike DA:O there is really no Asian Happy Ending after you get to where you need to with selected companion.

Though I have to say my favorite companion (yes I have one), is Kira - although I will not be playing a Jedi Knight.

Visuals / Graphics

I know many people complain that is "too cartoony" (and most of it comes from people who are playing WoW still and troll threads), but the environments are beautiful to be around. As i said before - you feel like you are in your own Star Wars Saga, and seeing the worlds and who they look (with DX11) makes it all that much more enjoyable.

Almost every planet I have been to I have said (or  compaired) how they ToR looks better then Game X. Though most of the time it is based off of playtime spent in SWG - it sheds some light on to how that game was very outdated (in today's market).

One of my favorite visuals is the "Sith Corruption" that can be turned on/off in your preferences and works via Dark Side Alignment. Depending on how much of a murderous bastard you are - your character looks more and more like and wrinkled zombie from the Apocalypse of 2012.

For me - it is a welcomed feature.

Audio / Sounds

I can't really be as biased on this subject as many people (my headset is 7.1 surround) - but it is another immersion factor that helps the story along.

Music and ambiance are great (and come with your typical sliders in preferences) and with the 7.1 - help greatly in PvP situations.

PvP / Warzones

I didn't do a heck of a lot of these - but they are a joy after a long day of grinding. My favorite (Alderaan) is basically a capture the control point type map where massive killing abounds.

Voidstar - is basically a bombing run type map (for those that have played CS:S) where you need to set bombs, blow shit up, and get to the last room with the fastest time you can.

Huttball - I have to say this is my least favorite of them, simply because it feels a little too "cluttered" for my tastes. I'm not the best person to speak to about Huttball - as I will rage and tell you how much I hate it.


Once again - fun yet, work can be done with it. Basically you are doing "space combat" on a rail system (ala Starfox) to get to the end of your mission. There is no free control of your ships or anything of that nature. To me the ship felt like a "mobile bank" and extra spot to store junk I din't want to hold in my inventory - as your ship has a cargo hold.

On the other side of things - if you are a good FPS player, space seems like a quick alternative to gaining fast XP.


I do love this game (as many of you know). I do feel like there needs to be a little more work done before live (as with many of the games I have tested in the past). I also believe that the game will be quite successful at launch and in the long term.

The phrase, "Star Wars is too big to fail" has been in my mind since SWG went down the tank, and I will not deny that there is room for error. Yet there is also the ability to succeed. Which to me and many other would be a great joy in our hearts.

So we shall see what happens. As of writing this - launch day is exactly 1 month away. So only time will tell, as with all things!

As always, I hope you enjoy the blog and I look forward to seeing you all inside the gaming world! Until next time.....



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Emulators - Bringing Back the Past or Destroying our Future?

Now I know many of you who are reading this right now are like myself - you grew up with games on the intelivision, atari, 3DO, nintendo, and things of that nature. And much like myself, you would love and relish in the chance to relive some of those childhood memories by playing Tank Defender or Zelda once again. For most of us we cannot, and have to resort to the process of emulation and play them on our PC if we really want to.

But what if one of your all time favorite video games that is currently on the market is on a "private server" and you can play for free and get all of the awesome goodies without any of the "work" involved with getting them? Do you still play it, or do you step aside and play the real deal?

Many people in the MMO world have succumb to the the fact that they would rather play the free version of a game and do ZERO work for many of the items and goodies a game has to offer!

Let's take World of Warcraft for example. This game has had many different types of emulators in the past, and many of them have been shut down. Most of them due to "illegal funds transfers" to the hosting sites in the form of donations for "play to win items". In most cases Blizzard has come up on top in court and (as I stated above) many were forced to shut down and close their doors.

How about another example - The Star Wars Galaxies Emulator (aka SWG Emu). Yes, SWG is and was a fan favorite by many, but does it require an emulator to some very old and for that matter - out dated and dead code files that these tech heads have acquired illegally through the use of packet sniffers and many self made reverse engineering tools? I personally do not believe so. Aside from that the website has avoid prosecution from SOE / LA various times, and to top it of has had much of their donation money taken, stolen, or used by many of the people on board with the project for various "personal expenses".

With the launch date of SW:ToR on the horizon, and other games like Guild Wars 2 - will these games come under fire by the various "pirating" groups out there on the net? I hope not.

For many of us these games are a safe place to play and build friendships and acquire a strong sense of community within our chosen game. What many of these "emu" servers do is take from that community so that they can build their own due to someone else's achievements and glory.

Yes, my stance on the subject matter is somewhat 50/50 - but I do not wish for a game that I pay a set fee for every month to be turned away by thousands if not millions of players just because there is a cheaper (free) alternative on the internet. Most of the time this is how many of the great games of our time often get sour or bad reviews - due to players playing on free servers and not liking what that community has implemented and never actually playing the real game for what it is worth.

I generally see these "servers" (if you can call them that) as a problematic feature that is out there on the internet these days. If you want to "make money" (or donations as you emu people call them) - go and create your own video game, and not steal it from someone else and use the word "donation" to back up the fact that you are STEALING money from innocent people who are too dumb to see through your lies.

I know this is a sour topic on my blog - one of which I really should not be venting over. I just hope in the future that there will be a higher level of security features set in place for many of the great games of our time so many of the "criminals" out there cannot and do not take away from OUR gameplay as well as that of others.

I think I have spoken enough on this topic - so I shall see you all next time!

Cheers :)


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SW:ToR & Breaching the NDA Agreement

So last night there were a few posts via my G+ account on a certain individual who was "live streaming" ToR via his account and stated that he had the "proper authority from BioWare" to do so". The person who was doing this had about 4 - 5 million views on his account at the end of the night (after getting kicked and banned from beta), and his screen going black.

Now - is this the right think to do, as provides compensation for users who, upon reaching a certain amount of views, for the game they are reporting on or are streaming at the time?

Personally I do not believe so. I also feel that since this was a blatant breach of an NDA Agreement and Contract - that this persons Twitch account should either A). be block and removed, B). Banned, or C). Both.

I mean, you virtually sign the "contract" to participate in this test - if you do not read it, that is your own dumb fault. So if this person gets banned from the full release version of the game - I really do feel no sympathy for him, as he was stupid enough to do such a thing.

NDA's are taken very seriously in the Game Development Market (and even in the work force), and it can cause some strict legal actions upon breaking and violating them.

Yes I know ToR is very close to release, and many people will say "Why should I care?" or even "Why does it matter? They said they were going to lift all of the bans from before launch." Simply put, it will put less "flags" and "markers" on your account if you were to do anything minor. If you were to get a simple infractions - that simple mistake could be your one and only mistake if you have those flags and markers and could turn into an "insta-ban" right there on the spot!

Yes I know this is somewhat a rant - but I feel like it need to be said (as no one else may say it at all). I hope when the next weekend pops up that the NDA may be lifted by then, so that some of these issues are non-recurring and do not happen again.

That is all for now - I hope to see you all soon in the gaming world!




Earthrise (Sci-Fi Sandbox) Goes F2P

Earthrise - one of the next up and coming Sci-Fi Sandbox game that had recently launched this year (I had no idea it had already), has just recently announced that it is about to go to a pure F2P (Free to Play) model and bypass any type of subscription base for its users. The game  resembles that of an "Old School SWG" type game (hell it comes very close to it) - it just has a lot better graphics and such.

As of December 1st of this year - players will be able to experience the game without subscriptions as the game moves into 2012 and into the pure F2P market. The Dev's have stated that there will be no "Pay to Win Items" in the game upon going F2P - and seeing as the game is very "player skill" based, this may help in the long term of the game.

For all of you who like "sandbox" games - it may be something to try out while we wait patiently for SW:ToR's release date to arrive come the 20th. I know many of you may not want to play anything that resembles anything like SWG - but, it could be worth the time to get in touch with some "new old school" and then get into the "new new school" and start fresh!

I honestly do not have much to say about this particular title as I have not played it, hell I didn't even know it had released yet! This to me shows why the company who had made the game needs to go to a free to play model - BAD MARKETING!

If many of the player base who like Sci-Fi games (and for that matter Sandbox Sci-Fi Games) do not know your title has been released yet - you damn well better be ready to lose a tremendous amount of cash that you had already put forth into your project. This here seems to be the case for Earthrise. I know many of the refugees from Star Wars Galaxies probably would have jumped on to this title like flies on... (you get the picture). I mean how can a development company have such blatant disregard for something they have put all that time and effort into to just let it slip away like that?!

It is just careless and a lot of poor planning. I think I have said enough about this at the current time - though I may go and try this out to see how the title play when it does go full F2P in December prior to the launch of ToR. So hopefully by then I shall have another update to post about Earthrise and see what all the fuss is about!

Here is the full article provided by Massively:
Cheers All!


SW:ToR Closes in on 1 Million Boxed Pre-Orders

As one of the most anticipated MMORPG's this year closes in on its December 20th release date, it is also gradually closing in on the fabled "1 Million Mark" for Pre-Orders alone. Now many of you will say, "Man that's nothing! World of Warcraft has 13 Million subs!" Well there is one thing to remember here Children of the Panda - this number is strictly North America Only, it also does not include Digital Download Pre-Orders, and it DOES NOT take account for ANY of the Pre-Orders from Europe.

So with that said, can this game be the "WoW Killer" so many of us have dreamed about and longed for since the release of that game? I will say - we will have to wait and see. As far as industry leading innovations, the team at BioWare has pretty much set the standards now with ToR. If it is any indication from what Blizzard will be doing with their upcoming "Panda Bear and Sparkle Pony" Expansion (voice overs and no auto attacks), I think this shows how much Blizzard wishes they were BioWare and thought of this stuff first.

Sadly though, they didn't!

No, I really am not sad about that (./insert lulz here) - because honestly I want ToR to be a HUGE competitor to a game that has become one of the EASIEST MMO's on the market where even a 4 year old child can successfully do level 85 raids as a Main Tank (Yes! I was in a guild where the guild leader let his youngest son tank raids, he was 4 years old)!

I want there to be a challenge - I want SKILL to dominate! I do not want the factor of GEAR to set the standard for what you CAN and CANNOT do in a game!

The MMO's of old used this concept to its fullest extent - people loved it! Personally, I believe that ToR (with what has been shown and said) - is very well going to accomplish this style of play, and once again make me feel like I have a game I can make my "home" for some time to come.

I know the stakes are high for BioWare, as we the fans are coming up on the very final "Beta Weekend". Then after that it will probably be time for that one blissful moment of "Early Access". If the cards are right - BioWare is going to win one of the largest pots of all time! It just seems like everyone here is waiting for that river card to turn so we can see who wins the big bucks in the Battle of MMO's.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

SW:ToR Beta Weekend #3 - Marketing Ploy or Bug Removal?

This week BioWare had announced that beta weekend #3 had come to the surprise of many of its fans. As this weekend is upon us I simply find myself asking one little question - "Why are we still testing a game that is nearly ready for launch?" I do understand the concept behind all the testing and such, but are these weekends being used as a way to "draw" the undecided into either A). Purchasing a Pre-Order, or B). Refining a game that is still incomplete.

In some aspect I believe it is a little of both. The part that frightens me a bit is that if in fact it has a little to do with the second option, what does this mean for launch day? Will the game in fact be complete and rid of the bugs that were found in previous builds that had been tested?

I have been around too many MMO's that have been launched and tested that have come out of the box feeling like they were missing pieces here and there, or just did not have the right pieces where they should be at all. I have no doubts that BioWare will have a completed game come December 20th - but I feel like I should be a little weary with the amount of "testing" this is still happening a month or so before the game arrives at my door step.

I am a very jaded Star War Galaxies player of old, and that game was so incomplete that at times it was totally unplayable. I do not wish the same for ToR or any other Star Wars branded game, as I have a huge undying love for anything in the Star Wars Universe. To think that there COULD be that chance that something will go awry would be devastating to me - and thousands of others who have been wronged by SOE and the SWG model of play.

No I am not saying ToR is anything like SWG (it certainly is not, from what I have seen), nor am I comparing BioWare to SOE's business model (money first - screw your loyal costumer base after). I just feel that there is something that is "unseen" (as with anything in the development process), that many of us wish to see and know.

I know many of the people playing SWG right now will not be satisfied until ToR completely sinks and fails, where as the old schoolers (like myself), are looking forward to this like a kid running downstairs on Christmas morning.

All I wish to convey in this piece is that sense of uncertainty that many of us feel in our gut when we take a log back on the past, and are trying to look ahead to the future of the gaming realm. Sure there have been things like World of Warcraft that have come out - but that slowly went downhill and then turned into an "NGE" of sorts that SWG had done previously!

I hope and pray that BioWare sticks to their guns and keeps the game the way that they have planned from the start and does not falter when the community demands there to be some sort of radical changes that could be utterly detrimental to the game (as development companies usually do). I want this game to be great! My friends want it to be great! For it to be anything else then that - would be heartbreaking.

I am looking forward to December 20th like many of you out there and hope to see you in game. Let us all make this game last and become one of the best out there to date! I know this was a bit off the cuff, but I feel it needed to be said.

Cheers All!

Battlefield 3 - Smash and Grab or Shoot to Kill?!

While most of this week I had been playing a load of Dragon Age, I had seemed to find some time for one of the new FPS's on the market (no, not Modern Warfare 3), Battlefield 3. By now I'm sure many of you know about my love for the first person shooter market (along with the MMO side of things), but BF3 seemed to hit me in the face with something I was not expecting at first. It was called - realism.

Many of the past battlefield games (to me) did not seem to have the level of detail and immersion that this one has, where you felt like you were on the front lines fighting for your life. Though it probably does help that I am now using a new 7.1 surround headset - but with that matter aside, I still felt like there was a whole world at stake when I launched the game and headed into the conflicted maps that the game presented.

Multi-player in this games seems to outshine its single player counter part (at least it did for me) as there are some very interesting "perks" , if you will, that you can only acquire from doing missions (via co-op) or just by killing your friends and enemies in a multi-player setting.

The weapon leveling system is great, at almost feels like an off shoot of Counter Strike in some sense (I know someone will probably flame me for that), and the other abilities that come along with it such as faster sprint speeds, larger ammo pouches, and the squad bonus variables all seem to fit in quite nicely.

On the other hand though - I feel somewhat gimped when equipping some of these "special perks" and not ones that directly effect your weapons and damage output or the way your weapons "handle" (for lack of a better word). Yes, I do realize that there are a significant bonus that each gives - but the slots they take up seem to almost hamper you in some way.

Let us take for example the Assault / Medic class, which I tend to play most of the time. If you decide to equip something like a grenade launcher to your specific weapon, you do lose the ability to carry med-packs, which could be a hindrance in some case, and could also reduce the amount of points you acquire on certain maps. So, it basically means that instead of tossing your kits on the ground and supporting your team with some much needed heals - you basically are only viable for reviving people as a worst case scenario.

Reviving people gives 100 or so points per, but in my mind - I personally believe that tossing med-kits with the combination of reviving seems to be one of the best ways to score points if you are on a map that seems a little "bogged down". Yes, there is the ability to change your "kit" once you arrive in game and go over the situation, but for those who like to shoot - I believe they may just shoot and fire the 'nades to their little hearts content.

Which leads me to this point, the "noob canon". It almost seems like anyone who has a rocket launcher or a 'nade launcher just fires them willy nilly at any enemy on the map and then will take an untimely death just to reload when appropriate. It is a cheap way to score points in my opinion - but since the weapon is there, people feel the right to use them (which is their right), but for the level of "realism" the game has - I don't see why there needs to be an unprecedented use (and over use) of these types of weapons at any and every chance someone seems to get, all for the sake of a few hundred points.

I'm sure things will change in the future, and those who do this will find better ways to spend their time in game (like maybe using a gun for once), but to me, it is a little ridiculous. I have always love Battlefield (and I still very much enjoy this one), but there are a handful of "bad eggs" who are spoiling the batch. Only time will tell to see what the outcome will be of such things - though it most likely will not change, I can only hope it will.

Dragon Age - A Perspective

Yes yes - I know I have not written much in some time, but it seems I have been caught up in a game that I would consider as "great". The game known as Dragon Age: Origins / Awakening. I know many of you have played this in the past, and I am probably one of the few who never have - until recently, so I figured I would give it a go and see what all the "past" hype was about with this title!

For the most part, the game seems very similar to many of the things I have read and seen about SW:ToR, that being the companion system, voice overs, romance options - and just about any of the other nice little things you would expect from something BioWare does (i.e. KotOR).

Right out of the gate on the tutorial mission, I found myself immersed in the game and had began my journey to playing until the wee hours of the next morning (well, I did stay up for about two days not knowingly). Sadly though this came to a halt once I encounter my first "romance option" and then my second.

It seems that if you "lust" (for lack of a better word) over two of your companions - they will provide you with an ultimatum of sort and you will be prompted to choose which one to "be with" in a sense. Now I am not one for "tough" decisions in life - but when a video game throws these my way, it almost seems like they are pulling on my heart strings a bit.

Seeing as the character of Leliana is the sweet innocent character, and Morrigan, the other worldy demon bitch - it almost seemed like the choice was clear that Leliana was the right way to go (at least for my play style). That was until after I found out that there was some "loot" to be had from the Morrigan option of choices!

So I decided my fate - and now I have about a million different game saves each with a different path and so called "story-arch" for the path I had chosen. Why do you ask? It's simple, I hate tough decisions!

If there was a save file for my life - I'm almost certain I would hit the load options on different events and go replay those certain days and see how things would turn out if I chose a different path or "play style". I mean, wouldn't you if you could?

I guess that is why the draw of games like these is so huge and abounding - because we can make ourselves in game to be the person we never thought we could be, and do what ever we wish to do within the boundaries of that particular world. Though real life is less forgiving at times, the virtual world always seems to be that place we as gamers can call home.

I know that this is not a complete perspective of the game - but I figured I would at the very least get this talking point out into the air. I for one have be caught up in this much larger world and do enjoy it - and I hope you all enjoy the current game your are caught up in as well.

Until Next Time!