Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Alignment Specific Pets and You

Reposting from my article on Force Junkies

One benefit of choosing the Light Side or Dark Side is the availability to purchase vanity pets. Each fleet houses both a LS and DS vendor who sells one pet each for 25,000 credits. All Light Side players will be able to purchase a Little SandCrawler from their vendors, regardless of whether they have aligned themselves with the Empire or Republic. On the other side of the spectrum Dark Side players can acquire an Interrogation Droid. To purchase either pet players will need to reach tier III, which is +/- 4000 points.

Once purchased players can use the item in their inventory, which imports the pet from the item into the general tab of their abilities page From there players just have to click on the correct tooltip and the pet will be summoned. This system will allow players to carry around all their pets without sacrificing inventory space.

While it is necessary to have a certain number of LD/DS points to purchase the pets, it is not necessary to maintain that tier. Once used the pet can still be summoned even if you change alignments. As you see in the screenshot below, the pet is still out even after I’ve dropped below +4000 points to tier II. It should be possible to obtain both the LS and DS specific pets with a little time and dedication.

Click for Larger Image

Monday, December 19, 2011

I got my first pet!

So far playing SWTOR has been a little odd, without a cute little vanity pet following me around. Due to having a Burning Crusade CE I was guaranteed to have a pet by the time I found a mailbox in WoW. I'm sure the same will be true for other characters in SWTOR as well, but my CE still hasn't shown up yet. =[ Anyway, I got up to level 27 before I was able to buy my first one - Little SandCrawler. I'll have a more detailed post up about him in a bit, but for now here's a screenshot.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Micro Transactions from a Completionist Point of View

Micro transactions are always a hot debate among gamers. As far as I can tell there seem to be five different philosophies concerning them, some of which are better from a collectors standpoint than others. The five are:

  1. No micro transactions whatsoever
  2. Only character changes (sever change, name change, etc)
  3. Character changes and vanity items
  4. Everything but "pay to win" items
  5. Anything goes
As far as the first one is concerned, I'm not 100% sure the people claiming this philosophy are being serious. It seems odd to me that people would be against letting others change which server their character is on, but maybe they see that as a tool for trolls? I know trolls have been known to switch servers or change their name after the server gets wise to their follies, although I'm not sure how common that is. If trolls are indeed the reason for this belief then I can't say there is anything wrong with this viewpoint. In my experience though people who say this often are not including character changes in their definition of micro transactions, so they actually mean number two. 

As someone who has never had occasion to change anything about my character through micro transactions, I'm not quite comfortable saying there is no need for them. I'm an altoholic so I have no problem re-rolling if my server dies or whatever, but I recognize some people detest the leveling process and make good use of these services. Since I don't want to take this ability away from those who use it responsibility this is my personal point of view.

The most popular belief I've seen is that there is nothing wrong with selling vanity items, as "that doesn't take anything away from the game" or "those items aren't competitive". I personally find this to be a very ignorant point of view. Some people seem to find it hard to empathize with people who have an alternative play-style. For those who are completionists it does take something away from the game. It forces people to spend more real world money to play the way they want to. They either have to sacrifice having the whole set or give in to paying the micro transaction fee. This I have a real problem with. Concerning TOR, I also have a problem with the CE Store for this very reason. I understand why games include one in game item in the CE, as a way to represent their real world items in the game, but one item really ought to be enough. I wouldn't have an issue with it if the items were BOE rather than BOP but that is not likely to be so. That would also have it's own problems as CE owners would then have an in game advantage when it comes to earning credits. Either way I think the CE store was a bad idea and I hope they move away from similar things when it's expansion time. 

The forth idea includes everything the third does, plus other helpful items that can also be found in game such as health potions. The idea behind this I suppose is that those who have more time have the advantage over those who don't, and this evens it out a bit (as long as those without time also have extra cash). This I can understand. It's something I could actually get behind as long as all the items in the store, including vanity items, are replicas of those found in game. This would help out those who just want Shiny Pet X without forcing completionists to spend real world money. Sounds like a pretty decent compromise. 

The "Everything Goes" mindset is one I think most people hope will stay confined to the realm of F2P games, but there are a few who don't mind them in subscription based games as well. Quite honestly I'm not sure what their reasons are so I won't comment on that. Since I don't care about progression this is not something I'm ideologically opposed to, as long as it follows the "everything in the store is available through other means in game" rule of the forth idea. However I recognize that people who do care about progression are against it so I would not support it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Info Released on the Training Droid

Part of today's Friday Update is a look inside the Collector's and Digital Download Editions of Star Wars: the Old Republic. As far as updates go, this one is pretty anti-climatic since we know almost all of the information already. However, there is one nice little nugget concerning the Training Droid (which comes with both the CE and DDE).

Before this update, this is all we knew about the droid:

How it would assist you in combat has remained a mystery until now, and I've got to say it's just as unimpressive as I thought it would be. Just as I suspected it's really just another vanity pet giving you no actual combat advantage. Here's the new description:

I suppose this could be useful when you are fighting an enemy who can stealth, but I can't think of a use other than that. I was actually hoping for a droid like Luke had in the video below, basically a portable training dummy. In the end I'm not truly disappointed as my main concern was that it was going to give players who bought these editions an advantage. As long as we don't get any advantage, I'm just happy to get another cute little droid to follow me around.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why SWTOR is Better Than a Single Player RPG

Going through all the new SWTOR articles after the embargo drop, I kept seeing the same question in the comments: "Why should I pay $15 a month for essentially a single player game?"

Simply, for a persistent world. Even if you play it mostly single player there is still something to be gained just from it being a persistent world. It can stop being just a game and start to feel like a real RPG where your character matters to you. Even if you decide not to participate in any group content, you will still have experiences with other characters who are not NPCs. This brings a certain level of unpredictability into the game that is just not possible with actual single player games. You can find a social guild and meet other people to share your experiences with even if you choose not to PVP or raid. People who can help you find that last elusive datacron, or suggest a fun path for your next alt.

Speaking of alts, due to this persistent world all your characters exist at the same time. This means that they can help each other out. You can create a whole crafting business by yourself, allowing you to become self-sufficient. An advantage SWTOR has over other MMOs is that your companions on one character can continue their crafting missions while you play another, which I assume will lead to less downtime. You can also transfer funds in between characters which is extremely helpful in most MMOs.

And then, of course, there is the patches. Tell me, pessimistic commenter, can you play KOTOR for 10+ hours a week for a year straight? If you can I would be very surprised. You aren't just paying a sub for the persistent world but also for the almost endless amount of content (at least if they end up with near the amount of content WoW has). Even playing mostly single player you will have so much to do and so many options it should keep you busy for a while. I have never been a raider or a PVPer. Most of my enjoyment in MMOs comes from exploring and collecting. I managed to enjoy WoW for years without ever stepping foot into a current raid (although I did participate in non-raid dungeons and old raids). I have seen no indication that SWTOR should be any different, in fact it seems even more solo friendly.

Most video games are going to run you between $20-50. Lets pretend you normally get a new game every other month. Now let's say that instead of purchasing these games you play SWTOR for 6 months. Total cost of SWTOR: $138 (including the cost of the standard edition + 6 month sub). Total you would have payed otherwise: $120- 300. So at best you save over half your money and at worse you spend an extra $18. So you see, there is really no reason you should let the sub cost keep you from playing.

Press Embargo has been lifted!

Yesterday Stephen Reid announced that the Press Embargo would be lifting today. This isn't quite as exciting as lifting the NDA, but it's still pretty awesome. There is already a thread on the official forums chronicling the information that is being released.

So far I haven't noticed any news relating specifically to vanity pets, and honestly I don't expect any since it is such a niche topic. However if I find any I'll be sure to update the blog. If any of you notice any that I've missed, I'd greatly appreciate you letting me know. =]

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Notch Interview, from SWTOR Perspective

NOTE: This interview is completely fictitious. I have never spoken to Notch directly. All answers are derived from what is  currently in Beta 1.8.1 or features that have been confirmed, but not yet implemented. 

A lot of people have been talking about Same Gender Romance Arcs. Can you tell us a little bit more about the post-launch plans to include them?

Right now all I can say is that we will be adding just as many SGRAs into the game as the current number of Romance Arcs. They will of course be an optional feature.

What are your thoughts on guild ships?

We have no plans at this time of adding flyable guild ships to the game. However, each guild is more than welcome to build their own ship. You can even suspend it in the air if you like with just a little more work.
Would you describe some of the dungeons that will be available at launch?

Sure! Most of our dungeons are connected to large caverns and contain a Monster Spawner. The Monster Spawner will continue to spawn monsters until the player places an adequate amount of light in the room, or until the Spawner is destroyed. Currently there is a 50% chance the Spawner will spawn zombies, and a 25% chance of both spiders and skeletons. You can still find dungeons on peaceful mode but the Spawner does not generate any monsters.

Could you elaborate on the Loot Bag system?

The Loot Bags have been renamed Loot Chests, as we don't have any bags in the game. Each dungeon will contain up to two Loot Chests, which will contain up to 8 stacks of items placed in random spots in the chest. Common loot includes saddles, iron ingots, buckets, string, bread, and gunpowder. Rarely you can also find music discs or golden apples.

Will crafting be a viable end game alternative?

Absolutely. In fact it seems players spend more time crafting or gathering than they do in dungeons or PVP. Crafters are definitely our target audience.

Do you have a favorite companion?

We're introducing a new companion in Beta 1.9, the Snow Golem. They often take on the tanking roll by throwing snowballs at hostile mobs. They also produce snow as part of the Crew Skills system.
A group of Snow Golems attacking a spider. Source.