Lowered Expectations

27 March 2013

DISCLAIMER: I recently went on anti-depressive med­ic­a­tion again, and that plays havoc with my abil­ity to con­cen­trate for the first weeks. So this art­icle is just me ram­bling more or less coher­ently. Please feel free to ask if I make no sense whatsoever.

I just fin­ished listen­ing to the latest TOR­Wars pod­cast and I came away more than a little dis­ap­poin­ted. There were two pieces of inform­a­tion that really put a dampener on my enthu­si­asm for the Makeb expan­sion: no more class story, and how SGRAs were implemented.

I really want to rage and flip tables about the first one, but my cur­rent men­tal health state just allows me to be *meh* about it. Story, espe­cially the inidividual class stor­ies were the reason I sub­scribed to the game. Stor­ies were the thing this game offered me, that other games didn’t. Now Bioware wants to cas­trate this fea­ture that set their game apart from all the other MMOs out there? Why? To me, this makes abso­lutely no sense.
This isn’t even an eco­nom­ic­ally sound decision. It might please the short term bean-counters, but on the long run, giv­ing up on indi­vidual story con­tent erodes the game’s dis­tinct­ive­ness. Why should I play SWTOR when I can have the same old dungeon/raid/pvp dance (for which I couldn’t care less, to be hon­est) in so many other games? Indi­vidual class stor­ies made for great replay­ab­il­ity. If you take that away the game loses much of its appeal to me and I lose a kick­ass argu­ment for recruit­ing other people into the game.
I’ll reserve my final judge­ment over this until I have played through Makeb with all my char­ac­ters — but what I took away from the pod­cast was that the storylines didn’t offer much dif­fer­en­ti­ation for classes. You get two dis­tinct­ive stor­ies — one for each side — and that’s it. From what I heard, the stor­ies are both very well done, though.

The other thing are SGRs. Looks like there will be two “big” SGR choices on Makeb a female/female one for the Repub­lic side, and a male/male one for Empire. Dig­ging around on the for­ums made me stumble over some mum­blings that there are other one-off flirts, too.
I am torn about this. On the one hand: FUCK YEAH FINALLY! On the other hand: REALLY?! That’s the best you could come up with? Both reac­tions are cur­rently duk­ing it out in my head. I think the more optim­istic one is cur­rently win­ning because I still hope that this is only just the begin­ning and that we will see more SGRA con­tent added to the game which will bal­ance out everything nicely. I def­in­itely do not agree with people say­ing “That’s as good as it gets!” and I will vehe­mently fight for improve­ment in this area of the game. And I am not alone.

Am I look­ing for­ward to RotHC? Yes, I do. The little bits and pieces that I allowed myself to see — I am hor­ribly afraid of spoil­ers, you see — made me eager to get my hands on the new con­tent. This eager­ness was slapped down pretty hard by today’s news, though. Still look­ing for­ward, but much less enthu­si­astic. HELP, I think I turn into a jaded old MMO coot. :(

So, read­ers, can I have some of your opin­ions here?

P.S: And now I am off to level my only male Imp, Hadúr the Imper­ial Agent. On The Pro­gen­itor. Feel free to say hello!

Better than CAPTCHA

28 January 2013

The amount of spam that hits this site on a daily basis is pretty stag­ger­ing and annoyed me very much — but I grit my teeth and dealt with it because I didn’t want to make the few read­ers I have suf­fer through the making-your-eyes-bleed atro­cit­ies called CAPTCHA. Now I have found an altern­at­ive which not only doesn’t make your eyes bleed, it is also fun.

You want to make a com­ment on my site? You have to play a little game. Easy as that. Go on, try it out! :P

EDIT: How you can get cool spam pro­tec­tion, too:

Go to this web­site: http://areyouahuman.com/ and register for an account. The basic func­tion­al­ity is free. If your blog runs on Word­Press or Drupal you can down­load a plug-in that does the heavy lift­ing for you. Also, their instruc­tions are easy to fol­low.
There are also plug-ins for phpBB mes­sage boards, Invi­sion Power boards, and vbulletin.

One Happy Family

14 January 2013
No, Agent. I don't mind being a stay at home dad.

No, Agent. I don’t mind being a stay at home father.

See, that’s what hap­pens to your char­ac­ters when you neg­lect them for an exten­ded amount of time. They go and start a fam­ily. Ha, not really but it would be kind of awe­some, yes? Even though try­ing to fig­ure out how that, you know, happened might be a bit on the dis­turb­ing side. ;)

Now they only have to come up with a name for the little darling. Any suggestions?

SGRs — Hell has finally frozen over

2 January 2013

Dear Luci­fer,

I am so very sorry for the icicles on your te.… youknowwhatImean.

Okay,  not really. But but see­ing you under that moun­tain of blankets, clasp­ing a mug of lava-hot chocol­ate in your shiv­er­ing claws… I thought you might want to hear some kind words.

Hope you’ll accli­mate soon, I heard a snowstorm is comming.

Sin­cerely, Cleeyah

Sooooo, with that out of the way, let me just say YAY! Finally! We have word from Jeff Hick­man him­self about Same Gender Romances in his latest State of the Game post:

First of all, I want to apo­lo­gize that this is tak­ing so long to get in the game. I real­ize that we prom­ised SGR to you guys and that many of you believed that this would be with a com­pan­ion char­ac­ter. Unfor­tu­nately, this will take a lot more work than we real­ized at the time and it (like some other pieces of con­tent we talked about earlier in the year) has been delayed as we focused on the changes required to take the game Free-to-Play. As we have said in the past, allow­ing same gender romance is some­thing we are very sup­port­ive of.

Secondly, I want to reveal today that we are adding SGR with some NPCs on Makeb and do intend on pur­su­ing more SGR options in the future. More details to come!

I am very happy and excited that we now have offi­cial proof that this con­tent is com­ming. Nev­er­the­less, the state­ment itself is wide open for spec­u­la­tion. What, for instance does “many of you believed that this would be with a com­pan­ion char­ac­ter” mean exactly? That we will not get romances with com­pan­ion char­ac­ters at all, or just not for the next updates? And will adding the same gender flirts in Makeb be all that is given to us? Won’t that make the game pay2gay?

My per­sonal inter­pret­a­tion of Mr Hickman’s words is that SGRs that go bey­ond simple one-off flirts will be made, but they won’t be in pub­lish­able shape within the fore­see­able future. To appease us they throw us a few bones with same gender flirts in Makeb. Now, this might just be another attempt of string­ing us along for another year. Or it might not. Only time will tell. Right now I am cau­tiously optimistic.

As you see, the answer has pro­duced more ques­tions. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait that long for answers again. Or we’ll have to involve GLAAD again. Because, let’s be hon­est here, I highly doubt we would have got­ten a peep if we hadn’t involved GLAAD and sev­eral other gam­ing out­lets. You see, Bioware, we are still able and will­ing to break out the thumb­screws if neces­sary. *evil grin*

P.S: I cur­rently take bets on the prob­ab­il­ity of a SGR teaser scene being included into any trailer they might pro­duce about the expan­sion. It would make my day, but I some­what doubt it.

A late Anniversary Post

22 December 2012

So. One year of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Des­pite my last post I have to say that I am still very fond of the game. It is not per­fect, but also not as godaw­ful as a lot of haters want to make people believe.

The good stuff:

  • Solo play­ab­il­ity. While this gets cri­ti­cised a lot, it is actu­ally a big plus for shy-to-sociophobic little old me. Some days I don’t feel like being social, and the game does not pun­ish me for it.
  • Char­ac­ter stor­ies. I love them, and I hope we will see con­tinu­ations of them in the future. Char­ac­ter stor­ies are the big thing besides role­play­ing that cur­rently keep me in the game.
  • It is the first MMO I encountered where lev­el­ing a healer isn’t an exer­cise in mas­ochism. I actu­ally feel pretty power­ful being able to solo heroic quests.
  • Com­pan­ions. Not only are they enter­tain­ing, they also teach you how to play your role (to a degree) from pretty early on.
  • The role­play. I have found a lot of good role­play ran­ging form can­tina role­play to very elab­or­ate stor­ies involving sev­eral guilds work­ing together.
  • The cus­tom­is­able UI, and that you can share your per­sonal UI with other players.
  • Duh, it’s Star Wars!

The not-so-good stuff:

  • Still no chat­bubbles. I have learned to adapt to their lack, but I still really miss them.
  • I still can­not sit in the chairs! *grumbles*
  • No paid server trans­fers. My lonely Sith War­rior on The Ebon Hawk would like to join her col­legues on The Pro­gen­it­ors very much, Bioware…

The Really Bad Stuff:

  • No Same Gender Romances, des­pite Biowares prom­ise to include them, and Biowares sus­pi­cious lack of com­mu­nic­a­tion with the fans who want them included.
  • The offi­cial game forum. Do not go there if you don’t have to. I always thought WoW’s for­ums were bad, but they sadly are noth­ing com­pared to the troll-pit of SWTOR’s forum.
  • The memory-leak bug that makes the game crash to desktop after approx­im­ately one hour of play­ing. I hope this one gets fixed soon. I think I have died to this bug more often than to actual mobs.

Con­sid­er­ing all of the above, I think SWTOR is still worth my monthly sub­scrip­tion. I am not really bothered by the games sup­posed lack of endgame con­tent, as I am not likely to take part in that any­way. If you want to know if this aspect of the game is really as bad as some people nois­ily claim, you’ll have to ask someone else who is more know­ledgable about it.
Right now I think I get my money’s worth of enter­tain­ment out of the game. Yes, I do have my Very Big Pet Peeve, but I am not let­ting that one blind me to all the other good stuff.

I hope the next year will be bet­ter for SWTOR than its rocky first one, and that the game will even­tu­all find its feet again. I am not very fond of the Car­tel Shop, but if it helps the game grow, who am I to com­plain? Right now I am cau­tiously optim­istic. That’s good, right?



One year in…

20 December 2012

and we still do not have SGRs, Bioware. What gives?

Same gender romances were prom­ised to the play­erbase before gamelaunch and a lot of people are still wait­ing for their imple­ment­a­tion. Some more, and some less patient. And no, not all of them are les­bi­ans. Or gays. Or Bisexu­als. Or any other Other that still gets mar­gin­al­ized too much. A lot of people wait­ing for same gender romances are straight — like me.

Over the year we got fed a few scraps of inform­a­tion, but over­all our interest was met with an almost deaf­en­ing silence. There is one lonely thread on the Story and Lore forum that has gone through sev­eral rein­carn­a­tions dur­ing the whole year and it took a ridicu­lous amount of work to get even a very sparse answer out of the com­munity man­agers. Which basic­ally boiled down to “We can­nto tell you any­thing.” Any other thread was either deleted or got redir­ec­ted to that lonely ghetto thread. Only recently another thread on the gen­eral forum was allowed to per­sist. Unsur­pris­ingly the the­ory of a gag-order from some higher ups has cropped up. Some days I believe in it , too.

At the same time Bioware enjoys being lauded for their LGBT inclus­ive­ness. And while this is jus­ti­fied for the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, it unfor­tu­nately isn’t for SWTOR, even though the demand is very, very clearly there. The cog­nit­ive dis­son­ance is quite jar­ring. I can only ima­gine how insult­ing this must feel for LGBT players.

Right about now a simple announce­ment that, yes, this con­tent is still com­ming would appease a lot of the people who are los­ing their patience with Bioware. A new expan­sion has been announced recently. This would have been the per­fect oppor­tun­ity for such a state­ment. But we got noth­ing. Unsur­pris­ingly this did not go down very well, and a let­ter writ­ing cam­paign has been kicked off. GLAAD has been con­tac­ted and they will con­tact Bioware about this. TORWARS had a dis­cus­sion about this in their latest pod­cast, blog art­icles (like this one) have been writ­ten. Other gaming-news sites have shown interest as well. If Bioware doesn’t act now, they have only them­selves to blame if this boils over.

And to make this very, very clear: this is not a few entitled play­ers whin­ing on the forum. This is a siz­able chunk of the play­erbase being at their wit’s end. So we have turned to pok­ing the zom­bie with a stick to get a reac­tion. Any reac­tion. Even if the answer is no, this con­tent has been shelved. At least that would finally be an answer, and we could move on.

At the moment I am very reluct­ant to give Bioware my money. I will keep up my sub­scrip­tion, but won’t make any Car­tel Shop pur­chases, or buy the expan­sion unless we get an answer. One way or the other.

Fur­ther Reading:

Both by Natashina

I agree that games are not a plat­form for deal­ing with social issues. For a developer, they are not and really can­not be the primary con­sid­er­a­tion. But they are not some­thing to be dis­carded as irrel­ev­ant. We have influ­ence— on what is con­sidered “nor­mal” and “accept­able” as much as any­thing else. Even when we inten­tion­ally are not say­ing some­thing, we are still say­ing some­thing even by its omis­sion— and that means we have a respons­ib­il­ity to think about what that is.

David Gaider: The Impact of Games, Bioware Edmonton

Com­ments to this post will be mod­er­ated and might not show up imme­di­at­ley. If your post doesn’t show up AT ALL you might have pissed off the blogmistress. ;)

Sometimes the solution to a problem…

16 October 2012

is so obvi­ous that you fail to see it. I had that prob­lem with my gob­lin Cleeyah. She never really clicked for me as a char­ac­ter even though she had one of the most elab­or­ate character-concepts I ever cre­ated. I was never able to put my fin­ger on what was wrong and that irked me because I just knew that role­play­ing with her would become so much bet­ter if I could just resolve that little bit that was wrong. Not that I lacked for role­play with Cleeyah. I just knew it could be much better.

Last week­end a new face in my little posse of WoW role­play­ing bud­dies whispered me: “You know, Cleeyah should really be a troll. Everything about her screams troll.”

I think I sat there for at least a minute and was dumb­foun­ded. Because he was abso­lutely right. I cre­ated Cleeyah shortly after Cata­clysm came out, and some­how felt com­pelled to roll a gob­lin. Even though I really don’t like gob­lins that much. They are quirky and funny as NPCs, and I really enjoy the gob­lin char­ac­ters a few of my rp bud­dies cre­ated. But I am not a fan.

I really should have figured that one out on my own. *sigh*

So, to make things short: Good­bye, Cleeyah Goldeneyes. Wel­come, Cleeyah of the Dark­spear. You have no idea how good it feels when all of a sud­den everything that irked you about a char­ac­ter falls into place. :D

SGRs comming with Makeb?

18 September 2012

Well, David Amatan­gelo at least THINKS that’s what is going to happen. ;)

Which would make me insanely happy, because then I could finally start lev­el­ling Tarvek, my Imper­ial Agent char­ac­ter that I had cre­ated ages ago with the SGR in mind for him. I am extremely happy that Bioware seems to go through with this and keeps their prom­ise, des­pite the noise sev­eral hategroups and big­ots were making.

I remem­ber read­ing that the SGRs would not hap­pen with the com­pan­ions we already have, so this MIGHT also mean we get new com­pan­ions. SGRs plus new coma­pion plus new planet seems like a really big story-update. *woot*

Any­body else going to roll a new char­ac­ter to exper­i­ence the Same Gender Romances?

Goodbye, Trask Ulgo…

17 September 2012

… and all those other serv­ers that get closed down tomor­row. Yes, tomor­row. I am going to take Bioware’s announce­ment as an oppor­tun­ity to throw some facts about the server con­sol­id­a­tion into your face. Duck if you eas­ily bruise.

  • Free char­ac­ter trans­fer is now closed
  • Char­ac­ters will be moved auto­mat­ic­ally, regard­less of the play­ers sub­scrip­tion status. No char­ac­ter will be deleted.
  • If your char­ac­ters have been moved to new serv­ers, you can find where they are now by click­ing on the column of the server select screen hand­ily named “char­ac­ters.” This sorts the server list so that serv­ers on which you have one or more char­ac­ters will be lis­ted on top.
  • The char­ac­ter limit per sever will be raised to twelve *yay*
  • Again, none of our cur­rently exist­ing char­ac­ters will be deleted. If you want to cre­ate a new char­ac­ter on a server where you already have exceeded the char­ac­ter limit, though, you have to clear one char­ac­ter slot. Which basic­ally boils down to delete enough char­ac­ters until you have only eleven left. THEN you can cre­ate a new one.
  • Leg­acy names are NOT unique any­more — and every­one will have the oppor­tun­ity to rename her leg­acy once for free. I craft­ily deduce from this that Legacy-renaming will be one of the fea­tures we will be able to buy with Car­tel Coins.
  • You might have to rename your trans­ferred char­ac­ters.  *puts on earmuffs*
  • Guilds with names that already exist on des­tin­a­tion serv­ers will be renamed to some­thing like: old-guildname@old-servername. *shud­der* No, hon­estly, I’d rather have to rename my guild than run around with that kind of mon­stros­ity over my character’s head. How good that a  renam­ing but­ton will be avail­able through the guild man­age­ment win­dow. Let’s all look for­ward to incred­ibly unima­gin­at­ive guild­names spelled out with the most ridicu­lous  com­bin­a­tion of alt-codes…
  • Legacies of dif­fer­ent serv­ers will be com­bined. You will not lose any earned leg­acy traits or perks.

This final move will basic­ally be of interest to those only who stayed on the now locked ori­gin serv­ers. Every one who already went through the char­ac­ter trans­fer pro­cess with all of her char­ac­ters will have to make some room for the new­comers, bake some wel­come cook­ies, and put on their best pair of undies. That’s it.

After hav­ing a look at the server con­sol­id­atin mat­rix (which is linked-to on this page) I see that Bioware is con­sol­id­at­ing the serv­ers even fur­ther. The Fat­man, for instance, has been a des­tin­a­tion server dur­ing the free-character trans­fer pro­cess, and will now be fol­ded into Proph­ecy of the Five. So, if you were unlucky the first time around and had to rename your char­ac­ter, you might have to rename it AGAIN. Ouch.

Next Server Consolidation Step out, brings a potential nice surprise.

14 September 2012

The latest step in Bioware’s pro­cess of server con­sol­id­a­tion has gone online: A High Pop­u­la­tion Test Server. If you have char­ac­ters on East Coast serv­ers, they got copied over auto­mat­ic­ally. Since my little Sith War­rior actu­ally resides on the Ebon Hawk, she is one of the lucky ones.

I am curi­ous. If you leave me alone in a room with a but­ton in front of me, the door hasn’t fin­ished clos­ing before I pushed that but­ton. So, I hopped onto that server. The first thing that greets you is a pop-up, which is obvi­ously meant for those folks who’s char­ac­ters will be auto­mat­ic­ally trans­ferred to des­tin­a­tion serv­ers, once the now locked ori­gin serv­ers are closed down. It basic­ally tells them not to freak out and that they might have to rename their char­ac­ters. I fore­see a lot of whining.

But that isn’t why I write this post. I write this post because there was one other thing that caught my eye:

Do I spy an increase in character slots? Yes, I do!

I don’t know if this applies only to the test server, or if this means that once the con­sol­id­a­tion pro­cess is com­pleted, the char­ac­ter limit per server will be raised to twelve. I hope for the latter.

There is also good news for all people who fear they are going to lose char­ac­ters to the con­sol­id­a­tion process:

None of your char­ac­ters will be deleted. You will be able to use all of them when we merge char­ac­ters from ori­gin serv­ers onto cur­rent des­tin­a­tion serv­ers (with new high pop­u­la­tion tech). How­ever, in order to cre­ate a new char­ac­ter, you will have to free up one of your char­ac­ter slots.  (Joveth Gonza­lez)

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