Monthly Archives: December 2011

SWTOR – OMG WFT BBQ!

I’m not feeling very well today.  I either have a touch of the flu, or my body is rebelling against me for feeding it more processed meat in one sitting than any colon is capable of handling.  In any case, I feel like shit, I’ve been asleep for most of the day, my body is aching, and the blog needs content.  I do this for you, gentle readers.

Even if it kills me.

For the two people who have been following my blog (and to one of them I say Hi Mom), you know I’ve  been looking forward to Star Wars: The Old Republic for quite some time.   I’ve posted progression videos, and even made the claim that SWTOR just might be the game to get me to quit World of Warcraft.  There was much fist pumping and happy dancing when I received the email telling me I’d been selected for beta testing.  After all that waiting, I was finally going to get my hands on the game before anybody else!

As Fate would have it, I was going to college during that week of beta testing and was out of town.  I downloaded the multi-gig launcher Friday night, and was so busy on Saturday that I only had a couple of hours to play.  But play it I would, and I just knew my WoW subscription days would be over.

Two hours later, I was filled with a resounding indifference toward SWTOR.

I didn’t hate the game.  I didn’t regret spending the time playing.  It just felt very disorganized, and the progression didn’t seem to transition like it does with WoW.  But this was the beta after all, and there were bugs.  This wasn’t the finished product.  So while I wasn’t looking to cancel my pre-order, I certainly wasn’t in a hurry to pick it up.

Classes wrapped just as I received the email for early access.  Perfect timing! Only it wasn’t so perfect – there was a death in the family, so between funerals and general catching up after being out of town for the majority of two months I didn’t have time to download the new client.  There was also something inside me that didn’t feel the need to rush.  I’d been stained by my beta experience, and it was hard to shake the feeling that the little I’d played in SWTOR wasn’t much different than what I played in WoW.

Twitter was blowing up with folks loving the Hell out of SWTOR.  It frustrated me a little, maybe out of jealousy that I couldn’t love the game as much as other people, and I tweeted my frustraion.  It wasn’t long before I got a reply to my tweet.

I got served!

 

Giuseppe had a point, sort of.  Sure he made assumption, but I’m guessing English is his second language and he probably didn’t mean to come off like he was lapping the taint of SWTOR while cupping the balls.  My problem wasn’t that SWTOR didn’t feel familiar, and I didn’t see anywhere in my tweet that hinted it.  Giuseppe might have gotten my tweet mixed up with another.  That happens when you’re defending the poor, tiny developing company like Bioware and an unproven title with such a little following, like Star Wars, from the wrath of the Internet.

Sarcasm is fun when you’re feverish.

But I had to give SWTOR another try.  I’m a Star Wars fan, and despite the occasional shitty movie (Episode III I’m looking at you) I love the franchise.  I’d even made my own version of a Jedi in the Dungeons and Dragons campaign I run.  I wanted to love this game!

I downloaded the client, logged into the server I was going to be guilded on (hooked up with the cool cats from Bound), and I was in.  I customized my Sith Pureblood, created my Sith Warrior, and off I went into Korriban.  I didn’t play much, just a couple of hours, and logged off for the evening.  This, of course, was around two in the morning.

This morning, feeling like something that had dripped out of the hindquarters of a Wookie, I played my Sith Warrior up to level 8.  I don’t have companions yet or anything like that, but I’ve gotten a taste of the leveling experience.  My playstyle is not the same as most other people, so your mileage may vary.  This is just my thoughts on SWTOR so far.

- Queues are bullshit:  I tried logging in to my server (east coast) and was hit with a queue at 9am CST.  The first time I checked, it was a five minute wait.  That continued until the notification said the wait was <25 minutes, at which point they just gave up trying to place a time.

Their estimates are on the low side.

How does that work?  If I’m in a queue, how does my wait continue to get longer?  How, on the day after release, does Bioware think it’s a good idea to keep people waiting an hour to play their game?  I understand that everyone is rushing to play, but at 9am?  When WoW released Wrath of the Lich King during the holidays a couple of years ago, there were queue times during primetime hours.  But WoW was an established title and Blizzard felt the players knew what they were getting.  For a brand new title that should be trying to get as many people as they can investing their time in the game, a 9am queue comes off as bad form.

- Lag is bullshit:  My computer is a few years old, and I’ll admit I’ve probably been spoiled by how non-intensive WoW’s graphics have been on my system.  I don’t run with full graphics, but I can function seamlessly 99% of the time.  With SWTOR I’m forced to run everything on its lowest setting, shadows turned off, and windowed to 800×600.  I didn’t have this kind of trouble during beta, which I thought was strange.  But I have to run SWTOR on such a small setting that I can’t read some of the text.  That’s not the game’s fault, but it certainly puts a cramp in my desire to play a choppy game.

- Quest Progression is bullshit: People do not enjoy accepting a quest, running halfway across the zone to complete it, run all the way back, and hand it in.  WoW used to do this, but after the player based bitched long and hard about how inefficient the system was, they changed it.  Also, there really aren’t that many quests in the starter zone.  So if you’re looking to level up, you better be ok with grinding xp on mobs.  There’s no shortage of those, but it certainly does make the leveling experience take longer.  Four or five hours to get to level 8 may have been fine years ago, but in today’s generation of instant gratification, five hours can be a lifetime.

- Same Shit Different Day: Put a fresh skin over the models, but it all boils down to the same mechanics – find the guy with the icon over his head, get quest, kill X of Y, return for reward. Do I need a new game to do that?  The quests are narrated rather than text based, and the story that ties them together is really good.  I’m not sure there’s much replay value in it, but for the first go-round it’s quite entertaining.

Who doesn't enjoy questing naked?

I know there are aspects to the game that I haven’t had the chance to experience – companions, flying craft, or even my first lightsaber.  But the storyline itself is enough to keep me playing for now.  Will I keep playing after the 30-day free access is up?  Sadly, I doubt it.  It just boils down to mechanics and technical issues:  my computer can’t run the game at any decent resolution, but it can run WoW.  If  I’m going to pay a monthly subscription for a game, it’s going to be for one that I can actually play.

But one day, when I upgrade my computer, I will travel to a galaxy far, far away.

 

 

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