[MMO] Paizo Working on Pathfinder Online

Being brought to you by Goblinworks.

Who?

Exactly!

I’m still looking for a professionally made software service that allows you to take pen and paper games to the computer allowing you to bypass that whole geographical location thing that often gets in the way of pen and paper gamers. Really this sort of thing makes more sense as a monthly fee type service and would cost a lot less to develop. Also it wouldn’t have to face off against the existing beasts out in the MMO market. I suggested as much on their forum but haven’t checked back to see what sort of fanboism the post inspired.

I realize that Wizards was working on something like that for D&D 4e, but it was squashed which really is too bad. I know a lot of people that I played MMOs with would really love to rekindle that experience the main deterrent is finding a group (go figure!) to play with or reconnecting with friends and former group members that have moved away.

But hey, let’s scrounge around for investors to create this brand spanking new MMO! Then lets design it so the mechanics don’t reflect the RPG system it is based on, because that would be weird.

The FAQ has some more vague details if you’re curious.

Despite my grumblings, I’ll keep an eye on this…

[TOR] What to Play?

All of them.

I’m sure I’ll end up playing most of the classes since I do enjoy playing alts and advancing characters but also because I know I’ll have a stable of characters that I’ll play with the boys. That means I’ll focus my game time on the Empire side of things, but play with the kids on the Republic side.

What I play on the Republic side will be determined by what they play but I’m guessing I’m going to spend a fair bit of time healing so that likely means Jedi Consular and Trooper mainly.

On the Empire side, I may take a look at the Sith Warrior and most definitely play a Bounty Hunter. I suspect I’ll end up taking the Bounty Hunter as a main, but who knows? If I like tanking as a Juggernaut, I may make the Sith Warrior my main. I generally find things go smoother when someone competent is running the tank character, that and I will have an easier time finding groups.

Overall, there didn’t seem to be any one choice that wasn’t fun or amusing (I didn’t try the Imperial Agent or Sith Warrior). In WoW (and the multitude of other MMOs I played) there were certain classes I just couldn’t get into – Shaman, Warrior, Warlock, Mage, Druid, though I did force myself to try something different and eventually leveled a Mage and Druid. To be fair, SWTOR really only has four classes since they’re mostly mirrored; yes the abilities on each side are different, but they’re also fairly similar. I think  at one point over the weekend I said to myself, “I’m not too keen on being a caster, but I really do want to see where this Sith Inquisitor goes!” which is definitely off for me.

I will definitely be playing with my sons on a PVE server though I’m not quite sure if I want to play on a PVP server on my own.

 

[TOR] Lack of Pants Continues!

There has been a long running gag about me and not wearing pants in game (or out). I once tanked several heroics on my Paladin with no pants and no one, not even the healer, noticed until the end of the last one. Every now and then I’d slip the character pants off and dance. I’d often greet hellos and guild chat with, “Has anyone seen my pants? No? Good!” and the like.

So, I found it amusing that while I was playing my Sith Inquisitor this weekend I found these nice new pant drops, equipped them and discovered they didn’t have a model/graphic yet – I was running around without any pants!

YES!

Being a good tester (though it pained me greatly) I had to report the bug. I wish I took a screen capture of the bug because I included the motto for the Pantsless Revolution, “Down with pants!” in it. I got a response this morning from customer service which is actually somewhat in character so I’m going to share:

Greetings Mosheer,

I am Protocol Droid S3-Q1 of Human Cyborg Relations…

Thank you for contacting us regarding your character that is not showing its armor as equipped. Your report has been forwarded to the relevant department, who will investigate further. We regret we will be unable to provide you with further updates on this issue, but recommend checking future patch notes for any up to date information.

We would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and to thank you again for the valuable feedback you have provided. Please do not hesitate to report any other issues you may encounter during testing.

Galactic Support is our specialty…

Sincerely,

Protocol Droid S3-Q1, aka Rochelle

Star Wars: The Old Republic Customer Service

Hai Rochelle. Did you know I wasn’t wearing any pants when I logged that bug?

*blush*

More on the beta and some of the improvements I witnessed later.

[TOR] Beta Weekend

I am in the TOR beta weekend coming up as is the LBO. TheWife is going to be taking the LLO out to a party early afternoon which is going to give me and the LBO plenty of time to muck around in the beta.

I’m going to have to contain myself and refrain from looking at the Smuggler class and the Sith Warrior because I’m interested in playing those two classes on release (as well as the Bounty Hunter). I also want to avoid having the LBO play the Empire because it might be a little too vicious for him (though he did play through the Deathknight starting area and enjoyed it… which scares me a little). That leaves me with a couple of options to try out on the weekend:

  1. Sith Inquisitor –  I’m curious to see how this plays in comparison to the Jedi Consular so I will definitely take a look at this when the LBO is in bed because I know I’ll be overly evil and vicious!
  2. Jedi Knight  – It will be interesting to see how the starting quests for this class differ from the Consular (or not) and I am curious about how tanks tank. I’ll likely play this one with the LBO unless he picks Smuggler or Trooper class to play.
  3. Trooper – I never got too far with that and it could be neat to see how it tanks. I may play this alongside the LBO if he picks a Smuggler or other Trooper.
  4.  Imperial Agent – I’m not sure how evil they are or have to be, I could play a goodly one though and aim for some Lightside points. Again, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the same area that the Bounty Hunter started in.
  5. Jedi Consular – I’ve also already played the Jedi Consular so I’m not too keen on playing through that again – not that it was bad, I just want to see something different. But I’ll take it if it makes sense to have it to play along side the LBO.

I’d prefer to play the Imperial Agent over the Trooper but the Trooper has a couple of things going for it that the Imperial Agent doesn’t. Mainly that I have done Hutta from a Bounty Hunter perspective and I’d like the

As noted above, I’m going to avoid the Smuggler, Sith Warrior and Bounty Hunter so I don’t spoil anything, see something new and avoid doing anything too evil with the LBO around.

[TOR] LEWTZ!

I forgot to mention this in my big long spiel about my experiences with TOR but I have to comment on the loot system.

It’s good.

My Pathfinder group often jokes about our EQ days where I was quick to loot. In my defense, I was often tank running out and pulling mobs so I’d loot and scoot every couple of mobs just to keep things coming. And when they mentioned looting, it became a game, a competition… could I deny them loot by being faster?

I was so fast they have a standing joke that I often looted the mob before it died (which I did do as a Rogue with the Pick Pocket ability) suggesting the EQ chat window would say:

Smaken Dahed has looted a orc warrior!
a orc warrior was slain!

Good times.

That said, the loot system and options in TOR are much better for ensuring you get your loot, you don’t miss good loot by missing a corpse or assuming it’s just garbage and you almost never lose loot off a corpse because you can’t seem to mouse over it right.

How?

Obviously the loot system splits ‘coin’ drops and has a round robin approach to trash items. You have the whole Need/Greed/Pass system which you can adjust to only care about blue items or higher. Nothing new there.

Autoloot – this is the common option. When you click on a corpse you’re presented with the contents of the creature or it’s loot. Normally you have to click each item to take it, auto loot just automatically takes it all. This is nothing new, WoW had this.

Area Loot – this is a newer option that lets you loot nearby corpses by looting just one target. Very useful if you’ve just slaughtered a community of sand people so several are stacked up on top of each other. One click and it’s all yours! This also isn’t new, you had this in Rift.

Loot Quality Indicator! In TOR you see a pillar of light to show you that there is loot on a corpse. The color of the light reflects what is on the corpse. White is mostly cash and trash. Green, blue, or other item rank colors show up when items of that quality are on there. I believe it will show an orange or yellow color if there is a quest item on there. This is new, not ground breaking, but more of a ‘quality of life’ type change.

Personally, I love it but I do admit it takes some of the excitement out of looting and finding a rare blue or purple item. I guess it’s just a different kind of excitement – you know it’s there, but is it cool and can you use it?

Nice little change.

 

[TOR] Gamebreaker.tv Has Stuff!

Just letting people know, Gamebreaker.tv has a show dedicated to TOR which isn’t half bad if you have some time to kill or need some background noise at work.

They’re recently starting to put up some game play videos of TOR mainly from a starting perspective so there are spoilers involved.

Currently up there are the mirrors ‘caster’ Jedi/Sith classes: Consular and Inquisitor.

Take a look if you’re curious.

[PC] Skyrim Owns Me

I played this a ton over the weekend which included caving in on Friday and getting for the PC via Steam. I was getting a little too frustrated with the PS3 controller and felt I was missing out on the ranged aspect of the game too much. I also dreaded the loading screens which were up long enough to show me two messages per loading screen.

On the PC? I barely have the time to read the message that shows up on the loading screen.

Severely missing archery and destruction spell casting, I decided to make my first character a Dark Elf Nightblade (Rogue with Mage spells). I focused my perks on Sneak, Archery and Destruction, with a few points going into One Handed Weapons and maybe a tad into Light Armor.

I played a lot. Zipping through some of the quests I’d already done and doing a bunch more. I soon got the hang of Sneaking around to the point that targets could stand right in front of me but not get see me. It was crazy. I started to rely more on Stealth and Archery than I did my Destruction abilities. I quickly shot up into level 20 and found there was no end to quests. In fact, I felt like I was drowning in them and I hadn’t even left the first hold (voluntarily – Sanguine fun took me on a tangent).

So I started over. Again. This time I decided I’d play a pure Mage (I blame UFTimmy for sharing his Mage experiences in Skyrim with me over Steam’s IM). It was crazy fun too. I focused mainly on Destruction, some Restoration and a dabbling in Enchanting. He’s up around level 11 now and is the Arch-mage of the college in Winterhold (which was startlingly smaller than I expected Winterhold to be).

I do intend to get back to the Nightblade and roll a melee type as well (I am considering a Paladin type; 1h, blocking, restoration, heavy armor and maybe even speech). But, I think I’ll continue with the Mage and get back on the track of the main story line.

I think I’ll take a run at completing the game then continue playing in around the various areas afterwards.

[TOR] Hammer Station Flashpoint Video, NDA, etc.

Nifty new video about a flashpoint on SWTOR. It’s just too bad they had newbs playing while recording that trailer. I guess it’d be too much of a spoiler if adept players actually did it.

Yes, I know, it was intentional. They weren’t newbs, they were devs filming just for show.

It took me a bit of looking to find this (okay all of two minutes) and I do prefer to view an official location rather than just fellow bloggers saying the NDA is up, but it does seem the NDA has been lifted:

Folks,

As of now, the non disclosure portion of our Game Testing Agreement is officially lifted. While all players must still accept the Game Testing Agreement, from this point on testers may now freely talk about their experiences this past weekend in the game, as well as post screenshots and gameplay videos of their testing experiences. We encourage you to come join us on the official Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ Forums to share your experiences!

The Star Wars: The Old Republic community site will have a copy of this message on the forums and it will also appear in the Patcher. Players may not talk about nor reprint posts from our testing forums as they are still fully covered by the confidentiality portions of our Game Testing Agreement. And all players who want to participate in the upcoming Beta Test Weekends still have to accept all terms of the Game Testing Agreement. So, other than that, free feel to talk about and share your experiences in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

My thanks go out to everyone who has beta tested and continues to beta test the game. It has been with your help and feedback that Star Wars: The Old Republic is where it is today. We really appreciate your efforts.

May the Force be with you!

Greg Zeschuk
VP, Electronic Arts, BioWare Austin, General Manager

So I’m now allowed to say that I was in the previous stress testing weekend and I can dump out my impressions. The beta access came at one of the worst possible weekends I could have had it come at – which is why it was granted at that point – so it left me with less time to play than I intended.

First thing I did was plan which classes I would play and which ones I wouldn’t. My original thought was to avoid classes I was going to focus on playing on the actual release of the game (Sith Warrior and Smuggler) so I opened the first night with a Jedi Consular. I then proceeded to play from about 9:30pm until roughly 4am.

I’d like to say it was just that good, but a lot of my motivation was to finally get my damn lightsaber. I think I cut a few corners near the end as I could see I was getting closer. I ended up at level 9 when left the starting area with my precious… err… lightsaber. Overall, I found the quests mostly interesting and very true to the kinds of things that a Consular might do. There were opportunities to gain light and dark points, some moral questions you had to answer and even some group areas.

Two Consulars definitely don’t work well together at the lower levels. If you have one that actually knows how to play a game and another that is just mashing buttons heroic encounters will work like this:

  1. adept player CCs a target
  2. nubcakes breaks the CC on the big target
  3. nubcakes tanks the big target… with a caster class
  4. nubcakes is ineffective against the big droid getting healed by the three little droids
  5. adept player takes out all the healing droids
  6. nubcakes goes squish
  7. adept player finishes off the big droid
  8. adept player rezes the nubcakes

Overall, I did enjoy playing the class and the story line was interesting enough, though didn’t have as much variety as the other class I played. Still, I felt very Jedi..ish. I was running about doing the right thing and feeling all warm and glowing about it. I’d enforce the Jedi code and dig deeper into the mysteries of the Force. I suspect my only reaching level 9 before leaving the  planet was partly due to this, I was trying to respect life and be a good Jedi. Only defending myself instead of attacking anything I saw. I also rushed a little near the end because I really wanted my damn lightsaber.

I’m trying not to spoil anything here.

Next class I tried was the Bounty Hunter and all I can say about that is…

OMG! I LOVES IT!

I think I might end up playing one as a main on release, but I’m not sure yet.

Once again, I found myself falling into the role of a ruthless, amoral, bastard who’d do anything for a quick buck. If it was hostile? I shot it. If it was neutral? I shot it. If it was my target? I killed it. If it was my target to bring back? I killed it and brought back evidence. If it was bait for another Bounty Hunter? I used it, killed it and claimed the bounty.

Really. I was a complete and utter prick.

And I loved it!

Thanks to the heavy armor, the class is really very durable and quite capable of soloing well, especially once you get your companion who can fire off some light healing when you need it. I was able to solo (with my NPC companion) all the group content successfully. It wasn’t trivial, but it was possible. I think there might have been more group content with this starting area than there was with the previous and I also felt I got my companion earlier than with the Consular.

The missions were right on and had no “beat up the new version of the droids” mission. They generally had opportunities for you to flip or be swayed by the target so lots of choices in the missions. No more simple, “Accept/Decline” and just kill stuff to hand the bits and pieces back into the quest giver. Well, unless the mission was to bring back bits and pieces of the target.

I actually enjoyed this class more than the Jedi Consular and I think the fact that I wasn’t playing a ‘in self defense only’ type of guy, I ended up with a higher level when I left Hutta. I believe I was about level 11.

I went Mercenary with his Advanced Class choice because I didn’t really like the sound of the Powertech which seemed more about tanking and less about the pewpewpew! I ended up with dual blasters and some minor healing abilities.

I then moved on to the next world by route of a flashpoint. When you leave the starting area, you are taken to a fleet or station and from there you can choose to just hop a shuttle to the next place or group and do a flashpoint on the way to the next area. I did the flashpoint – I believe it was called The Black Talon.

Spoilers ahead.

Vader is Luke’s dad.

Back to SWTOR.

My group for the Black Talon flashpoint consisted of a level 11 Sith Assassin tanking, two Imperial Agents (levels 12 and 9) and myself a Mercenary. As a Mercenary I had a single heal ability which seemed somewhat minor. The higher level Imperial Agent also had a heal ability which seemed a bit more effective.

The Black Talon mission starts with you talking a Grand Moff who says he’s tasked a transport captain with attacking a battlecruiser that has an Imperial traitor nicknamed, “The General” on board. He wants the General taken back or silenced. The transport is the only ship in range to attack so you need to commandeer it and lead the suicidal attack.

You fight your way through the crew and onto the bridge where you decide the fate of the captain of the ship. In a group, this means you pick the response you want to give, a roll happens and the one with the highest roll gets their response made but you still get the Light/Dark points for your chosen response.

My group, wisely, chose to execute the captain. I won the roll.

We then proceeded to attack the Republic ship, which was crazy given that we were a transport, but it seems the Republic decided to board us instead of simply blow us up so we fended off attacking droids and protecting our Engineering section. We then boarded them and started tearing through their defenses.

I admit, the Shadow as a tank was sort of bad. He lived, but by no virtue of his own. The Imperial Agent and I worked our butts off to keep him alive and he constantly broke line of sight on both of us as he was dodging around. I managed to divide my attention between healing him up and doing damage.

End result was a win. We found The General and had a choice of taking him back with us or killing him. The group, once again, decided to kill him.

Yeah, I won that roll too.

I didn’t get to play the Bounty Hunter too much farther and part of me didn’t want to because I wasn’t sure I wanted go through it all over again and I certainly didn’t want to spoil much more than that.

Spoilers off now.

My third class I looked at was more out of pity than anything else; the Trooper. I had a post where I wasn’t sure how it fit in and that it seemed like a filler class. Well, it’s the other side’s version of the Bounty Hunter only more orderly.

I didn’t get to play it too long, but it did seem to have a decent story starting up. I think I may have dismissed this class a little prematurely but with the fun I had as a Bounty Hunter, I don’t think I’ll end up getting to this class anytime soon after release.

I realize I’ve spent most of my time talking about the feel of the starting areas and not so much about the classes or their mechanics. I guess you can say Bioware accomplished their mission and story does have a big impact on enjoyment of the game. At least for me.

As could be expected, every class has a health bar and a resource bar. The resource bars work differently for each class though ultimately, they either fill up or empty out and depending on your class, it’s a good or bad thing. Every class seems to start with a rest-like ability which restores health and resets their resource bar at a quicker than normal pace. The regen rate for both seems pretty decent as it is in combat and it speeds up out of combat as well so this ‘rest’ ability really just reduces down time between fights.

The Jedi Consular depleted their bar as they used some of the more spell-like abilities. It comes back quickly enough that it wasn’t too much of a worry and you still have your lightsaber attack abilities to fall back on while it’s regenerating. As a Consular I had a few force abilities involving throwing large objects at people (nuke), pelting them with stones (channeled DoT) or lifting them off the ground and leaving them suspended there (CC). I also had a few different lightsaber attack abilities with nifty animations. I can’t remember the other abilities, I believe there was a buff or two.

The Bounty Hunter has a heat meter that fills the resource bar and if the bar is full you cannot use certain abilities. You do have an ability on a two minute cooldown that lets you vent heat. You have a buff that increases damage, a damage modifier buff for your ranged attacks, several versions of blaster fire (including a severe channeled DoT), a missile to launch (small AOE), an explosive dart (CC on weak targets and moderate AOE), jet pack powered uppercut (so cool!), flamethrowers and a ‘death from above’ type ability that jets you up a short distance while you rain down death in a targeted area (moderate sized AOE with big damage). Really, loved it.

The Trooper has an ammo meter that depletes the more they use certain attacks or abilities. I didn’t play it enough to really see what happens when you deplete all your ammo, I suspect it either comes back over time or you actually lose a few seconds reloading. Like I said, I didn’t get there. You open up with a few abilities involving your blaster and grenades mainly. You also get a health buff – I think.

As you can tell, the Bounty Hunter left the biggest impression with me.

And I liked being a bastard.

Overall, I have to concur with this post over at Blessing of Kings for the rest of the feel. I tripped up in the same areas he said (short of grouping) and I did provide a lot of in game feedback while playing.

[IRL] Overwhelmed

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I’ve got a large dark cloud of things that need to get done hovering over my head so I’m going to list them to add some order to that chaos floating overhead and sort out what is nagging me that shouldn’t be…

  1. Review severance package and Release agreement: done.
  2. Review finances (with someone more knowledgeable about them than I am): done.
  3. Sign Release agreement and hand it over to HR: done.
  4. Update LinkedIn profile: done.
  5. Write recommendations for colleagues on LinkedIn: not started.
  6. Complete resume writing course to brush up on current resume trends: done.
  7. Update Resume: started.
  8. Get Resume out to head hunter that was referred to me: waiting on 7.
  9. Send contact info for colleagues that may want to use me as a reference: not started.
  10. Write lots of documentation at work: started.
  11. Call Rogers and drop to Basic Cable package: done.
  12. Call Rogers back and let them know I don’t want to pay someone 50$ to remove an extra cable from my house: not started.
  13. Call Rogers and ask them why I’ve got roaming charges on my phone when I haven’t left the city in a month: not started.
  14. Get some interviewing clothes: not started.
  15. Spend time with kids: ongoing.
  16. Continue with hobbies (Pathfinder/video games): ongoing.
  17. Visiting friends and family: ongoing.

I might add to that list the more I wake up.

I think the important and quick items to do are #9 since those people are likely out there looking right now where as I’m not giving it my all at the moment since I’ve got about three months of work to do at the current place before I’m fully released. I really should follow up with number five where more immediately required.

I was really impressed with LinkedIn. I immediately had contact with three head hunters and joined a group of impacted colleagues that are sharing leads they find or are contacted with.

I have to also admit I really do appreciate the support I am getting from friends which is ranging from financial advice, references to placement agencies and passing along suitable job postings. It really does help take a lot of weight off my mind.

Numbers 11-13 are driving me bonkers and I need to steal some time to deal with them. I called to drop my cable package (which was VIP with the extra HD and one extra cable connection) right down to Basic when I saw that all the channels I watch in HD are available in the Basic cable package and it was over half the price of what I was paying. I also cancelled the HD PVR box I was renting at about 26$ per month. That is likely saving me close to 100$ per month. I’m not struggling with the bill, it just seems stupid to pay more for something I’m not using.

The rep from Rogers was really nice and helpful, though seemed somewhat confused. She noted there was a special on package changes that meant they’d waive the usual technician fees. However, she called back later (I got a message on my phone) saying she couldn’t waive the technician fees.

Now I understand that Rogers wants to be sure I’m not using services I’m not paying for, I get this. I could easily plug the cable into a purchased box or right into the TV and get a second cable TV TV without paying them for it. That said, I’m more than willing to let them remove that wiring/connection because I really don’t intend to use it. I am fine with one connection and the box I purchased a year ago (which they have on file). I don’t see why they need to charge me to protect themselves.

Any thoughts about charging an admission fee to my house?

The other issue I’m having is I was hit with some text messaging fees (I blame UFTimmy) but then also for roaming fees. I’m not really sure where the roaming fees come into play so I need to follow up and ask about it. Depending on the answer Rogers gives me about, I may end up adjusting my cell phone service.. downwards.

I’m already unhappy with the service and that doesn’t even  include my issues with their new modem/router they’re supplying which is pointing to their DNS which is causing me to have blind spots on the web when I’m at home.

I will admit, I am very tempted to switch to Bell.

Skipping to number 16, I was happy to get out and to the Pathfinder RPG group I usually game with. This was last night and I had a lot of fun. It also helped that the host had a 30 pound turkey to get rid of so his wife and a relative that was visiting cooked up a nice big turkey dinner for us. It was fantastic!

Also great to surround yourself with friends and just have a good time.

I’ve been a little spoiled in that department lately because I also visited some friends on the weekend and had a really good time there too. Again, there was a great meal served – pot roast. It was amazing as well since the host has been dabbling in cooking classes and really enjoys it.

Well, I have a list and an idea of priorities so I’m going to start getting them done.

[TOR] Very Stable

One of the things I took away from this interview was the lack of crashes and stability on top of the amount of ‘testing’ done.

What’s really important is it’s stable and reliable and doesn’t crash all of the time. If you put a whole bunch of stuff in right at the end it makes it less stable, so we’re controlling the end. [...] – Greg Zeschuk

In general this is a very true statement and one of the issues with waterfall development, especially where the QA or Dev teams are driven by someone that does not have to do the work.

When I looked there were still beta keys available on Eurogamer (where that link goes to).