[MMO] I Tuned In.

I realized yesterday that at about 9pm my time (you lesser beings call it EDT/EST/ET) that The Republic show was going to be recorded live. Being a big fan, I tuned in for the live broadcast.

Wow.

It’s funny how they mostly just flip a switch and get down to business. Before the show they’re giggling at the chat  from chatroom, making jokes, then boom – on to the show. It was sort of fun to watch. Being me I had to heckle a little in my good natured way. After the show they were still streaming with Larry Everett and Ed Park talking about some PVP which was cool to hear, lots of good ideas rolling around in Ed’s head (there you go, a segment of the show for just some PVP talk from Ed, titled, “Ed’s Head”).

Lot of fun. It probably helped that I was into the rum.

[IRL] Am I Getting Old…

… or was Drake in the second intermission of the 2012 NHL All-Star game not so good? I’m hoping someone can tell me that the sound was bad and it’s just not me failing to understand current music? They know… what? I couldn’t tellwhat he was rapping about.

I mean, I like the Black Eyed Peas  but didn’t like the superbowl performance last year, I think that was due to the sound being bad over the TV.

Same deal?

[update] I dug up the song on YouTube and it sounds a lot better there, though it still makes me feel old.

[TV] Goodbye Chuck

I was a little startled this morning when TheWife mentioned to me that tonight was the finale for Chuck. I knew this was going to be the last season for it, but I didn’t expect the finale to come so soon. I eagerly ensured my PVR was set up to record it and I watched it part way in (LLO wanted to watch some iCarly meets Victorious show).

It was the same old Chuck that I’ve grown to love over the five years it has been on. Yes, it is silly and not to be taken overly serious. Buy More is direct shot at Best Buy and you’ve got Subway tossed in there a lot. The stories were simple enough to follow with just enough drama to not turn me off them entirely. The relationships between the characters was fantastic. Pop culture references. I don’t know how to describe it… it seemed sort of like the Get Smart of our generation, only with several steps up in seriousness. It was a fun show that left me in a good mood.

It was great. It was fun.

Good luck to the cast and writers of the show. Thanks for the five years of good times.

Posted in TV.

[TOR] Dead Raider?

Since hitting level 50 in SWTOR yesterday I’ve been thinking about what I want to do. I even went as far as asking Captain Internets what there is to do at level 50. Okay, so it wasn’t that far to IM UFTimmy and ask him if he has dug anything up yet. He did, of course. And here are the two links he provided me with.

Reddit

OwnedCore.com

I thanked him and excitedly began to read through the links, starting in the order provided. As I read, my excitement faded.

  • Daily quests to get Epic mods and tokens.
  • Daily hard mode flashpoint runs with some daily quest you can pick up as well as a weekly.
  • PVP grinding for tokens which can be traded in for other tokens to get gear and bags with random gear items in them than you might be able to use?

It was a big turn off, especially hearing most of the hard mode flashpoints appear to be in a bad state.

Granted, that is if I wish to continue playing Darth Tox Obliteration, my Sith Assassin. I do have the option to roll another class which excites me more than continuing this character. And that seems wrong to me.

SPOILERS INCOMING. I figured I’d be nice about it and actually warn before I spoil rather than after.

It seems wrong that I work my character up from slavery, into the harsh Sith training despite Overseer Harkun (who you never get to kill) being against me where I prove myself as the most powerful option for Lord Zash who selects me personally over Harkun’s little toy because she recognizes my awesomnity (it’s a new word, I’m petitioning the Oxford Dic. people).

She uses me to kill off one of her opponents, Darth Skotia, and takes on his mantle (after I did all the dirty work) and I later learn she might have plans to kill me? I discover that isn’t entirely true, the bitch wants my body and not in the fun way! The relics she has me going all over the universe for? Yeah, they’re part of a ritual that allows her to move her consciousness into my body, crushing my own and taking over! She wasn’t even really a hot blonde! I don’t mean curtains didn’t match the rug, I mean she was old and decrepit! I show up to give her the relics and sort her out and manage to defeat her though she still manages to get her ritual going. Khem Val bails me out by getting in the way and interrupting it. He suffers for it by having Zash invade his body and they struggle back and forth about who is going to be in charge.

Almost immediately after I’m done that, I get suckered by Darth Thanaton – Zash’s higher up – into retrieving a journal from a tomb, only that tomb’s ghostly inhabitant is prone to killing invaders. An ancestor intervenes (he popped up before and is the source of the original warnings against Zash), calls me a noob for not being prepared then suggests I go learn how to deal with ghosts in another tomb where the rituals for that are tucked away. I do so, I learn I can suck the ghosts into me gaining their power and knowledge. So I do that and deliver this journal to Thanatos. He isn’t pleased because he expected me to be dead so he kills me on the spot. Only I’m not dead. The ghosts in me interceded and took the brunt of the impact. Zash’s newer apprentices pull me out of there before my body can be incinerated.

I then learn I need to collect more ghosts to be able to defeat Thanaton because he’s looking to squash everything Zash previously had. So I go ghost busting. I think I pick up another two or three and confront Thanatos again, this time on Korriban in his meditation chambers. I explode with power but he gets away. New problem that no one warned me about… holding all that power is deteriorating my body and mind too. I’ve got to go looking for a fix. Thanaton has cleverly removed references to how to fix this by my clever minions (including Zash in Khem Val’s body) learn there are two means for this. First is an old alien device that is said to be able to cure or fix anyone. Second is a ritual that is supposed to fix my head and let me better control things. Off I go to deal with this while the threat of Thanaton looms over my head.

By the way, the whole way through all the levels I’ve visited numerous planet and was key to the Empire’s success on every one of them. Which was nice to seem to be so important. I think the main one that emphasizes it is Corelia where there is a cinematic of you being awesome there (awarded a medal).

Back on track, so I go to Belsavis where this alien tech is supposed to be, find it after blazing my way all over the planet dealing with stuff. It turns out it is a computer AI which is hooked up to a device that can deconstruct and reconstruct things on a molecular level. So I get rebuilt, no more deteriorating body. I just need to sort my head out – no shrinks in SWTOR.

Off to Voss where I have to actually play nice! Sort of. This was a cool change. The Empire and the Republic are battling (diplomatically) for the allegiance of a race called the Voss. They are powerful Force users, though use it in a different way from  both the Jedi and the Sith. The Gormak are also there, savage, hostile but clever and able to adapt and improve tech they get their hands on. These dudes want to get off planet but can’t because they don’t have spaceships yet and the Voss don’t seem to want them to have them either. Throughout questing on the planet, I learn that this wasn’t just discovered, Jedi and Sith had been here before. The Sith dismissed the Gormak while the Jedi didn’t. The Jedi altered the Gormak and used them to fight the Sith… they turned the Gormak into the Voss.

Dun dun daa!

Back to fixing my head. I run through a bunch of rituals to learn how to dream walk then learn I need a Gormak to help me with the ritual. I find one, we sleep together (you need to sleep to dream walk…), he uses some primitive holocron to force the ghosts in my head to manifest where I defeat them. This sorts my head out. They’re still there, but they don’t come out unless I want them to.

Sweet!

Now that I’m sorted out, I can go after Thanaton.

I’m skimming over a lot of things like picking up a young Jedi Padawan and corrupting her. Picking up an apprentice from Korriban. Another companion from Hoth who is into old stuff but is a wickedly good healer. I’m pretty sure there were side quests for the companions if you got their affection up high enough they’d gush. I could chase those down, but I didn’t short of killing Khem Val’s friend.

There is a bit of cat and mouse with Thanaton, he calls me out in some old traditional duel but tries to end me before I get there (while I’m doing the same thing). We meet on Corelia, he sicks a minion on me. I defeat it. He sicks two cyborg Sith guys on me, I defeat them too. He then fights me. I defeat him and he runs back to Korriban to the Dark Council. Oh, I forgot to mention that he gets promoted to the Dark Council so I’m basically dicking with a guy that is second in line of authority, right behind the Emperor.

I head to Korriban for the final show down. He’s got minions outside trying to prevent me from getting in. I defeat them and get in. We fight, I crush him again but before I get the chance to finish him off, we jump into a cinematic where he starts pulling out all the vicious Force powers he has and flings them at me.

I soak them up. Om nom nom. I then blast him. The Dark Council finishes him off and promotes me to fill his position. Yeah. Dark Councilman Tox, bitches! I have to go back to  Dromund Kaas and let them know at the Sith Palace there that I’m a new boss in town, so I go and there is this cinematic where Khem Val announces me as the new dude who you kneel to. It actually reminded me of the ending scene in Star Wars where Chewie roars and all the guards turn and stomp to attention. Pretty neat.

OKAY SPOILERS OVER

So after doing ALL that and having such an epic story to play through, I’m now supposed to do dailies on Belsavis and Illum? Run Flashpoints on hard mode over and over? Try to find a suitable guild for me to raid with?

Bleh.

It’s kinda like a bad sequel. I’ll likely play a Republic character for a bit because the leveling experience is better than the end game (IMO).

Maybe I’m just uninterested in raiding and chasing gear? Because it’s not nearly as fun as I thought it was.

[TOR] DING 50!

Now I can unsubscribe.

I kid. About the unsubscribing. I did just hit 50 with my Sith Assassin though I managed to complete the class story line last night (or this morning if you want to be precise).

I was a little surprised at how many abilities were available for purchase on the trainer – a ton of upgrades to abilities I use and some to abilities I don’t really use. I bought them anyway. Not much left for me to spend money on now and making money isn’t all that difficult.

What’s next?

Find a guild.

Start doing some of the hard mode Flashpoints.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll get into the Operations, I’m a little burned out from WoW still.

Maybe do some PVP. I expect I’ll get my ass handed to me because most of the 50s will have tons of PVP gear and I’ll just be starting out, mostly in Orange gear with some blues or greens.

I can also get cracking on the Republic alts and maybe catch up to my sister and BIL.

Still a bunch of things to do.

I recorded a video since I realized I was only 9k away from the cap (after having done my ship dailies) but I still have to sort it out and upload it. I also forgot to do a /played to figure out how long it took me (some of it was poking the pooch – I won’t lie).

[RPG] D&D 5.0!

Yes. It is coming. Did you have any doubt it would?

Here are some of my thoughts about what D&D Next should entail.

First let’s talk character classes. Step away from the power system and underlying mechanics for all character classes. While I felt this added options to classes that previously had little more to do in combat other than swing a weapon or fire a bow, it handcuffed creative thinking casters and in a game where imagination is the fun, stifling creativity is bad. It also really limited creativity all around as most classes were driven towards a really limited set of abilities or a very common feel of advancement.

So… shift the caster classes back to a spells per day system (Vancian) with spell lists that can easily be expanded on and grown. That’s going to be your money winner there.

For the hybrid casters types (Ranger and Paladin come to mind) either leave them with a short list of spells like it was in 3.5e (or as Pathfinder has) or switch those spells per day out into common abilities per day. I think this is one of the few places a ‘powers’ system would work – so long as every class isn’t painted with the same mechanics brush.

As an example? Take the Smite Evil ability of a Paladin and make it work like a 3-square effect. Did I mention I actually did like some of effects the powers had? Give them some choice of three squares in a straight line (or even two squares) but give them choice. Give a Ranger a Volley ability if they are going the ranged route or a sweeping strike ability for melee – both allowing them to hit multiple targets. Why not give Fighters and Barbarians a Cleave ability through level progression rather than make it a Feat anyone could pick up along the way? Or give Fighters, Rangers or Rogues some options for movement on the field of combat? Stuff like shifting targets or even moving if they are missed. Small things like that make the melee classes more interesting and provide them with more options.

I touched on this lightly above, but wanted to add emphasis: non-caster classes need more options than swinging a weapon multiple times. Give them interesting options and choices as part of their class and not just dump a heap of skill points or feats on them. The class should be interesting to play without Feats whiles Feats add spice to their existing abilities or extras outside of their class domain (within reason).

Consider how Feats impacted a caster in 3.5e – they add to the effectiveness of their class abilities. This should be the same for   non-casters, they shouldn’t have to pick up Combat Expertise to do advanced combat maneuvers, it’s what they do!

I’ll say Pathfinder took a good step forward in class design. Really, this is the direction 4e should have gone. However, I do still feel they lack in the department of mundane abilities affecting combat. Yes, they added in some ‘Re-position’ type abilities but those are buried deep into some Feat tree – shouldn’t an expert duelist be able to move his opponent into a corner? Or force him into a dangerous position? These are the things missing from mundane combat.

Also do something different with Skills, allowing learned classes to appear learned. I sort of like how Pathfinder and 4e changed skills, squishing similar ones in together and making it so you don’t need to spend a ridiculous number of skill points per level.  I don’t like the limitation on number of skill points though. I think I’d be happier with certain skills automatically increasing with a number of points left to dabble with rather than have some of the more learned classes get very few skill points. Maybe this doesn’t need to be the case for all classes since you do want some choice to be available.

A quick example would be having a Wizard pick two knowledge skills which would advance automatically on leveling and their Spellcraft as well. Then only giving them 2 points as a base wouldn’t seem as harsh. Same idea for a Cleric, knowledge Religion would go up automatically? For the other classes, I think automatic increases don’t make as much sense – maybe it doesn’t make sense for any class? Maybe you can choose to forgo the automatic skill increase for some other benefit? It’s a rough idea… I’ve always disliked how few skills classes other than Rogues and Bards get – even with most skills getting squished together.

Ditch multi-classing or do it in a way that doesn’t massively impact the character power. I’ve always had issue with multi-classing because it often didn’t work unless the rest of the group was doing it too. It reduces the character’s power (significantly if you’re a caster) for the sake of flexibility but that flexibility is often rendered useless if there is a pure class in the group.

Further, it makes it difficult for DMs to balance encounters because your pure Fighter type will be able to hit monster-X but your half level multi-class won’t simply because the advancement for attack bonuses is likely slowed. As I said, this is often worse for casters, especially healers where most encounters against a particular character level expect a healer (or caster) to have defenses (or cures) against certain types of attacks.

This was one other area I liked about 4e where you could spend a Feat to pick up a minor ability from another class with deeper Feats along the line getting some of higher abilities. I’m not sure how you’d do it outside of the ‘power’ system they had in place though I suppose if they had lesser versions of class abilities available as feats it could work. For example a (brute) Fighter and Barbarian have Cleave which lets them attack three squares consecutive squares adjacent to them where as the Cleave Feat would let others do the same but for two square. A Rogue that dabbles in magic might spend a feat to pick up Detect Magic or some minor illusion spell. Something to that effect.

This would require a lot more design but also present players with more options for customizing their characters without trying to mash two different classes together and hope it works for balance. It also has the added value of their being more options to publish.

D&D Next needs to free the imagination for casters (more so than melees), provide more options in combat for all types and provide more choices for classes to define themselves within the class mechanics (i.e. rely on Feats to enhance their choice, not define it). Make each class have its own set of abilities as it progresses through the levels and allow for choice and customization or even specialization!

[TOR] Sith Assassin Talent Guide

Since I’m closing on 50 I thought it would be a good time to drop my skill spec. I’ve gone through and decided on this as being the best options for the Deception Assassin. I haven’t run any tests, mainly looking at how I’ve been playing the class and which talents will increase damage output or increase availability of damage options.

Here is the tree: Deception Assassin

Details?

The main difference between Deception and Madness is that Madness appears to focus a little more on the caster aspects of the Inquisitor while Deception focuses more on melee abilities with the Force used as an enhancement to that. Darkness is the tank tree but it has some nice little options for damage increase.

Let me dig into the Deception tree selections first.

Tier 1

Dark Embrace 2/2 – this increases Force regeneration by 50% while in stealth mode and for 6 seconds after exiting stealth. This means when you open up from stealth your regen rate for Force will be quite good and lets you recover quickly from some costly opening attacks. It’s also a prerequisite for Darkswell.

Duplicity 3/3 – this grants your direct damage attacks a 30% chance to drop Exploit Weakness on the target. Exploit Weakness causes your next Maul to ignore 50% of your target’s armor and cost 50% less. It has an internal cooldown of 10 seconds, but it is a worthwhile bonus when DPSing in a group since Maul becomes a major source of damage.

Insulation 0/2 – skip it. It increases your armor rating which doesn’t nothing for your damage dealing.

Tier 2

Obfuscation 3/3 – increases your stealth level and movement speed by 15%. It isn’t a direct gain to DPS but it makes moving around while in stealth mode easier, you get detected less. Avoidance is a suitable alternative and I may switch to this at level cap.

Recirculation 2/2 – reduces the cooldown of Discharge by 3 seconds. While you have Surging Charge on, Discharge becomes a decent source of damage.

Avoidance 0/2 – lowers the cooldown of Jolt and Unbreakable Will. Jolt is useful for interrupts and Unbreakable Will is good for breaking out of CC. This is a good PVP ability or if you’re needed for interrupts or bosses use a lot of CC, this could easily become more valuable than Obfuscation since you won’t need to rely on Stealth as much at the end game.

Tier 3

Induction 2/2 – awesome skill, this increases the crit damage of Maul by 30% which is awesome on it’s own, but it also grants you a 100% chance to add a stack of Induction on the target hit by Thrash or Voltaic Slash up to 2 times. Induction reduces the cost of your next Shock by 25% so two stacks of this is a 50% reduction of Force cost to use Shock (good damage, instant cast which also stuns common mobs).

Surging Charge 1/1 – this is your DPS charge which adds a 25% chance to proc 229 internal damage on the target struck with a short internal cool down (1.5 seconds). While this Charge is active, Discharge will nuke a single target for a significant amount of damage.

Darkswell  1/1 – this allows you to use Blackout (this ability increases the difficulty of being spotted while in stealth mode) while outside of stealth mode which grants 6 seconds of Dark Embrace and restores Force (Dark Embrace being an increase in Force regen). This is pretty big for keeping Force up to chain Mauls at enemies – avoid firing it in combat after coming out of stealth because Dark Embrace will already be up. This also makes your Force Cloak ability (get out of combat – which can be used as an agro dump if others are engaged with the target) not reduce healing received.

Deceptive Power 1/1 – increases Force pool amount by 10. Not huge, but it gives you a little more to work with.

Tier 4

Entropic Field 2/2 – Another one that could be substituted for another option – this will reduce the damage taken by area effect attacks by 30% which is nice. It makes life on healers a little easier since the only damage you should be taking if you have a good tank with you is area effect damage. Otherwise, it adds little to damage but something to surviving a little longer.

Saber Conduit 3/3 – when your Surging Charge procs it has a 100% chance to restore 10 Force. Internal cooldown of 10 seconds so it’s a bit of a push. Still, it means you’re getting Force back every 10 seconds without really needing to try. This is a prerequisite for Static Charges which is good to have.

Fade 0/2 – this will reduce the cooldown on Blackout and Force Cloak. The amounts aren’t really significant enough to matter though having Blackout available more often means more Force regen. It’s up to you to decide if 15 seconds off a one minute cooldown ability is worth two points or not.

Static Cling 0/2 – Increases the duration of Force Slow while also reducing the cooldown. It doesn’t really increase DPS and I doubt it would work on raid bosses to any significant gain. I can see if having some value in PVP though I have yet to bother using Force Slow in PVE.

Tier 5

Resourcefulness 2/2 – reduces the case of Lacerate (our PBAE) and reduces the cooldown on Overcharge Saber (level 50 cooldown ability that increases damage of charge procs by 100%) to every 1.5 minutes. Win. I usually don’t get excited about reducing cooldowns, but this is a pure DPS cooldown good for some burst.

Static Charges 2/2 – when your Surging Charge does damage you build Static Charge on the target. Static Charge stacks up to 5 times and increases your next Surging Charge proc damage by 6% (30% at 5 stacks).

Low Slash 1/1 – new ability that I need to leverage more. It deals a good amount of damage and incapacitates the target for 4 seconds. Damage releases the target. Aside from being decent damage or another ‘stun’ effect (which opens up Tumult or getting behind for Maul) it as a prerequisite for Voltaic Slash which is the Tier 6 ability (and pretty awesome).

Tier 6

Voltaic Slash 1/1 – this will replace your Thrash ability because it can build two different stacks of a buff which impacts Shock. The first is Induction (from Tier 3) which stacks up to 2 times reducing the cost of Shock by 50% (at 2 stacks). The second comes from the attack itself which increases the damage dealt by Shock by 15% per stack. Using this ability twice means 50% Force cost reduction for a Shock that does 30% more damage – sweet! (Thrash will only reduce the cost of Shock and costs as much as Voltaic Slash)

You can see most of the Deception tree builds up on itself (Surging Charge), Maul, Force Regen and Maul though it also gives you an extra stun type or could be useful for mitigating CCs or increasing the frequency of interrupts.

You will have 2 points left over and I suggested some options or you may also want to drop Obfuscation or Entropic Field points in exchange for Avoidance (interrupt and CC break cooldown reductions) or Fade (Force regen and agro dump cooldown reductions). Weigh the trade off of convenience and ease on healers against the need for Force regen and CC breaks. (Example)

After climbing through that tree, you can dip into the other two trees though Darkness seems to suit us better than Madness. Here’s what I’d suggest:

Darkness: 8

Tier 1

Thrashing Blades 2/2 – increase damage dealt by Thrash (unimportant), Lacerate (our PBAE) and Voltaic Slash (win!) by 6%. Direct DPS gain.

Charge Mastery 3/3 – improved effects on all three Charge abilities but the one that matters to us is the Surging Charge impact which is that our attacks will ignore 9% of your target’s armor. Nice perk and we need the three points to dip into the second Tier.

The other option in this tier/tree isn’t worthwhile because it requires that we block, parry or shield an attack for a small % regen of Force – as DPS we shouldn’t be blocking, parrying or popping our shield generator (you don’t have one on, right?).

Tier 2

Electric Execution 3/3 – increases damage dealt by your lightsaber charges by 9%. That’s a passive damage increase to our Surging Charge proc.

Madness tree has a nice sounding ability in the second tier which would enhance our Shock nicely, but the abilities in the first Tier aren’t ideal for damage increases so it’s tough to pick.

Exploitive Strikes 3/3 – might be worthwhile but you use two Force abilities; Discharge and Shock so 9% increase in melee damage after using them could be good.

Crackling Charge 2/2 – sounds good as it is a 16% damage increase off of Discharge but seems limited to Lightning Charge which you shouldn’t be using.

That leaves picking up Sith Defiance 2/2 for 2% damage reduction just to get a 45% chance of a second Shock hitting for 50% of the damage – I’m not sure if that would only impact a second target or if it would work on the same one twice?

Seems too risky so it’s probably better to invest the 2 points back into Deception so 8/33/0.