Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tough Class Quest Night

Last night, Quinndarius and I decided to progress along the paths of our class quests in Corellia.  And, once again, we found ourselves frustrated with a light/dark choice in a Trooper class quest.  He chose the Light side choice to start out with, then hit Escape when his stomach roiled and went through the conversation again . . . four times . . .

Finally, he grit his teeth and chose one of the Dark side choices, then sent Elara immediately out on a Diplomacy mission to pick up some Light side points.  Although he knew the Dark side choice was really the right one, it grated on him, to the point where he tip-tapped on his keyboard and posted this in guild chat:

The whole thing disturbed him so much that for the rest of the evening he just couldn't get over it, even when we were focusing on my class quests.

In the course of my class quests, I finally found out the identify of the First Son.  It probably says something about my weak-mindedness that I almost burst into tears in reality, over a game.  (Well, I cry over poetry, movies, songs, and sometimes spontaneously for no apparently good reason, so perhaps it's not so much weak-mindedness as some other problem.)  I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  I asked Quinndarius, "I suppose it would be against the Jedi Code to go back to my ship and pout?"  He agreed I was probably right . . .

"It's been a hard evening on both of us, hasn't it?" he stated, getting up to go make a cup of Pero.  I nodded and decided it was a caramel hot chocolate evening for me.

Right about now, I think my poor little Jedi Consular would do well to have a Girls' Night In with her padawan and Holiday . . . Relax with a chick flick and a cup of something comforting . . . if the situation weren't so dire.

Good thing she knows how to meditate.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And So It Begins . . .

I don't suppose it will surprise anyone that Anachan dinged 50 at the end of a warzone.  Anyone but me, that is.  I knew the end was near, but I hadn't realized exactly how many experience points would result from that particular Voidstar.

The really wonderful thing is I finished my under-50 PVP career with a bang:  I dinged immediately after zooming ahead of the enemy and accessing the data core.  (Consular speed for the win!)

And now what?  Well, we've still got some class quests to finish.  It's almost a shame I won't see the rest of the Voss story until I come back for the giggles, but we're moving on.  (My poor ship is so full of various people I'm not sure where my husband stands when he comes along for the ride . . . C2-N2 has his hands full.)  We'll start the dailies, of course, once we finish our class stories.

Along the way, we'll be sure to work on our warzones, although I confess the first warzone we entered upon reaching level 50 was . . . brutal . . .  The other Huttball team was exceptionally well-organized and stomped us into the dirt, and they figured out I was a healer in about 10 seconds, while it usually has taken lower teams at least a minute.  Going from under-50 warzones, where equipment really didn't matter, to level 50 warzones, where equipment really does matter, has had the effect of making both my tank husband and I feel like we've suddenly become very, very squishy and ineffectual.  Unfortunately, while I can accept being in multiple losing warzones, realizing I'm still gaining points each time and having fun being along for the ride, it grates on my husband's nerves.  On the bright side, if he's traveling, I can now just go run warzones with my Consular and not have to worry about outleveling him.

We'll also work on HM flashpoints, but first, we'll have to go through the regular ones . . . Yea, the only one we've actually completed is Esseles.  We almost managed to two-man Hammer Station with our companions at about that level, but our companions kept "standing in the fire" during the final boss, and we somehow never went back.  So we've got a lot of ground to cover there.

There's still quite a distance to go . . .

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Six, or Sixth

Go into your image folder
Open the sixth sub-folder and choose the sixth image.
Publish the image! (and a few words wouldn’t hurt, though I dare say I couln’t stop a blogger from adding a few words of their own).
Challenge six new bloggers.
Link to them.

Njessi at Hawtpants of the Old Republic tagged me.  /wave Njessi!


I'll be honest:  if there is a way to get screenshots in this game to automatically save, I haven't found it yet.  I probably haven't worked hard enough, but there you are.  When I take a screenshot, I end up having to paste it into something like PowerPoint or Paint and save it from there.  It works, but it's clumsy, so my SWTOR screenshots are kept to a minimum.  (Which is too bad, because it's so much fun to include screenshots in blog entries.)

This means, of course, that I do not have anywhere near six folders.  But in the spirit of the meme, I'll pick the sixth screenshot on my list and include that here.

You can't see the chat very well here, but that is the reason for this screenshot.  Someone in guild was talking about the particulars of Sage healing, and as I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed anything while in my questing conversations, I extended the chat window temporarily and screenshotted it to double-check later.

In my past life in that other MMO, I used to screenshot conversations all the time, from interesting discussions about completely unrelated topics to conversations I had while in official "officer" mode.  So this is something which feels very natural to me by now.  Hopefully I can figure out a simpler way to screenshot.  (It's probably something very obvious which I just haven't noticed yet . . .)

I think all the SWTOR bloggers I follow have already been tagged, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to skip the last step.  (Come to think of it, I think all the WoW bloggers I follow have also already been tagged, even the ones who post very, very rarely . . .)

Update:  Thanks to a guildie, I now know where the screenshots are being stored.  Who would have thought they'd end up in the Documents folder, instead of Pictures or in a subfolder in the actual program folder?  More screenshots incoming!!  (Thanks, Teao!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spoilage, Or the Marking Thereof

To spoil or not to spoil . . . Or, I might say, to mark as spoilage or not to mark . . .

Some time ago, I posted a link to one of my blog posts on my guild forum.  I don't normally do this, but I had told some people in guild chat I was going to go blog about something which frustrated me, so I figured I'd give them the option to read it, if they so chose.

Now, a little background about me:  I like active forums.  I know that a forum with no activity is a forum unlikely to develop any activity.  And so I'm the kind of person who tries to get some activity going on a forum, even in the face of dead air.  The idea is that if there is some activity, people will eventually participate more, while if there is no activity, people will eventually stop checking for any.  (It's like that convenience store which is always out of eggs; after a while, you expect they won't have any and stop checking.  The interesting thing about this is that when the store does decide to stock more eggs, nobody buys them because they didn't think they had any. The store ends up throwing them away at the "sell-by" date and feeling justified to not stock them.)

But even a person who tries to get some activity going in a forum may end up dropping off said activity if absolutely nothing happens in response.  It's easy to start feeling like people view you as a pest or an attention-seeker if you post and post and nothing ever appears in response, despite the view counter increasing.

Usually, when I post something like a link to a video in the "small talk" area of the forum, or in this case, the link to my blog entry, I expect nothing will happen in response.  I'm just trying to put up content so there will be something new when people come to the forum.  But every so often, it is nice to know that someone took the time to look at it and give me the courtesy of a response.

Well, someone did post up something about the link to my blog post.  One of the officers politely requested that I put a spoiler warning if I am going to post something about a class quest.  (Um . . . they weren't class quests . . .)

My first reaction was to think if that was the kind of reaction I was going to get when posting something to the forum, than they could do without my posts.  It's my guild's forum, but I have no responsibility for maintaining it.  (And now that the guild has people starting Operations, they have a little more activity, anyway, as they try to organize things.)

My next reaction was to laugh.  You see, the pages on my blog which get the most hits, by far, are the ones which speak of specific quests.  The one which receives the most is speaking about a class quest.  In fact, people who find that page are frequently looking for guidance on that quest, as indicated by the search terms they use.  (The top 7 search terms which lead people here contain "Vivicar" somewhere.)

I edited my forum post to say that a couple of non-class-specific low-level quests were mentioned and responded to the officer, saying it had been my impression most people had already encountered these quests.  But now, I wonder what on earth I would talk about on that forum.  To be honest, in the time since then, I really haven't posted anything more.  There has seemed to be no point.  ("Hey, let's talk about the game . . . only don't talk about the game, because I don't want to know.")

I recognize there are all kinds of people who play, from those who want to experience everything cold to those who research the most efficient way to accomplish their goals, and I'll respect the request of the officer on the forum to post spoiler warnings when appropriate . . . if it ever happens again . . . But when I'm blogging, the last thing I think about is whether or not I am spoiling the story for someone else.  The burden rests on the head of the reader to figure out if I am going to speak about a specific quest and avert his eyes, if he so chooses.  To adapt an old saying, without the alliteration, "Reader, beware."

Monday, February 20, 2012

What's In a Name?

I've found it interesting to hear how people choose the names for their in-game alter egos.  A name creates an impression and an identity, even in-game, so it is usually better to choose something creating the impression you would rather see and can live with, rather than something like "Ganksrus".  (Unless, of course, you really are intending to make yourself a target on a PVP server.)  In my case, my main character's name is easy, because of its history in my real life.

Anachan is a name by which I have been known for several years on various forums and such.  Its origin is from my college Japanese classes . . .

My alma mater is famous for having a lot of people who speak foreign languages, due largely to the fact it is a school owned by a church which sends out young men and women as missionaries to many countries worldwide.  I had started taking Japanese classes when I was living in Japan as a military kid my senior year of high school, and I continued studying in college because I had fallen in love with the simplicity of the verbs. (Compared to Spanish conjugations, Japanese verbs are downright easy!)  I could pass tests well enough, but the method usually employed to teach languages in schools does not impart fluency to any degree.  In other words, if you gave me a test, I could get an "A", but Heaven help me if a Japanese person needed help at my dormitory.  (Which happened.)  I could not speak it at all.

Nevertheless, I continued to take classes, but by the time I was in 300-level Japanese classes, my lack of fluency was becoming a problem.  My classes were filled with guys who had the advantage of having lived in Japan for two years as missionaries, interacting with the people on a daily basis.  They chattered among themselves in the language I had been studying for three and a half years, while I stared blankly at them.

Around this time, some of my classmates gave me a nickname.  We had learned the Chinese character for "hole", meaning a hole in the ground, and learned one of the readings was "ana", which is very close to the first half of my name.  It struck one of them that I had a hole in my head for taking these advanced classes without having lived in Japan to gain the fluency first.  And so I became, affectionately, "Ana-chan"--the one and only nickname I have had in my lifetime.  (By the way, after four years of struggling through college Japanese, I did finally end up on a mission in Japan and gained the fluency I so sorely lacked in class.  I now work with my daughters to give them a basic foundation in the language.)

When the day came I made my first personal website, just to have a web presence before Facebook and the like existed, I used this nickname in the title.  When I joined forums, I used this nickname as my alias.  And when I finally made my own character on my very own account in WoW, I named her Anachan.  It had become my alternate identity.

So it was natural that the character I intended for my main in SWTOR would bear the same name.  My one and only alt of any consequence bears my given name.  (As my Legacy name is my maiden name, I do not display it on her.  Just seems a little too creepy.)

My husband's characters' names have a different origin:  all three of his main character names were names we would have given our daughters if they had turned out to be boys.

We tell everyone that we believe the Lord didn't send us boys because He didn't like the names we picked.  The first three daughters would have been named Peregrine Rand, A'Lan Malkieri, and Quinndarius, respectively.  The fourth daughter never had a boy name picked for her, because we finally asked the sonogram technician to tell us the gender, which we hadn't done for the first three.  And the fifth daughter had a possible male name picked before her sonogram:  Cougar James.  (I still remember the sonogram technician's exclamation:  "I don't know what you did to deserve five girls!")

So for my husband, the thought behind the names of the main characters he created in SWTOR--Quinndarius, Peregrin, and Cougarjames--was done years before the game was even in development.
And that is the story of our SWTOR character names.  What is the story behind your characters' names?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hail to the Healer!

I do not understand why the SWTOR warzone queue would put together a team with no healer.

The other day, I solo-queued for warzones and found myself in a Voidstar run which seemed really, really odd.  The Rebublic started out defending, and I ran back and forth between the doors, checking things out and healing when needed.  But strangely enough, frequently there were no Empire players at all.

Seriously.  Our team would be split between the doors, with nary a red name in sight, filing our nails or checking the calibration of our weapons.  As I hit my Meditation key, I wondered if the Empire was trying very hard.  The round ended with no bombs planted.

In the second round, we plowed our way to victory with almost no opposition.  Again, sometimes I wondered how much effort the Empire team was putting into the warzone, especially because they didn't kill me very often, which almost never happens.

As the victory board flashed up on my screen, the answer became imperatively obvious.  I had done something to the effect of 295k healing during the course of the warzone.  The next highest figure was about 9k and owned by a Jedi Knight.


As a matter of fact, our team only had one--me.

No wonder there had been times with no enemies in sight!  Without a healer, they had been killed quickly and had been stuck waiting for the rez area to allow them back in the warzone.

No wonder they hadn't killed me very often!  When they had tried, I could keep myself alive long enough for our dps to beat them up.  Without a healer of their own, they were helpless against the efforts of our damage-dealers, while I could prop up the members of our team when they took damage in return.

And no wonder we steamrolled them!  Without a healer, all our team had to do was keep chipping away at their health points, while we had some way to recover when they chipped at ours.

When I mentioned this to my husband, he pointed out I could be incorrect in my understanding of the situation.  "They might have had a healer," he said, "but that healer might have been unwilling to heal."  Perhaps so, but I have a hard time thinking a person in possession of a healing ability who is on a team being trounced so badly would sit back and not heal at all.

Warzone queues shouldn't create teams with such a disadvantage.  Each team should be guaranteed at least one person in a healing spec, regardless of the quality of said healer.  Having even one healer on a team can make all the difference between victory and defeat.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anti-Military Bias

Incoming rant.

My background has a lot to do with the military.  My growing-up years were spent following my Army dad around the United States or overseas, surrounded by men and women with total dedication to serving their country.  After my father's retirement, my brother joined and is currently serving in the Air Force.  My husband and my father-in-law are both prior service, as was my grandfather and two of my uncles.  Between them all, they represent service in all four of the United States Armed Forces.

I admire greatly those who put their lives on the line to protect freedom and to serve their country.  With this in mind, it can come as no surprise I have some real issues with some of the light/dark choices available in SWTOR.  They illustrate to me a clear anti-military bias on the part of the designers.

For instance, there is a quest chain on Ord Mantell involving some stolen medicines.  Soldiers will die without these medicines.  Turns out the medicines were stolen by some refugees.  Refugees will die without these medicines.  But when you go talk to the refugees, you find the medicines have been stolen from them by some bad guys.  After you recover the medicines, you have a choice:  return them to the military or return them to the refugees.  But . . . if you return them to the refugees, you get light points.  If you return them to the military, you get dark points.

Is the life of a soldier really worth less than the life of a refugee?  What would be so wrong with returning them to the military?  In the story line, they owned the medicines, to begin with.  If you told them about the plight of the refugees and asked for help, they just might give it.  (In real life, it happens a lot.)

I wouldn't even have a problem with the quest if either choice was neutral, but as it is, you are clearly being told by the game designers that helping the refugees is "good", while helping the military is "bad."  It's almost as if the designers believe that letting a soldier die is just fine.

Fast forward to Taris.  A team of soldiers is missing, and you are sent to search for them, lest they have fallen into danger.  When you find them, you discover they are not in any danger; they are deserting.  You are faced with a choice:  let them go, which gives you light points, or tell them to return to their duty, which gives you dark points.

Now, contrast that with certain quests on Nar Shadda, where telling criminals to turn themselves in brings a light side reward.  What makes demanding that these soldiers return to face justice so wrong?  They have broken their commitments, they have dishonored their names, and they are no less in arrears with the law than the criminals who did so for monetary gain.  (Is the difference the fact that the criminals were "greedy", while the military guys are a pitiable bunch, afraid they are going to die?  Is that really the way those who serve want to be perceived as a group?)

And yet, the "good" choice is to let them go, and the "evil" choice is to insist they be responsible and return to their commitment.  (Worst possible scenario:  they face a court martial, where they might be acquitted or shown leniency . . . unlike the Empire, where they'd probably be automatically executed.)  Do the game designers think so little of soldiers and the job they do as to think the right thing is for soldiers to be cowards and desert?

These are just two of the many examples my husband and I have found as we have played the game.  As we try to play all light, it disturbs us greatly when faced with these choices.  There have been times my husband has chosen the dark choice because it would have been the right one in real life for a faithful Trooper doing his duty.

It wouldn't be as big a deal if this happened only once, but to see this thought pattern repeated over and over, even in the Trooper class quests, is disturbing.

When I /sighed and commented that, looking at some of the light/dark choices, it seemed the people who wrote the script didn't like the military very much, one of my guildies responded something to the effect of, "You're a gunslinger.  Don't gunslingers dislike government?"  (I was on my alt.)  Granted, I am on an RP server, but unlike some people, my characters are always an extension of myself.  I can't completely disassociate myself with them, no matter what their class.  And I am a law-abiding citizen who believes in people taking responsibility for their own lives and choices.  (To be honest, after that comment, I seriously wondered if I should be deleting my gunslinger.)

It is difficult to enjoy the story when the light/dark side choices presented to me overtly try to tell me that believing in honor and duty to country is incorrect.  It isn't easy to feel good about the game when the game designers indicate that the members of my family who have served in the military are somehow worth less than those people who do not make similar sacrifices.  And I hate myself for choosing light side choices which I know are not right, but only politically correct.  (Don't the scriptures have condemnations for those who call evil good and good evil?)

And yet, if you choose the dark choice because you know in real life it would be the right one, you're left with dark points on your record--a mark of judgement placed against you by the game designers displaying their own bias.

Time for me to start ignoring the judgements of people who do not matter in the long run.  After all, I have to do it in real life all the time:  it's called standing up to peer pressure.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chasing Medals

When I was playing WoW, there was a lot of discussion about healers or dps "padding meters".  That is, players were doing things to make their total healing or dps numbers appear larger, while not necessarily performing to their optimum abilities to progress the raid.  It was a practice I did not like and did not approve, and I tried, whenever possible, to discourage any talk about meters among my healers.

So I was really surprised to see someone on the SWTOR Jedi Consular Sage forums asking if Sages were, basically, padding the meters in warzones to gain more medals.


As I continued to read, I found that, apparently, some Sages purposely deplete their health using Noble Sacrifice, then heal themselves back up again, just to increase their showing on the numbers.  There was some discussion as to whether or not this practice made an appreciable difference, with parties taking sides in the issue.

I was flabbergasted and amazed.  Why would I want to Noble Sacrifice and heal myself?  It wouldn't even occur to me to do so!  It's sort of like standing in the fire on purpose, just so you could heal yourself and have a higher showing on healing meters.  (I knew someone who used to do this . . .)  As far as I am concerned, it is dishonest and unbecoming of a person with good character.

It has been my experience that there is generally enough healing to be done in any given warzone that such meter padding is unnecessary.  The medals for healing certain benchmarks sort of automatically come to a healer who, well, who heals and keeps healing.  I haven't ever seen a medal for "top healing in the game", anyway, so I'm not sure it actually brings any tangible benefit.

It's so much fun to bubble half the group while running down the halls of the Voidstar or to prop up the ball carrier just long enough for him to get off that throw that I have no time to think about sneaky ways to make myself appear more effective than I am.  I'll just work at being effective for real.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Huttball Healing, Part II

Despite what I may have said about healing Huttball, I actually do like the game.  But in case there are any doubters as to the veracity of what I said before, I can offer an example from last night.

My husband and I queued for warzones, just to get our dailies finished.  The first one was Alderaan, and it was a loss.  The second one was the Voidstar, and it was also a loss.  My husband was convinced I lost both of the previous ones for our teams, actually.  He wanted me to watch certain objectives and when I got distracted because something was going to kill me, someone took those objectives.  Ergo, it was my fault.

So when the next warzone queued up and it was Huttball, my bruised ego was actually happy.  You see, in Huttball, there's not much harm I can do, as far as that goes, because there are no objectives to guard.  I run around healing friendly ball carriers, stunning enemy ball carriers, and blasting the enemy off platfoms whever possible.  It was a bonus to meet up with one of our own guildies on our team, which made it even better as we faced off against the Empire.

Even so, we lost, although, as usual, I rocked the healing.  My husband and I regrouped and requeued . . .

It was Huttball again!  This time, however, we were facing Republic players, not Empire.

It didn't take me very long to realize the guildie who had been on our Huttball team the previous iteration was on the opposite team this time.  And she (he? character was female) was killing me.  Literally.

Time and again, I found myself targeted by this guildie.  I think I spent more time up in the rez area than I did on the court.  (Well, ok, not quite that much, but it was a lot.)  And the vast majority of the dozen times I ended up there, I knew it was due in large part to this guildie, who was there every time I felt myself taking damage.

What kind of game pits guildie against guildie?!  (I know . . . Huttball . . . But as it is considered good strategy to kill the healers first, I can hardly blame her for her actions.)

Despite this, it ended up working out for us.  Through a hard-fought battle, both teams managed to score once.  And, as the seconds ticked away, my tank husband found himself in possession of the ball.  My job?  Keep him alive!

For once, everyone nearby left me alone and focused on him, but this was an arrangement with which we were equipped to deal.  Between his special abilities and my healing, he lived to watch the clock run out and the victory board flash across our screens.

In guild chat, our guildie sent this message, "Quinndarius, you won that one!"

"Yes, he did," I typed back.  "I spent a good deal of the time dead."  (It was my not-quite-so-subtle way of saying, "I saw you killing me over and over!")

"Um, about that . . ." she responded.

We all had a good laugh.