Friday, March 30, 2012

Challenge #2--Why Blog

I like to write.  I always have.

When I was a teenager and in college, I did copious amounts of journalling, as well as writing letters which can only be described as "epistles".  I would reach into my imagination and the small details of my life for material with which to fill the pages, and in that process learned to discover content from apparently nothing.

My teachers always thought I would become a writer someday, so I figured one day I would write a book.  But as time has gone on, I have realized I don't really like to write novels or fiction much, in general.  I do, however, enjoy essays based upon personal experience.  (No surprise to anyone who has been reading my blog, I'm sure.)  And I find that writing is a great way for me to think things through or collect and organize my own thoughts.  It's cathartic, helping me work through emotions, as well, and helping me make sense and learn from my own experience.

When I started my WoW blog, almost three years ago, it was because I enjoyed writing and figured I would benefit by the exercise.  The subject matter was removed enough from my private life that I didn't worry about publishing it, because it was not overly personal, and it was one with which I could have a lot of fun.  (If my writing did become too personal, I usually didn't publish it.  Gotta love Draft folders!)  I made no claims to being a WoW expert, merely someone who commented on experiences and observations.  (There were already sufficient WoW expert blogs.)

When I quit playing WoW, I knew I would greatly miss blogging, so I searched and found another topic--bread--on which to blog.  And when I started playing SWTOR, it was almost a given that sooner or later, I would start a blog.  (It ended up being sooner, rather than later.)

While I never expect great things or large audiences, it is nice to know there are some who do enjoy reading what I write.  I keep a record of the countries from which people have discovered my blog.  (I'm up to 22 countries for this blog!)  When one lives in a rural area, it is nice to feel that there are other people out there with whom they can communicate, even a little bit.  It's like the movie "Contact", where the young Ellie scans the dial on her Ham radio, looking for anyone listening, then delightedly noting down when and from where she heard a reply.

So, in a nutshell, I blog because I like to write, I benefit by the experience, and I feel more connected by doing so.

That's about it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Introducing Nishaa

Soooo . . . why waste time?  If I'm going to test out Trooper healing, might as well get on with it!

This is Nishaa, my Trooper destined to be a healer.  Her name is inspired by a character in an older Bollywood film, where, I've been informed, it means "night."  This actually is an instance where I completed the character customization and then decided on a name which seemed to fit.  Interestingly enough, my husband was very surprised at my characterization choices.  I'm not sure if it's because she's got a hairstyle too elegant for a Trooper or because she's a brunette, as I tend to make characters more like my own blonde appearance when possible.  (I will say that the female Trooper voice can sometimes be very . . . gruff . . . which does seem a little at odds with her hairstyle.  On the flip side, when the private on Ord Mantell starts stammering at the sight of her, you can totally understand his befuddlement.)

My husband also questioned me about her race.  "Why Mirialan?" he said.  "Aren't they supposed to be Force-sensitive or something?"

"Well, I didn't want human, and I didn't want machinery all over my face, and I didn't want horns.  So that left the Mirialan,"  I replied.  "Besides, she's going to be a healer."

"Oh, that makes more sense," he decided, continuing on his quest for milk and cookies.  "She could be one of those who isn't strong enough in the Force to be a Jedi, but with enough sensitivity to give her an edge at knowing where heals will be needed."  (Obviously, he thinks these things through more completely than I do . . .)

She's only at level 7 right now, so she hasn't had the chance to learn healing yet, but she'll get there.  As I've done the general quests on Ord Mantell already, with my Smuggler, it seems to be going much more quickly.  (Besides, she's terribly OP and things just sort of fall over when she throws firepower in their general direction.)

This time, by the way, when I was asked to fetch the medicines and return them to either the soldier or to the refugees, I returned them to the soldier.  And, boy, was he glad, as one of his patients had taken a real turn for the worse!  It gave me dark side points, but I didn't care, because it was the right choice.  (Again, is the life of a soldier really worth less than the life of a refugee?  After all, someday the Trooper on the stretcher could be me, and I would be grateful to the person who recovered the medicines stolen from my military physician.)

Yep, there you see it!  Dark points . . . If my husband's experience is any indication, this may happen on a semi-regular basis . . .

So, we'll see how this goes.  Will Nishaa make it past Nar Shaddaa?  Will I decide there is room in my heart for a Trooper, as well as a Consular?  Stay tuned, folks . . .

Monday, March 26, 2012

25 and Bored

Last night, my Smuggler reached level 25.  And I reached a realization.

Playing my Smuggler is boring.

It could be because she was stuck on Nar Shaddaa, not one of my favorite locations.  I thought it might be because she was still running around everywhere on foot, so travel was taking forever.  It could be because I'm soloing her, instead of partnering with one of my husband's characters.

But even after I got her trained and was finally able to pull out a speeder, I realized it made no difference.  Contemplating taking a mechanized travel route in the general direction of my next quest caused a bad taste in my mouth, and I just couldn't bring myself to click the button.  My enthusiasm for playing her was utterly and completely gone.  And I think I know why . . .

She's dps.

Face it:  I'm a healer.  It's what I do best, and what I enjoy the most.

I don't mind if it takes me a little longer to kill something, as I juggle dps and healing abilities.  I vastly prefer warzones as a healer, where I feel more useful and, believe it or not, less helpless.  In either scenario, I just don't like the feeling that I'm desperately throwing things at mobs or players and hoping enough will stick to make the target fall over before I do.  I like the idea I can make my life bar go up instead of simply watching it go down.  I like being able to prop up a companion or a teammate in defiance of the enemy.

Long story short, the Gunslinger play style is just not giving me thrills and giggles anymore, so I think she'll be sitting on the sidelines.  For right now, I'll play my Sage in warzones when my husband can't come quest with me, I guess, or I might . . . might . . . check out Trooper healing, as I hear they do ranged dps.

The bed on the Defender must be more cushy than it looks.  Great place for a Focusing Ritual.

There is one more possibility:  I may just identify with my idealistic Consular so much, there isn't much room in my heart for a sassy mercenary . . . In which case, there may be no hope for me at all in the alt department.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Datacron Chase

After a week and a half of not logging on the game, I found myself staring at my computer and wondering if I really wanted to log on at all.  I finally did log on, stared at my Consular, then logged off and logged in my Gunslinger.  After a couple of quests in which I remembered how much of a pain it was to take on a gold elite as a dps with Corso as my companion (He always dies), I decided I didn't want to do that anymore.

What to do?  What to do?

Then I remembered that a member of my guild had posted up a list of the datacrons useful to a Jedi Consular.  A few should be reasonably easy, I figured, since they were in areas where a level 50 could walk with impunity and not worry about being interrupted.  Why not?

Because it takes my computer an eternity to load SWTOR back in after alt-tabbing out to look at something, I printed the datacron list and eyed the first Willpower one:  Tython.


After I arrived in the general area of the datacron, map location -648, -72, I noticed a pink glow coming from a ridge above me.  My heart beat faster:  this had to be it!

It took a little bit of tricky riding to reach it, but nothing compared to the gymnastics my husband's trooper has put me through during our questing.  (He seems to think, sometimes, that the shortest distance on the map really should be the best way to a location . . . I've actually been so stuck sometimes I had to QuickTravel out of the situation . . .)

/hits Staples Easy Button . . . "That was easy."


On to Taris!  (Amazingly enough, I found some of those critters on Taris did try to attack me.  I looked at them with an expression of scorn and cast Forcequake.)

Finding the map location of the datacron at -362, -227 was easy; finding the actual datacron was not quite as easy.

The map location of the datacron had two layers:  the ground and something above it.  I looked in both locations and found nothing--not even a faint pink glow.  I finally decided I must be missing something and hit YouTube.

There, I learned that there was yet another layer:  underground.

Ooooooooh, I hadn't thought of that . . . /bonk noggin . . .

My husband came to look about that time, and I told him I'd just be another minute, while zooming through winding underground tunnels.  At last!  There it was--another +2 Willpower.


A couple days later, while waiting for most of the mopping I'd done in the house to dry, I sat down and decided to try for another datacron.  Tatooine seemed like a good spot, and I quickly discovered it was easy to locate the position of the Willpower datacron there at map location 2115, -596.

The datacron was easy to spot, that is, but the path to get there was not simple to find.  As a matter of fact, although I rode all the way around the area upon which the datacron sat, I could not figure out how to get there.  It seemed to be at the end of a cave, but there weren't any obvious cave entries.

Once again, I sheepishly turned to YouTube . . . And I discovered that the entrance to the cave is located at a tricky spot partway down a cliff.  (Tricky because it does require a bit of tricky jumping to reach it without overshooting . . . On the bright side, when I did overshoot it and land on a lower rock, the game automatically sent me to the nearest bind point, which was a good thing, as my QuickTravel was down from a previous attempt.)

Bit of rock jutting out into a wide open space.  This is the right place.
The tunnel contains several mobs, from normal to strong, to gold elite, but as I was running this at level 50, they were only a minor nuisance.

+3 Willpower is mine!  (Yes, Nadia and I are kind of twins . . .)


I was on a roll, so I decided to hit Alderaan while I was at it.  It was simple enough to discover that the Willpower datacron on Alderaan was located inside Castle Panteer at map location -2508, -427, and it was easily seen upon entering said castle.

There it is on the second floor!
As you may guess, there was where the simplicity ended.  I tried every elevator, but they only took me to quest areas, not to the mezzanine.  I ran all around the interior, looking for doors I hadn't noticed.  I rode all around the exterior, thinking perhaps there was another way inside.

/sigh . . . Apparently severely lacking in "thinking outside the box" abilities, I turned yet again to YouTube . . . and wanted to just bang my head on my desk when I discovered the secret.

In the southwest corner of the main hall, there is a door which appears to be closed, but upon closer inspection, there is a way through.  If I had walked around the very edges of the room, instead of running by a little farther in, I would have seen it.

After that, it's easy.  Run up to the mezzanine, circle counter-clockwise around the room, and there you are!

Another +3 Willpower!
At least I'm expanding my Willpower, even if I've been relying on YouTube.  Now I'm going to have to work on expanding my creative thinking . . .

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blogging Challenges

Some time ago, when I was blogging about WoW, someone posted up a 20-day blogging challenge.  This was the general idea, in my own words:

Day 1:  Introduce yourself.
Day 2:  Why do you blog?
Day 3:  Talk about your first day of playing (WoW).
Day 4:  What is your best (WoW) memory?
Day 5:  What are your favorite in-game items?
Day 6:  Describe your workplace/desk.
Day 7:  Why did you choose your blog's name?
Day 8:  What are 10 things we don't know about you?
Day 9:  Talk about your first blog post.
Day 10:  What are your favorite websites or blogs?
Day 11:  What are your bad habits and flaws?
Day 12:  Tell us about a usual day in your life.
Day 13:  Who are the (WoW) players or bloggers whom you admire?
Day 14:  What upsets you?
Day 15:  Show us your desktop background.
Day 16:  What things do you miss post-Cataclysm?
Day 17:  What is your favorite place in-game?
Day 18:  What is your favorite in-game outfit?
Day 19:  What do you have in your bags/bank?
Day 20:  If it was your last day to play (WoW), what would you do?

Except for Day 16, these can all be easily applied to SWTOR, as well.

As I've been out of town for the last week and absolutely exhausted, trying to recover from said out-of-town business tripo, I do not have any recent in-game experiences about which to blog.  So I thought I'd put up this list for my own direction.  I do not intend to do one a day, right after each other, which is how I did it when I was WoW blogging.  But I do intend to cover each of these topics, in order, in between the other ideas I may find about which to write.  (I'll figure out something to cover Day 16 when I get closer to it . . .)

And so, without further ado, here I go with . . .

Day 1:  Introduce Yourself.

You can call me Anachan or Ana for short.  I am a 40-something married female living in the American southwest, close to the Mexican border.  I have five daughters--yes, five, and they are all girls--ranging in age from 17 to almost 9.  We belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormons.)  When I was 21, I served an 18-month mission for the church, in Osaka, Japan.  I am not fluent in Japanese, as I once was, but I do still teach my children a little here and there.  (My youngest daughters still want to be tucked in to a silly Japanese song they created, incorporating "I love you" and "good-night.")

Someone in my WoW raiding guild (where I raided for about 3.5 years) once told me I should come with a warning label, because I do not appreciate profanity (yay, profanity filter), so I put one in my guild forum signature:  "Politically conservative, religiously Mormon.  Now you know."  Really, neither one comes up in conversations, unless someone asks me questions in whispers, which is appropriate.  But the statement defines a lot about me.

I do work full-time, but I am not really going to go into what I do.  Mostly it's a bunch of on-line research and paperwork.  My degree, however, was in physics and math education.  I started in physics, then decided I didn't see myself in a lab, so switched my focus to secondary ed.  I never did end up teaching on contract in a classroom, but I did find myself teaching my children at home for five years after my 2nd daughter exhibited autistic characteristics which her school could not manage.  So that degree did not go to waste.  (Most of my daughters are now attending the local rural public school, with the exception of my eldest, who has completed her GED and my 2nd daughter, who returned home for schooling after her freshman year when the kids of the school made life miserable for her.  The girls' combined efforts have resulted in a family reputation for excellence in mathematics.  /flex)

I don't watch a lot of TV or movies, but I do the odd bit of reading.  I enjoy downloading free books for the Kindle app on my smartphone.  I like various crafts, from knitting to lacemaking (vestiges of when I played with the Society for Creative Anachronism) to embroidery.  I can play piano a very little bit and love to watch The Piano Guys videos on YouTube.  I sometimes create cheesy poetry, and, obviously, I like to blog about games and bread.

That's probably more than enough for now.  ;)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The First Op

Friday, Quinndarius and I went on our first operation in SWTOR.

The guild group was intending to run 8-man ops, with the possibility of upgrading to 16-man if enough people showed up.  When 12 people from the guild were in the group, the ops leaders decided it was time to call on friends to fill up the balance, which was quickly accomplished.

It wasn't the ideal composition.  We ended up with 4 or 5 healers, 4 or 5 tanks, and the balance dps.  But, undaunted, we headed to the Eternity Vault to kill some things.

The trouble started when we discovered one of the group was already locked.  After he apologized and left group, the raid leader invited someone to fill the slot, reset the instance, and zoned in.  When some of us found ourselves stuck at the entrance, we discovered the operation was set to 8-man.

"Everyone zone out; we need to set it to 16-man!"

The ops leader changed the settings, and we started zoning in again, only to find it was still actually set to 8-man.

This was a little puzzling to the ops leader, who decided to try something different.  This time, we all zoned out and left group.  Once the ops leader adjusted the setting to 16-man, the group was reformed.

At last, we could all zone in!  We landed, gathered together, and prepared to face the first trash.

Quinndarius and I had watched videos of the boss encounters in the Eternity Vault, so we were somewhat familiar with the basic idea of the place.  Even so, we were excited to be able to see it all in person and test the skills we had honed through all those Heroic quests we'd 2-manned.

The trash fell quickly--very quickly--and the group stepped back to await the spawning of the first boss.  The fight was explained, the tank rotation was set, and finally, the boss was pulled.

Before we knew it, the boss was dead.

The veterans of the group expressed surprise.  It had been too fast.  What was going on?  Someone commented that the developers had intended to make 16-man a little easier, as "getting together 16 people was a challenge, in itself," but even so, it seemed a little odd.  There had been almost no healing required.

We moved through the instance, chain-pulling trash packs, and before we knew it, the second and third bosses were dead.

This was too easy.  Someone wondered aloud if, in all the machinations we'd had to do to get the op set to 16-man, somehow the op had remained 8-man difficulty, while allowing 16 players inside the instance.  It would make more sense than having the developers make 16-man instances so mind-numbingly simple.

Entering into the room for the fourth boss encounter, it became obvious the guess was correct.  Instead of seeing 16 bosses to be killed, only 8 bosses awaited on 8 platforms.  With a laugh, the ops leader encouraged those who had not seen the fight to take up their spots by the appropriate bosses, while the others stood on the far platform and watched the fun.  It didn't take long, and we were on our way again.

We completed the instance in only about an hour, so we decided to continue on to Karagga's Palace.  Quinndarius and I had not expected to be heading there the same evening, so we had not watched the boss fights, but with a good deal of WoW raiding under our belts, we figured we could manage.

The big question on everyone's minds was this:  would this one really be set at 16-man difficulty?

After wiping on the first boss, we realized it was.

See all those names on Mumble?  Sixteen of 'em . . .
Long story short, we completed the operation.  Yes, there were wipes, but the triumphs were far more satisfying than the face-rolling we'd been doing in the Eternity Vault.  I'm looking forward to the next operation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


A lot has been said about Jedi Consular hats already.  It never really bothered me, because if I didn't like the hat, I could always hide it if I wanted.

It never bothered me, that is, until I picked up a hat from a quest which wasn't an upgrade for me, but was good for Nadia.

Poor girl!  Such a pretty face, hidden behind a faceless mask looking like a sacred Egyptian cow or something.  It reminded me eerily of a classic "Star Trek" episode--the one with a teenager with special powers named Charlie--wherein was a scene when Charlie, in a fit of rage, made a female crew member's face disappear.  (Not sure how she kept breathing.)

The memory of that episode creeped me out, so I decided no matter the cost, the hat had to be replaced.  I looked in my bank vault and pulled out the hat I wore previous to the circlet I now use.  I hadn't really liked this hat, but it was better than the awful thing poor Nadia had on her face, so I tracked down some mods and fixed it up for her.

Much better!!  Now we can see her pretty eyes.  (It is fortunate that all the Jedi Consular gear seems to be on a similar color scheme.  I was never a "Barbie-crafter" in WoW, but I kind of like having coordinating outfits in SWTOR.)

I know of no option to hide hats on companions, or I would have done so.  If the developers have implemented such a change which I haven't noticed, please let me know . . . Poor Lt. Iresso has his face hidden behind a helmet, and Zenith's hat simply doesn't fit right--looks like a nurse's cap and face mask.  At least I never have to worry about Qyzen.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Who Designed This Thing?

After what seems like a lifetime of my husband and I riding our "free" speeders from pre-ordering the game, we finally decided it was time to upgrade.  No, we didn't upgrade at level 40, mostly because we figured that a 10% increase in speed wasn't worth the money.  But at level 50, it would be a 20% increase . . .

I didn't like the speeder available on the fleet, so we headed out to Voss to take a look at other options.  When it came down to it, I decided to go for the Aratech Scythe, as a reasonably-priced option with which I could live.  (My favorite ones are 99k, but I didn't have that kind of money.)

That said, you know that old saying, "You get what you pay for"?  Well, something tells me the designer of this particular speeder never actually test-drove it . . .

What is wrong with this picture?

I have no idea how it is my skirts don't catch on fire while riding this thing or why there isn't as much as a shield to protect my knees from the heat of the engine exhaust.  The Safety Officer where I work would go into absolute fits if she saw this arrangement.  Maybe the designer is counting on me to use the Force . . .

At least it glows a pretty color.