Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Leveling Plateau

The hardest part about playing the Agent is trying not to write blog posts with spoilers.  As a matter of fact, it's almost undoable, because the story line is just so cool!  (Yes, yes, Cipher Agent Targeter, I know you're grinning . . .)

I find myself taking screenshots from cut scenes, hoping to blog about them, but, recognizing that most people really don't want to hear about the story line, setting them aside. It's probably better, anyway, to let them just go make their own Agent and experience it all for themselves.

Luckily for me, I have my eldest daughter to whom I can gush about the story.  (The daughter who, the other day, laughed at me and said, "Mom, you're such a teenager!" Wait, what? Is that a good thing? /looks at daughter suspiciously.)  She smiles, shakes her head at me, says, "Glad you're having fun, Mom," and watches bemusedly as I walk back to my computer.  I guess teenagers can be good for something.  ;)

This last weekend, I had the chance to progress through the story line on Nar Shaddaa, thanks to a nasty cold I think I picked up on that return flight from London keeping me at my computer desk instead of doing landscaping outside in the wind, which meant I found myself on Tatooine at level 23.

Level 23 on Tatooine is not impossible, but it is slightly difficult.

Because I had skipped all the Heroic quests, not wanting to try to find people to run them on a server where I was one of 7 on the entire planet, I had missed out on a substantial amount of leveling potential along the way.  Running daily PVP quests helped, but the xp gained from two warzones plus the completion of a quest wasn't terribly significant.  (Oh!  Interestingly enough, running both rounds of Voidstar apparently completes this quest all by itself.  It counts as two warzones.  Go figure.)  So I found myself staring at the bright desert sands, wondering how to gain at least another level and turn those starting quests from orange to yellow.

Checking my quest log revealed there were a couple of normal quests on Nar Shaddaa I had not completed, so I turned around and flew back to that haven of depraved behavior.


Unfortunately, after completing the quests, my poor little Agent is still at level 23.

Sooner or later, in every character I've tried to level solo so far, I've found myself at a leveling plateau.  These are situations where I find myself needing level, but not having soloable quests, and they can be rather annoying.  With my Inquisitor, it was mostly my own fault, as I had a difficult time connecting with her situation and kept refusing quests, but I found I was not motivated sufficiently by her main story line to push through by chaining warzones.  (Why would I want to sacrifice myself for the sake of a completely unlikeable and untrustworthy Sith master?)  My Smuggler, while not strictly on the same kind of plateau, also didn't have a story line compelling enough to inspire me to push through the sheer boredom of doing Republic Nar Shaddaa quests for the second time, playing a style I found less enjoyable.  (Ho, hum . . . treasure hunting.)

But here is where playing an Agent is working to my advantage.  While I am frustrated at this leveling plateau, the story line is intriguing enough, and I've developed enough of a relationship with the main characters involved, I am willing to do what it takes to persevere through this minor difficulty.  If chaining warzones is what it takes, then chaining warzones is what I will do!

So tonight, Hikarinoko will either have a date with warzones, or she will be checking out her ability to run green Heroic quests on earlier planetary zones.  (Unless of course, in the unlikely event my husband has created a character on the same server and wants some help leveling.  He asked me this morning, most mysteriously, upon which server I was playing . . .)

One way or another, the story must go on.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sleeping In Warzones

Just to get the record straight, I was not sleeping in warzones; I was sleepy in warzones.  But I think the former made for a better title.

Given that I was still severely jet-lagged, I wondered if I should really log on after I returned home from going with my teenagers to their weekly activity at the church yesterday evening.  (No, I didn't drive in that condition.  My 15-yr-old is reasonably proficient by now, with something like 42 hours of driving under her belt, so I let her drive, and I tried to relax and veg in the passenger seat.)  But I decided that staying up a little later would actually help me recover from my jet lag, so, blinking blearily, I stared at Hikarinoko and logged her on.

"Just a couple of warzones," I thought.  "I'll just do enough for the daily, and then I'll call it."


At level 19, it was a little risky to go try to start the class quest on Nar Shaddaa, anyway, so while waiting in the queue, I juggled sending companions on Diplomacy and Slicing missions (the latter always a roll of the dice) with checking out the level 20 pvp gear available.  (Who on earth thought up that horribly ugly orange chest piece?  I don't just mean it's moddable; I mean it's the color orange!  I keep postponing replacing my chest piece because they've all been so ugly.  I think Njessi's fashion awareness has been rubbing off on me.)

The first warzone was Huttball, and I'll be honest:  my memory of that run is so clouded I don't even remember if we won.  But it was a good way to relearn . . . again . . . where all my buttons were located.  (Oh, yeah, I can stealth . . . /sigh . . . how many times do I have to have this revelation?)  At least my brain was finally awakened to the point where I could remember I was supposed to be following the ball-carrier . . .

One down, one to go!  I requeued and sent my companions off on more missions.  (Well . . . I was resending them on missions all through Huttball, too . . . just not reading the missions very closely.)

The next one was Novare Coast, which was fine by me.  Remembering my daughter saying the east node was simpler to get at the beginning, I headed out that direction with another teammate, and together we picked it up for our side, unopposed.  He ran off to the southern node, while I stealthed and kept an eye on the hut with the controls.

I have to hand it to this team:  their responses were excellent.  The moment I saw someone unstealthed and trying to cap the node, I lobbed a bomb in his direction and called in Ops chat, "East help."  Soon, I had several people running my direction, which ended up being a good thing, as a few enemies suddenly appeared, as well.  (Whew!  Not overkill, after all.)

This happened several more times during the course of the encounter.  Every time I called for assistance, people arrived almost immediately.  The eastern node was never captured, some people made feints toward the western node just to keep the enemy busy, and the main group kept defending the southern node.  We won with no real difficulties.

I dinged 20 while turning in the daily quest, and one of my teammates from that last encounter clapped wildly.  Two implants and a belt later from the pvp vendor, I sent out the companions one last time and logged off.

My sleep was sweetly sound, indeed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Back In the States

Not SWTOR-related, but I can now tell you where I've been . . . London!  (I never mention my travel destinations on the Internet beforehand--poor Operations Security.  /wink.  I don't even post things on Facebook until they are all finished.  Technically, it was poor OPSEC to tell you I'd be out of town at all, but we have a roving guard patrol over here, and I had teenagers watching the house, so it was a reasonably low risk.)

I'll be back in the game possibly tonight, if I'm awake that long (spent 25.5 hours yesterday traveling or sitting in airports, and only ended up with about 5.5 hours of sleep after crashing in my bed upon returning home, before I had to get up to get the kids to school), but for now, just a few thoughts.

15 Trivial Things I Learned While Traveling in London

1.  For a place which insists you throw your rubbish in rubbish bins, the Underground has a deplorable lack of said bins.

2.  "Mind the gap" means, basically "Watch your step", in American.  It's what they print on the platforms of the Underground to remind people to be careful as they enter or exit the trains.  Oh, don't look for the "Exit", by the way, if you are trying to get to the street after disembarking from your train.  The signs will all point to the "Way Out".

3.  Most Underground trains will have the poles for passengers to hold on to painted the same color as the train line.  For example, Circle Line trains (yellow on the map) will have yellow poles.  The one exception I found to this was the very last Underground train I took to Paddington station on my way back to the airport.  It was a District Line (green on the map), but it had yellow poles.  (It didn't matter, as either one would have taken me to my destination, but the train did identify itself as a District Line train.)

4.  Having words printed on the crosswalks to tell you which way to look for traffic is kind of handy.

5.  I actually make scones correctly.  They taste just the same as the ones there.  (Chalk up one success.)  Now, to learn how to make clotted cream and Victoria Sponge . . .

6.  If you order water in a restaurant, the wait staff will ask you, "Still or sparkling?"  The first couple of times I heard it, I had absolutely no idea what they were asking, especially as the vast majority of wait staff I encountered did not speak English (either British or American) as their first language, and I couldn't understand the word "still".  And when I did finally understand, I was puzzled.  What on earth would be "still" water?  What they are offering is bottled water, either sparkling or . . . not.  If you want tap water, you have to outright ask for it, as they will not offer it in their initial question.  If you look at them like an ignorant foreigner (or a blonde), they will finally get around to mentioning it.

7.  The restaurant prices are all reasonable . . . if you think of them as being in dollars.  Unfortunately, they are not in dollars, and the dollar is not showing very well against the British pound right now.  Ouch.

8.  It takes my husband and me three times as long to make it through an attraction as it does other people, because we read and examine everything.  We're the kind of people who, instead of saying, "A suit of armor, that's nice," end up staring at the tiny detailing the craftsman put into the border, wondering how he could have managed to make it so even.  (Or marveling at how fine the threads were spun which were used to create the incredibly delicate lace on some of the gowns.)  In Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London, we barely made it out by closing time. 

9.  You can spend seven hours going through the Tower of London and still not see everything there is to see.  Go past the royal jewels twice, as the moving walkway by them moves too swiftly to see everything well the first time.  (Most everyone else will just move on, so it really doesn't cause a lot of extra traffic if you do.)  And do get involved in a reenactment, if you happen upon one.  (We were some of the few adults who jumped right in when a soldier reenactor called for volunteers to join with the King's forces to help escort a prisoner who was threatened with vigilante justice safely to his cell to be tried according to the law.  Other people joined those who were yelling for his death.) 

10.  Joining a walking tour with a guide is very worth it and usually reasonably affordable.  In addition to a vast store of tales, legends, and other stories, the guides have a way of pointing things out which may otherwise have been missed.  (This includes the Yeoman Warders in the Tower of London.)

11.  "Bespoke" means "custom" in American.  For example, what we might call a "custom" suit, they would call a "bespoke" suit.  I would never, ever have guessed that one if our guide hadn't mentioned it (well, more than merely mentioned it) as we passed by an elite hat shop in Kensington and its neighboring men's clothing store, specializing in "bespoke" suits.  (I actually had a lot of fun trying to figure out the many differences in vocabulary usage. As a dabbling writer, it's really rather fascinating.  I'm sure my husband became wearied of my giggling every time I made a connection about the language, however.)

12.  It is entirely possible to become sunburned at low elevations in humidity, under cloud cover.  Yea.  It just takes longer and is less severe.

13.  If you walk down a street and see a house with a blue circular plaque on the front, it means someone famous or noteworthy lived there/was born there/etc.  In some neighborhoods, you can hardly get away from blue circular plaques, but it was fun to go read then when we saw them.

14.  221b Baker Street is between 230-something and 240-something.  Yes, the numbering was changed.  You see, what would normally be 221b is a larger building, taking up the space which would comprise several numbers.  The place now numbered 221b was actually a 19th century boarding house, with a floor plan very similar to what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described in his Sherlock Holmes stories, so it works beautifully in its present function:  the Sherlock Holmes Museum.  Obviously to my family, but not so obvious to you, because you would not be aware that I've probably read all the Holmes short stories and most of the longer ones, I absolutely had to go inside.  (They sure had a lot of fun recreating things, down to the "VR" on the wall which Holmes made one day by shooting bullets out of his revolver.  My husband, of course, analyzed the kind of weapon likely to be used at that time period in London, including the powder charge and why the bullets would not have simply gone through the wall, hehe . . . Yes, we are sometimes enamoured with details . . .)

15.  Not all people consider American travelers rude.  You hear all the time in the media the condemnation of American travelers, who are said to be arrogant and rude.  As I stood in line to receive the recording for the self-guided tour at Westminster Abbey, the friendly black man who was handing them out, programming them to the appropriate language as needed, asked, "What language?"  I said, "English."  And he immediately burst into a broad grin and exclaimed, "An American!  See how she's smiling at me!"  (Of course, that made me smile more--how could I help it--as I blushed a little.)  As he picked up the device, he said, "I love Americans!  They always look so bright and shining."  I thought it was a marvelous compliment.

All in all, the visit was a lot of fun.  I don't think I saw sunshine more than an hour or two the six days I was there, and my husband and I ran ourselves absolutely ragged, walking hither and yon.  When you look at it, we could have seen more places, but considering point number 8 above . . . I'm not sure we would have enjoyed it any more than we did doing it our way.

For us, the spring weather was kind of like winter . . . highs in the 50's.  Brrr.  Sometimes I wished I had brought my gloves.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Short Absence and a Couple of Tunes

I'm going to be out of pocket for about a week.  So although you will see nothing new here, be assured I have not dropped off the face of the Earth.

My husband had to go travel for a couple of conferences in a foreign country.  As there are a few days between the conferences, we decided this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to catch a plane and go join him in some touring.  (Well, as we are on a budget, most of our touring will be walking tours . . . but you get the idea.)

In the interim, I leave you with a bit of fun.  It's hard to fault the soundtrack for SWTOR, but hey, if I needed someone else to come up with some agent music, these guys might be able to pull it off . . .

They sure have a lot of fun with their locations, don't they?  Check out their other videos for more amusement or amazement.  (What that guy can do with a cello is unbelievable . . .)

(Oh!  You might have seen this one already . . . Which proves the cellist, at least, has a Geek card in good standing . . . Gotta love the key changes from major to minor when the melody switches between the Light and Dark sides roughly halfway through the video . . . Not to mention the closing . . .)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Decidedly Undignified Squeal

This is so terribly exciting!!!  Squee!!  (Anyone who doesn't want to see screenshots can just leave right now . . .)

<ahem>  /returns to some semblance of dignity . . .

Somehow, I am seriously getting into this Agent story . . . I love being a sneaky spy!  I get to fight terrorists . . . I just got my ship . . . and I now no longer have a name.  <dun dun DUN!>

(My number is not, however, 007 . . . My husband started singing this song when he heard . . . (I apologize for the boring dance moves of the people in the background.))

"Be careful of these people, Cipher."

This seems a good time to quote Emily Dickenson, at least in part:

"I'm Nobody, who are you?
Are you Nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us
Don't tell . . ."

And my ship is cute! And the door is beautiful! (I like doors. I tend to notice houses with nice doors.) /weep with happiness

. . . I'm babbling, aren't I?

I stayed up way too late, because I just couldn't end until I had finished the "getting ship" sequence.  It would have been out of place to give Keeper a hug, so I didn't, but I sure wanted to . . .

"The Eagle says he's got agents around the galaxy.  Assuming he's telling the truth, you're going to be doing some traveling."

When I was leveling my Jedi Consular, I got into the story so much I burst out into tears sometimes.  I remember the excitement I felt when I actually got my first lightsaber . . . It was a little disappointing not to hear it go "whoosh, whoosh" a lot, because I was healing and tossing rocks or R-2 units.  Now, although I'm on the other side of the conflict, and I'm not using a lightsaber, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the role I'm playing here, as well.  (I wasn't kidding about hugging Keeper . . .)

Off I go, into the sunse . . . well, never mind.

The front bears an uncanny resemblance to an aircraft I used to watch take off when I was a teenager . . .

Friday, May 11, 2012

Off Topic

I'd like to take a small moment of personal indulgence here . . .

Today, my eldest daughter (17) will walk at the commencement exercises where she will receive recognition for successfully completing her General Education Developmental examinations.  (That's the GED.)

Last year, her younger, autistic sister was horribly bullied and made the choice to come home for her schooling at the end of the school year.  When my eldest daughter heard that, she decided to come home, as well, because our local rural school, with its lack of opportunity, was uninteresting enough she did not feel motivated to continue in the classes they offered.  She already knew what career path she wanted to take, and as it does not necessarily require a Bachelors Degree (although, of course, it can benefit by one), she felt it a better idea to get ahead of the game.  (Interestingly enough, Harvard recently released a study mentioning the fairly obvious fact that not everyone really needs a BA, and perhaps the expense isn't always justified or necessary . . .)

Accordingly, she got a part-time job over the summer which continued during the regular school year, as she studied to prepare for the GED as a legally-registered homeschool student (required in our state).  In February, she finally sat for her examinations, which she easily passed, very close to the Honors level.  She is now working full-time to save the money for the career training program she wishes to enter next year.

I am proud of her for having a goal and being willing to work hard to get there, rather than expecting everything to be handed to her.  She has been shown to be a valuable asset at her job, which involves activites in three major areas of customer service.  (We live and work at a state-owned facility, and in her job, she works in a convenience store, with food service, or with housekeeping, depending on what day it is and what needs to be done.  Her boss appreciates that she can put her wherever she needs her, and she will perform well.  My daughter appreciates that she gets some variety, day to day.  I appreciate that she's getting experience in many areas, in case she needs to pick up a part-time job while at school.)

The local university (local = 90 miles away) includes the GED recipients in their spring commencement ceremonies, which I think is a great thing to do.  While she knows she has already completed the test and is already reaping the benefits of having done so, it is an event about which her grandparents are excited and one to which we will take all four of her younger sisters, both to show our support for her and to remind the other girls we support them in their educational goals, as well.

Grats to my eldest kiddo!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I love my eldest daughter (17).  I really do.  And I don't mind playing with her, but we've had to come to a compromise as to how we will play together.

You see, she was excited enough to see me still playing, that she rush-leveled a Sith Inquisitor, Himeyami, to level 11 so we could run things together.  Last night was our first time to run around as a group, and while we waited for a warzone queue, we proceeded to an area where she had a quest.

Given that I had a rather difficult time emotionally with my own Inquisitor, it may come as no surprise I felt a little odd running around with one on my Agent . . . It didn't take long for me to tire not only of steamrolling over things, but also of her incessant remarks to Khem that he "could eat this one."  How could I feel like a sneaky spy if I was running around with a Sith flashing purple lightning everywhere, while accompanied by a massive red-skinned monster?  It just wasn't right.

Finally, our warzone queue popped up, and we found ourselves in a Voidstar run, starting as defenders.  As she already has another Inquisitor, it didn't take her long to start charging at people, with her version of a "Rebel Yell", sort of . . . It took me a little longer to remember where all my "important" stuff for PVP was located.  (Oh, yeah, here is the stun . . . and I can toss bombs all day . . . heal, heal, heal . . . what is this Tactical Advantage, and how do I know I have it? . . .)

After a while, I managed to have my feet under me a little better, so to speak.  It was enough, anyway, to be able to keep someone alive for a while . . . even if I ended up dying a lot.

We were able to stop the opposing team (When did same factions become able to oppose each other on Voidstar?) before they planted their second bombs.  The bar was set.

Our team blew the first left door pretty quickly.  My daughter and I were on the opposite, deserted side when it blew and raced down to extend the bridge with no opposition, then ran straight for the next door.  We were stopped, but the pattern was set.  The vast majority of the team remained on the left side door, while I kept running at the right, with one other person, varying according to who managed to rez at the same time I did.  (My daughter decided to enter the fray at the left side door, because, "We've almost got it!") We on the right usually kept three of the enemy busy, but we also kept getting killed.

Finally, one time I rezzed, I had a /facepalm revelation:  I can stealth!!!  (Wow . . .)

I stealthed and ran across the bridge, this time alone.  I noticed that there was only one person guarding the door, and he/she ran around in wide, somewhat agitated circles.  I told this to my daughter.

"There's only one person guarding this door.  Get over here!"

"Just a minute, I'm about dead . . . what kind of person is it?"

"It's a dual-wielding Sith . . . The one who has been killing me very quickly over and over."

She looked around her monitor with a big grin.  "A Marauder?  Oh, I know Marauders!  My main is a Marauder!  They have their weaknesses . . . Just a minute, I'll be right there."

I stealthed into the corner next to the door, beyond where the Marauder was patrolling, and waited.  Before too long, she ran from the left side and engaged the Marauder at the edge of the area between the doors.  I quickly stealthed to the door, unstealthed, and planted the bomb.

Our team immediately began streaming to our side, successfully defended the bomb, and that was that.

We couldn't resist bragging to my husband.  "That one was all us!!"  He gave us a high-five.

Yea, we know it wasn't "all us", but that final move was a coordinated effort.

After two more highly successful warzones--one a victory snatched out of the jaws of defeat--we came to the compromise that we would be Heroic and warzone buddies, but we would do our individual questing ourselves.  Neither of us are terribly worried about social points--only thing it ever did for me on my Consular was allow her to pick up a hat for her companion on Alderaan--and running alone is more of a challenge.

But we do make a pretty kickin' warzone team.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hikarinoko Surprises

Hikarinoko is now level 13 and has, of course, chosen the Operative Advanced Class.  (Healing, ftw!!)  On the way there, I've discovered a few things which surprised me, given my experience with the Sith Inquistor.  (I'll go against my habit and give a spoiler alert here for those interested in such things.)

First, after a full evaluation of the Imperial Agent quests on Hutta, minus the one where a spice dealer was asking me for help and one of the Heroic 2's, I have one thing to say: Hutta is fun!  And I found myself actually able to do some good, like saving a child from becoming a "monster" in Sith training (believe me, I understand the issue there . . .)  Or slightly disobeying orders by allowing a man to escape instead of killing him . . . Sorry, he'd been such a nice guy, I couldn't see the point of killing him, when advising him to scram would accomplish the desired ends, no matter how he ended up seeing me, personally.  Of course, when I received this mail from Keeper, I just sort of ignored it and pretended it never arrived.  (I must be better at this than I thought, if all those Watchers at HQ couldn't figure this one out . . . /wink)

And here's the rest of the message . . .

Hmmm?  Who me?

It was kind of sad to have to leave Hutta, where I understood everyone's relatively straightforward motivations, and go to Empire territory, where you have to deal with . . . nonsense . . .  Although it is nice to not have people look at me and start to cower in fear, unlike my poor Inquisitor.

Next, I actually like Kaliyo.  When Keeper first talked about taking her with me, I suggested it might be simpler just to kill her, but since then, we've really hit it off.  (She apparently bears no grudges for that comment.)  About the moment I found her suggesting a way to avoid a bloodbath, I decided there was more depth to this gal than I had first anticipated.  She might brag about her abilities to slice and dice (figuratively speaking, of course), but she apparently still has a soft spot carefully hidden behind all that bravado.  (Besides, we've already decided how to split up any male prospects we meet:  I get the smart ones, and she gets the rich ones.)

I love the recuperate ability for this character!  I have a cute little droid which gives me an information board, on which I can quietly update my status or look up stuff while I'm resting.  Nice, efficient use of time.  (And much more restful than glowing red and pacing . . . I always liked the Consular Meditation, too; it almost made me feel peaceful, just looking at it.)

I find that Keeper is a rather sympathetic character, so far, anyway.  I was touched that he seemed genuinely concerned this promising agent would become disillusioned as she learned more about the work she would be doing.  And it's much nicer to be dealing with him than a Sith who would stab you in the back as soon as look at you, and from whom I had to conceal most of what I was really thinking.  You get the idea he's actually "got your back", so to speak, although I'm not sure yet about Watchers Two or Three.  (I'll be frank:  I don't think Keeper was blinded at all when he sent that mail I referenced above.  I'm sure he knew exactly what happened and was just trying to let me know a) he knew and b) questions might arise.)

"For what it's worth--I tried to shield you from this.  But it seems it was unavoidable."

 And here's what he was trying to shield me from . . .

Yeah . . . the Sith don't mess around.  And this guy is wanting me to work for him!

All in all, so far, so good!  (Now if only I can rearrange my action bars and keybinds to my liking . . . Still working on that one . . .)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Once More Into the Breach

At the suggestion of commenters on this blog, I decided to go ahead and try out an Imperial Agent.  I figured since I could heal, I should be reasonably entertained, versus straight dps, as long as I could find enough quests to permit me to level without feeling internally ill.

Aside from the quests, I had one big concern:  would I identify with the character?  For some people, the characters they play are little more than paper dolls with which they act out a story, but I tend to have to find a connection with my characters, or the whole exercise seems kind of pointless.  (Like watching most TV shows . . . I would have no desire to meet most of these chracters in real life, so why would I want to invite them into my living room for hours on end?)  They become an extension of me, so to speak.

You see, I would probably never have started playing SWTOR at all if I hadn't fallen in love with my Jedi Consular in beta.  But now the poor girl is bored to tears, most of the time.

If I love my Consular so much, am sure some may wonder why I ever created anything else.  Well, I created my Smuggler so I could have something to play when my husband wasn't playing, but she and I never truly connected (I'm not a roguish person), and the attempt to make her a dps proved to be the final disastrous straw.

I created my Trooper because I figured I would perhaps enjoy playing another healer, as the dps option hadn't worked.  But hearing her gruff voice, I knew she simply wasn't me (had to remove my headphones), and running the same quests for the third time became quickly tedious.  (And I already knew the class story line, as I had leveled with my Trooper husband.)

(For the record, I have never had a desire to create a Jedi Knight.  Sorry, folks, I hate melee play; you can't see a thing for spell effects and multiple mobs jumbled up together.  It's too hard to target individuals and make sense of the chaos.  Besides, they can't heal, I find dps boring, and I'm a lousy tank.)

I created my Sith Inquisitor in hopes that perhaps playing in the same area as old friends would help to revitalize the game, but although I managed to establish some kind of connection with her, as she is something close to a Consular, I found we were having a hard time remaining somewhat true to our consciences.  I pity her.  I really do.  The poor girl is going to spend a lifetime living in fear, while the powers she is trying to use do their best to suck the life out of her.  (Although she is Light side, her power still stems from the Dark, or it wouldn't be purple.  I wonder if fear is considered one of those emotions which will trigger use of the Dark side . . .)

I decided I was willing to give the Imperial Agent a shot, as I do have pre-paid time, but the success of the venture would partly hinge on establishing some kind of rapport with her.  The character would have to be someone with whom I would be willing to spend a good deal of time, after all, unlike those TV show characters.

/crack knuckles

Yes, you've seen that hairstyle and color before . . .

This time, after examining the options, I chose Human.  I did not change anything about the default character which appeared except the body type, hairstyle and hair color, and, yes, I made her blonde, like me.  (Hey, if I'm trying to identify with her, I'd better give her as many advantages as possible, right?  I wish I were body type 1, but those banana muffins I just made would help to prevent that, even if my natural genetics and bearing five children hadn't done so already . . .)

Choosing a name prompted much thought.  Finally, with a chuckle, I resurrected a name I'd used for a WoW alt, one most people would definitely not think of for an Empire character:  Hikarinoko, Child of Light.

Why didn't someone tell me she would be a spy???  (I suppose it should have been obvious by the term "agent", right?  But an "agent" can do many kinds of things . . . Generally, when talking about people, it's simply a representative.)

I can see some people out there scratching their heads . . . Is this good?  Is this bad?  What's up with this exclamation?

You see . . . /looks both ways . . . my real life job is all about security.  When the "Keeper" tells her operational security is key, I know exactly what he's talking about, because I am the one who briefs everyone in the company about this topic.

I think it might be safe to say that people in this kind of business, while we are supposed to guard against espionage, have a certain fascination with it.  After all, as the saying goes, "Know thine enemy", and in all the study we have to do to know how to defend against such measures, we obviously have to learn something about those measures.  And in our heart of hearts, we wonder how successful we would be as intelligence collectors, ourselves.  (*ahem* My badge number at work is 007 . . . because I was the one making badges at the time and could choose that number for myself when it became available . . .)

Identify with this character?  So far, we have instant rapport!

The folks I'm dealing with on Hutta are far nicer than the folks my Inquisitor had to deal with at her beginning (no surprise there, hm?) . . . and I'm pleasantly surprised how many times she can finish her quests by persuasion, rather than force.  (Face it, a spy who runs around killing people a lot is a spy who will probably be pursued much more diligently by authorities and be less effective in her work.)

Bottom line, in the starter quests, I'm having fun and feeling decently comfortable with this character.  The real issue will be what will happen when she has to face all those quests I declined with my Inquisitor, as well.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Challenge #20--The Last Day

If it was my last day to play, what would I do?

It occurs to me that Bioware made a blunder in the game interface.  When you log out of SWTOR, you see this message:

Every time players log off for the night, they have to answer "Yes" to the question "Are you sure you want to quit the game", as opposed to, say "exiting" the game.  Psychologically, it reinforces the idea of quitting, each and every time they play, until one day, in frustration, they might see this message and say within themselves, "You know what?  I really do want to quit the game."

At least, that is the thought which has been crossing my head for some time now.  Truthfully, my last day will probably be soon, and will probably happen without my knowing it.  My pre-paid subscription is active through the end of July, but I doubt I'll last that long.  I've already cancelled the billing.

You see, I've been finding it more and more difficult to feel motivated to log on.  What kept me playing WoW so long in the face of Cataclysm, which I did not enjoy, was my guild--the history I had with them, the friendships which had been formed, and the responsibility I had accepted as an officer.  I have none of that in SWTOR.  As I was playing with my husband, who has pretty much stopped playing completely, I have made no real friendships (aside from some on the dark side which carry over from my WoW history), there is no history, and I have not joined a team, let alone tried to find opportunities for responsibility.  (Real life has been too busy to be able to commit to such things, these days.  Face it, homeschooling an autistic high schooler, half-homeschooling another high schooler, full-time job, kid activities . . . it all adds up to a rather busy and sometimes unpredictable schedule.)

When I cancelled my billing, the friendly suggestion which popped up was to try playing on the opposite faction.  Unfortunately, the Empire side of the story just doesn't mesh with my personality.  I've tried.  I really have.  But I just don't feel comfortable with many of the missions or choices facing my character on that side.  There's a big difference between, "Get these guys out of the way to protect innocent people," and "Get these guys out of the way because they are impeding the progress of our glorious empire."  This makes it difficult to even play on the same side as the few friends I have in the game.  I know there are those who would say, "It's just a game!" Yes, but my avatar in-game is an extension of myself, and it's too hard to keep playing while avoiding all the things for which I would have to close my eyes and ignore the pit of my stomach to get through successfully.

But if I had a specific day which I decided would be my last, I would probably follow a small ritual . . .

I would donate all my biochem materials to my guild bank, as well as most of my credits, leaving just enough that if I changed my mind, I wouldn't have completely impoverished myself.  (Hey, it's what I did in WoW . . . except my guild bank didn't need my gold, so I gave it to an altaholic friend.)

Then my Consular would run around her ship, giving her companions hugs.  (Too bad she can't just summon Holiday, but I'm sure Theran would pass on her good wishes.)  She would finally end up in her room, where she would meditate as the screen fades to black (figuratively speaking.)

And that would pretty much be that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Challenge #19--Stuff

What do I have in my bag or cargo hold?  Stuff.  Way too much stuff.

To qualify that, I do have to say I have not purchased more than one extra row in my bag, nor have I purchased any more cargo hold space.  So while it seems like way too much stuff to me, it's not nearly as much as it could be.

You can see I have quite a bit of bioanalysis materials . . . to what end, I do not know.  I guess I thought I would make consumables for alts, but as I'm not raising serious alts and as my husband isn't playing his at all, I may end up pulling some out and simply selling them at auction.

I also have a few old outfits at the lower right.  Here I kept the Stalker Robe, as well as my outfit from level 10, believe it or not.

My pre-order goodies are also here, which tells you how much I have actually used them.  (None except for the speeder . . .)

And I have a few odds and ends.

In my bag, you can see some things I should really just get rid of, but there are also my Rakata biochem items.  (Yay!)

Yea . . . I should really do some housekeeping . . .