Friday, July 27, 2012

RPer at Heart?

I have never considered myself a role player in games.  I don't hang out at the cantina, pretending to drink while chatting with other cantina patrons.  I don't usually make up a back story for my characters.  And I don't attempt to write my own version of "fan fiction" based around the adventures of my consular or agent.  Even in WoW, as a Druid who would never attack another Druid and viewed the Moonglade as more or less sacred, I was never an RPer.

That said, with the format employed by SWTOR, I'm finding myself with more of an RP spirit, even if I do not have all the conventional role play trappings.  I think it's because the connection between the player and the character in SWTOR is strengthened by the power of the player to make choices and affect outcomes in the story.  (That and probably the fact I only pick characters to play with whom I can form a connection . . . but that isn't new to SWTOR.)  I can tell myself logically that whatever happens is just pixels and doesn't matter, but when it comes down to it, I find that staying true to my character's values actually ends up being important to me.

Sometimes I will check out the outcomes of each response to a choice and ESC out of it before it completes, just to see the options and figure out which one would really be appropriate for my character.  The other day, I found one situation where each of the three responses brought such disparate results, I was stymied for several minutes before finally committing to one.

Yea, that one.  You can tell which answer I ended up choosing.

All roads might eventually lead to Rome, so to speak, but the scenery can be very different along the way.

I hadn't realized how much of an RP mentality I had developed until I attempted to start the bonus quest series on Alderaan to gain another level and change a class quest to yellow . . . 

Picture this:  I'm running around with Vector, with whom Hikarinoko is romantically involved, and who is trying his hardest to form an alliance between the Empire and the Killiks, and the entire quest chain is about . . . killing Killiks?

Now wait a minute, people.  You've got to be nuts if you think this is going to sit right with either Vector or me.

I started on the first few steps of the quest chain (the ones which didn't actually kill any Killiks), and it became obvious the entire thing was making me terribly uncomfortable.  There was no reason for it, really . . . just that the attachment Hikarinoko has with Vector and the attachment I have with Hikarinoko made me feel as if I was betraying someone's nearest and dearest desires.  Duty as an agent be hanged; I was far more concerned with the relationship between Hikarinoko and Vector.  (Illustration A why it is probably a good idea for an agent to not be involved with anyone.)

And so with a sigh, Hikarinoko told Vector they would just skip the Alderaan bonus series.  After a quick nostalgic look at the mountains of Vector's former homeland, they headed off toward Belsavis.

After all, they're a good enough team to handle orange-level quests.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fashion Statement

So the other day, while turning in the PVP daily, I happened upon this sight which made me more or less want to scream:

If I recall correctly, this was a level 50 Sith Sorcerer.

I understand that this person probably put a lot of effort into getting this clothing; I didn't inspect him, so I do not know the source.  But all I could think was, "Run away! Run away!"

Maybe that was his intent . . .

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Personal Update

Some good out of game news:  I really do have a job lined up in a few weeks.  (My contract arrived in the mail.)

When I graduated from college, roughly 19 years ago, it was with a BA in physics and an emphasis in secondary education.  (i.e., I got a teaching certificate when I finished my course of study.)  But with one thing or another, I never did end up teaching.  Oh, sure, I did some substitute teaching, but the biggest benefit I saw from my degree was a certain amount of self-confidence when I had to homeschool my autistic daughter.  (That and being able to watch potential employers' jaws drop when they saw I studied physics . . . always a quietly amusing sight.)

Well, one of the two high schools in this rural county lost its entire science teaching staff to retirement, and finding replacements proved to be difficult.  With school only about a month out, they were starting to become very worried.  Hearing about the openings, and recognizing that rural school districts may be able to waive some requirements in the short term, I decided to take a long shot:  I walked in to the Human Resources department and told them I was going to apply as a science teacher.

Amazingly enough, I was interviewed and verbally hired the next day, despite the fact I was completely upfront about my lapsed license, I didn't worry about whether or not my interview answers were the "right" ones, and I went into the interview figuring I was interviewing them as much as they were interviewing me.  (Which meant I was really "me" and not "this is me trying to impress people".)

I'll admit it:  part of me is scared to death.  (/inner scream of terror)  But I know I can do this.  It might take me a little more thought and preparation, but I've been a teacher in one form or another almost all my adult life, if you include homeschooling for years (which, I might add, involves much research), tutoring my kids, teaching everyone from young children to adults in church, or training employees at my last job.  (Enthusiasm, Anachan, remember enthusiasm . . . Science is exciting, after all.)

What this means, of course, is that my time to play SWTOR will most likely be extremely limited.  Between commuting to work an hour each way, preparations for classes (at least three varieties), any grading I might have to do, my normal "mom" duties (dinner, laundry, etc.--thank goodness for slow cookers), helping my kids with their schoolwork, still giving my 16-yr-old autistic daughter her homeschool assignments (under the supervision of her dad, who will be trying to get the "self-employed" thing going), trying to put together my house after moving, and studying for the required tests to complete my state license, I'm going to be one busy person.  (To be honest, I've found myself reviewing teaching strategies while hanging out in warzone queues or waiting for loading screens.)  On the flip side, Bioware may be thrilled, because it means I'll take longer to finish the Agent story . . . especially if on most nights, I only have time for a warzone or two.

Incidentally, it's a good thing I'm getting a job, because I totally fail at collecting unemployment insurance . . . who knew there were so many hoops through which to jump?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Singing a Song of Vector

I had always been under the impression that a healer should solo quest with a tank companion, a tank should quest with a healing companion, and a dps . . . well, I'm not sure what a dps should quest with, but as I don't play pure dps characters, it hasn't been a real concern.

So I kind of thought I was being a rebel when I decided to run Hikarinoko with Vector, melee dps, instead of Kaliyo, tank, . . . because he is more like someone I would want to know in real life.  After all, his past is squeaky clean (i.e., nobody is trying to chase him down and kill him from halfway across the universe), he speaks gently, he never condemns what I do (even when he doesn't agree), and I don't lose points when questioning the sanity of certain missions or expressing sympathy . . . What woman wouldn't want to hang around someone like this?

Ok, so he shares thoughts with a bunch of bugs, his eyes are completely black, he speaks of himself in the Killik collective mentality plural, and he's still relearning a lot of human interaction.  I realize this might increase the likelihood of his being judged creepy.  But he's something of a poet, and in addition to all the admirable qualities listed above, a good turn of phrase can go a long way toward winning my affection.

My husband gets a kick out of hearing me giggle when Vector says something which tickles my fancy.  For example, the other day, when Vector was told by a Minder to accompany her for debriefing, he replied, "We'll sing you our journey's song, but we'll need the main hall for the acoustics . . . "  (Gotta love the imagery!  Well, it was a rather epic tale he had to tell.)

And when I suggested we needed to do something about some potentially threatening missiles, he showed his rarely seen sense of humor . . .

"We see your point.  Maybe we should call the nest--a line of two hundred Killiks, each with a missile on its back . . ."

(At least, I think it was his sense of humor.  He might have actually been serious . . .)

To top it off, we haven't really had any trouble tackling our challenges, despite not having a "tank", so to speak.  He kills things quickly enough that I can juggle healing, tanking, dps, and cc and keep us alive, even in somewhat less-than-perfect gear.  (Usually.)  The other night, we took on a gold elite two levels above us and managed the encounter with no real difficulty.  (This might not impress some of the really good players, but remember, my husband says I play like a scared rabbit.)

When I mentioned the opening point of this blog to my husband, he told me, "Well, Honey, it's all about playstyle.  If his playstyle works with the way you like to play, and you're doing fine, then there's no real reason to change.  Besides," he said with a grin, "you seem to enjoy playing with him.  He suits you."

It's a good thing my husband doesn't mind me being somewhat madly in love with a figment of a game designer's imagination . . .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Have Time . . .

This evening, I found to my surprise that I arrived too late upon the scene of my quest.  So I alt-tabbed out and decided to blog while I wait.

See?  No spice boxes to destroy.  Nothing to do but sit tight and twiddle my thumbs.

But that's ok:  I have time.  I am still unemployed, although I did have an interview, and with any luck, I should be receiving something in the mail in the next two days.  (At least, they said they'd be sending it.  I'd just say I have a job lined up, except I hate to say anything until my signature is on the page making it official.  So I'll hold off and tell you when it's certain.)

Pardon me while I return to the game and see if there are targets for me . . .

/destroys spice boxes

Ok, now that that is over, take a look at this!

Vector finally replaced his admittedly very nice Alderaan chest piece.  Now, we look something rather like a cou . . . I mean a team, now.  Aren't we adorable?  (Ok, so that might be a stretch . . .)

Friday, July 6, 2012


Next week, while my family and I will be at our reunion, this blog will reach its half-year anniversary.  Normally, I would not think to mention it, as it is not the full year, but for one thing:  it corresponds with another important day for me.

That same day, my husband and I will have been married for 20 years, after a courtship of 3-5 months, depending on whether you count the start date when we met or when we went on our first and only date before becoming engaged.  To those more familiar with the modern culture of relatively short marriages, who wonder how people can possibly keep a marriage alive this long, I offer a few insights from our experience:

1.  It's not easy.  For the first 8 years of our marriage, we were not sure we were going to make it.  Something happened around the 9th year (4 kids in), and we realized we actually did want to stay married.  Even then, a marriage can always be improved; we're still working on ways to make our partnership better.

2.  Commitment is what counts first; love is second.  I know you are going to think this sounds backward.  "But wait!  Isn't a marriage supposed to be built on a foundation of love?"  Ideally, yes.  But what do you do when the trials of life buffet your marriage, and you are not sure you really love your spouse?  (Or when you are just about absolutely positive you do not love your spouse . . .)  That's when commitment kicks in . . . and most of the time, it can carry you past those trials until the flames of love can be fanned up again.  (Disclaimer:  this does not apply to cases of actual abuse, which are an entirely different discussion.)  The only thing which kept my husband and I married during a good deal of those first 8 years was the determination by each of us, individually, that we were not going to be the one who broke the commitment--the one who "quit".

3.  It is important to have common interests (like SWTOR!), but it is also important to value differences.  On the Myers-Briggs survey, my husband and I are exact opposites.  I'm not kidding:  I'm an ISTJ, and he's an ENFP.  (Not a single letter in common!)  I've had to learn to deal with a husband who takes many more risks than I do, and he's had to learn to deal with a wife who needs quiet time alone, instead of wanting to go out and "do something".  I suspect our personality differences may have greatly contributed to the strife of those first 8 years, but we've each since grown to recognize and appreciate the other's strengths.  It means we can delegate tasks according to who would be best suited to it, or it means we can help and coach each other on our various weaknesses, if needed.  (Very Important Note here:  criticism is not help!!  Helping is when you take the other person by the hand, only after they've requested it, and guide them through what needs to be done.)

With the foundation we have managed to build thus far, we have every expectation that our future years will be even better than our present ones.  And that's a good feeling to have.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Maniacal Laughter

The other day, I met up with an old friend from my WoW guild, in SWTOR.  (The name was unique and unmistakeable.)  After waving and exchanging the usual pleasantries, he commented he had operations that night and asked what my plans were for the evening.  I told him it was going to be a PVP night for me--run a few warzones, have some fun.

He surprised me by saying that on his character, he had not run a single warzone.  Not one.

Now, to be fair, Hikarinoko had only run one instance at that point in time.  The server on which she had been playing was, to put it mildly, pretty dead.  It's difficult to find a group when there are only three people on the entire planet.  (Full disclosure: she still has only run one instance . . . I need to gain the confidence I can heal a group well enough in unfamiliar territory before queueing in the random group finder.  But, hey, if I can keep Kaliyo alive over something like 20 minutes while we're beating our heads over a gold elite, I can probably manage to keep an actual geared player tank alive . . .)

We found ourselves on the opposite ends of the spectrum:  him focusing on the PVE instance side, and me focusing more on PVP.  (Of course, I quest, so that's PVE, but you get the point . . .)

I've run enough instances in other situations to know they can be a thrill, especially when the encounters are new and you're still figuring them out, or when something goes wrong.  Once the instances become very familiar, they can end up feeling more like a grind, unless you are playing with friends.

But with PVP, you never quite know what to expect.  Unlike working your way through groups of mobs as you go up a pathway on a hill or even facing off against a boss, nothing is entirely predictable.  You may end up opposing an extremely well-organized group which completely trounces your team into the dirt.  You may end up dominating the other team, an unspoken synergy flowing through you and your teammates, as you figuratively high-five that bounty hunter who teamed with you to defend a capture node.  Or you may find the battle fairly evenly matched, with the balance of power trading sides and the outcome anything but predetermined.

The other day, while on a Novare Coast battle, I found myself solo-defending the east node.  A smuggler ran up as I waited in stealth.  Knowing I am not a very good one-on-one duelist, I called to my teammates in Ops chat, telling them I had someone incoming and that I was alone.  (Even if the defender is a good duelist, it's better to have another player assisting, just in case something goes wrong, so I felt no shame in communicating with my teammates.)

By all indications, however, nobody seemed to have heard me.  I ended up running in circles with this smuggler--thankfully not a healer--trading off dps, while I hit Evasion, my shield, and stacked HoTs on myself, occasionally dropping to cover to toss a bomb or Snipe.  I kept expecting to be dead at any moment, but somehow I kept living . . . and after a few more heals and another Snipe or two, I found myself standing over his dead body.

I think it is the first time . . . ever . . . I have faced a character in a PVP situation one-on-one and emerged victorious, in any game.  I couldn't believe it!  A small glow peeked out of my cautious and slightly puzzled heart as I accepted the realization I had actually been successful.  (I knew, however, not to press my luck, and the next time he came around, apparently rather mad, if the way he attacked was any indication, I did manage to get someone up there to help out . . .)

I know my old friend is enjoying himself hugely, running his guild and organizing their operations.  And in the past, (*cough* 3.5 years in WoW), I have greatly enjoyed being a cog in the machinery of a raid, helping to ensure the group ran smoothly and saw success.

But there is something about organized PVP which keeps drawing me back.  Maybe it's the (possibly misguided) notion that every player counts . . . that the decision of a single player can turn the tide of a game.  For example, a player may make the decision to watch a node for stealthers instead of running back into the fray . . . or he might take the opportunity to sneak up and capture a node while one's teammates have distracted the foe away from it.  (Did that the other day, and it changed a loss into a victory, as my teammates rallied around the newly captured node to defend it from the enemy.)  Maybe it's the active and constant pace, which requires "thinking on one's feet" or the determination to get back up and get back into the action instead of becoming discouraged.  Maybe it's the adrenaline rush, which heightens my overall sense of well-being.

At any rate, every time I jump off safe area platforms after rezzing, arriving just in time to keep a teammate from falling over or firing a single shot at that enemy player trying to plant a bomb or capture a node, I feel like bursting out in maniacal laughter . . .

(. . . . of course, part of that maniacal laughter could be because I'm still moving, and the whole thing is stressing me out terribly . . . good reason to seek out the catharsis of PVP . . . brb, gotta kill something . . .)