Sunday, June 16, 2013

/Sigh . . .

Do you know what I really dislike about Guild Wars 2?  (Aside from the fact that I get bored playing it solo and can really only enjoy it when I'm playing with my husband . . .)  When I've spent all day working on one project or another and finally find myself with an hour before bedtime to sit down, put up my feet, and log on, almost invariably, there is a patch.  And with our less-than-desirable Internet connection, I know I've lost my window of opportunity for playing.

That has also been the case with my ability to play SWTOR recently.  I log on and discover there is a patch.  But, as I am unwilling to risk my husband's ping rate on his World of Tanks games, I exit out of the patch sequence and end up going to bed.

Last week, I had to travel for a conference, and I delightedly brought my laptop with me, thinking I would patch SWTOR overnight and have some fun on the other evenings.  Unfortunately, while the hotel Internet worked perfectly well for other downloads and for Netflix, I was unable to reach the SWTOR patcher every single time I tried.  I could only conclude that the firewall was doing something to block my access.  (Oh, well.  A couple of evenings spent watching "Firefly" can't be considered a complete waste . . .)

Well, last night, I finally had the opportunity to patch up my desktop SWTOR!  So today, after what seems an incredibly long time, I managed to log on and run a few warzones as a Preferred status player.  I ran one on my baby Agent and two on my Smuggler.  Then I respec'd my baby Sage, whose skill points had been reset, and headed out into the wilds of Tatooine with Qyzen.

Amazingly enough, although I wasn't in top form, I could remember where my keys were well enough to manage.  I guess when you standardize your toolbar abilities between characters, who all play similar roles, it helps solidify the arrangement when you return after a relatively long absence.

It's nice to be running around the familiar game maps again, guarding nodes or interrupting people trying to plant bombs.  And somehow, I even find myself actually interested in Tatooine, instead of thinking to myself how interminable are the quest chains located there.  (I will confess that Taris still makes me want to gag, which was why I was delighted my Smuggler made it to level 23 in her second warzone and was able to think about heading straight to her class quest area in Nar Shaddaa.)  I guess sometimes you need a break for a while to appreciate things you have been taking for granted.

Speaking of things which have been taken for granted, I can live without having my wardrobe matching, but I did spend the Cartel points to acquire the ability to hide my head slots on all characters.  There was no way I was going to deal with some of those insufferable headpieces, especially after all the thought and consideration I had put into creating those character appearances, to begin with.  A girl's got to have some standards, after all!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Not Completely Gone

I'll be upfront by saying I really don't have anything new to say about SWTOR right this minute.  It is true that I did go ahead and cancel billing on my subscription, but I figured with as little time as I have to play, even on good weeks, I might as well save the cash.  The chances of me ever reaching the point where I exceed the number of warzones I can play are very slim.

Being a teacher means April and May are absolutely nuts.  (Standardized testing, Prom, NHS inductions, award assemblies, finals . . .)  Being a teacher with four school-age children in a rural area, where one's husband has decided to have milk goats and piglets and where one is trying to start a garden and learn how to make apple butter, can apple pie filling, and bake sourdough bread, well, some nights there is absolutely no free time available.

Yes, we have been seriously expanding our horizons.

In addition, my husband picked up a copy of Guild Wars 2 for me.  It's different . . . definitely different.  I'm still trying to get the hang of the engineer I play when I'm playing with my husband and the mesmer I play for soloing, especially since I spend very little time playing.  But since it's not a subscription, I don't have to feel guilty if I miss an opportunity to play one evening, because I am not "wasting" my monthly fee.

I have every intention of stepping back into SWTOR and running some more warzones, but until summer vacation comes along, it is unlikely to happen a whole lot.

(Gotta brag about my kiddos, who are doing an absolutely fabulous job on their standardized (MAPS) testing!  My 6th grader tested at about the 11th grade competency level in everything, and my sophomores blew the rest of the kids in their high school out of the water with their math scores.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Can't Believe It

. . . then again, maybe I can . . .

Remember my closing comment on my last blog entry, about the possibility of the under-50 warzones being ruined?

Well . . . take a gander at this screenshot.

Gotta love the comment by Twist, right?
Here's the story . . . I went to the warzone vendors to see what, if anything, had changed in the offerings available to PVP players.  Instead of the previous four vendors, there were only two--one for warzone gear and one for ranked gear.  But when I went to look at the "usable" gear, I found absolutely nothing.
You've got to be kidding me.
You mean that now, all the warzone commendations my level 20-something Smuggler has are basically good for nothing unless I am level 55 and have purchased the expansion?  You mean that I can no longer plan on picking up level 40 PVP gear, rather than having to rely on zone quests for all my gear upgrades?
I can't believe they really did it!  They really managed to destroy warzones for the under-50 crowd.  For that matter, they managed to destroy them for the under-55 crowd.
Because, after wondering why I was getting flattened so quickly my first foray into a warzone after the expansion began, I took at look at the amount of stat inflation granted to me for stepping into the fray.  Instead of being granted stats to level 49, I saw I was being granted stats to level 55 . . .
So in other words, I could be playing against people who, at level 50, worked very hard to get very good PVP gear . . . and they're now being pitted against lowbies such as me, who have their basic stats inflated, but who have no advantage when it comes to gear, because there is no PVP gear available for them to purchase, even if they wanted to do so.  (I have yet to discover if level 55 characters are also included in these warzones, along with their PVP gear, or if there are separate warzones for those at level 55 . . . but, as all stats are being raised to level 55, I have to seriously consider the first idea.)
I guess I'm back to logging on, looking at my Smuggler, and logging off on nights when I do not have the time to settle down to a quest sequence with my husband . . . or on nights like tonight when my husband is just too tired to play.
Why, exactly, are we subscribing?  At this point, I'm ready to take my money and invest in a different game.  I'm open to suggestions.

Monday, April 8, 2013

In the Minority

I realize that in the SWTOR blogosphere, I am in the minority.  Those who are still blogging are generally excited for one reason or another about the upcoming Makeb expansion.  I understand from where they are coming--I really do.  There was a time in WoW when I waited with baited breath for the next expansion (although, honestly, that only happened once in three expansions . . .) because I had things to do, goals to meet, and roles to play.

But right now, my purpose in SWTOR life is to relax and just have fun for the hour or three a week I can actually get on and play.  I have had no interest at all in the Makeb expansion.   I have not pre-ordered it, and until I run out of things to do or feel a burning desire to advance beyond level 50, I have no real reason to order it.

This week, the school where I teach is on Spring Break.  As a mom, Spring Break doesn't mean sitting around eating bonbons . . . I have a garden to plant, kids to tutor for the ACT this Saturday, house projects to accomplish, and as of today, 7 dozen eggs to figure out how to use before they go bad.  (My in-laws have more chickens than they know what to do with.  I managed to find uses for 17 of them this afternoon in coffeecake, egg bread, or quiche . . . and they gathered 17 more . . .)

But because it is Spring Break, I can stay up later and play, as I do not have to get up at my usual 5:00 am alarm.

So after a long day of dealing with hurricane-force winds blowing dust all through the valley, baking, wrangling kids, and generally being the wife and mother I am supposed to be, all I wanted to do was to sit down, put my feet up, log on and run a few warzones.

But first, I checked my blogroll . . . and that's when I learned I would not be playing tonight.

WHY on earth can BioWare not choose a time like 2:00 am to do maintenance?  I understand they want a midnight roll-out of their expansion, but hey, can't this be done without taking down the servers in the middle of prime time?  (Patch the night before or something, with perhaps a mini-patch rolled out precisely at midnight?  Have the major content downloading in bits and pieces or in the background some time before the actual date?)

And, of course, because I am not enthusiastic about the upcoming expansion, I couldn't care less that they're in the process of updating exciting new content . . . All I want is for the game to be available to me during the brief time I can actually play, especially as I am still a subscriber.

I sincerely hope that this expansion will not destroy under-50 warzones . . . I don't mind if the quest zones become ghost towns, but losing warzones will be a major incentive for me to start looking for a new game.

/sigh . . . Another day I cannot play.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rediscovering Warzones

How many times do I have to relearn the same thing before it sticks?!

The other day, I wanted to log on and play.  But, because my husband wasn't feeling like playing that day, I knew I would have to go play my Smuggler.  (The one not earmarked to play with one toon or another of my husband's . . .)

The trouble was where my Smuggler was located at that time:  Taris.

There are certain planets which just make you want to hurry up and leave.  Coruscant is one of them for me. Taris is another.  I wanted to get past Taris, but I wanted to do so without spending a lot of time on Taris.  The prospect of facing yet more Rakghouls was . . . less than stimulating.

I ended up logging on, looking blankly at my Smuggler, and logging back off.

When I mentioned it to my husband, he said, "Why didn't you try running some warzones?  You can level very quickly that way."

The wheels in my brain started whirring, and I replied, "You know, you might have something there.  My Smuggler healer plays very much like my Agent, and I always enjoyed running my Agent through warzones."

So the next night, when I logged on my Smuggler, I queued for warzones without even attempting to leave the hanger.  ("Do not pass 'Go'; do not collect $100.")

About three seconds later, I found myself in the Alderaan Civil War battle . . .

/excited giggle

Two warzones later, it was time for bed, and I was wishing I could stay up later without having it affect me negatively at school the next day.

Since then, after some more evenings of warzones, I've decided that my Smuggler is going to be pretty exclusively a PVP character, running warzones and then completing her class quests.  As she has diplomacy, she can still raise companions' favor well enough to see those stories, without worrying she will lose too much by not becoming bogged down in endless zone quests.

Accordingly, I've purchased, using Cartel points, warzone leveling bonuses for her, as well as picked up a couple of implants upon her reaching level 20.  And I'm making decisions about her skill tree in accordance with the requirements of PVP.

This has the added benefit that if my husband wants to PVP, he can choose a fairly random character on that server (say, his smuggler, for instance) and run warzones with me, rather than worrying about the levels of the various characters.

I know, if I took the time to look, I've written other posts on this blog wherein I've found myself bored, then laughing maniacally after deciding to run warzones.  And yet, each time it happens, it feels like I've made some new, grand discovery.  I guess some of us are just slow learners or require much repetition to really "get" the point . . .

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Patch . . . sigh . . .

I realize there must be people who are excited about this patch, but . . .

. . . when I've had a long day at school, an even longer-feeling drive home with a beginning driver, a dinner which tired me out, conflicts with teenagers to solve, the peace to keep, an extremely talkative pre-teen to listen to about the skit she is writing, a younger girl to cuddle and tuck in, a sick husband to pamper, and a short-but-at-least-not-non-existant workout, and all I want to do is spend the remaining half hour of my time awake running a warzone . . .

. . . it is very annoying to log in and see a patch start to slowly download, recognizing that, well, there goes my half hour.

Oh, well.  I'm sure that many of the people who are excited about the patch are not nearly as blessed as I am, with my loving husband and my four daughters at home.

Maybe I'll have enough time to run a warzone tomorrow . . . or maybe not.  I may not be home in time to put the girls to bed and have any time left to myself.

Such is life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SWTOR and Spam, Part II

After writing my last blog, I asked my husband if there was such a thing as someone selling blog URLs to spammers.  He replied, "Well, if there is a way to make money off of something, I'm sure someone is doing it."

The annoying thing, in addition to having to clean the spam out of my spam folder daily, is that it messes up my statistics.

In the last little while, for no apparent reason other than the possibility of spammers trying to find green pastures, my hit count on a couple of blog entries has skyrocketed.  If I thought people were actually benefiting from my writing, I wouldn't mind, but I know most of the hits are likely from people hoping to spam my comment section, which kind of invalidates the data.

There is a bright side to this, however . . . and it has to do with a silly little side hobby I have pertaining to my blogs:  I collect countries.

Every few days, I check my stats for hit counts, page accesses, and so forth, but what really excites me is the information about the audience.  In this section, I can get information on In my draft folder, I keep a record of the countries from which people have accessed this blog.

I find myself giggling in delight when I find a new country appear on my statistics page and can hardly wait to put it in my draft page.  It's kind of like Ellie in "Contact", who was delighted when she could contact someone from a new location on her ham radio, or like my father, who as a child combed short-wave radio frequencies, looking for new stations from faraway countries.  There's something fun about knowing someone far away reached out and virtually touched you, even if only for a moment.

With the influx of spammers, I've manged to collect a couple of new and (for me) rare countries for my list.  (I think this is the only one of my blogs which has received a hit from Botswana, the 57th country listed.)

If the spammers can help me get new countries to add to my record, I guess I can tolerate the clean-up effort reasonably well.

Friday, February 15, 2013

SWTOR and Spam?

In the last three weeks, I have found a plethora of spam comments which people have attempted to post to this blog.

It's crazy.  I have three blogs, all very lightly trafficked, and this is the only one which attracts spam, often to the tune of four to six a day.  (Or more!)

Fortunately, Blogger sends me an e-mail whenever someone tries to post any sort of comment, and their spam filters usually manage to segregate the spam, so all that is left to me is to confirm the nature of said spam and delete it.

But it leads me to wonder, "Why this blog?  Why not my retired WoW blog which still gets several hits a day on the newly updated Vuhdo setup guide for Restoration Druids?  Why not my bread blog which has a wider audience, although not as many hits per day?"

Did someone decide my post on Lord Vivicar got enough hits it might be a happy hunting ground for everything from mulch sales to unmentionables and sold the URL to a bunch of spammers?  How do they figure out these things?

I have no idea.  But for whatever reason, this blog has recently had a drastic increase in maintenance requirements.

To all you spammers:  I'm on to you.  Save yourself the effort.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Do You Want Me to Subscribe or Not??

My 60-day pre-paid subscription ran out yesterday evening.  Because my husband and I are using SWTOR as our long-distance dates while he works away from home, we decided it was worth the money to go ahead and place the game on a recurring subscription for now.  (Money being tight enough we weren't sure we should ding our card for $30 right this minute for a 60-day prepaid . . .)

Accordingly, I went to the website and clicked my way through, receiving the appropriate response which said I'd successfully subscribed.

I knew from the message I had received that I may need to restart the game client to see the changes, which I did.

But when I logged on, this is what I saw.

Hmmm?  Did I log in to the game client too quickly?  I gave it a few minutes, then tried again, but the result was the same.

Thinking, somehow, that repeatedly doing the same thing would bring a different result (Hey, it sometimes happens in computers,) I exited and restarted the game client twice more.  No change.

I checked my subscription status on the SWTOR website.  This one produced mixed results.  On the one hand, the main account page said I wasn't a subscriber, but on the other hand, in the details, it said I had 29 subscriber days left.

With a sigh, since it was our scheduled long-distance date, I decided to just live with Preferred for the evening and submit an in-game ticket.

But guess what?  You can't submit an in-game ticket when you are Preferred.  (Even if you are really a subscriber, trying to tell someone the system isn't working.)

Every time we turned around, there was something which I couldn't do.  We die . . . "Um, Honey, I'm not sure it's going to let me rez here . . ."  (Luckily, he could just rez me.)  I think about picking an herb . . . "Um, it's not going to let me do this unless I unlearn one of my skills . . . Not likely!"  (Remember, I've submitted my money and am waiting for the computer to catch up with me.)  At the end of the night . . . "Well, we're done on Tatooine.  Let's just Fleet Pass."  "Um . . ."  "Let me guess:  you can't Fleet Pass."

Of course, my pants couldn't match my top, but I could survive that (After so many years in WoW, I can deal with that . . .) but not being able to hide my head slot (again, after I've PAID my money) was annoying.

My husband comforted me by saying that on Tatooine, this was probably pretty sensible headgear.  (Living in a desert climate as I do, I could see his point.  One windy spring, I priced bourkas, thinking I'd rather wear one of those as I did my outside chores, instead of having all the sand get in my eyes, nose, ears, and teeth . . .)  But even so, I'd rather be able to see my eyes.

After we'd finished playing, I exited the game and tried starting the game client again . . . no luck.

I finally put in a message via the "Contact Customer Service" link, somewhere around 11:00 pm, but as I received no feedback from the webpage, I had no idea if it actually went through.  Just in case, I did it again, with an apology if it turned out to be a duplicate.  I decided to give it until today before I started calling.

This morning, I checked my e-mail and found a message time-stamped 1:10 am saying my subscription had been changed.  I guess someone got the message.  Now to check tonight to see how many subscription days it says I have remaining.  If it ticks down, and I find they've not given me back my one lost evening, I'm going to have a word with them.

Postscript:  I guess nobody did get my message . . . it just took the computer that long to process it.  This morning, one day later, I received responses to my tickets, saying for this issue, I would have to call them.  And, yes, my account time was docked.  So in essence, I paid for an evening I did not get.  I guess I'll have to pick up my phone and spend some time on it this afternoon . . . /sigh . . .

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I've never considered myself an altoholic--that was/is my husband.  But lately, I'm finding myself with a few more characters than I'm used to juggling.

First, there is Anachan, my level 50 retired Jedi Consular.

Next, there is Hikarinoko, my level 49 rather-retired-except-when-I-want-to-run-a-warzone-for-the-giggles Imperial Agent.

Then there is Kaminoko, my 2nd Agent, who is played when my husband wants to run on his Bounty Hunter.

(Hard to tell in this picture, but she actually does look different than Hikarninoko.  Different face style, and enough make-up to almost make me uncomfortable.)

And Annachan, my 2nd Consular, who started out just for me to play, but might end up playing some with my husband's Shadow Consular, if he decides to play him . . . (The story doesn't seem to be grabbing him, so she may end up all mine, muahaha . . .)

My Bounty Hunter, Karinoko, is now being leveled to play with my husband's Sith, because he asked me to do it.

Surprise!  She's got blue skin and red eyes!
Well, with all those characters either maxed or earmarked, I found myself once again without a "run around casually by myself" character.  Oy . . .

Sooooo, desperate to have a character I could play whenever I wanted, without having to worry about my husband playing, and figuring I didn't really need a third Agent or Consular, I created a Smuggler, who I intend to spec out as a healer, since I know Gunslinger bored me to tears.  Her name is the incredibly unimaginative Ana-chan.  (Haha, I can use hyphens . . .)

You knew she would look something like this, didn't you?
Does this make me an altoholic?  Honestly, I don't think it does.  An altoholic jumps back and forth between characters as if they do not know what it is they want to play.  I jump back and forth between characters for social reasons, so to speak.

At least I know I always have something I can play!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Temptation of Eve

History has been made:  I have acquired Dark Side points on my second agent.

Up to this point, none of my characters have made Dark Side choices.  My Consular, of course, as a Jedi, felt it her duty to follow the Light, and my first agent had a quiet conscience in her which sometimes made her relationship with her Empire leaders somewhat tenuous.

But there was one scenario with my first agent in which I almost chose the Dark Side.  (Class story alert!)

It involved Watcher X.

Watcher X is somewhat mysterious and dangerous, even though he is working on our side.  He is obviously familiar with everything relating to agents, as indicated by the standard routines he cites when we first meet him.  (Hardly surprising, given his background.)  He freely admits he is only helping Intelligence because he'll be punished if he doesn't (his programming), which means, of course, his trustworthiness is in question.  (The adage "Never trust a snake" comes to mind.)

Toward the close of my interaction with Watcher X, he escaped from his Intelligence-imposed prison cell and presented Kaminoko with a choice:  naturally, she could come after him, as would befit a loyal Imperial Agent, or she could let him go, and he would give her information she would not be able to get from other sources.

"You sure know how to tempt a girl."

With Hikarinoko, I pondered, agonized, and then chose the Light Side, ending up having to kill Watcher X, which was actually rather heartbreaking, as I considered him something of a sympathetic character.  This time, since I was trying to see how the story might change if I made different choices, I followed the example of Mother Eve and chose transgression in pursuit of knowledge.1

Kaliyo chewed me out, and I felt dirty.

But as in life, once a choice is made, you've got to live with it.  With a slight hollowness in my stomach, I returned to my ship, told bald-faced lies to Watcher 2, which made me feel even more dirty, and headed out to Tatooine.

Watcher X did not lie.  When I checked my mail the next day, there were three which looked at first glance as if they were spam, given the garbled nature of their subject lines.  (The effect was aided by the fact that the message above them really was spam.)  They were sent via a nonstandard code from Watcher X, with juicy tidbits about Watcher 2, Kaliyo, and so forth, with promises of more later.

They were definitely things to make you go "hmmm".  I wonder if he'll follow through with his promise.  I wonder if it will be worth it.

1 The Biblical story states that the serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  She didn't transgress the law simply in pursuit of tasty fruit; she did it in pursuit of knowledge.  "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat . . ." (KJV Genesis 3: 4-6)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quick WoW Break

Not too terribly long ago, Blizzard sent me an invitation to come check out the Panderia expansion for 10 days for free.

Now, checking out the pandas, themselves, is not something I need to do because, well, I have already done it.  I made a free-to-play-to-level-20 account and created a Pandaran Priest, just to see the starting lands.  It didn't take 20 levels before the character was merged completely with the Alliance or the Horde (did both, so I could see what happened) and therefore ripe for deletion.

So if the only attraction was the pandas, there really wasn't any attraction.

But with all the people who come to my retired WoW blog for information on the Vuhdo addon (yes, I keep up with the statistics on it), I really felt tempted to accept the invitation, install the latest Vuhdo version, log in, see what major changes happened, and see if I needed to update anything on my little guide.

After a lot of thought, I decided to do it.  So this week, I woke up my Restoration Druid Anachan for the first time in over 14 months, ready to see what happened to Vuhdo in my absence.

Happily enough, it seems Vuhdo hasn't changed beyond all recognition.  I think my updates will be fairly minor and simple.  My keybinds, which amazingly enough, I mostly remembered, worked immediately, and the configuration interface, except for a few pages, has retained most of the same characteristics.

The most . . . interesting . . . part of stepping back into WoW is learning again to initiate auto-attack . . . Go figure.  It's like a foreign concept . . .

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Solo or Group?

During Christmas Break, my husband and I have managed to find some time to play SWTOR together, he on his bounty hunter and I on my 2nd agent, Kaminoko.  It's been a lot of fun, being able to run around places together, although with Mako coming along, the only times I get to heal are when we're facing gold-level opponents.  (Incidentally, right now, Kaminoko and Mako look like they are wearing uniforms or something . . . Somehow they managed to get chest pieces which are all but identical-looking.)

I really only have one complaint:  everything is falling over a bit too quickly.  Except when we tackle an Heroic 4 situation, there is little to no challenge.  Because we do take the time to run the Heroic 4's and because it's so easy to make normal groupings fall over that we never really avoid doing so, we've leveled so quickly that we're already level 23 after finishing only the first sector on Nar Shaddaa.

With my first agent, who believed a good agent inflicts as small a body count as possible, I remember being finished with Nar Shaddaa and moving on to Tatooine by this level, grumbling because I was on foot, having to traverse vast tracts of land in Mos Ila.  (Remember, back then, you had to be level 25 to use a speeder at all.)  And instead of steamrolling encounters, I had to carefully plan, sneak, control crowds, and so forth.  When I completed a challenging quest, I felt I had really accomplished something.

So here's the question:  is it more fun to level playing solo or playing in a group?  I wouldn't trade playing with my husband, but I do have to say I found it more personally satisfying soloing my way up, because it was much more of a challenge.

What do you think?  Solo leveling, or leveling with a partner?