Monday, February 11

So, I resubbed my SWTOR subscription today.

Actually I should say I extended the subscription I re-opened a month ago.
And I'm still having fun with the game.

Let's backtrack to how I got to try the game again.
During the Winterfest in GW2 the 'meh' feeling I'd been getting about ArenaNet's idea of throwing half-finished one-time only content at us, with the new twist of letting you repeat it for a week before showing the new half finished one-time only content crested. Frankly the only thing drawing me to the game was MU group events, and those kinda stalled during the Holidays and, alas, haven't really picked up during January.

Without consciously deciding to quit or cut back on GW2 I started looking around for something else. The Secret World was my first alternate destination, but then I started playing the Complete Content Unlock version of KoToR II, which had just reached "Final" state. About that content unlock, though I actually missed some unlocked bits I have to say that about 75% of the locked out content probably wasn't locked out due to time restraints but because it just didn't work. While some of the bits were interesting, most just messed up the pacing of the game, and the extra content in the End Game just added more interminable corridors to battle through with a few cut scenes of your crew members showing themselves hopeless incompetents.
However, after having played through KoToR II I wasn't satisfied and wanted more KoToR fix.

I first tried the original KoToR on PC. Erm, the fact it was awarded Game of the Year is a testimony to the quality of its storytelling, it's probably the worst Console to PC conversion I've ever seen. And I've seen a few. After that I tried out SW:TOR again, see what all the fuss about the F2P scheme is all about. It took me about 5 minutes to determine that if I wanted to have fun with the game I'd better resubscribe.

UI modding is great in this game
Even with "Preferred Status" my account was essentially crippled compared to a full subscription game. No Sprint... Remember running through Coruscant hallways without that? On the upside, with subscription you get it at level 10 now.
Severely reduced XP: I remembered how I was struggling with getting enough XP to progress on my Main, Are'zhou before. With half to a quarter of that, it'd be impossible to level without grinding Heroic Quests. At least as Preferred I had access to all my hotbars, check my screenshots and imagine only having 2 of them... Last but probably the least least was that it'd cost me about a month's subscription to buy hide-helmet unlocks for all my alts.... Do you have any idea how messed up most headgear looks on a Twi'lek? I wasn't going to suffer wearing some silly mask or tentacle-perforated baseball cap thing. So subscription it was.

Since then I've been having a blast with the game. Essentially by treating it as a single player RPG game really, with an auction house and a general chat I keep closed most of the time.
Going F2P didn't do the game's community any favours. Chat is filled with spam for Heroics (all the froobs need to grind these for a week to get any progress I guess, interestingly this does result in them being better geared than I am at the same level) and when it isn't, there's plenty of nasty comments from people trying to hide the fact they don't know the answer to legitimate questions by dint of snarly try-to-be-witty comments. The old adage about remaining silent so as not to be proven foolish comes to mind.
The difference between GW2's silent but helpful players and TSW's generally more mature and helpful community is palpable. If I weren't playing this game as a SPRPG I'd have quit within days.

Getting hitched
So how's the game now? Well, it's not really changed much but what's different is for the good mostly. I've brought my Smuggler (now my Main since I don't "have" to play Sith with the cool kids) from Level 20 to 47, and sadly you still see that dip in progress starting somewhere around level 35.
The problem is exacerbated on Smuggler as it's a Stealth class and that means (for me) you avoid many mobs that a regular melee class has to fight through by default. The result is the Smuggler loses out on about 5-10% XP. On the upside, she did marry her farm boy. I knew captains can marry people on board their ships, I didn't know they could do marry themselves. It may not be entirely legal...

It's gonna blow!
The trick to progressing without grinding seems to be to A) always log out in a Cantina for Rested XP or whatever it's called in SW:TOR and B) Rotate alts. Kinda like playing CoX *dodges a blow from Phé* I don't play each character each evening. Hmm I should probably mention that the Dreamstrider Legacy has expanded a bit. In addition to the original sisters Are'zhou (Sith Sorcerer) and Qwi'zhou (Smuggler) there's now Tyra'zhou a Jedi Sentinel and Khai'zhou the Mercenary (originally this was Cezka but I rerolled her after a forced name change and because she can now be Twi'Lek). I even got a Che'zhou (Sith Warrior) and Q'zhou (Agent) lined up but doubt I'll ever get those beyond Level 1 really. A nice thing about returning was that the Legacy system finally has features. One of the features is you can unlock races to be used for all classes. By default you can't pick every race for every class. As you may have guessed I unlocked Twi'lek for all classes and expanded the line of sisters a bit. There's some other interesting options in the Legacy system, but it clearly got taken for a ride and given a quiet talking to in a private location by the Cash shop system as well. A shame that. There's a few features I'd have preferred to see, like shared storage or ship furnishing that never made it, probably due to lack of development funds.

Talking about the cash shop, I actually laid money down there too. I got a not-quite-fluff Armour for my Smuggler. A fully decked out in purple mods L30-ish suit that I liked the look of.
With the extra coins I bought a starter kit for Tyra'zhou which included the ability to learn Speeder piloting at level 10 rather than 15, or is that 25? and some XP packs that I gave to Qwi instead (a smuggler by default fights fewer mobs than a Knight and she needed it)
I actually also purchased the upgrade to the Digital Deluxe version of the game for $2,99. As I recall the price difference between regular and deluxe was about $30,- at launch.

Stealth does not apply to weapons
I'm enjoying myself with the game, playing the different story lines, making sure to switch between goody-too-shoes and Mercenary characters frequently. Heck I may even pick up Are'zhou's storyline again. It's not that I hated playing a good Sith, it was pretty interesting, but I did feel torn between playing Qwi'zhou the smuggler which is really more "me" as far as a golden skinned betentacled female can be "me" of course, than Are'zhou was and playing with my friends last year. Not that I blame them. Right now I'm playing the game solo, just me and that lets me indulge fully in what I want to do with the characters. It's great that SW:TOR lets me do that.

Still, they wasted resources for about 3 awesome KoToR games that would've sold a ton and gotten rave reviews just like the original on making a mediocre MMO that feels like a Single Player RPG.
I will probably tire of the game before the next charge to my subscription and not renew. Nothing in their expansion has made me itch to buy that, it feels like a $5,- DLC, not an expansion pack. But then, Bioware charges $20 for a DLC worth $5,- for their single player games too, so I guess that's all in line with corporate expectations then.
I may or may resub at a later time again if I don't finish the storylines on my alts before then, or I may not. All in all I don't expect Bioware to ever get the same amount of cash from me as they would've gotten for say three KoToR games, a Jedi one, a Sith one and a Fringe one.

This Post started as a "what have I been up to" mail to Phé, then I realised I might as well post it on the MUtants forum as I've been a bit absent from GW2 but it's markup means are a bit archaic when it comes to adding pictures so I thought I'd dust of Ye olde YAMMOB for this one.

EDIT: In a charming little snafu (apparently due to me using Pay Pall rather than Bioware/EA endorsed Credit cards?) the game decided to think I'd fallen from grace to "Preferred" Status again.
The first pic below shows what my UI looked like while this was going on and the second one shows how I can repopulate my hotbars when I feel up to it tomorrowish:


  1. Ugh, did Picasa always turn screenshots colours into this washed out mess? Must've been that "Conserve bandwidth" option I forget to turn off

  2. Oooh.... a new big post with lovely pictures! I'll try to read up on it on a lost hour tomorrow. Just wanted to say it is good to see this!

  3. Ok, I finally got around to read it all. Great to hear you are having fun in SWTOR. I installed and patched it early January too I think. I even logged in just to see if it is playable. It is all free after all. So I ran around for five minutes and thought that could have fun here. But then I realized there is no way I have time to play this and TSW. And if I already would like to do something other than TSW I still have GW2 waiting. So that was my extended biography on my experiences with SWTOR for this year.

    I agree with you that Bioware/EA would have been much better of with KOTOR III, IV, and V. Although SWTOR plays out prior to KOTOR, right? They would made more money, and a untainted reputation. I'm sure they have realized that themselves too by now, but it's to late to do anything about now.

    I wouldn't mind actually going back to SWTOR, but I just don't have the time for it. My gaming history since Christmas is pretty short.

    I finally joined a cabal in TSW called Ghost Hound Operations. A great group of RPers from City of Heroes. We had a couple of great events as cabal, and my creative juices started to work again. But then Holidays ended and my days got filled with work, work, travel, work, being social, bit of sleep, and a lost hour here and there to play.

    When I only have so little time to play I start looking for quick fixes. Installing SWTOR was in that category, but that isn't the answer to a quick fix. So I turned to Steam and bought and/or installed Alice: Madness Returns. That is fantastic looking game. And quite perfect to just play for an hour. Although I have managed to play it for 3 or 4 hours in a row too on a few occasions this past month.

    Now that I haven't really played TSW at all lately it is harder to get back into it. It is still the only MMO I feel like playing. (Although AO is pulling a bit as well.) Hopefully I'll be home a few times early next week, and I'll fight my way back to the City of the Sun God.

    Thanks for making a great write up, Lani! I miss our little blog. And just ramblings about games and anything. Actually teaming up in games seems to be too complex. But writing stuff independently should still work, right? I'll try to put something as well.