Archive for January, 2012

C4 Droid Dev Response

January 28, 2012 Comments off

Amusing reply from Georg Zeller on the subject of C4-N2 droid support:

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you in response to your complaint about our product, the C2-N2 droid. We regret that you are experiencing difficulties with this award winning, state of the art household droid.

Sadly, we have to inform you, that the C2-N2 droid, and its Imperial counterpart, the 2V-R8 autonomous ship maintenance unit, are not rated for combat at this time.

Several regrettable incidents, including the loss of a full squad of SIS operatives (apparently triggered by a malfunctioning speech unit voicing its congratulations to the undercover team during a deep cover infiltration mission), have lead the Republic Technical Support Corps to revoke the combat certification from these units and forced us to replace the ‘advanced weapon and martial training ROM’ from the programming of the unit.

These facts have been clearly disclosed to customers at time of sale, as well as in the programmatic introductory conversation program voiced upon owner transfer.

For this reason, we cannot take responsibility for your problems.

We are however pleased to announce that future updates to the unit’s artificial intelligence core will dramatically increase the efficiency of it’s emergency medical protocol features – and add some other, more questionable features.

The C2 Droid Corporation is also pleased to announce that we have started investigations into a new line of droid casings and cores, aimed at improving the efficiency of the unit’s assembly and construction features. No official release date for this line of top end equipment has been determined at this point.

We thank you for your interest in our product.

The Management

C2-N2 – The only thing that crits is his voice in your earchannel!

Georg “Observer” Zoeller
Principal Lead Combat Designer


I’m glad the goldenrod might be getting some better healing coefficients. I’d been dragging him out to heal my Guardian through lighter group content, at least before Doc. It’s been less than brilliant and a bit surreal, as the squeamish protocol droid without a weapon proficiency (which, I’m guessing, was simply an oversight) runs up to box the enemy with his polished fists.

Categories: Uncategorized

Sithspawn Meets Sithstain, or SW:TOR Faceroll

January 13, 2012 Comments off

The ‘Cata was too easy/Cata was too hard’ blogosphere firestorm reignited briefly the other day, with Azuriel posting a quote by Blizzard’s Tom Chilton, to the effect that the company made the strategic mistake of trying to woo back the hardcore player base after the simplification that was Wrath – the Cata-too-hard thesis.

The daring claim that good old WoW was hard at any point in recent memory is, of course, garlic and silver bullets to a particular stripe of sandbox elitist, so one SynCainite or another pounced and off to the races they went.

My own humble (if rudely empirical) contribution to that lofty epistemological debate concerning the nature of established fact is that early Cataclysm heroics weren’t easy to me. The harsh healer mana nerf at the beginning of the expansion hurt. You had to use all the crowd control you could, remember? Mages relearning how to sheep, paladins digging out the old repentance button and staring at it in disbelief? If you didn’t slow Erudax’s adds and lay enough burst dps on them you simply didn’t get to complete heroic Grim Batol? I vas dere, Cholly. Vas you dere?

Anyway, Cata doesn’t interest me too much anymore, except in the context of genre-watching, but TOR is getting splashed with the mud from the fracas. In my view, undeservedly. Most people without axes to grind would recognise that it’s stupid to judge an MMO primarily by the challenges offered by its low-level single-player content. But if we insist, then TOR’s levelling game is not slack-jawed faceroll fodder. It is considerably and refreshingly more difficult than that of Cataclysm.

This is becoming, if not established fact, then at least a consensus. Tobold makes reference to it, Spinks relates how during the course of a single-player quest finale she “won, but used all my cooldowns and ended up on a sliver of health.” The forums are replete with people seeking advice on how to beat their class quest encounters, from the Trooper’s Separatist Stronghold to the Jedi Knight’s Emperor.

And if one is feeling particularly strong, the 2+ areas are soloable, just. Some classes, in particular the healing classes, may have an easier time with these, but they definitely do require, at the minimum, knowing how to interrupt, breaking out of stuns, dodging circles on the ground, staying within the high regeneration-rate level of your resource (or not wasting gcds for JK/SW) and using damage reduction and dps cooldowns.

Naturally, the difficulty of any encounter during levelling depends on the level at which it is approached. An unsoloable 2+ mission might be easier by the end of one’s tour of duty on that planet. Which is as it should be. There’s nothing wrong with allowing the individual to adjust the level of challenge to their means and mood, with a commesurate adjustment in his sense of accomplishment. Beating a quest when it is yellow is more satisfying than when it is green.

Meanwhile, I would like to extend a personal invitation to anyone who thinks SW:TOR is too easy mechanically to solo the level 15 Sithspawn from the Heroic 2+ quest ‘Shadow Spawn’ on Dromund Kass, as oh, say, a level 14 Sith Marauder. The creature is Force-resistant, which gives it a 25% chance to dodge Force attacks, and it has a nice little surprise move around 5% of its remaining health. My own successful attempt required a Presence stim and three medpacs. The cave does not offer a natural kiting path, so there was some rather hairy linear kiting while waiting for medpack cooldown to come back up. On the bright side, the inevitable single boss-smack at each direction reversal gave me a chance to hit him with a bleed and keep Fury stacks up so that I could blow the Shii-Cho version of Berserk immediately on rejoining the fight. It was important to keep rough track of when Vette did enough damage to jump her 110% aggro threshold so that I could activate her survival instincts cooldown immediately and leap back to dps while she tanked. I can safely say that my face wasn’t bovvered at all.

As always in TOR, the story made the numerous attempts at this (nearly an hour’s worth, I’m afraid) worthwhile. The creature is an iconic Sith weapon, summoned by the correct recitation of tablets that comprise the Sith Code. It feels like something that any young pureblood ought to leap at the opportunity to confront. I’ll return happily to my Jedi main soon, but these alt forays have been quite rewarding so far.

Categories: Mechanics, Other MMOs

Smuggler’s Holiday or A Little Edge Gaming

January 3, 2012 Comments off

To preserve balance in the universe, for every pious lightsaber there must be a cad with a Shakespeare beard and a blaster. A few highlights of my diversion from the serious business of taking it on the chin for the Republic:

1. Skipping all quest content, apart from what’s necessary to get off Ord Mantell, through Coruscant, and into the XS Freighter. Getting ship at 13. I mean, really, who plays this game for the story?

2. Killing a few tough enemies through the creative use of terrain. SW:TOR’s mob “leashing” is a little less tight than that of other games, and enemies are occasionally unable to make the same terrain hops as the player. A good example is the level 8 elite on Ord Mantell on the way to the shore, near the datacron. When engaged from the datacron hill, he will make a beeline for the player, but when the player hops to higher ground, he will not hop with us. He will turn around and begin taking a longer route to the player’s new position. He will not reset, because his logic dictates that the player has not become unreachable, but merely reachable differently. When the player hops down to the initial level, he turns back to seek the simpler route. The dance continues as the Vital Shot bleed is ticking.

Actually, this second point is relevant to the first, because getting your ship at 13 (which requires stealthing past the majority of Coruscant’s hostile zones to the class quest instances, and receiving very few gear rewards) is all fun and games until you have to kill a 16 elite, Fabizan, in the final showdown. Which is non-trivial, because he makes short work of poor level 13 Corso with his bomb ability. Corso never did learn to move out of the fire. And we have no gear. The answer to the problem is that Fabizan does not run as quickly as we do, stops to cast his bomb, and his grappling hook ability requires line of sight. Once Corso buys the farm, the encounter therefore turns into a kiting game. Our old friend, Vital Shot is always up and ticking, we save our Dirty Kick as the immediate response when Fabizan grappling-hooks us, and we keep running. Ducking around the corner of the corridor at the instance entrance and running up the small flight of stairs on the instance’s other end provide opportunities to cast a couple of heals without being interrupted by the grappling hook. Flashbang in emergencies – though Vital Shot tick will break it, it’ll prevent him from flamethrowing and grant a second of running time. Repeating the cycle carefully brought him to a well-deserved faceplant.

3. Slicing. Yes, yes, I know. But considering we’re not questing on this guy, the old cash cow is a legitimate tack to avoid staring into the hollow eyesockets of privation. Besides, it was a good way to find out what the buzz is all about, and post-nerf, I must cheerfully report, the going is still good. With two lackeys sent out for boxes at all times while exploring, PvPing and playing TORFox 64, aka the space combat, the smuggie is at about 360 at level 20, having made about 170,000 credits in revenue overall. No longer gamebreaking, and probably not worth it compared to questing/vendoring/crafting income at high levels, but a good life for a true independent spacer who loathes to run planetary errands.

4. Exploring. Nothing quite like gaining a  level or two solely by sneaking around and discovering areas on Hoth, Corellia and Ilum. And – maybe it’s the EVE lover in me – there’s nothing wrong with slicing a few high-level lockboxes along the way, as opposed to camping Ilum’s treasure chests, which were the source of recent banning controversy. Besides, Ilum’s overrated. For my dirty dealings, I prefer Corellia’s shipyards.

5. Levelling through PvP/space combat. It’s viable and effective, especially if one’s winning. In the warzones, I see the beginnings of a Horde/Alliance or Defiant/Guardian pattern in that the ‘bad’ guys tend to do better. In the other games, the trend is weaker than perceived, but still statistically relevant. In TOR, especially given distinct server communities, it’s still hard to state this with confidence, but it is my gut feeling. The PvP scaling system (wherein hp and coefficients are scaled up to make low-levels competitive with high-levels)  is innovative and better than nothing, but it does not confer true equality. Higher levels have access to more abilities, such as cc, more versatile healing, interrupts. And level 50s in particular, have access to expertise gear which makes them even more effective against artificially souped-up lowbies.

Still, I slid into my old role of battleground healer comfortably. And the warzones, of which I was originally skeptical, are growing on me. Alderaan Civil War feels much more dramatic than its close cousin Battle For Gilneas, thanks to the voice acting and setting; Huttball is a genuinely innovative (at least in MMO terms) take on capture-the-flag and, again, the designers did a great job of conveying an underworld bloodsport atmosphere. Huttball is the conceptual winner here: it’s actually tactically deep, and I would be interested to see two competent premade teams go at it, leveraging the z-axis and line of sight, in particular. Voidstar is very plain, and together with Alderaan, suffers from the mindless-brawl-by-flag syndrome. Moreover, in part given the number of knockbacks and crowd control available to everyone, and in part owing to the designers’ decision to allow DoTs to prevent the channelling of bomb planting and turret capture, these two battlegrounds are heavily biased toward continuous-defence strategies. In Alderaan Civil War’s case, in my experience, the early rush frequently decides the game, with very few comebacks ever taking place.

Anyway, enough of that. My Jedi Guardian halo should be returning from the dry-cleaners’ shortly, and the Scoundrel is due to cool his heels in carbonite.


Categories: Mechanics