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Crew Skills has retired! Keep reading me over at Siha Games!, my general MMO blog.

6 August 2012 1 Comment

Moving On

It will come as no surprise – given the radio silence of the last six months – that me and SWTOR blogging, we just haven’t worked out.

I’m still playing SWTOR, I should note. And I’m still thinking about it, but it’s generally in the context of the rest of the MMO marketplace, and the other games I’m playing, and thoughts about the MMO genre in general.

And in particular, crew skills in SWTOR have not turned out to be the deep and engrossing crafting system they promised us — at least, not by my standards of why I enjoy tradeskills or what makes a crafting system great.

So. Rather than continue trying to beat a dead horse — which would end up with me resenting SWTOR and blogging (and probably the horse) — I’m bowing out gracefully. CrewSkills.net is officially retired. It’ll stay alive and in place, though, since some of the reference content may still be useful.

However! You can’t shut up a blogger that easily. I still have plenty of thoughts about MMOs in general, including SWTOR, and I’ve been talking about them over at my general MMO blog, Siha Games! There won’t be crunchy googlebait guides over there, but I hope the content will be interesting, and I hope to see some of you over there. I really enjoy talking with the rest of the MMO blogging community, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon.

Thankyou all for listening, and sharing SWTOR fun with me. See you around!

14 February 2012 5 Comments

Bittersweet is…

Siha's gear set.…finally finding a set of moddable gear that looks great, and spending 300k credits unslotting and reslotting all your mods…

…wearing your great-looking gear set to that night’s operation…

…and scoring a Columi legplates token.

Yay? I think? ;)

So in commemoration of Siha’s brief-yet-much-loved DPS set, here it is to the right. That’s the TT-15A Echelon Body Armor (from Maelstrom Prison), Commando Elite Greaves (craftable), Ultrachrome War Gauntlets (from a Belsavis quest) and a Heavy Exoskeleton Belt. (Outside the shot, she’s still wearing the Heavy Gunner’s Boots she’s had since L27, since moddable boots seem to be fairly scarce and un-ugly ones scarcer still.)

(No, I don’t know why “suspenders” are a sensible choice for heavy armor. They look kind of awesome though, so I’m not complaining.)

3 February 2012 7 Comments

The State of Crafting at Endgame

It’s sad to say, but it’s true: crafting at end-game is almost irrelevant for most crafting skills right now.

To use Cybertech as an example, we Cybertechs make three broadly-useful items: Armoring, Mods and Earpieces. (Plus some fun sidelines: droid upgrades, consumable grenades, and self-only vehicles.) Our very best craftable mods are only on par with what you can get from a daily quest at level 50, and our very best Armorings and Earpieces are actually worse. (The best craftable mods are Armoring/Barrels/Hilts 22s, and you can buy 23s with 8 daily commendations each.) This is approximately the case for most crafting skills, except Biochem, and there’s been a lot of unhappiness on the forums about it.

The good news is that Bioware’s listening, and they’re not done improving the crafting system. Yesterday, Georg Zoeller said

“We want to create significant incentive for players to engage in the crafting economy – as provider of goods or supplier – without requiring players to take up a specific profession as a ticket into endgame.”

and he also said

“As stated, we are working on making all crafting professions fully endgame viable. We’ll talk more about specifics, like Armstech or Synthweaving when we have specifics to announce.”

Based on what we know already, you can expect the following upcoming changes:

In patch 1.1.2:

  • Biochem: Energized and Exotech stims and adrenals will no longer be Biochem-only.
  • Biochem: Rakata stims will remain Biochem-only, but will be reduced in power to match Energized-level consumables.
  • Harvesting droids and creatures will now return slightly fewer resources.

That’s a fairly significant hit to the appeal of Biochem, but I do feel that it’s necessary to give other crafting skills a chance; until now, Biochem has been widely considered the only option for endgame play.

In patch 1.2:

  • “Basemods” (Armoring, Hilts and Barrels – the mods that give an item its rating) will be extractable from Artifact-quality gear.
  • Custom armor will be crittable to give augment slots.

These two changes, between them, will allow endgame players to wear the set of custom (i.e. fully-moddable) armor they prefer without sacrificing any stat effectiveness. You get a purple drop in an Operation, you pull the mods out of it, and put them into your carefully-assembled stylish custom set. Presto – all the tasty stats, none of the tedious sameness. This won’t help Cybertechs or Artificers, since the mods will come from Ops drops, but it’ll help Armstechs, Armormechs and Synthweavers who can make receptacles for said mods in the form of armor and weapons.

Also in patch 1.2:

  • More BoE schematic drops for artificers (and other professions).
  • “Increased relevance of augments”, whatever that means.
  • Better reverse-engineering chance.

All good, as far as it goes.

And here we have a ray of hope for the mod-crafters, from the same topic, 11 pages in:

Rephlexie: “Please I beg of you add some Artifice schematics for us 50s to play with. Even just 23 rating ones. Give us some purpose in gearing out our guilds a bit.”

GeorgZoeller: “Yes, among other things.”

Excellent news! If they do this for Artificers, I can’t imagine they’ll leave Cybertechs or Armstechs out in the cold.

Obviously, there’s more news yet to come — but this is certainly enough hope for me to resist the urge to drop Cybertech and pick up Biochem.

2 February 2012 1 Comment

Link Love: Great Posts You Should Read

I have a couple of (more substantial) posts in the pipeline but in the meantime, I just wanted to highlight a couple of great recent posts from around the traps.

  • Companions List from Psynister’s Notebook. Psynister gives a great guide to all the companions by class, covering the romantic interests, the planet you find them, and their roles and bonuses. Super-useful!

Go! Read, comment, think, enjoy!

31 January 2012 9 Comments

The Amazing Chameleon Shirt

Generally, SWTOR is pretty good at avoiding the weird issue that plagues many other MMOs, where sensible armor on a man turns into ridiculous plate bikinis on a woman. However, I’ve found one partial contender – a case that’s so odd I can forgive it.

Here we have the Amazing Chameleon Shirt, a.k.a the Temple Watchman’s Vest. This is the Medium +Strength chest purchasable with Tython commendations (and there’s a craftable custom armor equivalent, the Aspiring Knight’s Vest, which behaves the same way). On male characters it has long sleeves and wrappings around the waist, whereas on female characters it’s a sleeveless midriff top.

However, its magical ability to change is even more pronounced than that! To wit, it changes colour depending on who’s wearing it!

The Amazing Chamelon Shirt

On Miraluka and Zabraks, it’s black. On Humans and Twi’leks it’s dark grey. And on Mirialans it’s a lovely powder blue.

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28 January 2012 4 Comments

Datacrons, Matrix Shards and What To Do With Them

Unlike many other MMOs, SWTOR has hidden rewards for exploration and experimentation scattered all throughout its planets and game mechanics. One of the most popular of these rewards is the mighty Datacron.

Datacrons

Datacrons are small cubes hidden all over the game; they give off a coloured glow, and getting to most of them usually requires some tricky exploration, or platforming and pipe-jumping the likes of which nobody’s done since playing Mario Brothers. (A couple of them involve forcefields and similar shenanigans and you’ll need to take a friend.)

When you find a datacron it has the glowing quest triangle icon above it, though that doesn’t show up on the minimap, and using it will give you one of two things: either a small permanent bonus to one of your stats, or a matrix shard. Every planet has at least three datacrons; some have as many as five. Discovering a datacron also unlocks a new lore entry for your codex.
Read on for more about datacrons, Matrix Shards, and how to make Matrix Cubes.

27 January 2012 1 Comment

Link Love: Attack Types, Damage Types, Avoidance and Mitigation in SWTOR

26 January 2012 13 Comments

The SWTOR Drinking Game

  • Every time your trooper says “Sounds like you need a soldier.”
  • Every time your trooper says “Dangerous missions are what I do best. I’m in.”
  • Every time your Jedi Knight says “It was the least I could do.”

…take a drink.

Anyone got any others? Let’s get this party started!

21 January 2012 1 Comment

A Happier Place to Live

One thing that’s struck me as I’ve been levelling in SWTOR is the unique feel of the setting created by Bioware’s choice to limit our activity to a handful of planets in a vast galaxy, and a handful of regions on those planets. Despite the war, life for SWTOR’s residents is far more peaceful than you’d expect.

In most non-sandbox MMOs, you’re the hero; you’re a cut above the rank and file, and you get sent where there’s trouble, because only someone with your skills can save the day.

In most MMOs, similarly, you get sent pretty much all over the place while you level. The only areas you don’t see are usually the home turf of your enemy’s faction, or far-off lands of mystery that your civilization has little contact with (i.e. they’re fodder for the game’s next expansion). And because you’re sent to every part of the map as you level, the overall impression is that this place is in big trouble. There are no peaceful lands that aren’t war-torn or in great danger; everywhere you look there’s trouble and strife.

Think of WoW’s Azeroth as an example (and apologies to those readers who aren’t familiar with it). During the course of your levelling, you’re sent all over Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms; there’s no part of either continent that isn’t in dire need of a hero or ten (million). Every single zone has evil cults, rampaging elementals/undead/demons/dragons, political conspiracies, maddened wildlife, or factional conflicts destroying any hint of tranquility for the people who live there. And this is the case for pretty much every square inch of both continents; there’s nowhere on the map that could reasonably say anything other than “Here Be Dragons”. Which really makes you feel, as you grow through the levels, that your entire civilization is doomed.

SWTOR’s setting has a very different feel. Sure, you get sent all around the galaxy to a dozen different hotspots where your skills are needed, but there are many many more planets in the galaxy where you’re not needed. They’re right there on the galaxy map, thousands of little points of peaceful light spread out across a huge galaxy. And even on the planetary level, the zones are restricted to trouble spots; the implication is that outside those districts, you’re not needed, because life is going on more peacefully there.

Sure, a lot of this is for practicality’s sake – obviously Bioware’s not going to develop each of the millions of inhabited planets in the Star Wars galaxy, just so we can go there to sightsee – but on a planetary level Bioware could certainly have developed the whole of each planet and physically spread the content out. The fact that they didn’t doubtless had practical considerations involved, but the net result to me as a player is a setting that feels much more stable and less ridiculously apocalyptic than the majority of MMO worlds.

As the champions of our respective factions we’re all running around fighting the good fight, putting out fires, making a difference, and so on – but there are billions of Galactic citizens whose lives have barely been touched by the war. Their taxes may rise, the odd political figure or military leader gets assassinated, and some manufacturing facilities start churning out tanks instead of bulldozers, but for most people life goes on pretty much as normal.

After the high-tension constant near-apocalypses in many MMOs, it makes a relaxing change.

20 January 2012 7 Comments

Ding!

In which Siha Dings 50

Siha dings 50...

And here’s 50, a month after the game officially launched. Of course, my progress was slowed a lot by the fact that Bioware’s preferred downtime is usually smack bang in the Australian evening, i.e. prime playing time for us Antipodeans. Still, it could be worse: every SOE game I’ve played had daily maintenance, usually an hour a day at 9pm my time.

Siha’s progress to 50 was further slowed by my resolve to smell every flower I could find. I wasn’t deliberately avoiding levelling – and in fact I found soloing in SWTOR much more fun than in any previous MMO – but after six straight years of WoW and a fair bit of endgame burnout, I was in no hurry to race to Operations. It seems many of my guildies felt the same way – I’m only the eighth to hit 50. Now I’m looking forward to seeing what the SWTOR endgame offers, going back and polishing off all the bonus quest serieses (which I skipped at the time, except Tatooine’s), and wallowing around in a whole slew of alts.

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