Time for a bit more discussion of the interface for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Some good things, some not so good.
One of the things that I like best is how the interface shows which dead mobs have something to loot. Instead of the corpse sparkling like in World of Warcraft there is a beam of light shooting from it.
The best part of this system is that the color of the light differs depending on what kind of item is there. White for grey/common items, green for “Premium”, blue for “Prototype”, etc. Even quest items get their own color of gold.
This is a big improvement over other MMO systems I’ve seen.
Borderlands did something a little similar where dropped items have their own beams of light but bosses dropping items on the ground that way would not work well in an MMO. Item stealing was pretty common in Ragnarok Online due to that.
Alright, this one could be argued to be just an issue of getting used to the interface. I think it’s highly unintuitive but I’ll admit that I’m going to be biased due to my own experience.
My friend and I finally received our quests to build our lightsabers. Cool, right? I mean the lightsaber is the iconic weapon of the Star Wars franchise.
So I finished the quest, watched a video of the character putting together its lightsaber, and at the end had a dialog box for quest completion. Hit accept and the lightsaber would have been in my bags. Unfortunately, I got distracted by something in real life and somehow managed to close the dialog box instead. Ack!
I checked everything that came to mind. Nothing in the environment for me to click on and reaccept the quest or show the dialog box. Looked at the quest log and the quest was no longer listed. Checked my inventory several times and no lightsaber. I wasn’t really worried (that’s called a lie, boys and girls) because I was sure that I would get upgrades from other quests or as drops but I was frustrated. And stuck with a vibrosword.
So where was it?
Several minutes later and after my friend got his own lightsaber, I finally tripped across a little piece of the interface above the active quests.
Click the “Pending” there and voilà, the lost dialog box was back.
Yes, the text glows but it is pretty easy to overlook and there is no reason at all not to have it listed as “Pending” in the quest log as well. This is an example of a bad interface.
The map. It needs work.
Party members show up as small purple icons on your minimap and world map. These aren’t very visible to begin with and easily get covered up by other icons.
If your party members are outside the minimap area then there is no indication of their location — such as arrows at the edge of the minimap as in World of Warcraft.
If a party member steps into a part of the game world that’s part of a different map (such as a cave) there is no indication at all of where they are on either minimap or world map. You might be able to click on the links between different parts of the world map and find them but that could become a frustrating hunt.
As you would expect there are different things that both minimap and world map can track such as trainers, merchents, and so on but the world map can only show one of these at a time. I have no idea why they would put a limitation like that on the world map when the minimap can show them all at once.
Bioware needs to make the player icons larger (or give us a scaling option for them) and add direction arrows when they are off the minimap. I really don’t know why they didn’t steal these interface improvements from World of Warcraft when they stole so much else (not that WoW hasn’t stolen its share from other games).
My friend and I did our first Flashpoint — The Old Republic’s version of dungeons as far as we can tell.
The Esseles was pretty fun. The first boss — Ironfist — was by far the most difficult. Part of that was needing to learn our classes better — though I don’t really have any tanking abilities yet aside from
Shield Wall Saber Ward — and a little bit of extra control on our companions.
We died several times. The winning combination for us was my droid tanking, my friend healing, and friend’s pet and I doing as much damage as possible.
We were level 11 when we went in and level 12 coming out. I got two pieces of heavy armor and my friend got one piece off the “extra” boss. I also got a lightsaber upgrade. Yes, really.
I need to work on my hotkeys and get certain abilities in an easier to use position. Also need to work on using Riposte when it’s available, I’ve always found abilities that trigger that way to be annoyingly awkward.
Got our lightsabers!