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Archive for January, 2012

Birds and Bugs

Day 10

I’ve been a bit busy but finally managed to get around to putting this together.

Imperial Death March

Okay, so one of the things that I’ve been doing recently is playing a Sith Warrior.  Partly to see how different the Imperial side is from the Republic and partly to see how different the advanced classes are.

The starting planets on the Imperial side are, naturally, completely different but even though I’ve only reach level 11 I have already noticed a few things that are the same.  Like the fleet space station.  I need to take a closer look and see if the decorations are different but the layout at least is identical.  Seems a bit lazy to me.

Continuing on, as I played this Sith I did find a couple of things that amused me greatly.

The first was the Sith Warrior’s companion — Vette.

The first time you see her in game she is being held captive.  Her first spoken line cracked me up and I knew I was going to like this character.

You had me at “chirp.”

Hm… need to get a screenshot of her also.

The second was the first “Darth” character that you meet.

Wait a tick… he looks familiar…

It’s Darth Iron Man!

Maybe not quite.

I’m guessing that they are trying from something Darth Vader-ish with an older feel but something about the eyes and mouth make me think of Iron Man.  Oh, well.

Fixes

In a recent patch they have fixed Bug #5 on my list which apparently was related to the mail system.

Annoyances

There are several things that are simply annoying about the interface.

Item Stacks

Splitting stacks of items and buying multiple items from a vendor are done by holding Shift, left clicking, and dragging the items.  You are then prompted to “Split Stack” — which doesn’t make much sense when buying items but that’s what it says — with a dialogue window where you can enter the amount.

The dragging is a bit annoying but not too bad.  The problem is that Shift + click has another function which is linking an item in your current chat mode.  Also the number entry in the Split Stack dialogue does not have focus when it pops up.  So you start your purchase, type a number, and hit enter and suddenly you’ve said in general chat something like “[Fibrous Nylite Solution]20” instead of actually buying 20 of the item.  I’m sure it will be fixed but in the meantime this is a huge inconvenience to me.

Auction House

This one is less of an issue for me than for some other players because I rarely use the “Galactic Trade Network” for purchasing.  But when you do want to purchase something you can’t simply open the interface and type in the name of what you want.

You have to first choose a category and subcategory and do a search.  You can then filter that search by typing in a name.

It’s again an issue where it’s not that the system doesn’t work but it can be very awkward and much more time-consuming than need be.

Space Ports

Space ports are quickly becoming one of my top aggravations.  There are fairly large areas around player ships on each planet that are just there for scenery/immersion.  The hangars are nice looking and the space ports have some flavor so I don’t mind the areas themselves.  The problem is the limitations within these areas.  You can’t use mounts nor can you Quick Travel while inside them.  This turns them from scenery into time sinks.

Old Bugs

Bug #8, the pet flop continues to occur.  Here’s a picture after we killed a boss.  Note that my friend’s pet is alive not dead.

Here is the companion’s movement (it doesn’t slide, simply teleports from one location to another) as my friend runs down a hallway.  I should have stayed still for a better series of screenshots.

New Bugs

Bug #12

I hadn’t mentioned it before but the /follow command is broken.  This command should allow you to target a friendly (not sure if it’s limited to party members) player and automatically follow them as they move.

It was never amazing in Everquest and while World of Warcraft did better it’s still easily broken.  You can lead someone into a tree or rock or make a sharp turn where there is a ramp and cause the character that is following to not be able to continue forward.

In The Old Republic the command doesn’t work at all.  It’s there.  It’s not as if I’m typing a non-command and nothing at all happens. You target someone and type /follow and the character will rotate.  When the other player begins to move the character on follow will start moving… at about a tenth the speed it should.  We tried it on a flat area where there was no terrain issue and it simply didn’t work.

Bug #13

You can’t preview weapons.  Clothes can be previewed by Ctrl-clicking an item link.  Weapons simply don’t work.

Bug #14

On Tatooine there is an object called “Jawa Balloon” that follows a long, long path around one of the areas.  The entire path is probably about 50-55 minutes (it might be exactly an hour, not completely sure) long.  You can jump onto a platform that the balloon carries at one point in its path and it will take you to another place where you can jump off of it to reach a couple of Datacrons — little objects that give you a permanent increase to your stats.  The time from getting on the balloon to getting off at the right point is around 40 minutes.

My friend and I got on the balloon and we chatted away as it carried us on its circuitous route.  35 minutes into the trip the balloon vanished, dumping us and another player onto the ground below.

This sort of bug simply shouldn’t exist.  Yes, I’ve experienced disappearing boats in EQ and WoW but there are other options for reaching your destination in those games.  This is the “only” option for getting to the Datacron.

We actually found another way to get to the Datacrons, essentially exploiting a terrain bug, but this is probably the most frustrating thing I’ve encountered in the game so far.

Bug #15

There’s a feature that allows you to sell “gray items” in your inventory by sending your companion away for a minute.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.  I’ve actually had it work once in-game while I was on Taris.  But that was once out of dozens of attempts to use the feature.

What’s really sad is that this feature is even mentioned in the loading screen tips.

Bug #16

The biggest graphical glitch that I’ve seen are these massive green walls that appear.  They seem to come in a couple of flavors.  The staticy type and the solid bar type.

I’ve seen this graphical bug in 5 or 6 places in the game, on at least three different planets.

Just in the two screenshots above you might notice the culprit is this object:

Whatever it is, it’s bugged and causes these green walls to appear.  There’s just a thin line in that last screenshot but if I had moved just a bit the wall would have been visible.

I’ve found some other minor graphical problems.  The sort of thing found in every game so I’m not counting them.  Mostly just mistakes in the world maps rather than glitches like the above.

Here’s an NPC sitting around in Nar Shadda without a chair.

Here’s an untextured rock on Aldaraan.

Here’s an NPC with a really messed up cape.  Yeah, even his daughter is giving him a funny look because of it.

Summary

We skipped most of Tatooine, only doing the class quests, because of how long we were on Nar Shadda.

Level 33.  See?  I’ve been busy.  😛

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In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Day 9

I’ve seen quite a few threads on both The Old Republic and World of Warcraft forums slamming SWTOR recently.  So in conjunction with seeing how I myself have been more focused on the negative things in the game I am going to make a list of the some of the things that I found to be good.

It’s a Small World After All

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a big game.

Yes, I don’t have a vehicle yet and I’m running everywhere but I do remember playing World of Warcraft back in 2005 when I couldn’t afford a mount and had to run everywhere in that game.  Ug.  Desolace sucked.

The Old Republic game world, as you might expect, is broken up into planets. The first planet (Tython) you start on isn’t all that large.  Probably about the size of an average zone in WoW.  They use a few tricks to make it seem larger such as separating out some areas by means of tunnels and having mini-dungeons scattered around but all-in-all it’s not a really big area.

Once you get past the first planet it appears that they grow in size a good bit.  Coruscant is probably close to twice the size of Tython.  Taris is bigger still.

There are only 17 planets and 4 of those are the tiny starter worlds but if the size of the other planets keep up with ones like Taris then the total size is probably on par with what World of Warcraft had at launch.

In WoW almost the entire game world was split into two continents that you could traverse from one end to the other.  Travel between continents was done by ship/zeppelin or teleport.

In SWTOR each planet does have separate areas that you might think of as zones but they are much smaller than zones in Warcraft.  Travel between planets is basically the same as between continents in Warcraft.  With more cutscenes inserted.

As of yet, you do not have full control over your space ship.  It is more like the sailing ships in Warcraft except that you choose the destination.

This doesn’t sound all that amazing and I will admit that it doesn’t add to actual gameplay but they did a tremendous job of it.  The animation of the stars, hyperspace, and the planet you are traveling to is just about perfect.

Remember the scene in Return of the Jedi where Lando is piloting the Falcon through hyperspace?  The way the Death Star (Or was it Endor?  Let me check my DVD real quick.  Yes, the big globe there was Endor.) forest moon of Endor zoomed up into view and then the approach slows down as the ship leaves hyperspace?

They recreated that effect in-game and it looks great.

I’m not going to capture it well using screenshots but here are pics from inside my ship of entering hyperspace, traveling through hyperspace, and the tail end of leaving hyperspace.

Now for some people the way this game is broken up (by what can be called a series of cutscenes) will make the game feel smaller.  Others may find that it adds to the feeling of immersion and vastness of the galaxy.

I think I’m in a third segment in that it doesn’t affect me either way.  Travel is travel.  By foot or cutscene or teleport.  I’ll sure that I’ll get to the point where I just want to get wherever I’m going quickly — the way that I am when I play Warcraft.

Other Travel

Every player begins with a “Quick Travel” ability.  This is similar to the Hearthstone in World of Warcraft.  Except for two points.  First, it doesn’t take up an inventory slot.  Second, it allows you to return to any bind point that you have discovered on the planet.  Yes, it is limited to the planet you are currently on but I find that I much prefer this flexibility to Warcraft’s limitation of a single bind point.

There are “taxis” spread across each planet as well.  These are the same thing as Warcraft’s flight points and found at quest hubs like you would expect.  They work well enough but like Warcraft’s flight points before the current expansion you must discover them before you can use them.  Seeing yourself on a speeder bike is kind of neat but gryphon vs speeder bike.  Eh.

Once you get past the first planet your character will also receive an “Emergency Fleet Pass” that will return your character to its appropriate space fleet.  This is important because not only will you find trade market terminals, trainers, every type vendor, etc but more importantly the fleet is where all the flashpoints (instanced dungeons) are located.  Only bad thing about the fleet pass is that it has an 18-hour cooldown.  So use it wisely.

At level 14 your character will obtain the ability “Sprint.”  This is a 35% runspeed increase outside of combat.  It’s not quite passive, it is something that you have to turn on and death deactivates it but it’s essentially always on.  It is also an ability that every class is given so there is no complaints about Druids or Hunters or Shaman.  It’s a nice tide over until you get mounts at level 25 and I really like that they gave it to every class.

Other Things Anyone Can Do

Every class also starts with the abilities of “Revive” and “Revive Companion.”

Revive Companion allows you to rez your companion or the companions of other players.  Revive allows you to rez other players.  This has a 15-minute cooldown.  It appears that players that choose an advanced class that can heal have this cooldown removed.

It’s nice to see this kind of ability given to every player even if in a somewhat limited form.

Summary

Level 23 now.  I expect I’ll have a lot more to talk about this coming week.

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