Knights, Continued

This week, barring shocking surprises, Bioware/EA will be releasing the next chapter of the Knights of the Fallen Empire story in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  It’s been a few months in coming, and is the start of what the developers are hoping will be a monthly cadence.  I’ve heard that song before, though, and I remember how it usually ends, so we’ll see if they can actually get the storyline complete before Christmas.

There’s been some info that’s come out concerning the near future.  A couple of companions will be returning with the next two chapters, while another is…well, I imagine that it’ll involve a choice between two companions, because the primary character involved with the new chapter isn’t known for her ability to play nicely with others without a strong hand to keep control of her more psychotic tendencies-and by all appearances, her tendency to not mind collateral damage is going to really rub another of your companions the really wrong way.  My prediction is it’ll be a “you’ll get one or the other” here, because their viewpoints are entirely antagonistic.  The devs did say that this chapter would involve a choice with consequence, after all….

With the chapter dropping this week, I took stock of where my characters stood in terms of the story-which is to say, my eight primary characters representing each class.  (I’m not insane enough to run my class alternates through…am I?)  My two main characters, my Smuggler and Agent, have not only finished all story chapters to date, but also managed to unlock every companion available to them with the exception of their respective PvP-required ones.  No offense to Pierce or M1-4X, but no reward is worth that.  All star fortresses have been downed in the heroic mode on those characters, and all of the Alliance contacts are at least influence 10.  So as far as I’m concerned, these characters are well positioned for anything coming their way.  One of them even managed to loot one of the 208 rating barrels for his primary weapon; the other managed to pull out a barrel from an offhand weapon and stick it into his main before the devs decided that wasn’t allowed.  That’s really annoying, since no main weapon damage mods are available-or for that matter, no main hand weapons period-on the data crystal vendors for advanced gear.  That limits your main weapon to either a 190 mod or a non-customizable weapon drop, which is annoying.  Crafting is supposed to gain the ability to craft up some better mods, but I’m withholding judgment on that one until I see the material requirements-if they involve stuff from operations and the like, I’m going to be unimpressed.

With those two characters out of the way, there are six others that I’d been planning to run through the content.  Of those, five have completed the story chapters, which is a pretty good percentage, all things considered-particularly since I chose, as a part of the whole process, to make sure they ran the Jedi Prisoner/Foundry flashpoints, the Ilum flashpoints, the prelude to Shadow of Revan flashpoints, and the Shadow of Revan expansion through Ziost.  I was willing to leave Makeb incomplete for a few of these characters, and few of them have set foot on Oricon-considering that the Dread Masters story is mostly via operations, I didn’t lose sleep over that last one.  Portions of Makeb are a pain in the butt for some classes, too, so in the end, I was okay with letting that one just slip into the dustbin of history.  One character, however, has not made the jump to the expansion; at this writing, my Jedi Counselor is still on Rishi, working through the Shadow of Revan content, and he’s not likely to get complete before the new chapter drops.  His story, accordingly, is likely to encounter a significant pause as I work the current group of characters through the new chapter.


And in other news…

There’s been an additional bit of amusement on my end.  I made the “mistake” a month or two ago of taking a peek at someone’s Yavin stronghold, and was impressed enough that I decided to make a run for my own.  The problem was that this is probably the most expensive stronghold to purchase and unlock all the “rooms” for (can’t recall if Tatooine is pricier, but I imagine that Yavin may be the winner here).  Well, make that the second problem.  The first problem was determining which stronghold I already had to shut down.  At this time, you are limited to three active strongholds.  I had Nar Shadda, Coruscant, and Dromund Kaas all unlocked and decorated (although not to the maximum amount; I don’t have THAT many decorations).  One of the three had to go.  Shadda was never on that list-it was the priciest one I had thus far, and as a guy who considers his Smugger a main character, it just couldn’t happen.  I liked the atmospherics for Kaas, so the Coruscant one was stripped of decorations and closed down as I started working to gain the millions needed to purchase the Yavin stronghold and unlock rooms.

The heroics that have been readjusted for the KotFE story have helped a great deal in this respect.  I’ve been able to complete a whole lot of objectives at once doing those.  First, I made credits-and that was a big deal.  Secondly, I got crates of stuff to donate to the Alliance contacts, allowing me to get their influence ratings to 10 for my two mains.  Thirdly, the Voss ones allowed me to max out my Voss reputation just in case I want to get something from their rep vendor, like dye recipes.  Not a bad plan, and thus far, it’s allowed me to unlock all but two rooms in Yavin-and I expect that before the month is out, I might be able to unlock the remaining two.


Mmm, reactors imported from Zakuul.

Since Coruscant was closed down, I chose to make this one a “Jedi Temple” with a Republic Military annex attached.  I got to use some of the new decorations I’d gotten thanks to my star fortress runs (like a pair of big sun-reactors), slapped up some turrets at key points for defense (it’s all appearance-it’s not like they actually fire on anyone), and put in the usual utilities I demand in my stronholds:  mail, legacy bank, cargo bays.  Plus I decided to construct a couple new GTN terminals so that Yavin and Kaas could access the trade network.  I’m still debating constructing guild banks for those two as well; Shadda has one (and it already had a GTN kiosk from earlier work).  It’d be easier just to purchase parts from GTN, but since I have a bunch of characters, I have a wide range of crafting skills available, so putting in the effort to build them myself seems cheaper; it’s what I did for the starship decoration I have on Shadda, after all (I did have to buy a couple things from GTN for that one, though).

With the next chapter incoming, I’m looking forward to seeing a couple old companions make a return appearance, and dreading the choice that I predict will be forced upon me (I’ve got a good idea of what my Smuggler will do, but the Agent is probably going to be a game-time choice).  And I can’t forget that this chapter should also include the January monthly subscription reward of an HK-55 companion.  I’m not sure if we’ll see the February one as well, which is the HK-inspired jetpack, but we’ll see.  Most important, though, I’m looking forward to seeing the continuation of the story of the Eternal Empire and the Alliance that is slowly building to oppose it.  Hm, an Alliance versus an Empire.  That sure has a familiar feel to it….



One of the things that amazes me constantly-no matter how often I see it happen-is the tendency of MMOs to chop out content from their games.

The latest game to give me this impression is Star Wars: The Old Republic; in everything I’ve been reading concerning their plans for the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, I’ve consistently seen references to “streamlining the previous story content”.  A desire to arrange things so that the leveling experience is faster.  All well and good-the dev team wants to show off its new shiny stuff, and that shiny stuff is being applied to the high level experience.

But I can’t help but feel a bit wary on such things.  To me, “streamlining” tends to indicate that content is about to be chopped out.  Star Trek Online is one of the biggest offenders here; every time they decide to streamline things, it usually involves entire episodes being wiped out, or in one notable case, an entire system of play wiped out.  But STO is hardly alone; even World of Warcraft has indulged in removing questlines.  (I’m not sure if they get a net gain, though; in my experience, they replace old quests with new).

So when TOR talks about streamlining things, I have trouble imagining how they can do that without chopping storyline.  I mean, they can up the XP so player can skip planetary quests-but of course, they’re already doing the 12X XP for subscribers on class quests right now.  How else can they streamline things without slashing off game content?  Make the speeder-taxis instant travel?  What would be the point?  The quick-travel shuttles are already at all taxi points, and provide that service with little downtime (especially if you subscribe and have paid for Legacy improvements; I can quick travel with no downtime at all now).  Are they looking to cut out entire planets?  That would certainly cut down the time, but they’d have to seriously further buff XP for that, too.

Story’s been the big thing that helps set TOR apart from most other MMOs; I can applaud Bioware’s move back to that with the upcoming expansion, but I worry that in the process of making the new shiny, they may damage the good stuff that came before.  Maybe I’m worrying over nothing; there still is a lot of unrevealed info concerning KotFE, and maybe the plan to “streamline” will be something more innovative than I can conceive of.  I hope so.  Because a lot of people put a lot of work in developing the stories for each class, for each planet, from the writing to the animation to the art.  And it’s a damned shame when a developer decides that all that work can just be thrown away because “streamlining!”

Shadow of…Makeb?

Okay, now that I have some time to post, and have had time to think on what to post, I’m ready to talk about Shadow of Revan, the upcoming expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The setup is simple:  Revan, the hero/antihero of the original Knights of the Old Republic is back.  (He’s actually sort of been back, but I’ll avoid spoilers in case someone out there hasn’t actually done a set of four flashpoints that were in the game at the beginning.)  Due to events that happened in the “Forged Alliances” flashpoints (which I’ll also try to be vague on), a man claiming to be Revan has more or less declared war on both the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire-and he’s got the forces to at least get their attention.

The question of whether or not this is actually the Revan is likely to be a question explored in the expansion; whether or not he is, though, is largely irrelevant if his followers believe it.  For the sake of convenience, I’ll keep calling him Revan; it’s easier than “the man claiming to be Revan”.

Of course, this has gotten some purists upset; I’m not one of them, primarily because I don’t have the emotional attachment of having ever played Knights of the Old Republic.  (I had finally picked up the game years ago, but I made the mistake of picking up at the same time a little game called Star Wars Galaxies.  MMOs are black holes from which there is no escape…)  From what I have heard about the game and the character background, not to mention the events of those four flashpoints I mentioned, I could easily believe that Revan could decide “a pox on both your houses”.  The circumstances of how he made it hundreds of years after KotR could be enough to twist anyone-and let’s face it, Revan has never been the poster child for mental stability.

The expansion will theoretically cover two planets, and include-for the first time-new class stories.  The devs have indicated that they won’t be at the same level as the class stories in the original game here, but that doesn’t bother me either; even if they turn out to be short side-stories, they’re still worth having.  A smuggler is going to look at the events differently than a Jedi or a Trooper.

One thing that does bother me a bit, though, is one of the big changes coming with the expansion:  a revamp of the skill trees.

Your New Skill…Thing

The skill trees are history, to be replaced by something called Disciplines.  The devs figured that there were certain skills in the various advanced classes that are taken because they are seen as essential, so they’ve folded them into the various “disciplines” as being gained automatically, but left in the other stuff as being selectable by any of the trees.  So, for example, if you’re a Concealment Operative, you get abilities from the Concealment Discipline-and can select other skills as you level from all of the former available branches (eg. Lethality and Medicine for an Operative).  Those are called “Utility Selections”.  I’m not one hundred percent sold on this.  That said, if you like your build now, it’s probably a good idea to record somewhere what that build actually is so you can put it together again-hopefully-with the new disciplines.

That change will affect everyone, regardless of whether or not they buy the expansion.  And there’s another rub.

The last time Bioware/EA put up an expansion for cash in this game was Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  There was a preorder with useful bonuses, and if I remember right, subscribers got a discount (I could be remembering wrong, though; been a while).  And this wasn’t considered a big deal.  But five months later, the devs made RotHC free for subscribers.  Now, I don’t have an issue with an expansion being made free after a period of time, but five months was ridiculous.  Now, if you purchase Shadow of Revan, you’ll get RotHC free, regardless of whether or not you subscribe.  And I’m actually okay with that part; this IS about the length of time I’d expect that sort of thing to happen.  But five months was basically (and I hate using the term since it’s so damned overused) a slap in the face to the people who bought the expansion-especially if you weren’t a preorder for it.  When Galactic Starfighter was released, I’d posted that it was a good thing that it was being put in for free, because who would be dumb enough to pay for it after that RotHC stunt?

I stand corrected.  Post after post on the official forums indicate a wave of preorders.  I can’t bring myself to do it; the preorder perks mean nothing to me.  I have exactly one alt who I want to get through the class story, so the 12X class story xp means nothing to me; I could care less about a massive statue of Revan for my stronghold, as he’s sort of the antagonist of the expansion here thus far; I already have RotHC; and a 7-day headstart isn’t floating my boat.  So there’s no benefit to preordering for me-and given that I believe there’s a fair chance that this expansion will also be given away free for subs in six months, I feel no immediate desire to purchase the expansion.  And that’s Bioware/EA’s fault for setting that precedent.

Let’s not end this on a sour note.  I did, over the weekend, finally open up my last room for my Nar Shadda stronghold.  I’d blown a heap of Cartel Coins hoarded from my stipend for one room, but the rest was all in credits-including the last 2.2 million credit balcony, which represents the largest amount of credits I’ve had on one character in that game-ever.  Maybe that’ll be one good thing that comes out of Shadow of Revan:  with everyone running the new content, I’ll not have to compete with other players to finish objectives in the open worlds on Ilum, Oricon, and the Czerka base to rebuild a nest egg (which will allow me purchase more decorations or stuffs off of GTN).

The Hutts are Rising. Really.

  Recently, Bioware announced its first expansion to Star Wars: The Old Republic.  It will be “Rise of the Hutt Cartel”, and it comes out in Spring 2012.  However, before one gets too wildly excited, there are things to be aware of.

  First and foremost, this isn’t an expansion like, say, Mists of Pandaria; it’s closer to Trials of Obi-Wan.  You can see this in the pricing scheme:  $19.99 for free/Preferred Status players, $9.99 for subscribers.  Compared to the price point of Mists of Pandaria, it’s not hard to see that you’re not likely to see the volume of content as contained in that World of Warcraft expansion here.  I mean, sure, it’s possible that Bioware and their parent Electronic Arts might give the same volume of stuff at such a reduced price; it’s also possible that the world will end tomorrow like some folks still seem to believe.  The odds are probably about the same.

  It’s honestly closer to Downloadable Content for other games, like (unsurprisingly) Mass Effect, or even DC Universe Online.  The latter isn’t exactly a great comparison, though-you see, the DLC for DCUO can be paid for with the Station Coins or whatever they call their free to play currencies.  Not so with Rise of the Hutt Cartel; it’s cash or nothing, baby.  Probably because they didn’t want subscribers to hoard their stipend until they got to pick it up for effectively free.  (Gosh, let’s see…90 coins to the dollar…call it 900 coins, so two months of subscribing.)

Would this face lie to you? (Probably.)

  Well, let’s look at what we get.  Well, we don’t actually know yet.  Not really.  According to devs so far, the pack includes a new planet-Makeb-which is “a large planet”; I presume this means on the scale of Tatooine or Coruscant, as opposed to the scale of Quesh.  The character level cap rises to 55; that’s not entirely unexpected, given the general standards of expansions.  And there is a new storyline; well, two, that is:  one for the Galactic Republic, and one for the Sith Empire.  While the devs originally said it “continues your character’s story”, they quickly clarified that this did not mean that it was continuing their class story; so no Chapter Four at this time.  (Or if there is, it’s become very generic.)  This begs the question as to how likely the class stories will ever continue.  That’s a can of worms to be saved for another post, though.

  At the moment, the expansion can be preordered, but the only benefit that comes from preordering is five days early access to the content-and that offer ends on January 7.  Honestly, one’s better off waiting for the content to get released for those five days and listen to what folks have to say about it-and decide at that point.  There will likely be more information released as we go along; it seems likely that there will be a new Flashpoint, and at least one new Operation; but they haven’t actually said, so assuming can be pretty rough.

  I personally am holding off on the preorder until we get more information, and I may not even pick it up until after its release.  It’s even possible I may decide that I’m just fine without; as Han Solo might say, “You tell that slimy piece of worm-ridden filth he’ll get no such pleasure from us!”  Okay, I don’t really see Bioware that way (I reserve that for other companies), but given the subject of this upcoming content, I couldn’t pass up the quote.  Point is, I want to see what they’ve got before I start committing more money to TOR.  It seems that lately, I’ve chosen to start keeping MMOs on a short leash.

Week of Updates

  The last seven days has shown a LOT going on in the MMOs I play.

As if traffic in Millennium City didn’t have enough problems.

  Last Friday, Champions Online released their “Reloaded” update.  The two major things in the update were the “official” introduction of vehicles and a new Alert-which is basically an instanced PvE area for multiple characters.  This seems to have been met with lukewarm feelings, though.  I haven’t read much reaction on the instance yet-although it sounds cool, featuring airship carriers and a major villain’s attack on them-mainly because most of the reaction seems to be centered on the vehicles.

  Not sure what’s up there, honestly; there’s mixed opinions on folks who say they wanted them and folks who said they never asked for them.  What started burning people up is that this major update to the game is basically “buy the vehicles from the store”.  Basically, there are three avenues of getting a vehicle right now; Drifter Salvage, which comes from grab bags that are sold in the C-Store; you can buy a vehicle directly from the C-Store; or you can get a lockbox opened with keys from-you guessed it-the C-Store.  So you could make a good case that half the new content is actually “pay for it”.  Then add to the fact that technically, this is the second wave of vehicles; prior to this, there were vehicles sold that were “prototype” jets, and their superior speed was a big selling factor at the time.  Guess what got nerfed?  Sure, they can be modified now with the stuff you can get with the new vehicle system, but it seems that this is a poor compensation for early adopters.

A new frontier for the Romulans and Remans

  Since I’m on the subject of transaction stores and Cryptic, let’s look at the release on Tuesday in Star Trek Online:  Season Seven.  The good news there is that there is a lot of good stuff there; there’s a new space zone, and this is a legitimate zone, as opposed to the Undine Space zone; in fact, it’s even more packed than the Deferi space area.  Most of the planets there have a patrol mission attached, which counts for the new Reputation system, and the ones that aren’t are likely closed off until you get to a certain rep level.  A new ground zone exists for New Romulus, and you can actually beam down with one of your bridge officers, and interact with…well, every other player captain with their preferred boff.  In comparison with the release for Champions, STO blows it out of the water.

  But…this is Cryptic we’re talking about.  Or possibly Perfect World Entertainment; I’m never sure exactly who makes the calls on these, so I tend to paint them with the same brush.  The Executive Producer of STO, Daniel Stahl, put up a blog on what is one of the most controversial stunts with this release:  the beating upon the dilithium economy.  Dilithium is the ingame representation of real money transactions, similar to PLEX in EVE Online, except it’s usable for heaps of stuff-like buying equipment, and contributing to starbase improvement (and now embassy improvement-and the Reputation system).  There’s an awful lot of stuff that requires dilithium.  Even Stahl admitted that players aren’t getting enough dilithium “refined” (you have to actually refine the ore before you can use it-and you’re limited to 8000 units, maybe 1000 more if you have a certain vet reward).  This would indicate to most rational people that maybe what is needed is to improve the dilithium volume.  Nope:  instead, the devs nerfed the hell out of the dilithium producing missions, AND added dilithium costs to stuff that didn’t previously.  Yeah, that makes sense.

  Well, actually, it does-if you look at it in the point of view of wanting the player to spend more real money on buying dilithium.  Needless to say…the forum posters were not amused.  And they’ve got a good point, too.  Looking at Stahl’s post and looking at what the devs have done makes it hard for me to believe that there was anything in mind here beyond “get the players to spend more real money”.  If I were a subscriber, I’d be furious as hell.  As a lifetimer who’s paid off a long time back, I can just shrug and say, “hey, you want any of my money?  Earn it.”  They haven’t since going Freemium.  All this said:  the explosions on the forums apparently caused a change of heart, and some of the dilithium changes are going to be reversed.  Granted, this came from the same guy who has been telling the KDF that Klingons would be getting more content for a 1-50 level experience any day now…for almost three years….  But a patch today is going up, and the original blog post has been updated with the new information.

He’s waiting for you….

  And since we’re on the subject of going Freemium:  today, Star Wars: The Old Republic goes “free to play”.  The patch is going up even as I type-but hey, this just means I get a chance to post more about it in its own post sometime in the near future!  We’ll see just how well Bioware gets this rolling-it’s hard to believe that they’d do worse than PWE.  But then, there are segments of gamers who consider Electronic Arts the next best thing to Digital Satan.  Who is right?  It is worth noting, incidentally, that November 15 is the anniversary of a major change to another Star Wars property; the New Game Enhancements were enacted for Star Wars Galaxies on this date.  Let’s hope that’s not an omen, eh?

  Certainly a busy week for the games I involve myself with.  I can’t recall the last time so many of these games have updated in major ways in such a short span of time.  Must be something about November.

The Cartel Prepares to Arrive in the New-Old Republic

One can only presume that this is not the guy who will be selling the Cartel Coins.

  Recently, Bioware put out some more news concerning its upcoming Freemium conversion (which, as far as I can tell, still has no firm date) for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

  First, of significance to past and present subscribers, a utility has been put into place which calculates the amount of Cartel Coins-their real-money conversion currency-an account will get based on time subscribed before and after the announcement, the edition purchased, and such.  The catch is that you have to be subscribed when the Freemium hits.  So folks who are not subscribed at that point who may have been subscribers in the past should not be expecting to log in and see free cash lying around for them.  (I’m willing to lay odds that we’ll see a lot of screaming on the forums at day one on this very subject.  Never bet against the masses’ ability to throw a fit.)

  The other bit of news is of greater import:  it outlays exactly (well, semi-exactly) what a free player can expect without paying a subscription fee.  For the most part, none of this is new:  they can get full access to class storylines and planetary stories.  They have limits on the “character choices”; no word if this means races, classes, or both, but since there aren’t heaps of classes in the game, I gotta believe it’s going to be mostly race/class combinations.  Raid content is locked unless a pass is paid for; warzones and flashpoints are limited in how many you can do per week without purchase (I’m uncertain if that means just for rewards or doing them at all; I’m not familiar enough with Warzones to determine if that’s an omission).  Most of the limits seem like they can be eliminated for one-time purchases with Cartel Coins.  High end gear is restricted without a pass (not sure if that’s per item or a blanket pass).  The one that caught my attention on the TOR forums concerned death:  but it doesn’t seem as horrible as it sounded, since respawns at the medical droid aren’t affected-only the ability to “rez in the field”, and even those limits can be expanded with purchase.  Any purchase at all unlocks the ability to Sprint at level 1, login priority, secure trading and more chat options-as long as the character is level 6 first.

  In other words, it doesn’t seem to be to be gouging more than I’ve seen off of the other freemium conversions.  Of course, I haven’t seen the pricing yet, nor have I seen how they’ll be advancing content.  If they start throwing in lotteries like Star Wars Galaxies did and Star Trek Online (and recently announced in sister game Champions Online), I’m likely to revise my opinions downward.  This will undoubtedly irritate the people who have been screaming about the game who were looking forward to doing everything for free; honestly, that was never going to happen.  Subscribers are likely to be wary, just as they always are when a conversion hits.  They’re the ones about to experience a major change, after all.  Whether or not the change is a good one or not is something I’ll be watching as we start rolling into 2013.  I would not be surprised if the conversion is scheduled to hit on the one year anniversary of the game-that would technically be only days after the end of Autumn, so only a little late.  On the other hand, I’m sure Bioware would prefer to celebrate the anniversary with more people in game, so who knows?

  It’s still a work in progress.

Consolidating Character

  Once in a while, I get surprised in a game.  That happened twice recently with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

  Very recently, the developers at Bioware managed to work out how to make “superservers”.  I’ll give the benefit of the doubt in believing it’s hardware improvements and not “there aren’t enough people around anymore”.  So it was looking like all those locked servers were about to be forcibly merged into existing servers.

  What I hadn’t realized was that there would be similar moves with the servers that were still around.  I logged in to find that Canderous Ordo had ceased to exist, and my characters had been bumped over to Jedi Covenant (along with the rest of the guild).  I’d been under the impression for some time that Canderous was one of the more populated servers, and had gotten even more so with being a server destination for some of those locked servers, so this was an ugly surprise for me.

  The better surprise was that, ultimately, it didn’t really affect me much.  I had one character who required a rename:  and that character was so rarely used (I hadn’t gotten to leveling that one) that deleting the character didn’t cause me any loss of sleep.  The guild didn’t suffer a rename, either; a bunch of guilds who found themselves moved also found themselves with “Guildname@Canderous Ordo” as their new guild name.  Also, I was equally happy to see that very few of the characters in the guild had been given forced renames.  All in all, things could have gone much worse from a personal standpoint.

  My Ebon Hawk characters, incidentally, weren’t fazed a bit.  All the names there were free and clear.  There may have been less competition, since it’s a roleplaying server, and there weren’t as much servers to merge in at that point.

  So that’s the biggest news for TOR in the last month, I think.  Freemium is still on deck for “this fall”, and the next big patch (1.4) is slated to go in at some point in the not horribly distant future, and likely prior to the conversion.  Most of the stuff I’m seeing for 1.4 won’t really affect me directly, since I’m not an Operations sort of player; but there is some stuff that will be handy:  being able to finally make my companions match their color schemes and hide helmets on select character will make them more tolerable to look at.  Since they’re as much a part of my characters as their gear, this really is a fairly big deal.

  Oh, and one more thing happened with all this, that made me smile with that crazed look in my eye:  they added four character slots for each server, bumping the number to twelve.  Being the altaholic I am, I was extremely pleased by that.  I’m considering making an Imp on Covenant now:  there are still hints of an HK companion that will be easier if I have characters of both factions over there, and I still have somewhere in my cargo bays a “rakghoul infected” appearance kit for Mako, one of the Bounty Hunter companions that I would dearly like to use….

Grandma, What a Strange Family Tree You Have

  Yesterday, the good folks at Bioware held a “guild summit” where select guilds in Star Wars: The Old Republic were invited to have a bit of face to face time.  It contained a fairly significant info dump on where things were going to be going in the game-including stuff from the bit 1.2 patch that could hit as soon as April (but bet on May).

  No, my guilds weren’t among ’em.  I don’t tend to get into huge guilds that get that kind of representation.  But fortunately, the people at the Darth Hater website have conveniently blogged up what was covered!  So let’s see what they’ve got!

  First, there’s a limited time trial program, where subscribers can invite three friends to try out TOR.  Hopefully, this won’t open the floodgates to the spamlords; the limits on how many friends are invited, plus the limited time detail, will hopefully limit the damage there.  Plus-there are a LOT of servers; the folks on low population servers probably won’t be harassed as much.  Maybe.

  A new Operation (raid) and Flashpoint (dungeon) will be making their debut in 1.2, with others being developed.  I’m all for Flashpoints-they tend to be fun-but I’m gonna hold off commenting on the Operations.  Still don’t have any level 50’s, so can’t comment on those.  I’m closing in with my Smuggler at 47, though….  *ahem*  Anyway, there’s talk of a looking-for-group tool going in for 1.3, but that’s obviously still down the road.  There’s a new PvP Warzone on for 1.2 as well, but as I don’t really do the PvP thing, I don’t have much comment for this either; I’m not against it, though, since I tend to believe that there’s room for all kinds of play styles in an MMO.

  The big interest I have is in the expansion of the Legacy system.  Since finishing Chapter One, a character starts applying special xp called “Legacy XP” which is gained by all the characters on the server.  But there’s been no hint as to what it would be for-until now!  Legacy will have a number of interesting details.  First, your characters can go into a “family tree”; don’t panic-as I understand it, part of that tree can have listed as “allies”, so your human won’t suddenly have a Twi’lek mother….  Speaking of aliens, reaching level 50 with one unlocks that species for all classes-which is to say, you can have a Trueblood Sith Smuggler, for example.

Yes, that means your Mirialan Jedi can eventually allow you to create a Mirialan Sith Lord. GIVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE!

  The thing that gets odd looks, though, is that upon completing chapters, you open your other characters up to using abilities that the completing character has.  Force Choke for Bounty Hunters?  Why does this seem wrong to me?  These abilities are being treated as “heroic abilities”, which require a companion to be out, and has a cooldown of some length, meaning it’s not something you’ll see often in group content.  Still, the disconnect is strange.  Plus other legacy stuff like getting mailboxes and GTN (auction house) terminals on your ship, legacy items, other stuff.  Thing is, though?  I didn’t see much in the article about what the heck the legacy levels are FOR, even though they apparently also go up to level 50.  Guess it’s still a wait-and-see kind of thing.

  Some stats were released (such as:  Smuggler and Imperial Agent are the lowest played classes, which means once again, I have managed to put my main characters in those ranks!  And folks thought my picking Ranger as my master profession in SWG was a fluke…), and there’s more endgame mods coming (so that orange modifiable gear will be viable; good news for me, since I tend to be attached to mine).  Speeder training is going to go down in cost, but prices for speeders are going to go up; in theory, the net cost will still be lower than it is now.  That’s good news for me-my Smuggler is cash poor at the moment, while my IA is in pretty good shape.

  Then there’s the big point for guild summits:  guild stuff.  While guild banks are coming with 1.2, most of the other kind of stuff guilds are calling for-emblems, calendars, guild mailings, etc-are going to come “later”.  I imagine folks running guilds would’ve preferred better news there, but at least the stuff is on the radar.

  There’s UI improvements coming in, including the ability to modify size and move discrete elements elsewhere on the window.  I’ve kind of gotten used to the current setup, but it’s possible I may eventually experiment to make it closer to what I’d see in City of Heroes (to help adjust to the disconnect of adapting to other interfaces.  It’s not causing me problems now, though, so it’s not a big priority).

  Finally, new daily quests are on the way (Corellia gets one in 1.2), and a new “story” is being developed for later this year.  THAT is good news to me, since I see that as the biggest draw in TOR.  Of course, odds are that it’ll be the same for every class, as opposed to a “Chapter Four” for individual classes-but then, maybe not.  Just to show that with all the stuff about Operations and Flashpoints and PvP, there’s stuff coming down the pike for casual folks too.  1.2 sounds like it’s going to be chock full of stuff, and I’m looking forward to seeing it all roll out in the next couple of months.

  Special thanks to the staff of the Darth Hater site, whose account of the summit should DEFINITELY be read if you want more details what exactly was covered; after all, I’m just putting my thoughts down on the stuff that interests me, and there was a LOT more stuff covered than stuff that interests me!