It’s been a quieter week this week – but less dominant topics mean more cool random bits and pieces.
And so we close out the week with two interesting posts from two of the major MMOs we haven’t heard from this week: SWTOR and GW2…
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Shintar’s very worried by what does indeed look like an incoming trainwreck in SWTOR – the upcoming PvP Arenas, which are planned to be non-optional for PvP players…
Read “Going Commando: Meh, Arenas” »
And Jeromai delves into the mysteries of Guild Wars 2 lore in a really interesting post, starting from a look at some artwork and heading into deep, cross-game lore speculation about the future of GW2.
Read “GW2: The Cliffs and the Colossus | Why I Game” »
Star Wars: The Old Republic seems to be having something of a renaissance right now.
We’re seeing more people post about it, more people say positive things about it, and in general more “vibe” about the game than virtually any time since launch.
Here’s what the SWTOR crowd are talking about this week:
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It’s almost a year since flagship MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic announced that it was going Free To Play.
So has it worked? Has it managed to save the game whilst keeping it playable?
Two old-school SWTOR bloggers, fans since before the F2P transition, share their thoughts on what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong:
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Shintar thoroughly reviews her experience with the F2P transition, as someone who hated the idea initially, and finds that it hasn’t actually affected her play much – but that’s because she still pays for a subscription…
Read “Random Free To Play Thoughts” »
And Njessi takes the topic point-by-point, finding that F2P has definitely negatively affected some things, like crafting, but that the core of the game remains the same.
Read “One Year Later: Free To Play” »
I know I didn’t.
Turns out that “Barping” is the new hip term in the MMO roleplaying community to refer to “Bar RP” – trawling the seedy bars and cantinas of an MMO looking for some hot narrativistic action.
Yes, exactly like the Lion’s Pride Inn in Goldshire.
MJ at SWTOR Life offers us a detailed guide to this exciting new(ish) pursuit in MMOs, and the colourful characters you’ll find therin:
” Troll Strollers —These folks will make you dizzy. How many times can the same person walk around the same four cantina bars without stopping for a drink? Oh, sure, they’ll vary it a little by riding the elevators up to the VIP level and back down again, even roam around the outer ring. They never say anything, never do anything, but they are on the hunt for RP. Some time ago I talked about the “walkers” (That was before I heard someone in General Chat use the term “Troll Stroller” and I about spit blue milk through my nose at the clever turn of phrase), and the fact that “walking,” like personal emoting, is a sign that someone is acting with their character in a more realistic way—and therefore are likely to respond if approached in a realistic way. It’s easy enough to engage a Troll Stroller in RP. Typically, all you have to do is highlight their character and type /nod, /look, or /smile and you’re sure to get the same back, if not the start of a full-fledged conversation. The hard-to-get Troll Strollers aren’t worth your time if you’re serious about sitting down to some deep RolePlay. If you throw them a “/look” and they shoot back with a “/nod,” and move on without another word, they’re either just spinning their wheels or waiting for the PvP queue to pop—or, they want you to do all the work.
Fishers —These characters are a lot like the Troll Strollers except they stand still. They usually find a spot at the bar where no one is around, or stand at an empty bar. Sometimes they sit (in that strange not-really-sitting-way) in chairs overlooking the bars. Sometimes they stand at the railings on the outer ring of the cantina area. Most of the time, Fishers are quiet. They’re just waiting for that “in,” the moment when they overhear a snippet of RP that holds an interest for their character, or they’re scouting out other Fishers or Troll Strollers for potential chat.”
Read the rest of MJ’s Ultimate Guide To Barping »
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Has the other shoe dropped for SWTOR in its new F2P incarnation?
That’s what some people have been saying, as the latest SWTOR patch introduces a reputation that only interacts with the Real-Money “Cartel” system.
But is it really that bad?
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- Shintar thinks it’s all a big fuss over nothing, given that all of the items unlocked are cosmetic – “Cosmetic fluff is about as innocent as this kind of stuff can get. Yes, I can understand why it sucks if that’s your favourite thing in the game, but what kind of things do you expect them to sell then? “
- And Rohan mostly agrees, although he’s a bit concerned that it may indicate a worrying trend in the game – “In F2P games, more and more it’s looking like the monetization team is the profit-generating division, and the actual game is nothing more than a cost center, and company policy follows accordingly.”
Are MMOs discriminatory against a significant segment of the population? Yes – they might just be.
That’s the startling conclusion that Hawtpants of the Old Republic’s Njessi has come to recently, after her SWTOR guild added a new member – who is colorblind – and she realised that at least one of SWTOR’s fights is almost impossible for a colorblind person. And thinking about it, I’m pretty sure there have been similar color-dependent fights in other MMO raids, including WoW…
“Yes, that’s right. Terror from beyond – the boss that most people refer to as the “color boss.” The colors are orange, yellow, blue, and purple. With blue and purple looking about the same, and orange and red looking about the same too, there is no easy way to simply assign the color blind person to the color “easiest to see” because there is none.”
“It has completely changed the way I think about this fight. The first time I was in here, I thought “wow! This is fun and inventive!” Now I’m frustrated with the damn thing because it’s virtually impossible for someone with a fairly common and mild disability.”
Read The Rest Of Njessi’s Article
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Remember Ilium? When SWTOR launched last year, it was the focal point for complaints about the game – a badly-balanced, badly-designed PVP zone.
Now, a year later, Shintar revisited Ilium, and found it to be … well, odd:
“About ten minutes later, we were back on our mains, Commando and Vanguard. Since we were now on the side that didn’t own the area, we could actually capture all the objectives. It felt kind of anti-climatic though, as everything just consisted of two ten-second casts which then declared the objective captured… and nothing else happened. No rewards, no fireworks, no big changes. There were no more Imperials in the area either. The only good thing about it was that we received a buff that would grant us bonus valor from warzones for an hour.
We did queue up for a couple of games to make use of the buff, while staying on Ilum the rest of the time to see if anything interesting was going to happen between our matches. It didn’t. Eventually another guildie joined us, and it was rather amusing that he too was utterly confused by the place, considering that he’s been playing for a long time and PvP is his big passion.”
Read more here: The strangeness of Ilum a year later
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SWTOR’s Free To Play transformation is well underway – and it’s still a very controversial subject. But it’s not the only topic under discussion this week – we’ve also got a look at the uncanny valley and some seriously inappropriate outfits…
- Justin Olivetti at Massively takes a critical look at the design of SWTOR’s F2P, and worries it will drive potential players away – “Whether I’m a subscriber, a paying free player, or a complete freeloader, I need to feel appreciated and welcomed by the game and its studio. F2P isn’t an automatic pass to the golden life, just an opportunity for a fresh start — or restart.”
- Green Armadillo looks at one aspect of the F2P plan – caps on credits for non-subscribers – and predicts potential disaster – ” My server at least is seeing the global trade network flooded with unlock items that cost several dollars worth of cartel coins but that cost well under 350,000 credits. “
- Talking of disaster, Njessi has been cataloguing in pictoral form all the ways you can have a SWTOR fashion crisis – “Second, bikinis. So many bikinis. SARCASTIC THANKS, CARTEL MARKET.”
- And Syp (no relation to Justin up top there, nosiree) considers how SWTOR’s presentation of its NPCs may have diminished his enthusiasm for the game – “Sure, they have good voice acting, but their faces don’t really show emotion or match up to what’s being said. “Angry” and “orgasmic” are basically the same expression. “
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So what’s up in SWTOR this week?
As Free To Play starts, most of the discussion is about its pros and cons – but not all…
- Shintar muses on her reactions to players playing each of the advanced classes, and her immediate for or against biases – ” If nothing else I expect Guardian players to be well-intentioned, however other than that I pretty much anticipate mediocrity.”
- Green Armadillo writes two interesting posts on the F2P model – early observations and thoughts on why it’s structured as it is – ” What I’m guessing they were most afraid of was that introducing charges for stuff that was free earlier in the game (e.g. quests) would have an especially strong effect on players sticking around. “
- And Njessi argues that the F2P model needs to evolve, and some things that aren’t just need to be free – “You’re going to need more inventory space before you even leave the starter planet. It’s just going to turn people off the game if they boot up the game, play for a few hours (I mean, literally, to level 10 is a few hours) and they already find themselves needing to make a purchase”
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Is anyone else kind of intimidated by all the new MMO content right now?
I mean, we’ve got RIFT: Storm Legion, Mists of Pandaria barely a month old, Guild Wars 2’s new patch, Riders of Rohan, SWTOR F2P, Everquest 2’s expansion, WoW Patch 5.1 in the wings, new indie MMO efforts everywhere (Dragon’s Tale, Salem, Day Z or whatever it’s called now)… It’s exhausting.
Fortunately, a lot of bloggers are writing some great reviews to help us all decide what to do first:
- Lono shares the impressions of a friend of his who was new to SWTOR when he started playing the Free To Play version – ” Soon enough Jay realizes he needs more space in his inventory so he’s off again to the store and finds out it will cost him 175cc for 10 inventory slots.”
- MMO Muse shares first impressions of new sandbox Wurm-a-like game Salem – which sounds very interesting – “Another one of those sandbox games, isn’t it? Yes, pretty much. But not one of those “I sit here and craft 60 pointed sticks” one; while playing, I was moving and exploring most of the time, and only stopped for crafting once or twice in the whole time.”
- Rixx Javix considers what a sports enthusiast who didn’t know EVE would think as he watched the latest EVE tournament – “This reminded me of the first time I saw Australian Rules Football on ESPN. I ain’t got no idea what the heck is going on, but I know it is a sport. I’m thinking this is European since the announcers have got some kind of accent, and they are rather pasty, like they haven’t seen the sun in awhile. “
- Chris at Game By Night gives us a detailed rundown of his first impressions of RIFT: Storm Legion – “Another thing that I have to give Trion props for is the scope and beauty of their vision. The expansion is just VAST and everything is so BIG.”
- Healing The Masses dives into the new Guild Wars 2 Fractals dungeon and comes out with a rundown – “these new mini dungeons seem like the perfect length in a way as it is rather easy to keep them feeling fresh during a run in terms of visuals and mechanics but when added together they make for a rather cohesive little gaming session.”
- Jaysla has been trying out Challenge Modes in Mists of Pandaria, and offers an enthusiastic recommendation – “Challenge modes are a lot of fun and I recommend everyone give them a try. They’ll really make you work hard to use every possible advantage available to your class and spec and allow for some creative puzzle solving.”
- The Ancient Gaming Noob tried out Guild Wars 2’s free trial, and came away with mixed feelings – “nice game. But not different enough that I am going to drop what ever I am doing now to run off and play it. “
- And Entombed tried out the Guild Wars 2 Fractals dungeon too, and loved them – “What I experienced was nothing more than a wonderful addition to the game. “
Overall, the winners from the weekend seem to be GW2’s new dungeon (but not the live event – see our next post), Storm Legion, and Challenge Modes!
Are you feeling MMOverwhelm right now?
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