Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Star Wars: The full un-plugged gaming experience


Once a week, for the past few weeks, I’ve been off in a galaxy far far away. Not Star Wars: The Old Republic, mind you, but a new Star Wars game setup by a friend. I’m still playing SW:TOR too, I even have another cutscene video up. This one is a little growdy, but still humorous to me. I’ve also put my Bounty Hunter on hold right now, after finishing the great hunt. I’ve now started on Jedi Knight.

As for this new Star Wars game, I won’t get into details of the specifics of the games special rules until I get permission from the friend, but it combines X-Wing the miniatures game with Warhammer 40k, along with a galactic conquest mini-game between missions. It could be played as any faction - between Imperial, Rebel or Scum and Villainy. At the moment, there are six of us, and we all split into groups of two, one group in each faction. I chose to be Rebel for now, but currently thinking on switching to Scum and Villainy as a smuggler or something.


For a quick run down of the game, each week we are given a dossier of our mission details for that week. We then come up with a plan, and how much we are allowed to spend for that mission between space and ground troops. Our next step is galactic conquest actions, and finally we do the mission.

For the game, we use the X-Wing miniatures game for space combat, and Warhammer 40k for ground combat. There are a lot of special rules here so we aren’t running around always fielding Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Heck, we are too low a rank right now to even have access to them. So we can only field no-named characters, basically pawns, and our own special characters if we need too. The mission may grant us a named character, set by the DM.

I’m currently really enjoying the game itself, and spent a lot of time getting into it. The DM is a little overwhelmed though, and the missions are hurting because of it. We also have a couple of people who feel the need to always backstab everyone in whatever game they are playing, which irritates me to no end. The game itself is pretty solid, and I have some suggestions to help streamline it a bit more where complexity isn’t needed.


Friday, September 18, 2015

My Gamer Age

Scrolling through my blogroll, something caught my eye. Aywren’s “Can We Guess Your Age Based On Your Video Game Preferences?” She said it was spot on so I wanted to give it a try too. Here are my results.


Pretty close, though I feel like it. If you are a little bored, or don’t mind taking part in a non-scientific, for fun only survey, give it a try over at Buzzfeed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Multitasking vs Focusing


It’s been studied and said that humans just can’t multitask. Serial tasking, where we jump from one task to another and back again, is a whole ‘nother thing, and some people are really good at that (though it still scares me to see people texting while driving, whether they’re good at it, or think they’re good at it). This whole unfocused working mess confuses me. Why would people want to do this? And yet, I wish I could.

I’m terrible at serial tasking, when I’m listening to something, I can’t write. If I’m trying to cook, I can’t watch YouTube. I have extreme trouble compared to others when it comes to performing multiple tasks in a short time. Heck, I could get stuck reading the same sentence over and over if there’s someone talking.

When it comes to focusing on a single task, I actually enjoy doing that. I spent almost all day yesterday just learning the rules to x-wing. I love to focus, and noticed that some people actually have trouble doing this. They can’t sit down to a single task for very long before becoming distracted. So I’ve learned to accept and love my ability to focus, seeing how not everyone can do it, and enjoy our diverse world of focusers and serial taskers.

Oh, and apparently I lied, our brain can actually multitask one thing. Unsurprisingly, it’s with our sight, our strongest sense.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fun with Cutscenes - SW:TOR (Lots of money)

Very short post today. I'm having a bit of fun with a cutscene in Star Wars: The Old Republic to get more practice with editing and doing my own little voice over. It came out alright so I decided to share. Enjoy.

By the way, it's only 30 seconds long, if you were worried, and I don't think it has any spoilers since it was a side mission.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Han Solo: Force Agnostic


"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."

I’ve been delving a lot more into Star Wars recently. Maybe because of the new movie coming out, or maybe I’ve just wanted to visit somewhere long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Since I’ve done a piece about how I think Qui-Gon Jinn is secretly a sith lord, I decided to continue on this subject and say Han Solo is Force Agnostic.

Some rebel x-wing pieces my brother was awesome for getting me

So, why isn’t Han Solo just Force Atheist? Well, he probably was at the beginning, but as Luke was able to demonstrate with the help of Obi-Wan that there was something more out there. Something that hasn’t really been seen in almost two decades.

Han shows he leans towards the light side, but he doesn’t ever make the full commitment of being good. He doesn’t want to give up his rough and tumble lifestyle as a smuggler. And that is why we like Han, the dashing rogue that's skeptical and practical. Always willing to help, as long as he get’s his cut.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Top 10 MMO Memories


It’s time for another Top 10 list, this time thanks to Massively OP for giving me the idea. I’ve stated in the past what I think of them, but do see them being useful from time to time. Keeping things organized and brief speaks to me. Today, I’m going over the Top 10 MMO memories I have based off what Eliot listed.

#1) Your first character

That would be my little blue bard from Everquest 1. Some people called him the blue streak. Bards in EQ 1 have songs that give them very fast run speed. Pair that with a drum equipped and you get a bonus to it, so my bard was on par with some of the fastest mounts in the game. I’m not sure if that is still true now, since I haven’t went back to EQ 1 in years. I still have urges once in awhile to visit - maybe one day I’ll act on them.

#2) Your first goal

Pretty easy; my epic weapon. It was one of the few things you could really set a goal for at the time and many people had their epics. I figured I needed to set my goal to get it too. In EQ 1, the epic weapon was a class specific weapon that had unique features to help that class. I would get a sword that would increase each of my schools of music so I wouldn’t have to switch out between instruments to play. The Warrior’s epic was a 2 handed sword that could break down into two 1 handed swords. Pretty cool, huh?

The singing short sword by Drewinette

#3) Your first interaction with another player

My first interaction was surprisingly what got me into my first guild. It was also with that guild’s leader. I’ve shared before my first day in an MMO. I was exploring around Kelethin and fell out of the city, only to respawn and get lost. A kind Cleric found me and asked if I needed help and that eventually ended up half to a full hour later of questions and an invite to the guild. Because of that experience, it really set the tone for who I wanted to be in MMOs; to try and be helpful when and where I can to other players.


#4) Your first major setback

This is a mixed bag because it came with a bunch of consequences, but some benefits too. It was my first jump to another MMO; Final Fantasy 11. Why was this a setback? Because I followed a friend to it, and that friend eventually abandoned the game shortly after. I, on the other hand, tried to stick with it solo, and if you know FF 11 well enough, it’s not a solo game. I got burned out quickly and kind of left the MMO genre for a while, leaving my awesome guild along with it and not having a second thought at the time. I still kind of regret not going back to EQ 1 because I kind of wonder what happened to all my friends in there. As I said, there was benefits too. I eventually tried other MMOs, and because of that, they’ve became my favorite genre of all. I can’t get enough of them.

#5) The things you would never do now

Waiting on long respawn timers. Sit around zones being bored and doing nothing. Try to go on raids, not because I hate them, but because I know I just don’t like doing them - there’s a difference.

#6) Your first difficult victory

This goes back to my epic weapon again. I never got it, but I do remember a victory over a boss that had a drop I needed. The Kedge Backbone from Phinigel Autropos in Kedge Keep. This is an underwater zone, and at the time I had a huge fear of sharks and couldn’t even look at them without panicking. This zone had a few on the path to Phinigel and I had to swim with the camera facing away, or myself looking away from the monitor. Suffice to say, this was my most challenging victory, personally.

#7) Your first guild

As I mentioned in number 3, my first guild was within my first day of playing an MMO. Pretty lucky too, because it was a very good guild, managed by a husband and wife duo that were very supportive of their members. My token of appreciation was to make them the best food I could and give it to them as often as I could - in game, of course.

#8) The first hangout

The Plane of Knowledge. A hub zone that had a portal to every major race’s city and to some of the game’s raiding zones. It was the best zone to be in to get buffs and find groups. It was also a couple zones away from the bazaar.


#9) When you left for the first time

I feel like I’m in repeating territory. :(

Leaving EQ 1 for FF 11. Mistakes were made and I regretted it eventually, but I wouldn’t trade all the great memories afterwards of playing other great MMOs.

#10) Being the experienced one

Funnily enough, it was in EQ 2 when my brother and I got our mom to start playing. By this time, we were vets of EQ and MMOs in general. We were using WASD movement and had knowledge of shortcuts and keymappings and how games work. She, on the other hand, was starting from square one. Using the arrow keys (OMG I can’t believe I used to use those) and the mouse, but not at the same time. She was very uncoordinated, kept asking questions that repeated themselves and was constantly lost (kind of like us when we started - ah heck, exactly like us when we started). I look back at that and see I should have handled it a lot better than getting annoyed at how someone couldn’t use WASD. I suppose it was my first bout of being an elitist prick that I don’t like to think about. Again, mistakes were made, but now my mom can handle MMOs as well as the rest of them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mechanic Breakdown: Star Wars: The Old Republic Group Story


One of the games I’m playing at the moment is Star Wars: The Old Republic. Of the many features I don’t like about this game (like no rodian race to play as - which was my main race in Star Wars Galaxies), it gets something right. Like really, really right. That is how it tells its story.

The developer, Bioware, is widely known for telling good stories, and I agree with this, but what I’m talking about is how they are telling the story in SW:TOR, and how they deal with multiple players in a group going through that story.


Let’s get this mechanic out of the way first. Many players don’t like the idea of instances in MMOs because they can’t see other players in that part of the game. To me, this is worth the trade-off because what instances allow is for a more personalized version of that part of the story. Something that allows the writers to add neat events that couldn’t be done when other players are trying to do that same area too. It also removes wait time for players that want to do that part of the story.

An instance is a place in the game where only you, and possible group members, can enter. Everyone else can’t enter that spot of the game, unless it was in their own instances. This means two different players can be in the same spot and not see or interact each other. If I did something in this instance, the other player wouldn’t see it. My instance has my own NPCs to talk to, my own enemies to fight, and my own stuff to pick up.

In ye’ olde MMO days of the past, players would usually have to wait their turn, or try and steal a named enemy in order to continue their part of the quest. The issue here is that many of these named enemies were either on very long timers (sometimes weeks) before they respawned. Others shared spawn chances with non-named enemies, so you had to keep fighting until they spawned. Developers eventually lessened this with later games, but the issue still was there for waiting your turn, or jumping the gun. Instances solved this issue where the named didn’t spawn until you showed up.

Elder Scrolls Online, as I know it, took a different route with phased areas. They worked similar to instances, except they were more like invisible bubbles around a spot that only you could really see into and go while other people sort of phased out of existence if they entered a different version. A more complex, free-formed version of SW:TOR’s instances.

Love them or hate them, instances are great for telling a more personalized story in an MMO.


Response Choices

This is the meat and potatoes part of their storytelling mechanics; response choices. In many of the Bioware games, your character is usually given a set of semi-vague responses to choose from. These choices gave you enough of an idea of what your character will say based on that choice. An example could be a choice between “Kill the rat”, “Leave them be”, or “Set them free”. From these choices, if I choose “Leave them be”, my character would say something on the lines of “No, I’m leaving now. You can fend for yourself.”

What this does is let your character choose a response based on how you’d want to deal with that situation. This allows me to better align my characters with how I want them to be, and not what the scripted path says they have to be.

Some of the issues with this mechanic is that sometimes the responses are too vague, or don’t follow the choice at all. I’ve had times where I chose what looked to be a good choice, only for my character to say something completely different than what I was expecting. For example, I could have said “Set them free”, and my character would then fry them with lightning and say “You’re now free of your stupidity.” Now this specific example hasn’t happened (as far as I can tell), but it shows what I mean.

Solo vs Group Story

Here is where SW:TOR gets more interesting. If you’re in a group with other players while going through a group storyline, you're not put into personal story cutscenes. Instead, you share the story together, and when each of you choose a response, one of them is chosen randomly and that player is the one to actually respond. What this allows is a more dynamic story to be told, one like in the movies where the good guy gets to respond, and sometimes the greedy smuggler gets to ask what’s in it for them.

Bioware also worked in a way to do them solo if you’d like to win all responses. You could either not join the group when they start, instead starting your own right after, or dropping group and then talking to the quest giver.

As for personal story missions, you can join your compatriots in the story if it’s in an instance area, but you are just a spectator at that point. You don’t get any choices to try and interject in their story. I like this but also a little disappointed. I understand it’s done this way to save on time of development, and gives a far more personal touch to the main class story, but at the same time, I kind of wished my friend can speak up and say something off color to stir the mood a little.

All-in-all, I really like how Bioware tells the story in SW:TOR, and hope they refine and polish this mechanic for their upcoming expansion.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Another Site Update

Quick update to the site. I finally got in gear and added my own blogroll on the right hand side. It's set to show the 10 most recent posts from the list of bloggers I've added, and I've added a TON. Everyone that I could from the 2015 NBI and who joined Blaugust. I'll add more to it as this site goes on, may even try organizing it by subjects. For now, I have it up.

I also was able to make a nice little social media button area on the right too, linking to my Twitter, Youtube, RSS, and G+ accounts. I'm very inept at the social media, but it's a valuable thing to have in order to be part of a community. So I'll do my best and be a part of the platforms that people use. I may even make a Facebook account, but if it's anything like the personal one I have, it'll collect dust just the same.

As time changes, so does this blog. I'm slowly (but surely) updating it, and making it more my own.

Late Happy Birthday, Champions Online


Just caught this kind of depressing article on Massively Overpowered about Champions Online’s birthday yesterday. It was kind of sad to see the state of that game in such a place where they didn’t have an event for it on its own birthday and the mention of a possible event was a response to a thread.

Champions Online just had their 6th birthday on September 1st. Can you believe that? Six years going! That’s a great feat for a game that’s basically running on life-support for patches and content. CO was never been a strong contender to games like City of Heroes, from what I keep hearing, but it still holds a place on my gaming vacation lists.

Of all the games I’ve played, I don’t think I’ve ever took as many screenshots as I have in CO. Many times I have to stop and think, maybe I should take a screenshot of this view, or of a scene, but never had I thought twice in Champions. That game allowed for so many character ideas that my screenshot button would be wore out after every play session. I’ve taken hundreds of screenshots of people's awesome, unique, different, or bizarre characters. I even taken pictures of some of the well known characters people try and remake in this game, between all the Wolverines, Superman and Hulks (not to mention hundreds of other famous characters in other settings.)

So, to Champions Online, I wish you a late Happy Birthday, and here's to another 6 years of staying strong because there are those who actually do like you, myself included.

Thursday, September 3, 2015



Blaugust is over and I am a Conqueror! I went through everyone I found on the Day 31 forum post on September 1st on Anook, read and commented a congratulation to them and almost went insane from the sheer amount of words I had to take in to do that task. I have a ton of respect for Belghast for being able to do that all month long. (Some of you writers, how can you write so much??!?)

I’m still kicking though. Yesterday I spent the whole day relaxing and playing some more Star Wars: The Old Republic and just shutting my mind down. It was good.

After telling my brother about it, he gave me a great suggestion. If I had recorded all that play time, maybe I could have edited the story bits and inserted my own dialog for the missions. Maybe funny stuff, or maybe serious other story stuff. I think I’ll give it a try.

So congratulations everyone and bigger congrats to those I missed because you could always use support. And since I missed saying this in my final Blaugust post - Thank you so much Belghast for running the event. Time for Slacktember (Love this term. Thank you for it, Rowan Blaze).

For those interested, you can read Belghast’s results on Blaugust here.