Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SWTOR Beta Initial Impressions

As I have previously mentioned I have been in the Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta for almost two months now and over that time have developed quite a few opinions on the game. Unfortunately because of the NDA imposed upon game testers I have been unable to share my feelings and testing experience with you. Well the NDA has been lifted and I am now free to share my insights into this game. Be warned the following post and any with a similar heading may contain spoilers or information about the game you might not care to know about.

This post is intended to give a very informal over view of my time playing SWTOR to date and I have no intention of going into great detail about any one area of the game. However I will be posting individual posts on certain subjects in the near future and will continue to add posts as they come to me.

What I have Done

I have played two of the classes so far including a Jedi Knights (Level 28) and Bounty Hunter (Level 8). I have played on Tython (Jedi), Coruscant (Alliance) and Hutta (Bounty Hunter). I have participated in solo and group questing, PVP Warzones Huttball and Voidstar.

What I Haven't Done

For the most part I have stayed away from Flash Points (Raiding), crafting and space combat as I didn't want to experience everything the game had to offer in the Beta.

What I Liked

Questing - I never thought I would care about quest missions again, but the added story and cut scenes added enough flare to the standard questing to give it a new life. Although the Questing is as you would expect them to be, Kill 10 of this or that, Find this or that, the way SWTOR delivers them is so much better than other MMORPGs.

 Warzones - I have always enjoyed PVP and I feel that BioWare has done a good job with the Warzones. Although nothing is spectacularly different,  the combat, pace and general feel of the Warzones is well done.

Combat Animations - Attack moves in SWTOR are not the "Stand and hack" variety, but instead are a combination of detail and special effects. Spinning in the air and slicing your opponent with the light saber is so much better than what I have seen from past games. Once again they aren't anything ground breaking, but well done and polished.

Character Progression - Once you reach level 10 you are able to choose a specialization. Although hard to figure out at first, choosing a talent tree was  enjoyable and allows for some degree of difference in builds.

Mixed Bag

Graphics - Although the game looks good and is clean and well rendered, I am not a big fan of the Cartoon Look. Some backgrounds (Coruscant mostly) appear unrealistic and painted. Characters look good, but nothing special. Armor and weapons look good and improve as you gain levels.

Player Creation - You have some control over how your character looks, but I think I was expecting a little more variety in the choices. Other games have been able to give you many choices and I see no reason why this feature could not have been included.

Companions - I like the idea of having a side kick with me, but they can be hard to control sometimes and can get lost when you are moving about. (I.E. companion misses the elevator you just took and either never comes back or takes the long way around. I do like the way you can use your companions to do the menial tasks like selling vendor trash for you.

Map - I like the way the map can be left up and fades as you move and for the most part objectives and markers are well noted, but in some cases it can be hard to read and follow. Sometimes it is hard to determine where quests are because they are in another part of the map not immediately visible or displayed. It took me a little bit of time to figure out exactly how to read everything as it was displayed and I found the included magnifying glass a little lacking.

Light Side/Dark Side - Surprisingly I often found myself caring what choice I made when answering dialogue questions that had a Light/Dark choice to be made. While playing the Jedi Knight, I didn't want to choose a Dark answer as I felt it would hurt the character I was making. However I still think they have missed the mark in truly implementing a system like this and wished they had made the choices more meaningful. 
  What I Didn't Like

Linear maps and questing - As I have stated before on this blog in the past, I am not a fan of Linear quest tracks. I understand the game is built upon a heavy story structure, which lends the game to be more linear than sandbox, but I don't like the way some areas feel compartmentalized (Coruscant). I am hoping future planets that I haven't visited yet will be more open and less scripted in where to go.

Levels 1-10 - Although the story is engaging during your introduction levels of the game, your character doesn't truly become interesting until after level 10. They were bland and uninspiring as I leveled them up in the starting zones.   

Enemy AI - The standard enemies you face in SWTOR are static drops in the world and don't show a high level of intelligence. Most of the mobs you meet will be standing around in pods of 3-5 and wait for you to attack unless you get into their agro range. After a while you can pretty much guess what they will do once you attack them. This is a problem many games are facing and BioWare failed to make a difference here.

Well that's it for now, I know I have missed some other topics I wanted to bring up, but I will include them in future posts as they come to mind. Overall I must say that I am truly enjoying this game and even though it doesn't do anything ground breaking I am finding the game to be fun to play and worth the monetary and time investment when it comes out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

World of Tanks patch 7.0 notes

World of Tanks v.0.6.7 - 0.7.0 patch notes:

Main changes:
- Added system for working with multiple game servers (multi cluster technology).
An extremely important feature which is the heart of 7.0 update. It creates the basis for future merge of global map and server selection.
- Added camouflage system for all tanks.
Permanent camos - for gold, fixed period of time camos - for credits.
- Added tank horns. Default key for tank horns is “H”.
25 gold per horn. Test mode of horns, haven't decided on them so far.
- Added company tiers: up to tier 4, up to tier 6, up to tier 8, and up to tier 10. For tiers 4, 6, and 8 added special restrictions on SPGs
Special restrictions on LTs will be added in the next public test update. No worries.
- Added in-game report system. You can right-click the player’s name and report that player from the new context menu.

- Added new maps – Marsh and Fjords.
- Added new special premium tanks – SU-85I and Pz IV Hydraulic.
Both are temporary available in Store for testing purposes. They won't be purchasable after the release!
- Added tanks for "box" version: PzII J, BT-SV and MTLS-G14.
Both are temporary available in Store for testing purposes. They won't be purchasable after the release!
- Fixed a number of bugs in tank models.
Visual improvements.
- Fixed a number of bugs and stuck places on most of the maps.
- Some maps got animated birds added.
Also a key feature!
- Added display of clan emblems.

Reworked tank hitboxes:
- Germany: Pz VI Tiger, Pz 38(t), VK 3601(H), JagdPz IV, VK 3002 (DB), Pz III/IV, Pz 38H735(f), Pz S35 739(f), Pz B2 740(f), Pz 38 NA, E-100.
- USA: M4 Sherman, T29, T32, T30, T14, M5 Stuart, M7, M2 med, M4A2E4, Ram II.
- USSR: Т-34, KV, MS-1, А-20, SU-18, IS-3, Т-44, SU-85B, SU-14, Valentine LL, Matilda LL, KV-3, T-54, IS-7, KV-13, Object 704, А-32.
All hitboxes now feature 16 groups of armor and benefit from skirt armor (where it was used historically). The "ears" of E-100 and T29 have been adjusted to no damage armor type, hitboxes of E-75 and E-50 haven't been changed.

Gameplay and mechanics:
- The rate of getting team damage and team kill penalty points doubled.
Penalties will arrive twice faster now.
- Changed mechanics of determining minimal armour thickness for HE damage.
More accurate HE damage mechanics.
- Added display of enemy tracers in the narrow sector of player’s gun direction.
- Added display of tracers for SPG mode when the firing tank’s position is within SPG player’s view.
- Quitting the battle leaves the tank in battle. In case it was not destroyed during the battle, it is automatically destroyed when the battle ends.
- Fixed rare bug with unreasonable spotting.
- Fixed rare bug with reticle's horizontal jerking when switching to sniper mode.
- Fixed rare bug with reticle freezing in sniper mode when the vehicle is close to another object.
This one and the one above it were rare, but extremely annoying.
- Fixed rare bug with ubreasonable decrease of Pz IV traverse speed.
Shame on us!
- Fixed bug in Invader achievement description.
- Added separate type of shells for all German 8.8cm L/71 gun, damage set to 240.
Both KwK and PaK.
- Adjusted specifications for 7.5cm conic gun for VK3601H.
- Added 7.5cm conic gun for Tiger (available for both turrets).
- Т-44: added LB-1 gun for top turret, added V-54-6 engine with 680 hp.
T-44 used to be the worst tier 8 medium stat-wise, now it is supposed to overtake at least Type 59.
- Changed models and specifications for both IS-3 turrets.
- Slightly reduced normalization for AP and ACPR shells.
- Adjusted view ranges and ammo rack hit points for tier 7, 8, and 9 medium tanks.
- Adjusted specifications for all automatic guns.
- Credit prices for tier 2 and 3 tanks rounded down.

- Improved minimap functionality. Added scaling; turning on/off in battle; markers for commands “Help!”, “Follow me!”, “Attacking”; transparency option.
Solid improvements indeed, many were looking forward to them.
- Added tips for hangars functions. You can activate them pressing F1 in hangar.
- Improved display of tank markers. Added sorting by range.
- Added additional options for tank markers.
- Added colour-blind theme, available in options.
- Reworked players list on the map loading screen.
- Added goals of the battle on the map loading screen.
- Added new mode for players list during the battle. Added buttons for switching the modes.
- When selling the tank you get quick option to remove its equipment and crew.
- Added information about the clan in player’s UserInfo.
- Changed the design of death hint after tank’s destruction.
- Added indicator for equipment that affects visibility (camo net, binocular telescope) showing whether it provides bonus or not.
- Added auto removal of non-compatible consumables.
- Added sound notification when the gun is fully aimed.
- Changed sound notification when hitting and damaging tank modules.
- Added sound notification when ramming static object, while driving at speed more than 10 km/h.
- Added sound notification on base capture progress.
- Added auto blocking for spamming the same message or symbols in the game chat.
- Added option to assign game commands for the additional mouse buttons.
- Added warning window when selling a tank that can not be purchased in Store (e.g. special premium tank)
- Added notification on saving screenshot.
- Added notification when it's impossible to sell tank due to exceeding selling limit.
- Added notification when trying to resupply both credit and gold ammo and consumables having not enough gold on account.
- Removed Camera postion option.
- Added "Caps lock" indicator on login screen.
- Removed all achievements from personal crew profile barring "epic" and "hero of the battle".
- Fixed diplay of modified experience during specials (e.g. x5, x3).
Finally! No more empty brackets!
- Fixed the names of some American tanks.
- Fixed and imporved interface pop-up tips and dialogue windows.

- Improved overall game performance on several PC configurations.
- Improved special effects. Changed effects of shots, hits and explosions.
- Added advanced special effects options.
- Added improved support for Logitech keyboards, Alienware laptops.
- Fixed certain problems with game display for multiscreen configurations.
- Improved display and performance of dynamic shadows.
- Added new antialiasing mode - FXAA.
- Improved quality of voice chat.
- Added "vignette" post-effect.

World of Tanks Patch 7.0 Trailer

Here is the latest video highlighting some of the features to be released in patch 7.0 for World of Tanks. The big advancements detailed here are two new maps Marsh and Fjord, as well as the new camouflage models for tanks and the addition of Clan Emblems on the side of tanks. There is much more to this patch however and check out the latest patch notes in this post.

Friday, November 18, 2011

SWTOR NDA Lifted and Legacy Names

Finally BioWare has released the NDA that has held tight my lips and that of other beta testers of SWTOR. I have been playing the Beta for almost two months now and have a lot I would like to share on this game. I will be posting my reflections in future posts and will mark them as SWTOR Beta Post for those who might not want to read about them since I may and probably will divulge some spoiler information.

I did want to touch on the other big announcement to come out about SWTOR today and that is of the system of Legacy names. Here is the post by James Ohlen on the feature:

Hey Everyone,

This build has our first iteration of the Legacy System! At its core the Legacy system is about allowing players to create a family tree of characters. Family is pretty important to the Star Wars universe, with the Skywalker family having one of the most interesting dynamics in movie history. This version is just the foundational components that we will use to build upon in the future. Here are the features of this iteration:

  • Once your character has completed their Chapter 1 storyline, they will be able to choose a Legacy Last Name. This Legacy Last Name must be unique and is shared across all characters on that server - so choose carefully!
  • Once you have unlocked your Legacy, any and all characters on that server will now contribute to that player's Legacy Experience Points. Much like normal experience points, when you reach certain Legacy thresholds, you will increase your Legacy Level.

We already have plans for how we will expand the functionality of the Legacy System in one of our major post-ship patches. This will include being able to shape your Legacy's family tree, and give you a reward for all those Legacy Levels.

We look forward to reading your feedback on the Legacy System!


I have to say at first glance I really like this system as it is a interesting system of linking characters to an account and giving your characters more depth of meaning. Some will not like the concept of course, but I gotta admit this is at least different than anything else I have seen in an MMO. I will touch more on this subject in a later post, but until then I am interested to hear what some of you think about this. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ramming Speed

Overlord's newest poll is asking people if they like the Idea of receiving damage from friendly ramming. Not surprisingly the majority of players, 52% at the time of this posting, are against the concept. Anyone who has played World of Tanks for any length of time has had the unfortunate moment when a less than stellar tank driver has rammed into the side of their tank and consequentially exploded into a fire ball of death. The main problem here is finding the balance between a necessary game mechanic, ramming damage, and being the digital cops in finding who was at fault.

In the area where I live we have what is called a No-Fault law. In other words if a Law Enforcement person did not see the accident occur, then it is impossible to determine who was at fault in the accident. In a way WoT is not any different as it is near impossible to implement a system that can determine who, if anyone, caused the accident in the first place.

One might ask why it is we even have friendly collision damage in the first place? That can easily be answered by remembering the days of players treating their tanks as bumper cars and smashing into anyone they can find. Once the collision system went live, problems started to arise at the beginning of matches when tanks leaving the starting area looked more like a rush hour commute then a tank engagement. Damage was being dolled out on a massive scale and players were getting into arguing matches that would last the entire battle. The developers tweaked the system to disallow damage on low speed collisions and while this did help it doesn't do anything for those cases where two tanks are going at high speed. All it takes is that one time to receive a Team kill after some hapless moron rams you and dies before you are not a fan of the system.

So what is the answer to fixing this problem? Personally I don't believe there is one. How do you design a game mechanic that is both useful in preventing people from playing bumper cars and imposing penalties to the wrongful party when it is near impossible to determine fault? You could take speed into account and point of impact, but I wonder if that is even possible to do.

Since the poll only gives you three choices, my vote was for the "I don't like it" option, but I wish it was that simple. I like the game mechanic in a lot of ways, but don't believe that it is ultimately fair in determining fault. What about you guys? Do you like it or hate it? What can be done to make the system work better? 



Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank you Veterans

Just wanted to take a moment and give thanks to those who allow me to enjoy the better things life has to offer. Happy Veterans Day to all and a heart felt thank you to those that this day is marked for.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Diplomacy is Supreme Update 2

Well I never would have guessed it but if you have been following my posts about this particular game in Supremacy 1914 (If not you can here and here.), then you will be as much surprised as I am that not only am I still in it, but actually winning.

A daring double attack by Myself (Orange) and my partner Lithuania (Darker Green) against our adversaries capitals Ukraine (Grey) and Algeria (Light Green) Succeeded in allowing us a chance. A small attack force protected by a battleship from me sailed down the Atlantic and attacked Algeria's stronghold in Africa, while Lithuania used most of his forces to push across Ukraine's territory splitting him in two. It seems the blow was enough that neither has been able to recover.

Also during this time I have been marching south along the Americas strengthening by ability to produce materials and troops. If it wasn't for the coordinated strikes by Lithuania and Myself we would never have been able to survive our much larger and stronger opponents. I plan to keep on fighting and will let you guys know how this all ends.

SWTOR Imperial Agent Progression Video

The video highlighting the progression path for the Imperial Agent has been released and if you fancy yourself a gadget using sneak attacker than this class looks like your sort a fella.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More Please

NO I haven't entered another dimension or slipped off into a dream trance. I am well into my initiation into The Inn League. In essence it requires you to run from town to town in the Shire and partake in the finest of beverages in each local. Add to that a time limit for completion and let the fun begin.