Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dulfy's Patch 1.2 Guide

Preparing for patch 1.2Dulfy | Dulfy

Check out Dulfy's extremely thorough Patch 1.2 guide, and you won't be surprised on patch day. Informative and a delight to read, as always.

Burek's PvP Tanking Guides, #1: Threatening Scream (AoE Taunt)

I am proud to announce the public release of my first PvP Tanking Guide, which focuses on Threatening Scream. This guide should be useful to all Advanced Classes that can tank, though, since they all have a similar ability, even if they aren't tanking-focused.

The guide aims to help players make more efficient use of their AoE taunt. It uses freeze-frame explanations and play-by-play commentary to help viewers understand the decisions made in the video. I recommend viewing the video in 1080p or 720p in full screen mode for the best viewing experience.

I hope you enjoy it, and that some part of it is useful to you!

I am happy to accept honest feedback regarding the video, and will help to integrate your comments into future videos. Coincidentally, I haven't decided 100% on the topic of my next video, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'm happy to accept those, too.

I've been somewhat absent from this blog recently as I've been working on this video. Now that I have the basics of producing a video like this down it should be somewhat faster to produce them in the future, and I should be more on top of my posts here at the blog.

I'd like to thank everyone who provided feedback on the original cut. I made some changes as a result, and overall I'm pleased with the final product.

May all your screams be threatening!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Quick Burek-centric Update; or, Why I joined Section One

It's been a little while since I've indicated what I've personally been doing in-game, so I thought I'd update that first.

Originally, my plan was to form and maintain a guild in SWTOR and to field an 8-man raid made up wholly (or at least mostly) of my friends. <Dark Work> was formed as a result. Due to several of my friends quitting, I decided that I would find a guild for myself and my other friends who were still playing. It was with this goal in mind that I began searching the guild recruitment forums and hanging around in the fleet, scoping out our options.

My parameters were basically that I wanted a guild capable of fielding a raid, but without a strict or mandatory raiding schedule. I wanted a guild that did organized PvP and let their actions in PvP speak louder than their words. But most importantly, I wanted a guild with people that would make me want to log on and just shoot the breeze in addition to wanting to play SWTOR. I wanted a community, not just a guild.

I found this with Section One on The Fatman-US. The guild leader has been nothing but accommodating, the members are friendly and helpful and we all help each other out. The guild has a history dating back to SWG, so there are a lot of casual players who have been playing together for a while.

Since joining, I've been participating in raids, usually DPSing EV (since only one tank is needed) and tanking alongside my good buddy Nubosub (one of the people who came over from my old guild) in KP.

As an aside, if anyone on The Fatman-US is looking for a guild, we're accepting players of all levels. We're also looking for a couple more DPSers who are 50 and able to raid Sunday and Monday evenings (preferably an agent of some kind!). You can contact myself or Zerx in-game.

I'm also considering making the push to Battlemaster before Patch 1.2. I'm already really close.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Why hardcore raiders are important

Hardcore raiders get a lot of flak. Those perceived as hardcore are often accused of elitism and snobbery, regardless of whether or not they have personally slighted someone. Yeah, some people earn their reputations, but it doesn't stop a lot of other people from stereotyping the rest of them. What I'd like to communicate is that hardcore raiders are important to any MMORPG, but especially to new ones, like SWTOR.

For the purposes of this blog post, I define a "hardcore raider" as someone in the top 10% of raiding: those who push the edges of raiding, trying to clear content the fastest, on the hardest mode possible. I'd also like to disclaimer that I do not claim membership in this group, I do not wish to gain membership in this group, nor have I ever been a member of this group.

Now that all that is out of the way, my arguments for supporting the hardcore raiding community:

Hardcore raiders prompt and encourage development of tools and features

The old adage that "necessity is the mother of invention" rings true here. Time and time again, the hardcore raiding community has either developed tools personally or has requested that such tools be implemented. Ultimately, a lot of these tools ended up being directly implemented by companies into the game's UI, or into their website.

Hardcore raiders determine a lot of the need, these tools either get developed by them (or at least requested by them), and everyone benefits once the tools become widely available.

Hardcore raiders provide free, limit-pushing testing for new raid content

In order to get every advantage possible, most hardcore raid guilds jump at the chance to test raid content on the public test server. Their experiences here provide the developer with statistics that can be used to fix crippling bugs and balance the content better. Many hardcore raid guilds do hundreds of pulls of a particular boss and keep detailed written or video logs of the results of numerous and different boss strategies.

If the developers play their cards right and use this data, when the average raider gets to the content, it is more polished and less buggy - all thanks to the collaboration between hardcore raiders and the developers. This, in turn, helps to keep the majority of subscribers happy.

Hardcore raiders provide mentoring and guidance to much of the game's community

Maybe you've been there: you need just one more member for your raid, and no one else is available from your guild. You look for someone in general chat and find a well-equipped alt of a hardcore raider. Or maybe you frequent a website that has strategies and tips provided from a well-traveled raid leader or raid main tank. Maybe one of your personal friends is a hardcore raider, and you go to them frequently for advice.

Regardless of the direct impact to yourself, though, it is difficult to argue that hardcore raiders do not contribute to the community. Many of these people love to spend their spare time out of game discussing their hobby, providing advice, and being helpful to those trying to break into the raiding scene.

While hardcore raiders cannot single-handedly make a good community (and while there are always a few who seem to want to damage it for some reason), the result is usually overwhelmingly positive. And, as we all know, a good community is more likely to retain paying customers.

I encourage you to leave any comments you may have below!

Friday, 9 March 2012

My thoughts on the Guild Summit

Daniel Erickson at the Guild Summit: as entertaining as always!

The guild summit has come and gone, and rather than re-hash everything that was discussed, I thought I'd express some of my positive and negative opinions on the summit and what we learned. If you haven't read up on the Guild Summit, I recommend starting with this video about Patch 1.2 and then checking out the Darth Hater live blog post about it.

The Legacy System

The legacy system explanation was my most anticipated segment, and it was well worth the wait. This is one of the key areas that will begin to differentiate this game from competitors moving forward, especially at end-game. It's all well and good to have story as you level, but story has played a lesser role at endgame, and is thus less of a distinction once you arrive there. Legacy options will keep things fresh by allowing you to level how you want (PvE or PvP), and honestly the sky is the limit for the future of this system.

Imagine, if you will: legacy quests. One member of your legacy starts it, but for whatever reason cannot (or will not) finish it. Another member of your legacy picks up where the other left off. Though Bioware has not stated that this will be implemented, I certainly hope they do something like this in the future. I can imagine some pretty interesting rewards here.

One thing I am a bit wary about is the implication that there will be an unlock that requires characters on both sides (Republic and Empire) in your legacy. I have all eight of my character slots filled right now, for one. The other thing that unsettles me is that PvP communities tend to mostly play one side, and stick to it. While SWTOR doesn't stop you from playing the other side on a PvP server, I don't personally feel it should encourage or reward it. I quite enjoy "Faction Patriotism" or whatever you want to call it. Ultimately, I think we'll just see a temporary upsurge in activity as characters level to 50 on the other side. My new guild has more serious concerns about it, but I am reserving final judgment until I see the implementation. Heck, it might be something so minor that very few people feel the need to cross faction lines.

Operations and Flashpoints

The Operations and Flashpoints segment was also informative. I liked that the developers were keen on making Nightmare Mode very difficult. Though it may be controversial to say it, I believe a hardcore raiding community to be very important to the success of an MMORPG (please note that I do not classify myself as hardcore, nor do I want to be hardcore). I will elaborate more on this opinion in a later post.

I also liked how Bioware rebranded "normal mode" as "story mode" and will be making this content accessible to casual players in the future, so that even if they don't want to raid consistently, they can see how the story turns out and get some decent rewards. This was one of the things I really disliked about WoW's raiding system. I had plenty of friends who wanted to fight those epic and recognizable bosses, but didn't have the time to commit to raiding. Now, anyone with a few hours to spare will be able to at least keep up to date with the story. I commend Bioware for this move.


A couple of big things came out of the PvP discussion which make me feel very positive about the future of PvP.

Firstly, the team basically admitted that Ilum was not working for players and needed to be completely re-designed. Thank goodness for that! I'm hoping for more fighting over objectives when the eventual redesign is completed. Call me old-fashioned, but I feel having DAoC/WAR-style "keeps" (call them "bunkers", "garrisons", or "bases" so they fit into SWTOR) on Ilum would help concentrate ops groups around objectives. If the bases are well-designed, they can even allow an outnumbered faction to put up a good fight and get that daily done. Unfortunately, Bioware has not said what specific changes will be coming to Ilum or when the ETA is. I can only hope that they will get it right next time.

Secondly was the formal announcement of the next tier of PvP gear, and the announcement that this next tier would be less useful in PvE. It bothers me when it makes more sense for me to wear Champion (tier 1.2 PvP) gear in a slot for PvE tanking then it does to wear Tionese (tier 1.1 PvE). I'm glad that they seem committed to stopping this trend in the future.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Yet Another Patch 1.2 Update

Another week, another community Q&A! It was a short one, so there isn't a lot to report - still, I'm going to update the list so we have a running tally before today's guild summit. You can catch my reactions on the summit on this blog throughout the day.

Confirmed to be in Patch 1.2 so far (confirmation from this week's Community Q&A in bold):
  • Ability to turn off the smart camera pivot
  • Crit-crafted orange items with augment slots
  • Legacy-unlocked ship customization
  • Ability to add offline characters to friends
  • Option to bypass orbital station and go straight to your ship
  • Crafting skill revamp for all crafting professions
  • Fixes to ability timings (mortar volley cited as an example)
  • The ability to extract base mods from purple gear (including set bonus)
  • Balance changes to healing classes (specifics unknown)
  • Force Bending/Conveyance fix for Sages/Sorcerers
  • Balance changes for 16-person Operations 
  • Warzone reward system revamp (bag system removed,  14 new objective-based medals)
  • Warzone deserter debuff added
  • Guild Banks
  • First Implementation of Legacy System 
  • UI Customization and Target of Target Frames
  • New and improved "Match Color to Chest" option (missing since beta)
  • A brand new warzone, and pre-season ranked warzones
Confirmed for the future, but not for Patch 1.2:
  • Grey/Neutral Alignment Gear
  • New mechanics that "will bring interesting changes" to the way we gear (sounds like augment slots or similar in all top-end gear)
  • Companion loot roll system
  • Enhanced LFG functionality
  • Mod comparison system
  • Hide/Display Hood option
  • Hide/Display Companion headgear option
  • Mobile app for companion crafting/mission skills
  • Dual Specialization
  • Cross-server Warzones and the ability to queue for specific Warzones
  • Character Transfers between servers
  • More rare items and treasure hunts (like the magenta adegan crystal)