GW2 and Cherry Picking

I don’t have much to say or report. I have been playing SWTOR a great deal. Working on getting my Sage into full War Hero, and not much is changing in that universe.

This weekend is the first Beta event I will be in for the upcoming GW2 release for this year. This was originally a game I was going to overlook. When I heard, even playing field on gear, I was not pleased. I don’t believe a game can have a consistent player base that doesn’t have something to work for. If I’m not trying to gain anything, then what am I doing?

My days on with SWTOR have led our guild onto a path of elitism in a way. The server is small and all names are familar. You can name almost any 50 and everyone has an opinion. Everyone knows each other. The small population has also resulted in an elistist mix of people. Having a casual green player in you warzone tends to mean you’ll lose. Double premades are more than common here. In one way it’s a terrible mix. In another it is in a way producing a much more select elitist community.

4 of the best guild on both sides of the server have opted to create a better guild for the upcoming GW2 release. This isn’t a merger of 4 guilds, no. This is each guild hand cherry picking their best to join one guild formation. A guild birthed from elistist, by elitist of elitist to be the absolute best.

This is pretty scary stuff. I have always been one to go play and find my way into a community. This will be a first for me to be in the formation and founding of one. Kind of exciting stuff. Not fair to which ever server we end up joining. Die hard PVPers aiming at being the best, not just good, will be awful tears from the opposition.

As for GW2, I’m hoping for good things. I’m also hoping I can turn off most of the effects. I’m more hoping the story line is actually interesting. I can’t make it through another Rift story basis. That was just horrible.

SWTOR: How to Save PVP: Part 1

Don’t get me wrong. SWTOR is a great game. It’s smooth, it’s nearly polished, and it had the greatest single player leveling system you could ever ask for. The kind of which I doubt we will ever see a developer invest to make again. Enjoy the modern RPG movies in your MMO, because it’s not likely that anyone will invest anytime soon to recreate it. I have big hopes for SWTOR. But let us be honest here for a second.

The current state of the game relies on end game PVP. And currently that is repetitive warzone playing. And, unless you are on top, this means it’s not at all fun for the casual. Me, I’m not casual. My win/loss ratio is great and my gear is coming along just fine. With all Battle Master and 3 pieces of War Hero, I’m just shy of being a DPS’ing nightmare. Life is good for me. It’s not so good for the consistent PUG groups we stomp on a constant basis. It takes roughly 8 warzones just to find a bit of competition. And these are the warzones you play for.

A prediction for SWTOR coming from this article’s predictions by analyst group that is apparently using a dart board for accurate readings. According to Cowen and Company, they predict that BioWare’s February subscriber base of 1.7M will be about 1.25M by March of 2013. Now while an idiot would think this is horrible, the rest of us know that would be amazing. A year later without expansion and surviving other major MMO releases and only losing 26% of your subscriber base would be the best statistics any modern MMO has ever seen with a major launch.

I think in real time, that today we could probably guess the 1.25M and be close to actual. By GW2 release we could ping the surface in August and probably be far below that. Saying the game only ever sits here on false promises for improvement and only ever does balancing patches, we can pretty much expect well below that in 2013. Does that make it a failure? No. 1M subscribers would still be amazing.

What SWTOR like every other MMO I have ever played has proven once again, is that your endgame is PVP. Make it amazing or miss out.

What SWTOR does have is a pretty decent system. It’s all working, it just needs the content. And while 1.2 missed out on delivering what most saw as basic features you should have had at launch, the free month says that you are willing to make it happen. There is also not a lot of forgiveness coming from the player base. And there shouldn’t be. You absorb practically all the resources from the PVP king making MMO studio, Mythic and you make the “ultimate” MMO and learn absolutely nothing from them on PVP. Absolutely nothing. It was as if BW sat Mythic in the corner and told them not to speak.

SWTOR PVP is missing the following:

Missed 1.2 Promises:

  • 8 Man Queues
  • Cross Server Queues
  • Ranked Warzones Bracket

We assume that these are coming soon. Or at least we hopeful that BW isn’t quite stupid enough to ignore it.

Future Ideas Still in Concept (Not Revealed to Public):

  • Improve Ilum (Open World PVP)

While these are all fine and dandy, they will mean nothing in comparison when GW2 comes and delivers Keep and Open PVP made at the start. Your PVPers will leave the game. And you will be left with, dungeon raiders.

What I propose are ideas that are both quick and involved. I want to help you, help yourself. I don’t want to see your PVP lose to another MMO. Without further ado, let’s get the ideas going:

Mr. Meh’s PVP Idea #1: Short Term: Ramping Dailies and Weeklies.

Currently the system is Daily Win 3, Weekly Win 9. I think these missions and rewards should ramp based off of game play. Winning 3 a day is easy. Most finish their Weekly by Wednesday. These are more than obtainable goals. I propose we change it to the following:

There are 4 levels of dailies. To get the next you need to complete the prior.

  • [Daily Basic] Play 3 Warzones
    • Reward is 100 Warzone Commendations
    • Unlocks availability for [Daily Standard]
  • [Daily Standard] Win 3 Warzones
    • Reward is 100 Warzone and 100 Ranked Commendations
    • Unlocks availability for [Daily Elite]
    • Unlocks Reset for following day’s [Daily Basic]
  • [Daily Elite] Win 6 Warzones
    • Reward is 125 Warzone and 125 Ranked Commendations and PVP Crafting Items
    • Unlocks availability for [Daily Elite]
  • [Daily Heroic] Win 9 Warzones
    • Reward is 150 Warzone and 150 Ranked Commendations and PVP Crafting Items

Players can pick up the Dailies and escalate their rewards and drive to win warzones. Once a player has completed the Daily Standard, that player can then pick up the next day’s Daily Basic. If the player is still currently on Daily Elite or Daily Heroic on Day 1, then on Day 2 the player can still strive to complete these along with the next day’s Dailies. If the player completes his or her’s Elite or Herioc prior to finishing Day 2’s Daily Standard, then that player can still unlock Day 2’s Elite and Heroic for completion. The system is designed so that players can still strive for higher rewards without fear of missing the next day’s option.

There are 4 levels of Weeklies. To get the next you need to complete the prior.

  •  [Weekly Standard] Win 9 Warzones
    • Reward is 100 Warzone and 100 Ranked Commendations
    • Unlocks availability for [Weekly Elite]
    • Unlocks reset for following week’s [Weekly Standard]
  • [Weekly Elite] Win 15 Warzones
    • Reward is 125 Warzone and 125 Ranked Commendations and PVP Crafting Items
    • Unlocks availability for [Weekly Elite]
  • [Weekly Heroic] Win 30 Warzones
    • Reward is 150 Warzone and 150 Ranked Commendations and PVP Crafting Items

Players can pick up the Weeklies and escalate their rewards and drive to win warzones. Once a player has completed the Weekly Standard, that player can then pick up the next week’s Weekly Basic. If the player is still currently on Weekly Elite or Weekly Heroic on week 1, then on week 2 the player can still strive to complete these along with the next day’s Weeklies. If the player completes his or her’s Elite or Herioc prior to finishing week 2’s Weekly Standard, then that player can still unlock week 2’s Elite and Heroic for completion. The system is designed so that players can still strive for higher rewards without fear of missing the next week’s option.

Travels on Bondar Crystal: The Boastful

I worked from home yesterday. Mainly due to a Veterinarian visit by one bad kitty peeing on expensive stuff. But that’s another issue. I was home and had the time to enjoy Star Wars on its lowest population levels. It was enjoyable. I ran Warzones after winning warzones and earned my first War Hero item. I even had the time to finally go to Tatooine and see this Event going on.

Overall … pretty stupid, but it’s new stuff and makes achieving a Black-Green crystal very easy. With an hour I had everything I needed to buy one thanks in part from all the days of being infected by other people in warzones and on station. One of the dailies has you go East of the Map to do some Sand People investigating. Here is where my story begins.

I am running about collecting 5 samples. I then have to kill a dude. I then have to read a mural. I then have to kill another dude. Imagine that?

This dude is not exactly nearby. He’s on the other side of the canyon. I go to the edge of the canyon in hopes I can find a much lazier way of reach him, rather than travel around. I realize that I’m also in the exact spot you would jump off to reach the entrance of a datacron for Willpower. A task I have already completed.

As I doze off, my character is knocked to the ground. And then subsequently Force Pushed quite a distance. As I fly, I can only think, of how glorious this was. I was looking for the quickest route to get there without using my Quick Travel. And this nice little Sorcerer was going to oblige me.

That was, until I caught a ledge. “Damn it” I thought. Now I have to jump.

As I looked down, another of the Sith came bearing down on me with a Force Leap. His companion, Sith Sorcerer Friend still at the top and their companion are now pounding on me. Natural reaction had me put up a Force Armor Bubble. The Juggernaut can’t resist. He stuns and sends my character flying again an even further distance. Only again for my character to catch a ledge. These two have the aiming skills of blind idiots.

The Juggernaut follows mindlessly the kill he so desperately wants. Clearly looking for kills, as his only route after this would be to nowhere. When he lands I give him what I had hoped he would gift me. A subsequently stun and then I take my time to position to knock him off the ledge. His companion disappears as his body falls to the depths of the dark canyon.

I am now a good distance from the Lone Sith Sorcerer nearly 40 meters above me. Neither of us have the distance to strike one another. And he unwilling to jump to my ledge and I’m not in a position to close the distance. I don’t throw myself off. I’m still looking for that lazy way around. It’s not looking good.

The Sith above me is a name I am familiar with: Justandulas of the Bezerk guild. Not one I know well from the Warzones I have been accustomed to, but I recognize the guild name and tag despite our opposite roles in game. I cannot resist.

“Hahaha. That was awful. But hilarious.”

“Keep talking.” The Sith replies. We might not be in range to exchange blows, but I recognize his armor. It’s War Hero. Polished black and green. He may not have earned that through commendations, but he was clearly at least Valor Rank 70 to be wearing the master crafted gear. That is a good 10 level above my own. And he might have augments on those things. I’m probably outmatched in gear.

“You better jump off. You don’t want to mess with you me.” He follows up.

“Haha. Big talk from the guy who let his friend get tossed off..” Instigation tends to help the situation. It takes people from their comfortable strategy and urges them to perform heroics. Heroics that may help him jump down to my ledge taking some fall damage.

This would be enough for my DPS companion and me to make short work of him. I could see his healing companion next to him. That companion would be useless against someone like me that could sleep him instantly. If only he would just jump.

But he wouldn’t.

“Trust me. I would own you 1v1.” He says.

“You PVE’ers crack me up.”

“I assure you. I’m quite familiar with PVP.” He snaps back.

I’m not going to argue that. He is by my eyes familiar with it. And his guild has had their moments more than a few times against the Republics best. I’m judging my ability based on Companions and Fall Damage alone. I knew I had the advantage.

We stare at each other and send our companions back and forth. It’s clear this situation isn’t going to change. So I quick travel. But it plagues me. What was my skill in comparison to his?

Hours go by. Off and on activity between my normal life and virtual life change places. At night I join some random players for a conflict on Alderaan. Civil War takes hold on the surface and our team sits in a great position as our two turrets eat into the shielding of the Imperial Drop Ship.

We are overtaken and pushed out of our holding in the middle turret. The Sith responsible? Many familiar names, but one is present that I cannot take focus away from: Justandulas. My favorite new Sith.

I fly back to the extraction point. I head in the last known sighting of him. It’s clear to me that Republic is going to lose this battle. But I want to win mine.

I find him. Perfectly around the central node. Accompanied by a Sith Warrior. My memory is horrible. It may or may not be his past friend. It doesn’t matter.

I am alone and it’s two on one. I’m not going to win. But I am going to test my strength. I sleep the Sorcerer and DoT the Warrior. The Lightsabers light up. It’s a Marauder.  Great, this is going to be worse than expected.

He jumps on my position, holding me in place. I throw fallen droid and his head. Followed with an eruption of Force at his feet. It doesn’t have the Endurance to last me. He is roughly half way through.

The Sorcerer has broken free and aides his friend. They tear me apart.

I come back to the same place. This time, the Sorcerer is alone. There might be stealthed enemies nearby. But that becomes unlikely due the fighting taking place both East and West. I might have what I am looking for. A one versus one with my new nemesis.

I approach his placing in front of the Node. It becomes clear that it is in fact just the two of us and he sprints around the node breaking our line of sight. I see the Force waves electrify his position. He has applied his Force Armor and likely some Spices to enhance his fighting.

I match with my own Armor Shielding, but I don’t have the drugs to counter his. He doesn’t move from his hiding position. So I throw down an Area of Effect spiking the ground below him. I see it takes a small portion of damage. Meaning I critically hit his Force Barrier and broke through it in one shot.

He makes a poorly thought out move. He moves out from behind the Node and enters into form to throw streaks of lightening through me. I break his concentration with my interruption from Mind Snap and place 2 sets of DoTs on him. He matches my own techniques with his Sith versions. I see the effects taking place.

I hurl waves of debris I find with my Force at him. He finally breaks my Force Armor and applies a perfect hits of Lightening. I am greatly weakened. It is not looking good. Both of us have used our normal rotations and are now reduced to one ability. He, he is channeling Lightening to slowly work me down. And I’m, I’m channeling debris in the same towards him. He’s stronger. My Endurance is failing faster. But I had the advantage in the opening strikes.

My burst damage would soon be ready. Fearing that he would be ready to apply his Force Barrier again, I quickly threw two lucky strikes from nearby stones. I followed them with my Force in Balance that struck him to his death. I had won.

Barely. But I had won.

The Command Center rang over my communication link with a thunderous announcement. My victory had been relayed to headquarters and they had already awarded me a Medal. A Medal for victory in a One on One fight. A fitting end for a most worthy foe for it. The Boastful are only just that, Boastful.

(The End)

 

Like that sudo narrative? I have a side project going on here. I’m not going to lie. It’s kind of sexy.

New Fan Fiction Blog Is Now Up

I have started a side project for Star Wars: Old Republic Fan Fiction as previously posted. New updates are expected every Wednesday.

First Post is now uploaded today. Please stop by here if you are interested.

 

Facts about the Fan Fiction:

It is about Star Wars The Old Republic.
It is more specifically about a Sage.
I am not a professional writer. If you see errors, point them out. I need an editor.
If it’s bad and needs to die, say so.
If it’s good, critique it anyway.

 

Thanks for your time.

Post 1.2 Thoughts

As expected the boost to Guardians/Juggernaut also helped boost an already stronger than needed Sentinel/Marauder population. Pre 1.2, one  Mara was already enough to make me never want to heal again. Add more DPS and a non cleansable heal debuff and you can guarantee I wasn’t excited.

The effects have been a new experience. In many ways I enjoy the PVP changes. In most other ways, I see far too many difficulties. The obvious flavor Post 1.2 is Warriors/Knights. With their new found DPS, capable of killing you in 3 GCDs in many cases, anything below heavy armor has difficulties. Meaning without guard, you probably aren’t going to make it. Which is what you’ll find on the forums. Many are calling the new system not so much a healing nerf as in a force to play better. I tend to disagree and agree in parts. Yes, you can’t just be an invincible healing bot. But no, it’s not a good system to require healers to find Premades for Guard just to be somewhat successful.

I spent most of the weekend and yesterday building up a full set of Battle Master and started aiming on receiving my first War Hero item on my Sage. Where I loved my Sage Pre 1.2, I’m starting to resent him after. The amount of CC, is beyond what I can combat. I literally explode very fast, even with full Battle Master. This constant new experience of instantly dying and the facing of newly improved DPS Mercenaries, had my log on to my once thought of retired Commando.

Sporting a Valor Rank of 58 and gear mixed with Champion and Centurion, I expected to run into quite a few problems in PVP. Being on the 4th lowest population server, there are only roughly 2 Warzones going on at any one time. Meaning, that those that are the best stay the best. And currently on Bondar Crystal, the Empire has a new formation guild called B.A.D, and these guys are nothing but. Some of which I know from Warhammer, others are an accumulation of decent skill and coordination.  I won very few with them on the other side. When I logged in on my Commando, I knew my Warzone options had a very high chance of meeting this group. Still, I queued with guildies; Healing Commando, Guardian (just bought a War Hero Lightsaber, no joke) and a DPS Sage.

In 3 back to back warzones, I did well. Things that I noticed:

My Sage seemed to always be primary. They would jump through 4 opponents to get to me in many cases. On my Commando, very little stopped to even care about me, more than some CC to hold me back. Which, I realized from my own DPSing ways. Find the lowest armored opponents first. You cut down their numbers and therefore win the field faster. No wonder my Sage was first down, I was going after Sorcs first as well.

The DPS has (as predicted) very much improved. The 10% nerf to Grav Round is minimal, and the effects of Demolition Round are heavily increased. The new changes to Mortar Round are ridiculous. It is lightening fast and hits for 5 hits instead of 3. It’s absolutely amazingly strong. Compare this to the Sage’s AOE and you are talking giant differences. Cast time, Proc timing, and Damage Values, almost double in values across the board.

I was never able to be top DPS and in most cases not able to out DPS or Heal my Sage, but, the single target focus is much better. Now that Sage/Sorcs are out, and Maras/Sents are in, having Heavy Armor is a big deal. It’s now real survivability. And doing Tech damage and with the passive ability to bypass much of an opponent’s armor, the abilities of the Commando are looking better with the changes in the flavor of the month classes.

It’s a sad road. Go back 4 days, and I would now be full Battlemaster on my Commando instead, but I have another route of grinding to attend to. Hopefully I can catch my Commando up.

Overall patch 1.2 has some quick tweaks that it needs:

Civil War: The 3 Second Wait for riding side speeders to outside nodes was removed. Needs to be put back in.

Combating AFKers by making a 3 medal requirement has adversely encouraged players to giving up much faster. Now when players simply get outright beaten in a couple of fights, they simply give up and pile up on 1 node, trying to get their 3 to 4 medals for defending. Healers, try and hurt themselves to see if they can get their 1 to 2 healing medals to match.

Expertise bonus to damage is getting out of hand. 20% boost is basically ridiculous. One fresh 50 in your warzone is likely to lose you the entire match. Two guarantees it. Without open PVP, these players have no other way to earn gear, making them forced to contribute to losses.

BioWar Makes Up for Dropping the Ball

I see 1.2 as an instance of Huttball. The players take the ball, run the outside like smart people, and BioWare as if it was all planned stood on the edge going, “Throw it to me!” And the player does. The blue crystalized orb floats in the air, a spectrum of blue highlights the floor in a giant circle identifying the area to which the ball should land. And then without warning, BioWare runs away. The ball hits the ground and Baron Deathmark subsequently tells us “Rotworm pass, goes now where fast!”

1.2 is in all, very much this scenario. It takes too long to make, it doesn’t fulfill the promises it made, and gives very little to the end game other than a grindfest for PVP. I like that I have a Battlemaster Lightsaber today at the Valor Rank of 56. I like the realization that it will be a long up hill battle to get into the rest of Battlemaster. I like that I can basically quadruple that time for War Hero. But I miss PVP options already (Ilum) and I’m not found of the wait time for Warzones and I’m not happy to be not cross server queueing with my 8 man in ranked warzones. I am not a happy end game PVPer.

However, I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. I’m not just some nerd who’s uncompromisingly unwilling to accept a patch. I’m not just some blogger who’s endlessly negative. There are always going to be negative people, and adversely, there are always positive people. I cannot decide which is worse. Is it more annoying when a decent patch is met with negativity, or is grossly more frustrating for a player who has a dozen alts, not one level 50, telling you your being too negative on the patch that isn’t delivering much, and breaking promises. I think it’s the latter.

Waiting for the patch to load I followed the site outside of the patch notes. What I found amazed me:

A Free 30 days to all active subscription that had at least one level 50 by patch day.

That may not seem like much. But it speaks volumes to me. You are a big MMO developer. Your PVP population is stating that they are going to leave your game for GW2 scheduled for June, and instead of going, “Welp, let’s get that extra 2 months out of ya, before you go.” They go, “We dropped the PVP ball hard. We promise to don’t do it again.”

To me, this is a big sign of gratitude. And an unexpected move as well. Very welcomed in fact. What means even more to me, is not the subscription, but the promise to make these updates and testing go faster. BioWare promised not let the delay of 1.2 happen again. To get those missing parts in. And to prove that promise, they gave a small token of gratitude. And that’s enough for me to believe them. I’m happy to see BioWare not stand beside failure with pride. And arrogant move I think we are all to use to seeing in our MMO post release patches.

Here’s to 1.3, BioWare. Don’t let GW2 take you down. I think you can do it, despite what I will say about it when we get there.

Important Information on 1.2: Existing Battlemaster Mistake

The last minute change to Battlemaster Expertise for 1.2 does not transfer if you swap the mods out to other gear for pre 1.2 Battlemaster. If you currently have Battlemaster from before 1.2 and want to swap out mods for customizing gear, it will not bring with it the giant boost to Expertise they added before release.

I repeat:

DO NOT REMOVE THE MODS FROM YOUR CURRENT BATTLEMASTER GEAR TO CUSTOMIZE OTHER GEAR!

You will seriously gimp yourself. No word yet if this effects the new Battlemaster yet. But those on right now moving mods off Battlemaster are throwing keyboards.