Saturday, 28 January 2012

Saturday Morning Maintenance?!

Saturday morning GMT? Really? How much more peak time can you get. Ah, Saturday afternoon. Let's hope the maintenance doesn't overrun!

Now we start to see the disadvantage of a global maintenance time, skewed toward the USA of course. The early hours of the morning CST are in fact bang in the morning in the UK. On a weekend day.

This does of course mean most hard players will be asleep until lunch time, having stayed up till the wee small hours. However, some of us can get up at a reasonable 9 or 10am, only to find the servers down.

Are Bioware rushing their fixes a little much, thus needing extra down time to fix what they broke in a fix?

So if you are exasperated and irritated by this odd maintenance time, why not try the following Free To Play MMOs:

Star Trek Online
Recently F2P, this game may have no end game and is clearly a generation behind SWTOR, but it's a lot of fun. The space combat really stands out and kicks the kolto out of the rail shooter in SWTOR. Plus it runs well on hardware that SWTOR would kill.

DC Universe Online
A superhero F2P game, a fair amount of customisation is locked into the cash shop, but you can roll a superman-like superhero and fly around. The early gameplay doesn't have quite the story of SWTOR, but it's fun enough killing bad guys with fireballs, or machine guns, or whatever power you choose. The game seems to need similar hardware to SWTOR to run well.

Sorry, I meant you could spend the downtime downloading these games. DCUO is 10 gigs, whereas STO will come down in 2-3 gigs. Maybe if you have great Internet pipes they will come down fast.

There's always single player games, I suppose. That, or lobbying the forums to get the EU maintenance moved to a better time!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Video Round Up

The Achievement Hunter show gives us the tips on Nar Shaddaa Holo Data crons:

A Trekkie reviews SWTOR:

Crew Skills guide:

How to get a purple colour crystal:

How to get a +10 stats datacron:

Space Combat dailies tips:

Brbrainerd continues his quest as a Jedi Consular (bad language):

Video Tip showing how to get a tricky datacron on Tatooine:

Crew Skills guide from I am Sam Gaming:

Weapon Modification Guide:

Total Biscuit interviews Gabe Amantangelo:

Monday, 23 January 2012

Life At 50: A Player's Perspective

Recently an informative post went up on our guild forums, about life at 50. This was written before Illum was ruined in patch 1.1, mind. From a Jedi Consular (so Republic side):
So you're all trying to get your characters to level 50 - can't decide which class to do, finding the adventure long. Well, to spur you along, I thought I'd give you a taster of what awaits you.

220,000 credits per day - no joke from dailies
Flashpoints that have some truly fascinating story lines. Imagine, flying in a prototype stealth fighter, killing Sith Lords...

Illum. A level 50 planet. Big Snowball. On here there is 2/3 of the playable area as a PVP warzone. The other part is dailies. You need to do the pre-chain that follows on from your class quest that you pick up from a well-rounded Twil'ek on The Fleet.

I take five dailies here - each giving just over 10k credits each.  I do an additional 2 person heroic daily giving just over 16k credits with epic Mod gear enhancements to choose from for your upgradeable gear.

Belsavis. Big Snowball with green bits - designated a prison planet. This is a lower level planet and as such the dailies here are available from level 47, but I can't say that the credits reward is going to be what I say here as they will probably reduce them in favor of giving you some XP for them.

To get access to these dailies, its done from a "Bonus" section. Go to The Fleet. There is a bulletin board box thingy that will give you a quest "Quarantine Failure." This takes you to Agent Moritt at Belsavis Spaceport near the shuttle that takes you to the surface. This then takes you to the Belsavis Bonus Series. Complete this pre-chain to gain access to the dailies. This pre-chain actually encorporates your first day's worth of dailies.

Meltwater Outpost. 3 dailies giving 7,175 credits each. One 2 person heroic daily giving epic Mod augments for your gear and 9,330 credits. One four player heroic daily giving about 10k credits. This one gives upgradeable weapons for your companions. There is an optional "lucky dip" box for when you've got all the items from the heroics on Illum and Belsavis.

Frozen Transport Center & Oasis Republic Post. 4 dailies, one as you enter from the teleporter and the other three from the blue holo transmitters in the Oasis Center. The Four Person heroic daily you picked up at the previous outpost is done in this section too. Also at the entrance to one of the tunnels you pick up a fifth daily to seal in a beast. If you fail to seal the beast in which is by no means hard - run - he can't be solo'd. There is also a second four player heroic quest picked up at the entrance to a tunnel in this area. This gives you the armoring enhancement for your gear. So in summary, these heroic dailies from both areas give you full epic mods for your gear and moddable weapons for your companions.

You also get a lot of Daily Commendation awards - 3 from four player heroic missions, 2 from 2 player heroic missions and 1 from single player missions. These can be traded in for epic gear.

Most of this area is done off story areas so you'll be going up against some rather poor level 50 gold elites. In both areas make sure you have your healer companion available (not out on a solo mission) and plenty of level 44 Exceptional Medpacs. Cheap things, and with the amount of credits you'll be making practically free.

In both areas do the bonuses that come up too - they give XP either for your levelling or for your Legacy. They haven't said what legacy rewards we are going to get yet, but they should be good.

Soloing heroic missions. Yes I do solo them, totally. I have stealth, the ability to stun mobs that haven't got the yellow buff that says they are immune to stuns, and can force cloak out of situations where I have to come out and let them hit me whilst attacking some console or disabling a console. All consoles you find on quests can be killed or disabled in combat and I would do this in combat. Frequently I've been clearing trash and someone has come up and killed the bonus objective whilst I was clearing until I learnt. I have died soloing heroic missions due to me not timing when I should force cloak or leaving the companion to attack which broke the stealth. If this happens I just run out of the story area and the aggro resets as they are only small. Companions in Heroics should be left on passive. Be aware though you're going to have to take boss aggro for a few seconds so if you're a healer with hots, make sure they are on. However, not all of you have stealth so no ability to solo these. Eventually my healer is going to be 50 too. He can't solo them. Killing is more fun anyway and a lot faster than my stealth runs. Taking any of you through is easy, and will make the dailies for those who have done the ground work to gain access turn from being a couple of hours to half the time.  However I wouldn't recommend using a companion in leveling gear as a player replacement until they have a bit of Flashpoint gear on them at least.  I tried doing a four player quest with a tank a few days ago on my healer and the healing was quite intense due to the low gear of my companion tank pet who was taking the aggro and his companion was dead mostly. We did our quest Jawa's Concern though.

Also if you've only half hour to log on and do something - prioritize the Illium soloable dailies. They give more than the Belsavis one so its a good bit of cash to put towards your character.

You're probably thinking now... I'm no mathematician but how can those few quests equate to 320k of credits? Well, what about all the cash you pick up off mobs, and the trash and maybe even unwanted greens you vendor? Keep your bags empty and when you're doing a minute's traveling time between quests send the companion off to vendor the grey's.

I used mine to do those Crew Skills that I didn't do whilst leveling my first. With this level of cash I upgraded his from nothing to max in a matter of hours play time. I did it whilst I was AFK and put the speakers on loud as the companions say things when they have finished their missions. This really is an AFK task as the end missions can take one hour each to complete. Doing it this way I had all the speeders at the various speeds to level with and this made me level up a lot faster.  In fact I am now spending my credits on the crew skills of my second character so he can level and do the skills whilst he levels as my level 50 is feeding him credits to do it this way with.

Speeder. Yes your level 50 speeder awaits! You may think this costly, or is it now you've all these dailies? Why do I need another speeder when this other one is only a bit slower? Its not about speed increase for me really. The max level speeder has a very low dismount rate if you hit mobs which means you're not constantly getting knocked off and having to waste time killing unwanted mobs. Great time saver. I also go between outposts in Illum on mine so again, no spending on taxis. I used a total of two taxi rides all on Belsavis and died only about three times, mainly due to my own stupidity doing the heroics during the whole exercise.

Flashpoints. Very intense compared to the lower level ones. Bosses have now got tactics that have to be done, and the storylines are so much better. Just to wet your appetite - the first one on Illum you are a team that has gone to capture a proto-type stealth fighter from the Imperial's. The second mission you infiltrate a Sith ship with the new Proto-type Stealth fighter. You see it leave your space dock and stealth and yes  its amazing. You finish off by killing the Lord Sith from the pre-chain.

The gear from Flashpoints is mostly moddable items, and what a player doesn't need your companions can use. Companions that are geared as well as you can be used in place of a player for when you're short. So, like me I'm a tank so my first I'm working on is the healer as that is a useful companion then I will work on gear for my ranged DPS companion. Healers could work on their tank companion.... Remember though, with companions the more affection they have for you the better they fight for you, so consider getting gifts for them if you're going to use it in raids. Also the more presence you have the better they work for you as well. So in the end you can have a whole team ready and waiting to fill up a group's slot.

So now you're 50... Life has only just begun. My alts get very little attention now.
So there is grind!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight Starter Guide P3

The final part of the guide. Parts One and Two.

Primary Stats
Alas SWTOR has not done anything to reduce the mass of stats that a typical MMO has. The Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior primary stat is Strength. Endurance is also important, to survive hits and especially if you are going the tank route.

Willpower is apparently no use now, as things have been changed to only use Strength, even force attacks. This is according to

Secondary Stats
There are also secondary stats which are:

Absorption - increases the amount damage is reduced by a shield.
Accuracy - increases the change to hit a target. When above 100% it continues to have benefit for armour penetration. Similar to Hit Rating in WoW.
Alacrity - casting or channeling haste, reduces the time of the GCD for instant casts. Similar to Haste in WoW.
Armor - increases the amount of armour you have, which absorbs physical and kinetic damage.
Crit - increases the chance of getting any sort of critical hit.
Defense - increases the chance of parrying or deflecting a hit, but not the damage absorbed when you are hit (see armor/absorption). Similar to Dodge in WoW.
Expertise - the PvP stat, this increases damage and healing done and reduces damage taken. Slightly similar to resilience in WoW, but also quite different.
Force Power - increases damage and healing which use force abilities. Similar to Spell Power in WoW, if spells were force powers.
Presence - increases companion abilities - healing, damage and health.
Shield - increases the chance an attack will be shielded. Similar to block in WoW.
Surge - increases the amount of extra damage a critical strike will do.

Ultimately ships in SWTOR are all the same during Space Combat, but the look and feel of the things are different.

The SW ship is a massive Tie Advanced like thing, it really seems to have been taken from X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter and grown somewhat. Although the ship looks like a Tie Advanced, it is pretty big consisting of several rooms inside. It is all utilitarian and Sith like, but looks pretty nice duking it out in space.

The JK ship is a grown version of the shops Obi Wan used in the new trilogies and the Clone Wars animated series. Inside it is quite Jedi like with a meditation chamber and some Jedi like fittings, to make you think you are still on Tython in the Jedi temple.

Well talents start at level 10 when you choose an Advanced class, so that will be the subject of another guide.

Friday, 20 January 2012

This Is The New Stuff

Get ready for it!
Ok, so Guild banks should have been a launch feature, and the same for dragging bits of the UI around. The Legacy system looks interesting and talk of "new powers" to use on your Legacy toons is intriguing.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Where Is The Skill Respec Trainer?

Now recently I wanted to switch from Juggernaut Tank to Dps spec, by refunding my skill points, commonly known as "respeccing". Otherwise known as resetting your talent points, or changing your build.

However I could not find the UI to do it, nor would my trainer let me drop my skill points. After much searching I finally found out where.

Luckily Gravity has made a nice post about it on his site, DarthJedi.

Short answer: at the Space Fleet, in the trainer area. Look for the Skill Mentor. Sometimes the role play gets in the way!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight Starter Guide P2

Continuing my starter guide to the Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior, at low levels, before the Advanced Class. See Part One for gameplay, resources and reactive abilities.

Spell Rotations
Rotations or priority as such, given there are no fixed rotations here. At low levels, you only have the one "form" where you just make Focus/Rage by striking, so things are simple.

Enter combat with a Force Leap/Charge, which builds up 3 Focus/Rage. Then do a Force Sweep/Smash to AOE damage the mob pack and stun them. At this point I tend to build some Focus/Rage with Strike/Assault, the basic attack.

You want enough Focus/Rage to use Riposte/Retaliation as soon as it becomes available, which means not hovering around 0 but probably 3 Focus/Rage.

However if the mobs are due to die, either spend all the Focus/Rage or be ready to Force Leap/Charge into another mob straight away, then spam some high Focus/Rage attacks on the next mobs for lots of damage. Wasting Focus/Rage makes the Jedi and Sith cry, you see.

Story Line
In this regard the two classes are quite different. The Sith Warrior story line involves doing missions for your Sith Master, being his personal "attack dog" and terrorizing the systems on his behalf. You assist in helping him gain power in the Sith Empire. The SW story line is very cool.

The JK on the other hand travels the galaxy aiding people and trying to root out a dark menace which the Jedi have detected, but can't put their finger on. The Jedi story, compared to the Sith one, is far more "nice" as you'd expect, but I have found some fun being mean and all dark side.

Dark/Light Side
Dark and Light side choices are available for either the Jedi or Sith. On both sides there is gear for either alignment, my Jedi has gone to the dark side and has Dark I alignment, so she can use a red light saber crystal.

There is a lot of fun to be had being a dark side Jedi, you get to do bad things and not many people find out, only your companion tends to know what you are doing. You simply lie to the Npcs and they buy it. Of course a light side Jedi will be as you expect.

Dark side Sith is most suitable for the messages of strength, domination and power the Sith project. Still, there are ample chances to be a total maniac in the story. You can also play nice and spare those you could execute, try to avoid killing people unnecessarily, which will get you light side points.

The companions available to the low level JK and SW are a tank type with ranged damage, and a ranged damage dealer respectively. These will both perform the role of ranged damage dealers, although I found the SW companion a bit more annoying, it's all down to personal taste of course.

Next part soon.

Razor SWTOR Keyboard Has The Touch

Just when you thought the G15 was uber, along comes this ere Razer SWTOR keyboard with touchscreen to really up things. I mean, its a keyboard styled for SWTOR, but with a touch screen interface where the numpad was, which runs apps which can do a load of things.

What things? Well being a numpad for one, or a macro recorder/player, or a web browser, or a video player. It is released "soon" but costs $249.99, which is a quite a lot. However, there is a lot of potential with the touch pad if they get some sort of API support from SWTOR. Like erm, mapping Force Leap to a mash of the keypad maybe?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Rise Of The Rakghouls

For Patch 1.1, we get this on January 17th. A new level 50 Flashpoint set on Kaon, where mysterious things are afoot.

From Wookiepedia:
Rakghouls were a type of Sith-spawned mutants, engineered by the Sith Lord Karness Muur. Desiring an army to rule over and seeking a way to cheat death as so many other Sith before and after him did, Muur forged a talisman that he poured his spirit and power into, one that eventually came to be known as the Muur Talisman. Muur's talisman could turn almost any sentient being near him into a mindless rakghoul which he could control, but he found that there were exceptions: Force-sensitives and certain alien species could resist the talisman's effects. Thus, Muur engineered the "rakghoul plague", a virus-like disease that could be spread by a rakghoul's bite or a scratch from its claws, and that subjected the victim to a slower transformation into a rakghoul.
So it looks like the Rakghouls are back for some more content.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight Starter Guide P1

Given I am playing the Sith Warrior (SW) and Jedi Knight (JK), let's get going with some guides.

This first one given an introduction to the classes, but only talks about the base class, not the Advanced classes available for Sith Warrior or Jedi Knight.

Game Play At Early Levels
The game play for the SW and JK is exactly the same. The classes are both melee heavy, with little ranged abilities. You are up close and personal, waving your light saber in mobs' faces, hitting them to do damage.

One ranged ability worth mentioning however is Force Leap/Charge, which is an awesome charge effect where you leap through the air and land on the targeted mob with a smash. This is usually ready for each mob pull, and gives the JK and SW great mobility across a battle field.

You have no direct healing spells apart from the out of combat one, so you are quite reliant on killing mobs before they kill you, or using a healing companion when you get one.

Having said that, you have a number of powerful defensive cooldowns to use when the stuff hits the fan, such as a 40% damage reduction, or a very slow heal over time which can sometimes make a difference.

AOE damage for the JK and SW are quite weak. You get Force Sweep/Smash which damage mobs and stun weak ones, but it is for 5 mobs only and limited to 5 meters. It is on a 15 second cool down, so is only useful once during a typical fight. After that there is nothing at early levels.

The JK and SW use Focus and Rage as a resource respectively. They are the same thing, just different names. Each starts at 0 and builds during combat - some of your attacks will generate Focus/Rage, and some will consume it. Your maximum Focus/Rage is 12, so the combat involves using basic attacks to build it, then spending it on specials.

Force Leap/Charge builds 3 Focus/Rage, which is enough to pull off a Force Sweep/Smash straight away, thus doing a load of AOE damage to a mob pack and stunning them.

Reactive Abilities
There is Riposte/Retaliation, which can be used when a mob dodges or blocks your attacks, costs 3 Focus/Rage, never misses and is off the global cooldown. This means as soon as the icon lights up, you can use the attack, and should do so.

Part Two
Part Three

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Graphics Card in a Low End SWTOR System

Recall that my original system for the SWTOR beta was the following:

Windows XP Home
Intel Core 2 6600 @ 2.4 GHz
2.75 GB RAM
Geforce 7800 GTX 256 MB RAM

On that system I could get around 25-30 frames per second. You can show the frames per second in Star Wars The Old Republic by pressing Control - Shift - F together. They will then show in the left bottom corner.

Anyway, for the Christmas I got a new graphics card - an AMD Radeon HD 6850. To be precise a £110 Sapphire 11180-00-20R HD6850 1GB GDDR5. I plugged it in, did nothing whatsoever with the rest of the system, updated the drivers and started SWTOR.

On this new system I got between 50 and 70 frames per second. That's like double and then some.

Windows XP Home
Intel Core 2 6600 @ 2.4 GHz
2.75 GB RAM
AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB RAM

So by spending £110 on a new graphics card, but still mid range, I have made my aging PC run SWTOR perfectly fine. Sure, there are the occasional slow down, but the card is totally kicking ass. Now this is almost the difference between the cost of my SWTOR normal edition, and the Collectors Edition.

So if your PC is slow and rubbish, minimum spec, I can recommend upgrading the graphics card first and seeing what a difference just that can make.

Next up is an upgrade to an Intel i5 2400 system with 4GB of RAM and Windows 7 64 bit, so SWTOR can grab all the memory it likes. It likes a hell of a lot.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Video Round Up

IGN play SWTOR in Early Access and give us their thoughts:

Brbrainerd posts part 9 of his Consular series:

Daniel Erickson talks to Giant Brain:

Rurikhan is doing SWTOR videos, this one is a series about his Jedi Sage:

Part Two Three

G4TV review:

Total Biscuit interviews Stephen Reid:

Total Biscuit talks Space Combat:

Cooleobrad shows you what a massive mark-up over the normal edition can get you in-game:

A tutorial on combining matrix shards, that you collect from datacrons:

TGN.TV have up an interactive guide to starter planet Datacrons: