peal's heals – a swtor blog

on customer service
May 15, 2012, 1:15 am
Filed under: gameplay, missions | Tags:

My ticket was answered today.

I submitted this ticket three weeks ago, on 4/21/2012. Today, 5/14/2012, I finally get an answer.

We think we fixed the issue, so try resetting… again.

So at some point I will do the last leg of my class quest for THE THIRD TIME. I’ve had my Dark-Side speeder sitting my bag for more than a month, 100 points shy to use it because I hadn’t been awarded the Dark Side points I earned from blowing shit up.

Granted, I could have gotten another mount in the meantime. But still. I’m a stubborn woman and I guess I thought it wouldn’t take them a month to resolve the problem (first ticket with this problem was initially submitted 4/14/2012).

…in recent patches? You wait till a Monday night to mentioned you fixed this at least 6 days ago?

I’m kind of speechless. I really love SW:TOR and I want it to succeed… but I can’t be the only one who’s had to wait this long for an automated response for a problem they fixed “some time ago”. It’s downright insulting.


operation: redundancy
March 16, 2012, 4:42 pm
Filed under: missions | Tags: , , ,

Haven’t really raided all week, which has led me to some other interesting endeavors in SWTOR.

1. Made another sorcerer to level alongside Lux’s new sniper. Mistakes I will not be making this time around: being nice, going light side.

2. Made another operative on a new server so in theory I can PvP with some people I went to high school with (I say in theory because of my love-hate relationship with PvP). I actually made two new operatives. The first I named Peal, then I realized that Peal is totally not an operative name. Quake was already taken, as was Tremor. Bah. BUT: the second time around this time has been so much easier than the first. I know what to expect and I understand abilities. In fact, I’m counting levels till I get some of them. Operatives aren’t really awkward, it just seems that way.

3. Leveling diplomacy is kinda fun if you read the missions. The difference between dark side options (this lady wants out of her arranged marriage! have Khem Val “convince” her to do it for the good of the Empire!) and light side options (this party could get out of control! Have Xalek show up to keep the good times rolling!)

Because apparently, Xalek is a party animal?

mandatory conversations: boarding party
March 1, 2012, 4:56 pm
Filed under: for fun, missions | Tags: , , ,

For some odd reason, Boarding Party tends to be our FP of choice. It was one of the first I learned how to do and I dare say that for the past two or three weeks I’ve ran it nearly every day.

This may or may not be a spoiler. One of the NPCs is really, really annoying. You don’t get to speak to her until the end. And when you do, this is an option:

But it’s not really an option, is it? Because all the other “options” to talk aren’t near as exciting as this one. It’s mandatory; in my groups this is the answer you pick.

Another thought on BP:

A handful of trash pulls can be skipped. And I just spent several minutes trying to explain what I meant but without screenshots it’s kind of a pain. So I’ll have to jump back into boarding party and take pictures for another post on skippable trash. In BP and in Foundry.

Are there FPs you find yourself going back to when you need to grind? Are there lines you just love so much you have to say them every time?

duos and parties: a-pealing or appalling?
January 10, 2012, 4:00 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions | Tags: ,

It was only a matter of (apparently short) time before I ended up waving my opinions on couples/friends playing together in TOR. Nearly a year ago I wrote a post about leveling together in WoW: Cataclysm (and how I was disappointed. “Seamless” Phasing is absolutely the bane of dual-playing).

The long and short of it: Luxin’terior and I play together. A whole bunch. Which is great, because an MMORPG should be easy to play together, right?

Murder and Mayhem at Every Opportunity

Team Play: the a-Peal

Class stories are set up so that a friend can help you. They see your cut scenes, they can terrorize your bad guys. This is so flipping sweet.

Being able to participate in conversations together, get social points, and join in holocalls when one player is too far away to be there and still see what’s going on and get the mission. Oh, and it  keeps conversations interesting because you get to hear other voices and see what other people choose to say. You get to see the light side option (while still getting your dark side points) once in a while. This is great.

Little-to-obvious phasing means it’s easy to join in wherever we’re at. My big beef with Cataclysm was that one player of Team Tank & Heal would disappear after taking a quest. In Star Wars, the phased area are instanced off in caves, rooms, etc. While passing through the green film is more game-like, the more immersive “seamless” phasing is not friendly to group play. Not to mention, seamless can get very buggy with gathering nodes and enemies.

Mission areas have a decent level spread so even if we’re a couple of levels apart we can still play. And all those heroic quests? Yum. Those are the times that make me so glad I am a full-time healer.

Flashpoints are accessible and fun. It’s been easy to get into them, find players to go, and do them. I fell in love with the first flashpoint we ever did (Black Talon): You mean we’re hijacking this ship? That is so cool!

Different classes are still set up to get speed boosts and travel helps at similar levels, so with a few exceptions (14 to 15 and 24 to 25) we’re able to stay together without one having to wait on the other. This is pretty minor, but it’s kind of annoying to get a class-specific speed boost and never get to enjoy the benefit because your friend doesn’t get anything like it for another few levels. Or ever.

There’s enough non-questing content to keep one half of Team Tank & Heal busy should he or she get an afternoon off. Luxin’terior enjoys space battles. I’m obsessed with crafting and lately, convincing Andronikos that he should love me. Did he really just imply he wanted kids?

I don’t have any statistical proof that being in a group gives you higher chances of more and better loot… but… In the 10 or so (post 30) levels I have done by myself I have not once seen a blue or purple drop. Contrast that to when I’m doing missions in a group, we’ve seen several purples and a solid handful of blues. Our companions have some really nice gear because we’ve gotten BOEs that they can use.

You do, for sure, get more XP/hr doing missions with a buddy. For one, you can kill more, pull faster, spend less time recovering, etc; but you also get extra xp for being in the group when you complete missions. I love smashing enemy supplies, tossing heals while Lux pulls everything in sight. Mission completed in record time!

Team Play: the Appall

One player in the group is doomed to the slowest computer and if there’s one thing I really don’t like about TOR, it’s that it is not friendly to average computers. For now, I’m cursed to be the one everyone is waiting on. And playing with another person in the same room shows clearly just how long a gaming computer waits for an average computer.

Moreover, participating in the same conversation in the same room is a bane for the sound. Even if we had similar computer builds, we’d be having the same conversation coming out of two sets of speakers at a second or so delay. As it is now, I mute my computer and turn around to watch the scene from Lux’s computer (because the sounds don’t make sense watching it from mine). I haven’t gotten terribly annoyed with that yet, but some sort of anger-response seems inevitable long term.

A small plus is that for flashpoints and repeatable content you can space-bar through things once you’ve seen it. But even the loading time to get to the point where I can space-bar gets obnoxious. And if I haven’t seen it yet my friends will be waiting a long time for me to get through (especially if they’re space-barring because this is old hat for them).

There’s definitely a lot of reasons to play with people as you’re leveling up. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. So in that regard, EA has done a great job. An MMO, in my humble opinion, should make it easy and rewarding to join groups and play with other people, which TOR does.

Have you played extensively with a friend or loved one? How did the experience go for you?

January 7, 2012, 10:22 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions | Tags:

Welcome to Belsavis. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 credits.

In Taris, Belsavis, and to a lesser extent in Voss, mission directions are a bit wonky. What I mean is this…

The maps are pretty easy to use in TOR. They show you where your missions are and approximately how to get there. And even better, when you click on speeders, the paths will turn to green when you have a mission, showing you which speeder to take for efficient travel. Which is great.

Except for when it doesn’t work. They’re a little buggy in the higher end zones, and if you don’t watch where you’re going, the game will direct you to drive your own slow cruiser through several zones and pass speeder points you already know.

So you may have to actually, you know, look at your map once in a while and make sure you’re planning out the best route. The game may not be doing it for you, at least not as well as it had in the earlier zones. I learned the hard way and wasted a boatload of time. Traveling is not fun.

Of course, this could be a bug that doesn’t affect everyone (it’s inconsistent, for one, sometimes I’ll fly to one place for a mission and then it says “oh, whoops, fly to the next one instead!”), but just a head’s up. Before you start driving, make sure that you’ve already flown as much as you can.

sorcerer kiting
January 3, 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions, strategy | Tags: , , , ,

I had the opportunity to, ahem, teach myself how to kite.

Normally Khem’s a pretty good bodyguard but once in a while there’s a melee-class elite that roflstomps him. Completely. In situations like this no amount of healing can save him. He falls over like a big dumb rock, crying “Heal me little sith!” while I’m spamming him.

Andronikos is even less sturdy, though I appreciate his attempts at humor in the face of death.

After way too many attempts to keep these companions alive and barely burning the elite to 75% or so, I considering waiting and begging someone for help but that isn’t very sith-like. And I was sick of dying, so when Andy fell, I refreshed my dot on the elite and ran like hell for the instance. The craziest thing happened…

I lived.

The spark of an idea was born.

I decided to let my poor pirate go without any help. He died quickly and I kited the elite. A long fight, very long, yes, but I did it.

Then further down the quest chain I had a surprise elite jump me. I managed to kite him from 80% without any problems at all. I felt liberated; sometimes leveling healer-spec can be thankless and suicidal, but if I can kite, then new worlds (or is it galaxies?) are opened up to me.

And upon further reflection, I’m a complete and total n00b. I forgot to utilize two abilities… ya know, ‘minor’ things like Force Slow and Electrocute. *sigh* But that’s okay! Learn from my mistakes.

Kiting As A Sorcerer Healer – The Path to Awesome

  • Clear the area. Extra pulls will kill you dead, so give yourself plenty of space. CC the elite and wipe out his bodyguards. If you get a few seconds remaining on Whirlwind to top up your health and Force, use it.
  • Get to know the room. Look for line-of-sight nooks, corners, ramps to jump off of, and straightaways to maximize your Force Speed.
  • Instant casts are your friend. Affliction can be cast while facing away from a mob. To cast Shock, however, you’ll need to be facing him. With Overload, you will want to get the hang of when to best use the knockback. If you’re too close to a wall, you won’t get its full range. If you’re running in the same direction, you won’t put as much space between you and the elite. I had the best luck putting the elite behind me and then knocking him away.
  • Did I mention instant casts are your friend? Static Barrier and Resurgence should be about all the healing you need (though I am trigger-happy with the med packs. When else am I gonna need ’em?).
  • Force Lightning is great because you can clip it and still get a couple of ticks of damage. Though I found myself relying more on Affliction and Shock. I’m sure the same holds true with stealing ticks of Innervate, but again, you’ll probably want to keep moving and allow Resurgence to tick instead of taking damage.
  • Kiting an elite as a healer takes a long time compared to many other fights you’ll encounter while questing. Think more about survival, avoiding damage, and refreshing Affliction. Keeping abilities up and knowing what you want to use next and where is more important than nuking.
  • You’ll be running your ass off. Stay moving.

And there you have it. Have you tried kiting yet as a solo healer? How’s it working out for you?

ten rats – dead, or more dead?
December 27, 2011, 7:11 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions, on gaming | Tags: ,

I’ve been thinking about questing in SW:TOR.

Oh, oh, I mean doing missions. We don’t do quests in TOR, we do missions.

And at the heart of those missions is the dread “kill ten rats” objective. There’s really no escaping these ten rats. The best a game can do is to sugar-coat it, voice-over it, and hope we enjoy ourselves so much that we forget that we’re just killing ten rats over and over again.

I believe if someone had a better way to do it, we’d already have it. Most things are redundant in some form; games, jobs, hobbies, most everything we do has some form of ridiculously redundant elements. We like to either downplay the repetition or do things to mask it.

And I think Star Wars does a decent job of de-ratting their missions. Here’s why:

Why yes, I did just carry that enormous box across the desert and haul it up three flights of stairs to see you, puny human. Yet you still haven't told me why I should care.

The Illusion of Choice

Every time I’ve been given a special option to choose how to complete a mission, I’ve enjoyed the mission and remembered it. Deep down it’s silly to enjoy that mission more, it’s still clicking on 6 buttons after killing several packs of mobs. No matter which choice I make those 6 buttons and packs of mobs are non-negotiable if I want to keep doing missions in the area.

But give me a choice to make – poison those troops over the course of weeks or make ’em dead via overload here and now? Subvert the mad scientist by bringing the 6 quest items to his assistant to tamper with first or give him the actual results?

And suddenly I’m engaged in the game. I’m role-playing because I have to decide if my character is the subversive type. Or the merciful type. Or…

The conversations with NPCs don’t “matter” for the most part. The cut scene may play out a little different if you’re rude to the puny humans trying to bother you (and I do love how they quiver before me) but it’s still the same quest and maybe a little rep gained or lost from your companion.

But that’s another thing. I enjoy playing the mini-game of “What should I say to this dude to make Khem Val love me more?” My character has changed because of this companion. At its heart, this is classic min-maxing and power-leveling. And yet, I get way too much joy out of disrespecting those puny humans to get Khem’s approval. Way too much.

Freedom of Expression

When it’s all said and done, people love and value ways to express themselves. And for all the arguments to be made that there’s no real expression in a video game because there’s millions of people playing and only a handful of “expressions”, we still need them.

Going back to a real life analogy, it’s the same reason people spend excessive amounts of time personalizing their signatures, their websites, blog headers, gravatars, profile pages. Does any of that actually matter? It does because it matters to the person expressing him or herself, even if a signature or a template will look more-or-less like the other billion on the internet. We enjoy that stuff for some reason.

Though… There is one place where I’m consistently pulled out of the game to remember it’s just an RPG. It’s whenever I have to make the choice between light side and dark side. Sometimes, the light side choice is right up my alley. Others, it feels forced, for instance you let some d-bag live (who totally deserves to die) because it’s the “right” thing to do. I do feel like “choosing” light or dark at the beginning of character progression locks you in to stop role playing and always click on the black triangle or white star when it pops up.

So has SW:TOR given us enough self-expression and illusion of choice to make us kill those ten rats again? Time will tell, specifically, when we start getting closer to max rank (where it takes more and more quests) and making alts and end up doing the content again.