Friday, March 30, 2012

Your Forty-first Assignment: Server Types and You!

Where in the hell are we cipher?

They call it a 'renaissance fair.'  It's like nothing I've ever seen before.

Why are those Ugnaughts trying to sell us 'vittles?'

I don't know, Kaliyo.  Just keep walking and don't make eye contact.


Lock and load, agents!  Today we're going to talk about servers, realms, shards, blades, whatever you like to call 'em ... and what the different types mean!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

STOLEN IDEAS: 3 Month Review!

Shintar of Going Commando posted a three month review of SWTOR ... and hell, it's a good idea!  Apparently, so does our favorite blogger evar, Njessi!  I stoleded repurposed it and will make my own three month review.  'Cept I'll call it 101 DAYS OF AWESOME.  Yeah, that way I can't be accused of stealin' ideas!  Yeah!

Look, we all know I struggle coming up with topics, ok?  Just give me this one.  Please.  I mean, for fuck's sake, I wrote a song about Trandoshans!  I MEAN C'MON!

Anyhoo, here comes my three month review that is in no way, shape, or form a direct rip off of Shintar's and Njessi's idea (which they appropriated from Kristalys)!  Remember, this is a *brand new idea from Targeter, one that is completely not stolen from his fellow bloggers at all!

* This may or may not be entirely truthful.

101 DAYS OF RADICALNESS

You can tell already that this review will be a very level-headed and fair assessment of my play-time so far.  I'm know far and wide for my even-handed approach and lack of bias.  Clearly.  *Ahem*


First, let's get the bad out of the way.  Ok, BioWare, I don't really know what the hell you were thinking when you decided to roll out invites in waves for Early Access, but yeah.  Let's not do that again.  It did a few things:

  • Made sure servers were stable.  This is good.
  • Ensured we didn't have too many servers at launch.  This is good (and debatable).
  • Guaranteed that players entering the game would have the best possible experience.  This is good.
  • Turned some of your fanbase into frothing lunatics because they got into the game 1.2 picoseconds after someone else, resulting in nerd-fury the likes of which has never been recorded on this planet.  This is amusing.
  • Sorta made you look like idiots with the whole 'Early Access' tagline on all promotional products; granted, everyone got in in relatively short order and you even bumped up the window by 2 days (this is good!), but it still sorta looked like a douchebag move if you were on the outside looking in.  This is bad.
All in all, a pretty good launch except for the part where the vocal minority turned into raging dickwolves.  I had zero problems getting in on 12/13 and really, isn't that all that matters?  PSHAW!  Wait, am I supposed to care about others and their problems?  This isn't their review, it's mine!  MINE MINE MINE!

Anyways, let's move on.

What else was bad?  Oh yes.  Textures.  Ok, so this is 2012.  Generally speaking, when you launch game in the 2012th year of our Lord Vader, you should probably (and this is really only a suggestion) launch WITH GODDAMN HIGH-RES TEXTURES.  Holy crap, my Sith Warrior looks like he has a gray pudding pile on his chest.  It's supposed to be armor, not a pile of amorphous shit.  Now, if you were releasing this on a Mac II  or a fucking 486 DX, then yeah ok, I can see not having great textures.  REALLY?  Word on the street is that high-res is coming in 1.2, but to me that's 101 days too late, boyos!  After all, the high-res textures are already in the game ... in every cutscene.  OMG RAGE!

Bugs.  You know 'em.  You hate 'em.  We still live with 'em.  I don't mind a few bugs here and there, considering the size and scope of this MMO.  But seriously, what the hell.  Bugs in EV are absolutely killer.  Bugs in quests that I have personally reported in beta testing at least seventeen umpteen billion times (that's a real number fyi) that still show up in retail are ridiculous.  The targeting bug on Quesh.  The Agent convo bug during Chapter 1 with Jadus' daughter.  The bug where I don't get a million credits for free.  Yeah, that's a real bug too, ya know.

Outside of that, there's not been too much wrong with TOR, and even then those aren't 'game-killing problems' and more 'annoyances I can deal with.'  Now, to the gooooood stuff.

Tone and style.  TOR's got it in spades.  It probably has to do with the setting and the development house, but TOR's just the most sensible and stylish MMO I've played.  They nailed the vibe of the galaxy, the stories, the feel of the game.  I only expect it to get better as TOR gets a more lived-in look as the expansion packs keep on rollin' out.

Combat done right.  Getting rid of auto-attack means you can't AFK a mob and go get a sandwich.  The combat is fluid (now that they've fixed the ability delay) and crisp, with attacks making sense and not being outlandish ... except for the ludicrous Orbital Strike.  It feels good; charges feel powerful, crazy Sith tiger roars are menacing, the bolt action slide of my Series of Shots just hits the right notes.  Speaking of ...

Sound is outstanding.  The orchestral movements on each planet are perfectly suited.  The sounds of combat are excellently done (when they don't occasionally bug out) and drive that Star Wars feel home.  It feels like I'm in the movies - o' course it probably helps that the dialogue is spot-on.  For the largest voiceover project in history, BioWare has made sure to make every line was delivered perfectly.  Sure there are some inconsistencies occasionally (my favorite was the Imperial officer who pronounced the word ensign as 'inn-sine'), but that really just lends to the flavor of the worlds.  The characters have ticks and foibles and some of them talk funny.  It's just like real life, 'cept I don't get XP for killing people.  Unfortunately.

Look, you know I'm crazy about this game.  I don't have to sit here and tell you that it's great.  Chances are, if you read this, you think the game's great too. BioWare has done something amazing here and I'm so excited that I was able to get in on the ground floor.

Leave a comment below about what you think is the best part of the game!  Fly safe, shoot straight!  For the glory of the Empire!

Monday, March 26, 2012

MERGE TEH SERVERZ OMG

Read this.

Done?  Good.  That article pissed me off.

Now, read this sentence from the aforementioned article.

"One metric in the thread claims that even though The Old Republic has about a tenth of WoW's subscribers, it has nearly half of WoW's total server count, causing a massive server to player disparity."

That ignorant damn statement pissed me off the most.

Ok, let's do some really simple fucking math.  The statement above states that TOR has one tenth the population of World of Warcraft - incorrect.  WOW currently holds 10.1 million players (according to the latest financial call) across all continents, including the massive and lucrative Asian market and TOR has 1.7 million players according to EA's latest call.  I'm only using the financial call numbers because those are the only ones I can verify; I can speculate all I want about player counts but it amounts to a hill of damn beans in the end.

1.7 divided by 10.1  does not equal 10%

1.7 divided by 10.1 equals 16.83%


That's a pretty large delta right off the bat, over 50% off the stated claim.  Next up, let's check server counts!  TOR currently has (by my calculations) 217 servers - 123 US, 91 Euro, 3 Asian.  For WoW, currently, in the US alone there are 241 realms.  There are another 263 realms in Europe making for a total of 504 servers.  Add in another 8 for Brazil and Latin America and we're up to 512.  I count, by hand 375 servers in China.  That's up to 887 servers.  33 more servers in Korea, and another 47 in Taiwan.  That brings our total count to 967 servers.  Server counts come directly from WoWpedia (may be off a few here or there due to hand counting!).

TOR v WoW Server Counts: 263 divided by 967 equals 27.19%

Last time I checked, 27.19% is nowhere close to 50%, right?  So the claim that TOR has one tenth the population (wrong) and one half the servers (wrong again) isn't looking too good.  Well, let's break down the subs per server next.

TOR : 1.7 million divided by 217 equals 7834.1 subscribers per server

WOW : 10.1 million divided by 967 equals 10444.67 subscribers per server


So, what does this tell us?  That TOR servers are 75.03% as filled as WoW servers when considered on a large-scale basis.  We unfortunately don't have subscriber counts by region for either game so we can't estimate how filled US and Euro servers are for WoW, but if we were to guess that half the subscriber population is in the US and Europe and the other half is in Asia (China, Korea, and Taiwan) then this is what the numbers would look like:

TOR : 1.7 million divided by 217 equals 7834.1 subscribers per server

WOW (US&Euro) : 5.05 million divided by 504 equals 10019.84 subscribers per server

WOW (Asia): 5.05 million divided by 463 equals 10907.13 subscribers per server


That brings TOR's and WoW's US & Euro server counts close to 80% as full (78.18%).

So gamers who like to complain that TOR servers are dead, shut the fuck up.  Your servers are 75-80% as full as WoW servers.  Stop complaining.  Are there some dead servers?  You betcha ... there always will be with an MMO of this size.  Is it as bad as you're stating?  Fuck no.  Please stop overreacting to a problem that is purely subjective; when you log on and you see 40 people in the Fleet take into account other factors.  What time of day is it?  What day?  What else is going on?  Are there outside factors?  By the numbers, there's just not a whole lot of evidence to point to 'empty' servers.  Now, we can revisit this topic once they release the subscriber counts at the next quarterly financial call.

Till then, shut your pie holes.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Big Bear Butt's Writing Challenge!

So, Big Bear Butt threw down a writing challenge: 100 words or less, gotta use the following in your story - juicy, slender, vain, shaft, torch, star, and hidden.  Oh yeah.  Here we go.

The k'lor slug inched forward, seeing stars hidden from sight with tired eyes, its former home a shaft deep in the Korriban tombs.  Becoming wedged between the wall and rubble, it struggled vainly to gaze upon the night sky.

Snap-hiss.

"That was a juicy one," the Sith said, wiping bloody goo from his boots.

54 words ain't bad!  Off to post this on BBB!

Your Fortieth Assignment: Retirement

You can't quit, cipher.

The hell I can't Kaliyo.  I'm done.  The Empire can burn.

But cipher, all the people you saved, the good you did ...

Amounts to nothing.  Get out of my face, you Rattataki bitch.


This is the post I've been dreading.  I always knew it would come because nothing lasts forever, but I didn't think it would be this soon.

I'm quitting The Old Republic.

The reasons are myriad and legion; boring game world, horrid raiding, buggy gameplay, no sense of the world at large.  The people.  The whole game.  It's just so familiar with that game I've played before ... I just can't stand it.  I'll be venturing back into World of Warcraft, but I doubt I'll stay long ... MMOs simply have nothing for me anymore.  I guess I'll need to fire up that Panda soon.  I'll probably just drift away from the gaming scene altogether and write a book.  Maybe work on some painting.  Maybe I'll just HOLY SHIT YOU ACTUALLY FELL FOR THAT.  Happy early April Fool's!

The real point of this post is a love letter to BioWare's new MMO.

Thanks, Doctors Muzyka and Zeschuk.  Thanks for giving me a game world where I can explore and evolve, live out my Star Wars dreams and roam the galaxy.  Hey, I know it's just started and there's not a whole shit-ton of stuff to do, but the possibilities leave me breathless.

Thanks, Damien Schubert, Georg Zoeller, James Ohlen, and Daniel Erickson for sticking to your guns and making the MMO you guys wanted to make.  Some may call it derivative, some may call it a clone (and they'd be dead fucking wrong too), some may call it boring ... I don't care about that.  You made the MMO I've always wanted to play, the game I always wished WoW would have been.  The worlds, the design, the approach ... all of these are tailor-made for someone like me.  Thank you.

Thanks, TOR players.  You are nicer and far more civil than you could have been.  Thank you for bringing the community together, keeping it light and friendly, helpful and kind.  It's such a far cry from that elitist hell-hole of that 'other' game ... you know, the game that fostered an atmosphere where anonymous bullying was not only accepted but encouraged through random group finders and a no-consequences attitude displayed by employees.

And finally, thanks to all my guys and gals in Scum and Villainy.  You guys make it all worthwhile; without you I'd have no one to play with, joke with, laugh with.  Spork and boobs, ya'll!

Fly safe, shoot straight!  For the glory of the Empire!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A SONG OF FIRE AND DOSH!

Ha, you probably thought this was going to be about Sir Tubbin's Song of Fire and Ice or whatever he calls it.  God I hate that man.  Remind me to tell you all about it one day.

Instead, at the urging on Njessi over at Hawtpants (and mainly because I think she wants me to stop posting there), I will put up the song I wrote yesterday during my lunch.  It's a riff on the Bangles "Walk like an Egyptian."  Enjoy!

Walk Like a Trandoshan (an original production!)

All the old holograms on the tombs
They do the Scorekeeper dance don’t you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They shoot you down like a wookiee oh


All the T’doshok around Dosh
They got the credits from a bet
Golden nekk dogs (oh whey oh)
They snap their teeth on your ammo belt


Outsider types with spice-filled pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh 

Walk like a Trandoshan

Kaas City waitresses take their trays
Slave collars on as they cross the floor
They’ve got the moves (oh whey oh) 

They drop your drink when you zap them more

All the Sith kids so sick of good
They like the dark side and mercenary bands
When the klaxons ring (oh whey oh)
They’re walking like a Trandoshan


All the kids in the GTN say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like a Trandoshan


Slide your claw feet up the street bend your tail
Shift your arm then you pull it back
Life is hard you know (oh whey oh)
So strike a pose on a Korrealis Commander


If you want to find the Trando cops
They’re hanging out in the flatcake shop
They sing and dance (oh whey oh)
Spin the vibroblades cruise down the block


All the Coruscanti men with their zen
The party boys call the Balmorrans
And the Tarisians know (oh whey oh)
They walk the line like Trandoshans


All the Trando cops in the flatcake shop say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like a Trandoshan
Walk like a Trandoshan

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Picture Pages!

So I was looking through my screenshot folders and thought immediately of this!


Time for Targeter's Picture Pages!

First up, the infamous 'Sixth Meme' that was sent my way courtesy of Njessi at Hawtpants of the Old Republic.  This was a screenshot taken on the Ziost Shadow ... and the panorama just absolutely blew me away.  If I remember correctly, two guildmates were with me at the time - Yewanna and Kimonomofo.


Next!  Targeter has too much money on his hands and makes the TOR equivalent of buying a timeshare!  The Korrealis Commander (aka, Land Boat) is big, ugly, and a million credits.  I have no idea why I bought it ... that's a lie, I wanted to show my officers in Scum and Villainy that I have 1) too much time and 2) too much money.  Eat it.



And lastly ... I'm pretty sure that's the Bounty Hunter ship giving me the fucking double bird.  Fuck you too, Mantis.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mass Effect 3 - You see me trollllin'

Some pictures.

Now I feel better.

Your Thirty-ninth Assignment: The Sith Problem

I hate this place, Cypher.

Why's that Kaliyo?

Too crowded.  So much desperation in the air that it sticks to me like oil.  I hate it.

I know.  The Sith are leading us down a road to ruin.  Why can't anyone see that?


The Sith.  They lead this mighty Empire.  They wield the Force and immeasurable power on Dromund Kaas and other locales across the galaxy.  They are the finely-honed weapon pointed directly at the heart of the Republic.  They're on our side.

Right?

(Warning!  The post contains spoilers!  Enter at your own risk!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mass Effect 3 - The End

Tali: I want more time.

Last night, at the ripe hour of 5:30am, I completed Mass Effect 3.  The ending was ... yeah.

This post is spoilerific, kids.  I'd highly advise that if you have not completed Mass Effect 3 skip this post until you do.

Spoilers follow.  Do not read unless you are ready.  Assuming direct control.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Snap Shot: Operatin'!

So, this week <Scum and Villainy> will step foot into Eternity Vault for the fourth time.  So far, I'll be honest; I've been incredibly impressed with the instance design.  The fights are fun so far (although Gharj can be RNG-tastic).  Annihilator Droid is a good gear check, Gharj is an unpredictable fight that has fun platforming elements, the Pylon is Lootship v2.0, the Council fight is actually quite interesting, and Soa is ... well, he's Soa.  He's an evil bastard who feeds on your tears ... well, until you figure him out.  Then, apparently, you get to whip him like a red-headed Rakata ... which helps, because his head is actually red.

Eternity Vault is a wonderful operation with atmosphere and character.  I've compared it to Ulduar before and I think it's a fair comparison.  The mechanics are tight (when they don't bug out) and the overall story of the operation makes sense and is compelling.

Now, here's the part where most people would put in a breakdown of what to do, where to go, what strats to use ... fuck that.  Go to Youtube for that shit.  I'm going to regale you with my thoughts as I faced each of these bosses!

ANNIHILATOR DROID:
"Escape pods!  Cool!"
"OH GOD THE TURRETS BURRRRNNNNN ME!"
"Escape pods!  Still cool!"
"Turrets immune to CC!  Fuuuuuuuu"
"Fuck these escape pods."
"Turrets were harder than the damn boss."

GHARJ:
"Boy, Soa really emphasizes the 'IIIIIIIEEEEEEE' in 'DIE'."
"Glad I played Super Mario as a kid."
"Clearly, some of our raid did not."
"That is one ugly fucking rancor-rage-beast."
"GET OUT OF THE FUCKING LAVA!"

ANCIENT PYLON:
"Shit, does this damn thing rotate left or right?"
"Ok, got sequence down.  Keep 'em off me, I'm starting my attack run!"
"Cheetos!"
"That was easy.  TOO EASY.  I expect a trap!"
"No trap.  I guess we just get loot.  Lootship 2.0!"

COUNCIL:
"Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit!"
"ENOUGH WITH THE KNOCKBACKS, BITCH!"
"Only one shot? Fuuuuuuuu"
"Clearly, this game hates Snipers."

SOA:
"Wow, what a nice room."
"OH FUCK THE FLOOR!  AAAAHHHHHH!"
"Ok, we gotta pick the right path!"
"Shit I picked the wrong path!"
"Hey guys, I found the floor."

Fly safe, shoot straight!  For the glory of the Empire!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Success! ... almost.

So after a change in our lineup, our Ops team was off and running.  We sprinted through Annihilator and Gharj and finally reached the Ancient Pylon.  First wipe, we were figuring out what the hell to do.  Second wipe was caused by an ill-behaving Acklay.  Third pull we got it.  Council took three tries as well, once we figured out that Kolto Shell was giving our healer the Destiny debuff.  And just like that, we are on Soa.

I can't believe it.

Soa's a bastard, but we'll get him down in time.  Honestly, none of us were prepared to meet Soa so quickly, but that just goes to show you what a well-oiled ops team can do.  Hopefully next Sunday we'll put a couple shots in that ol' Rakata's brain pan!