I have two blog posts up here with a bunch of questions for a Ramblin' Rorie, and it feels like the time is right to finally record one, or maybe more than one since there are already so many questions. I have to confess: my webcam wasn't really broken, I just didn't really want to record anything so closely after all the Whiskey Media news hit. Apologies for the dissimulation. I guess that's not technically the right word. You know what is a cool word, though? Terribilata, which I just learned.
I'll probably split up all the answers over a couple of days; I've learned that trying to record these things all at once is a bit tough on the old voicebox. So, with that in mind, feel free to ask any new questions in the comments below and I'll start recording something over the next couple of days. Feel free to ask anything, related to movies or otherwise, but keep in mind that I can't talk much about the BermanBraun situation or the future of Screened, alas. I apologize for that, and wish it were different, but hopefully you guys understand. Anything else is fair game!
I'll probably start with the oldest questions and work my way up, but I'll get to everything eventually. I might even read the questions ahead of time and actually think about the answers this time!
So, a kind soul gave me a seven-day free pass to TOR a couple of weeks ago. It’s an interesting time for the game, as they’ve undoubtedly been happy with the launch, but now that people are hitting endgame and running out of things to do, they’ve started to run a few of these kinds of promotions to get new blood into the game, what with the free passes and a couple of free weekends for anyone who wanted to try it out. After reaching the limits of the free stuff (you could only hit level 15, you couldn’t use general chat, etc.), I decided to take advantage of a sale on Amazon and pick up the game for 40 bucks to try it for a full month.
At first glance, the game is immediately impressive. My system’s a couple of years old (albeit with a Radeon 6970 in it), and it’ll run it at 1920x1050 without any problems at maximum settings, even if there is a fair amount of aliasing on sharp edges. It's a nice-looking game, too, and care has been taken to make each class feel pretty bad-ass from the beginning. So far I've fooled around with most of the classes, but I've gotten farthest with the Sith Juggernaut that I've been using on the Giant Bomb guild server.
Unfortunately that server's an East Coast server, and playing from the west coast usually sees my ping hover around 100 ms. It feels worse than that, though, with enemies sometime taking half a second to keel over dead after I pop 'em. With a companion hanging back and shooting away, I'll often tab over to another enemy after killing one and try to pop a skill only to get the “this enemy is already dead!” message. This happens almost every fight. I don't think I have much of a future on that server as a melee character, but my Imperial Agent feels a lot slicker.
I'm mostly really happy with the game thus far, even if I am largely treating it like a series of single-player campaigns rather than an MMO. I like tanking; that's what I always did in WoW, and that's what I was hoping to do in TOR, but after trying a few flashpoints, I sincerely doubt that I'll bother trying to group for any of them in the future.
That's largely because of the conversation system, wherein you will inevitably be paired up with someone who insists on sitting through each conversation in its entirety, thus leaving me spacing through the conversation trees while reading something on my other monitor. This desperately needs to change, somehow, someway. I understand that BioWare is proud of the amount of voice acting that they recorded for the game (and there's a lot of custom animations for these scenes that are well-done), but, to sound like a bit of a boor, I want to play my game and not watch it. Cutscenes are fine for single-player but when you are at the mercy of the slowest member of your group in a dungeon, that's a recipe for boooooredom.
I think it would be rad if they included some kind of “Light Side/Dark Side/Neutral” switch that you could flip on at the beginning of a dungeon, where your responses would be automatically entered based on the chosen setting, so that you could just flip over to a second monitor at each conversation and not have to worry about the game until you saw it leave the cutscene mode. Otherwise, I'd love to have some kind of mode where you could just skip individual cutscenes and do other in-game activities, like send your companions on quests, while waiting for the slowpokes to get done.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the storytelling in the cutscenes, but I just hate waiting for them, especially on the second time through a dungeon. I'm a quick reader and I have subtitles turned on (which should really be the default), so it's a matter of a few seconds to get to the next decision tree hub. Too bad there are usually a dozen or so conversations in the instances I've encountered.
The lack of an LFG tool also makes it difficult to think that I'll stick with any kind of group-oriented role, at least until the next patch comes out, which is supposed to add one. Still, if you spend 200 million on a game, an LFG tool should be high atop the priority list, especially when it's one of the best features of WoW.
Apart from that, most of the caveats I have are pretty small, but make no mistake, the flashpoint experience makes it fairly unlikely that I'll stick with the game past the 30-day trial unless something radically changes with that experience. Maybe I should just stick with guildmates; I can't imagine pick-up groups with the LFG tool being any better than what I've experienced thus far. But still, even without the dungeons, it's easy enough to treat the game like a collection of eight single-player stories, and I'm looking forward to getting through some of those in the next month.
Anyone else still playing? Enjoying yourselves? Give up on it? I haven't gotten any character above lvl 22 or so, so I can't claim to be an expert. Hopefully I'll hit level cap with someone by the end of the month.
I still have all of the questions from the last blog entry to get through, but if anyone wants to throw in a couple more (either in that post or in this one), feel free to do so and I'll try to record something tomorrow and post it sometime this week or on the weekend. Apologies for the delays in getting it done; it's been a weird couple of weeks.
EDIT: Hey, I'm having some issues with my webcam, so this might have to wait until next week. Apologies! I should've just recorded this a couple weeks ago like I intended. I'll head to work tomorrow and see if I can get something fresh from the Tested people.