Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jedi Knighted

Yeah, so I'm up to level 18 in SWTOR now, and I just got through my first space battle. I'll admit  that space battles seem more arcade-like than most of the game but it's also damn fun. I've got my own ship now and so I can zip around the galaxy at will.

The more I play SWTOR, the more I get into it. Now, that's pretty common for me with a new game. I don't bother getting into a game, and certainly I don't bother spending actual money on it unless I'm really motivated. So far, I'm totally into it, in a way that I generally don't get into most games. SWTOR is still most definitely a candidate for a long-haul game for me.

AOC, for example, is a great game but I never became so involved in it that I felt the need (key word) to go the paid route. STO had me hooked on the original set of content, but the minute I got a lifetime sub the content updates just stopped for 2 years and I ended up feeling cheated. SWTOR, on the other, just seems to compel me. The more I play, the more I want. I have to force myself to take breaks so I don't lose my entire day in-game. Seriously.

I feel like I don't have to worry about content droughts and such with SWTOR like I do with other games. Of course, I read the same declarations of impending doom in the gaming press everyone does, but knowing (now) that even now, after a significant chunk of the game's player base has already left and the game has gone FTP, SWTOR is still the number two MMO behind WoW gives me much more confidence in the continuing quality of the game going forward. That'll likely be key in deciding whether or not to invest in this game long-term. So far, so good.

The last game to involve me that completely was Eve, and I lasted with that for about 3 years. It'll be interesting to see if I can go that long with SWTOR. Right now, most of the game in still in front of me and I'm looking forward to more.

It's also interesting to see how much of the gamer common wisdom about SWTOR is just plain wrong. Sure there's plenty of reasons to spend money on this game, but there's also a lot you can still do as a free player without spending a dime. The great thing about this game, at least for me, is it's less about forcing you to spend as much as making you WANT to spend. Sure there are some cases, such as with inventory space, the new expansion, and some other stuff, that basically require you to spend a bit if you want to have the most fun and if you want to progress past a certain point in the game, but in most cases it's about spending on things that are wants, not needs, in terms of having a great time in SWTOR.

I hope they keep it this way.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When Bad Is Good

So I worked my original toon up to close to level 11 in SWTOR, then earlier I went to apply the game time card I bought on my account. This I managed without a problem, but when I started the game there was no upgrade, it was still a free account. I log out and back in, nothing. I'm getting ready to write a petition when it suddenly hits me.

I log out and check the username on the launcher. Then I call up my browser and go to the SWTOR login screen. The usernames don't match. I'd been logging into the site on one account and logging into the game on a completely different one. Not only did I have no idea, I didn't even realize I'd apparently set up two separate accounts.

I start up the launcher, put in the credentials from the other account and there it is, my subscriber account, untouched and unused. In other words, time to start from the beginning again. At first I was really annoyed, but then after thinking about it a little I realized that I was probably better off starting from scratch as a subscriber anyway.

So I just hit level 5 a little bit ago. Here we go again.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Well, That Was Quick

I just got back from Target a little while ago, where I picked up a 60-day time card for SWTOR. Yeah, seriously. This is rare for me. I usually don't fall in love with an MMO this quickly. Generally it takes at minimum a few weeks as a free player in an FTP game before I'm willing to spend any money on it. SWTOR, though, that's different.

There's a lot about the game to like, especially if you're a grizzled veteran like me. I've always been a fan of the high-tech futuristic MMO's as opposed to the one that are set in the 13th century of some planet/dimension/whatever. I've always enjoyed Bioware games too, if not their marketing. I still haven't played ME3 and I probably won't until the GOTA version comes out. I'm cool with that. Yet, at the same time, I couldn't help but want to spend at least a couple of months in SWTOR getting the first class experience.

I like the fact that I can go to Target and buy a time card for this game. I like that a lot. It's a pain in the ass for me to deal with online payments and I always prefer to pay in cash if I can. It's a small thing, of course, but not entirely insignificant.

I spent three years in Eve-Online, another super-high-tech setting, and I really enjoyed it. I could see myself spending a similar amount of time or even longer with this game if the content keeps up, because while they're both set in sci-fi universes they entertain me as a player in completely different ways.

Could this be my new Eve? I don't know, but I do know that I like it, a lot, more than just about anything I've played recently, and I've come to that determination in just three days as a player. For me, that's unprecedented.

And now, I'll have 60 days to figure it all out...starting tomorrow.

Suddenly, Long, Long Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

Yeah ok, so I did it. I broke one of my own rules for playing MMOs...again.

I tend to make it a policy (and I'm not really sure if it's by design or just unconscious personal preference) to avoid the big-name MMOs like Everquest, WoW, and SWTOR in favor of stuff more off the beaten path. That's not to say I won't go for a game that boasts a big-name brand like Star Trek Online or Age of Conan, but the more it seems like any game happens to be "what everyone's playing these days", the less likely it is that I'm going to consider giving it a shot.

Maybe it's because I've been burned before. I invested in a lifetime sub for STO a few years ago, just in time to see the game enter a two-year content drought. I'm still liking Age of Conan, but I'm also just beginning to bump up against the limitations of a free player in that game. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that I'm starting to hit my wall with much of what I've been playing recently, TSW, AOC, TERA, STO, Aion, and I haven't really comfortably settled into any particular MMO in the last several months.

The signs that it's time for a change, at least for a while, are all there. I get easily frustrated with challenging missions, much more easily that when I'm focused and willing to put in the time and effort to beat them. I find myself bored with the storylines and looking for an excuse to go play something else for a while. I'll dig up an old single-player game and replay it, just to give myself a break from MMOs.

So, I decided it was finally time to try SWTOR now that it's free-to-play. Maybe that'll prove to be a mistake, maybe not, but here's the semi-scary part: I like it...what's more, I'm having a shitload of fun with it right now.

Yeah seriously...even as a severely-deprived free player. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true.

One thing's for sure, I've never seen a game as intentionally crippled for free players as SWTOR. In addition, I've never been much of a Star Wars fan. In fact, I've never seen the last three movies. I've just never been all that interested.

Yet, SWTOR has held my attention for almost an entire weekend. The story is good, the graphics are great, and the game has a high level of quality of presentation I've come to expect in single player games but that never seems to be duplicated in MMOs, not even by the ones that come close to that ideal like TSW.

And yet, I must hesitate. Playing SWTOR is like buying a first-class seat on an airline: You know that by paying extra you're going to get a top-rate experience, but you also know that in the end you'll end up at the same destination as if you travel economy class. The question you have to answer is how much is it worth to you to travel first class and is it worth as much to you as much as the asking price of the ticket.

It seems that for a lot of people, that answer is no. The early areas of the game seem fairly deserted and everything seems geared toward getting you to spend more money. On the one hand, I resent the focus on money constantly intruding on my game in ways both large and small, and yet on the other hand, I find myself seriously considering if I'm enjoying myself in SWTOR enough to justify plunking down enough cash for some paid game time.

The truth is that I haven't yet made that determination yet. It's a moot point right now because I can't afford to start a subscription at the moment, but that will change in time.

I must admit it's an interesting albeit annoying way of marketing. It's also interesting how if you buy anything from their store you get certain benefits as well. While I do think the limitations on non-subscribers are a bit draconian and wider-ranging than in most games I've seen, they're also not quite as ridiculously unfair and arbitrary as AOC or Fallen Earth.

I've seen the complaints about SWTOR and I can understand why players abandoned this game en masse a while back because of the intense focus on maximizing profits that makes the concession counter at your local movie theater look like a discount snack store, but I can also see why this game can be a lot of fun to play if you're willing to invest a little money in it. What I haven't yet determined is if that kind of investment would be worthwhile for me personally.

In SWTOR I see a lot of MMO elements I enjoy in other games, deep sci-fi storyline, quality voice acting, interesting combat, fast travel, great graphics, and much more, but I also see a greater need to keep pumping money into the game if I'm going to get serious about it as a player. I wonder how much of a future this game has, and I wonder if that future is worth investing in.

I just hit level 10 today. I suspect I'll give it at least another few levels before I make any decisions. After that, I suppose we'll see.

It's nice to fly first class if you can afford it. The question is whether the journey is important as the destination. I'll let ya know.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What Do You Play When You're Fucked Up?

No, seriously.

It's times like these, when I've had a little too much or even just enough, when I find myself being extra-careful about which games I play when I'm in this state.

Have you ever done this?

"Ok, let's see I'm not going to be able to deal with Max Payne 3 right now, The Secret World requires a bit more analytical thinking that I think I can muster at the moment, and I'm too high a level in TERA to do anything but get my ass kicked in this state. Age of Conan might be interesting to try, though..."

I'm going through this right now and I thought maybe putting it into a blog post might help me think it though. And perhaps it has.