Sunday, 3 June 2012

War Hero!

SWTOR War Hero Imperial Agent

Tonight I finally hit Valor Rank 70, also known as War Hero. I'm pretty proud of myself, being such a latecomer to SWTOR PVP and all. I'm also growing rather fond of the small PVP community on my server, The Progenitor - there's one big and a few smaller Imperial PVP guilds that run premades, and one larger Rep side guild that's constantly causing me a headache with their really tough premades.

I'm always queuing solo for Warzones so it's always a gamble who I'll end up with and who I'll be fighting against - but it's part of the fun. I don't know what I'll do once we get Ranked Warzones, since you can only run those in a premade group of 8. Maybe I'll just have scout for an Imperial premade that's missing a sillykickass lil healer.

Oh and here's a little video of me running around like a headless chicken healing in Voidstar like a boss:

Happy PVPing!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Outlaw's Den Chests

SWTOR Outlaw's Den chest
Outlaw's Den chests, or How to Gear for Level 50 PVP in SWTOR

SWTOR's Update 1.2 brought several changes to PVP gearing, one of them being the Recruit set - a blue, unmoddable and ugly set of gear that you can buy for credits at level 50. The stats are poor, but the set is nevertheless a must-have for entering level 50 PVP because of the Expertise stat, which both increases your damage dealt and decreases the damage you take - without it you will get steamrolled in less than 2 seconds (after which it's often customary to proceed to the forums to complain about unbalanced PVP). You can buy the Recruit set at your faction's Fleet, it costs about 10-30k credits per piece, but you know what's awesome?

You can get the complete Recruit set for FREE.

Outlaw's Den is a small free-for-all PVP area on Tatooine, you get a vector quest pointing you there at level 40, but you can enter it as soon as you set foot on Tatooine for the first time, which is around level 25. The nearest outposts are Outpost Salara for Republics and Outpost Zaroshe for Imperials. The reason Outlaw's Den is interesting is that there are chests scattered along the outer walls of the area, containing around 2k credits (a nice sum for a lowbie), 20 Warzone Commendations and, if lucky, one random Recruit piece for your class.


I've noted 7 different spawn points for the chests, they're usually located along the edge of Outlaw's Den or in/around the small huts near the zone exits. I thought of making a map with all the spawn points, but instead of looking at one (or counting coordinates) it's really just fastest to hop on your speeder and do a quick ride around the area - it's really that small. You get flagged for PVP once you enter Outlaw's Den, but I've met another player there only once (we just /waved at each other, and went our separate ways).

So, now that you know you can get the Recruit set for free on Tatooine, you have no excuse to turn up in MY warzones wearing lvl40 greens and zero Expertise. And if you're not into PVP, those Recruit pieces are still better than the lvl40 greens you are wearing when you hit level 50. Get the free gear, your groups will appreciate it.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

NBI: Managing Screenshots

Today on the Newbie Blogger Initiative forums Rhalinur asked about managing screenshots, so I thought I'd share the methods I use to run my screenshot-heavy blog. It's been something I've wanted to write about earlier, but just never got around to actually doing it (I'm only lazy because playing MMOs is so much fun and it's taking all my free time!).

As I wrote earlier, I want things to be as easy access, low-maintenance as possible. Since I'm using Blogger, I have the option to upload all my blog's images directly into the service so they're kept on the same server as my blog. However, I'm also a heavy forum-user, Twitterer and IRC sloth, so I often need to post the same image to other medias as well. My solution is to use an external image hosting site, and now for the past 2 years or so I've been a happy user of Imgur. There are many other similar services out there, I used Photobucket for years, but switched to Imgur because Photobucket was becoming very slow and bloated with ads and unnecessary stuff.

With Imgur, it's very easy to upload a batch of images and then copy their urls over to blogs, chats and forums - and the premade BBCode forum tags also help. I'm not a fan of how external hosts like to add their name and links to the premade HTML links, so I just prefer to write the actual IMG tags in my posts by hand and add my own ALT texts for SEO reasons. Most image hosts also scramble your file names, so they're next to impossible to memorize - theoretically having descriptive file names helps with SEO so that's something to keep in mind if it's important to you.

My ideal of easy access extends to reading the blog as well - no unnecessary clicks for you, dear reader! I don't like showing just a tiny thumbnail in a blog post that then has to be clicked to reveal (after 10 seconds of loading) a full-sized, unedited 3MB large screenshot. I want to show all images in their original size, which means some editing needs to be done before my screenshots make it to the blog.

In the lower right corner of my main PC's desktop I keep a few important shortcuts - links to the screenshot folders of all my current MMOs and the folder where I save my edited screenshots. To edit a screenshot for my blog, I open the original, high-resolution image using my default image viewer, Irfanview. It's a lightweight program that's good for really quick edits and file managing.

SWTOR Imperial Agent screenshot edit

With a few clicks I can Crop (Ctrl+Y), Sharpen (Shift+S) and Resize (Ctrl+R) an image to fit my blog. I'm using a fixed-width blog layout, so there's a limit to how wide my images can be before they clip with the sidebar - I've settled on 600 pixels max width, so that's the limit I work with. After I've saved the newly cropped image as a high-quality JPG file (quality 100, we hate compression artifacts) I just upload it into Imgur, copy the provided URL into Blogger/IRC/wherever and I'm done.

I'm also using Imgur for all other images I need to share, not just for my own screenshots. It's very bad form to hotlink to images on other people's sites, because the image might get deleted or the owner of the image might change it to something really nasty if they catch you stealing their bandwidth. Even if it's just the cover image of a game that you copied from Amazon, upload it to your own webspace or image host! Big-name image hosts are also fairly reliable, so the links should be valid for years to come. All my images from way back when (2004?) are still intact on Photobucket, even though I haven't used it for years, which is more than I can say about the state of the image archive on my current PC.

Do you have any tips to share on the topic? How do you manage your blog images?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Quickie: Chua the Blue B----

SWTOR Chiss jedi art
I want to draw more Chiss - their colour palette is certainly interesting! If only I had the time and energy, I'd love to draw a proper pinup of my Chiss Consular.

You call that Nightmare Mode?

This was a good operation night in SWTOR, I hadn't even signed up because it looked like every spot was taken already, but seems they needed a healbot afterall so... we sorta went in and cleared both Eternity Vault and Karagga's Palace on Nightmare Mode, on the first try.

SWTOR Eternity Vault Soa kill on Nightmare Mode
SWTOR Karagga's Palace clear Nightmare Mode
There were some bugs in both operations, and only a few got the Infernal title for killing Soa, and I was the only one who got the Unyielding title for finishing off Karagga.

I'm really surprised how smoothly both raidsoperations went, but I guess it shows that some in the guild are already a little overgeared for the content (wearing Black Hole gear). I've caught up with them pretty well now, and my agent is sporting full Rakata with War Hero weapons and Black Hole hat.

Can't wait to try Explosive Conflict, the newest operation, on Hard Mode!

Monday, 7 May 2012