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.

SWTOR

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

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Progress – Soa down!

So, I thought I'd like to see some SWTOR endgame on Imperial side as well, so I applied with my Agent to a small guild that had been making good progress in the Hard Mode operations. Tonight was raid ops night so first we cleared Eternity Vault in HM up to Soa the Infernal One, then went and cleared  the entire Karagga's Palace in HM, and after that returned to give Soa a good spanking – and got a nice first-time kill on the second (or was it third?) try.

SWTOR

I was caught in a Mind Trap when the boss went down so I didn't get the kill for the ops quest. Fail! And the loot was made of fail also, only Bounty Hunter and Inquisitor pieces, and those classes were already geared to the teeth. Better luck next week!

SWTOR
He's kinda big. And dead.

SWTOR
"and then he was like, ó-( . . )-ò"


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Newbie Blogger Initiative

Newbie Blogger Initiative
May is now the month of Newbie Blogger Initiative, which is an awesome program created by Syp, of Biobreak and Massively fame, to get new people to try blogging. There are over 70 "sponsor blogs" taking part in the NBI, Roll one hundred included, so expect to see a lot of NBI-related posts from several gaming bloggers during May. We'll be posting tips and tools and tricks to help people get started with blogging, find inspiration and get connected with other bloggers.


Where did Roll one hundred start from?

I think my very first blogging attempts were in 2003, when I was very active in the Finnish anime fandom. I remember I had just a little HTML and CSS skills and I was so proud of making my own blog layouts - for a very long time I just hated taking ready-made layouts and graphics, I thought I had to do everything myself to stand out. I think I was using a very early version of Wordpress back then, which I had just managed to install on my web hotel on my own. Good times.

Since then I've probably created and abandoned a dozen blog projects - mostly art and gaming blogs that I didn't have the energy or motivation to maintain. I often tend to go a bit over the top with my fandom projects, so I think I've had a Guild Wars blog, a Lotro blog and a zillion art/sketch blogs. However, around 2009-2009 I had some real-life issues that made it so I pretty much withdrew from the public internet, stopped posting on my Livejournal and deviantArt and dropped all blog projects. I'm a bit of a closet nerd, so the thought of relatives and people I didn't like reading my blogs and looking at my drawings really made me want to quit the internetz for a while.

Lotro minstrel drawing
I tried finding pictures of my ancient blog projects, but only found a Paintchat doodle of my Lotro Minstrel :)

Roll one hundred was born in February 2009, and it started as a screenshot blog for Lord of the Rings Online. I just wanted an easy way to publish screens from various guild activities, so I went with Blogger, which is nicely integrated to Google (easy access to Analytics), and comes with some nice premade layouts that also work great on mobiles. I didn't expect I'd stick with it, but here we are now, 3 years later, and my little roll100 has a nice steady stream of traffic. Sure I've had some quiet periods (I'm currently recovering from the longest one so far - I think Rift really swept me away and I didn't even have time to blog because it was so much fun), but now with the Newbie Blogger Initiative I really want to post more and also connect better with fellow bloggers.

Now in hindsight I think I put way too much pressure on myself in regards to blogging, and I think I've now found a platform and format that works for me - namely picture heavy, low maintenance. I'm a terrible writer, even in my native language, so I prefer to spam a ton of pictures and just add a lil flavour text — I think the only time I actually write something is when I have something to complain about – that's typical Finnish.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this exciting month and hope to see many new blogs soon! And if you already have a blog but haven't posted in a while... now's a good time to stop hibernating and get back to blogging!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Fake Sith

SWTOR Imperial Agent, battlemaster

SWTOR Imperial Agent, battlemaster

I've been looking for a nicer-looking chestpiece for my Imperial Agent for some time now, since the Battlemaster chestpiece just doesn't suit her complexion at all. Today I found a customisable Sith Marauder Battlemaster chestpiece very cheap on the GTN and I just had to buy it to see how it'd look like.. and it looks great and now I'm in love! Sure it's not a proper [Augmented] chest but it'll do for now. I'm a mean ninja girl with a big gun!

 SWTOR Imperial Agent, battlemaster

Oh and I also rerolled my level 27 Jedi Guardian (didn't like the looks). For some reason every time I log my new Jediboy he's kneeling. Anyone know why?

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Guild Wars 2 - first impressions

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

So, the first Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event has now started and the servers are mostly stable - last night I could only log in briefly to create one character and then the login servers went down, so I spent the rest of the evening playing KOTOR. Today morning I got in again and I've had a brief look at all the available races - Charr, Human and Norn.

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

The character creator is pretty neat, and gets a ton of bonus points for soothing background music - most MMOs have some terrible blaring fanfare playing while you'd just want to take your time and calmly look at each option. You can customise your character fairly well, there are some presets for body type and faces as well as sliders for fine-tuning some features. You also get to pick a personality type and background, such as commoner or noble.

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

I'm really liking the art style, and the way the intro videos are animated using concept art. It's worth rolling one character of each race just to see the introductions.

 Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

I rolled a male human Necromancer (which was my main back in the original Guild Wars). I've no idea yet which race and class I'd want to play at launch, but at least I've got plenty of time now to check each one out beforehand. I'm sad that there's no Ritualist or Dervish in GW2, but I guess I'll have to give the Guardian a spin (I've rolled a Charr one) since it seems to have some of the features of those classes.

I was really impressed by the environments, especially the city of Divinity's Reach - it's easily the biggest and most real city I've seen in an MMO so far, it's simply huge and there's an insane amount of details just waiting to be found. You can enter many of the buildings, which should be great for role-playing. Here are some assorted screenshots from my walk around the city:

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

I partied a bit with Neesa, that's me and her lil Necro. We got our butts handed to us soon after - GW2's combat system requires a bit getting used to. It's chaotic, but fun!

 Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

My bf played a Norn Elementalist for a while, I can't say much about it but at least the starting area looked very atmospheric. Also, manly fishing:

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
(you can NOM NOM the fish and gain health)

I'm really impressed by what I've seen of GW2 so far and can't wait for the launch - and by that I mean I don't want to waste too much time playing betas, I want the real thing NAO. The UI is super slick and especially the maps are brilliant, but otherwise GW2 is pretty sluggish for me even with low settings - I seriously need to upgrade my PC, most of it is about 4 years old now and I just can't play games without the highest settings. Anyway, I'm really liking what I've seen so far and I think Guild Wars 2 could well become my next big thing.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Tonight we dine in TYRIA

Guild Wars 2 Patcher

W-what is this MADNESS? Guild Wars 2? I'm going to play Guild Wars 2, tonight?! B-but I've only been waiting for it since 2007, this came too quickly-- what am I gonna wear?

As a happy preorderer of the impressive Guild Wars 2 Collector's Edition, I'm going to take part in the first Beta Weekend Event that's about to start tonight. I'll try and get as many screenshots (and some video, if my PC can handle it) of the game to show you what it looks like and how it plays. If you have any questions or want me to inspect some specific aspect of the game, leave a comment here!

Are you taking part in the Beta Weekend Event? Have any plans? What are you most excited about?

(btw, you can download that awesome Mesmer wallpaper here)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Now, back to the match

I had a tiny tiny break from SWTOR, since my SWTOR subscription ended on Monday and it took a few days for the free 30 days from the Legacy Promotion to apply. I've been slowly playing Knights of the Old Republic, a game that I somehow completely missed when it was first released back in 2003. I've been enjoying it immensely (especially since it's such a lore boost to SWTOR) and I really want to finish it soon.. but right now I need my quick SWTOR Warzone fix.

  SWTOR Imperial Agent pvp

I've now managed to complete the Battlemaster armour set for my Imperial Agent (Operative), and I'm sitting at around 1000 expertise (the PVP stat in SWTOR). The difference to when I first started out in level 50 PVP is enormous, I no longer feel like a wet tissue, I can pump out some pretty sweet heals and even get a few kills every now and then. I'm also very happy that Bioware were quick to fix the issues I ranted about in my last PVP post - the Warzone atmosphere is much better again since people have an incentive to stay until the end.

  SWTOR Imperial Agent pvp
Duel of the paint cans - a common sight when Operative healers are about

In a previous post, Cithryth asked me about how the healing feels like, so here's my 5 eurocents (we don't use the 1 or 2 cent coins here in Finland, the smallest is 5):

Operative healing is very powerful, and I really like the mobility of it - in Warzones I can even run like a headless chicken around my team, spam my AoE heal and my instant heal-over-time and my instant miniheal and get some crazy healing scores. I can usually survive for quite a long time - and even longer if I'm lucky enough to get Guard from a friendly tank. My strongest heal has a longer cast time so I have to stay still to use it, meaning I'll get focused very soon unless I position myself carefully. But if there are any Sorcerer healers around, enemies usually tend to focus more on those and ignore lil me... until I stab them gently between the ribs and sprint away while throwing stackable HoTs on myself and my team-mates.

I also like the resource mechanics of Operatives - instead of the huge "mana pool" that most healer classes have in other MMOs, I have a very small range of Energy that regenerates really fast (unless I spam my skills so that it goes close to 0 and then it regens super slow). But I really think it beats having a huge pool and then just slowly watch it go down and hoping the battle will end before you go OOM.

The only real downside is that Operative healing is pure Health Bar Whack-A-Mole. Sure it's hectic and fun, since I have to make quick decisions about which heal to use so I won't run out of Energy, but the reality is that I watch the red bars go down, I apply the appropriate heal skill and hope they go up. There's no shield, bubble, buffs or other utilites I'm used to having as a healer in other MMOs. I can crowd-control droids, but all my other CC abilities have a very short range and duration. But hey, at least I have stealth and I can Vanish if I get focused!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Platforms and lava

SWTOR boss mechanics

SWTOR boss mechanics

With boss fight layouts like these, you just know what the mechanics will be. OK, I haven't seen every boss fight in SWTOR yet, but I think I've got a pretty good picture already...

SWTOR boss mechanics
Green pools also count as lava.


Spoiler: knockbacks

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Fashion Disaster: Y/N?

SWTOR Gunslinger

Left: vanilla Gunslinger Columi set
Right: Same set with Jedi Sentinel Columi chestpiece and colours matched to chest.

It looked so outrageous I just had to waste over 100k credits pulling out mods and re-inserting them into that ridiculous Jedi chestpiece.

Monday, 16 April 2012

That PVP rant

I didn't even try PVP in SWTOR until my third character (the Gunslinger), but by then I had already had enough of the repetitive planet quests and wanted something else to fill the gaps between class story quests. I would never class myself as a real PVPer, I just like to hop into a Warzone and fool around for 15 minutes, but strangely enough I was soon hooked to running Warzone after Warzone, because they provided an exciting distraction from grinding quests, teams were usually pretty decent and the rewards were good.

SWTOR Warzone, Voidstar
Crazy gunslinger guy, riding a speeder like a boss.

I also found that I became a vastly better player after getting my butt handed to me over and over - I had to learn which abilities I could use to counter this class and that effect, how to cap and hold objectives using my wits instead of brute force.. and the hardest of all, learning not to use knockbacks to throw a Huttball carrier over my team's goal line. Usually I had a good time, because even the short chats I had with my team during WZ matches was more social interaction than I encountered while out questing.


However, last week's Patch 1.2 brought some unexpected changes to PVP, namely severely decreased rewards for the losing side - before 1.2, even if your side lost the Warzone match, you still got a decent reward for your effort and time spent. Post-1.2, you don't get ANYTHING unless you gain at least 3 medals during the match. This is problematic for several reasons:

Medal farming is deleterious to team play and completing Warzone objectives. Of course there are always kill farmers and those that "derp in the middle", but it's much worse now since everyone wants to ensure they at least get their 3 medals. If the opposing team is better organised and wearing vastly better gear, it can be a real struggle.

Team imbalance no longer ends Warzones - enjoy that 8v4 for the next 10 minutes, since half of your team quit after the enemy's first capture or score. And why wouldn't they, since there's no penalty for leaving and the rewards for losing are hardly worth the time anyway, so and it's often a better option to just quit a losing WZ and re-queue for another.

Late joiners don't always have enough time to gain enough medals, even if they contributed to objectives. If you end up in a WZ that's halfway done and your team is obviously losing, you might as well quit and re-queue.

Warzone medpacks and adrenals have become unsustainable - their costs were doubled in 1.2 (from 10 comms to 20) - do you want to spend that 20 comms you got from the last WZ lost to buy ONE medpack or ONE adrenal? Or save it for Battlemaster gear?


Before someone raises their voice about medals being much easier now - yes, it's really easy to get over 10 medals now if you know what you're doing (and if you really decide to farm them instead of completing objectives), but sometimes you just end up ganked so badly (hello 8vs4 matches) that even if you want to stick to the end you don't earn enough medals and you get zilch for being a punching bag for 15 minutes.

SWTOR Warzone, Civil War of Alderaan
My baby consular (lvl10), bravely holding a turret in Civil War. Gave me a chuckle when a lv14 BH tried to take it, but I just circled around the turret healing myself, so he gave up and ran away.

(For the record, I mostly play sub-50 PVP, since I enjoy it better than the expertise/gearfest that is lv50 PVP. I win more often than I lose.)

I wouldn't otherwise even write about this subject (since I'm a casual PVPer at best, always queuing solo), but I'm just disappointed now that after finding and enjoying a new side of the game, it's suddenly been made unnecessarily grindy and unfriendly. The rewards system before 1.2 worked just fine, and the only addition it really needed was a function to vote kick AFKers. I just hope Bioware will wake up and make SWTOR Warzones worth playing again, instead of encouraging people to quit matches until they land in a winning team.

(in before "baaw entitled carebears, L2P or GTFO")

Friday, 13 April 2012

I love my fembot

Imperial Agent and SCORPIO

Imperial Agent and SCORPIO

The last Imperial Agent companion is pure awesomeness. I just love having a shiny fembot following me around and whispering death threats in a husky voice.

I finally got my Agent, my very first character in The Old Republic, to level 50. I spent the last 7 levels almost completely doing warzones, where my cute lil Operative turned into a lean mean backstabbing and face-carving machine. I managed to hit Valor Rank 49 just in time before I hit level 50, and also collected 2k worth of commendations, so I was able to buy a sweet Battlemaster rifle for her soon after. PVP for fun and profit!

After Patch 1.2 hit yesterday and my Agent's skill trees were reset, I tried speccing into healing for the first time ever. Now I've got new skills on my bars and no idea how to use them! But hey, maybe I'll go fool around in a few warzones, that should teach me how to use them..

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Teatime in a galaxy far, far away

Interfleet transport, in Star Wars - The Old Republic

The reason for my long, long radio silence is... that I've been busy blowing stuff up in a galaxy far, far away. I started playing Star Wars - The Old Republic during the Christmas holidays, and – much to my surprise – I'm still subscribed and having a fairly good time. I won't say the game is perfect, or even very good (at least not if you compare it to other modern MMOs - so much is still lacking or broken), but during the first free 30 days SWTOR just grew on me and I learned to live with its shortcomings and enjoy what it has to offer.

So far I've mostly played SWTOR as a single-player game, only doing a few flashpoints (=dungeons) here and there and never touched PVP until, uh, yesterday? Playing solo you don't really notice the game's glaring flaws that much, which mostly lie in the user interface and social tools - for instance, you can't move UI elements around, you can't disable "smart camera", there is no combat log or target-of-target and the AH is next to unusable. But the class stories are good and I can imagine myself rolling all 8 classes (eventually) just to see each class story through.

Here are my dear little playthings:

Imperial Agent, Star Wars - The Old Republic
Tua Teatime, Imperial Agent (Operative)
My very first character, currently stuck at level 42. Very fun to play though, and the class story is just pure gold. I need to get her to 50 some day so the guild will have a backup healer.

Sith Inquisitor, Star Wars - The Old Republic
Teadus Teatime, Sith Inquisitor (Assassin)
My current "main", a tanky and sneaky Sith lord and my only level 50 character. I really enjoyed the Sith Inquisitor storyline, it had some very surprising (and funny) twists. Also the Assassin advanced class feels really strong and I have no trouble soloing group dailies. I'd love to try raids and hardmode flashpoints with this character, but diving into a tanking role in PuGs feels a little too scary right now.


Smuggler, Star Wars - The Old Republic
Tuarn Teatime, Smuggler (Gunslinger)
My best effort at rolling a character on the Republic side - I just like the Imperial planets, classes and storylines more than Republic ones. This snarky Smuggler is the lovechild between my Agent and Inquisitor (he's got the same face and hair as his daddy... yeah, lame, but I like that face!). He's currently level 27 or 28, and I hope to level him up quickly now so I can join my friends on Rep side and try some raiding.

The server I play on is called The Progenitor (EN-PVE-RP), say hi if you're there! :)