Tag: Bioware

14 Oct

Screenshot Stories: A Bounty Hunter’s Tale [SWTOR]

Games, MMOs, SWTOR by Tramell

SWTOR - Kalani Sincliar Header 03

Star Wars: The Old Republic is known for its storytelling if nothing else. Within the game there are 8 classes to choose from with each of them sporting two advanced classes options. Regardless of which advanced class you pick, each class has a story to tell and your dialogue choices influences the flavor of the story being told.

Today in screenshots I present you Kalani Sinclair, my Mirialan Bounty Hunter. The story begins with Kalani being chosen by Braden, an older Bounty Hunter whose goal is to form a team to win the Great Hunt, a prestigious bounty hunter event to determine who is the best of the best in the bounty hunting trade. The Great Hunt is an event that pits Bounty Hunter against Bounty Hunter by giving them the same contract. The winner needs to complete the contract and “deal” with the competition. The last one remaining is the declared the Champion. As a promising hunter, he wants you to be the muscle of the team while the rest of the crew, Mako, Jory, and himself provide the support you will need to be successful.

Soon things take a turn for the worse as a fellow competitor, Tarro Blood, a Mandalorian who was severely injured in the previous Great Hunt decides to bend the rules and have his lackey kill off the competition’s support preventing from advancing so that he himself can take the glory that is rightfully his. In a resulting fire fight, Braden and Jory pay the ultimate price and the only people left are yourself and Mako. To salvage what’s left of the team you are left no choice but to continue your adventure on Hutta and gain the support of Nem’ro the Hutt and acquire a token that will allow you to participate in the Great Hunt.

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23 Feb

Return of the Gree and Galactic Reputation Impressions [SWTOR]

Games, Gaming Journal, MMOs, SWTOR by Tramell

SWTOR - Return of the Gree Header

Over the past week we received some fresh content for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Version update 1.7, Return of the Gree brought about a reputation system as well as, a fancy new world event that will recur over the year. The reputation system which BioWare calls Galactic Reputation adds organizations that you can earn a reputation with and receive special rewards and titles the farther you progress with them. The Return of the Gree event helps tell the story of the ancient race. The Gree are known for their technological prowess and they have arrived on Ilum to collect data on the two factions. The event consists of a number of daily and event specific missions that help players ease into the reputation system.

The system has 6 tiers of progression and by completing missions, you earn trophies that allot you a certain amount of reputation points. They vary in quality, the higher it is the more points you earn. There is a weekly cap to how much you can advance, so those of us with multiple characters don’t gain a significant advantage outside of earning trophies at a faster rate for the weeks that follow.

One thing to note however, reputation is legacy bound and transfers across faction. As an example, if you are playing your republic character and level up with the Voss, the same rank will apply to your character allied with the Empire. Also some organizations are mirrors of each other, such as the Republic Hyperspace Armada and Imperial First Mobile Fleet and the same example applies to them. I don’t have a strong opinion about the reputation system but, I like there is something else to be accomplished when I’m tired of my usual routine of completing flashpoints and operations or leveling my other lowbie characters – my children.

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19 Jan

Gaming Journal: Winter Thoughts [SWTOR]

Gaming Journal, SWTOR by Tramell

SWTOR - Winter Thoughts Header

Over the course of this late winter where I live, I’ve been jotting down notes to myself whenever an idea pops into my head or when I catch myself forming a strong opinion about something. I felt I should share them on my blog, since most of the time I was just using them to write longer pieces and I thought there might be another use for them. For now I’ll try talking one to three of these topics at hand and discuss them when I don’t have anything specific to talk about. Today’s blog post focuses on Star Wars: The Old Republic, I take a look at the Cartel Market, benefits of raiding, and upcoming content.

A lot of the more interesting gear and fluff come from cartel packs, which when broken down are pretty much packs you can buy that yield random goods. You open them up for a chance at rare loot(rare equipment, crystal colors, pets, etc…) and depending on your luck or how much money you invest you may or may not get the items you were looking for or items that are worth any value to recoup any of your initial investment. Essentially the packs plays on the gambling habit of the player.

At the end of the day, you are reduce to either waiting for the item to be put on the GTN at a fairly high price, good luck to you F2P players out there or, you can keep feeding money to buy cartel coins to purchase more packs. I have nothing against this particular method but it’s a real turn off for me when there is no alternative way to acquiring these items, and no, I personally don’t think paying an absurd price on the GTN as an acceptable alternative method.

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03 Aug

Not Just The Payment Model [SWTOR]

Games, News, SWTOR by Tramell

After just 8 months in, EA announced during their earnings call that Star Wars: The Old Republic will transition to a free to play hybrid model in the fall. Shortly after BioWare updated the game’s website with a slew of information going into some of the details of their free-to-play model. A cash shop along with its own set of currency called Cartel Coins, which I’m sure their conversion rates will milk an extra dollar as well as, rewarding current and past subscribers when the shop launches. With the transition the subscription will not disappear but, will act as the highest tier of service by granting you access to all the game’s features. Free-to-play players will be restricted in the usual convention means.

Those of you invested and the game and continue to pay monthly for access your experience won’t change. Those of you who are grandfathered into a free account will have limited access to the game. You’ll be restricted to how many characters you can create, how many space missions, warzones and flashpoints you can take part in per week. You will not have access to Operations or special travel features. Fortunately, if you can stomach the restricted access you will be able level up your character to the current level cap of 50. After that, they seem to hint that you will have to pay for additional content. If you have to pay piece meal or have to pay monthly after that I don’t know, those details aren’t available.

In the realm of things, I think we all could have guessed that SW:TOR at some point would adopt a free-to-play model. What the switch in revenue model does tell us is that people want options and when the only way for you to have access is to pay you judge the product based on what you release over time. Although BioWare have done well in putting together some major patches to the game that introduced new content and game changes, it wasn’t enough for most people to keep investing $15 into the game.

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21 Jun

Packing up and Settling In [SWTOR]

As you might have heard, BioWare have started implementing server transfers for both the EU and NA servers. They are hand selecting a bunch of server to transfer to a particular server thus trying to carefully create high population servers. My guild and all my characters have moved from the Sanctum of the Exalted server to Ebon Hawke server. Ebon Hawke seems to be the default NA East RP-PvE server since all of the other NA East RP servers have Ebon Hawke as a destination server.

Though I am not sure how other servers are faring, the majority on SoTE made the switch as soon as it was available. Most concluded that since the server was designated as an origin server that can transfer to a destination server, that server would eventually bleed out and making a switch now would be for the best. Although the messaging from BioWare may have contradicted itself, the actual process of transfers seems to indicate they are trying to downsize with a plethora of servers being selected to transfer over to two particular servers of the same type.

Since my guild and I have made the switch, the game feels like it did a couple of months ago. People are shouting for groups, from hard mode flashpoints to daily quests. During the first few days of transfers Ebon Hawke’s Imperial Fleet actually had two instances, there was so many people hanging out on the fleet, one instance couldn’t contain them all. The server transfers have rekindled interest in the game, BioWare just needs to polish up 1.3 to give people the flexibility to form groups and finally have a system in place to give PvPers to take competition to the next level.

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06 Jun

E3 2012: That Old Chestnut

E3, Event Coverage by Tramell

So the conferences have come and gone, and what I released it that it’s the same old thing. Like previous years, Microsoft was pushing the Xbox 360 as the living room device, while Sony continued to cater the “core” gamer with lovely exclusive titles and Nintendo finally getting into the HD era with the Wii U; surprisingly they still suck with third party titles. Nothing grand happened during the conferences but, there were some interesting tidbits here and there.

With the imminent release of Window 8 for PCs and tablets, Microsoft is trying to bring it all together with the Xbox SmartGlass software platform. SmartGlass is designed to allow tables and phones to connect with the Xbox 360. The example they gave was a Windows 8 tablet transferring a movie from its screen to the TV connected to the Xbox 360. Nothing revolutionary but it is nice to see a big company like Microsoft add on features to an already decent experience. They also gave examples of SmartGlass functioning with games, although in concept form, a thought came to mind that SmartGlass would be used to combat the Wii U tablet controller functionality.

For example, a tablet could be used with the Madden NFL series to create custom plays on the fly or hot swap in players before a snap. In Halo 4, it was used as a platform to review the schematics of weapons and to see your friends and join their games on the fly. All neat ideas but, unless the tablet is baked on a screen I cannot really see a lot of people utilizing it unless they already owe the hardware. When you have to use another device besides your game controller, it does not seem to work. Hell, people do not want to talk to their Kinect let alone pick up another piece of hardware. Regardless I think the ideas are cool but I do not know how successful it will be until they can create an experience people cannot do without.

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13 Apr

Pax East 2012: The Value of Feedback #DAW

I wasn’t sure how I would open in this but, this experience is something I wanted to share with everyone who reads my blog and those who are a part of developer appreciation week. During Pax East, I had the opportunity to attend both BioWare panels, one regarding the future of Dragon Age and the other about the Mass Effect franchise. The one in particular that I am going to talk about today is the Dragon Age panel.

It is easy to get absorbed in the internet and hop on the bandwagon to hate everything that ever existed, that developers are out to get gamers but sitting in on the panels reminded me of the fabulous side of the relationship between developers and players. Mike Laidlaw, David Gaider, Mark Darrah, Jessica Merizan, and Shane Hawco took the time to share their ideas for the next Dragon Age, as they since canceled the expansion for Dragon Age 2.

Mike Laidlaw and crew talked about some of the feedback they received from Dragon Age 2 and how they planned to implement it in Dragon Age 3. The three topics they focused on were equipment for followers, decisions that matter, and the reuse of levels. I guess one of the big things people missed was being able to gear up their companions. In Dragon Age 2, you just give them weapons and accessories but their look doesn’t change.

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11 Apr

Pax East 2012: A Recap

So, Pax East has come and gone yet again. I’ve come a ways since last year’s Pax East, which was my first time I attended a video game convention. I’m blessed with being able to write about games, although it’s not a paid position it helps me stay focused and work on improving myself. This year I was able to schedule a few appointments to check some of the  higher profile games as well as get some hands on time with around some of the smaller titles sandwiched in the convention center. Along with checking out  the games, I had the pleasure of meeting up with friends at the yearly tweet meet up. As you might have guessed, a few of us got into a rousing debate about the Mass Effect 3 endings and of course, MMO talk in general. Even with all that, Pax East almost never happened for me this year.

When I got in Thursday, I was shocked to have found out that something was amidst with my credit card that I was using to pay for the hotel. One thing lead to another and the money that I needed to check-in with was locked away until Saturday morning. I was very close to losing out on my reservation and would have been left waiting or at least scramble around looking for a place to stay. The ultimatum would be to turn tail and head back home because of my stupid mistake.

Fortunately, Steven, one of Jason’s buddies that I was rooming with could cover the costs when he arrived late in the night until I had access to my digital stash of greenbacks. After that, everything went smoothly but needless to say, I wish I had a better Thursday night.

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05 Mar

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Impressions [ME3]

It has been almost 5 years since we first met Shepard and their ongoing struggle to combat the Reapers, a machine race that harvests all organics in the galaxy. We have gone from stopping a rogue agent to dying and being rebuilt. Force to work with a powerful terrorist organization to uncover the truth when everyone else has turned their back on you. Soon, all of things we worked for, the decisions we made is all coming to an end with Mass Effect 3.

Investing 5 years on one franchise it would not come as a surprise that people were skeptical when BioWare announced that they would have a multiplayer component to Mass Effect 3. Up until now, they never found leeway to fit it in the franchise. With Shepard’s final story being all about gathering allies and power, they found place to create a standalone multiplayer and still maintain a sensible story element. While Shepard is out doing their thing, there are objectives, resources, important artifacts that need to be secured to boost the overall success of the allied forces. Players will play as an elite solider for the allied forces and with three other people go to various hot spots to secure these resources.

All of the classes that Shepard can play as are available to players in multiplayer. In addition, each class has different races attached them that you can unlock from purchasing packs from the in-game store. Finally, you will have the opportunity to be that unstoppable Krogan Soldier or the crafty Quarian engineer. Each race has their only abilities when compared to other races of the same class, for example, a Quarian infiltrator with have the ability Sabotage whereas a human will have the ability Cyro Blast.

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10 Feb

Female Commander Shepard Trailer [ME3]

Games, Mass Effect, News by Tramell

Remember back during convention season when BioWare had a facebook vote for people to choose the look of the iconic female Shepard? The controversial blond female picture that won and the subsequent vote to choose the hair color? Well, when it was all said and done, the female Shepard people choose was a lovely red head and the artist Patryk Garrett created an excellent wallpaper.

Today as part of #FemShepFriday, Bioware has release some material showcasing the iconic female Shepard including a trailer. Titled Reinstated, this trailer shows Shepard at her finest. They also seemed to have done a lot of work on the character models in the game. The screenshot with Joker along with Shepard showcases the big differences. I like the changes they made and I am hopeful that one day(soon) can create a Shepard I love without resorting to using locked hairstyles and skin textures.

What are your thoughts? If you were one of many waiting for the trailer, have you expectations been filled?

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