Star Wars: The Old Republic Captures My Attention

Right, it’s been just about a month since I last posted, and there’s a couple of reasons for that:

1)      I’m pretty busy with work, college work, applying for a job and the job application training for students that I lead.

2)      I started playing SW:TOR with a couple of friends

Yes, I know … after spending the better part of 5 years on World of Warcraft I went and started playing another MMO. I promise I won’t get crazy addicted to this one … maybe.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a very enjoyable game really, despite what the recent internet chatter is implying. Below Is an account of my impressions after a couple of weeks of gameplay. Keep in mind that this is my opinion and does not represent anything else but that.

Alright, I fired up the game and downloaded the patches. First thing I had to do was put the graphic settings on very low. Frankly, that’s not normal. Granted my pc isn’t great, I know, but it should at least be capable of running the game on medium. I have extremely long load times (everyone seems to have that for some planets). This appears to be a problem that some players have despite the quality of their rig.

                       

So, I made myself a Pureblooded Sith Warrior (advanced class is Marauder – Favourite of the month apparently) and started my trials on Korriban to become a true Sith complete with red Lightsaber, Force Choke and a seething hate for everything alien or Republic. The story missions are awesome. The class story sucks you in right away and the trademark BioWare speech choices are flawless. It’s almost a direct copy of the Mass Effect speech system really. The only problem I really have is that I just can’t be arsed to watch every single cutscene for every single quest (no matter how short those quests might be). If you watch everything you’ll ‘lose’ hours of your day. Don’t get me wrong though, I like it but sometimes I’d prefer the good ol’ quest text.

Furthermore, as I advanced in levels I was and still am baffled by the extremely large amount of cash sinks in the game. You have to pay for extra bag space, mounts, repairs, legacy rewards, respecs, skills and lots more. Skills especially get insanely expensive for the cash flow you receive around level 25. An augmented item on the Galactic Trade Network will easily set you back 250 000 credits. Level 50 mount skill is also around 250k, not counting the mount itself. One of my friends said that BioWare overrated the potential in-game economy, and I reckon he’s right.

Finally, the PvP is great fun, it has to be said. There’s basically 4 warzones – the usual really; 2 warzones where you cap and defend bases, a Strand Of The Ancients-type warzone and a Capture the Flag warzone in the form of Huttball. Which warzone you get is completely random which is great, no more abandoned battlegrounds like sometimes happened to me in WoW.

Also, there are only 2 level brackets: Pre-50 and 50. Pre-50 everything is peachy and I felt like a goddamn battering ram playing my Marauder. But once I hit level 50 I only encountered fully equipped PvP steam trains and all I could do felt like hitting them over the head with my limp red noodle (read: Red Lightsaber). The difference is mind-boggling and very sudden. But, that is not a flow only this game has. Truly, I have no idea how to fix an issue like that other than give some basic PvP gear to every fresh level 50.

In summary, it’s a good game if you’re able to look past the (many) flaws like I did. I’m having a lot of fun for my money and in the end that’s all I really care about. I don’t sit around whining and crying in trade chat, and if you are doing just that you should really go play a different game because you’re ruining my fun, you asshat!

Niels Van Hellemont

PS: May 4th is Star Wars day so May The 4th Be With You!

30 Day Game Challenge # 19 – My Favourite MMO

Hah! This one couldn’t be easier … Since I spent 5 years playing this game it’s bound to be my favourite MMO. I am, of course, talking about World of Warcraft. I spent a couple of years on a private server with a friend or two after which I moved on to the official version. I reckon I was the biggest noob on the realm for a couple of months, until I got into raiding. I joined a raidguild and switched my main character from a mage to a Holy Paladin. Turns out the class was exactly the right thing for me. I became quite adapt at healing and in Wrath Of The Lich King I changed factions and joined a higher-ranked raid guild where we managed to kill Heroic Lich King after about 100 wipes I think.

I had such good times playing this game, and not because of the game itself but because of the people I met there who still continue to be friends even if I don’t play the game anymore.

PS: I’m not a fan of the way Blizzard is taking it’s cash cow, Kung Fu Panda wtf?

Join us tomorrow for day 20!

Gaming can help develop poor countries

Hey there guys. Today I came across some numbers on gold farming and they baffled me really and that’s when I started thinking that the practice of gold farming could really help poor(er) countries in their development.

'Gold farming workshop'
'Gold farming workshop'

While game operators expressly ban the practice of selling in-game currency for real-world cash, gold farming is lucrative because it takes advantage of economic inequality and the fact that much time is needed to earn in-game currency. Rich, developed country players, wishing to save many hours of playing time, may be willing to pay what amounts to substantial sums to the developing country gold farmers.

That pretty much sums it up really. Gold farming is the nail in the coffin for a lot of developers and players. For instance, take World of Warcraft. Blizzard is spending huge sums of money and time on keeping gold farmers and sellers out of their game. People playing World of Warcraft also get extremely annoyed when a gold farmer is camping all the good spawnpoints (and they often have hacks as well). And it doesn’t just stop with acquiring the gold, they need to sell it as well hence all the really annoying gold ads in Trade Chat (private messages, spamming, forming url’s with corpses). And have you ever wondered what happens to all your gear and gold when you get hacked? Yeah that’s right … it gets sold back to people for large sums of money.

But today, we’ll be looking at gold farming from a different point of view namely the developing countries. There are approximately 100 000 people in China and Vietnam that play online video games like World of Warcraft just to collect gold and rare items. They then sell these virtual items to western players, who don’t have the time or motivation to make the effort themselves, for (a lot of) real life money. A study of the World Bank estimates that these virtual goods are worth at least 3 billion dollars. According to the report, practices like these ensure that developing countries can grow faster because of these so-called gold farmers.

In China, companies have been founded where employees don’t do anything else but play games to collect virtual currency. Next to that, they also try to develop software that automatically collects gold and items. Even though game developers do everything in their power to stop them, the 8 largest chinese gold farming companies have an annual revenue of 10 million dollars.

As you can see, gold farming does have benefits for at least one group shareholders. Though I doubt that selling virtual currency as a third party company will ever become legal, it’s definately a booming business as more and more people engage in online gaming. Gold farming will remain a source of great frustration to players and developers alike, and I have no doubt that many many jokes will be made about it (like the clip below). Certainly something to keep an eye on!

Please also check the clips below, one is a comical song and the other is a documentary about gold farmers. Worth a look!

/Niels

MMORPG’s – why are they so massive?

Hey there guys and welcome to another one of my articles. Today I’m going to talk about MMORPGs and why they are so popular. MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Quite a mouthful isn’t it? MMOs as I will call them from now on are online video games where players compete, work together and socialize with each other. There can be thousands upon thousands of people online at the same time.

Continue reading “MMORPG’s – why are they so massive?”