Select Page
Star Wars: The Old Republic. 2phatgeeks Celebrating the NDA Lift.

Star Wars: The Old Republic. 2phatgeeks Celebrating the NDA Lift.

Since August of this year, Shawn and I have been beta testing possiblyif not the most popular up and coming MMORPG’s–the most talked about: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

And the thing is, is other than flailing about the internet squealing and telling people we were in the beta, that was it. We couldn’t tell them what we thought of it, what we liked, what we didn’t, how the game was doing, our reactions or anything. As long time Star Wars, Bioware fans neither Shawn nor I wanted to jinx our chances at having the ability to continue playing the game as well as testing it. So the best we could do when countered with questions about whether it was any good or not was tell people, “if you get into beta, try it. You might like it.”

On November 18th,  the most glorious of days arrived. The NDA was lifted and no longer were we doomed to bouncing around like two excited kids on a bed chanting Iiiiiiiiiiii caaaaaaaaaantttttttt teeeelllllllll yooooou. And so without further ado, here’s everything I couldn’t talk about and want you to know, what I think, my opinions and more of the game that quickly became my all-time favorite.

 

Dromund Kaas

A taxi ride in Dromund Kaas.

The Amazeballs (aka: The Good Things)

Story
The websites, commentary and other quips about Star Wars the Old Republic’s focus on story and attempting to involve the player as much as possible isn’t just hype. Anyone who is a fan of a) Star Wars, b) Bioware, c) Knights of the Old Republic, c) RPG’s and last but never least: story, I believe, will find something to like about this game. Every NPC has their own little quirk and background and you’re introduced to them almost straight away after leaving character creation. Story is key. Like most Bioware games we have come to know and love, the plot and fate of your character comes first and foremost.

Armor & Weapons
I realize that for some players, having giant spoons, forks, or hot pink bubble guns might be fun. But for Star Wars and my little lore-laden heart, I am happy to say that this hasn’t been seen in game (except for the hot pink pants of boots of a texture not rendering properly!) Your armor and your weapons are going to fit into the environs and story of Star Wars: The old Republic. Guns will be appropriately gun-like, light sabers–despite the early out cry from people of them appearing too cartoony–do not look that way anymore. Armor doesn’t run into that issue where your pants are orange, your shirt is green and your cape is hot purple. Blacks, grays, blues and reds, muted or with panels and buttons to fit into the story and the mood of SWTOR abound.

In a previous beta build and no doubt will be re-instated (if it hasn’t already. Forgive me, I’ve been playing Skyrim!) there is an option in the social panel to match gear with chest piece. This essentially combats any further mis-matched armor a player may have by making everything fit in better, color scheme and appearance wise with the players currently equipped chest piece.

Planets, Graphics & Environments
Never have I ever been so happy to learn skills and buy speeders that make me move faster than I have when playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. I love the environments. Bioware has not failed on this sense of scale; when you are on a planet even if you are on one that has a predetermined area the game wants you to hang out in,  the sense of being a little pea in the pod of the universe can overwhelm. As you progress in level and are sent to different planets, the scale grows and even though there is something magnificent to catch as well as look at on all of the planets; the need for a speeder will grow simply to be able to get to point A and point B sometime that day.

The attention to detail is fantastic. When you are standing in front of the Republic Senate, you are filled with a sense of awe (and maybe a bit of the sense of over compensating too–but it’s so pretttty!). The empire’s strict, metallic, hologram red or green or blue infused architecture garnished with ancient relics of the Sith, it’s bowed head statues carry the sense of power and dread.

Since starting my testing in early August, the graphics have undergone several tweaks for clarity, sharpness and texture fixes. I am in love with the armor styles. They are very true to Star Wars and very true to which side your are one: Empire armor and robes are definitely more sinister than Republic or Jedi. I have found myself, on more than one occasion wasting fifteen to twenty minutes finding the right spot to take the right screen shot. They only thing the game is missing (as of the last time I beta tested) was the inability to use anti-aliasing, so shadows and characters and textures despite clarity had jagged and pixelated outlines.

Voice over acting
I cannot lie and tell you that this isn’t one of the main reasons why I am in love with this game. To me, the fact that every NPC in this game has his or her (or its) own voice is amazing. I remember eons ago when I was beta testing Ever Quest II and I was so tickled pink with the fact NPC’s had voices. Limited things to say, but voices still–and the NPC voice overs in SW:TOR bring a whole new level of fun. Not that I am adverse to reading Quest text…But hearing the NPC with dialects and accents and emotion is a level above. 

Flashpoints, AKA Dungeons
The first thing I want to tell you about Flashpoints–otherwise known as Dungeons in other games–is make sure you have your shiznit together before running them, especially if you’ve a) never run them before or b) have people in the group who have never run them before either. Get your drink. Go to the bathroom. Repair your gear. Make sure you have enough whoofizzles for your jiggliemoo. Feed the cats. Put the kids to sleep, whatever it is you need to clear at least an hour and a half free of interruptions. Especially if you enjoy taking your time and listening to all the voice over, thinking carefully about your choices–like I do.

I also recommend not running any new Flashpoints with a group that speeds through them like hamsters on crack. You miss so much if you do because all you’ll be thinking of the whole time is how to catch up with everyone else and keeping up.

Flashpoints are another aspect of the game that Bioware has ensured they go above and beyond. They have mingled cut-scenes with dialogue and Dark/Light side choices with each step, as well as a good sprinkling of trash mobs and bosses. Some of the bosses will require a strategy, especially if you’re going in with three or two people and their companions. If you’re lucky to have a full four member party in decent gear you might be able to luck out and just use the “KILL ALL THE THINGS,” strategy.

As far as I know the best means to tackle Flashpoints when you are at level is a full group of four. You can eek through them with companions if you’re smart and utilize all the tools available; and of course, if you’re way over level.

Companion Characters
From level 1-10, you are set loose on the world of your origin, be you Trooper, Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter, Jedi, Imperial Agent or Smuggler. During your class quests on these planets you will eventually be introduced to your first Companion Character–or as some have even called them. ‘Pet.’ If you aren’t familiar by now, Companion Characters are player controlled party members that do a pleathora of things from healing you, being ranged DPS support, being a damage dealer or tank and also being the extension of your invetory selling and crafting.

Yes!

Not only do your Companions have things to say depending on where they are and what triggers them, they are also the vehicle to your crafting and selling of gray vendor trash. You can send them off wherever you are to sell all gray items and this usually takes roughly a few minutes. When you send them to craft, you can send them to craft up to 5 items at a time (with each item you ask them to craft adding minutes on their timer away from you.) Eventually you will get more Companions and that means more back up support choices depending on where you are and what you are fighting, more conversation items and more crafting!

You can even send your companions out to collect harvest-able materials for you if they are near by.

Dromund Kaas

Towers

The Lacking (aka: The Not-So-Good Things that may still need work.)

Character Customization
Now if you’re coming from a game that lacks a lot of customization (IamnotlookingatwowIamnotlookingatwow) and that’s your only experience with character customization (alsonotlookingatRiftnotlookingatRift) than SW:TOR might seem pretty satisfactory in the character creation and customization department. I’ve played a handful of MMORPG’s out there that went out of their way, above and beyond really, what you could do to create your own unique looking characters–and I was instantly spoiled. I know that for some, character customization matters little to the mechanics as well as how great the game play is. To me, having a character that is semi-unique, in facial features and hair at least is important.

I’m going to be staring at my own avatar (and my guild mates avatars) for the entirety of playing the game. I’m also playing a game set in a vast, open universe and staring at 230923293829323 cookie-cutter twi’leks, Chiss and humans takes a little bit of the wind out of my sails. Obviously not enough for me not to tell Bioware to SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!11!!! but enough so that I am a touch disappointed. I had hoped for more and I am also hoping that with release as well as after, that more customization options will be offered.

Companions: you don’t need to click/pick that up, do you?
One of my biggest annoyances–aside from the fact that Bioware has yet to figure out how to fix the fact elevators completely confuse companions and also sometimes they fall to their death on them or just stand there like how is elevator formed?– is companions always seemingly being in the way of looting. Be it a dead body or a material for crafting, when I went to click with the mouse or select with a keyboard short-cuts, nine times out of ten it seems like my companion will be in the way. Even when they move out of the way they somehow move..just…further in the way.

Alts & Replayable factor
The truth of the matter is, despite how fantastic the story lines are–once you go a certain point outside of your class beginning planets the stories for all classes on the same side start to converge and eventually everyone gets all the same quests more or less. Running the same Flashpoints over and over again will probably get wearisome too.  Of course, your class quests remain unique to said class, but what’s found on the planets all classes share tend to be a like. Meaning if you start an Empire side main character and go back to create another Empire side character, different class–eventually you’ll find yourself doing the same quests as before. That means the same voice-overs and same cut scenes and for a few this might become boring, quickly, finding themselves clicking through conversations quickly so as not to listen to the same dialogue you’ve already heard. The re-play value is a touch lacking. But when I think about it, this is pretty much the way it is for most MMORPG’s out there anyway. Most

RP add ins, Player Housing, Small things that may only bug Me
Ship is supposed to be player housing, but don’t see a lot of room for player decorating and customization on the inside at all yet.
Unable to sit on chairs, benches or interract much with the environment other than shooting and maiming–although did add in Juke boxes.
Social clothing is a bit of a work out to get. Level up social points. Then spend credits to buy a token.
Legacy idea, neat, but having to hide it so that all my characters aren’t related to one another bad. Want different names for different characters on account, not one for all. Also, want to share hubby’s character’s last name.

 

Dromund Kaas

Dromund Kaas

The Overall

First, I know I have missed so many details. There is so much more to this game, like Datacrons and Holocrons and the different healing and how do they stack up and PVP and companion story lines and gear and gear slots and lightsabers and grouping mechanics and showing Sith corruption on a Sith character and matching clothing to chest piece social options with social clothing and race specials–but if I were to go through all of that I would end up writing MORE and as it is, this post is already short novel length. There are hundreds of fantastic sites out there for you to learn so much more about SW:TOR, such as some of my personal favorites (but never limited to)

Star Wars: The Old Republic
R2-DB
Torhead
Greetings, Meatbag
TORSyndicate Community
Admittedly, despite being a super-duper-fan-girl of immense chubby proportions, I can admit freely that there are aspects to this game that might impede other’s enjoyment. You still have to go here, kill 10 of these–oop, here’s your bonus quest to kilk 30 more! There is a grind and a repetition to the questing. The formula isn’t something we haven’t heard of before in being sent out to do something, come back to the Quest giver, and being sent out to the same place to do more.

It is a bit linear.

For those not familiar with Bioware’s games and not a fan of RPG’s/ not a fan of MMORPG’s, the heavy RPG aspect might be a turn off while the MMORPG fun of playing with thousands of players–some of whom make the moniker ‘douchecanoe’ look like a compliment–might also turn players away.

The game is not perfect. There are balance issues between classes that need ironing out still and there are glitches and issues that still need to be addressed. I do not tout that it will be a WoW killer or the GAME OF THE CENTURY! CENTURY! ENNNTURREEE! URRREEE! EEE! (<—That was me writing out the echo sound effect. Because I am funny, god damn it.)

What I do think is that Bioware has made an almost perfect marriage of the two things I like: their games and MMORPG’s, story and grind, questing and exploring. I think this is a truly magnificent start to what may be a long-lived game if Bioware pays strict attention to the mistakes and pluses of other games gone before them, during them, and after.

I am going to be playing this game at release (pre-ordered) and if lifetime subs ever become a reality, I am sure Shawn and I will be having them too. This is a game that I want to be part of through thick and thin and one that I do highly recommend.

We’re full of Sith.

We’re full of Sith.

 Along time ago, on a blog far, far forgotten…..

There were two phat geeks who made posts, but life and distractions (Like Google+) came and endangered the meandering writing habits of two huge nerdlings.

It’s been a long time since we last joined our heroes, Mel and Shawn for their epic adventures in cooking, life, loving, laughing and things they liked. What could possibly be worthy enough to keep us from updating frequently? Other than Shawn having a full time job of course and his wife having a severe case of oooo what’s that? 

Star Wars my friend, Star Wars. 

Specifically both Shawn and I were lucky enough in August to be invited to beta test Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you aren’t familiar with what that is, it’s an MMORPG created by Bioware. The delicious people behind such classics as Never Winter Nights, Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic and my personal fan-girl favorites: Dragon Age. Shawn and I have been following Star Wars: The Old Republic, like many Star Wars and Bioware fans since it’s announcement. We both have accounts created on the official site that have been there since 2008 (as probably many people there do too.)

But…due to the NDA I cannot say anything else. I mean, I love you guys and those of you that have stuck around with us for so long–in between forever posts and through all our craziness–I do. But I love Star Wars as much and I can’t tell you anything else.

It’s killing me, let me just say.

Bioware’s publicity department has been doing a fantastic job eeeeeking out class information, videos, planets and so much more information from their official site: http://www.swtor.com/  And then of course there’s my personal favorite site to get further information: http://www.greetingsmeatbag.com/. Greetings Meatbag just isn’t pure info–it’s pure fun. There are interactive quizzes, well written break-downs of videos and articles as well as super friendly administrators. *Waves her hand,* You will go visit and tell them 2phatgeeks sent you.

Shawn and I would like to highly encourage you to give this game a chance. More and more these days, people tend to judge a game by a screenshot of a single video and that really makes me head tilt. Good games are going untouched by the tendancy to spout negativity about them well before testers or players get their hands on them. Sign up for the site, apply for beta testing and wait until the NDA is lifted before making the call.

And so–there you have it. Where Shawn and I have been all this time and where we will–no doubt–be for a long time yet.

What games are you playing at the moment and what games are you waiting for?

 

Hooked on Dragon Age: Origins, worked for me!

Hooked on Dragon Age: Origins, worked for me!

Or: Reasons why I am such a Dragon Age fan girl.

So I’m on my third run through with this game. And I’m still approaching it as ridiculously as I did the second time. I’m over here more worried about hurting a computer generated pixel’s feelings more than anything else.

You know its a good game when you find yourself with a case of crazy.

King of Swooping

"Oh Maker! What is WRONG with you women?"

During the first run through of Dragon Age: Origins, my character’s main love interest turned out to be Alistair. He’s blond, built, has the tendency to look like a kicked puppy when his awkward, boyish, somehow-still-innocent-but-sweet overtures are misconstrued and? He’s hilarious as hell. “We won? We did? Yay!”

…Did I mention, cute?

The second time I played through and epic battle of conscious and morality began inside my head. It started out with the innocent thought that: It’s a game! I could peruse any other romance I liked now! How about Zevran? Leliana! Choices!oneone!`1! I could frolic amid the companions Bioware had worked so hard on to entice me with. With their pretty faces and long back stories and funny quips. And did I go to these new interests to explore the new relationships and romances?

No.

The moment Alistair’s brow quirked, lightly stubble-speckled face filled my screen I quibbled, inwardly. In the first few seconds of his introduction I felt immediately as if he was staring inside my ready-to-write-fan-fic soul and judging me. He knew. I felt terribly guilty for considering any other choice but Alistair.

I kept imagining his face. His sad, sad, you just ate a Mabari puppy! Why did you eat that puppy? face.

Going off the rail on a crazy Deep Road trail.

And that’s when the ridiculousness of it all hits me again. Alistair isn’t real. He’s a program generated pixel on some highly paid Bioware member’s screen. (HI BIOWARE HIRE ME PLZ? I CAN WRITE. AND MAKE REALLY GOOD COFFEE. :D) He’s a concept, a processor-birthed entity meant to entertain me and continue shelling out my $$ so this company can continue fulfilling my house-wife fantasies wit–he’s not real!

And I’m worried about what he’ll think.

And behold, there was a sign.

That’s how you know Bioware has succeeded with Dragon Age: Origins. Bugs, glitches, giant spinning heads, splotchy kiss scenes and speeches that don’t make sense with your choices aside, Bioware set out to make a kick ass game that gets you emotionally involved and invested with it.

I can’t imagine a sign that it’s done exactly that, than me worrying over what Alistair is going to think when I’m over there romancing the Crow. Or the pretty bard–and he doesn’t even know!

But I know.

As many times as I have already been swayed by his charm, good looks, and stupidity witty commentary, I keep going back out of some sort of guilt. I think that speaks louder about character, connecting with your audience and amazing writing more than anything I’d have to say about it.

Champions Online Beta: Game at a glance

Champions Online Beta: Game at a glance

As some of you may have realized, I’ve been attempting to download and patch Champions Online to play in their “Open Closed” beta since the doors opened early morning August 17th. I was able to get on an create a character, but someone I love and who I just happened to marry has commandeered the game from me and is having what I can only describe as, ‘a ball’ with it so far. He has named his super hero Angry Shawn and is right now, as I finish typing this up playing the game still. What I have played and gotten my hands on is enough to give you a few first impressions:

Champions Online

You are in the comic book.

From the launcher, to the log in, to the options and what screen resolution you’re going to choose–everything reeks classic comic book. Bright eye catching colors that don’t hurt but still catch your attention, that font which screams COMIC littered every where along headers and options.

Blue and deep gold is the UI’s chosen default color.

Blue backgrounds, deep gold for trim and eye catching parts and pieces, with the standard comic book font in readable sizes. I like it. It doesn’t hurt the eye and it screams POW.

Character customization choices are damn near OVERWHELMING.

The choices and color customizations are insane. I literally spent thirty minutes deciding what to make this morning. The choices are endless; head pieces, horns, hair, no hair, normal skin, metallic skin, cats eyes, normal eyes, pupil-less eyes, crests, capes, stances, human, not-human, robot, elves, beasts/bestial features, monster features–I can’t or could not list them all.

Character customizations ARE horrifically cliche, especially on the female side.

The boobs. Oh my god, the boobs. Yes, you can choose to have a super heroine with smaller breasts that do not classify as a weapon of mass cleavage like the DEFAULT size–but it is like they didn’t put half the amount of effort in making the rest of the body or super hero costume scale with the rest of the itty bitty titties. I tried making a character that wouldn’t poke eyes out at fifty yards when cold and it just did NOT work. It looks awful, like her lungs had caved in and were trying to suck the front of her body in through her spine.

If first impressions are correct: EVERYTHING is instanced.

From the get-go you have a long, huge list of ‘shards’ to choose from. If I am guessing correctly (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong), and I believe the largest amount of people in a shard/instance is 30.

Shawn says it’s one of the smoothest running in-game play for a beta yet.

I’ll let you know what I think when I can, y’know, PLAY. ::Stares at Shawn.::

Graphics are an amazing balance.

A balance between the heavy handed black-inked lines of the paper comic books we all know and love, and the amazing textures, effects and realistic graphics to pull you in. I’m not sure how to say it–they’ve balanced fantasy with realism and come up with fantarealisay I guess. (Screen shots forthcoming when I can play. >.>)

Summary of Champions Online at a glance:

Tentatively optimistic. Shawn says it’s a blast, it is definitely something different in the market to tinker with and he’s having fun. Character customization IS huge, and well done. I’m going to go out on a limb and state the game is something you should keep at the back of your mind if you like MMORPG gaming and want something different. This may or may not be subject to change at the end of Open Beta and extensive playing of the game is had. We’ll let you know then.

Pinkopalypse

When it comes to computers, there are pink components, and there are good components, but there are scant few good pink components. While for most geeks this is not a problem, for me it is as the better half loves the color pink. So, in addition to doing every odd job I could think of to fill my time, I decided to right a serious geek wrong and make the pink computer I know she wants.

I am not a case modder; not by a long shot. I put computers together in preassembled cases. I’m pretty handy when it comes to putting things IN computers, but I am not known for my vast case modding skills. So while this was intended to be a welcome home gift for the better half of 2PhatGeeks, It was also a learning experience. So, I began.

First, we had to modify the cover. The case was originally black and silver and designed around a nicely geeky RPG/Medieval theme, complete with a shield on the front. Unfortunately The XBlade Design wasn’t going to work for the pink happy box idea I had in mind, so I had to do something. I pondered long and hard, several weeks before she left, in fact, deciding what to put on the case…

1-coverstart

This brilliant design, of course, required I cut aluminum approx ¼” thick. I needed firepower. I needed… my first Dremel! It is an amazing machine that I am not at all good at using. But I managed to accomplish what I needed and lined it with a little bit of rubber tubing and hot glue to cover some of my many imperfections… wow, it’s a metaphor for me!.

2-covercut

Next there was a BOATLOAD of painting. Every peripheral that I could properly paint (as well as some I couldn’t) got a coat of candy pink, white or pink fading to white.

3-start1

One thing you won’t see in this next picture is a fancy pink keyboard. While I knew it would be a challenge, Mel had literally worn her keyboard almost out, half the letters were gone, so I figured I had nothing to lose. If things didn’t work out, well, she was due for a keyboard anyway. Good thing I had planned for the possibility of failure! While the keyboard looked awesome, it just didn’t work. The Microsoft ergo that she prefers is made to pretty dang exacting standards that my painting is not up to! I bid it a fond adieu and replaced it with a new one. Anyway, here we can see some of the peripherals. The mouse looks and feels awesome!

4-midway1

Next I turned my attentions to the case. Every surface was repainted. The chassis frame is completely white, inside and out, while the outside of the case is pink in the front fading to white at the rear. It was far from flawless, as a first attempt, and some minor touch ups were needed, but when I first saw the case front repainted and reassembled, I started to get excited. I think it looks awesome and girly!

5-midway2

6-casefront

Lastly, as I assembled the case, I couldn’t just let the blue lights and fans stay, so I replaced them with white lights and filled the heart in with a pink bit of plastic from, of all things, a girl’s notebook from Wal-Mart.

7-cpuandstand

Behold… The Pinkopalypse! It looks so light and airy and girly I think I just grew an ovary.

8-pinkopalypse

So ended my first real attempt at (admittedly very minimal) case modding and I hope the returning princess likes it! I really believe she will. I learned several good lessons for the future… including that 1. The Dremel is the coolest power tool ever, but that they require patience and that 2. I really suck at painting. By the time you are all reading this, she will be on a flight home and will be seeing it by sometime around 8PM this evening.

WELCOME HOME BABY!