A couple of gaming updates:

1) I unsubscribed from SWToR.  I haven’t reached the cap in the game yet but due in part to real life business and other MMO intersets (primarily my return to LotRO) I couldn’t see shelling out money for a game I wasn’t playing.

2) I am now in another kinship (guild) in LotRO.  The new group is way more populated at all hours than my old kinship ever was.  They’re a fun bunch of folks who regularly put on shows and engage in general silliness and I’m having a blast thus far.

One thing that struck me, listening to the kinship chat over the past couple of weeks is how much I’ve missed it.  Chat in SWToR and in my old LotRO kinship was essentially dead.  It’s like having a radio tuned to a dead channel: what’s the point?  Now there are all kinds of things going on in chat, along with events in the game and also raids and groups … I feel like I’ve come home.  MMOs are more fun with other players.  Whodathunkit?


Mead update:

Last time I posted, I had just racked the mead into a glass carboy.  At one point the airlock lost pressure but a couple of days later, it was under pressure again.  The pressure indicates that the mead is brewing.  Yeast are producing gasses which exit the carboy through the airlock.  A lack of pressure means that fermentation has stopped or slowed to the point where it’s no longer strong enough to effect the air lock.  The fact that it has re-started is good (as it’s nowhere near ready yet).  The mead is beginning to clear up which means that in a couple weeks it will be ready to rack again.


Star Wars, I hardly knew ye

SWToR is slowing down for me. I’ve advanced my smuggler into the low 40s and been checking out the end game. The end game in SWToR is the same as every end game I’ve seen: crap. Grind this, grind that, run in circles until the expansion. Bah. Given the need in SWToR for voice-acting in addition to all the other stuff most expansions entail, I’m thinking they’re going to have a hard time cranking them out. Couple slow release times to a lack of other classes I’d like to play and I may as well start looking for the exits now.

In my opinion, SWToR isn’t a bad game. It’s just a short game. There’s no game-over screen but I suspect that at 50, I’ll be heading out. Granted, it’s pretty odd for its type: an MMO where each character is the center of the universe … and so are all the others. There’s no real reason to group up unless you’re into doing Flash Points (which can be skipped). If you’re looking for a decently-build Star Wars game, I’d still recommend it. Be prepared to have a couple of months of fun and then call it quits. You could probably multiply that by however many classes you take an interest in – for me it was just the one: smuggler/soundrel.

Apparently, I’m not the only one less than thrilled by SWToR in the long-term. I was looking for a friend on another server just a couple days ago and had to review the server list to find his server. Servers which were once heavy all show standard or light. There was only one heavy server. The sad thing is that game companies seem to be getting in this rut where they’ll only back an MMO if it’s from a major IP (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) and then only produce the bare minimum of content or mechanics so it can call itself an MMO. It’s safer to create something that already has a ready-made fan base and hope they stick around than it is to create something new or different and have to fight the uphill battle to get people interested.

It’s still too soon to tell whether or not SWToR will bomb. I kind of doubt it. There is a significant fan base out there for a Star Wars game. I’ve seen them in SWG – still playing when that game was considered old. Bioware may have to consolidate servers or release content more slowly than they planned, but if they work at it, I think they can keep it limping along even if large numbers of the uncommitted (like me) up and leave.

I’m not certain that I’ll go, but all signs point to yes.


I finally caught my smuggler up to where I was on the old server.  He’s level 37 now and on Quesh for questing.  Being on a server where I have friends has exposed me to some more content I hadn’t seen before.  I’ve got one friend who has been showing me the locations of various datacrons.  I’ve got some others that are big on group content so I’ve also been smashing though some of that as well (mostly the stuff you can do aboard the ships in the Republic Fleet … can’t think of the name, off hand).

In other news, I’m getting set up for another mead brew cycle.  I was getting set a couple of weeks ago but my old honey supplier dried up and now I’m having to search for another one.  I’ll have another post about this hobby of mine shortly (I hope).

My old server was dead. How dead? Dead to the point that the players created player-made channels and weren’t using them anymore. Fortunately, I linked up with some old LotRO friends that were playing the game and created my smuggler anew on their server.

So as to avoid burnout, I’m also goofing around with a Jedi Knight this time around. Like the warrior’s charge in WoW, force jump is a travel power.

My smuggler is level 36 now and off to Quesh to work on the latest piece of his class quest.  I’m still enjoying the game – it’s a fairly vanilla MMO but I kept my expectations low for this one and haven’t been too disappointed.  Even the let’s-ride-a-roller-coaster-and-shoot-things-over-the-railing space battles have been fun as a mini-game.

Having played the game for a bit now, I’m noticing some things more and more that have started flecking that new MMO paint off here and there.


As I mentioned previously, the companion system in Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) is one of its best features.  Some of the functionality of companions should be familiar to people who have played a pet class in WoW or LotRO: the “pet” is a separate toon that follows the player around and attacks the target the player is attacking.  Pets add damage, healing or crowd-control / tanking to combat situations the player gets into and makes fights more survivable.

The primary role of a companion in SWTOR isn’t that much different.  They fight alongside your toon and act as tanking,healing or damage to help you take down baddies.  But they do a lot more than just fight beside you.

While I could wax poetic about the coolness of Bioware’s companions, they have already waxed poetically in pixel form for you.

I won’t go into too much detail about companions here then, I’ll just mention some of the highlights I like.


After playing some more Star Wars:  The Old Republic, I got to thinking about what Bioware was doing putting the game so much in the past as compared to the movies.  Regardless of their reason for doing so, I think putting the game outside the scope of the original stories allows them to side-step a lot of Lore-based landmines that a game like LotRO much inevitably deal with.  In LotRO, there can be no flying mounts and players cannot be something too outside the existing cannon – the Lore won’t allow it.   The big time difference between SWTOR and the movies allows the developers more flexibility in creating things for the game.

I’ve been staying away from as much of the hype surrounding Star Wars: The Old Republic as possible.  I wrote a few posts here and there about some feature or other that I liked but kept myself out of the fray.  Like most dedicated MMO players out there, I’ve been burned too many times in the past in getting worked up about a game only to find it was unplayable, or not what I expected, or otherwise crap in digital form.

I spend a long time tootling around in LotRO and WoW‘s latest expansion (Cataclysm) and while the time was fun, I could think of nothing interesting to write about.  Grinding is grinding and while it can sometimes be enjoyable, it’s fairly unimaginative game play and doesn’t do much to inspire me to writing.

This past Christmas, I had some time off from work and, with no family commitments or other stuff in the way; I picked up a copy of the Old Republic and got playing it.

It’s wonderful!


I’ve been following Star Wars the Old Republic, an upcoming MMO from Bioware.   One of the things keeping me from getting excited about the game was the lack of player spaceships.  It’s one of the things I most enjoyed in my brief visit in SWG.

Well, they have them!  Woo!  There’s only info about two ships available right now but it looks like they’ll be offering more.

I was having a discussion on Ventrilo the other day with some folks in my LotRO kinship.  We were lamenting the roughness of the LotRO end-game and were talking about some of the hurdles different IP-based games are having.  (That is to say, games based on a third-party IP – technically, all games are based on someone’s IP.

Blizzard owns the IP related to WoW.  So if they want to add space-ships or player-controlled flying mounts, the lore folks just say it’s possible and then it’s up to the software folks to make it happen.  There’s almost nothing standing in the way of a gaming possibility, the lore creators just have to figure out the story behind it and then it’s ready to be built into the game.

Turbine does not own the IP behind its LotRO game, Tolkien Estates does.  Everything in the game Turbine build has to conform to the lore as Tolkien imagined it.  There are exceptions (like the number of adventuring hobbits running around) but the places, the overall feel of the game and many of the character names and abilities are limited by the IP.  As such, players cannot be wizards (there are only a handful in Tolkien’s world), players cannot ride eagles (riding eagles is a rare privilege); the lore curtails many of the possibilities in an online world in favor of sticking with a set, third-party IP.