Feb 12, 2012

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Wild Space: Companions, Lightsabers, and ATI Performance Tips

It’s a big galaxy out there, and Wild Space can be a dangerous place. Worry not, explorer – each week we’ll navigate you safely through the lost hyperspace routes of the Deep Core and track down the great articles and entertainment from around the SW:TOR fan community, all in less than 12 parsecs, of course!

First up this week, is a really well done editorial from Darth Hater. Titled “Companions: The Good, The Bad and The Broken” the article goes on to describe the bad stuff about the companion system, the broken (i.e. bugged) stuff that needs fixing ASAP, and the good stuff that truly makes the companion system unique.

For starters: the bad. Tanking companions are the primary complaint here with the main problem being that they don’t…well…tank too effectively. They tend to need lots of healing after a battle or two or just flat out die during fights with Champion level mobs. Speaking from experience, tanking companions in flashpoints also don’t work too well. It would be nice to see tanking companions get a buff or two so that they can tank effectively in PvE content.

In “the broken” section, the author talks about the difficulty for some classes to actually get damage dealing companions to engage in combat:

…more than half of [Sniper and Gunslinger] attacks don’t cause their companions to engage the enemy. Players have to either remember to manually activate their companion each fight, or make the conscious decision to use an ability that activates their follower, usually at a substantial DPS loss. 

But overall, we love our companions, don’t we? As the author says, companions provide us with a really great crafting system that allows to fulfill our crafting needs without spending all of our characters time on it. But the most amazing thing that companions do is get us to care about them. Even if we hate the way a certain companion acts, *cough* 2V-R8 *cough*, we still feel something about all of them. And that is a feat worth celebrating.

Check out the full article over on Darth Hater.

Next up, do you like lightsabers? I know I do! SWTOR Strategies stumbled upon a really cool fan-made diagram showing many of the lightsaber hilts found in game and their corresponding icons. The idea being that you can see what that new lightsaber will look like since, you know, you can’t view weapons in the dressing room window in game (yet). Thanks to SWTOR Strategies for finding this cool image for us.

A couple weeks back, I posted some tips from the Red Rancor folks about improving your computers FPS. Unfortunately, those tips were only for those with Nvidia video cards. This week, I stumbled upon some (older) tips for our ATI/AMD bretheren over on the MMO-Junkie forums. You’ll definitely want to scroll to the bottom of the initial post and see how the author configured his Catalyst Control Center for maximum TOR performance. Check out all the tips here!

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Jan 30, 2012

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Blue Milk & Cereal: Do You Use All Of Your Companions For Combat?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

Companions are a pretty big part of Star Wars: The Old Republic. They’re your crew, helping your craft and gather materials; they provide story and act as a moral compass and perhaps most importantly, they can stand at your side in combat, lending a hand, or a blaster, when needed.

But when it comes to using your crew for combat, you also need to consider upgrading their gear much as you upgrade your own. They become noticeably less effective if you neglect to do this (speaking from experience here :) But it’s pretty challenging to keep up on gearing one of them, let alone all 5 of them. As a result, if I have a companion out at all (usually I’m in a group with real people,) it’s almost always the same one.

Personally, I think companions figure far too much into the combat output equation for your character, because they’re basically forced on you if you’re solo questing especially at higher levels. But that’s a topic for another time! What about you guys? How do you use your companions, and do you try and use more than one now and then?

Do you use all of your companions for combat?

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Jan 13, 2012

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Zlatto’s Bazaar: Gathering Etiquette – Answering Two Common Questions

Zlatto’s Bazaar is the one-third Wall Street, one-third criminal empire and one-half gossip rag. You need to keep up on the Bazaar if for no other reason than to keep an eye on your competitors. Don’t be a Ho-tah and visit often – I’ve got stuff I gotta sell.  Your comments are encouraged, especially if they make me credits…

I wanted to clearly state that fairness is an important character trait in Toydarians. Can you believe there is an image stating that we are thieves on wikipedia? You just can’t trust anything you read on the Internet). Who decides what is fair? Well that is the question that separates a guerful and his credits.

While playing Star Wars: The Old Republic this last week, I had a few incidents I wanted to talk about here with the readers of AAJ. I was clearing a strong mob on Alderaan that was standing right on top of a lovely barrel of Phobium. Out of the corner of my eye, a Sith Warrior swoops in and grabs it and then laughs via emote and flies off. I know I am on the Empire side, where Dark Side mentality abounds, but I mean really? I had hoped a good percentage of the umrons had stayed put in PandaWorld!

"I got this!"

The next incident was in a PUG, running a quick 4 player heroic. When I asked about who got to scavenge the strong droids that we were killing, the group lead stated he needed all of the materials and his guild mate agreed. Adding to the lack of support was his companion, which did not seem to come to my aid in the discussion. I left the jackwagons to find another player.

So I decided to ask a few players out in the community two questions. I’d love continued input on these topics, so keep your responses coming, but here are the responses I’ve received so far.

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Jan 8, 2012

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Wild Space: Immersion, “Digital Disappointment”, And Companion Gifts

It’s a big galaxy out there, and Wild Space can be a dangerous place. Worry not, explorer – each week we’ll navigate you safely through the lost hyperspace routes of the Deep Core and track down the great articles and entertainment from around the SW:TOR fan community, all in less than 12 parsecs, of course!

Over on Corellian Run Radio, they have posted an interesting column that deals with immersion in TOR with respect to pop-culture references. BioWare has mentioned in the past that they don’t want to include obvious pop-culture references in TOR because they feel it would break immersion. In contrast, World of Warcraft has made a living with all of the pop-culture references that can be found in their game. The author of the CRR article, Thom, describes a rather elaborate reference featuring the A-Team that can be found in World of Warcraft.

By now, you almost expect a new cultural reference in World of Warcraft whenever you play it, so much so that pop-culture references have become part of the experience of playing the game. It can almost be considered its own game feature. TOR, on the other hand, seems to be keeping references to a minimum. Thom has only seen pop-culture references appear as part of quests and they are often quite subtle. Personally, the only references I have found have been Star Wars related (check out Nem’ro’s cantina on Hutta, there are a few good ones in there) and those types of references only serve to enhance my immersion and pull on my nostalgic heartstrings.  What do you all think? Have you found any pop-culture references that are immersion breaking for you? Do you like or not like pop-culture or Star Wars references?

Be sure to make your opinion known on those questions below and check out the full article on Corellian Run Radio.

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Jan 1, 2012

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Wild Space: Graphics, Flashpoints, And Companions

It’s a big galaxy our there, and Wild Space can be a dangerous place. Worry not, explorer – each week we’ll navigate you safely through the lost hyperspace routes of the Deep Core and track down the great articles and entertainment from around the SW:TOR fan community, all in less than 12 parsecs, of course!

Over on TORWars, they discussed a topic this week that is very near and dear to my heart: graphics! I’m a bit of a hardware junkie and manged to scrape enough cash together in order to rebuild my computer to prepare for the TOR release. As expected, my computer runs the game quite well with nary a drop in frame rates in sight. However, I have missed the ability to enable anti-aliasing, which smooths out the edges of the graphics in game.

Attempting to force the option on via the client_settings file can cause some instability in the game client, including causing it to crash. Obviously, since anti-aliasing is not supported by BioWare yet this behavior is to be expected. Also, to be fair, anti-aliasing is not really that high of a priority to get fixed, what with other problems that the development team is working on. But…it still bothers me and I would love for the option to be available. The TORWars article asks the question does the game need the anti-aliasing settings? I ask the same to you now, is this a necessary feature or is it a low-priority frivolity?

For those who have only played single-player BioWare games in the past, the concept of grouped flashpoints might seem a bit daunting. After all, you have to round up some other people, who you may not personally know, and then work together to overcome some challenging obstacle. Fortunately, SWTOR Face has some tips for how to make your flashpoint experience as enjoyable as possible. Some of the highlights are:

Try to be understanding of new players and be as helpful as possible.  These encounters are not the standard “dungeons” that most WoW players are used to and the roles required by each player can change during a Flashpoint. Sometimes a player will be needed to off-tank or interrupt special abilities; other times they might just need to do as much dps as possible.

Don’t be scared to ask questions on how to better play your character in an encounter. Some people will no doubt not expect this and may act rude or unaccommodating but the majority of people will see this as an opportunity to try and work together.

Remember flashpoints are supposed to be one of the more social aspects of the game, so treating your fellow players with respect and being willing to help will make everyone’s experience so much more enjoyable. Be sure to check out the full article over on SWTOR Face for all of their helpful tips.

As it has been mentioned before, the five companions that you get as your progress through the game all have different abilities and strengths. To help clarify what companions your character is going to get and what role that companion can fill (DPS, tank, or healer), Yufmelt has compiled a list of all the available companions for each class and their roles. For ease of use sake, they have compiled the list into a handy PDF that you can quickly refer to. Check it out!

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