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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Dec 23, 2011

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Torhead – Companions And Other Enhancements

Most folks who played World of Warcraft are familiar with Wowhead. When it launched, it provided a new modern approach to an item and info database for an MMO. Owned by ZAM, they’ve steered clear of database sites for other games. That is until Star Wars: The Old Republic arrived, and with it, Torhead.

With all of that experience and technology behind them, the Torhead team is the definitive database site for Star Wars: The Old Republic. They’ve been improving the site nearly ever day since in launched in November, and some of the features and polish we’re seeing go beyond even what Wowhead as achieved thus far.

A good example would be the new Companions landing page. Note that there may be some spoilers in the image below, and most certainly will be if you click through to the site!

Torhead Companion Screen

Torhead Companion Screen

As you can see, each class has their five companions listed alphabetically (not in the order you receive them.) From there, players can click through to a well-informed and nicely formatted companion detail page. Each companion detail page lists the abilities of the companion, screenshots and even a grid showing what kind of companion gifts they like and dislike.

Honestly, this is just one of the new features that are rolling out at a breakneck pace. You really just need to head over, bookmark it and create an account if you don’t already have one. It will be a daily resource for you if it isn’t already.

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Dec 21, 2011

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Halls Of Healing: Leveling As A Healer

Each week or thereabouts here at Ask A Jedi, we’ll meditate on the finer points of the healer’s role in Star Wars: The Old Republic. No matter where your allegiance lies, you’re sure to find guidance here in the Halls Of Healing!

I was lucky enough to be able to get into the game on the first day of Early Access and experience the wonderful process that is leveling in Star Wars: The Old Republic. If there is something to say about doing Missions (known as Questing for you ancient cavemen) it is that they can be hard. Yes, you can pretty much forget going up and soloing bosses designed to be taken down with a group, and sometimes you can fail multiple times just doing your normal Class Missions. These type of Missions makes me remember the days back in World of Warcraft with the rare Class quests. They were totally do-able, but sometimes required multiple attempts before you actually learned how to beat it.

Now, where does healing come into all of this? Leveling as a healer has historically been tedious. You usually do much less damage than your tank or damage-dealing counterparts and things just take much longer to accomplish. This holds true for TOR as well – you will have less damage output than the other roles and since some NPCs are actually designed around you nuking them down quickly, making things much more difficult as a healer.

However, there are aspects to leveling that will actually make things easier as a healer. One of them is that NPCs tend to do a lot of damage, especially when you get to the higher levels. The tanks and damage dealers will take more damage and will have to pause longer between fights to regenerate their health and resources – you won’t need to do this as much as a healer.


Even Bowdaar needs a heal once in a while.

The other major part is the Companion system. Companions make this game very different in the leveling process from any other MMO I’ve played. Due to the way you can choose and customize your Companion to complement your role and skills, you can mitigate the impact of having reduced damage output. Where damage dealers and tanks might choose a healing Companion you can choose an all out damage dealing Companion or a tanking Companion.

Now, down to what this article really is about: how can you make your leveling in TOR easier and more enjoyable as a healer? Read on for some pro-tips!

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Dec 20, 2011

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Collector’s Edition Vendor Items Revealed! (Empire)

Happy Launch Day, TOR fans! As many of you are just receiving your Collector’s Editions via the archaic physical delivery system, we have for you a list of the things available for purchase just for you! These are the Imperial versions of the items. The Republic has a different set of items that we will post soon.

The vendor is located on top of the central cantina in the respective fleet stations. To get there, there’s an elevator that will deny you access if you do not have the VIP Lounge Wristband in your inventory – like a mean bouncer, the elevator puts you right out!

Should you have the necessary access, then you will be able to ride up and see a gentleman (gentle-Ithorian?) named Nongta who will sell you various Prototype and Custom items. His current inventory is as follows:

In addition, there is another vendor available to anyone who makes it to the VIP Lounge who sells a vehicle (different name but available to both sides) for 1.5 million credits. That’s 2.5 million if you have the standard edition, essentially (1 million for the wristband and another 1.5 million for the vehicle).

Better get to farming those credits! No better place to start that right here on Ask A Jedi in Blasters, Beggars & Credits!

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Dec 12, 2011

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Blue Milk & Cereal: How Do You Feel About Companions?

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!

Since the very first day that Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced (way back on October 21, 2008, if you’re keeping track,) companions have been advertised as key innovation and a big part of gameplay. Given BioWare’s track record, it made perfect sense that they’d try and bring their master’s storytelling touch to the MMO genre, and companions are a big part of it.

For one thing, it helped allow players feel more immersed in their own Star Wars story. As is often cited, what is Han Solo without Chewbacca? Lando Calrissian without Lobot? Companions of course provided BioWare with another platform for telling the story, and making you feel that much more emotionally invested in your own character through the ones you met and came to know.

But it’s not all guns n’ roses. Some players don’t like the idea that a “pet” is being forced upon them. And while it’s hard to call sentient companions pets due to their story and conversations, there’s no denying that the powers and control BioWare has given them makes them play that way.

At one time, they weren’t supposed to take up group slots. Now they do. In fact, ioWare has gone back and forth on their contribution to combat, and have landed on pretty powerful characters. You can fully customize their gear, yet they aren’t available to you in endgame Operations or Warzones. It’s an interesting choice given the amount of time players may spend with customizing and optimizing them as part of their play style.

Anyway, there are many angles on this discussion but we want to keep it simple. Do you like the idea of companions in an MMO, especially ones who are nearly as powerful as characters? And why or why not? Discuss!

What do you think of companions?

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