Nov 15, 2012

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A Trip Down SW:TOR Memory Lane – Hang A Left At Free-To-Play Parkway

Ah, the memories.

Chances are you’re reading this post now because you were a fan or follower of Ask A Jedi back in the day. I started this site back in 2010 because, quite simply, I couldn’t get enough of Star Wars: The Old Republic! There were already plenty of great sites like Darth HaterMos Eisley RadioTOROcastCorellian Run Radio and soon TORWarsRepublic Trooper and more, but that wasn’t enough for me! I wanted to be fused at the hip with the next great MMO, which by the way was set in the STAR WARS UNIVERSE and made by BIOWARE!

The next 20-some odd months that followed were nothing short of amazing, and running this site while following the game’s development was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Obviously, it was great getting so close to the game in its early stages of development, but you know what made it really special? The people!

Over the course of that time, I got to meet a lot of great peeps from all of the fan sites above (and more!) What was so special about all of these folks is that what they were doing, they were doing out of passion. Everyone traveled to every corner of the map, from conventions like E3, PAX and more. And they did so on their own dime and their own time. I can tell you from personal experience that it was hella expensive being a TOR groupie for a few years, but it was worth every penny.

Not only that, I had the great fortune of getting to meet many designers, developers, marketing and community folks from BioWare, Electronic Arts and LucasArts. It was my first real exposure “inside” of the game industry, and I have to say everyone was absolutely awesome. The hospitality shown by each of those companies and especially individually by all of the folks we met was incredible. I felt like they really cared about the fans and the fan sites, and they did. The Fan Site and Guild Summits held at BioWare in Austin… I’ll never forget it!

And of course, there’s no way I could forget the peeps who helped me run this site… You think everyone running by you on Tatooine is some random gamer until you get to know them. We had a special team keeping the wheels greased at AAJ – dare I say the best in the business.

No, I’m not getting the band back together, but felt like I wanted to do a special post here to commemorate the occasion that today is, especially for those of us who were so close to the game!

Looking Forward

It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we were all eagerly anticipating the launch of a brand-new Star Wars MMO. It’s even harder to believe that very same game is relaunching today, less than a year later, as a free-to-play title. So on this dawn of a new era for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I just wanted to take a minute to remember what is so great about this genre we all love – the people we play with.

Anyway, there’s a lot of Light side mushiness going on here, so I’ll start to wrap it up.

While I don’t have a lot of time to devote to gaming these days, I’ll be joining my buddies from TORWars, along with *many* other community members over in the newly formed TORWars guild on The Shadowlands server. Yes, they went Empire, but don’t hold that against them – they’re good peeps! :)  I’m looking forward experiencing TOR this time around casually and socially in the best possible way – with friends!

– Bill (Lethality)

P.S. Some folks have asked what I’ve been up to, so I figured I’d give a quick update!

  • I’m still working my day job as an interactive producer at a large advertising agency, desperately trying to make the jump to the game industry (If you’re hiring, let me know! :)
  • I’ve also taken up as a news editor for ZAM Networks, and you can find my stuff there every day! By the way, you should keep an eye on ZAM… big things ahead.
  • I’m also doing some blogging over on my MMOpinion site. If you know me, you know that I’m never short for words when it comes to how MMOs “should” work and be played, so you can find some commentary and discussion over there! You can also follow me on Twitter, which is the old Ask A Jedi feed, except re-named!
  • Finally, I’ve joined forces with Andy and the fine chaps from Republic Trooper to form a new site called Titan Everything dedicated to following Blizzard’s upcoming MMO, code-named Project Titan. Right now, “following” is a loose term as I’m sure we’ll be AARP members by the time it releases, but stop by, join the community and chat it up a bit!

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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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Dec 18, 2011

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Wild Space: Combat (In Space!), Damage Meters, And Levels 1-10 Review

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!

I was one of the lucky few to get in on day one of early game access. It certainly helped that I pre-ordered about 7 hours after pre-orders were announced back on July 21. Since Tuesday, I have been really enjoying playing my Sith Warrior and have been trying in-game to highlight all of his awfulness as a person. One of the things I wasn’t sold on going into the game was space combat. I had tried it in the beta but didn’t find it to be very enjoyable. However, once I got into the real game, I began to really enjoy the space combat.

Over on SWTORFace, they have a couple of terrific guides about space combat that they created during the beta.  I found these guides to be entertaining and informative so please check them out if you want to know more about the space combat in TOR.

Our buddies over on TORWars have written up an article titled “Open TOR Policy: The DPS Meter Made Me Do It” where they discuss the pros and cons to including damage meters in TOR. If you don’t know what damage meters are, the article does a good job of giving a basic overview of the concept and then goes into it’s analysis of why it might be good or might be bad to include damage meters in TOR. On the pro side, it’s a good way to monitor your own performance and improve your DPS if you find that you are doing something wrong. On the con side, it encourages elitism by constantly comparing yourself against everyone else. Check out the full article and participate to become a part of this not-soon-to-be-over debate.

Yufmelt has one of the first reviews I have seen for the game to date and I thought it would be worthwhile for those of you who are still on the fence about purchasing the game. It’s a review of the first 10 levels and includes opinions on the story, combat, and the first flashpoint that you experience in the game. Be sure to check it out!

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Dec 2, 2011

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Blue Milk & Cereal: How Do You Feel About No Advanced Class Switching?

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!

Many of you who have been following the game for awhile are familiar with the off-again, on-again roller coaster ride that is the ability to switch Advanced Classes. Selecting an Advanced Class in Star Wars: The Old Republic is akin to selecting your actual combat class in other games, as each one plays so differently and even has different itemization. There have been vocal proponents on both sides of the argument.

When we talked to Senior Live Producer Blaine Christine at PAX 2010, he indicated that the idea of swapping Advanced Classes was still very much in development. But during San Diego Comic-Con back in July, Game Director James Ohlen revealed that Advanced Class switching was in the game, and that the first switch is “cheap”, but after that it may be all but prohibitive for most players. This satisfied most of the folks who though they should be allowed to changed classes in the game.

The most recent turn of events, however, comes from Senior Community Manager Stephen read on the official forums. Mr. Reid revealed that, in fact, the ability to swap your Advanced Class is currently NOT in the game, though the potential may be there in the future. But there are no immediate plans for launch or right after:

Advanced Class switching (or re-speccing, take your pick) was, at one point, potentially going to go into the game. Right now, it’s not in the game. It could potentially be added after launch. Like, frankly, anything else. To quote Georg “we reserve the right to change our minds based on feedback and testing.”

This revelation has certainly stirred up quite a discussion for our friends over at TORWars, so we thought it might be the right time to take the temperature of the community with a Blue Milk & Cereal poll.

How do you feel now that we know Advanced Class switching will in fact not be in the game at launch? Let us know!

How do you feel about Advanced Class switching not being allowed in the game?

View Results

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Nov 29, 2011

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Raid Forming: Ask A Jedi + Torhead = Win!

Good news everyone!

I’m very excited and proud to announce today a new partnership between Ask A Jedi and Torhead, the newly launched TOR database site from the developers of Wowhead!

Torhead was created by ZAM which, among other popular MMO sites, runs Wowhead, the industry-leading database site for World of Warcraft. Over the years, Wowhead has become the absolute definitive resource for WoW players to consult when they’re in need of planning their gear, class guides or other progression for their characters. In fact, even Blizzard links to Wowhead from its very own armory!

Ask A Jedi (along with our good buddies over at TORWars) will provide news and content for visitors of Torhead, and together with R2-Db‘s social features, will create a solid knockout punch for Star Wars: The Old Republic players around the globe! Here on Ask A Jedi, you can look forward to tooltips and features direct from the Torhead database embedded within our articles.

So when it’s time to look up that new piece of gear or figure out which abilities you should take on your Advanced Class, don’t mess with the rest, go to the best – Torhead!

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