16/08/2017

Third Anniversary Follow-On: Giveaway Results

Last week, as you may recall, I announced in my Third-Anniversary post that I would be holding my first giveaway. It was always going to be something of a shambles, since I only ever had four items which I could put up as potential rewards.

This is largely because I have absolutely no idea what's popular among the community, and oftentimes whenever something is popular I find myself completely baffled as to why. So as a result, even though I probably should have bought something specially for this occasion, I was absolutely petrified that I would have made the wrong decision(s) and have completely wasted that purchase due to nobody having an interest in said item(s). 

Still, I was moderately happy with the four items I had managed to discover through RNG, with the E-95 Dread Behemoth Tank being the item which I thought would be the most difficult to shift due to its annoyingly-coincidental low price on the GTN. The Unstable Peacemaker's Dualsaber - despite being one of the nicest saber models in my opinion - was also a big risk because only 1/8ths of the Classes could have used it.

Somewhat disappointingly (but not that surprising, considering how "half-assed" even I called it), the giveaway didn't receive that much attention at all. After all, a competition which only offers four items - only 50% of which are generally desirable or appealing - isn't particularly captivating. 

Indeed, only two people entered, and I find it very appropriate that both individuals have made the most comments on the blog between them across its three years. Since they also selected their own specific items, that made designating the prizes far easier than I was anticipating, and of course it means that I don't get to disappoint anyone, so bonus points all round! 

Thus, the Krayt Dragon Skeleton goes to Shintar, and Zayne Carrick's Armour Set goes to Ravanel! Congrats to you both, and be sure to check your Mailboxes today for your prizes. 

Whilst I am slightly disheartened that the giveaway didn't get much love, I will once again reinforce my pledge to be determined to do better next time. Afterthoughts never go down well, even if they're apparently well-intentioned. 

As for the Unstable Peacemaker's Dualsaber and the E-95 Behemoth? I honestly don't know. I'll probably try and keep certainly the Dualsaber on until the next giveaway since I personally have no need for it, and the Behemoth will just... I dunno... continue to exist? Whilst it's a decent item I don't think it has enough staying power to be worth keeping specifically for a second giveaway attempt.

Once again, congrats to both Shin and Rav, and thank you once again to everyone who has stuck with the Blog for the past three years. 

13/08/2017

[Potential Spoilers] Community Reactions: Saying too much by saying little

Being a part of a community can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse.

It enables you to find a whole host of like-minded people with whom you can debate your views or beliefs, and the disagreements - whilst sometimes unpleasant - can still lead to interesting results. The support networks can also be absolutely incredible.

However, something sometimes happens which people can't keep quiet about. This more often than not leads to a commendable response to keep things quiet, but sometimes these best-intentions backfire if the responses are handled in a certain manner.

One such instance of this is the response to apparent leaks regarding a Story development in SWtOR. I myself have no idea what this is; I don't enjoy looking these things up.

However, the response to the leaks has led to me getting some idea of what's up.

Whatever the leak is, it's big. It's led to people forming private groups in which to discuss the news and even encouraging encrypting messages. Elsewhere, the reaction from people in the know has been summarised as the equivalent of "No More Ops" but for Story Players. Bonus points to this last one for the person who responded that they were "effectively done with SWtOR" because of the truth.

I'm something of a puzzle-solver, as it's something which I've picked up due to my family also having an interest in it. I'm definitely not the best, but it has led to an annoyingly-incessant curiosity all the same. So when I see all this hullabaloo, rather than ignoring it as I should, I can't help but get to the bottom of it.

Fair warning: As the title implies, whilst as I say I have absolutely no idea what the correct answer is, I would advise staying away from this post if you have any fear whatsoever about spoilers, since as usual I will be posting an over-long hypothesis and coming to my own answer(s).

09/08/2017

Milestone: 3-Year Anniversary!

So again the time comes to celebrate another year of running this blog. Three years ago on this day, the blog's initial incarnation, Spawn of the Dread Master, was released unto the world. It was just a bit of a mess, something which probably hasn't changed in three years, but it's certainly been an interesting ride.

As with last year, I still find it rather incredible to say that this thing is still going after more than one year, although obviously compared to last year the amount of blog posts has been reduced significantly for some reason or another.

Regardless, it's certainly been an interesting year. Those of you (un)fortunate enough to have been following the blog since its inception may recall that last year I made the transition from WordPress to Blogger due to my frustrations with certain elements of the former platform (e.g. the scheduling system) finally getting the better of me. Thankfully, a complete transfer of all data, posts, etc. to Blogger was possible, so nothing important was lost.

Although the formatting is still woeful on all those old posts and the comments didn't transition properly (replies aren't staggered but instead all comments in their own right), so this is something that will need to be fixed at some point. Maybe.

The point is that this isn't just a standard anniversary post but also an anniversary of my and the blog's time on Blogger. Let's get started, shall we?

22/07/2017

5.4: Shadows, Shuttles, and Scoundrels

So again I come up with a post idea immediately before BioWare announces something that's worth commenting on. Oh, my timing, you never improve.

Yesterday, Keith Kanneg revealed more details about what's coming with 5.4. This Patch will be, as we've been aware for quite some time, the first Patch to contain an actual new Flashpoint since Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi waaaaaaaaaaaay back in 3.0.

It was also promised in the new Roadmap to continue the trends seen since 5.2.2 and 5.3; Class Changes and Companion Customisations.

Finally, it also promised to herald the end of Season 8 of Ranked PvP.

So, with all that riding on it, what's there that's interesting and/or surprising?

21/07/2017

The Return of the GSI Satellites

In Patch 2.9, a little service known as the GSI Support Satellites was added on Makeb. These bolstered a Player's gear substantially, provided 2% Healing every 3 seconds while in combat, and provided a massive 250% XP Bonus to Exploration on Makeb, and only on Makeb, while active.

These proved both popular and semi-controversial. People loved them for the exact same reason as other people hated them; they made Makeb very accessible and all-but removed the risk of 'losing' the big fights, which were somewhat challenging when they were first released. I say this wincing at the mere memory of how bad the Cartel Mining Mesa used to be. 

In 4.0, these Satellites were removed, and for good reason. Level-scaling pretty much ensured that they had next-to-no reason for existing in the first place; there was a cap on the maximum amount of Health, Armour, and Damage/Healing values which had never been in place before, and with the numerous ways of getting shedloads of XP a Player would more often than not be above the cap of 56 by the time they reached Makeb, let alone finishing it. 

Additionally, since gear no longer mattered for Companions and they could have any role, it was no longer of import whether or not you had a Companion appropriately-geared for the fights they'd have to endure. 

However, in spite of their comparative uselessness, it seems that they were missed by quite a substantial amount of people, because at some point in 5.0 - I recall it being a relatively-recent re-addition but I can't for the life of me even find the relevant Patch Notes where their return is mentioned - they made a return.

Being the curious sort, when I went to Makeb the other day to finally get around to working on the <Kill it with Fire> Achievement now that I actually had a character with burns I was willing to use regularly, I decided to indulge in using the Satellite just to see what it did.

As suspected, Level-Scaling has nullified the Bolster aspect. Provided that you reach the cap of Mastery, Endurance, and Power (which is attainable at Level 70 by completely removing most of your gear), your character only gains the 250% Exploration XP buff and the Healing Probes, both of which are nice to have, but shouldn't necessarily be the biggest selling-points of the Satellites in the first place. 

Notice how I deliberately specified the things which your character gains? There's a reason for that. Companions benefit from this far more than any single Player does. 

How, you might ask?

Well, you know how every time you go down to a Planet the Companion is synced perfectly to the Level-cap, so much so that they don't even say they're 70/whatever down to 56 but for all intents and purposes have always been Level 56? 

The GSI Satellite does away with that. Your Companion is left at their highest present Level and thus has access to all their big non-scaled stats and numbers.

This basically means that you become immortal. Either your Companion is steamrollering over everything in its path (and creating far more Threat than you could ever hope to even as a DPS), or it's outhealing every bit of damage done to you by an absolute payload (and again creating vastly more Threat because of the passive healing Threat and because it'll still deal damage when it sees no reason to heal you), or your Companion is literally an Immortal Juggernaut of a Tank.

Which means that everything on Makeb is an absolute walk-in-the-park as long as you're under the effect of this Satellite. Since nothing can even so much as touch your Companion, there is virtually no risk of death unless you happen to get knocked off a cliff or your Companion is unable to either see you or the target you want it to kill because of reasons. 

Of course this isn't even mentioning the PvP aspects of this. Say you decide to go onto a PvP Instance just to see if you can get a few more kills for your Achievements. 

You yourself don't find anyone, but are instead found. Let's say while mounted. Your opponent has the drop on you while your Companion is tucked safely away from harm's way. Unless you are dismounted by the force of the attacks and your instantly-summoned Companion is very quick-on-the-draw with its Healing (if it's even a Healer at all) you're pretty much dead in the water instantly.

On the other hand, you may get locked into a stalemate of constantly being unable to negate either Companion's healing, since of course you yourself can't defeat their Companion, and nor they yours, since being Level 56 trying to tackle a Level 70, every ability will miss or be resisted

~~~

So basically, the return of the GSI Satellites, while welcome in some centres, is quite a ridiculous phenomenon. It's practically unnecessary for several Player characters and it presents the "Companions are over-powered" crowd with far more fuel than they know what to do with.

Whilst the Satellite is of course optional, I do think that the Companion aspect of it should be tweaked, even if only to address the aforementioned concerns regarding a Companion's usage in Open World PvP. That said, I do acknowledge that this isn't a frequent occurrence to begin with. In some ways, this Satellite could be considered a soft-exploit if used solely to gain an unfair advantage over other Players in such theoretical battles, which I don't see as being acceptable in the slightest.

Still, it's interesting to see the Satellite back for whatever reasons. I am very curious to know just how many people wanted to see it return. 

12/07/2017

Decoration Documentation: Manaan

So as everyone should be aware by now, the Manaan Stronghold was released yesterday, allowing Players to add an additional 25% to their Conquest bonus, and providing another opportunity for me to be thankful that I don't put effort into all of my Strongholds.

I had only put effort into one of my five Strongholds, Tatooine, whilst the rest have just had a whole host of random items thrown in just for the Conquest bonus. The only other one to have had a 'set theme' was my Yavin temple, but only because I decided to chuck 750 Republic Guardsmen into the Stronghold in my own form of personal protest against the impracticality of a temple being your average living quarters.

Or so I tell myself anyway.

Regardless, it had been some time since I had actually dedicated time and effort to working with a Stronghold, and since Manaan is one of my favourite planets of all time, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to see what I could do.

07/07/2017

5.3: Sisters, Strongholds, and Silliness, Oh My!

As mentioned in Wednesday's Blog Post, 5.3 is right around the corner. I've already touched on the balance changes which will be coming in this Patch, but we didn't have any official previews of anything else on which to comment. We knew that the second Gods from the Machine fight would be being released and that a sixth Stronghold would be being released, but outside of the class changes and a list of pending bug-fixes there was nothing more concrete.

As of yesterday via an update to the general Knights of the Eternal Throne story page and the Influencers being allowed to post videos of the ESNE and AIVELA fight, we do now finally have something more tactile to comment on.