18/05/2017

Exclusive Accompaniment: Prospective Sub-Reward Companions

This post was originally scheduled to come out last Thursday, but then other things got in the way. There was an update on the upcoming Roadmap and the first tease of stuff coming in 5.2.2 by Keith Kanneg, the first slight hint at the possibility of weapons coming to Outfit Designer, and of course there's the recent trend of putting rare items and surefire popular-sellers on the Cartel Market.

Such fun! Now back to the otherwise-scheduled-as-normal post.

Since Fallen Empire, BioWare have introduced a couple of pre-established characters as subscriber rewards. Shae Vizla and Nico Okarr were both characters only seen in the Trailers before Shae became a pivotal part of the 3.0 story, and the infamous HK Subscriber Rewards scheme reunited people with the barmy Bodyguard-turned-Assassin Droid they had lost in the main story.

Since the Companion Subscriber rewards proved popular (which is also partly what led to the HK Scheme in the first place), I think there's a good chance that BioWare will repeat this experience, since they also seem keen to hand out Companions left, right, and centre at any given opportunity - one was a reward for completing the Eternal level of the Dark vs. Light Event, and just look at the amount of Companions available now via the Cartel Market.

We're still a long ways off from the next Expansion, but still I'd imagine that by now some people in BioWare are busy drumming up all sorts of plans for it and which Companions will be destined to return. As part of this, they'd also of course need to consider potential Sub-Reward Companions, so the question remains: who could it possibly be?

15/05/2017

Satele Shan's Vent of Defiance: A Look at Recent Cartel Trends

Time to talk about that Cartel Market thing again.

Everyone knows about in-game cash shops and the various issues that come with them. SWtOR's is of course infamous for the Cartel Packs chock-full of different items of varying rarity which subject anyone who invests in them to dealing with the harsh mistress which is RNG.

Over the last couple of years, some of these exclusive and rare items have slowly but surely trickled their way out of the Packs, with the only really unique example being the Tythian Lightsaber Pike, which is a very rare drop from its owner himself. The more... interesting... examples involve items which are put up for direct sale.

Items in the past which have seen this treatment have included the Temple Guardian and XoXaan armour sets, the Ziost Guardian's Lightsaber, the Eliminator's Dual-Edge Vibrosword, and the Dune Sea Bantha.

Regardless of the appeal for some of these items, it can't be denied that they pale so very hard in comparison to three of the more-recent direct-sale transferees.

A couple of months ago the Unstable Arbiter's Lightsaber - which eventually became the first Platinum rarity item - was put up for the whopping price of 7,600 Cartel Coins, while in the last fortnight we've seen the Defiant Vented Lightsaber (initially 5,700 CC before rising to 7,600 CC) and Satele Shan's armour (2,132 CC before rising to 2,600 CC) be added.

No matter your opinion on this behaviour or their reasoning behind it (can't get enough money, be so skint from lack of Subscriptions that they need the Cartel Market, or just because they run an internal betting market based on how many people give in and purchase these items; you know the sorta stuff the internet can come up with), you can't deny that this is the sort of thing which would captivate people's attention.

In particular, the initial discounts on the Defiant Vented and Satele Shan items seems to apply some form of psychological pressure beyond the fact that these items were only meant to last a week before being taken down; it's first a case of buying it before it's 'too late' and the price rises, and then it's just 'too late' in general. Psychological trickery is a key part of parting people with disposable income of their money, after all. NeverWinter Online does something similar with its "20% off Companions" (etc.) vouchers for the Zen Market.

Especially when the Satele Shan set - one of the most sought-after armour sets of all time for some reason (hint: thigh-high boots) - is the unexpectedly 'fair' price that it was, particularly compared to the very high price of the arguably less popular Defiant Vented lightsaber the week prior. Heck, even its non-discounted price of 2,600 CC isn't as bad as it could have been!

The main question I ask of such practice is who the 'main audience' is. There are those - like myself, I must admit - who just want to say that they have the item in-hand for any eventual possibilities, there are those who just want to collect everything even if they never find a use it, and then there are those who feverishly purchase everything they can and compulsively unlock them for their various Characters and Companions to use.

The 'true' answer is subjective, but you know they've won people over when you see a Trooper run by wearing Satele's armour accompanied by their Vette who is also donned thus.

~~~

Regardless of your views on the practice of putting once-rare items on the Cartel Market, a weapon of a similar design to that wielded by the main villain in a Star Wars main-Saga film did make sense as a direct-purchase item for Star Wars Day week. The choice of Satele Shan's garb is pretty much open to interpretation more than anything else since, of course, no movie connections can be made.

This move is undoubtedly proving popular in certain circles. I'm curious to know how many people purchased both that set and the lightsaber.

On a similar note, it's fascinating to see BioWare returning to the ill-fated "no more bronze items" policy regarding the aforementioned Cartel Packs. This move proved unpopular due to the higher price of unlocking silvers compared to bronze so they swiftly retreated from it, but now they've returned to it. On-paper this 'promises' better chances at getting rare items (especially since Chance Cubes are now guaranteed items rather than a part of the overall draw), but I don't think this return will prove awfully wise.

Time will tell, of course. It does make a habit of doing so.

11/05/2017

Weapons in Outfit Designer in the Works

One of the most-requested features of Outfit Designer has been the inclusion of Weapons. Whilst BioWare have mostly remained silent on this matter, Charles Boyd recently took to the Forums and stated that the team were looking at seeing if they could fit this addition into this year's schedule.

10/05/2017

Roadmap and 5.2.2 Teasing

Those of you who keep tabs on the SWtOR Developer Team will have noticed a bit of internal shuffling. Ben Irving, the controversial Game Producer who infamously instigated the "Thrill of the Hunt" 'meme' for Galactic Command has been promoted elsewhere in BioWare so is no longer a part of the SWtOR team.

In his stead, another SWtOR team member, Keith Kanneg, has been promoted, and has immediately won a large amount of support due to his empathy with the players and, more importantly, frequent communications.

Recently, he's been updating us with the progress of a new Roadmap, with the most recent update being that it will be out towards the end of this month. To tide us over, though, he's given us a small glimpse at 5.2.2, which will be out in Mid-June. 

As a summary:
  • The Nar Shaddaa Nightlife will be returning, including some new rewards alongside the original ones.
  • New Speeder Perks will be available, increasing Movement Speed by 120% and 130% respectively.
  • Companions will gain Influence from Crew Skill Missions.
  • Tier I gear will be available from a vendor for fewer than 800 Command Tokens.
  • Player Hangars in GSF will be given a free Bomber and Gunship as a starting ship, Requisition rewards will be increased, and costs for item upgrades will be reduced.
To start with, we don't know a lot of the specifics, which makes sense considering that this is just a small teaser of things to come rather than detailed Patch Note-esque notifications. We don't know whether these new rewards will be purchasable with Golden Certificates or just Jackpot rewards from the Slot Machines, how much Influence will be earned per Crew Skill Mission, and which models of Bomber and Gunship will be designated as the starting one (the Gunship could well be the GSF Early Access Subscriber one, though).

However, even though this is a very barebones tease there is a lot of potential here. 

In particular, I'm very pleased with the extraordinarily low cost for a full set of Tier I gear, which will only need to be bought in-full once per Class if you use Legacy Gear, thus meaning that only Relics, Earpieces, Implants, and certain weapons will need to be purchased multiple times for all relevant Characters. Indeed, if you have proficient Crafters as part of your Legacy you may not even need to craft these and only need the Set Bonus gear for, well, the Set Bonus alone. 

I'm also very curious to see how much Influence is given per Crew Skill Mission, since if it remains consistent regardless of each individual Companion's Rank it could very well be the cheapest (if a very long) process to get a Companion's Influence up.

Finally, I'm interested in seeing how the GSF changes impact things. I've said time and again - and I haven't been the only one, of course - that it's absolutely brutal for new Players and Characters to get into. This is due to the current high costs of upgrades and the fact that you do need to purchase several ships to counteract the quite-frankly awful starting ships. Hopefully these changes make things a lot easier for new Players to get into!

All in all, I'm pleased by what we're seeing. Not only are we getting more frequent updates and 'significant' teases of updates, but we're getting them from a person new to this role and who is thus showing a lot of promise. 

Hopefully he keeps this momentum going, because from what he's done so far, I think he's doing a fantastic job!

08/05/2017

Character Revamps: Wreaking Havoc

I seem to be on a streak of character redesigns (and annoying/bad pun-based titles) lately. As I had anticipated and previously reported on, the new hairstyles have seen some usage amongst my main eight characters, with Calph and Ferok'ia receiving the Shaecut and the "goth mop", respectively.

However, if you've visited my duly-updated Characters page recently you may have noticed another character has received something of a redesign if you have good eyes and somehow have his image burned into your memories.

So really, nobody will have noticed the redesign.

All the more reason to delve into it!

04/05/2017

A Hairy Situation

It's been a while since I made a post with a pun for its title, and I'm sure that you've instantly worked out what this post will be about.

We last received new hairstyles as drip-feeds throughout 3.0, with the results being the quite-decent specimens of Pigtails, Double-Braided, and Shaggy, the bizarre specimens of Pompadour and whatever that unnamed short female hairstyle is, and the "what-the..." specimens of Afro, Dreadlocks, and... shudder... Undercut.

Now, for the first time since the first hairstyle bundle was released immediately after the Appearance Designer made its long-awaited arrival, an entirely new hairstyle bundle has been added to the Cartel Market. Compared to the previous one, this one offers a slightly more disappointing range of additions, since whilst the previous one included four hairstyles (two female, one male, and one unisex), this one offers only three (I know, one fewer, how will we cope?), two of which are unisex whilst the third is a female-only style.

28/04/2017

Betrayers and the Betrayed

War for Iokath has introduced the totally original idea that there's a traitor in amongst the forces of the Alliance who also has connections with the Empire and the Republic, and is using these connections to apparently incite open warfare.

We have already seen their efforts result in multiple Uprisings against the Alliance by forces from both Empire and Republic, and of course their word is enough to make all three factions rush to Iokath as soon as the radiation subsides.

Whomever this traitor is is apparently female, and is wearing as part of their currently only-known getup the skirt of a Scion. However, for reasons I shall explain momentarily, I think this last fact is a clear attempt at misdirection.

Anyway, I just thought I'd offer my speculation on who this character is and who it most certainly can't be. For this post, I will be basing my suspicions off of the apparent gender of the individual.