Monday, December 26, 2011

Star Wars, Those Good Old, Staaaaaaar Wars

Yes, that's the original SNL Bill Murray song I've attached. Aren't you glad? (Click the title of this entry and enjoy!)

So far I have to say I'm really happy that Bioware is behind this. After playing WoW and then Dragon Age and Dragon Age II, I found that I really do love me some lore. WoW really sucked at story line. It was just not well thought through; they often violated their own storylines, and the quests rarely added up to anything. DA and DA2 had choices where I actually stopped and struggled for as long as 10 minutes before committing to a decision, knowing it would impact the game play. It's not quite that obviously instrumental in the MMO version, but I know it's going to matter somehow somewhere down the road. That's how Bioware rolls.

They have shown some real naivete with regard to what are now coonsidered standard elements of MMOs, in particular in their auction house mechanic. Ugh. We'll see; it's just out of the wrapper and I like to think there's a lot of updates, patches, and hot fixes in our future. Let us hope the mechanic and the interface for the auction house aregoing to be near the top of the list. As it's set now it completely undercuts the motivation for crafting professions. Buy or buy not; there is no bid. Prices for listing and consequences for expired auctions and the house cut on sales... all are way too steep. The search is way too constrained in some ways, and fails to allow the searcher to constrain sufficiently in other ways. It's as if these guys never played WoW. Dude, that game's been out and been *hot* for five years. Focus up.

Another annoying element is the insistance on Coruscant as the locale for all training. (Probably there's stuff on other planets but for the foreseeable future I'm stuck on Coruscant.)  So I ding way the hell out in Justicar territory and I have to abandon everything and head back to the main city for training. If I burn my "hearth stone" getting there (cause I'm nowhere near a transport station), I'm going to have to fly back to a fairly close location and then run run run run run back to where I had been questing. Grrr.

So there are little annoyances like that but overall it's worth it. The art is beautiful, if your compie can run it. Mine can, thank god. The music is the real deal from the movies, which helps keep the whole "dude, I'm playing Star Wars!" vibe intact.

I've rolled and am leveling all four classes: Jedi Consular (Sage/healer), Jedi Knight, Smuggler, and Trooper. The odd thing is that whatever I'm playing at the moment is my favorite, which mostly means they have good mechanics and I don't feel like one toon is more OP and thereby more fun than the others. I think my Consular is my favorite because of the force stuff and the light sabre, which I rarely use. Here's a shot of her in Coruscant. Dig the background.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic . . .

First day thoughts . . .

OMFG! The Boss is a total badass!

There were bad guys and then this chick showed up with a glowy yellowy thing and then everyone, but us was dead!

What happened to my hapless gnomish hero from all those years ago being killed by Murlocks?

 This bitch showed up driving the school bus . . . clearly a very short bus . . . and made ALL the stops!

Speaking of hapless . . . I'm running around and around and around. Still mashing buttons like a monkey trying to get a treat. Still trying to even find my feet. Anway, bad guys die, but I have to shoot and shoot and shoot. Boss shows up in a blaze of light saber glory and burns them down with what seems like no effort. Even her damned droid seems more capable than me.

So, first thoughts . . . I think the interface deserves more respect then I'm giving it. I'm continually finding neat little convenient things. The rest is WOW redux with a side of acid reflux. Running around doing this and that and not really feeling connected to it. Just trying to get the next fix from the next level.

I'm pondering a new role. These tanks are ranged tanks which is just a fancy word for hunter. Now, I've known and respected more than one virtual WOWish hunter, but that doesn't mean I want to swing that way. I mean, if they were born that way . . . its ok. But if it's a choice?

The other part I'm pondering is this "choose your own adventure" aspect. Whenever you talk to an NPC you get three choices of a response. For some reason I am compelled to always pick the boy scout one. The others don't even see like real choices. So, unless I'm just a goodie two-shoes (and who would want to be a baddie one-shoe?) . . . it just seems like one right answer and two bad ones every time.

And . . . here is the issue. Why do I have to be a good guy in these games? Boss said "We can't role DarksSide!" Why did I get that to my core? Here is the question I am leaving and do with it what you will . . . I don't think there is a difference between who we are in real life and who we are in a game. Choices have voices . . . and virtual doesn't change that. I know, reach for the Pollyanna crayon and color inside the Pygmalion lines.

Still . . .

OrneryBob, Trooper . . . Level 6.

And here we go again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Behold My Redstone Knowledge

Yes, I have committed to Minecraft. We have had a 4-seater test server up and James and I have been mucking about. Andrea too. And Sarah. Not sure if Andrea's had time but Sarah has muddled about. She's been playing, as I have, in single player and with others on another server.

We are about ready to launch our 30 seater for the EdD in Learning Technologies. At first it will be for Techcamp and as a sandbox for some research. Soon we'll be rolling out the new Games, Simulations, and Virtual Worlds for Learning course. Yah, that's long. I'm calling it GSVW hereafter. I think we found a hosting service we like and the price is right.

So... besides the obvious low level engagement, I've been mucking about with redstone and logic gates. Oy. Logic. Not my forté, just ask my undergrad. philosophy prof. So I jumped on my singleplayer world, currently the one called Fucking Lava Die Die (yes I have died many a lava death in mines), and worked on some connections. Look, I think I get it.

I've also contacted Matt Wunder, er, Dr. Matt Wunder, one of our EDLT alums, to see if we can hook up an afterschool club thing with Minecraft. We'll host it, and if I can find the funds, we'll pay for the clients.

I think success has gone to Notch's head. The client, which used to around $15 is now more like $27 a pop. That will add up fast if we get even a dozen kids interested.

So stay tuned... more to come. And yes, yes, I'll be playing SWTOR, but right now I'm just waiting for the release.