Category Archives: Video Games

Video Games

Guild Wars 2 Review

Miragelle… Because someone took Miragel. Bastards.

I think it’s only fair to begin this post saying – I originally had no intention of playing Guild Wars 2.  I played the original (at launch) and while it was fun for the first 15 levels or so, the end game content just seemed sort of “meh.”  Fortunately there was no recurring subscription – so I thought little of it. (I may at one point been playing $70/month for mine and my boyfriend at the time’s various MMO habits.)

So I hadn’t really been watching the GW2 coverage, I knew little about it but was looking for a new MMO, after downloading several and not really feeling terribly interested, I popped over to’s youtube feed and discovered that Guild Wars 2 was in it’s “opening” weekend (for pre-orders and digital downloads at least.)  I purchased two copies and set out into the land of Tyria!

I have to say that if I’d been paying attention to the information about the game I might have taken today off to really get to know the game.  Guild Wars 2 is probably the best surprise I’ve seen all year from the MMO community!  I was shocked to find how polished the product was (even on my older computer), and how well it ran even on launch weekend.  The transitions were smooth, the graphics were well done, and for once I didn’t look like some kind of burlap sack wearing n00b in the starter area.  Added bonus – I could choose a variety of colors for my outfit.  My inner girl rejoiced.  Apparently so did my boyfriend (who is really into character customization).

This is just the clothing customization, the actual starting panels are really interesting, including personality and story points.

I rolled a Human Engineer (I have a soft spot leftover from DOTA for engineers) and was really pleasantly surprised with the flow of the game.  There is no questing system in the sense of say WoW, instead your current “quest” is geo-based.  In other words wherever you are, there’s stuff to kill but there’s a bar that tracks your progress.  You’re still killing X of Y, but you don’t have to store all those pesky quests, they just appear when you’re in the right spot.  Also I don’t have to go tell Timmy’s Mom that I killed 40 basket weaver spiders.  I get the XP when I’m done with the last mob and Timmy’s Mom sends me a nice mote in the mail (a la SWTOR) and tells me how awesome I am, complete with some of her hard earned coin. Wham Bam – Thanks Mam!

Combat is based on the weapon you have equipped in terms of maneuvers, but allows for a fair amount of customization for your preferred gameplay style.  Every class has diversity and can heal itself and others.  I was happy to find that engineers did in fact have turrets, and by the time I hit 11th lvl I had 3 turrets to micromanage to my hearts content.

That tree had it coming.

Speaking of micromanaging, I’m really happy with the professions and gathering skills in this game.  ANYONE can gather.  Period.  Auction House Whore your heart out! Not enough room in your inventory because you’ve picked up too many dingleberries?  No problem!  Just ship it off to your “collectibles” tab and make more room for loot.  The collectibles tab is like Steve Job’s iCloud on crack.  Store everything in this handy pocket dimension window and craft till your you hit level 80. Yes.  Crafting gives XP in this game.  In fact the first person in GW2 was a crafter in France.  I love crafting, and I’m so happy they included crafting as a viable method of XP gain.  However I sense a nerf to be honest…. So get in there now and pound away.  I know I am.

So you’re asking – what’s the downside?

Well for one the Auction House seems to give me the #failwhale picture all the time. (Yeah, it’s some cute animal asleep but I just keep thinking of the whale).  While this isn’t a drawback persay, I’m concerned what it will do to the player based economy when it opens and the market floods.

This is my other favorite thing – the Google style maps that contain useful fluid information like quest level, completion (open hearts are uncompleted), and where the damn vendors are. Just really w ll done. You can also see events (good xp) that are nearby a la Warhammer Online

The second thing I’d point out is that once you’re on a server – that’s it.  It costs you a fee to move, but on the other hand eventually you’ll be able to guest on other servers for things, and frankly they have the D3 style chat interface that allows you to talk to friends by account, not my character (yes there’s also an invis mode for those nights you don’t want to be hassled).  I’m even in a Guild where no one is on my server.

Overall I have been really impressed with GW2, the polish and care taken to ensure this game’s longevity has been pretty impressive.  They’ve really solved a lot of the annoying MMO quirks we’ve seen so much of in the last 8 years or so.  However I’m not sure what PVP or endgame looks like just yet.  However I’m less inclined to PVP when I can craft my way to the top.  All in all the cut scenes, voice acting, overall system, and extreme customization really swept me off my feet.  Hopefully this is a new chapter of MMO before we inevitably are drawn into the cute and cuddly world of Pandas.

If you don’t know why this is important you haven’t played enough MMOs

I really recommend this game to friends on the basis that they don’t have to pay for a subscription, the replay value is pretty high and because it’s really pretty damn fun. There’s elements of Assasin’s Creed, Diablo 3, WoW, SWTOR, WHO and a few others in there is you’re willing to look. The devs took their time and I really think it shows.






And just in case you were curious – here’s the whole UI –

The full UI


It’s Official –

It’s official – I bought the domain name.  Now I feel like I’ve reached the “big time.”

Also good job to WordPress for reminding me every time I look at the dashboard – genius marketing there guys.  Take my money, give me a real domain.

So I find myself very busy these days with video and photo shoots, LARPs, convention season, and a variety of projects, (I tend to play less video games as it warms up.)  However as many of my readers are SW:TOR folks, I felt the need to pause for a moment and discuss something going on in my SW:TOR life.

Save the Lounge

I’ve not been able to play the game much of late, however I keep up on the goings on of the community because I produce a live radio show called The Nar Shadaa Lounge (Live every Tuesday at 9pm eastern). I mostly do imaging, and social media for them or hang out in IRC (It’s hosted on and they have an active IRC family akin to the one I had when I was on MMORadio all those many years ago.)  But an interesting thing happened this weekend :

The lead talent got a warning in game for posting about his show (He does three actually, one for flashpoints, the regular one and another one).  All the shows are live and intended to be interactive within the game.  But this brought up some interesting points to debate.  (Which we did a lot of on air as they had me on to help out on Tuesday).  Where are the lines for this sort of thing?  Should Bioware deter the community from advertising community events?  Were does community end and spamming begin? How much is too much?  I’ve done in game shows before, and really my takeaway from all this is that I think BioWare has some room to grow in terms of community engagement and dealing with the rapid fanbase of an MMO.

Either way, I love the game, and the show and I think this is an opportunity for the show to take this and turn it around into a positive.  If I had the time, I think I’d find every last SW:TOR podcast and let them know about what happened if only to keep them from getting a warning as well….

Actually I may well do it anyways.  It’s not about villainizing BW because those ToS are there to protect them and their CSRs from spammers and the like – it’s about helping the journalists of the community stay safe and continue to be on air.

Either way, I think it’s high time I jump back into that game this evening and play a few hours.  I’m still in the low 30s with my main because of all the other stuff going on, but my love of the game, the IP and the community is strong.  The force is still with me.

Guest Hosting on SW:TOR Podcast

I’m hanging out with the Alvians this evening on The Nar Shadaa Lounge on SI Radio.


I’ll be joining them on their podcast tonight.  Drunken Vengeance indeed!  Every Tuesday night at 9pm Eastern you can tune in for the latest from SW:TOR

SW:TOR – Sneaking a dating sim in there for +150 Addiction

First I want to clarify my level of dork-i-tude here.  I logged out of SW:TOR after playing for roughly 10 hours and then laid down on the couch to watch a Star Wars Marathon.  You know, because I’d clearly not had enough of the world. (The originals not the prequels mind you.)

(Photo Credit - Theran AKA My Heal-bot Playboy




If you’ve read my other Star Wars posts, you probably have noticed that I enjoyed Beta, and now that I’m in the Gold (live) edition I’m enjoying that as well.  Particularly PVP (even though I’m to terribly good at it), Space Missions (which I do seem to be good at) and Crafting in particular.  Crafting requires a fair amount of micro-management of your companions but that sort of play is one of my favorite things in MMOs. (I think it speaks to my estrogen driven need to organize things)

Which brings me to those who do all of your crafting bidding – the companions.

Chances are that if you are playing SW:TOR you are already familiar with the fact that some of the companions are “Romance-able”  which is to say there are opportunities to buy them copious amounts of expensive gifts, and maybe get some play in return.  However you want to cut it though, achieving the proverbial “Giggity” motivates a lot of us – plus it’s just fun to see how it all happens (not literally, just the lead up).  What this seems to result in (at least in those I’ve

(Image credit - Mako - Who I'm pretty sure will be the most cosplayed character from SWTOR next year

observed from myself, my guild, and my household) is behavior that is tailored to ensuring your companion is pleased – thereby raising the chance to make with the bang bang.  This goes way beyond the constant maintenance of the tamogatchis of the 90s and the prized hunt for the perfect WoW pets off yester-mmo but instead I believe that it actually alters our playing psychology and motivates us to make moral story choices based on – the approval of our companions.

Now maybe you’re the opposite – maybe you want to piss your companion off, but I would argue you’re still making choices based on the reaction of your companion!  You’re still being motivated by your companion’s moral code – just to the opposite side.  This is genius on Bioware’s part.  It’s a way to make things replayable and as far as I can tell that’s the endgame hope – play the game for the love of the story and the “Guess what ____ will say/do next!”   Even if you’ve got a level 50 (the current cap), chances are you’re anticipating trying a different quest chain.

(If you’re curious there’s some cool articles that talk about how SW:TOR was written and what the documents looked like for the various quest chains.)

I’ve found often myself wondering “Hey – what will my companion think of this?” during quest chains.  I’ve also noticed that the Empire side characters might have a few more light side points (especially the Bounty Hunters who get Mako who seems to be a bit morally questionable herself, but for the most part is a good person.)  All in all the companions have altered the landscape of the game making us reconsider if we really want to vent those spies out of the airlock in front of our companion – which begs the question – who’s really running the show?  You or your “possible” lay?

This is a true case of the game mirroring life.

As for me, I’ll be over here trying to get Tharan to do my Landry.

A sight-seeing stroll through SWTOR

AT-AT's Great-Great-Great........Great Grandma?


Twas the last day of SW:TOR’s beta, and I found myself not wanting to move the story forward anymore (despite the fact that I’m playing Republic at launch.  So I finished up the arc I was on and went on walk about.  There’s a lot of fun details and environmental touches that the game holds if you take a few moments to look around.  The gem above struck me because from far away I thought it was an AT-AT.

Amused by the show of imperial force I headed into local Imperial city to snap some other shots.  The cities, space ports and cantinas are some of the finest places to find some interesting characters.  These folks apparently had caught some rebel scum and the female Captain seemed determined to lecture them until their ears bled.

Imperial Guilt Trip


Making my way into the local cantina I found some poor guy who had been assigned to clean up the floors outside what might have been the bathrooms.  Rebel or not – that’s a horrible job.  Cleaning a cantina has got to be a terrifying, humbling, and disgusting job.  I decided to stand over him and share the lecture I had seent he Capt give him outside to help with morale.  He didn’t seem interested.

I'm going to tell you how to do your job while Vette watches.


But that wasn’t the only interesting sight the cantina held, oh no.  Per the usual Star Wars experience there were slutty

No cantina is complete without them...

twi’leks.  Everywhere.  Now I get it – that’s what that race is known for, but I played one of them in SWG so they have a special place in my heart. Seeing them objectified just doesn’t sit well with me.  So I took pictures and threw credits at them.  You know.  For taxi fare.


But it’s not enough to have half nekkid Twi’leks.  No, that wont do!  This is the future, or the past or this has all happened before and will all happen again – whatever.


The point is – holowhores.

The future has crappy resolution


For some reason the Twi’leks needed to be objectified further in a holographic for where they can properly be ogled?  Again I did the only human thing and threw some credits at them and told them I could /flourish better then them.

But it wasn’t enough to ogle the women-folk, I had to see what the band members had going on.  There was a Twi’lek and a Rodian going at it on the kloo horn and key-tar with the usual number of dancers.  But

Mr. Beefcake

there… back int he corner dancing alone next to the jukebox was some corn-fed wide-shouldered creepy guy.  He bopped and shook in the shadows, possibly watching the guys on stage, possibly eyeing the reveler in black?  Who knows.  But Mr. Beefcake is that guy in the club.  You know the one.  Sometimes I scam him for drinks.

Tired of half nekkid women, I headed to the starport to see what was going on over there.  I bumped into a threesome of imperials who seemed to be reprimanding their own peers.  This was not the first time I had run past this group.  Last time the gentleman on the right was outright cussing her out, waving his hands and accusing her of something.  I didn’t stop to ask.  This time around I was more stuck by the early Leia hair and the fact that now the two guys seemed to be considering how to punish her.  Since server reset was coming I threw her a gun, some credits, and some advice.

“Alvis shot first”

Hmmm... how shall we punish her this time? Look at those sweet buns... On her head..


Boarding my ship for places unknown, I stopped to take a photo of this neat looking droid.  Nothing nifty about him – just


thought he looked cool.  It’s clear that a lot of work went into creating a lot of the characters around the game.  Even the dewbacks looked good!

It was then that I discovered that I could do space combat.  Now I’ve never really enjoyed space combat in other games (SWG:JTL most notably) but I did play a  lot of flight/fighter sims as a kid so I usually try them at least once.  (I suck at BF:1942 despite my best efforts)  I was shocked to find that i really really loved the space combat in SWTOR.  It’s not really like flying at all, it’s more like a mini game you’d find in a browser or in an RPG for a console, but clicking away like a madwoman – I found myself repeating quests in space out of sheer entertainment.

The ship flies on rail and you have to shoot targets, take out fighters and place your missiles wisely.  Maybe I enjoyed it because I felt good at it.  Maybe it was really easy – either way I’m going to have a LOT of ship upgrades come launch.

Ice clusters>My ship


It was a really great last day of Beta.  I was grateful to get to see more of the game (I got to 20, woo!) and even got my “love interest” companion.  Who I promptly flirted with until he was awkward.  I’m getting this game, and I miss it’s warm embrace already.  But I know the wait will be well worth it.  And when that time comes – I already logged the time off request.

See you in SWTOR!