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Friday, 23 January 2015

Now where's that wookie rug?!


We had been stuck on Torque HM (in the Ravagers raid) for several weeks. Not stuck as in the annoying "we don't know how to continue from here" fashion, but in the (maybe just as annoying) "we almost killed it, gah, just one more try" manner. 

Eventually it turned out to be a case of subtle timing of when to bring down which adds en when to start tunneling the boss. I think it did help a bit that they fixed the bug so the repair bot didn't go about fixing people instead of the machine. And having a little bit of luck now and then doesn't hurt either. 

We killed Torque for the first time last week. But all those evenings before that (in which we were getting very close every time) we started fantasizing about what fantastic loot he should drop. In our growing hatred for the boss killing us over and over, our favourite subject of hope became a wookie rug.

Sorry, Bowdaar

Yesterday we killed Torque hardmode again, giving us conformation we now had him 'on farm'. But before that, he couldn't resist trolling us a bit.

Argh, just 7% more!

3%! Grrr...

0%. Sweet revenge, yay! (Who needs tanks anyway.)


Of course, after that we had to corpse jump him a bit following good old LotRO tradition.* But alas, he did not drop our beloved wookie rug. Missed chance, Bioware!

Oh, beloved wookie rug, where art thou?


* I was under the impression corpse jumping was a gaming thing in general, but found out it's unknown in Star Wars yesterday. Basically, in LotRO, players would jump on the corpses of players of the other faction they had defeated to mock them. PvP only existed in the Ettenmoors (open world PvP on a large map) and if you got killed you'd often have to run a long way back from the spawn point. Corpse jumping was considered disrespectful and people would go to the forum all raging about how they were corpse jumped.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Slot machines: great fun or game breaking?


When I came home, Conrad was bouncing with excitement: "Rav, you need to login and get one of these for your stronghold. Now!"

I must admit I was curious about this so called 'slot machine'. If it had managed to get stronghold-hater and self-proclaimed vagrant Conrad enthusiastic, it surely must be a special thing.

A quick search on the GTN taught me the decoration was worth over 3 million. I did not have that kind of money on me. Conrad had already fruitlessly spent 4 cartel packs in order to get one and was getting ready to buy one from the GTN and install it in my stronghold. But then I got lucky and got one in my second cartel pack. The clicking could begin.

While Conrad was practically glued to my slot machine, general chat was buzzing with fellow slot machine addicts. This excerpt comes from Nar Shaddaa:

Apartment owners talking in Nar Shaddaa general chat

This teaches us several things:

1) "Playing it is exploiting it"

The truth is obviously a bit more complicated. Just using a slot machine definitely is not an exploit: you are using the decoration in the manner it was intended by the developers. These even gave out an official statement saying so. It is possible the player quoted meant the word 'exploit' in its non-gaming meaning: to take advantage of the high rewards that can be gained by playing the slot machine now, implying that this lavish amount is not intended by the developers and may be decreased in the future.

There is, however, an opportunity to use the machines in a manner certainly not intended by the developers: due to their repetitive nature, slot machines are especially suitable for the use of macros. With a simple text script deployed, a character with some stacks of coins in their inventory can simply keep clicking the slot machine and reap its rewards while the player is away from their keyboard.

disco ball = cartel certificate

2) "I got <insert nice stuff here> from it"

The slot machines offer the following rewards:
- Reputation items for the Contraband Resale Corporation (green, blue, purple);
- Scrap metal to exchange for crafting mats at jawas (green, blue, purple);
- Cartel certificates to exchange for rare items.

It's noteworthy that reputation with this faction could previously only be gained by spending (real) money on cartel packs. Making this reputation available through slot machines actually opens it up to a broader market. A remarkable development, because it in practice removes incentive to spend money on the cartel market to get that one special thing. Not that I'm complaining, of course.

It is not hard to get reputation through the slot machine, in fact, I quickly had reached my weekly reputation cap. It is also not hard to get any of the other items. The cartel certificates are the most rare, but even they are not all that hard to get. I soon had collected enough for a meditation chair or a sith throne - now I just need to wait until Tuesday to get the reputation sorted.

For only 500 credits per coin (which you can even 'win back' at the machine as well), the rewards are indeed lavish.

3) "WTS [purple crafting mat] 11k each"

And this is where the problem starts. If my memory servers me correctly, midlithe crystals were worth around 50k or more. Purple M was selling them for 11k. Checking the GTN at the moment of writing, they are worth 5k. Crafting materials are depreciating rapidly due to the influx of crafting materials gained through slot machines. This is great news if you need to craft yourself some stuff. But if you make money through gathering or crafting and you don't like spam-clicking machines, you're out of luck.

4) Slot machines may give out alots!

And if you're as unlucky as Green M, it doesn't even give out anything else.

Conclusion

I'm happy the developers came up with a usable stronghold decoration; it is something I have been hoping for for a long while. Fellow LotRO players may remember the clickable furniture of that game, like ('drinking' from) kegs that would transport you to the most ridiculous places. I'm all for that kind of thing, and I hope more items will be following.

I do believe, however, that some of the current rewards need to be dealt with. The high amount of purple scrap metal (interchangeable for purple crafting materials) available through the slot machines has a devastating effect on the in-game economy. Assuming people keep using them en masse, gathering and crafting will barely be profitable, and our market will be controlled by people using macros. Removing or greatly reducing the amount of purple scrap metal earned would solve this problem.

Luckily, it seems the devs have picked up the issue while I was writing this article: "(...) we do hear the concern from many of you around the effects of the Jawa Junk’s drop rate on the economy. We are going to take a look at it and make changes accordingly. I will let you know once I know more." (Eric Musco, 16/01/2014 on the SWTOR official forum

With that said, let's enjoy the rewards of the slot machine now we still can. I for one am going to try and augment my characters (yay for getting those annoying purple slicing mats). If you happen to play on the Red Eclipse and don't have a slot machine, drop me a message and you can play on mine.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Happy new year: looking back and forth


Happy new year and welcome to the new Ravalation.

Looking back

Looking back, there isn't all that much to say about the past year. 2013 was the year in which my real life crashed. Suddenly, the adventures of Rav in the virtual world didn't seem all that important anymore. 2014 was a year of careful recovery. I thought about blogging about these things, but never managed to do so. I wasn't ready for it. And maybe this blog isn't the right spot to do so.

2015 is going to be better. There is a bit more space for things in my life besides health and studying and I'm carefully making new plans, one of which is moving abroad for a semester. I think I should be able to write regularly on Ravalation again as well. After all, it's one of the things that I've always really enjoyed doing.

My SWTOR 2014 in five pictures

1) The year of Ravanel

I switched back from gunslinger Y-u'no to my former main character Ravanel on Rep side. But this time I went DPS and only healed when one of our other Asylum healers was absent. I learned to play Telekenetics and Balance well and have been enjoying both specs a lot. However much time I've spent playing Y-u'no, sage still feels a lot more intuitive to me and I figured it out a lot quicker, simply because it's the class I've played since I started playing Star Wars.


 2) The year of many Imp guilds 

Life on Imp side was hectic to say the least. As I wrote earlier, our guild Obviously left the game for the Elder Scrolls Online. It felt like a shame to let our only Nightmare mode geared characters rot, so we joined PCG Mint Imperials, where we subbed for the main raid team now and then. They didn't have a team in need of two people, though, so we left for Move Along, a guild that had a half raid team in need of a leader. Conrad took up the job and we formed a strong new raid team over the course of several months, eventually ending up back in PCG due to guild drama in MA. Although our Imp adventures were somewhat nomadic, I'm quite happy with the team and place we eventually ended up.


3) The year of leveling buddies

My good friend Marinka finally gave up on LotRO and started playing Star Wars. I've been showing her around and we've been having adventures on our scoundrel and commando together. We've also started doing the heroics of each planet for the Galactic Hero title, having loads of fun with CCing and threading carefully while wiping undermanning them.


 4) The year of many Ravs: an army of Ravs

My PvP buddies in Asylum came up with a new tactic: "to confuse and conquer". They all made a new sage character with the exact same look as my sage Ravanel. Soon all four Revenal, Ravenal, Ravanal (of which it didn't take long for a guildie to come up with the nickname Rav-anal) and yours truly Ravanel were online, all with guild member note "Rav". Of course this didn't just confuse in PvP. When Marinka logged in, she thought I had somehow managed to break the game and be online with four characters at the same time.

 If you want to roll your own Rav: the means are above. It helps in PvP. Apparently.


Wait, that's not entirely it...

 There, much better.

5) The year in which we ceased to be hobos: strongholds

And probably the year in which I earned and spent the most money ever too. But hey, at least I managed to get my whole Tatooine village unlocked and decorated!

If you are curious about my characters you can check out the renewed fancy Rav's Army page (also available as a link on the tab bar).


Plans for Ravalation

Ravalation still is Ravalation, but you might've stumbled over some orokeets during recent visits. I thought it'd be strange to keep Ravanel from LotRO as an avatar while I'm not actively playing that game anymore. From now on, Ravalation will be a SWTOR blog primarily. I will also stop using game tags such as SWTOR and LOTRO in my post titles, as the focus will be on Star Wars all the time (and I've always thought it looks ugly). Hopefully the blog looks Star Warsy enough to make it recognizable as such without the title tags. Finally, I'll address my boyfriend as Conrad from now on (no more Tiger stuff), since that's how he's known to everyone in-game anyway,

See you around in 2015!