Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Imperial Throne Hall

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.I haven’t posted anything about games in a long time and seeing how our February is really short on posts I decided to put a couple of words in about one of the two games that I play on somewhat of a regular basis — SWTOR — Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s an MMORPG.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.I think most people play a Star Wars game that happens to be an MMO. I on the other hand actually play an MMO that happens to be set in Star Wars universe.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.One of the features of the game is that you have a number of Strongholds which is essentially player housing. You get an empty set of walls and you can design and decorate the place as you wish.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.All the decoration pieces are limited and some are very hard to find or are extremely expensive via credits and GTN — in game currency and player market, auction house. So I was only able to have one Stronghold decorated as I liked. I never gotten into doing another one since I had only single copies of certain nice and rare items that I would want to have in any Stronghold.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.But back in November BioWare decided to go through a server merger which had an unexpected pleasant side-effect. All the decorations got merged together from all the servers that you had characters on. And it used to be so that when you would transfer one of your characters to that server all your decorations would copy over as well. I happened to have done that with 5 different servers.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.So ALL my collected items have gone up in quantity by a factor of five. It’s probably not very fair to the people who actually used to buy multiple decorations, but knowing BioWare it’s not going to be fixed ever and hopefully is impossible to do to begin with.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.Long story short — I was able to setup a second Stronghold for my characters. My original one was on Nar Shaddaa and this new on is on the Imperial capital world of Dromund Kaas.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.I’m just posting screenshots of one themed room that I wanted to do for a long time — an Imperial Throne Hall. A judgment of a captive Jedi by an Empress.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MMO Keybinding

Young Lord Skаf.I’ve come to a realization that I’m a gamer after all. Took me twenty years to finally admit to it. But more often than not I’m playing something. Computer games are making my mind run amok. The more complex the game the more fun it is. I love the “theorycrafting” aspect of all gaming and MMOs will certainly have that — learning how things work, how to be more efficient.

Skаf's talent build.From all my close friends I probably spend more time with computer games than anyone else, save one guy. And that one guy who in my mind was a super-gamer all the time that I know him (close to 20 years now) has lately decided to “degamify”, therefore leaving me to playing all by myself. Come on, dude! Regamify! Yes, you.

Darth Skаf.Anyhow, long story short — after approximately a year long break I have reactivated SWTOR. Since the early days of WoW I’ve only been playing PvE — Player vs Environment. After I was left all alone in SWTOR I decided to try my hand at PvP — Player vs Player. And did I end up loving it or what? However I faced a big problem stemming from a fact that I’m a clicker — a person who keeps clicking on their abilities instead of using keybinds — keyboard.

Skаf.Clicking worked just fine in PvE, but at PvP everything is moving at a neckbreaking speed. At the same time I always gravitate towards melee characters. And by the time I would reach somebody and start executing my rotation by clicking my abilities that somebody would be long gone or I would be dead. So that didn’t work at all. My solution was to switch to a ranged class that had the longest reach in the game — Sniper.

Agent Glаz.I was often able to be on top of DPS charts with my clicking. Those numbers could’ve been better and my survivabilty would’ve been better if I wasn’t clicking, but it worked. However the thing with Sniper is that you’re playing like a stationary turret. You just sit there and shoot. PvP game objectives often don’t revolve about being top in DPS and being a turret you’re not bringing too much utility to your team.

PvP match scorecard.I created a new character that I wanted to try for a long time now — Sith Juggernaut. Juggernaut is a melee class that can perform a role of a tank, but has a potential to put out decent DPS and has a decent level of survivability. But in order to be effective the clicking had to stop. So after all these years I’ve made an effort to teach myself to use a keyboard starting from level 1 with my new character.

Final look.Now being at level 55 I feel extremely comfortable with keyboard. I play blind without having too look anywhere at the screen and I do ZERO clicking as far as abilities go. Mouse is used for moving and sometimes targeting, although in vast majority of cases I target with the keyboard as well.

Juggernaut has incredible mobility and control of the situation with multiple jumps and defensive cooldowns. I can confidently go pretty much against any character and dish out a serious beating. For a change I feel in complete control in most situation.

UI, Keyboard and Mouse Setup


The first step for me to get comfortable with the keyboard I’ve redesigned my UI. I layed out my action bars as the 4 rows of the keyboard. This way I can easily monitor when my cooldowns are up and my fingers learned where to go because the layout of spells is exactly the same as the layout of buttons on the keyboard.

First UI attempt. Too much clutter.Second step was to unlearn turning with a keyboard. This is easily achievable by unbinding some of the default settings. The standard setup is W, S to move forward and back; A, D to turn; Q, E to strafe. I got rid of binds for S, A, D. If you are not used to strafing much yet, I would remap Q and E to A and D. But my mnemonic memory was already hardwired to Q and E, so I let them be. In addition to that I shifted them all by one key to the right to free up another easily reachable row on the left side of my standard hand placement.

Keyboard. Diagram built via WASD Keyboards site.I also did bind Shift+W, Shift+E, Shift+R (my movement keys) to some abilities that are not used over and over again. My standard defensive and DPS (damage per second) rotations are bound to the rest of the keys around those movement keys.

User interface. Final version.My standard damage dealing rotation goes in a circle around the movement keys. D, 2 is bound to starting of a fight. And then S, F, G, T, 5, 4. Defensive CDs are on A, C, Y, 3. Situation control is on Z, X, V, H, Shift+W, Shift+R. Utility spells are on 1, Q, B, N. Everything is extremely easy to reach and I do not have large hands. And everything gets used.

As I said earlier mouse is used for turning, by holding down the right button. I also mapped several key important spells with short cooldown, lots of damage and a little bit more reach to side buttons on my mouse. 4 and 5 from the list above are those spells. And I mapped one additional defensive spell to the 3rd most comfortable buttons to hit. It’s nice to see somebody casting something massive on you and reflect it right back to their face with a click.

Skaf. Another angle.A couple of words on the mouse itself — after some consideration I have bought a gaming mouse. (Spoiler: I didn’t like it.) I was picking between Razer Naga (12 buttons on the side) and Razer Naga Hex (6 buttons) — having Razer BlackWidow keyboard that I do like very much after getting used to it. I went with the Hex edition because there is no way I was going to use 12 buttons on the mouse. And button placement felt too crowded. Even 6 seemed like an overkill.

Razer Naga Hex mouse.After trying Razer Naga Hex for a week I hated it. My hand hurts, buttons are still not very comfortable to hit, mouse is not well designed ergonomically and it had a wire. I went back to my trusty Logitech and I love it. Four well placed buttons and the hand is relaxed and well placed. Razer Naga Hex went back to the store. This rarely happens to me — returning something.

And that’s pretty much it. Hopefully this a little bit of a guide will be helpful to somebody like myself. It definitely will improve your PvP performance. And I am truly enjoying playing my character.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Sniper Glаz Zorka.On January 2nd of this year I have reactivated my SWTOR subscription since I was longing to play some MMORPG again. Sadly, by this time all of Eldar’s guildies including Eldar himself have abandoned the game and I was left to play all alone, but I ended up playing for quite a long time and having a lot of fun while doing so.

I kept meaning to write down some thoughts on the game for a while now, but couldn’t get around to doing it. Now that I’ve lost interest again — 8 months later — I decided to take the time a jot some of this down anyhow.

When I left the game the previous time the game was at 1.1 with patch 1.2 looming. At the time I rejoined the game it was at 1.6 with 1.7 on the horizon. Needless to say “Star Wars: The Old Republic” has gone through a lot of changes and I was a complete noob again. I’ve read all the missed patch notes to catch myself up.

Imperial Agent Glаz.I learned that my level 50 Mercenary (named Hahz) mechanics were ruined soon after I left the game and have never been fixed. Also I learned that if you do level any class to level 50 you will get the buff from that class on all your other characters no matter the class. I had a Marauder (named Zhah) in lower 40s that I never finished leveling and I figured I’ll start with him to finish the class story and get the buff for whoever I was going to play next which I did.

Assassin Sith Inquisitor Trаh.In the process I realized that I’m not enjoying playing a melee class at all and that I had much more fun playing my Mercenary back in the day. I also read that sorcerers where quite underpowered and that left me with the only choice of Imperial Agent. I wasn’t quite sure which advanced class to pick — Sniper or Operative. I did a lot of reading and even though I really liked the idea of stealth on Operatives for a new type of gameplay the consensus was that Operatives excel at healing and not DPS, which I wanted to play. Also if they were to do DPS it would be in close quarters — melee in other words.

Sniper DPS chart.I did level an Imperial Agent to level 6 a long time ago, so I picked him up and started playing. By the time I hit level 10 I made up my mind on going with a Sniper and was I right or what. I completely fell in love with the class mechanics. All the things that I disliked about the class before — like cover mechanics and the actor’s voice — turned into the thing that I ended up enjoying the most. On top of that, Sniper gets an advantage of 5m on every other class in the game — 35m attack range, which makes it truly the best and the deadliest ranged DPS class in the game.

As I was leveling I decided to jump into a PvP game to gain some commendations for some nice looking moddable gear and really surprised myself. The thing is that I’ve always hated PvP. However with my Sniper I started posting top DPS numbers in pretty much every game I played. I was deadly and hard to kill. In most cases I could go 1 on 1 with an enemy and come out on top. PvP became insanely fun.

Sniper DPS chart.What also made the Sniper fun was the fact that the best companion type for any DPS class — a healer — wears exactly the same type of gear that a Sniper does — gear with a main stat of cunning. This gives you an ability to upgrade your most important companion’s gear with hand-me-down stuff every time you update your character. For solo-play that was huge. At this point my Sniper (named Glаz by the way) has mostly top-end Conqueror gear and my healer (Dr. Lokin) has the next best thing — Partisan gear. No such progression is possible with any other class.

Sniper Marksmanship Spec.So to sum up — Sniper is still my very favorite class to play at PvP and solo-PvE — as in dailies to get tons of money. My Sniper has the top end PvP gear with top-end purple augments on each peace of gear. He is a level 55 and I like playing the Marksmanship spec the most.

Jedi Sage Krеm.At this point I decided that I need to run up either a Sith Inquisitor or a Jedi Consular to the top lever to get my Sniper the last class buff. After a bit of consideration and figuring out that I can actually mail myself stuff even if I’m playing a Republic side I made a Jedi Consular to experience the game from the other side. I also decided to play him as a Sage and become a healer — something I’ve never done before.

Sage healing chart.I ended up having a quite bit of fun with him as well as it’s a completely different type of gameplay. I also was able to post top healing number in PvP games on consistent basis. Of course not being able to kill anyone in PvP is a bit annoying. I got my Sage named Krеm to level 55 as well after the expansion hit. I got him in mostly Partisan gear, but I didn’t play him nearly as much as I played my Sniper.

Sage healing chart.Somewhere in the process of all this I got invited to a PvP guild aptly named “PvP” on Republic side and had a blast playing PvP games with a bunch of cool guys who know what they are doing. It’s much more fun to play with a team, especially in PvP when you can coordinate your attacks over voice-chat. They had a mirror guild on the Imperial side and I played many games with a guild master of the guild — lots of fun.

Sith Assassin Trаh.Somewhere along the way I also created a Sith Inquisitor character who I ended up liking a lot — story-wise and his personality-wise. Since I already had a Sage (or a Sorcerer) I turned this guy into an Assassin with stealth capabilities. I played him as a Deception tree DPSer. Even thought I didn’t enjoy the melee aspect of it I sure loved his ability to capture game objectives by surprising his enemies. I got him to level 55 as well, but didn’t get too far as far as the gear goes. He is aptly named Trаh — a fitting name for an Assassin.

Jedi Guardian Trasta Tatrasta.At last I have another character named Trasta who is a light side Jedi Guardian. I was playing him as a tank, but never found any guides for this spec and this class and therefore didn’t grow to love him. For me half the fun, if not most of the fun comes from the theorycrafting part of the game — understanding the mechanics, the specs, the stats and learning to build and play the character optimally. With the lack of the guides the fun is just not there — that’s a big problem for a game that is losing popularity, unlike WoW that keeps going strong.

Jedi Sage Krеm.As far as stories go I liked them in the following order (SPOILER ALERT): Mercenary — quite boring — find and kill this guy, find and kill that guy; Sage — also boring — heal this guy, heal that guy, I’m so good I’m just going to heal everyone; Sniper — a lot of people find his story to be the best in the game, but I didn’t find it to be anything special — a couple of unexpected plot twists, but nothing exceptional; Marauder — a nice dark political power play with his master; Assassin — also a very strong and fun dark story about his spectacular ascent to the Dark Council itself.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to say. The game is fun and I wish it to keep doing well as I can definitely see myself reactivating my account sometime in the future again.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

LEGO Star Wars Sith Fury

LEGO Star Wars 9500 Sith Fury-class Interceptor.This past weekend Alena and I were walking around Manhattan and stumbled upon an official LEGO store near the Rockefeller Plaza. We went inside and I was overwhelmed by a strong urge to get something for myself and build it. Of course the prices on Amazon were better, so I ordered myself a set when we got home.

Finished version. The back wings, front and back doors open up.About a year ago I spent a bit of time playing Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG and I actually has reactivated my account recently. So I decided that building something from that familiar setting would be nice — Sith Fury-class Interceptor which comes with Darth Malgus and a pair of Imperial troopers. The set consists of 748 pieces.

Building process. Arosha was helping.I must say that I haven’t played with something like this in ages. I loved to build things out of Soviet LEGO imitations when I was a kid, but they kits and were nowhere as elaborate and even those were nowhere to be found. I had a few very simple sets. I was worried that I would find it too hard to put everything together, but the instructions were very exact and easy to follow.

Arosha's helping.I think I’m a LEGO fan now. Arosha was “helping” me through some parts of the process. I see a lot of LEGO sets in Arosha’s future.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Bounty Hunter Hаhz and his wife Mako.I just want to make a short post and offer a small explanation for the lack of posting lately. Blame BioWare, the studio that made Star Wars: The Old Republic — a massively multiplayer online role playing game. RPG is the only type of game that I enjoy playing and I haven’t touched anything way back since the time when we left World of Warcraft several years ago.

Sith Marauder Zhаh and his companion Jaesa.We tried playing different RPGs, but nothing really stuck as they tried to invent their own formula and always fell short of WoW, no pun intended. This one however takes exactly what WoW was and improves several annoying parts of it. Everyone has a companion, normal groups are limited to 4 people and companions count. They are not as good as real players, but we’ve been able to do pretty much all content together with Eldar to this point.

Hаhz and Mako.Anyhow, it’s been eating up all of my free time and a lot of my sleep time. I have two characters that I enjoy very much. One is a Sith Warrior Marauder named Zhаh — a character that specializes in dual-wielding lightsabers. He is a melee DPS guy who I’ve been leveling together with one of Eldar’s characters. Another one is a Bounty Hunter Mercenary that is a ranged DPS dealer.

Game UI. Running.Both play very differently and have a different story that spans through all 50 levels. Role playing gets to the point of characters being able to romance and marry their companions — that’s what Hаhz (my bounty hunter) did. It’s been a lot of fun to this point, but I think it won’t be as much fun once we reach level 50. Same thing as with WoW, only I’m not raiding this time around.
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