Las Vegas Community Cantina Date Announcement

It’s been a few days, so I suppose I should let you know that after months of writing about the SWTOR Community Cantinas, and why you should go, and what they are all about— I should tell you that the one here in Las Vegas is scheduled for Saturday, November 15th, a week later than originally anticipated.

I will definitely be attending since I live here (and at this point people are expecting me to be there). However, for me, it won’t be as fun or as great an event, because my SWTOR playing friends won’t be there with me. Quite a few purchased plane tickets way in advance (as they should have), because the prospective dates for the cantinas were announced earlier this year, and so far, BioWare has never deviated from these dates. This is why people thought they could trust BioWare with the dates that were still “subject to change.”

Unfortunately, three weeks before a cantina, in a city that is specifically a tourist destination (AKA people must make their travel plans well in advance to come here if they’re coming from far away), the date was changed. I’ve been to a few cantinas, and I know that one of the questions they ask the crowd is “Who traveled here the farthest?” I had looked forward to hearing the answer to this at the upcoming cantina.

I haven’t spent any money on traveling, but I have very close friends who did, and I feel that is an insult to me to disrespect my friends who went out of their way to attend this event. I’m not sure why the date was announced so late, because people plan and reserve things like weddings a year out. I think the planning should have been done for this earlier, so that BioWare could keep their word on the original date range.

Perhaps the issue here is putting too much trust in BioWare. Personally, I won’t make plans to attend another cantina in the future, and that is actually pretty unfortunate, as I am someone that did like to specifically travel for the Community Cantinas.

Honestly, this situation made me think that I cared too much about the game. It feels like having a boyfriend (SWTOR/BioWare) who is friends with all your friends (other SWTOR players, members of the community), and these friends applaud and enjoy the fact that you are together (me writing/podcasting about the game). Unfortunately he doesn’t care about you as much as you care about him. Even though you know he doesn’t give you enough attention, you still continue liking him because he has control over your heart and mind, and you think you’re happy with him, and once in a while he throws you a bone to make you think he cares. One day, he does something that is not completely reprehensible but is still pretty bad. And while you still like him, it’s hard to trust or support anything he does in the future because he broke what you thought was a promise. He makes you feel like you should apologize and forgive because it is your own fault for being a victim.

(I know that was a really weird analogy. But, don’t worry about me, I don’t actually have a boyfriend that is anything like what I just described!)

Anyway, if you are still going to Las Vegas during the original date range set for the cantina (November 7-9), you can join me and my friends at the Ootini Cantina on Saturday, November 8th organized by OotiniCast! More information about that will be announced later.

Why I Use an iPhone

I’m on Twitter quite a bit, and I often see non-Apple users insulting Apple and its users but rarely the other way around. Maybe it’s the type of people I mostly follow on Twitter (PC gamers that use Windows products), but for me, it’s annoying.

I love my iPhone 5s. Admittedly it recently has had battery issues, but this I can blame entirely on becoming a blogger and constantly being in my e-mail or on social media. Otherwise, before I started Pretty Little Sith, I never had an issue with battery life as a typical, non-blogging user. Aside from this, I’ve never desired to have additional features on my phone, which is one of the “insults” thrown at Apple users—that they are using an inferior, more expensive product and they are idiotic for doing so.
What do I use my iPhone for? Taking pictures, texting, e-mail, GPS, iTunes, apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, 9GAG), and occasionally posting a blog post from the WordPress app. Anything beyond this is not something I’m interested in or care about, so why do I need a phone that does MORE? Just for the sake of doing more?

The other insult I see thrown is about the cost to value of iPhones–that you are paying more for less of a product. For me, the cost is not an issue, not because I have gobs of disposable income, but because I know the phone is going to last me a long time (cost/use value). I don’t upgrade every time there’s a new iPhone out either. When a new model comes out, I evaluate how good my current phone is working and what sort of features are in the new phone. My last upgrade I went from an iPhone 4 to my current 5s, only because my phone was getting very old and I really liked the fingerprint unlock on the 5s. That is pretty much the only reason I wanted to upgrade, and to this day it’s still worth it to not type in my passcode every time I pick up my phone. I’m not going to spend money on the iPhone 6 just for the sake of upgrading and having the latest and greatest.

Additionally, I love having an iPhone because the most attractive phone cases are designed for iPhones (whatever the current models are). To a non-Apple user, perhaps this is silly and vain, but for a small electronic device that I’m going to keep in my purse at all times, I want it to look good—with or without a case. I don’t care for a super, monster, waterproof phone case or whatever they have out there. I’ve never cracked my cell phone screen or killed my phone with water damage while using cute, frou frou brand name phone cases. At this point, I don’t even care if it breaks, because I’ve had my phone for over a year and I’ve gotten a lot of constant, reliable use out of it.

This definitely does not mean I’m an Apple “fangirl.” I will never buy an Apple desktop or laptop as long as I can build and upgrade my own superior custom gaming computer at a more affordable price with better performance. For a mobile device, I want something small, simple, and beautiful with lots of help and support available (there are many Apple stores in Las Vegas) if I ever need it–which I hardly do.

This is why I’ve chosen to use an iPhone. There are a lot of different phones out there, and I have no issue with them or with what other people choose to use for themselves. I simply wish that others would enjoy what they use without trying to bring others down for their preferences.

(No) Leveling and New Webcam!

I know I’ve been slacking a bit on the blog posts, but I’ve started another super-secret project that you won’t be able to appreciate until sometime from now! I’m very excited about it. However, how have I been doing in Star Wars: The Old Republic?

Since preordering the new SWTOR 3.0 Expansion: Shadow of Revan, I have not leveled a single toon to level 55, despite the 12x boost. I hardly had time to level anything before, and while I know it’s really fast to level, I usually only play my Assassin anyway. When I finally get my Shadow to 55, I’ll probably run more operations.

My guild is invading Hoth this week, and I’m already a day behind in earning conquest points. Hopefully I’ll get some playtime this week, but the large goal seems extremely daunting. I didn’t make my personal conquest goal last week, despite my guild conquering yet another planet. I felt like I wasted an opportunity to obtain a title since I didn’t reach my personal conquest point minimum. I am, though, very happy with the way I spent my time outside of game, so to miss out on the “Conquerer of Quesh” title is not really that big of a deal.

In other news, I finally bought a new webcam! No longer will I look like a blurry “Monet painting.” I purchased the Logitech C525, at a great price of only $37.25 on Amazon. I decided against the C920 because of the higher cost and a recommendation to not get 1080p. At the price I purchased the C525, I think I definitely got a deal, since it was even cheaper than the older C510 model. Now I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with the camera I got, or if I truly did get a good deal.

I also purchased a desk lamp, so my lighting is a little better on camera, and some other things with my Amazon Prime trial! I have 30 days of free, 2-day shipping, so I’m buying things as soon as I think of them. I tend to forget that I need/want new things if they don’t end up on a shopping list, so it’s nice to just be able to go on Amazon and buy something quickly. (My other Amazon Prime purchases so far: a hot water kettle, duvet, sheets, light bulbs, and a coupon wallet.)

Here's a photo I found on my desktop from recording last week's episode of The Republic! I think I hit a camera button on accident.

Here’s a photo I found on my desktop from recording last week’s episode of The Republic! I think I hit a screenshot button on accident.

Finally, don’t forget to watch me on The Republic again tomorrow on GAMEBREAKER.tv! We should be starting at about 6:30pm PST, and you can watch at either gamebreaker.tv/live or twitch.tv/gamebreakertv. I’m happy to be doing another episode with Larry and Redna. As usual, I will embed the YouTube video here once it’s available in case you miss the live show.

EDIT: Here’s this week’s episode!

2 Episodes of Corellian Run Radio and Recording The Republic Live Tonight!

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Jason and I released a new episode of Corellian Run Radio on Tuesday, where we talk about tips and advice for PuGing in-game and the upcoming Community Cantinas! Since we recorded that on Sunday, we hadn’t yet heard news about the new SWTOR 3.0 Expansion: Shadow of Revan, so we recorded another episode on Tuesday that should be released sometime today. Download the episodes on iTunes or your preferred podcast app, or you can listen to us online at CorellianRun.com.

In addition to lots of Corellian Run Radio to listen to, I will be recording The Republic (for real this time) tonight on GAMEBREAKER.tv! The show should start approximately at 6pm PST, but you may want to give us some time for possible technical issues getting set up. Redna (OotiniCast), Larry Everett (Hyperspace Beacon), and I will also be talking about the new SWTOR expansion. Of course after the video is released on YouTube I’ll edit and embed the video into this post and add it to the Videos page here on the blog. (Alternate Twitch link: www.twitch.tv/gamebreakertv)

EDIT: Here’s the video for The Republic Episode 187!

Gaming vs. Real Life Commitments

Today one of my friends told me about this awesome sale going on and asked if I wanted to shop on Friday night. While I felt extremely excited about the sale, I turned her down because Friday is one of the days that I run operations with my team, and we only run ops (officially with our team) two days a week. Since we’re working on Nightmare progression and we just recently put together this group (which I think is awesome!), I did not want to stunt the group’s progress, they would have to bring someone else in, and I would have to learn what they figured out while I was gone.

However, turning down a shopping date does not mean I’m prioritizing video games over real life events. Since I have been raiding on a schedule, I find that I’m able to be online less and can plan other things in my life around gaming. And if I have nothing to do, then I will stay online for hours at a time.

Before having regularly scheduled operations, I felt like I had to be online as much as possible to get into PuG operations, I never knew when people would want to play or if there would be room for me in a group. I remember having to log off in the middle of operations because of something I had to do in real life, and I didn’t like it at all. It made me feel guilty, like I was stealing time from things and people in real life, my guildies in-game, and myself.

The other day I almost forgot I had something to do in real life. I was sitting in Terror From Beyond, about to start my third operation of the day, and I realized that I had to go. I felt really bad about leaving, but they were able to find a replacement quickly. Also, it wasn’t one of my regular raid nights anyway, just a story mode run, so it wasn’t crucial for me to be there.

I definitely don’t feel obligated to show up to raid nights (Monday/Friday) while I’m on vacation, if I have a family event, or if it is a holiday (Halloween is on a Friday!). However I always let my guild master or ops lead know beforehand if I’m going to be late or unable to show up.

Sometimes I still find it difficult to schedule things going on in my life. Today, I will be recording another episode of Corellian Run Radio before I go to a class at the gym. On Wednesdays I drive home from work, listen to maybe 15 minutes of OotiniCast, and then I have to go to another class at the gym. Thursday, I’m hoping recording The Republic will end early enough that I can make it to Pub Quiz with some friends later. Lately, most weeks have been like this, where I’ve been very busy.

My weekends are filled with running errands, doing chores, going to appointments, going out with friends, and then some gaming. A few weeks ago I accidentally booked three appointments at the same time. I got that fixed before it actually happened, but I should probably work on using my phone’s calendar better. I still feel like I play a lot, but clearly not as much as others when I’m only playing and trying to meet conquest points on one character.

Right now I work full-time, have no children, and am already done with school. If I ever get married and have kids, I’ll definitely have to change something in my life, because I wouldn’t want to give up gaming to have more time.

SWTOR Expansion 3.0: Shadow of Revan

SWTOR Expansion 3.0 Shadow of Revan

Surprise! SWTOR Expansion 3.0: Shadow of Revan has been announced! I couldn’t resist the 12x experience bonus, so I preordered about a minute ago. I plan on logging in and leveling my Shadow toward level 55. Early Access for people that pre-order is on December 2nd, which is earlier than I expected! Community Coordinator Hillary Nicole has also e-mailed new information, including highlights of the new expansion:

Highlight of things to come in Shadow of Revan:
– 5 more levels (level cap now 60).
– 2 planets: Rishi and Yavin 4.
– Disciplines
– 2 new role-neutral Flashpoints.
– 4 Hard Mode Flashpoints.
– 2 level 60 Operations.
– Limited time XP boost for Subscribers.
– And more!

I’m not surprised at all by the two operations and two planets. I’m guessing one planet will be like Makeb, and the other will be a small Daily area like CZ-198. I’m really hoping that the four Hard Mode Flashpoints aren’t simply HM versions of the current Tacticals, but I’m afraid they probably will be. It also looks like we’re getting two new Tacticals on top of that.

Another interesting and huge change is the new Discipline system, which I’m looking forward to trying. I find that I use a few points as filler in the Deception skill tree, and it will be nice to have a bit more freedom.

Unfortunately, Eric Musco has verified in the forums that there will be no PvP content, space or ground, in the new expansion. However, he wrote that the changes with the Discipline system and set bonuses will directly impact PvP.

It’s also interesting that Bioware delayed this announcement for a subscriber perk, when the only subscriber perk announced was an experience bonus.   I don’t think that should have been reason enough to not meet the deadline promised to their players/customers.

What do you think? I’m really excited to try out new level 60 operations, but a bit disappointed that a $20 expansion has no concrete (new maps/modes) PvP content, especially since I find that PvP is one of the weakest aspects in the game.

Pretty Little Weekend: Salons, Tanking, New Headset!

Sometimes I feel like during the weekend, I don’t spend my time effectively or enjoyably. This weekend, I think it did pretty well! I got a lot of girly things done, as well as lots of gaming, and even made an exciting purchase! Here’s a glimpse into my life from this past weekend.

I started Saturday out with an 8:30am appointment getting my eyelash extensions refilled, which I think might sound horrifying to some people! I’m actually really allergic to mascara, and got rashes on my eyelids when I wore it. When I first tried lash extensions, I stopped getting rashes on my eyelids, and I don’t have to wear additional makeup on a day-to-day basis because they make my eyes look really great. This saves me a ton of time, and lets me sleep in just a little longer after long nights of gaming.

nomnom burrito

After that, I stopped by at my favorite organic coffee shop in town, Sunrise Coffee, and picked up a dirty horchata after seeing SWTOR Live Producer Amber Green tweet about them earlier in the week. Lattes and horchatas are two of my favorite drinks, but together?! I hadn’t even heard of it before, so I had to have one. I got that and also a Nomnom Burrito, which has spinach, egg, avocado, tomato, beans, potatoes and cheese.

Then I went to the hair salon for a half-inch trim and an update on the ombré . For those that don’t know what that means, basically my hair color gradually changes from the roots to the tips. Currently, it’s my natural hair color on top and gradually changes to a nice dark red at the bottom. This is a change from the caramel colored ombré I had previously.

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By then, it was early afternoon, and I wanted to get some gaming in! When I picked up my headset to start talking to my guildies in Mumble, I realized that my poor Logitech headset had finally broken. I didn’t want to tape it together, because this was a good opportunity to get something new/shiny. Plus, if I’m going to be on camera at all (The Republic? Streaming? Possibly?) or recording podcasts, I didn’t want to be using broken equipment.

I was due for a new headset anyway, so I drove to Fry’s Electronics here in town. I’m so glad we have one in case of emergencies like this. I wasn’t sure which headset to buy. I figured I’d just pick up another Logitech one, and there was one there for $99.99. However, I also know that my webcam is really, really bad (“Your camera quality makes you look like a Monet painting.”), so I decided to pick up a camera also. I didn’t see the one I was looking for, so I stood around the million employees until one quickly and enthusiastically asked if I needed help. Unfortunately they were out of stock on the camera, but he asked if I needed help with anything else.

When I said what I needed, he suggested, “Have you thought about getting a gaming headset? They are pretty similar to a regular headset.” This poor guy had no idea what kind of person I was, but I’ll give him a break. I played along and let him lead me to the aisle with the gaming headsets. He pointed at the Razer Kraken Pro Neon and said, “This one comes in bright colors!” I picked up the pink one.

broken headsetThe best part was when he tried to sell me a computer, because the headset was definitely easy commission for him. When I said I already had a pretty good computer and he asked what kind—I giggled a bit inside before telling him about my i7 processor, 780ti graphics card, brand new water cooler and solid state drive. “Are you a gamer? What games do you play?” he asked. Star Wars: The Old Republic!

Razer Kraken Pro Neon

 

 

I checked out and left the building: Total time spent inside Fry’s was 13 minutes! I’m an efficient shopper.

Prior to purchasing the new headset, I ran the Hammer Station flashpoint using Mumble on my phone, and I actually tanked it! The queue was taking too long with two DPS and a healer, so I decided to take one for the team and tank it for a faster queue pop. I think I did fantastically well, using actual tank gear (surprisingly in 168-186 rating gear) and spec. I will have to learn a bit more about my Assassin’s Darkness spec, because I didn’t think it was too difficult barely knowing what I was doing. Reading the procs that came up helped with knowing what abilities I should use (Energize for Shock, Harnesssed Darkness for Force Lightning). I held agro the whole time also!

The rest of my weekend was more gaming focused. I filled in as DPS in Dread Palace HM for one of my guild’s operation groups, and also worked on finishing my flashpoint weeklies. Additionally, I earned lots of achievements in GSF, playing 50 matches as a gunship and several other things, which I was very proud of! I hit my conquest points goal, which is excellent because my guild conquered Balmorra (Empire) with the #1 spot!

I also tried out Ranked in Hearthstone, and I’m up to 23 right now I think. I’ve been playing with my custom Priest and Rogue decks. Hearthstone is a lot of fun! Add me (“Dianah”) if you would like to challenge me to a match.

How was your weekend? Were you able to get some gaming in? Did you try any new foods or drinks? Did you get any personal grooming or shopping in?

Upcoming SWTOR Expansion 3.0 Info….?

Today I tweeted, “What should I write about on #prettylittlesith today?” A quick response came from @ColeBennett, who suggested, “why @SWTOR is so slow to release news about an expansion that is coming in 3 months or so. Kind of frustrating as a player..” I decided this would be a good topic.

I really have no idea why they haven’t released news about the new expansion yet. They’ve given us the twenty-second teaser of what looks like Revan (spoiler alert?), but that’s pretty much it. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for, especially if they have been working on its content for a while, and since deadlines have been getting pushed back this year.

Maybe they want to announce everything at once and they’re not sure if certain aspects that they want to include will be ready by the time the expansion comes out. I certainly would be more disappointed by a broken promise than lack of information. For example, if they promised a redesign of Ranked PvP, but then couldn’t have it ready by the time of the expansion.

Perhaps they are still evaluating everything to see if the developers can finish and not disappoint. I guess they could tell us something about the new expansion, but that goes back to my previous theory, that they want to announce everything at the same time.

Personally, I’m not stressed at all about it. Maybe I’m just a really patient and undemanding person. We were told two expansions this year, so I simply expect another expansion by the end of the year. I’m not itching for new information, and don’t really care. When I get it, I’ll get it, and I’ll probably be excited about it when it happens. If you expect nothing and get something, you will be much happier than to expect the world, and be disappointed when you don’t get it.

Additionally, I’m still really satisfied with the game. I haven’t cleared all of the NiM operations with my guild, and that is something that I do in the game. I haven’t gotten top-tier PvP gear yet, so that is something I will still happily work on. I haven’t maxed out my gunship in GSF. I’m really excited to be conquering planets (which is a new thing in the game), and having a purpose to doing older content. I haven’t even decorated my damn stronghold yet! There are lots of things for me to do in-game, and I’m still having fun with it.

Leveling Up In Real Life Part 1: Exercise

As a gamer, there are lots of things I do that are pretty unhealthy, like sitting hunched over in an uncomfortable desk chair for long hours, staring at a computer screen, staying up way past when I should be going to sleep because I’m trying to get something done in-game, snacking on whatever processed foods happen to be in my kitchen, etc.

However, I try my best in other aspects of my life to offset these things. While this seems really superficial, I think that if you like how you look and you feel healthy, it makes a difference in how you feel about yourself and being confident.

Gaming is an extremely sedentary activity—unless you’re playing one of those Wii or Kinect games that require you to move around. I also find myself snacking on things that are bad for me (Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Puffs), because I was too lazy to eat a real meal before doing a SWTOR operation for a few uninterrupted hours. It’s good to get your blood pumping and do some physical activity! Not only will this help with your heart, but you might even lose a few pounds or gain some muscle depending on your body type.

I personally like to do a couple of the cardio dance classes at the gym, along with Pilates, weight machines, and once in a while I’ll get on a treadmill (but that’s the most boring thing to do). Once in a while I might go hiking or walk around for hours at the mall, which are fun activities that will still get my heart rate up.

One thing that motivates me to work out seems a bit silly, but it totally works. I subscribe to Fabletics, which is a clothing service for women, in which you take a little quiz on what kind of exercises and workout clothes you like, and every month they recommend personalized outfits based on what you like! You can always choose to skip a month if you don’t want to purchase anything (or be lazy like me and never remember to skip), but I find that having cute, new workout clothes makes me want to wear and use them. Eventually you can earn enough points for a free outfit! Here’s my referral link for Fabletics if you are interested.

I think starting out is a little hard at first, but after a while, exercising becomes a routine. You WILL start to feel better after going. I also recommend having someone in your life that will motivate you (in a positive way) to exercise even when you don’t feel like it.

FAQ for Community Cantina Prospects

Las Vegas

Earlier this year SWTOR.com posted approximate dates for the Las Vegas SWTOR Community Cantina, November 7-9, and one of my readers sent me an e-mail to ask some questions about attending! I thought my answers would be helpful to more people interested in going to a Cantina in the future since I’ve been to two of them so far. Here is a bit of what I sent back to Terry, who plays on the Harbinger server!

Question #1: How do I find out WHERE in Vegas it will be?

Answer: Usually SWTOR announces the exact date and location a few weeks before the actual event, however they did post something earlier this year that gave approximate dates, so that you could schedule your life/travel around it. We won’t know where in Vegas it will be for a few weeks to a month from now!

 Question #2: Will it really be taking place over 3 days?  Or will it just be for a few hours on one of the days?

Answer: The cantinas are only for a few hours on one of the three nights, and they usually have them at bars or hotels, somewhere they can serve food/alcohol and hold a lot of people.

Question #3: How much time will I actually get to ask questions?

There’s a Q&A session in which the devs and community team answer questions in front of everyone, but what you may want to do is talk to one of them after the Q&A is over. They go into the crowd and they are pretty easy to talk to! I spoke with [Eric] Musco and Courtney [Woods] when I went to Boston, and they’re very nice and approachable, but of course, many people want to talk to them. I think if you get a hold of one of them you will have plenty of time to ask questions.

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The Las Vegas Community Cantina is coming up soon, so if you’d like to go I would start making some travel plans! I will definitely be there since I live here, and I hope to see some blog readers and listeners there as well!

And, if you are really interested in reading about my Community Cantina adventures, here are more blog posts by me about them:

SWTOR Community Cantina Guide

Why You Should Go To a SWTOR Community Cantina

SWTOR Community Cantina Boston: Q&A

SWTOR Community Cantina Boston: Bonus Questions