PC is Still in the Shop!

Last week my computer started making some noise that I decided to ignore. That was a bad idea.

After a few matches of PvP on Saturday, my game was going extremely slow. Of course, I blamed the game because my computer is amazing! My guildies suggested that I restart my computer, and I reluctantly agreed. After all, with the new SSD my computer loads extremely quickly now! When I restarted, a screen came up that said my CPU was overheating.

The horror.

I immediately stopped using my computer and panicked about what it could possibly be. Is the fan broken? The water cooler?!

The next morning I brought it to the PC repair shop I went to last time my computer went wonky, which seems to horribly happen a lot to me. Currently, it’s still there, and I am typing this on my iPhone 5s.

I just wanted to keep you guys updated, for those that didn’t see my frantic tweets about my broken computer or listen to the SWTOR Galactic Gamers Coalition podcast on Sunday, which I recorded on my phone. I will be busy this Labor Day weekend, so my next post might be next Wednesday, or sooner if I find some extra time!

I do have some exciting news (hopefully) on another super secret project, but I will tell you all about it next week!

SWTOR Confessions: I Haven’t Decorated My Stronghold Yet

Game Update 2.9, Galactic Strongholds, has been out for a few days already, and I’ve logged almost every day since then. I have not decorated my stronghold yet.

I, a girl that likes to build and decorate houses in The Sims, who likes to casually role play (in-game), who had a beautifully interior designed condo in real life—have not decorated my house.

What madness is this? Every time I go to my Dromund Kaas apartment, I become overwhelmed. I don’t want to log into all my characters to get all the starter furniture. I don’t want to craft anything. I don’t want to spend any credits. I don’t feel like decorating.

And yet, I feel guilty that I should be contributing to my guild, which is doing quite well in the planetary conquests without my stronghold contribution. I feel guilty that I’m not playing part of the game. I feel guilty that this is the newest, shiniest SWTOR content, and it makes me panic looking at hooks and deciding what decoration or piece of furniture goes where.

Eventually I will get to it. I’m going to log in now and stare at my empty apartment a bit more, maybe until someone asks me to do something that requires killing opponents.

New Episode of Corellian Run Radio & SWTOR GGC News!

Corellian Run Radio

Hi guys! I’ve been pretty busy in-game with the new Galactic Strongholds expansion! So far, my guild is holding #1 on Voss, which is very exciting! However, I’m totally behind on letting you know, but Episode 124 of Corellian Run Radio is out! Click here to listen to the show.

In other news, I will be recording the SWTOR Galactic Gamers Coalition podcast on live on Sunday with a few other podcasters! Here’s the link to toon in live, and I’ll be sure to post a link once the show is edited and released.

Happy decorating!

Time vs. Money: Why It’s OK Giving BioWare Money

Dromund Kaas decorating

With all the craziness going on for SWTOR’s release of Game Update 2.9: Galactic Strongholds, one particular topic struck me. Now there are furniture sets on the Cartel Market that you can buy for your stronghold. While the Cartel Market has been out for a long time, this definitely reminds me of The Sims Store, in which you can also use your real life money to buy hairstyles, outfits, and furniture for your sims. I admit, I have definitely bought a few things in both the Cartel Market and The Sims Store, and I don’t regret it.

As much as I play the game, I don’t feel like I have enough time or energy to spend trying to earn credits. I like to do operations, pay a bunch of credits for Nightmare repair bills, and maybe once in a while queue for flashpoints, GSF, or PvP. If I could’ve paid maybe $5.00 or $10.00 for the Xoxaan Armor Set instead of spending the majority of my credits (which I have yet to recoup after a few months), I probably would’ve. I don’t care that I’m spending real money. I could spend $10.00 on nachos I won’t finish at the bar, blow a fast $5.00 on an iced hazelnut latte or I could buy something I like in a game that takes more of my time.

Time is money, and I would honestly rather pay for something I like than spend time grinding in-game credits doing something I don’t like (dailies, crafting, what else do people do for credits?!). I certainly enjoy looking at this particular armor set on my character for hours and hours, and this is happiness that lasts much longer than poking around nachos or sipping a sweet latte, which is why I consider it to be worth the money.

Why do people complain about micro-transactions? Is it the philosophy that purchasable digital content should’ve been originally included in the game anyway? Perhaps. However, If purchasing digital content helps just a little bit to increase Bioware’s funds and allows them to hire more staff to improve the game (Bioware: please work on PvP because subscribers pay for Ranked), then why not? I like free things too, but Bioware is a business, and if they could charge for something that people will purchase, it would be foolish to not (especially since they are not requiring you to purchase the game.)

I do see the argument that no amount of income will fix all the issues in the game. Just like in government and taxes: it does no good to increase/decrease taxes if the money is not properly allocated or if it is spent unwisely.

I am not one to spend a huge amount of money on the Cartel Market. I buy the packs occasionally when we get our subscriber bonus every month. I purchased the rose-colored speeder when the Cartel Market was first released. I also bought some character slots on sale for when I finally have toons of every advanced class. I do not spend hundreds of dollars. I am not against spending a few dollars here and there if I want something (furniture/armor set), because this is digital content that I’m going to enjoy for a much longer amount of time than a silly piece of costume jewelry or coffee. I am a strong believer in getting value in what you spend your money on, and cost per use. “Wearing” an armor set in-game for an endless amount of gaming hours, and liking how my character looks, has a higher value to it than a bracelet I may wear in real life maybe a few times a month.

Deception Changes According to a Deception Assassin

I’ve recently posted “How I Play My Deception Assassin,” and I mentioned that I exclusively play this particular skill tree. SWTOR has recently announced that this will be one of the skill trees with some changes in Game Update 2.10, and I’m so excited about it! Here is a link to the complete set of class changes if you’d like to see them (these could still be changed at any time before the update comes out), but I’ll include the Deception ones here:

Deception

  • Discharge now properly calculates damage based on the current number of Static Charges. This results in the damage at 1 stack being increased, the damage at 2 stacks being decreased, and the damage at 3 stacks remaining the same.
  • Voltaic Slash now has a base cost of 23 Force (down from 25).
  • Voltage now increases the chance to trigger Surging Charge by 12.5% per Voltage stack, in addition to its other effects.
  • Saber Conduit can now occur once every 9 seconds (down from every 10 seconds).
  • Electric Ambush now has a 100% chance to grant 1/2 stacks of Static Charge when Recklessness is used (changed from a 50%/100% chance to grant 3 stacks). It still reduces the cooldown of Recklessness upon exiting combat.

The changes that have been made buff the Deception skill tree. There is a slight “nerf” to Recklessness, in that it only gives 2 charges rather than 3, but when I tried this in the PTS, it really made no difference to my style in gameplay. I only hit Discharge if I see 3 charges anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. Additionally, I do not start my “rotation” with Recklessness/Discharge, rather, Stealth, Recklessness, Spike, Maul. In the case that I’m not in Stealth, I would use whatever the highest priority ability is based on my procs/buffs.

As far as sustainability goes, this is still a challenge. However, I clearly wasn’t suffering that much because I did a lot more damage.

I parsed a bit over 300 dps more than usual on the PTS. I parse on the Operations Training Dummy, with the armor reduction debuff and 1 million HP. I do not have full Nightmare-level gear (186s), but just the drops from the first and only boss I have cleared in Nightmare Dread Fortress, Nefra (implants and earpiece). Additionally, my gear is still not actually fully optimized, because one of my enhancements is Endurance heavy.

parse1

I really like playing Deception, and I think it says a lot about a person to stay faithful to something they like purely because it’s fun, not because I’m trying to jump on the bandwagon to the flavor of the month class/spec. I’m glad that it’s getting a buff, so maybe people will stop telling me to spec Madness for once.

Fitting Life Around SWTOR

The pending class changes to the Sith Assassin’s Deception skill tree have been out for a few days on the PTS, and I have yet to try them. I haven’t even downloaded the PTS. I haven’t even logged into game since Tuesday. However, this does not mean I’m unhappy with SWTOR.

What this means is that lately I’ve found myself to be very busy in real life, and I’m very thankful that I have regularly scheduled operation nights. Having this allows me to figure out what I’m going to do for the rest of the week.

I’ve started to attend the gym regularly, and I’ve been making an effort to get out of the house and off the computer. Yesterday, in fact, I accidentally double-booked myself for some semi-work-related activities. Thankfully I made it to both events, and they were really fun!

IMG_3913I don’t have any children, so that is one thing I will have to think about it in the future regarding gaming. At that point though, I think I would be going out to special events less and probably staying at home more.

So now, when you wonder: when is the next post on Pretty Little Sith? What are my thoughts on the Deception class changes? Just remember that I think a lot about the game. I think about it, talk about it (more than you might think), write about it–all the time. There are no new games drawing me away from it (except perhaps The Sims 4, which I pre-ordered and will probably binge-play when it comes out next month on September 4th), and in fact I may be getting even closer to it, despite me trying to maintain a social life outside of gaming.

How I Installed My First SSD

How I Installed My First SSD

After months of talking about it, I finally purchased and installed a Solid State Drive(SSD) in my computer! While the other components in my computer were excellent, SWTOR continued to load slowly, and this was a pain, especially when loading into instances. This ends up being important, especially during the Calphayus fight in Dread Palace, where you are loading in and out and you have to quickly be in a certain place and drop threat. My raid team should breathe a sigh of relief that I will load much more quickly on this part from now on.

However, today I wanted to write to say that it wasn’t so hard installing the SSD. I am someone that is, while very competent at using a computer, very nervous about messing with the hardware inside. I did not build the computer myself, but had others put it together for me once I purchased the parts.

I already had two hard drives, but one was at capacity, and I had no idea why I had the other one, why it was there, or for what purpose. I installed the SSD to be the main (C:) drive, and am in the process of transferring files and reformatting the other two HDs as backup.

I’ve never posted this on the blog altogether, but here are my current computer specs:

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth X79
Processor: Intel Core i7-3930K CPU @ 3.20GHz
RAM: 16 GB
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
SSD: Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series 250GB
Other Hard Drives: 2 x 500GB
Monitor: ASUS VE258 1920 x 1080

I also have a 1200 watt power supply and a water cooler.

Here are the steps I took to get the new SSD installed and working!

  • Create a bootable USB drive for Windows 7.

I don’t have a disc drive, so I had to be able to install Windows on the new SSD without a disc. From Microsoft’s website, I downloaded the Windows 7 Home Premium ISO file and used the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool to make the ISO work on the USB drive. You can’t simply drop the ISO file onto the USB; you have to use the tool to make it work!

  • Shut down the computer and unplug the tower from everything

Obviously you don’t want to get electrocuted.

  • Locate the existing hard drives and remove them!

2014-08-09 (2)

After unplugging, I opened up the side. I didn’t even know where the hard drives were at or what they looked like. After a quick process of elimination, I found them! Additionally, there are two things on the sides that I had to squeeze to slide the drive out. I didn’t know how to do this at first, so I thought I would include that.

2014-08-09 (1)

Now, I didn’t know which drive currently had Windows and all my programs and documents on it, so I had to figure that out, but I was able to do that after unplugging one and seeing what the remaining one contained when I turned the computer on again.

  • Connect the SSD. Plug everything back in!

Once I removed both of the old hard drives, I plugged in the new SSD instead! There are only two cords going into it, which were easy to figure out by looking at what was plugged into the other hard drives.  I didn’t have trays that fit the SSD, so it is currently just floating a bit inside the tower. However, it works! Next time I go to the electronics store I’ll get some trays so it’s a bit cleaner inside.

  • Turn your computer back on. Install Windows. Install drivers (network adapter, motherboard, sound, video), antivirus program, Google Chrome, etc.

Make sure at this point you remove the USB drive or Windows disc so that the Windows Install doesn’t keep appearing after the installation and restart. If you’re computer savvy you should be able to get through easily at this point by creating a user profile and installing all necessary programs.

  • Connect old hard drives back into computer, transfer files, and reformat those drives (if you want).

I am still in the process of doing this step. I don’t have enough cords to connect both of them at this time. I am planning on using these drives for storage of documents and anything else that doesn’t really need to be loaded as quickly as a game. Also, it would be a waste not to utilize an extra Terabyte of space!

I am really proud of myself for becoming more familiar with the insides of my computer! So far this year I have installed RAM and a new video card, and this will be the third thing I’ve done on my own. If I can do all this while wearing a short summer dress, you can definitely do it! Don’t be afraid! Just be careful.

Rakghoul Rampage!

Rakghoul Rampage Eyeless

This week the rakghoul event is back in Star Wars: The Old Republic! I changed out my lightsaber color crystal to black/green and flew my ship to Tatooine to partake in the rakghoul killing fun!

On Tuesday night my guild ran 16-man Eyeless in story and hard mode. I must’ve done this last time the rakghoul event was around, so I didn’t get any new achievements. However, I did take my Madness Sorcerer into 8-man story mode and obtained the achievement for that. I still need to defeat the boss in an 8-man hard mode, so hopefully I’ll be able to get that done by the end of the week!

I also picked up a Midnight Rakling pet from the flashpoint Kaon Under Siege! I did this flashpoint many times back in the day when it was more relevant to the current content level. For the rakghoul event they added an extra boss, the Midnight Rakling, which has a 100% drop rate for the pet. You can get an achievement if you have it out while killing one of the lurkers in the rakghoul tunnels. I still don’t own all the pets needed to get the Lord of the Raklings title, but it’s fun working towards it. I need to earn more reputation points to buy the rakling pet that requires a higher reputation level.

Additionally, I beat Plaguehorn, the event world boss, a few times with my guild. That boss was fairly easy with the 16-man group I had. I recommend purchasing the relic-like item that cures you from the reputation vendor because you get stunned by the infection during the fight.

Unfortunately, unlike the Gree event and the last time the rakghoul plague was around, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to do any open world PvP. A couple guildies and I tried to get some Republic players to attack us, or at least find anyone that was flagged for PvP, but we weren’t terribly successful. The last time the event was around, we started a battle with another large group trying to take down the world boss, so I have a lot of kills in my event achievements from that.

There is still plenty of time this week to participate in the rakghoul event, so if you haven’t already tried it, I definitely recommend it, even just for a change of pace. When the very first rakghoul plague was around, I was still a pretty new player, so I didn’t bother checking it out. I wish I did, because I think how Bioware has it in the tunnels is quite different than the original plague

Why Season 2 Ranked PvP Rewards Make Me Sad

IMG_3679-1.JPG

With today’s announcement of the Season 2 Ranked PvP rewards, my heart sank just a little bit. I think the helmet is awful, and the decorations don’t impress me either. I also see that they didn’t change the top three players of every class to be server exclusive, like it should’ve been. SWTOR really should’ve had cross-server queues when making that decision. I don’t think they listened to the players at all about these rewards.

I didn’t play this season because I don’t think my gear is good enough, but this doesn’t mean I don’t care or shouldn’t care as a player that does primarily PvE content. I’m sorely regretful that I didn’t put more effort into PvP, because I feel like you may think I have no right to complain about it.

I wrote a post back in February about why I quit the first guild I joined in SWTOR, but I never elaborated why I quit the second guild I joined. I simply said it “became inactive.” While joining my current guild a year ago is probably the best thing I ever did to enhance my SWTOR experience (hello guild flagships and conquests!), my previous guild was a bit different. Smaller and less organized, yes—but vastly more enthusiastic about PvP. They were so excited to go out and smash—literally–other players. If you think I have questionable tastes for other players’ blood in-game, this is probably why.

The guild fell apart of course. The guild didn’t have a lot of people, so the few people that I was used to talking to in voice communications were dropping like flies. My favorite guildies seemed really unhappy about the way PvP was going in game. They stopped logging in. They transferred servers. And I was left with an even smaller guild, who didn’t seem as interested in clearing more difficult operations as I was. I don’t even want to talk about my experience playing on a PvP server, only to feel left alone.

I guess I wouldn’t say I’m traumatized by PvPers leaving the game, but it definitely concerns me. Playing with others in an MMO is what makes the experience so fun, so I would hate for PvP players to see these rewards, think their efforts were for naught, and quit the game. This could cause some of their friends to leave the game also. Alternatively, they could, like I did, adapt to the situation, make new friends and become a top-tier carebear.

I’m not saying my current guildies don’t do any PvP, because a few of them do (and I’m happy I know who they are!) but I also feel like some are not as supportive when I just want to run in somewhere and destroy other players. Is it so wrong to want to run around and gank other players? You don’t have to be a terrible person to enjoy this.

So, Bioware, a request from Pretty Little Sith: please try harder next time with the Ranked rewards. Please work on cross-server queues and/or Ranked for Preferred players. Ranked is where the best of the best prove their skill and should be rewarded tremendously for it. While conquests will be a good addition in that it will encourage open-world PvP, please don’t trivialize the Ranked PvPers for spending money on your game doing what they love. No other players in the game have to be subscribed to play, so why are you short changing those that do?

Corellian Run Radio Episode 123: Testing 1…2…3…

Corellian Run Radio

Hi everyone! I forgot to mention that a new episode of Corellian Run Radio is out! Listen to me and Jason talk about our experiences on the SWTOR Player Test Server (PTS). Click here to listen to this week’s episode.