Why I Missed Raid: Life Is Beautiful Festival 2014

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I only ever skip ops nights if I’m on vacation, if there’s some kind of national holiday, or if there’s some kind of emergency family event. This past Friday I attended the second annual Life Is Beautiful Festival here in downtown Las Vegas, and I thought it was a great way to spend my time, despite missing out on ops!

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I met up with a few friends, and we ended up parking at a nearby church! It was only a couple blocks away, but it was free parking for a few hours. The parking rates for the hotels downtown and other nearby areas were about $20, so I thought it was very smart! At first I was worried it was going to be too far away when the driver decided to start heading to the church, but then, once I realized how close we were, I was impressed by the smart and financially savvy idea, though I was still prepared to cough up some cash for a potential parking fee.

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Because we all loved to eat and there were fantastic gourmet foods at the festival, the first thing we did was buy some food! Though I would’ve preferred something more “fancy,” we went to the Aloha Kitchen booth, which serves Hawaiian cuisine. I’m surprised I didn’t take a picture of the rest of our food, but we downed it too quickly! We shared the BBQ Kalua Pork sliders, BBQ Chicken Sticks, and the Tokyo Honey Toast, which were all $5 each. I thought this was a fair price for the festival.

On our quest to find the beer garden, which was a grassy area with all craft beers, we passed the Nobu tent, and of course I had to stop by and order the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno! Of course I am the worst blogger ever and didn’t take a picture of it, but it was delicious. I’ve had this dish quite a few times at Nobu and other Japanese restaurants, and it’s one of my favorite things that I don’t get to eat very often. Unfortunately it was $8 for three, small pieces (which seems like a lot for three pieces but actually cheaper than the restaurant itself), but I was still happy that I got to savor the taste of that dish, and it’s been a long while since I’ve had it. (For reference, at the Nobu restaurant, it’s $24 for six pieces I think.)

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After looking at a few of the different craft beer stands, I chose the Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale (5.5% ABV). I prefer ambers over pale ales or anything that tastes too hoppy, and this one was great!

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We ended up seeing a few different musical artists, including Baauer, Girl Talk, Switchfoot, The Weeknd, Neon Trees, RAC, and Kanye West. I’m not really that impressed by the talent of DJs or EDM artists, but they were entertaining all the same. I enjoyed RAC, and while I didn’t know who they were when one of my friends brought us to their stage, I did recognize one of the songs they played, so I will have to look them up later and listen to more of their music when I’m not trying to listen to hours of podcasts!

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During the Bauuer show, my ops leader left a comment on the blog saying “Get to raid!” It’s probably my fault for not reminding the operation leader that I had a music festival to go to this past Monday, but I did let them know about it a week or two ago. I texted my guild leader to remind them that I wasn’t going to be there, because I had told him previously also! I still felt a little guilty (because being dedicated and reliably showing up on time is very important to me), so I opened Mumble on my phone during the show. Of course, I couldn’t hear them, and all they could probably hear on the other end was probably booming EDM music and me frantically apologizing for not reminding them that I wasn’t going to be there.

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Later in the evening I ate a Mashed Potato & Bacon Burger from the Hash House a Go Go tent, a restaurant that I’ve still never been to. I was pleasantly surprised that for the portion that was served, it only cost $5, but the restaurant itself is known for very large portions. I also rode the ferris wheel, right before The Weeknd performed.

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The last show of the night was Kanye West. I originally didn’t care to see him at all, but my friends convinced me that seeing his show would be the most cost-effective choice versus Panic! at the Disco, which was scheduled during a conflicting time slot. The reasoning was that it costs hundreds of dollars more see Kanye West in concert while Panic! was a bit more affordable. For the most part, I didn’t really enjoy myself. I don’t like him or his music, but I knew some of his songs because they are played frequently on the radio. It was danceable though, so it last least has that going for it. In the middle of the show Kanye started talking and talking about nonsense, which was really annoying. It felt like it lasted for maybe 5-10 minutes. However, his show did start with a version of the Imperial March (Darth Vader theme song from Star Wars), so I geeked out a bit when that played!

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I actually had a 3-day pass, but I was so exhausted and sore from the first day that I didn’t attend the rest of the weekend. (I know–I wasted money!) I would definitely still attend next year, but I will wait for the musical lineup and the schedule before purchasing a pass.

Leveling a Trooper

I finally started leveling another character! This is something I rarely do, but the 12x Class Story experience bonus is motivating me to play through more class stories. I had never tried the Trooper class story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, so I rolled a Trooper. I’m attempting to unlock all the different playable races in-game, so I chose the Zabrak race!

I originally rolled a female toon, but after listening to the first conversation that the Trooper has in the story, I didn’t like the voice. I thought it was a deep voice, and I also didn’t like that I chose this tiny female to fight in the Republic military.

I ended up rerolling a male Zabrak instead, body type 2, and I was much happier. I thought that, as a male, the story seemed to make more sense. I couldn’t imagine Aric Jorgan (the first Trooper companion) talking to a female the way he did on Ord Mantell. I even like the side story with Sergeant Jaxo, which I would not have gotten to enjoy had I continued with the female toon. This is more motivation for me to play through characters of opposite genders than what I originally chose, to see more parts of the story.

As for my advanced class, since I already had a Mercenary on the Imperial side, I chose the Vanguard so I could learn how to play that. A few abilities were familiar, such as the one I identified as equivalent to Flamethrower on Imp-side! Otherwise, I’m enjoying playing another melee class that has a few range abilities (like my Assassin). I didn’t want to tank, so I chose the Assault Specialist tree (the one on the right).

At the time of writing I’m at level 40 on Hoth (which burns my eyes!). Hopefully by Wednesday night I’ll be at 55. Since I’m simply playing this toon for the story, I don’t think I will be doing any end-game operations or PvP with it. This makes gearing a bit easier, and I can probably just run through Oricon to get a basic set of end-game gear.

Someone told me that if I’m enjoying the Trooper story, I should trying playing Mass Effect, because the story seems very similar. Additionally, Mass Effect is also a game produced by Bioware. I have not played any of those games yet, so maybe when I get a bit of free time from leveling SWTOR characters I will try those out! I’ll be sure to write all about it for you guys!

Corellian Run Radio Episode 130: Rewards, Reveals and Leveling Tips

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I really need to get better at reporting this more quickly, but the latest episode of Corellian Run Radio has been released! It’s almost an hour long this episode, which is really exciting! We discuss news from the New York SWTOR Community Cantina and some tips for the 12x leveling “event!”

Click here to listen to Corellian Run Radio Episode 130: Rewards, Reveals and Leveling Tips. You can also download the episode on iTunes or however you listen to podcasts!

Loot Crate October 2014: “Fear”

Loot Crate

I’ve been subscribed to Loot Crate since earlier this year, and sometimes the themes and items in the box are hit or miss for me. Normally, I don’t write a post about my crates, but the one from this month was a hit! Besides the fact that this is the second crate in a row that I’ve received already open, I am really happy with what I received. I also double-checked to make sure nothing was missing, but I am also going to write an e-mail to Loot Crate. It’s pretty disappointing to get excited about your crate, and then realize that it’s already open.

Anyway, here’s what was in the October 2014 Loot Crate, themed “Fear!” (Also, I’m looking at these pictures and I’m slightly annoyed that my nails have grown out so much already.):

  1. Death By Kitten T-Shirt

Death By Kittens T-Shirt 1

As soon as I saw this item, I was in love! I love cute cat pictures and videos, and this was wonderful. Here’s a picture I took as soon as I took it out of the box.

  1. Toxic Waste Candy

Toxic Waste Candy

I haven’t eaten this yet because I already brushed my teeth for the night, and I’m too lazy to brush again. However, I received the apple flavor! I imagine it might taste like a Warhead..

  1. Sledgesaw Hammer Pen

Sledgesaw Hammer Pen

So, I didn’t realize this was pen until just now, as I’m reading the item description in the Loot Crate magazine that comes with every box. This makes the item way cooler because it’s functional! Sometimes  I don’t like purely decorative items, so when I get something I can use, it’s even better.

  1. How to Survive a Sharknado Book

How to Survive Sharknado

This book is actually pretty thick, and I look forward to reading it! In my opinion, the t-shirt plus this book really increased the value of the box in comparison to what I actually paid for my subscription.

  1. “Oh, Brother” Art Print

Oh Brother SuperEmoFriends

….I know that’s a zombie. Is this referencing “The Walking Dead”? I don’t even know. It’s cute though, made by SuperEmoFriends.

  1. The Walking Dead (Issue 132)

The Walking Dead Issue 132

Again, I haven’t watched nor read anything related to “The Walking Dead.” The comic book is nice though, and I think it’s awesome that we got this on top of the Sharknado book.

  1. Slashes & Bites Tattoos

Slashes and Bites Tattoos

I like this! It’s perfect for Halloween. I don’t have any plans for the actual night of Halloween, but so far I am now planning on wearing my Death By Kittens t-shirt, plus using some of these temporary tattoos. Hopefully some of the kids trick-or-treating at my doorstep will appreciate the look!

  1. Smite Gift Card

You can redeem this for a “Thanatos with the Jack The Reaper” skin. I didn’t take a picture of this because it has a code at the bottom. I don’t play Smite. I probably will just give this away to whoever wants it! Leave a comment or send me a tweet @Heather_PLS and I’ll e-mail or DM the code.

Overall, I’m very happy with this box. I hope next month will be another great theme, and that my box won’t already be open by the time I receive it! If you would like to subscribe to Loot Crate, I have a referral link that you can use:

http://mbsy.co/lootcrate/2753233

Happy looting!

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.