Jumping Puzzles: Partying Like It’s 1989

Back In My Day We Jumped Uphill Both Ways

The year is 1987 or thereabouts.  I get my first NES and start Mario Brothers.  Now, this game was frustrating and annoying.  You miss a jump, and you die.  Miss too many and you have to go all the way back to the start.  There is nothing worse than playing for hours, finally thinking you nailed it, screwing up, and being sent back to square one.

Getting the fire flower was total sploits! (Image from Wikipedia.)

What did we do about this back in the day, you ask?  Well first, we got frustrated, right?  And then, because we wanted to actually get to the damn end, we bought guides (with cheat codes) or the Game Genie or Game Shark that allowed us to cheat our way to the end, just to FINISH.

Up up left right B button (Image from Wikipedia)

But when you start reading about how to do it and cheating and whatnot, it immediately ends the sense of fun and wonder.  You have to memorize strats and you’re no longer discovering things for yourself.  You’re taking dictation and following instructions.

My HK-51 Questline

Fast forward to last week and I’m prancing through the Theoretika just as happy as can be.  Sure, I could be using a guide, but I’m having a lot of fun poking at doors, and then backtracking as the order I did things in was the least efficient possible.  Whatever.  Oh look, there’s a thing to click on!  Hey, there are 7 of these total.  I wonder if I missed one in one of the rooms I already went in?  I must find out.

I’m scooting around the ship and clicking on things to see what happens and all of a sudden, well I’m trapped.  This is supposed to happen.  I didn’t fuck up, but I’m trapped and have to get to the other side.  How?  You guessed it.  JUMPING.

Well fuck.  I suck at jumping.  Nonetheless, I bravely searched the room until I found the most likely way to get above the ick so I could cross.  After a few tries, I realized I had no earthly clue where to go from the top of the pipe where I was.  I fell off things and onto things, and kept doggedly trying a jump that I didn’t even know if it was technically possible to do, even for someone skilled.

I gave up.  I pulled up a guide.  When I saw the instructions, I realized that it would have taken me a very long time to figure out the circuitous path.

Hey guys, this is TOTALLY EASY! (Escher wuz here, yo)

There was alt tabbing.  There was, of course, falling, and with falling comes copious swearing.  I was halfway through and fell and I remember letting out one of those half-sob sighs, like OH NO I have to START OVER.

Why This Is Not Fun

Something that is supposed to be fun should not require instructions.  Instructions are for assembling furniture.  Instructions are not fun.  The instant something becomes frustrating enough to turn to instructions, it has lost a bit of the sense of discovery that attracted people to the game.

Poor IKEA man, that jump puzzle looks hard!

Something that is supposed to be fun should not require endless repetition of the beginning to get to the end.  This is why we have speeders at the start of raids, so when you’re halfway through and you wipe, you don’t have to run past all the stuff you killed.  It’s why in WoW you can extend your lockouts and don’t have to re-kill every starter boss every week in order to keep working on the last boss.  Having to repeat the first few jumps multiple times is just a blatant time sink for no good reason.

Something that is supposed to be fun should not gate a certain gaming population.  This is the whole reason behind story mode, that you let everyone see the content you created, regardless of whether they are any good at raiding.  I want to access the HK content.  At that point, there was a part of me that thought I might not actually get to have an HK.  Or I’d have to take extraordinary measures like enlisting some really good jumpers to do it FOR me while I waited on the other side.

Eventually, I kicked the sorry ass of the jumping puzzle.  It wasn’t an awesome sense of accomplishment.  I was relieved and annoyed – more annoyed when people started telling me the cheater ways that you could get across using cooldowns.  Well, why did they even think about trying alternate methods?  Oh right, because the jumping was so difficult and lame that they were looking for ways to avoid it.

An Open Letter

Dear Bioware,

No more jumping!

XOXO, me

Njessi’s New Outfit (Includes Space Pants)

I finally decided on an outfit that I love and will probably wear for a good while. It also doesn’t seem to be something I see on the fleet (at all) so I’m unique-ish.

For those who are keeping track at home:

Remember, folks, most of these pieces are republic-side stuff/appearance. You imps are on your own.

Dear Santa Bioware

To: Santa Bioware, North Pole Austin

From: Me

Dear Santa Bioware,

I’ve been really good this year and have not given anyone negative fifty dkp minus, even when they probably deserved it.  Here is a list of my totally reasonable demands … I mean requests.  I’m not saying that the Taun Faun gets the chop if my demands aren’t met, nooooo.

Server Transfers.  This needed to happen yesterday.1  What would be well-received by the community is if you gave free transfers based on the months subscribed, kind of like the planned free name changes for subscribers.  Let’s say 1 character server transfer for every 3 months of subscription? (Past and going forward.)  Then additional transfers via cartel coins.  People would love this so much.  People would say nice things about it.  Even the haters.

After-the-fact Character Recustomization.  I don’t care if I have to pay cartel coins for every stinkin hairdo change, or if I have to change it via an out-of game interface, like the char select screen.  I want it.  People will pay for it.  The more options that can be changed (not JUST hair) the better.  For example, people may want to species change their toons so that all members of the legacy “family” are the same species.  I know that I’d change my cyborg smuggler into a Zabrak to “match” my main now that I’ve settled on a theme.

Preview Match To Chest.  Things color match differently.  I crafted almost every medium armor pair of boots and gloves for both synthweaving and armormech to match with a certain shirt.  It was impossible to know which color would be picked up in the boots, or part of the boots, or whether they would not change at all.  Please, let us preview the color matching so we don’t have to try things on and bind them to us, only to discover they look horrid when matched.

Better UI Customization (Hots, Dots, and Debuffs).  I am sick to death of croaking because I could barely see the debuff on me. When we have 2 sages in the raid, they can’t tell whose dot is still on the boss and whose has dropped off.  Let me individually adjust buffs and debuffs so I’m not squinting at the screen going “what the flip is that picture?”2

Macros. Mouseover macros, and the kind where you can pop items/abilities that aren’t on the GCD before an ability.  Do you know what a pain in the butt flechette round is?  A big pain.

Better Companion Customization.  There are a few things wrong with companion customizations.

  • In a word: fugly.  Yes, fugly.  We need more options or more mix-and-match options (like at character creation.)  If I’m trying to get rid of Doc’s facial hair, I don’t need the majority of the companion options to also have even uglier facial hair.
  • It is a pain in the butt to find and buy customizations.  There’s a vendor here, a vendor there, and most importantly, the vendors are two planets after you get the companion.  This means you get more and more attached to their default look the longer they have it, and the less likely you are to be receptive to a change.  Or you stop what you’re doing, fly to a way high level planet, just to find a stupid vendor, and then get the hell out of there.  We all want individuality and credit sinks, right?  Just put all the customizations on one vendor, and put that vendor on the fleet already.

Inquisitor Scars Unlock.  You can unlock every option of every race now, via cartel market or legacy.  You can’t unlock the decorative sith inquisitor scar options.  Pretty please?

Just put all the things in the stocking, thanks.  No Taun Fauns were harmed in the making of this list… yet.

XOXO, me.

  1. Mostly because I don’t want to listen to the QQ anymore.  I don’t personally have a damn thing to transfer.
  2. See, I said flip.  Santa is proud I swore less.

I Am Thankful I Did Not Wear This

Over the long weekend, guys, I could not stop screenie-ing.  It was just one thing after another.  The fleet is a hive of scum and villainy indeed.

First, I want to point out that if you do a good job matching an outfit, you get congrats – But I hereby take away those congrats when you top off the look with a stupid hat.

Second, bikinis.  So many bikinis.  SARCASTIC THANKS, CARTEL MARKET.

I’d wear a mask to obscure my identity too if I were wearing that.

But see, look from the side.  There is too much boob.  Side boob.  Bottom boob.  Flat out excess of boob!

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[Screenshots] My Companions May Sue Me For Sexual Harassment

Because this is their new uniform.

Invisible chestpiece ftw.  Suck it, idiots who dress their companions in bikinis!

This brings me one step closer to my pre-launch goal of having pool boy and cabana boy in speedos working on fashion in my ship-sweatshop.  I expect speedos in the next Cartel market release.

I am a terrible person.

(I could have cheated and just taken off their tops for screenie purposes, but no, I am the proud owner of 2 invisible chestpieces.  Rusk, you’re next.)

Prevailing Through Space In the Name of Pants

Guys, these Pilot Pants (70 fleet comms) are LITERALLY the best pants I possess.  On any toon.  Ever.  Here’s why:

  1. They color match beautifully.
  2. The material looks shiny and modern and goes with the new sithie slick cartel items.  Many of my other favorite pants regrettably have the “jeans” texture that matches more with smuggly things.
  3. They don’t have weird embellishments on the crotch or butt!!!
  4. They don’t include the “bottom of a shirt” from a chestpiece that they’re supposed to go with.  Because then when you don’t wear that specific shirt it looks bizarre that you have little scarf bits hanging down.  (For example, the apprentice set or the aspiring knight set.  It’s a long list and in fact most medium armor knight pants have this problem.)

Unfortunately, the fact that these gorgeous pants are so “right” for everything means:

  1. I will need said pants on other (serious) alts.  That means, of course, upgrading their ships (boo for my money).  If I do “math”, it also will involve about 4 days of space. Fuck.
  2. I bet the 200 comm pants are just as awesome, maybe even awesomer (because they lack the side panels of a different color, making them truly neutral – provided they color match nicely), and there’s only one way to find out.  That one way would require 10 more days of space missions.  Fucknuggets.

While I sniffle into my hanky, go look at how awesome these pants are.

With the Dark Initiate Robe (purchased on cartel market, 150 cc):

With the Saberist Body Armor (purchased on Cartel Market, 150 cc):

With the Spymaster Chestguard (random pack cartel item, purchased on GTN):

Compared with the spymaster pants (random pack cartel item, purchased on GTN) that have a weird codpiece, yech….

Incidentally the Spymaster chestguard also looked kickass with the sentinel elite leggings (crafted, synth)…

…and the corsec pants (Social 6):

I’m going to have a tough time deciding.  So many things that look good with the spymaster chest. Terrible problem to have!  (Help me – which one do you like best?)

In Space Nobody Can Hear You Swear

I’m just going to say this up front: I have no coordination and no ability to navigate.  I also get extremely motion sick whether something is actually moving or not (Imax, YUCK!).  It’s a fucking miracle that I drive my car to work every day and don’t crash or puke.

That said, I have never done space in this game.  Never!  But my gray shirt needs pants, and I think the space-pants might be the key.  Good thing I think the 70 comm pants will work.  I did not want to have to grind to the 200 comm pants.

So, I took the lowest level space mission and hopped in my unmodified ship and was ready to go.

The first time, I failed spectacularly.

Protip #1 Space is a lot easier when you have the space UI turned on.  I did not, as I had disabled and moved the space bits to the side while I was designing the rest of my awesome UI.  Derp on me.

The second time, UI turned back on, I also failed. Swearing ensued. I think even the cat was shocked at the level of profanity.

Now, as everyone knows, skill is more important than gear, but gear can compensate for a bit of lack of skill.  So I hopped back onto the fleet and grabbed some level 5 upgrades.  Hell, I’m throwing credits at everything else lately.

Back in the ship I was totally going to KICK ASS… oh… nope, failed 2 more times.  Seriously fucking pathetic.

The fifth time around I kicked the space mission’s ass.  Or escorted some idiot somewhere.  Whatever.  4 comms.  The pants I want: 70 comms.  Sigh.

Protip #2: you can upgrade your ship but you can’t upgrade the ship that you’re escorting.  Boo. This makes escort missions annoying no matter how good your ship is.

I decided to try a different mission the second time, one that didn’t involve escorting some idiot somewhere.  I successfully killed all the things with about a minute to spare.  I WAS PUMPED!  Then I saw the reward and it was 1 lousy comm.  Additional swearing ensued.

I’m also not very good at dodging asteroids since I’m not fully in control of the direction my ship goes.  I have no clue whether to go right or left side, since at any second I could be turned without my knowledge or consent and get squished into the edge of the screen with a giant rock.  I call shenanigans on having to avoid things when you’re not even driving!

I’m going to have to get a lot better at this for me to get the pants. The things we do for fashion.

(As of this morning, I’m at 54 out of 70 comms, which is reassuring.  If the pants turn out to colormatch poorly with the prospective shirt(s), I might Go Turbo.  Yes, I have seen Wreck It Ralph 3 times already.)

Things That Just Need To Be Free

Hi there, Bioware.  It’s me again, with another open letter.

There are some things that you’re just going to have to give up on trying to charge F2P players for.  The PR cost is not worth it!

My List

Hide Helm.  If you want players to have “full access” to experience this awesome story, nothing kills the mood quite like your carefully-created toon making muffled Kenny-noises from behind a bucket-head.  Think about it this way: lack of hide helm discriminates against classes that don’t have unobtrusive circlet options.  (Cough trooper cough)

Quickslots.  Anyone who has played any MMO knows that two quickbars are just not enough.  If you get past level 10, you will need another bar.  Period.  Ok, don’t give them all 6, but a 3rd that you could purchase with credits wouldn’t kill y’all.

Some Inventory Unlocks (With Credits).  You’re going to need more inventory space before you even leave the starter planet.  It’s just going to turn people off the game if they boot up the game, play for a few hours (I mean, literally, to level 10 is a few hours) and they already find themselves needing to make a purchase.  Let them have the first inventory unlock for 5k in-game credits.  Trust me, they will still need more and they will still buy more.

One Cargo Bay (maybe with credits).  Seems to me that this is an integral part of having a ship.  Maybe lower the number of slots in the first cargo bay, but it seems ridiculous for C2-N2 to be giving the ship tour with the cargo bay and… oh wait, no cargo bay!  Not a big deal for the new player who has barely any stuff, but a huge deal for the returning player who will need at least some storage.

Guild Bank.  Way to make F2P people who are in guilds feel like second class citizens.  If the GM wants to restrict their bank access, that’s the GM’s business.  Don’t make it even harder for GM’s to run their guilds.

And then I have the “things people aren’t going to care enough about so you might as well give it to them because they’ll never pay for it” group.  For example: show titles, show legacy name.  I’d be more inclined to pay for the option to turn that crap off.

But WHY?

These are the few little things that are really pushing the community’s buttons and making a lot of people hugely irate, even subscribers, even though these little items aren’t that expensive.  The amount-of-money-earned to pissed-off ratio just doesn’t add up (yay, quasi-math).

Edit: Ah!  Noreek says that the former subscribers will get to keep their inventory and cargo bay slots, whew. New players will still need to buy it.  But my point about startup costs still applies: if you’re trying to lure people into the game, whether for the first time or for the second time, too many up-front costs are going to make them balk.  Later on, when they’re more invested in the game, they’re more likely and willing to start investing in their characters.  But when you’re first trying to see if you like a game and are going to stick with it (for the first or second time) you don’t want to outlay too much cash until you’re sure.  Hence, why some people choose the 1-month sub plan and later switch to a 3-month or 6-month plan (that’s what I do).

Another problem with these things is that at the very start of your experience, you’re going to need them – not necessarily for the fresh new account (they don’t even have hats), but for people with high level toons that you’re trying to lure back to the game.  Higher level characters will need support for their high-level lifestyle (such as inventory space, cargo space, and quick bars) right away.  And when you think about buying this laundry list of items in the first month, it really adds up.  Sure, you might not need to buy another thing for 3 months after, but the startup costs are going to be prohibitive.

In the big picture, there are going to be a lot of other things that people are falling over themselves to buy.  I am subscribing and I will still be paying extra money to y’all for crap that I suddenly decided I must have.  A dude commenting on my blog yesterday said he had already blown 100 REAL DOLLARS on cartel packs.  All that stuff will more than make up for the losses in giving a few extra freebies.

XOXO, me

P.S. After meeting all the super nice and awesome Bioware people last night, I feel like a total asshole posting this, but I did promise the twitterati that I would.

[Screenshots] I Went Cartel Shopping and Didn’t Break the Bank (Yet)

So far I have been restrained and only bought 2 shirts.

This is my current outfit:

RED RED RED RED RED!  Also, shut up.  I know it’s a skirt.  The sith marauders wear skirts too.  It’s fine.

If you are interested it’s:

Now, this is trickier than it seems.  First, no medium armor skirts except social gear.  And, trust me, you don’t want to wear pants with this shirt.  The hanging down THINGS stick unattractively to the backs of your legs.

Then there were colormatch issues.  Most boots and gloves pick up the gray color rather than the red color.  So I had to struggle to find boots and gloves that were not only marginally attractive but color matched to the right part of the outfit.  And by “struggle to find” I mean “make a copy of each set of synthweaving AND armormech medium armor boots and gloves and try the damn things on and then hit ‘match to chest’.”  My idiots are now farming to recover the mats I wasted in the name of fashion.

I also bought Saberist’s body armor (Cartel, 150 coins).  Goes great with the same boots and gloves, and I’m using the Sentinel’s Renowned Headgear (Legacy Gear), but I’m struggling on the pants issue.  Here I’m using the Corsec Pants (Social VI) but they have this weird two-toned thing going on:

Seriously, it’s impossible to find pants that don’t have embellishment on the butt or crotch… or faux holsters for my not-guns.  Let’s hope that the Cartel Market releases the matching pants.

Total spending: 300 Cartel Coins.  I’m being downright frugal (so far).

Free-To-Play Shopping List

Guys, this is serious.  Are YOU ready to spend all your cartel coins that you’re getting for being subbed this last… almost-year?  I sure as hell am.

Let’s. Go. Shopping!

Saberist’s body armor.  150 cartel coins.  (Dulfy has a screenie.)  It’s kinda gray and it has NO hoodie or doodads, so there’s probably already a crafted equivalent on the imp side.  Trust me, I can find pants and gloves and boots on my own, and they WILL match with colormatch.

Street Slicer’s Longcoat.  150 cartel coins.  Again, a totally imp item that I wants it, precious.  It’s for my smuggler.  A proper duster with no goggles around the neck.  Do you know how dumb it is to be wearing goggles on your face AND around your neck?  VERY DUMB.

Public Service announcement: Before buying a fashion item, do your research and make sure that it’s something you can’t get any other way.  Some of these things are unique, while many are identical to (cheap!) craftable items or items easily obtainable with comms.  You should consult tor-fashion.com to see what is out there (for your faction/armor class) before spending real money. I am also happy to answer questions about whether I recognize an item model.

Additional Cargo Bay, 1050 for entire account.  Hell. Yes. I am so out of space it’s not even FUNNY.  Yes, I can store stuff on my alts and mail it back to the appropriate crafter when it’s needed, but the pain in the ass factor on that is just terrible.  If I can get a 4th cargo bay, I’m all over that.

Now, there are things I will buy eventually, and not right now, but have plans for when I gather enough cartel coins by virtue of subscribing.

Invisible Shirt (Covert Torso Energy Armor).  Unfortunately, it comes in those silly random packs, and I’m not buying one of those anytime soon, I have too many other priorities.  I’m not sure which companion is going to wear it… with the belsavis slave collar.  I’m such a jerk.

Outlaw’s armor set, 1200 CC.  Pricey but hawt.  It seems to be a recolor of the corellia social gear, plus kneeboots, so in an ideal world I’d be able to buy the jacket separately for a reasonable price, and just colormatch the rest, but it’s a package deal (sulk).

Unlock Ship Mailbox (350 CC), Unlock Ship Vendor (250CC) , Galactic Market Kiosk (900 CC).  With all these things on my ship I’d never have to leave.  I will never ever grind enough cash for these in-game, but if I save up my cartel coins month to month, it’s doable.  Unless I blow it all on fashion first.

Want to be cool like me?  Make a wishlist on SWTOR SPY.  See, on the right, there are all the things I want.

And then the price tag.  Oh… 4000+ cartel coins?  Groaaaan.

Dear Santa,

Please bring me the $40 cartel coin pack so my toons (and their companions) can look swanky.

XOXO, me

Do you have plans for Day 1 purchases?