Silly Things From Beta: Character Creation

YES, I KNOW I AM LAME.  I know that it’s stupid to spend the first night in regular-beta goggling at the character creation screen.

But holy crap, guys… there is a lot of stuff I didn’t realize before.  A twi’lek is not necessarily a twi’lek.  Available features for a character species can change by faction or class.  SERIOUSLY.

So, let’s have a disclaimer here that I’m not the most thorough tester and things are liable to change…

Cyborgs

  • Each class has its own cybernetics.  Seriously.   It’s not just per faction, it’s by class.
  • The smuggler ones are still old and “clunky.”  Hopefully they get an overhaul like some of the others that look incredibly swanky. Because right now I’m so wishing I could be an imperial agent.
  • Male and female of the same class appear to get the same cybernetics.
  • Male facial hair is “attached” to cybernetic options.  Which I hate but I suppose that not all beards go with all implants.
Humans
  • Imperial Bounty Hunters can have face paint (tied to cosmetics slider in females)
  • Sith Warriors and Republic Troopers can have facial tattoos (tied to cosmetics slider in females)
  • Edit: Sith Inquisitors have “slave scars”
Miraluka
  • For whatever reason, the females at least have far fewer hairdos than the other human-like-races.  But they still have many varieties of the mohawk (?!)
Rattataki
  • Edit: Sith Inquisitors have slave scars.
Sith Pureblood
  • Edit: Sith Inquisitors have slave scars.
Twi’lek
  • Edit: Sith Inquisitors have slave scars.
  • Lekku pattern is tied on one slider with cosmetics (for females).  I hate that.  Thought I’d share.
  • Edit: Empire/Republic have different Lekku Markings
Zabrak
  • Empire and Republic have different tattoo options.
  • Empire has option of red skin.  Republic does not.
  • Imperial zabraks have red rings around their irises (which looks EVIL).
  • Edit: Sith Inquisitors have slave scars.
  • All the Republic female tattoos include the chin and remind me of a goatee or 5 o’clock shadow.  So sad.
If you want to see a long video overview of character creation, go here!  It’s far better than any of MY screenies would be.  Oh wait, it turns out I couldn’t properly take screenies and ended up installing fraps.  I hope to be less fail soon.

Normal (not limited to weekend) Beta: Making Testing Practicable for the Casual Player

Last weekend, a bunch of my friends got into beta.  Their weekend consisted of picking up hot pockets and not leaving the house.  My weekend was very different, as you saw.  Besides the computer issues, I am still a parent, and I can’t just drop everything and throw myself into testing.  I guess I could have skipped WoW raids, but the rest of the weekend was not negotiable.

When giving feedback after the testing weekend, I pointed out that for some players, playtime crammed into a weekend is not possible.

If you think of it, that self-selects the type of player giving feedback.  The players who can drop everything do drop everything and test their little pants off.  However, these are probably not the casual players that are becoming an increasingly large portion of the market.  If you want to get data from casual players, you need a testing schedule that accommodates those players.

I doubt they read my little QQ, but a day after RSVPing for the beta weekend (that all testers were invited to) I did get a second email inviting me to test.  Wait, I have already gotten an email about beta weekend… is this a duplicate?  Nope, it’s just normal beta.

Oh. Snap.

I will be able to actually participate and be useful!  I have a little time after the Little Jedi is asleep.  I can play like I normally do, over the course of a week or so, and maybe I’ll notice things that Mr. Power-through over the weekend didn’t see.

I Fail At Beta

The weekend of November 11-13, I beta tested SWTOR.  Now that the NDA is up, I can tell what I saw.

I have almost nothing to report.  I am super-lame.

Friday:

Downloaded the client and patch.

Went to WoW Raid.

Went to bed.

No, seriously, I didn’t even log in.

Saturday:

I created a character very quickly and ran around.  My frame rate was the suck.  Ok, no big deal, I’ll just turn down my graphics.  Pew pew, this is fun.  A little choppy but fun.

I went back into the character creation screen.  Hey, why do these two faces look exactly the same?  And these two complexion settings.  Hey, why do they look different on my husband’s PC?  ACK MY VIDEO CARD.

What if I’m picking horrible facial features for my toons and can’t even see it, but everyone else can see it because they don’t have a craptastic video card?  THE HORROR.

Ran to Fry’s.  Got new video card.

Back home, tried to install the card and discovered my power supply was inadequate.

Swearing occurred.

Found a power supply around the house (don’t ask) that was better than my current one.  But was unable to attempt installation myself because OMG THE WIRES, THE FREAKIN WIRES!

Begged neighbor to help and bribed with cookies.  Neighbor could help on Sunday, due to being completely occupied with playing the beta at the moment.

Went to Saturday night’s WoW raid.  Then bed.

Sunday:

Took Little Jedi to the park.  And lunch.

Got home and the husband took the PC over to the neighbor’s house, so he could help us install the power supply and video card.

PC came home.  Graphics worked great.  Sound didn’t work at all.  LOLWUT?

After intense driver reinstallation and testing, discovered that sound worked fine if speakers were connected through the USB port.

Ran to Fry’s minutes before closing to grab an adaptor.  Fry’s employees had no flippin clue what I was asking for.  Had to bribe Little Jedi with candy in the checkout line.

Fed Little Jedi and put her to bed.

OH RIGHT, and then I got to play the game.

In conclusion:

I have nothing useful to say about much other than character creation and video cards.  I hope this upcoming weekend is more productive.

Where in the Galaxy are the Female Gamers?

I’ve been obsessed with polls lately, mostly so I don’t create a cookie cutter toon right out of the box.  I found on the official forums a really super-complete poll about gender/species/class/role/alignment.  According to said poll, 20% of players plan to play female toons, and 72% plan to play male toons, with 8% undecided (lookit me doing math here).1

Now… I know full well that there are a lot of guys who play female toons, but very few girls who play male toons.  I’m also scratching my head because in my WoW guild, the gender ratios IRL are close to 50/50, with some guys playing girls in-game.  In general, in all the guilds I’ve been in during my WoW time, the male/female ratios have been pretty reasonable, and it was very rare that I was the only female in a 10-person raid.

But hey, there’s a poll that incorporates guys playing girls too!2  If you add together girls-playing-female-toons and guys-playing-female-toons, you get 35% of the TOONS will be female (which is not the same as the 20% above, not at all). If you add together the number of girls-playing-female-toons and girls-playing-male-toons, it comes out to 8% of the players IRL will be female.3

LOLWUT?  8% can that be right?4  I was used to being the lone girl when I started playing MMO’s, but this ain’t 2001.  And it seems to me that the game concept is no more “testosterone-filled” than SWG or WoW, and there were PLENTY of women playing those.  So what gives?

I’m forced to the conclusion that, uh… women aren’t as freakishly obsessed with the game as the men are and don’t bother to respond to these silly polls.  I don’t know where I’m going with this.  You can’t really trust random polls… or my math and analysis.

  1. The sample size for this poll is 9000+.  In the previous complete poll from which the current one is derived, female toons were at 19%, male toons at 78%, and undecided at 3%.  With 3000+ responses, the previous version did not have as large a pool.
  2. This poll has a little over 2000 responses, whereas the complete poll cited above has over 9000 responses, and there is a definite result discrepancy.
  3. Which, again, we’re taking with a grain of salt given that there are a little over 2000 responses to the poll.
  4. Eep, in a previous gender poll thread, it was 6% (out of 2800ish responses)!

Character Creation: A Tale of My Idiocy

Just to get this out of the way… this does NOT give away any beta information.  It’s just a commentary on my own inability to handle character creation in any game in a calm manner.

I do not want to look like everyone else…

When Blood Elves were introduced in WoW, there was a totally pretty new hairdo, the “Raquel.”  Of course, I saw a ton of blood elves with that same hairdo within the first week.  It was pretty uniform and pretty lame.  I was pretty happy I had not picked that hairdo, despite how much I liked it.

This is the best image I could find (courtesy of wowpedia). I'm aware that it's actually a human.

What might be the thing you objectively like the best may be the most cookie cutter of them all… be it race or options within that race.

Now, if only there were a list ahead of time for what to avoid, without having to roll a toon, see the same thing over and over, and then reroll.  In a game that I’m familiar with (WoW) by now I know exactly what to avoid.  That doesn’t help me with a first toon in a new game.

I also want a character with… character…

What do I mean by this?  Well… I don’t want an ordinary character or, worse, one excessively attractive. It’s so tempting to make a character that is perfect.

In SWG, there was a slider for weight.  You could be as fat as you wanted.  There was also a boob slider, and you could be as busty as you wanted.  I cannot even TELL you how many “girls” tried to be “excessively pretty” by going minimum weight and maximum boob1, or boys who tried to go “buff-o-riffic” with max muscles and minimum fat.2  And who had freckles?  Right, nobody.  The unibrow option was similarly unused.

Scars, tattoos, whatever… my character needs some grit, not to be a blemish-free teen.  Also, I will not be a human ever again in any game, ever.  HELLO!  I’m a human IRL.

But I choose conservatively when options cannot be changed later…

A spiky hairdo might feel badass for a week, and then you’ll get bored with it.  Bright pink skin might be awesome, until you discover it looks like crap with half the outfits out there.

In SWG, since I was an image designer, I tried on all sorts of crazy looks that didn’t “stand the test of time” because I knew that I could just change my skin to match my clothes, rather than my clothes to go with my skin.  Although when first picking my character, before getting master image designer, I picked a boring tan skin color for my Twi’lek because I knew it wouldn’t look hideous with anything.

In WoW (pre-barber shop) I spent a hell of a lot of time picking things like skin tone and hairdo… not necessarily for the one I liked best, but the one that was least likely to piss me off down the road (i.e. I would pass over a hairdo I liked if I thought it might clip with my clothes).

This is my first wow toon.  A human.  No facial piercings, bland and pretty.  I eventually grew so bored with the blandness, but at least I wasn’t stuck with a toon that I just hated.

And I don’t want to be unhappy with my character

The last thing I need is to reroll just because I cannot stand to LOOK at my toon.  Which, yes, I have done that.  Face it, if you get too far outside your comfort zone, you just won’t connect with your character.

This was my tailor on test center in SWG (sorry for the small pic size).  This was my first and only Zabrak.  I just could NOT get over the receding hairline look for every damn hairdo.  I really tried.

This is my human in SWG.  I convinced myself that I needed my combat toon to be a human for the superior racials.  But she just looked weird, no matter what I did.

And this, of course was my Twi’lek in SWG.  When I think of my time in SWG, this was “me.”  And the others just could not replace the one that was “me” regardless of my need for better racials (human) or a less popular race for females (zabrak).

When SWTOR Launches

I’ll be right behind you.  By a few hours or days.  Agonizing over the character creation screen.

  1. Maximum boob ended up clipping many outfits and looking ridiculous.
  2. Going minimum weight and maximum muscles led to a very triangular shape and a “girly waist.”  When guys begged me to give them abs, I had to convince them that some weight was needed to fill out the girly waist and give the impression of a normal midsection.

What I Am Allowed To Say

Thar be a game testing program.

I be in it.

And since that’s all that’s I can say, we get to talk about my feeeeeelings.

Back in the day, I would have been bouncing off the walls with anticipation.  Now… I’m older, wiser, and don’t have as much time.  Get off my lawn.

Pros of participating in said game testing program:

  • I will see if my PC will run it.  If not, it’s a trip to Fry’s for me.
  • I will see if I like it.

Cons of participating in said game testing program:

  • What if I hate it?!  I’ve already preordered.
  • It’s kinda… spoilerific to do a beta.
  • I don’t have as much time as I used to.
  • I’m a little burnt out on working srs hard to make a game better… for free.

Ok, that last point is the main one.  After SWG and the correspondent program, I was just so… done with investing oodles of time and effort into making a game better.  For free.  Now, there were people who really wanted to get into the industry1 so it made sense for them to throw themselves wholeheartedly into this endeavor, but that wasn’t me.  I worked so hard because I was really attached to the game and I have trouble doing a half-assed job.

I haven’t done a beta in about 5 years, I was that burnt out.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t even bother signing up for the ones in WoW.  I haven’t set foot on the PTR either.

So the question is will I be able to give reasonably good feedback (the whole reason companies have beta) without the game just monopolizing my life while I have access.  And with a kid who wants to go to the park, do I even have time to do it right?  Because park always beats gaming.

We shall see.  And by “we” I mean “me” because, duh, there’s an NDA.

  1. Some of them did, and are working for Bioware!  Woot for them.

Inconvenient Relatives, Annoying Holidays, and Release Date

My mom is visiting in late November (Thanksgiving).  Ok, no big deal… it’s unlikely that the early access for preorders will start that early.

My dad wants to visit “mid-December.”  Yargh.  That will probably be right during early access.  And he’ll be sleeping in the computer room.  Double argh.

Then… my in-laws will be in town for Xmas.  Right after release.  They won’t be staying with us, but still… that seriously cuts into my play time.

And after Xmas, some WoW guild mates will be in town.  I am excited about this!  I hope I’m not too worn down by all the previous obligatory visits.

But AFTER all that, it will be PLAY TIME!  I may even take a vacation day or two and send the Little Jedi to school… bwahhaha.

Holidays suck.

Putting Fingers In My Ears and Humming LA LA LA

LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

So every few days, my husband will announce to me “you’ll never guess what they’re doing in SWTOR!” and proceed to tell me about the newest tidbit of information he read somewhere or heard on a podcast.

It’s very interesting.  I care very much whether there will be the need to JUMP (oh how I suck at jumping) in instances.  I care what the healing will look like.  I care about what the UI will let me do.  Oh noes!  How will I live without Grid and Clique?  Will I be a respectable healer in this new world?  Will I have to hunt down the best resources for my med packs?  WOOOOE!

You see why this is a problem.  Speculating leads to anxiety, and getting overly anxious about and invested in a game that isn’t even out yet seems like a colossal waste of stressing out.   Breaaaathe.

I used to flip the hell out whenever something made it to Test Center (SWG) that I totally hated.  Oh, this is going to be horrible!  And sometimes it came to pass (and indeed it was horrible)1  and sometimes it did not.  But focusing on it didn’t help.2 In WoW, I kept an eye on the patch notes, but tried not to “woe is me” as much.  Because, honestly, it’s going to change or it isn’t, period.  And even if they fuck up your favorite class beyond all reason, you can play an alt.3  It is NOT the end of the world.

Remember back in the day, before EVERYTHING was on the internet, you bought a game, read the manual (maybe), and started playing it.  Just like that.  And by the time you reached elements that you would have considered panic-inducing at the start, you totally knew how to deal with them.

So that’s the plan.  Reading the equivalent of “the manual” (in this case, browsing the holodeck) and booting the damn thing up.

Nothing I read will make me buy or not buy the game because I’ve already preordered.  Nothing that I read now will make me “more prepared” or help me avoid an irreversible error.  And it’s not like I’m marrying the game.  The most terrible horrible thing that could possibly happen is that I don’t like it, and I unsubscribe.4  And that’s not so terrible horrible at all.

No anticipating.  No worrying.  And for the love of Pete, no whining.  Except about companions.  Because, seriously, I needed my pool boy.

  1. Anyone remember the “Image Designer Stat Migration and Timers” debacle?
  2. Hell, even as a correspondent, pointing out the terribleness to the devs usually didn’t have any effect either!
  3. Taking away my goddamned tree form.  Jerks.
  4. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “NGE” here.  So there it is.

Companions and Why I Can’t Have a Pool Boy

This was me when I first heard about companions:

I shall have one companion and name him “Pool Boy.”  My second companion shall be “Cabana Boy.”  They can wear skimpy clothes on my starship whilst doing all the crafting making pretty clothes.  My starship, incidentally, will be called “Njessi’s Sweatshop.”

Hey, a girl can dream.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that you can’t name your companions.  Apparently, they have back stories and personalities of their own and aren’t just my minions.  I suppose people would abuse the ability to name companions, but I’m so disheartened by no “pool boy.”  I probably can’t dress them in Speedo-equivalents either.  So. Sad.

Now, kiddies, I was wanting eye candy here not, ahem, anything else.  Romance option?  Lame.  I just don’t know where to begin with the lameness of this.  Like a cyber blow up doll.  Maybe if you make googly eyes at your companion, it will send a clear “fuck off” message to would-be cyber-humpers, in which case, I will immediately marry whichever companion I see first, even the wookiee.

And speaking of the wookiee, what the fuckcrap is up with the complete and total hotness of the currently revealed female companions with the absolute fugliness of the male companions.  8 sample companions are up on the official site, 4 male, 3 female, and one droid.  Not one suitable specimen for a speedo-sporting cabana boy.

Oooh la la. Hey baby, you sure you don't want that "Romance Option?"

 

You know you're in trouble when the wookiee is the best-looking one. For the love of Pete, I don't want to see ANY of the above in a Speedo.

Granted, the companion preview set my mind at ease (somewhat) since there was at least one Speedo-ready male featured.

I question the hair, but otherwise, he will do.

Not that I have to have the prettiest boy companion of all time, but it’s the principle of the thing.  I know there will be 40 companions, total, and it will probably even out the field somewhat.  But for the purposes of the 8 current sample companions on the website, it seems geared to an audience of mostly (teenage) boys will want to hang out with hot chicks or males that don’t threaten to be more attractive than them.

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