Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, meandering, muddled mind.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Blaugust the 31st: The Masks We Wear

Well, here it is, the last day of Blaugust. Unlike NaNoWriMo, there wasn't a strenuous thirteen hundred word pace to keep up. But developing the habit of posting every day is good practice for that endeavor, I suppose. I did miss one Saturday, but made up for it by posting twice the next day. Congratulations to everyone who managed to post 31 times this month. I doubt I will keep up this pace, but I don't feel nearly as exhausted about it this year. So hopefully, Slacktember won't be the two-post month it was last year.

Scooter challenged me to make this final post of Blaugust a deeper post than some of the others I've written during the month. I was reading Xanziee's post the other day that was, in turn, inspired by Syl's post about the masks we wear, and whether they allow our true selves to be displayed. This thread of posts goes back even further to Jeromai and Psychochild, if you're interested in delving that far.

Syl and Xanziee both quoted from Oscar Wilde (if you can't see the pic): "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." Wise words, to be sure. But another wise man once said, "What I told you was true... from a certain point of view." There is a darker side to this story. "Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." Nothing insulates people from the consequences of their actions quite the way the internet does. From relative safety and anonymity, people harass and harangue others, threaten them, and even cause serious situations, all without apparent consequence. The mask can be a powerful, freeing thing. But is it the truth or a fantasy? And if it is your fantasy, how can you be sure people won't understand it to be the truth? What we do or say in cyberspace can have consequences in meatspace.

There is a school of thought that games and other activities online allow us to live out fantasies that we would never dream of doing in reality. I'm not a murderer, but I can play a ruthless Sith Warrior on my PC. I'm not a street thug, but there is a game for that, too. Is the set of pixels that I control in the game a role or an avatar? Another school of thought, reflected in the Wilde quote above, is that these games offer us the opportunity to act outside the normal constraints of civilized society. Some people take that opportunity too far, becoming assholes—or worse—online. Are you a dick? Or do you just play one on the internet? Is there really a difference?
There's yet another side to the discussion of online masks. While they are not completely separated, I have one online persona that is represented here, on Twitter, and on G+. Rowan Blaze, intrepid gamer and blogger. I don't advertize that persona much on Facebook and other places, where I use the name I was given by my parents and where I still communicate with family and friends, despite any differences in philosophy we may have. Which is the "real" me? Is either? How am I different at home with Scooter or with my kids than I am here on the blog or at the office? Am I an extrovert? An introvert? Something in between?

Do I talk about the dark thoughts that occasionally run through my mind? [I've edited this sentence a dozen times, still trying to keep the mask in place.] I know a few bloggers who have discussed their depression (and other ailments, other conflicts) that they can escape for a while here in cyberspace. But that escape has its consequences, too. I wish we could gather for one big group hug, and that that would solve everything. But it won't, and many of you would probably recoil from the crowd anyway. We can find solace with each other here, and offer our meager support with words of kindness. /Hugs to you all until we can find a way to shed the masks forever.
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It's over! Congratulations again to all the Blaugustian Aggronites. For hundreds of awesome posts, head over to the Blaugust Nook, where Bel is keeping track of everything and community members are sharing encouragement and ideas.
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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blaugust the 30th: Darth Glember and the Merciless Marauder

In the end, I am not sure how far Scooter went to the Dark side with her Sith Sorcerer. She's mostly Dark, though, and it was kind of fun. I'm no longer interested in choosing all one way or another, myself. Morrenia is almost completely Dark. But just tonight, I was finishing up a companion story with Vette where two of the choices were Dark, but cost a great deal of affection from the Twi'lek. The only choice that gained affection was Light, so I made the "sacrifice." What can I say, I have a soft spot for the little treasure hunter. And she deserves to stay relatively innocent.
So Glember now sits on the Dark Council as Darth Nox, and, having defeated Darth "Butterball"(as Scooter calls him, because he's a turkey), Morrenia sets out to destroy the enemies of the Empire as the Emperor's Wrath.

In reality, these two are on hiatus while Scooter and I turn our attention to my Bounty Hunter, Silverleaf, and her Agent, Ginie.
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If you're interested in joining the madness (Vloggers are welcome, too!), Belghast has a set of rules for qualifying for any prizes at the end. Your second stop should be the Blaugust Nook, where Bel is keeping track of everything and community members are sharing encouragement and ideas.
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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blaugust the 29th: Morrenia Hits 50!

Even with the current level cap of 60 (soon to be 65), reaching 50 in SWTOR is still a pretty big deal. At least, it is for me. And so just after 11 p.m. local time this evening, I reached 50 on my third character: the Sith Marauder Morrenia the Merciless.

Scooter is on my heels with her Sorceror, Lord Glember, but didn't quite reach it before we quit for the night. We're just about done with Corellia, the original final storyline planet, and there will only be a few climactic scenes after that to finish the original stories. I also brought Pierce's affection to max, but not really any romance (other than a single tryst). I now know why people had such an issue with Quinn, maybe more so than Corso. But sadly, it looks like he truly is the only option for the female warrior to romance.


One of these days, we're going to have to take a pair of our characters through the 51-60 content, hopefully before KotFE launches in late October. Not to mention who will be boosted to 60 (if necessary), so we can start in on the juicy storyline on Zakuul.
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If you're interested in joining the madness (Vloggers are welcome, too!), Belghast has a set of rules for qualifying for any prizes at the end. Your second stop should be the Blaugust Nook, where Bel is keeping track of everything and community members are sharing encouragement and ideas.
~~~~~~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Blaugust the 28th: Captain Albarossa

Albarossa

Sith Pureblood, Gunslinger
"Sorry about the mess."

His name comes from an Italian wine grape cultivar, and means "Red Dawn." It kind of sounds like a good name for a pirate. And Albarossa is decidedly Dark.

Captain Naqis Albarossa is a free trader who family is from the planet Ziost. Unlike many of his species, Albarossa is not force sensitive, and his parents were also free traders, piloting the XS Freighter Apex Fynock. There were more credits in semi-licit arms deals, and Albarossa was among the best until a deal went south on Ord Mantell. Double-crossed by a thief name Skavak, who stole the Fynock along with its cargo of small arms and explosives, Albarossa was stranded on the civil war-torn world with a price on his head from the crime boss Rogun the Butcher, the owner of the stolen merchandise. Scrounging tickets to Coruscant with the help of the Mantellian mercenary Corso Riggs, Albarossa managed to reacquire the Fynock, even though Skavak continued to elude him.

I had issues with my first smuggler that I have documented elsewhere. With Albarossa, I decided to make him Darker, more brutal, and that has helped. He is definitely type to shoot first. To avoid lost affection with the overgrown boy scout Corso, I have run through Nar Shaddaa before Taris, and picked up my wookiee companion, Bowdaar, a.s.a.p. Unfortunately, this means the story missions on Taris are grey and give almost n points, 12x or otherwise.
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If you're interested in joining the madness (Vloggers are welcome, too!), Belghast has a set of rules for qualifying for any prizes at the end. Your second stop should be the Blaugust Nook, where Bel is keeping track of everything and community members are sharing encouragement and ideas.
~~~~~~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blaugust the 27th: SWTOR KotFE Livestream (with Cantina Code!)

The Latest Cantina Speeder Model, Prinawe Aggregate
So the folks at BioWare did a livestream on Twitch last night, and it was pretty cool overall. I guess they had planned to go to Pax this year and have a Cantina Event, but that plan fell through ("We've chained the devs to their desks to work on KotFE"). And so they gave away an infinitely redeemable code for the Prinawe Aggregate (pictured above). To redeem your own speeder, simply log onto the SWTOR website and then click the following link (or copy-paste into your browser address window).


You'll also receive a version of your own code to share; but again, this one is supposedly infinite. After getting the confirmation, you'll receive the Cantina reward through in-game mail on every character.

They were only about five or ten minutes into the show when the video froze, even though the audio was still working. Over 10,000 people tuned in at one point (which may or may not caused the stream to crash). The chat was going so fast that I could hardly read any of the things people were posting. Trolls, ignoramuses (e.g., people asking for the Cantina Code even though it was part of the stream title), and the folks trying to silence them made up the bulk of the chat anyway, but the occasional item from "SWTOROfficial" was lost as well.

Once they got the technical difficulties worked out (I was playing the game in the meantime, so I did not get upset), they showed a bit of the game (more of the Jedi Knight seen in the gameplay trailer) and explained how the player's decisions would make even more of an impact on the plot than in the current content. The cutscenes are much more cinematic—as has been commented upon elsewhere—with sweeping camera moves and other flourishes. As I was going through a few cutscenes on my Smuggler at almost the same time as I was watching the stream, and the differences were really noticeable.
Ahhh, Kira, I'm so glad I won't lose you.
I took notes for Scooter (who was otherwise occupied) but forgot to put them somewhere they would be of advantage as I write this. A few highlights that I can remember:
  • The expansion will be included "free" for anyone subscribed at launch (27 October 2015). So basically, $15 gives you full access to Knights of the Fallen Empire. Ironically, that's the day my 60-day time card will run out. (Of course I will be getting another one, Silly!)
  • The expansion will have nine (9!) chapters available from launch for subscribers. I think they're assuming everyone will subscribe to the game who is interested in the expansion.
  • While, based on your class, there will subtle differences in the choices you can make (e.g., Force Persuade for the Knight), I got the strong impression every class will get mostly the same story, at least at the beginning. I think this will be a good thing: if our choices really do impact the plot, the story should change significantly as we move through it. They may have devoted the resources to enable those dramatic changes instead of having the most significant plot choice be made at character creation. And personally, I'd rather have a story where I am actually making a difference than eight stories where I am mostly just along for the ride.
  • From a story perspective, your companions are scattered, and part of the plot will be finding out what happened to them.
  • However, from a game mechanic perspective, none of them are lost. No one will lose any investment in time and resources in the game, like effort spent to gain max affection, reputation, etc. Opportunities may be lost, however. For example, they specifically mentioned a current Makeb achievement that will be rewarded in KotFE, but that may not be available after KotFE launches.
  • All companions will be able to fulfill any role. I noticed that Lana, clearly a Marauder (DPS) with twin red lightsabers, was healing the PC Knight during the demo playthrough. This will free up the players to choose the companion they want rather than the companion they need to complement their own playstyle.
  • They referred to the KotFE launch period as "Season 1," which will be followed by a "break" coinciding with the launch of Star Wars Battlefront and the release of Episode VII in theaters. Then, Season 2 will come out next year.

They closed out the stream with another video showing Kira piloting the Defender in an attempt to rescue the Knight from a burning battle cruiser. More exciting cinematic style. I don't feel this was too much hype train, though I may be overestimating the degree of player impact on the plot. Now all I have to do is decide which of my stable of characters will be my first "Outlander."
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Wow, has only four posts of madness left! Belghast has a set of rules for qualifying for any prizes at the end of Blaugust. Your second stop should be the Blaugust Nook, where Bel is keeping track of everything and community members are sharing encouragement and ideas.
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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.