Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rogue One

This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: Rogue One.

I saw Rogue One yesterday, and I am not quite sure how to word my feelings. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't a very good one either. Decent enough, I guess.

The truth is that Rogue One commits the same sin as most modern action movies: there is too much action.

As a result, you can't really tell much about the characters, as they spent 95% of their time being shot at, shooting people, or running away from stuff. The characters certainly seemed serviceable enough, though I don't really remember their names or much about them.

The action set pieces all seemed fine and well done. I do wonder if the movie would have been better as a pure infiltration/heist piece, rather than the warzone of the last third.

I did like the bureaucratic in-fighting in the Empire, with both Tarkin and Krennic struggling to make sure they got credit for the Death Star. That felt very true to life.

Tarkin was CGI, and I thought that was pretty decent. I hope it doesn't start a trend of making movies with dead actors, though.

Vader's cameos were pretty good, especially at the end of the movie.

I don't really know what else I can say about Rogue One. A bunch of disjointed observations for a movie which really was a bunch of disjointed scenes strung together. Each individual scene was pretty good, but it never really became a whole, complete thing.

Monday, December 12, 2016

SWTOR's Command XP System

In their latest expansion, The Old Republic introduced a unified item reward system for endgame. Basically, all activities give some amount of "command" XP. Once you gain enough CXP, you gain a command level and get a lootbox. The lootbox has a random item in it. The quality of item you get depends on your current command level.

The community reaction to this is very negative. Personally, I don't think it's that bad a system. Its one great advantage is that you can do whatever activity you like, and you'll earn gear. You aren't "forced" to do raids or PvP.

But perhaps people like being able to "optimize" their gear hunt. To go after specific pieces in specific different activities. I complained once about grinding blue bars in WoW, specifically because you could not optimize your gameplay, and thus it was less interesting. In a way, this CXP system is very similar.

Or perhaps it's because the optimization is really obvious. Find the activity with the best ratio of CXP to time spent and spam it. Perhaps if Bioware made the CXP system artificially more complex, like having diminishing returns on activities, players would find it more "fun".

Another group of players complain because the system is entirely random. What if CXP had been a straight currency system, where you spend CXP at a vendor to purchase items? The grind is still there, but at least there is no random factor in obtaining loot. But then the random system gives you more gear because it expects you to end up wasting a large amount of it. A true purchase system would have very high prices to compensate.

Another possibility might be to "seed" the game with set tokens. Certain bosses or activities can reward specific set tokens, maybe with a cap on how many tokens you can earn in a week. So people can target those activities if they need that exact piece. The Command XP system would still exist, but would be more supplemental.

I don't know. I'm rather sympathetic to Bioware here. People always complain about "needing" to do activity X, which they dislike, to get gear. Bioware makes a decent system aimed squarely at letting you play whatever you want. And they end up with a huge community outcry.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Personal Loot and Set Pieces

I was musing about Personal Loot a bit more, and began to wonder if Personal Loot would fall out of favor with guilds when Nighthold is released.

A somewhat unique element of the raids released so far is that there have been no tier sets released. The first Legion tier set is coming in Nighthold.

At that point, though, guilds may feel that guaranteeing X set tokens for the raid each week through Master Loot is better than leaving set bonuses up to random chance. Sure, on an individual level you may have to wait, but eventually it will be your turn.

I'm also watching The Old Republic's new loot system, where all loot, including set pieces, comes in a random lootbox. It does feels like the the largest complaint against the system is the possibility of getting very unlucky and never getting your set bonuses.

Well, the SWTOR community doesn't like the system as a whole, but I think that the set pieces are the single biggest complaint. I wonder if Bioware could mitigate a lot of the complaints simply by having set tokens drop from a few raid bosses, even with leaving set pieces dropping from the lootbox as well.

It will be interesting to see if Nighthold does change the dynamic, and push organized raids back towards Master Loot.