Are our TSW characters actually mute?

TSW players are well-acquainted with the fact that our characters never talk, and usually that’s mentioned as a way to both save money and to allow us to insert our own inner voices into that character (instead of having a VO artist do it for us).

But what if there’s another, possibly more interesting explanation?

I read this today and it kind of really makes sense: “The Bees took our voices, and that’s why we’re all silent protagonists in cutscenes. The blessing of the Bees comes with a price, possibly as far as losing almost all communication skills.”

Maybe that’s why our characters only communicate via facial gestures and hand movements, and why NPCs don’t seem too surprised (and are usually bemused) that we do not talk.

Just a thought.

The Secret World: Alone vs. Together

alone1I’ve been thinking a lot about The Secret World lately, despite not having played it for over a week since I finished up Issue 10. Maybe I should pick back up my project of playing through the game and detailing all of the quests; I think I’m still in Savage Coast somewhere.

Anyway, I’ve pontificated enough in the past about how brutally difficult The Secret World can be, which leads one to the conclusion that it’s simply better to play with a duo or in a group. Not that every quest will allow groups to progress together (there are some forced solo instances), but for the most part you’d think that it’s a game that was designed for groups rather than the single individual.

alone2And I wouldn’t fight you on that if you insisted. In the past, some of the best times that I’ve had in TSW are with a regular group. It’s a rip-roaring time to experience the same story together, to figure out clues as a group, and to plow through fights so quickly that you forget what slogfests they can be solo. It’s like watching a great movie with friends, only that you all have parts to play as well.

But having done a significant part of the game by myself, I can’t deny that some aspects of TSW work a lot better when you’re alone. The scares and atmosphere hits you a lot harder when you’re on your own, especially because you’re not being distracted by what your group is saying. There’s a deeper satisfaction, I think, to solving quests on your own instead of piggy-backing on the efforts of your teammates. And going solo means that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with your friends, giving you freedom to really soak in the details and be a tourist to your heart’s content.

TSW has a lot of small details that deserve noticing.

I’m glad that TSW is making most of the game a lot more solo friendly in the next update, although I would also like to see a much better LFG option so that peeps can always have that option of teaming up. Just about every stranger I’ve grouped up with in TSW has been friendly and fairly patient, and I owe my success to more than a couple of quests to the knowledge and skill of another player.

So maybe I don’t have to choose one or the other. Alone is good, but so is together. Having the choice means that the game adapts to what I want to do that night instead of forcing me to play according to what the game demands.

6 wonderful things about the Operative that I’m getting to know again

op1Now that I’ve been back on my Operative in Star Wars: The Old Republic for almost a week, I feel like she’s gone from being this foreign entity to a familiar-yet-newly-wonderful character. It’s helped that I’ve had some assistance from guildies to run a few flashpoints and gear up a bit (in addition to new gear purchased with commodations). So here are six quick things that I’m (once again) appreciating about this class.

1. I love using the blaster rifle in this game, especially because only the Operative and the Commando (I think) pretty much use these. And taking down Jedi with such a weapon feels great. Where’s your fancy lightsabers and force bullying now?

2. I’ve always been a fan of flinging DoTs as a primary means of DPS, as there’s something deeply satisfying about watching your enemy’s health tick down even when you’re not doing something right then. My lethality build revolves on a few of these, and I’ve gotten into the groove such that an elite is no trouble at all.

3. I was initially bummed that I couldn’t switch over to being a sniper, but now? I’m happy that I have the options that the Operative does in the healing department. Being able to sub in as a healer in a group or (especially) heal myself in tricky spots is terrific.

op24. Speaking of heals, some of the only discipline perks that got me interested were those that coupled self-heals with my shield and stim pack. It’s nothing major, but every little bit helps, and I’ve had fights where those extra heals kept me from keeling over.

5. Stealth! Oh, stealth, how I usually ignore you in MMOs but realy like you on the Operative. Not only is it so much fun to stealth-backstab a target or to prowl through a mob-packed area without having to fight everything along the way, but I love being able to instantly drop into stealth during combat and shed all aggro. It’s a great “oh crap!” escape button when things start to go wrong.

6. Finally, I missed the Operative’s/Imperial Agent’s attitude. She feels removed from all of the other classes, even on her own side, because she’s part of a different world. Doing ops and covert missions — even if it’s just part of the mission dialogue flavor — is a refreshingly different side of the Star Wars world. Not everything has to be Sith and Jedi and Wookiee co-pilots.

RPS shows you how not to interview

peterI’m very late to this, but I’ve been stewing over the now-infamous RPS interview of Peter Molyneux and have to say a quick thing or two about it. There seem to be two reactions among both players and other media outlets:

1. Unabashed glee that an unpopular game dev was taken to task for his failings, lies, and pattern of hype. Lots of “He deserved it!” sentiments.

2. Abashed shame that Rock, Paper, Shotgun conducted an interview in such a manner, sympathies or dislike for Molyneux notwithstanding.

I am firmly in the second camp. Listen, we need hard, unflinching questions in interviews. We need journalists committed to rooting out the truth and not lobbing complete softball discussions. But this wasn’t just a keen-eyed reporter going for the next Pulitzer; it was a ticked-off fan getting to flame a dev on the phone and then post it, knowing that it would get a lot of hurrahs because Molyneux is in the doghouse.

It’s so unprofessional that I’m shocked that other outlets have been praising it. The interviewer is completely emotional and antagonistic, a fanboy trying to pick a fight instead of a reporter looking for facts and explanations. It didn’t matter what Molyneux had to say; it was clear from the very first question that this was a witch hunt that could only have one result.

Actually, it could have had two results: Molyneux could have hung up, and he really should have. He was far too polite to do so and too polite not to get into a fight with the interviewer.

This interview could have asked most all of the same hard, fact-seeking questions but done so without an angry, petulant, bullying tone and been so much better for it. RPS should take that interview down, stat.