How Does One Define A Gamer?

Pyxis recently wrote a post on the Gamers Decrypted blog about what it means to be a “gamer”.  There have been several subcategories of the term “gamer” floating around, but I feel that “gamer” is not so much a term to be placed upon someone else as it is a title one would place upon them self.

Pyxis certainly makes the point that being a gamer has evolved from a term of condescension for people of my generation (the Nintendo generation I guess you could say-I’m 31) that spent hours trying to make a little orange and red Italian plumber save a Princess from a fire-breathing mutated turtle instead of playing outside and making lasting social interactions into a badge of honor that a whole subculture seems to have united around (albeit due to the popularity of MMORPG’s).  Since our global (well at least Westernized or Western-inspired) culture has seen such a tremendous influx of people entertaining themselves through controlling a recreation of themselves through a fantasy universe (not fantasy in the way WoW, GW2, or LotRO are fantasy because I include WildStar and SW:TOR in this fantasy universe as well) has taken in people from all walks of life.

Now, like Pyxis, I would not argue that everyone that plays games (be they MMORPG’s, video games, or otherwise) should be viewed as a gamer.  I would also tend to argue that the casual player of a freeware mobile app-style game would not identify themselves as a gamer.  And here is where I make the distinction. To me, being a gamer is a self-proclaimed title. It means that you are willing to take the smugness of other “non-gamers” upon yourself.

I do consider myself a gamer even though I probably only play SW:TOR a few times per week (though I would love to play more often). I guess one of the reasons that I consider myself to be so is because I personally consider myself to be a casual-core player.  I love to play the group content and am just now beginning to get into Operations (my guild and I have recently completed 8-man Story Mode of Scum and Villainy and Explosive Conflict).  The biggest reason I would add “core” to the style of gamer I am is because I do allow SW:TOR to nearly encompass every part of my day.  I listen to SW:TOR podcasts (The Usual Podcast, Corellian Run Radio, Far Far Away Radio, Healing SWTOR, The Idiot’s Array, It’s A Trap Podcast, Old Republic Radio, Podcast 66, Star Wars: Beyond the Stars, The Star Wars Escape Podcast, the Bad Feeling Podcast, Coffee with Kenobi, and the Galactic Gamer’s Coalition), read several SW:TOR Fan Blogs (Ravalation, Going Commando, Pixelkaffe, Pretty Little Sith, Xam Xam Says, The Legacies in SWTOR, Gamers Decrypted, Powerdress Gaming, and many others though I have only listed the SW:TOR specific ones), if you’re reading this then you know I blog about SW:TOR, my Twitter handle (@zerneblog) is nearly full of tweets that I have made either about SW:TOR or tweets to other SW:TOR players.  I feel so involved with the community sometimes that all I talk about is SW:TOR!!!!

So, in summary, to me the title of “Gamer” is something that is to be considered by oneself.  Just like I embody the title “Geek”, “Dork”, or “Nerd”, I embody the title “Gamer”.  I am pleased that we have finally gotten to a point in our society that we are able to look at other gamers and not think of them as the obese teenagers with bad complexions that we all once thought gamers to be.  I am excited that we finally live in a time when gamers are considered to actually be viable members of society as well.  I love playing SW:TOR, like I am sure many others love playing other games.

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What’s In A Name?

Hello, loyal readers!  As you may well already know, Rowan Blaze and I got into a wonderful discussion surrounding character creation-especially choosing a name for each character. Some people go for the humorous side of names like Hugh’Jass (a body type 4 male Bounty Hunter I met on Nal Hutta when first rolling my PT), DaddyFatSaber, or Smell’mi’phartz (both of these belong to a great guildie of mine). Personally I have always tried to focus on making sure my character names actually have some basis in something else (I tend to steer toward mythology), and from his blog post, it would seem Rowan agrees with me (though his inspiration is not limited to mythology). I have also attempted to keep the inspiration separate between my Republic characters and my Sith characters.

I have broken down the phonetic pronunciation of each character (at least how I say them) beneath the spelling-just in case someone ever wants to talk about my characters to others.

I do want to mention that though I fully support the creation of back stories and role playing, I actually don’t do any of that.  Therefore, unlike Rowan, I do not have a backstory to go along with each character. I find that the back story thrust upon you for each class becomes too rigid to attempt to create a back story for. I will probably think about this, and if I ever come up with something I will post a blog post about them-probably sometime during the month of August.

Tanks

I have always wanted the names of my Tanks to be synonymous with demonic destruction-a name that literally meant death, destruction, or something to that affect. This can be easier said than done.

DikarZloney

(DEE-car za-LONE-ee)

Let’s start with the first character I had ever created on an MMO, DikarZloney. I don’t have a screenshot for this Assassin because I have deleted him long ago. He was a male Zabrak with crimson skin and several horns surrounding his head and on his temples. I had Dikar decked out in Aim, Cunning, and Strength (notice a lack of Willpower?). I actually stopped playing Dikar on Tatooine because I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. The name, however, does have a lot of meaning. In keeping with the theme of Sith Zabraks from Maul and the Clone Wars, I was looking for something that would be similar. Dikar means “savage” in Russian, and Zloney means “beast” in Russian. Therefore Dikar’s name was translated as Savage Beast.

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Zernebog

(ZUR-nah-bog)

Since I had such a difficult time with the Assassin, I began reading A LOT about tanking and the classes. Dikar was way too far gone to try again, so I rolled another male Zabrak, but this time as a warrior (Juggernaut). I started looking into more options for Judeo-Christian demonic names to use for Zernebog to no avail. I finally found a reference to the Black God of Slavic mythology, Chernobog.  Though Chernobog was already taken, the reference I found listed several variations on the transliteration of Chernobog. Zernebog ended up being the variant that was available on Ebon Hawk.

Ja'rilo 27

Ja’rilo

(JAH-rill-oh)

Like many players, I had to change the construction of this name since it was unavailable in its normal form (Jarilo). This is my lowest leveled tank for the time being and is a male Cathar that I modeled off my own Maine Coon cat. Jarilo is the God of War in Slavic mythology so it seemed appropriate to make my Powertech tank of this name.

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Awwim

(AH-whim)

Awwim breaks the mold completely. First, she is my only female tank (blue Twi’lek-male Twi’leks look weird to me). Secondly, she is a Republic tank (Shadow). Finally, Awwim does not come from Slavic mythology but rather from Judeo-Christian book of Enoch. Awwim is actually the collective name for all the Watcheds and has been translated as “the Devastators”.

Healers

Dodola (2)

Dodola

(doe-DOE-la)

I only have one healer presently-a female Ratataki Corruption Sorcerer named Dodola. Dodola also comes from Slavic mythology (notice a theme here?) and is the bringer of rain-so kind of like a Rain Goddess. This reminded me of the Thunderstorms we get in the American Midwest that are key for the production of crops. I know it’s a little bit of a stretch, but I am happy with the name. Besides, the goddess of rebirth and healing in Slavic mythology was already taken on Ebon Hawk. Though I could use an alt code for a special character or add an apostrophe, I just chose a different name.

One thing that I thought incredible is that I have actually been asked twice about my character names. Once while I was healing on Dodola a Serbian Marauder asked if the name came from Slavic mythology, and I had another person approach me on Twitter about the name Zernebog coming from Chernobog and siting Slavic mythology. I was later informed this person was also Serbian. I love it when people recognize the origins!

So what is your strategy when choosing character names?  Do you have a particular character name you are especially proud of?  Would you rather see humorous names or names that come about like mine or Rowan’s?  Or do you come up with a single name and place alt codes for special characters or add a character to the end of a base name to differentiate your characters?

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SW:TOR, SW:TOR, SW:TOR!!!

Well, I’ve been very busy this past week with SWTOR, but surprisingly enough I haven’t really been within the game very much.  What I have done in-game has been a blast though!  I dusted off my Shadow Tank (Shout out to Ravanel for convincing me to try picking up the Shadow again after the horrible experience I had with an Assassin-but that was my own fault), and have been doing some class quests (12x XP woot!) and some Warzones.  Playing this Shadow has actually really gotten me to enjoy playing on the Republic side as well considering all of my toons up to this point have been Sith (Zernebog is a Juggernaut Tank, Dodola is a Sorcerer Healer, and Ja’rilo is a Powertech Tank-even on Jung Ma all I have is Zerneblog as a Juggernaut Tank).

Awwim 1

PvE

I have now completed Nar Shaddaa on Awwim and am heading on to Tatooine (halfway through level 28 and in level 21 gear).  I’m waiting until I hit 29 on Tatooine until I upgrade my gear though since I think I can probably handle the first class quest with Qyzen as my companion in DPS stance.  If I have trouble I can always pull out that creepy man slut, Theran Cedrex (though I would rather just force push him into a Sarlacc pit), to heal me while I go through the rest of the class mission waiting to ding 29.  I must say that I have really enjoyed the ability to FINALLY be able to generate enough aggro on the mobs that I can keep aggro off of Qyzen (I have turned his Taunt ability off and placed him DPS stance instead of tank stance) without having to have guard on him at all times.

I must acknowledge the fact that I have enjoyed the planetary shake-up between Empire and Republic though.  I have been so used to doing starter planet to Drommund Kaas, to Balmorra, to Nar Shaddaa.  It was refreshing to see new planets like Tython (I saw the Jedi Temple before it was destroyed!!) and Coruscant, and even more interesting to see Taris this early in the game instead of after Chapter 2 (though that little interlude between Nar Shaddaa and Tatooine where you have to go to that cruiser and save someone was a little odd so early-I’m used to those kind of quests being between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2).

I have also really grown to love the play style of the Shadow (at least up to level 28).  I have really enjoyed being able to vanish (stealth) and open combat with Project while rushing to further enemy to establish aggro.  I have found that tanking at low levels is actually much easier with the Shadow than it was when I leveled my Juggernaut (though by the time 3.0 dropped Zerne was already a level 53, so I didn’t get many of my really tanky abilities until much higher levels).  One thing I do wish you got earlier on the Shadow was the Force Pull ability like you have on the Powertech (I was using the Harpoon ability while running Athiss).  That would be really beneficial.  The rotation I have been working on at level 28 also feels a bit clunky, and trying to keep up Kinetic Ward takes some getting used to.  With Ja’rilo I just have to keep building stacks of Heat something so I can use Heat Screen to increase my Shield/Absorb chance.  On Zerne it’s all about using Saber Reflect on cooldown (both for the threat and for the defensive cooldown).  I feel like I’m getting it, but if you have any advice on post 3.0 Shadow Tank rotations at low levels, please feel free to give me some feedback!

PvP

PvP Warzones have been sooooooo much fun with the Shadow Tank.  Having the Force Cloak ability is AWESOME!!!!!  I can stealth out of combat, force speed away from the fray, heal, force speed back (while stealthed), CC someone and then begin wailing on others in the fray without dying.  Granted I do sometimes get jumped by about six people off of the opposing team, but at times like that I know there are only two members either defending their node or going to attack another.  I know I am helping my team when that is happening.  Of the several warzones I have played on Awwim, I have been on the winning side in the majority of them.  Even when I haven’t won, I have been one of the top players on my team (though usually not the top player-I’m usually #2 or #3).  The Shadow has really reawakened my love of PvP, but I wish there was some kind of a self-healing ability that I could pop to gain back a little HP.

I have had several great matches recently (I was queueing along with two other guildies, and we were just destroying the matches!  I was never the top performer, but I was also never at the bottom.  Special shoutout to Aces (Jedi Sentinel on Ebon Hawk) and Adriel (Jedi Shadow on Ebon Hawk) for all their help and amazing work in these PvP matches!

Outside of the Game

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I have also been getting into a lot of podcasts.  I tend to like these because I can listen to them on the bus while I head to campus for class or painting or something exterior.  I have had the opportunity to really get into a couple of them.  Of course I still love Ootinicast, but there are so many more of them out there that are amazing!  Marshall and Will do a great job with The Usual Podcast (they focus on SWTOR, Star Wars in general, and finally geek and pop culture all in the same show!  Check them out!  These guys are badass, and I love the taste in Beer!).  Redna has also recently come up with a new podcast that examines the role of cannon since the Disney takeover of Star Wars in his new podcast It’s A Trap with his great cohost Ordoo (@OrdooSkirata).  If you’re new to the Star Wars Universe, I really encourage you to take a look at It’s A Trap.  Lastly, as far as podcasts go, Marshall, Will, and Master Liu have gotten me interested in checking out Coffee With Kenobi.  I’m a huge fan of these guys too.  Give them a listen!

Finally, I have also been trying to figure out Enjin.  We’ve been doing a little bit of work on our guild website, and I have been trying to learn as much as possible about the web design engine.  I wish it was a little more newbie friendly!  I look forward to continuing work with the guild site while also trying to get more going in game.  I’m looking forward to the June 15 special announcement from Bioware concerning #FallenEmpire.  I can’t wait!  And I can’t wait to get back in game!

(Sorry, I don’t have any current screenshots of Awwim or Zerneblog, but stay tuned and I’ll have some up on my next post!)

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Bringing It All Back Home (well, in a way)

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I have actually mentioned anything about what I have been doing in SWTOR here on Zerneblog due to May being taken up by the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  Well, like many other people, I have been taking full on advantage of the 12x XP boost and have rolled a brand new Juggernaut on a brand new server, so look out for me!

A New Character and a New Server

I guess I should probably mention my reasoning for going to a new server (especially because I am no where close to maxing out my available slots on my home server, Ebon Hawk.  Well, shortly after starting Zerneblog I was introduced to Ravanel (author of the superb gamer’s blog Ravalation).  Ravanel informed me about Developer Appreciation Week when it came around and helped me get in contact with another member of the gaming blog community known as Rowan Blaze.  Both of these wonderful authors helped to spread the word of my blog throughout the rest of the community, and Rowan Blaze actually mentioned the fact that I should join Twitter, Google+, and other social networking sites (you can now find me on the major social networks:  Twitter @zerneblog, Facebook Zernebog Zloney and Google+ zerneblog at gmail dot com).  Through this experience of being on Twitter (especially) and being in contact with many of the other members of the community, I was given the pleasure of meeting so many new members of the playing community that I didn’t know before.

Of course, during this time I began listening to a lot more SWTOR podcasts.  Brian and Chuck from the Bad Feeling Podcast engaged me quite quickly and I became hooked to their podcast.  I have also had the pleasure of getting to know Pixelkaffe (author of the equally wonderful blog, Pixelkaffe), R2D2Arm (author of R2’s Blog), Master Liu (the amazingly talented voice behind The Balance Force blog), Emnara (a crazy amazing blogger that owns and operates Powerdress Gaming), Shintar (the author of Going Commando), and really countless others stream, create their own podcasts (Marshal and Will, I’m talking about you here!), or simply just play and love SWTOR as much as I do (it’s been a major pleasure to get to know Stardust Legacy, the Guild Master for Unholy Alliances on the Harbringer).  While this 12x XP was beginning, Twitter became abuzz with people jumping onto new servers to start leveling toons to help other members of the community.  I have personally had at least two players that I know of that have come over to Ebon Hawk to roll new toons and joined my beloved guild, The Order of Shadow Knights.

(Special Shoutout to Pixelkaffe and Stardust Legacy for joining up with OSK-I cannot adequately express my appreciation of your decisions to help us out over here!)

Well, since so many people were going to this server or that server, I thought I would do the same.  I decided to roll my first new server toon on Jung Ma to play with Chuck and Brian from the Bad Feeling Podcast (my friends, Master Liu and Emnara, have also rolled new toons on Jung Ma and have started playing with as well.  I have also had the pleasure of getting to know all the amazing guys that raid with .

 

I chose to roll a Sith Pureblood named Zerneblog on Jung Ma.  I have also just began to really start using the Outfit Designer as well.  Like many that have been playing the game for any length of time, I have that nice Imperial Pilot suit and Republic Pilot suit that are both moddable gear from the introduction of Galactic Star Fighter (GSF).  I have been using this as my base gear (having the ability to mod it without having to look for all orange-quality gear).  It took forever to find a usable substitute for any part of this gear that matched a look that I would like to continue (I actually found a decent respirator on DK and a pair of pants on Alderaan, then a fitting top that I think was originally designed for Marauders on Belsavis).  Though I am still in that stupid pilot suit, I finally have a look that I can stomach for now (I like the hoods since I normally end up rolling force users that do not have hair).

As of now, I have reached level 47 and am running around on Voss.  I am thinking about moving on to Makeb to take advantage of the bolster until I reach 55 then go back to finish Voss and Corellia before heading back to quest up to 60.  I have also not really done any flashpoint leveling (my prefered method when 12x XP is not in effect).

What have all of you wonderful fans been doing with 12x XP?  Have you done any server hopping?  Have you rolled new alts on your home server to experience new stories?  What do you think about people that roll toons on multiple servers?

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NBI2015 Murphy’s Screenshot Safari Hero or Villain?

When I think about the phrase “Hero or Villain” and apply it to SWTOR, there is one character that embodies both elements that comes to my mind.  That character is the intimidating visage of Darth Malgus.  While obviously a villain to any of the Republic players, Imperial players see him both as a hero of the Empire and later a traitor and therefore villain.  Imperial players constantly see Darth Malgus as a herald for the Empire, from his role as a chief aggressor alongside his master, Darth Vindican, during The Return cinematic, to the introducer of each of the major flashpoints leading up to Ilum.  Malgus is everywhere.

Malgus is portrayed as a staunch defender of the Empire, taking action against the Republic at every turn while also embodying the Sith Code in his every deed.  Malgus is such a hero to the Empire that when the “Malgus the Betrayer” story arc comes around at Ilum, I was seriously heart-broken to run The False Emperor flashpoint.  It was this huberus that takes Malgus from being the Hero of the Empire to being the Imperial “Public Enemy #1.”  We see Malgus’ rise through the many cinematics (The Return and Hope are two of those cinematics that show the rise of Malgus), we then see Malgus as one of the most trusted members of the Empire and Dark Council throughout all of the original launch, and we finally see his end with the Ilum arc.

Playing from the Sith Warrior perspective, I felt especially betrayed following the main Ilum story line (I had to run these after I had hit 55 because I was not sure that I could handle the tank role on the story mode version of these fights-I have, of course, now found out that I would have had little problem).  I cannot think of any other character (especially a Non-Player Character) that exhibits the dual Hero/Villain qualities as Darth Malgus does.

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Epic Story Boost

By now whether you are a subscriber to SWTOR or not, you are of course aware of the Epic Story Boost (also known as 12 times XP).  This is such a wonderful time to begin leveling up toons at break-neck speed; especially if you are repeating classes.  For example, I usually tend to keep my toons housed on the Ebon Hawk server, but I rolled a new Juggernaut on Jung Ma to join the <Has A Bad Feeling> guild.  Not only am I able to use this time to get to know a new group of people, but I have been able to get used to the Discipline System on the Sith Warrior (I had leveled Zerne up to about 53 before Shadow of Revan went live so I was using the old Talent Tree system).

Two of the things that I don’t like about the Epic Story Boost are the fact that it only applies to Story content and it is incredibly common to run into people that are now severely undergeared.  I have been using the GSF-provided moddable Imperial Pilot suit for leveling my new Jugg (which looks absolutely atrocious, but it gives me a set of gear to be modded as I increase my levels so quickly).  Though I may hate the look, at least I have current gear.  This helps while running your class missions and earning that sweet sweet XP (multiplied by 12!).  It would be ridiculous, of course, to expect 12 times XP to be applied to anything but story, but I prefer to do my leveling through leveling flashpoints.

During the last Double XP week, I grinded out instance after instance through Group Finder, getting used to my new tank, Ja’rilo.  I think in one day I played Mandalorian Raiders something insane like 15 times consecutively.  I prefer to level this way mostly due to the fact that I love to tank.  Flashpoint after flashpoint not only forces me to get to know the mechanics of each fight, but it also allows me to work on my rotation and find out where I am loosing aggro and why.  I have come to the realization that it takes a certain mindset to tank.  At least to tank effectively.  You are constantly looking at each fight, weighing the instances where you lose aggro or see your group taking excess damage.  It also really begins to make you understand the importance of positioning-especially bosses (but this discussion is better left to another blog post on another day).

But back to the subject at hand.  I have really been enjoying this story boost because it has allowed me to basically finish an entire planet each day that I play.  The first day that I rolled my Jugg I was able to complete Korriban (left Korriban at level 14).  The second day, I played all the way through Drommund Kaas (finishing at level 20) and was even able to begin Balmorra.  I am now sitting at level 21 on Balmorra waiting to be able to log in again and get back to the grind.  I am still amazed that I was able to go from 1-21 in a matter of just a few days.  Though this boost will only remain until level 55, I am confident I can get at least a couple of my toons to max level before the end.  Besides, I am happy to just be able to do story content on each planet (besides, my preferred method of leveling usually keeps me able to only focus on story content since I do so many flashpoints).

I have also been able to get my Shadow through Tython and up to level 15 on Ebon Hawk.  She has been a lot of fun to work with as I have been able to learn a completely new style of tanking.  As much as I love the Epic Story Boost, I do sometimes wish that Bioware would opt instead for a long Double XP period with no restrictions (even being able to stack experience boosts on top of the double XP).  This sounds wonderful to me because of my leveling strategy and may not be a shared opinion among others.

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Murphy’s Screenshot Safari (selfie)

Zernebog embodies everything that comes to mind when one thinks of the word “Juggernaut”:  a fierce exterior, powerful lightsaber movements, and the ability to strike petrifying fear into his enemies.  Leaping into battle from several meters his enemies never see their demise coming-until it is too late.

Zerne has so far been my favorite toon to level throughout my life in SWTOR.  Though I have several “lowbie” characters, Zerne is my first (and so far only) that I brought to max level.  There was something about the slow progression of being a “Preferred Status” player that allowed me to scour the Star Wars galaxy for the perfect look.  Though this selfie is a little dated, Zerne still has a very similar look.  The chest piece, gloves and respirator have all remained, though the belt has changed.

I wanted to focus on the selfie aspect of the Newbie Bloggers’ Initiative because I wanted to touch on the joy that comes with gearing out your favorite toon.  Now, obviously I am male, so I don’t have that wonderful eye for multiple outfits.  It’s hard enough for me to come up with one outfit that I like instead of trying to figure out which top coordinates with which bottoms.  I finally came upon this look after finishing most of the story missions in Star Wars:  The Old Republic.  There have been so many options, and so many of them I just hated.  The hardest thing for me to believe though, is that the respirator has been the same model that I got for completing one of the Heroic 4 quests on Nar Shaddaa (early in the game)!

Coming up with this look was certainly not easy!  I looked at so many mission rewards while coming up with this outfit.  I must say, I am really pleased with the end result.  The boots were actually the hardest part for me because I don’t like the massive boots that come with most of the Juggernaut gear.  I know 3.2 brought the Outfit Designer with it, but I had already gotten this look together by the time the Outfit Designer went live. I know many of my guildies have been waiting with bated breath for the Outfit Designer to go live because they are so dearly wanting to change their outfits around all the time.  My opinion on it was, “Darth Vader and Boba Fett only have one set of armor that they wear everyday-why do I need more than that?”

So here he is.  Zernebog the Immortal Juggernaut.  Path Carver.  Destroyer.  Decimator.  Tank.  I wouldn’t want to be on the swinging side of his black/red lightsaber blade.

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