PAX Australia: Initial Thoughts

PR Fail Microsoft - hang your head in shame

PR Fail Microsoft – hang your head in shame

Having just finished my first day (and only day this time) at PAX Australia, I though I’d jot down some thoughts and provide a few snapshots of the day.

First, the thoughts:

  • Any fears organisers had for low attendance for the first PAX have been well and truly put to rest. Day 1 was packed and the weekend will only be more so.
  • Organisationally, this even pretty much rocked. The morning line-up was extremely well organised, everything was clearly signposted and there were plenty of staff on hand. Only criticism I’d make is that there weren’t enough ATMs and big queues, so bring a stash of cash for food (most merch people did take EFTPOS). Phone coverage was mixed, though there would have been plenty of pressure on all the networks.
  • There was a pretty poor showing of some of the big game companies, who were probably sitting back to see the response to PAX and will be salivating to come back next year. Facepalm of the event goes to Microsoft, who had an Xbox One booth sitting there with nothing in it but an empty display case. It was a source of much interest and frivolity from participants given the Xbox shenanigans at E3.
  • We forget sometimes in Australia that two of the world’s biggest MMOs are League of Legends and World of Tanks – both had by far and away the most significant presences in the Exhibition Hall. LoL had a huge audience throughout the day.
  • The range of panels and activities is of a level that a multi-day ticket would be a worthwhile investment. I felt like I barely scratched the surface.
  • The Oculus Rift, if you didn’t already realise, is going to change the face of gaming in the coming year. I spent 5 minutes with it, on a non-1080HD version of the headset, and was still mightily impressed. As someone heavily susceptible to motion sickness, I was wary but had no issues at all using the helicopter sim game I was using, although the roller coaster game I saw someone else trying out might have been a different story.
  • PAX, if it returns next year bigger and even better, is easily going to be Australia’s pre-eminent game expo.

We’ll discuss our impressions and thoughts in more depth on the next podcast – but in the meantime here are some random shots we posted during the day via our Twitter account:

Finally, it’s over to you: did you go to PAX and if so what did you like and dislike? What do you expect to change next year?

Gree Event Returns To SWTOR

ilum2May 21 to 28 sees  the Relics of the Gree event return to SWTOR for those after some different gear. I’m very tempted to do the reputation grind with the Gree for the Blue Sphere Transport Enclosure Vehicle which is one of the cooler vehicles I’ve seen in-game.

For those who have forgotten the background story behind the event:

An ancient and powerful Gree starship has suddenly appeared and touched down in the midst of the frozen battlegrounds of the planet Ilum. Launched by the Gree’s ancestors long ago to explore and study the furthest reaches of the galaxy, the fully-automated vessel has been hyper-jumping from one star system to the next for uncounted centuries, examining the planets it discovers and analyzing how their native species respond to various stimuli, from mild atmospheric alterations to direct attacks.

For the modern Gree, the starship has come to be known as ‘Gray Secant,’ and carries an almost religious significance. Having long forgotten the techniques and intentions of their ancient predecessors, the Gree can only look back on their ancestors’ works with deeply-felt reverence and do their best to keep them functional. The reappearance of this unfathomably sophisticated starship is incredibly exciting for the Gree, and they want to do anything they can to further Gray Secant’s now-mythic purpose. Since the starship seems to have taken an interest in Ilum’s battles between the Republic and the Empire, the Gree have reached out to exceptional individuals from both factions, offering lavish rewards for those who travel to Ilum’s battlegrounds to fight and provide data for the Secant’s grand mission of galactic analysis.

You can find out more about the event and the gear on offer by reading the announcement from BioWare.

Will you be giving it a go this time around?

Blizzcon 2013 Details Announced

Blizzcon 2013 DetailsOne day I may be able to afford to get to the US to attend Blizzcon in person, although flying all that way to be bombarded with info by one games vendor for a few days does seem a little silly.

Who am I kidding – I want to go!

For those lucky enough to be making the trip or planning some time off work to view remotely, here’s the press release from Blizzard announcement some location and date details on the event:





IRVINE, Calif. – February 19, 2013 – Gather your guildmates, muster your minions, and summon your swarm! Blizzard Entertainment today announced plans for its seventh BlizzCon® gaming convention, taking place Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. For two epic days, members of Blizzard’s gaming community from around the globe will descend onAnaheim to meet, play, and celebrate their shared passion for all things Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo®.


“BlizzCon gives us a chance to connect with our players and share our latest projects in a very personal way,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Members from all of our gaming communities have helped make this event bigger and better every time, and we look forward to meeting up and celebrating with them in November.”

In addition to serving as a gathering place for Blizzard Entertainment gaming communities, BlizzCon will offer attendees a chance to enjoy:

  • Hands-on play time with the latest versions of Blizzard Entertainment games
  • Global finals for Blizzard eSports, featuring top pro gamers from around the world
  • In-depth discussion panels with Blizzard game developers and artists
  • Competitive and casual tournaments for players to showcase their talents
  • Community contests with great prizes
  • Commemorative merchandise based on Blizzard Entertainment’s game universes
  • More activities and attractions to be announced


The previous BlizzCon was held in Anaheim in October 2011. Tickets to the event sold out in seconds, and highlights included the unveiling of the fourth World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria®, and an epic closing concert featuring rock legends Foo Fighters.

Further details about BlizzCon 2013, including ticket availability and pricing, will be announced on the official BlizzCon website ( as the event draws closer. Those interested in attending the show in person can make advance hotel reservations now and receive special BlizzCon rates by booking through the BlizzCon hotel website.


Blizzard Entertainment is currently hiring for numerous open positions. More information on available career opportunities can be found

If you are going yourself, and would like a correspondent’s role, drop us a line!

One Quest for Guild Wars 2 Glory

It’s only three days until those with 3-day headstart access will start playing GW2, and I know a bunch of people are getting pretty excited.

One in particular is Victoria-based Hayden, who has set up Condescend Gaming. He’ll be doing some serious streaming of his early days and weeks in GW2. If like me you won’t have 14+ hours a day to level up, you may be interested in seeing someone else having a go.

I threw some questions at Hayden to get an idea of what he has planned:

Tell us a little about how you got into streaming your play time

Got into streaming about 2-3 months ago while playing SWTOR. A friend on my server was a streamer and I had never heard of such a thing. Once I found out what it was, it instantly became something I was interested in and wanted to be a part of.

How long have you been playing MMOs?

WoW was the first MMO I ever played back in 04/05. I instantly fell in love with MMOs from the first time I logged on. Although I did quit and come back a lot over the following years, I still kept a high standard of competitiveness – landing Gladiator in Season 4 and Alliance first ICC 10man Heroic kill on our server (server 2nd) to name a couple.

After deciding to quit WoW for good a few weeks after Cataclysm was released, I have been searching for a new MMO ever since. Have tried Rift and TERA for a short time but it didn’t cut it for me. SWTOR was a game I thought had a lot of potential, but was rushed in it release and collapsed on itself soon after. I think GW2 is finally the MMO I am looking for to play long term.

Why are you excited about GW2 in particular?

The main fact that it is a brand new MMO. I have been searching and waiting for an MMO to grab me and keep me interested. I thought SWTOR was that game but I was highly mistaken. Guild Wars 2 seems to have so many new and appealing features that I can’t wait to play through.

You’re intending to go flat out to level up in GW2 – what’s your strategy and how long do you think it’ll take you?

I have 5-6 days off where I will be playing a minimum of 14+ hour days. Oceanic 1st 80 is something that I have in mind and will definitely be pushing to achieve this. I have read that someone in BETA did it in ~88 hours, so I think I would be able to achieve this in a similar time. Just have to stay focused and not get distracted. Remember the goals that have been set in place and strive to achieve them.

Plug time: where can people follow your stream?

I currently stream from twitch, a link can be found here

Also be sure to follow me on Twitter and YouTube for the latest updates:

I want to thank everyone at The Oceanic Gamer for this opportunity and the hard work that has been put into their website. There are constant news updates and articles which makes a good read and easy to keep up to scratch with all that is going on.

And here’s a quick promo vid that our esteemed oceanic colleague has created to showcase his intentions:

Over to you: how full-on will you be levelling in GW2?

SWTOR at Gamescom: New Trailer

In case you hadn’t heard, BioWare have a presence at Gamescom in the US, and they’ve released a video showcasing some future content. Have a look for yourself:

For avid SWTOR followers there’s nothing hugely new in there although I think there’s some shots I haven’t seen before of Makeb and Terror from Beyond.

Over to you: anything in particular that gets your juices flowing from the whole 1 minute of preview?

SWTOR: EV / KP HM Timed Run Challenge (Fatman Server)

For anyone on the Fatman server interested…

– Timed run challenge begins Sunday August 18th at 8pm EST
– Each group must have a live stream that is active from 7:50pm EST until Operations are complete
– You must kill all bosses
– You do not have to kill all trash but you are not allowed to stealth diectly to bosses
– It is the groups preference which Operation to clear first
– All raid consumables are allowed EXCEPT the Nightmare Pilgrim buff
– Once your operation begins you may only substitute one player for a total roster of 9

Sign up information on

SWTOR Guild Summit: Legacy information

We’re pleased to throw Toby, our day-shift news droid into the fray to report some of the highlights from Day 1 of the Guild Summit. Thanks Toby! And damn you day jobs, damn you!

Hi, Toby here, reporting from the guild summit live stream. Here’s the key bits from the legacy panel:

The details disclosed:

– buffs unlocked for every companion quest line completed
– although not in 1.2, a ‘Grey’ alignment will have its rewards, just like ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ side alignment
– social rank unlocks: can dance with companion, ‘brawling abilities’ for unarmed duels
– RP packs to go along with new emotes
– most legacy unlocks can not only be earned but can also be purchased
– cooldown reductions for Fleet Passes
– new Sprint level (Bounty Hunters via their Rocket Pack, the rest via ‘rocket boots’
– training dummies – including Warzone and Operations dummies
– Repair Atsromech on your ship – will repair, buy and sell your items
– Neutral GTN terminal and mailbox on your ship! (The GTN terminal option is “VERY” high up the legacy system)
– Any legacy items can be mailed to your other toons, including cross-faction
– Unique Orange items only available via Legacy
– the future: customising your alt experience e.g. buy speeder license earlier than currently available


– character transfers ‘not in immediate future’ but will be able to meld legacies
– no specific plan to allow sharing of legacies with other players but it’s on the list to do
– yes you will be able to use Force Choke on Republic side (via Legacy unlock)
– yes a WoW Barber shop equivalent is on the table but a ways off
– shared alt bank space (legacy bank) is on the timetable, so set date
– no plans for additional character slots, related to legacy or otherwise
– 1.3: can buy buffs for XP for things you like doing (see character customisation above)
– no present plans for bind to legacy gear dropping in PvP / Flashpoiints / Operations
– dual spec: ‘multi-spec’ is coming and likely to be tied to legacy system – well after 1.2 though
– spec being written to allow for both character and legacy name changes (likely to cost or have some other ‘gate’)
– maximum legacy level cap is 50 but definitely expandable
C2-N2 will have a voice restraining bolt
– companions can’t go in legacy family tree at this stage
– cosmetic ship upgrades are in the future but not necessarily tied to legacy
– non-Force users can only use legacy unlocked Force buffs if there’s another Force user in the family

SWTOR Patch 1.2: Legacy – trailer released

As promised by BioWare as part of their Guild Summit agenda, details of the upcoming 1.2 update have been released. First and foremost is the 1.2 trailer, which you can watch right now:

So as you’ve seen the key goodies from the trailer are:

1. The game update is titled ‘Legacy’
2. There’s a new Warzone called Novare Coast
3. A new Operation called Explosive Conflict
4. A new Flashpoint called The Lost Island
5. The expanded legacy system
6. UI customisation
7. Improved character textures and appearance customisation
8. Warzone rankings
9. New Corellia daily missions
10. New Mini Pets
11. Guild bank implementation
12. Lots of new gear / emotes / vehicles etc

So – do you like what you see?

Oh me, oh my… At E3… Return…!

And you thought YOUR day was bad...?

We knew they were going to do something big this E3. They had to. After all the hype, after all the teasers, after all the releases of class information, both really cool CGI trailers… They had to come up with something. So what did they do? They gave us the intro cinematic for the game. It’s called ‘Return’.


Wait a sec… Whoa…

Isn’t that…? um… Kind of something that you do last or near the end of the game making cycle? You really nee dot have the game pretty much done before you make the cinematics, right? Or am I completely off base?  Now I am not saying, because they are not saying, when the game will be released. But from everything I have heard, read or seen, this game looks ready to go. There are probably logistical issues, maybe some polishing that they want to do. But the gameplay that they showed at the fan summit was incredible. Maybe they are going to give out release information during E3? The gameplay trailer that came out at the same time as ‘Return’ was to drool over. A release date? Maybe? Pretty please with Correllian black sugar on top?

Calm… Must remain calm…

Anyway… This trailer is just as incredible as the previous two. All three are chronological. Malgus shows up in this one, as do the Jedi and Trooper commander from the ‘Hope’ Trailer. We even hear her name, and it actually IS Satele Shan. I won’t ruin the rest of it it for people who haven’t seen it yet, listen for it:

[Read more…]

Sith Sunday – SWTOR in the news

It’s been a rather big week for SWTOR news this week – the larger number of people involved with beta-testing is certainly creating some momentum, including on our own forums:

1. Bioware released a music trailer (more on that from us later in the week), an in-depth developer blog on music in SWTOR, and the seventh issue of Blood of the Empire.

2. From the TOROZ Forums Part 1: There’s been some enjoyment of Star Wars-related humour, including the Yoda TomTom video and the classic Chad Vader series.

If you’ve got some favourite Star Wars humour we’d love you to share it. We’re already excited about some of the comedy that’s likely to come out of SWTOR.

3. Darth Hater have hit their first anniversary and are giving away booty. Happy birthday folks!

4. From the TOROZ Forums Part 2: Scottyy posted a link to a leaked video of skill selections for Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter classes:

Is privacy going the way of the dodo?

Say it ain't so!

Well, it’s official. Anonymity is on its way out on the internet. Recently, Blizzard Entertainment announced the RealID system for the World of Warcraft MMORPG. The stated idea of the system as to provide a social aspect to the game. If that was what they intended, they failed miserably. What they have created, is a firestorm of protests as well as a drop in subscriptions. Of course, since they had about 20 million subscriptions, they likely didn’t CARE if they lost a few hundred thousand to poorly implemented ideas. Though given their backdown, maybe they did care a little.

On the surface, RealID is not a bad idea. The concept is fairly simple. Take a new WOW player. In order to subscribe, that player must create a account. This allows them access to the game. They also are allowed access to the game forums. Now I don’t know about you, but I avoided the WOW forums after the second day I played the game. It was flame, troll or die, all day, every day. Any time someone asked a serious question, they got hit with so much spam it wasn’t funny at all. But to create their account, they have to give their real first and last names, the same ones they used to pay for the game. So… Unless you have a very good fake ID with credit attached… You have to use your real information. Hence the title, RealID. And these names will show up in game. (If the player chooses – it’s optional in-game – Ed.)

Now the internet is not a nice place, we all know that. We may not like it, but there isn’t a lot we can do about it. Some people seem to think that as long as no one knows who they really are, they can act as they wish, be as insulting, rude, crude or socially unacceptable as they wish with no repercussions. They can use racial slurs, sexual innuendos, or any other things they wish with no fear of repercussion. They can threaten, they can intimidate, they can do anything they want, because they are anonymous. And hey, it’s not real, right? Who cares if some people take it seriously, they are just nuts, right?

Not really. The entire concept of privacy on the internet is laughable to say the least. Any information that anyone has ever transmitted online is out there, somewhere. The whole idea of stalking has been taken to a new low by the internet. With so much information available online, it is easier than ever for perverts and creeps to get hold of what they want. Where once they had to go through people’s trash to find out the addresses for their targets, now they surf Facebook and other such social sites. That is one reason that I don’t use Facebook. So, now Blizzard had decided to implement such a ‘service’ themselves.

Ok, how about an example? A divorced woman with two abused kids is in a new home far from her ex husband who liked to hurt all three of them when he got drunk. She has been hiding from him since she escaped. She likes to play WOW and she plays as a new character with friends that her husband knows. Suddenly, her information changes in game, and her real name pops up over her character. And guess who is there, sending her a nice, private message? ‘See you soon’. What can the cops do to keep the ex from harassing her in a game? Nothing. What can Blizzard do? Why should they care? It’s not their problem, it’s hers.

Harassment is nothing new. It has been around since humans started coming down from the trees and likely will for as long as the species is in existence. Many humans seem to have a deep rooted need to dominate others. Of course in real life, there are laws against such things now, for good reasons. Harassment can lead to worse crimes. It is degrading, humiliating and just plain wrong. And no, it doesn’t just happen to women, or gays, or people who are not of mainstream religions. It happens every single day, to many different people. And on the internet it happens every minute, every second probably. Because there is no accountability.

Blizzard was attempting to instill some of that accountability into its game. They have backed off of it now, probably due in no small part to the overwhelmingly negative response that they got from their customers after the announcement. RealID is still in the game, but now, it is optional, as opposed to mandatory. Of course all a player has to do is download a utility called GameStore to access it anytime. But that may be a bug. We HOPE it’s a bug…

It was and is an interesting idea. But the concept of allowing other people, strangers, to view so called ‘private’ information cuts deep into the heart of many gamers. We want to feel we are safe, even if it is an illusion. We want to have fun in games, not worry about our identities being stolen or worry about being harassed or stalked in real life. We want the illusion of privacy that we cling to online to be secure.

In closing, I will say this. The internet is still very much a Wild West type of environment at the moment. People can say anything and do anything. The worst that can happen is that they are banned from a forum. So they make new account and come back worse than ever because now they are mad. But this is liable to change. New laws are making their way laboriously through the process of being approved by state and federal authorities that will tighten the strictures that are so lax on the internet. Just as law and order eventually tamed the Wild West, laws will eventually tame much of the internet. While there likely will be trolls, flamers and fools with causes as long as there are humans, with less freedom to inflict their cruelty on others, they will become a nuisance as opposed to a normal thing. And it cannot be soon enough for me.

Over to you: if an online game required you to show your real name, would you play it?

Courage and ‘Hope’

Last year was absolutely EPIC at E3. The cinematic trailer for The Old Republic was a masterpiece. The Sith assault on the Jedi temple on Coruscant in ‘Deceived’ has to be seen to be believed. No one doubted that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to be epic before that trailer.

After it? There was such a huge response that the SWTOR website crashed. Everyone was looking forward to E3 this year. But then Lucasarts and Bioware did it to us again – I expected a meal and they gave me a five course, full service banquet. They were not content to give us a new trailer, no…

Players will have personal starships. Oh did I not say that right? PLAYERS WILL HAVE PERSONAL STARSHIPS!!!!! Ah! I very nearly went in my pants when I heard that. I don’t CARE if there is space combat now. Knowing Bioware and Lucasarts, if they have starships, there will almost certainly be more to do with them that use them as houses. But I don’t care now. I get my own personal Republic Gunship! YAY! The images were just so cool, and the bits of PvP footage rocked as well.

But then, on the heels of that… They rocked my world. I have so few words. I am almost unable to type, I was so dumbfounded. If you have not seen the ‘Hope’ trailer, do it. Now. You will not be sorry. Spoilers follow this so watch the trailer first.

Oh my god. I have never been a huge fan of Jedi. They were too overpowered, too strong, too fast, too tough for normal people to beat. Sith likewise. Can you possibly imagine someone like Darth Vader falling to a Rebel Alliance trooper? I couldn’t. Until now.

The setting, Alderaan. All Star Wars fans know about Alderaan, the homeworld of Princess Leia, the world destroyed in Episode IV by the Death Star to make a point. The cinematic opened with peace, and then, darkness. The Sith of course as is their wont, invade and destroy. The only thing in their way? A small force of elite Republic Special Forces troopers. But cannon fodder these guys are NOT.

The Sith in charge of the attack on Alderaan is the same one that later lays utter waste to the Jedi Temple – Darth Malgus. This is at the start of his career, he doesn’t have the mask yet. But after the ending, we know why he wears it. I am amazed he survived at all. I guess hate makes a good anaesthetic.

The Republic set an ambush for Malgus and his troops. They don’t have the personnel to fight him one-on-one. So they fight guerrilla style. And when the narrator said ‘For the Republic’ I very nearly jumped out of my chair to charge myself. Dark Side of the Force, ha! Meet grenade launcher, heavy repeaters, thermal detonators and courage! They were swatting black robed forms right and left until Malgus himself entered the act. But even the kind of courage that the troopers had, has its limits. I was stunned when the senior trooper got his tail kicked by Malgus’ Force lightning.  When he was kneeling there about to be killed, I was almost in tears. And then she made her entrance.

I said I never cared for Jedi, and that is true. They always seemed too over the top. But the consular who dropped into the fight made my day. She wasn’t the focus of the battle, but she kept Malgus busy long enough for the troopers to win. She wasn’t invincible. Malgus was obviously better with a lightsaber than she was, cutting her double bladed one in half. She was powerful, I mean, come on! How many people can block a lightsaber with a bare hand? I think it was the same kind of thing Yoda did when he faced Dooku and Palpatine’s Force lightning in Episodes 2 and 3. A lightsaber blade is energy right? That means it can be deflected with great effort. Maybe a bit over the top, but it was very cool to see.

And then the TROOPER saved the day. How many times does a lowly trooper save a mighty Jedi? And how he did it… Omg, that was epic! The look on that Sith Lord’s face was just priceless. I mean I can see the guy thinking…

‘This Republic scum is pathetic! Tackling me, trying to hit me with his hands? Sheesh… How stupid can he be? Wait a moment, what is that in his hand??? A GRENADE!!!’

I laughed out loud when I saw that. High and mighty Sith might be tough, but raw courage can take them down if given the chance. Admittedly Malgus was still on his feet and the trooper was not. But it gave the Jedi time to recover and prepare to hit Malgus with the Force. And THAT is the whole point of this. Teamwork wins wars. Individual prowess means nothing, it is working as a team that makes such things possible. Sith are mighty combatants, true, but if they fight as individuals, they can be taken down, albeit at a massive cost in lives. And that was what won the battle for the Republic, the Jedi and the soldiers of Havoc Squad working as a team to fight and die if necessary.

If you notice, the Jedi’s arrival allowed the troopers time to regroup and fight back effectively. And that means more to me than any special effects or showy force powers. She was not the prime focus of the battle, she was there to keep Malgus occupied until the soldiers, the common foot slogging soldiers, could win the day. Smashing Malgus into the mountainside was almost an afterthought. This was after he had been burned by incendiary grenades, showered by blaster fire, and had a grenade go off in his face. No wonder he wears a mask now…

I found myself crying at the end of that trailer, and I strongly doubt I was the only one as the Republic fleet came to the rescue. It was… I truly have no words. It was epic was about the best I can do.

Such a game as Star Wars: The Old Republic is shaping up to be will be good no matter what. But if THIS is what we can look forward to, such surprises, such epic stories, such… sheer scope and grandeur… Such… Star Wars!

I personally think we have a contender here. We have something epic that may finally, after so long, live up to the franchise.  It may finally be Star Wars. Oh, by the way, the website crashed again, I read something about 25000 hits in about ten minutes or something like that. I have occasionally had my doubts. But now I truly have ‘Hope’…

And we have personal starships!!!!!! YAY!!!!

Over to you, what do you think of this announcement? I know I am going to watch the trailer again. And again, and again.