Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Most Unfortunate Feature of the Presence Stat

I've been collecting augments for the 1.2 megapatch. I figure being ahead of the stat curve will give the guild a bit of an edge over the next content.

Some augments are excellent (power, crit, willpower).  Some are ho-hum (looking at you, absorb rating).

And then there is presence.

I'm positively overflowing with presence augments.

But then again... I can crit-craft gear for my companion. And maybe... just maybe... the companion could benefit from +presence on its gear...

Presence. I have it.
I crafted two identical implants, but crit-crafted one with an augment slot. I put a +8 presence augment into that slot.

From the SWTOR formula list, that should give a +40 boost to the health of my companion.

First, I started with only the un-augmented implant on my companion: 4860 hp.

Placing the augmented implant on my character, I get the expected bonus: 4900 hp. Swapping the implants between the two, so that the companion has the +presence augment on her implant: 4860 hp. I checked the companion's bonus damage, and found the same pattern: the companion only benefited when the +presence augment was on my character.

Putting a +presence augment on a companion's gear has no effect on their stats.

So what to do with +presence augments?

With most legacy unlocks requiring a companion present, I think 1.2 may start a mini-game where I attempt new and ridiculous acts of extreme soloing. Might as well put together a gear set for that. Soloing HM BT? Here I come...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Three Months in Review

Its been three months already? Seriously? Woah.

Kristalys and Shintar did thoughtful and insightful three month reviews, which got me to thinking about my time in SW:TOR.

It has been quite the roller coaster.

I started as a tank, and went powertech, since I really love block tanks, and all that shielding seemed the most block-y. It was fantastic to level, but not a great fit for endgame. They're cool in their own way, but I felt too much like a foozeball.

I'm much happier as a sorc.

They have to be the most visually stunning class in game. Their lightning is iconic and beautiful and makes me giggle with glee. I love the combination of burst and mobility from the hybrid spec I'm running. Its also the first time I've ever fallen in love with the gameplay of a caster in an MMO. This makes everything just that more new and exciting.

The simple act of rerolling to a better fit made me love the game anew. It has made operations positively joyful in a way that SWTOR's taking just wasn't. I look forward to running a flashpoint, even though there is no chance of loot. Oh, and I've become a huge fan of dailies. And I pvp'd my way to Battlemaster (before they made it so much easier). Finding my gameplay fit made the game much much more fun.

I'm truly blessed to have such supportive and patient guildmates, to tolerate the reroll.

While I love the gameplay, I'm not a big fan of my sorc's personality. I know my bounty hunter and her companions much better than the sorc and her crew. I also like them more, and feel like they've accomplished more in the galaxy. As her story unfolded, my BH grew and developed with her story, matching its ever-increasing awesomeness. My sorc's personality... well, it stagnated with the relatively flat inquisitor story. I haven't quite got a feel for her, which is something I really need.

I hope to work that out, and to get a better sense of my sorc, with time.

I've also noticed that the story is a bit disjointed in the game, but more on that in another post.

I'm slowly working through the other class stories. I positively dread logging onto the sniper, so its collecting dust. Stopping before combat plus long cast times isn't my idea of fun gameplay (not exactly a Han Solo / Chewie). But the operative? On my, she is the hilarious destroyer of everything. Whatever she touches just explodes. And she is even more wicked in pvp. I plan to level her to 50 so I can have a more malevolent option.

Please, try and run. It'll make her day. Before she nukes your city and kills your entire race. Why? Because you were there.

Mostly, though, I'm kept busy with dailies, and ops, and then the odd bit of alt leveling or game mechanic tinkering. I've also been bitten with the desire to collect all the synthweaving patterns, which makes for a ton of GTN trips. The crafting army is mostly finished, aside from my lack of motivation to make an armstech. Go figure. But I do have 7 busy slicing characters.

Overall: some really fun times in game.

Don't get me wrong, I could easily write a darker "bugs and annoyances in the past three months" post. But I really do trust that they've got good people on the dev team who are ironing those problems out (Daniel and Georg are brilliant, to say the least).

And those bugs aren't what I remember of the past three months. I remember friends, and jokes, and ops, and drunken rancor jousting. I remember pvp, and lightning, and stunning folks in fire. I remember my BH's story arc, and my ever-growing fondness for her crew and their quirks.

Good times indeed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Slicing Mission Discoveries

More than a few threads on the SWTOR forums express confusion over how common each mission discovery can be.

To clean up a bit of confusion, I collected data on 300 mission discoveries via slicing. These discoveries are exclusively from the Rank 6 Abundant/Moderate lockbox missions and the Rank 5 Rich lockbox missions. These missions were predominantly run with companions at 10k affection, though I did put the ship droid to work on a few.

Before gathering the data, I'd have sworn that the purple cybertech patterns or the investigation missions were the most common.

I couldn't be more wrong.
One pattern is immediately clear: the gathering mission discoveries (green) are much less common than the pure 'mission' discoveries' (blue).

The gathering crewskill discoveries are about half as likely as the mission crewskill discoveries. Since the pure mission crew skills each have two possible level 340 discoveries, while the gathering skills only have one, this makes some intuitive sense, and would imply that any particular 340 mission has a 7% chance of occurring on a crit.

So is Treasure Hunting the most common discovery (and biochem the least)? Nope - thats just the curse of RNG. Assuming that any gathering mission discovery is equally likely, I'd expect to see that kind of difference or larger about a third of the time.  (And about two-thirds of the time within the Mission discoveries.)*

I'm actually struck by how infrequently the Cybertech patterns drop. I'd have sworn that I was swarmed by them (ditto with investigation), but constantly in need of more Treasure Hunting missions. I'm also struck by the frequency of slicing discoveries - another mission I'm always running. Go figure.

*Stats-nerds: Pearson chi-squared test within each group.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Companion Affection from Dailies

Ashara at just about her normal level of usefulness.

With 1.2 bringing amazingly awesome bonuses for completing companion storylines, I've been busy getting the crafting army to 10k affection. Khem (my leveling buddy) was a cakewalk. Talos and Xalek were easy to talk up (500 affection for a single quest?  rockstar!).

And then there is Ashara.

Call it a bug, a feature, or a quirk, but she never gave me more than half the expected bonus from companion gifts. Which gets pricey.

So I brought her along on my Ilum and Belsavis daily runs, and kept note of which options gave her affection. Somehow, I thought this would be less work / more fun than actually listening to the quest text for the 50th time..

The table below lists the daily quests on each planet, and for each companion (select the tabs) the conversation option that gives the most affection.

Note: I didn't run the 4-man dailies multiple times, so I don't have their return dialogue options filled in.

Haha!  Just a few days of destroying a stealth-army and my pseudo-fallen jedi companion will have to like me!

Sith Warriors can find a similar resource here.

I haven't found anything for other classes, but will update if I find it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stockpile Augments for 1.2?

Over on the official forums, Georg Zoeller confirmed that we won't be getting a new tier of augments with 1.2. This leaves the current top-tier augments with +28 to a stat as the best in game.

Fantastic news. I can run the 340 slicing missions to stockpile enough augments to cover the slots I know I can crit-craft (helm / chest / legs / weapon) and those I'm hopeful a mechanism will open up for (gloves / boots / belt / wrist). And I can do this without worrying that 1.2 will make them obsolete.

If any item comes up short, this is the current list of which profession crafts each augment:
  • Armormechs: Aim, Cunning, Shield, and Absorb Augments.
  • Armstechs: Endurance, Surge, Critical, Accuracy, and Power Augments.
  • Synthweavers: Strength, Willpower, Defense, Alacrity, and Presence Augments.

For a bonus of between +112 and 224 to a stat of my choosing, on equipment with a wide range of looks, I say that gear is getting nicely buffed next patch.

Monday, March 12, 2012

SWTOR: Zero to Hero at 50

So that was the fastest gearing up I've ever done in an MMO.

After hitting 50 on my powertech, I kinda lost my enchantment with the character.  So I rerolled to a sorcerer.

I wanted to be raid ready fast.  For me, that meant having at least 126 rating gear for all my slots. This is how I got raid ready in three days:

This little sorcerer went to market...
Crafters can make tradeable 126-rating gear for every slot but the relics and weapons.  Prices vary by server, but on mine, these items tend to run around 40k/slot for armor, 15k per implant, and 15-20k for an earpiece. The cost of crafting these items is even smaller, so check around in guild for who can make the pieces. I lucked out and found a few guildies with the patterns I needed, and so spent about 150k on gear and got 126-rating items in every non-weapon slot.

Next up, I did a bit of questing...
Daily quests are amazing - I was a fool for skipping them on my first character. After finishing the story quest, I went to Ilum and Belsavis. In total, the dailies give about 120k credits each day, and 25 daily commendations. Just doing the heroic dailies gives an orange weapon for the companion, and a 124-rating armor, mod, and enhancement (just from heroics, each day, you can mod an item to 124-quality).  .

So just 2 days of dailies is enough to mod 2 items, gain an orange weapon for two companions, and more than afford a full set of 126-epics off the galactic market.  I chose to save the daily commendations - they are the way to the best implants and earpieces (120 commendations each).

No longer a disgrace to the Empire...
I did a round of the pvp dailes and weeklies, starting with some Ilum. Yes, I got stomped by Battlemasters with the manners of rabid dogs. But.. the weeklies give 6 Champion bags between them, and the dailies each give one. Each bag gives 15 Centurion and 7 Champion Marks. From 12 weekly/daily bags and 6 bags I'd saved while leveling, I had enough marks to purchase a centurion mh, oh, 3 set centurion gear, and 1 piece of champion gear.

Ready check time...
Just to make sure I knew what I was doing, I headed into a couple hardmodes.  Each side has an absurdly easy HM instance doable with the gear you hit 50 in.  For Empire, its Black Talon (guide).   For Republic:  Taral V.  We had two knockbacks in the group, and so False Emperor was pretty straighforward (guide). (I even lucked out on a Kaon run and grabbed a helm, and the materials for my professions bop gear.)

My impressions?
It took me three days to get my sorc ready to run ops at level 50. Three.

SWTOR has a wonderful design philosophy: easy to get raid ready, but each tier of gear beyond that is progressively harder to get. Great for re-rolling. Great for recruiting new members.

Now hopefully this doesn't tempt me to roll a merc...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The New Crystal Vendor: 1.1.5

Looking for the new crystal vendors?

On Empire, they're in the Galactic Trade Market Quarter (southwest), sold by Geologist Pajro.
On Republic, they're in the Galactic Trade Market Quarter (northeast), sold by Geologist Breshin.

These vendors sell...

  • for 125,000 credits, level 50 crystals with 41 expertise (purple / green / red / blue / yellow)
  • for 125,000 credits, purple level 50 crystals with 41 power / crit / endurance
  • for 250,000 credits, cyan level 50 crystals with 41 power / crit / endurance
  • for 1,000,000 credits, white level 47 crystals with 31 expertise / power / crit / endurance
  • for 2,500,000 credits, white level 50 crystals with 41 expertise / power / crit / endurance

The vendors also sell patterns for level 49 magenta crystals with 33 power / crit / endurance.

Critical Missions and Companion Affection

Getting crits with Crew Skills just seems more and more important.

Not only do most of my slicing profits come from mission discoveries (found on a slicing crit) - but I'm also busy crafting items with augment slots (Rakata relics, lvl 49 implants...) and want some sense of how tough it'll be.  And come 1.2, I'll want some critically-crated moddable gear (weapon / vest / legs / helm), for a free augment slot - something that was confirmed in the Guild Summit.

So I was particularly excited to see this post:
Companion affection improves your crafting efficiency and crit chance. (Source)
To take a look at how companion affection influences crew skill crits, I ran just over 1000 slicing missions on characters with 400 slicing, using companions with a wide range of affection. Each point is a slicing mission, color coded by companion. Triangles are crits, circles are not. The red line is the predicted probability of a crit for a given level of affection, and the shaded region is its 95% CI.

In short: companion affection really, really, really makes a difference. While companions with no affection have about a 13% chance of a critical success, companions with 10,000 affection have a 20% chance - even without a bonus.

Curiously, mission yield didn't influence chance of a critical mission. Excluding bountiful missions - I didn't run enough to get a good estimate - all mission yields had approximately the same percentage chance of a crit, whether in the raw data (table below) or included in a logit model (with controls for affection, whether the companion had a critical bonus, and mission yield).

I did notice, however, that running lower-level missions while at 400 slicing (say, the rank 5s) yielded a higher chance of a crit than running the max-level missions (by about 1% - so take this with a mountain of salt).

TLDR: companion affection dramatically improves the chance of getting a critical success on a mission. Yield does not appear to matter. The class of the class of mission may have a (minor) effect.

One thing I should note is that I get ridiculously streaky crits across my companions (if one gains a mission discovery, the others are more likely to than should happen by chance). I'm still unsure whether this is a programming quirk, an artifact of the data, or what.

*For a look at companion affection and crafting efficiency, pdxmarcos on the forums has a great guide, and an excellent spreadsheet.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guild Summit

Did anyone else notice that the "ranked PvP" content got one holler, while guild banks gained wide applause?

Friday, March 2, 2012

I just ran 1400 slicing missions

I was curious about the use of slicing as a source of extra income.

Printing money. What could possibly go wrong?

So I leveled slicing to max on 6 alts, running just over 1400 missions in the process. All these missions were run after the Great Slicing Apocalypse. Because I love data, I kept track of the results and plotted the earnings (reward from box - cost of mission) against the skill level of the character running the mission.
Aside from making a beautiful plot, with data like this people get really curious to know which missions earn the 'best' reward.

So between the Class (1-6) and Type (Moderate, Abundant, Bountiful, Rich) of mission, which is best?
[Note: for presentation, I excluded mission failures and truncated results with profits > 2000]

The problem with those kinds of questions is immediately apparent: whatever small differences exist across types, those differences are dwarfed by the huge range in earnings from each box.

For example, while the class 6 'Abundant' missions earn an average of 60 credits more than their 'Moderate' counterparts, this difference is entirely due to the increased chance for high-yield green boxes on Abundant missions. Those higher credit returns more than offset the additional cost for the abundant missions.

But because the returns from green boxes are so variable, even after running ~400 rank 6 missions, that difference isn't statistically significant.  (For the stats nerds: two-sample t-test, p=.19).

So while I feel that abundant missions are good returns, I don't have enough data to justify that claim. And I can say even less about the categories where I've run a total of 70 missions.

But what about mission discoveries?

Every slicing mission has a chance to return a discovery on a crit - either a cybertech crafting pattern or a blue/epic mission for another profession. Those discoveries are exceptionally lucrative - the blue Treasure Hunting 340s go for at least 20k on my server's GTN. Thing is, not much increases discovery chance. As far as I can tell, the chance for discoveries is equal across all yields of slicing missions: about 12-17%. (More on this later in a followup post.)

So what to do?

I view crafting systems as a game in themselves, so I typically have between 5-15 companions out on slicing missions. I use them to find mission discoveries, which I send to other companions to run to for materials to finance my little crafting empire (evil laugh here).

But even as a pure moneymaking system, slicing excels. I made an alt on another server, and continually send companions out on slicing missions, selling the discoveries on the AH.  At lvl 22, my alt has 30k from missions lockbox profits, and about 200k from selling mission discoveries.