05/12/2015

Flashpoint Levelling: Russians and Reruns

I'm enjoying this whole experiment more than I thought I would. I run about one flashpoint a day, usually in the evenings after work, once everything else in the house has been taken care of. Most of the time the runs are smooth and the groups chill. It's been a long time since I spent this much time pugging... and it's actually nice.

Czerka Corporate Labs
I levelled: 35-36

I should mention at this point that I tend to decline groups in which the system tries to pair me up with another healer. Not that I have anything against them, but experience has taught me that you gain little from having more than one healer in a four-man group and it just makes everything sooo much slower. In the evenings the pops are near-instant anyway, so you don't really lose anything by declining a group. You'll get a different one two minutes later anyway.

With that said, this was the first run on this character where I did end up with another healer (and two dps), because after I had declined initially, the system tried to put me into the exact same group again when I requeued a few minutes later - and I figured: whatever. The other three players were probably getting tired of people declining or timing out.

I zoned into Czerka Corporate Labs and was immediately in combat. Turns out that the other three were already fighting the first boss. I tried to run down and join them but got insta-killed on the way somehow - it looked like the boss was trying to pull me in and the game decided to one-shot me since I was still upstairs, in a place from which I couldn't be pulled. I resed and tried again. Apparently other people in the group were dying and running back as well! It was a dumb zerg, and even once we finally had everyone alive and in one place, there was still a lot of pointless running back and forth. The boss actually enraged on us, something which I hadn't seen in quite a while.

On the second try we got our act together and killed him, but everything still felt incredibly slow with two healers (plus neither of the dps seemed to be particularly good either). After the second boss, the other healer suddenly piped up with "w8 - banan needs toilet", and it took me a moment to realise that she was talking about one of the dps. I asked if they were all one group of friends, and she explained that it was just her and that one dps, that they were Russians and always skipping all the cut scenes. I asked why, since her English seemed fine, and she explained that the other guy didn't speak any at all. One wonders why they chose to play SWTOR of all things then... they must really like Star Wars.

After we had successfully completed the flashpoint, the Russians initiated a vote kick on me because I wasn't leaving "their" group quickly enough, which amused me. I never knew that you actually get a notification in SWTOR when someone tries to kick you, because you don't in WoW.

This run also seemed to provide pretty strong evidence against my earlier theory that level 65s in the group reduce your XP, as everyone in this run was in their thirties and yet I only gained a single level. I think I've simply got to the point where the XP gains from flashpoints slow down somewhat compared to the levelling insanity of the low levels.

Kuat Drive Yards
I levelled: 36-38

Kuat again? Well, at least I had the story quest for it this time. This time we got the scenario with the cannons and the armoury, as well as Station Guardian One as the end boss. It was a smooth run overall, but during the initial intro conversation two group members went into a veritable "spacebar" frenzy. I screenshotted it so I would be able to reproduce it verbatim (names changed to protect the guilty):

[Dude1]: skip
[Dude1]: SKIP
[Dude2]: S TO K TO I TO P
[Dude2]: spacebar
[Dude1]: space bar
[Dude2]: spacebar

I think this really highlighted for me why I find spacebar warriors so annoying, and it's not because I often do like to watch the cut scenes: it's because they are always so freaking imperious and rude. Have you ever seen anyone say: "Could we skip the cut scenes please?" Me neither. They always have to be bossy douches about it. You are not the boss of me, Mr Random Pug, and if you start like that you are unlikely to get me to do anything for you.

Hammer Station
I levelled: 38-39


Pug separation in Hammer Station - that ryhmes!

Another re-run of a flashpoint I'd only done a few days ago. I got really excited when I saw that one of our group members was a tank. My first run with a proper tank! Of course, the moment we zoned in he said that he was confused about why he had ended up queued as tank, as he was actually a dps. Hah.

It was a really smooth and pleasant run though. Now that I had a cleanse, the tunneler droid was a piece of cake to heal. I also maxed out my scavenging skill in this run. (For comparison, my bioanalysis only sits at 169.) 

Directive 7
I levelled: 39-41

OK, I partially retract what I said about people who want to skip the cut scenes above. In this run we had one who said "skip pl". Two letters of the word "please" have got to count for something, right?

This being D7 and us having a level 65 in the group, this was another run where people just wanted to get to the end as quickly as possible while skipping everything else. We jumped across the tents again, and again the lowest level in the group didn't manage it and pulled anyway. I actually died on Mentor and got a combat res! So there are some people that are aware of having that ability.

I think mostly this run annoyed me because it was another repeat of a flashpoint that I'd only done a couple of days before. There are 19 tactical flashpoints in the queue now, and at this point I had queued for a total of 12 runs. However, these only resulted in me seeing 8 different instances, as 4 were repeats. I guess that is proper randomness, but it's still a bit annoying.

Cademimu
I levelled: 41-42

Yay, a flashpoint I hadn't done before, and one I quite like at that! I had the feeling that two of the people in the group must have been quite new to the game, as they seemed very hesitant and I could see in the group log that they both had the "Introduction to Group Finder" mission in their log still, even though they were in the high thirties. The third dps was a "legendary" player like me.

I had a blast knocking probe droids to their death and was kind of surprised that the encounter in the cantina appears to have been removed entirely - you know the one, where people would come down from the ceiling and all the patrons would scream and cower. Was that actually an issue?

At the taxi point I sliced access to the police car for the shortcut, but the two newbies didn't follow and we got split up. We reunited soon though. Having got somewhat off track because of this, I was delighted to find a cage from which I could free a temporary hound pet! Four years and there are still crew skill nodes in some of these flashpoints that I've never seen... Sadly my doggie died on the lift to the Wookiee boss, but we actually got XP for its death, which amused me.

About halfway through the run I found that Kolto Shell had appeared on my bar, which made me happy because I'd been missing having that ability. Constantly wanting to rebuff the entire group every three minutes is a habit that's hard to break. The only downside was that I find its sound effect a bit annoying compared to the Republic version.

As we approached the last boss, the other legendary player asked if everyone knew how to do this fight, but the newbies shrouded themselves in silence. Unsurprisingly, they both got burnt to cinders pretty early, and me and the other guy ended up finishing the rest of the fight with just the two of us.


I think Bioware were really proud of their "lekku physics" at launch, but in practice they can get super awkward at times.

Cademimu
I levelled: 42-44 (that included the weekly quest)

Yay, Cademimu again! I'm not even sure whether I'm being sarcastic here or not.

Now this was my actual first random flashpoint that I completed with a genuine tank! Only took 14 runs to find one... To be perfectly honest, it didn't seem to make that much of a difference in this instance, though it was nice to have someone who was happy to jump in and have all the mobs whale on him, instead of the awkward shuffle you get with some of the full dps groups where nobody wants to be the one to go first and get all the aggro.

We had three deaths by falling, which brought back fond memories for me.

Towards the end, one of the dps asked "who chaine for one more dj?" and I couldn't figure out what DJ was supposed to stand for. Disc jockeys in Cademimu? It was only at the end that I realised that he had meant dungeon and wanted to know if we could re-queue together. As I was happy to have completed my one run for the night however, I had to politely decline.

Cademimu
I levelled: 44-45

Cademimu hat-trick! Who would have thought?

This one included only one death by falling and one person dying to Ortol's fire, though it also featured the first time that I saw a player get caught in a trap on the first boss. I also noted down: "Does this flashpoint think I'm a trooper?" Until now the last boss in each run always seemed to drop useful loot for my class, but in the previous run I got a generator off-hand, and this time Ortol dropped an assault cannon.

Ten levels from seven flashpoints definitely prove that things are slowing down.

7 comments :

  1. Oh we did Cademimu and Red Reaper last night as a pre-made four. I have to say I much prefer playing with friends over any pugging, the need for pugging story instances constantly in FFXIV was a big turnoff in the end (they have the same spacebar warriors there too).

    Not that I've seen it before but dungeon is donjon in French and possibly Spanish too, never seen the dj abbreviation though.

    I did run Cademimu on my first leveling stint after launch back when I was in a guild, I didn't remember all that much though. Punting stuff off platforms was entirely too much fun with force push, only remembered this about half-way through after killing so many gold-silver droids the hard-way!

    Both instances were fun runs though.

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    1. I obviously enjoy running instances with friends and guildies too, but to me it's also fun to just pug things sometimes to expose myself to different play styles and meet different people. It does require me to feel comfortable with the game though, so that I can remain calm and confident even when things go wrong (and with pugs, it's pretty much unavoidable that sometimes they will).

      If pugs are consistently unenjoyable in a game, that's actually a big turn-off for me, because I don't like being limited to only doing things with friends and guildies. I strongly felt this in WoW the last time I tried it, when even in a "nice" dungeon group, people just expected such an insane (to me) speed that it sucked all the fun out of it for me.

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  2. I vaguely remember that at one time certain flashpoints were more likely to pop depending on the time of day. Sort of a blue-light special for flashpoints. Thinking about it, I imagine that is likely to be a long gone feature with all of the changes to create the tacticals.

    Given you can select which flashpoints you want to run I wouldn't be surprised if you're getting folks queueing up for specific ones while you probably have all of them selected.

    This is an area where cross-server would really be nice as a larger queue population would give them a chance to make the randomness a bit more uniform. (As in, it is random where you start and what you get next, but the system keeps trying to give you a new one until you've done all of the existing ones.)

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    1. Not sure what you mean with your first point... time of day has always mattered because it influences how many players are available, but I don't recall anything inherent to the system affecting the rate of pops.

      I did wonder initially whether my randoms might be skewed by people queueing for specific flashpoint, but I don't really see a reason why people would select Cademimu above all others for example, so I don't think that's it.

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    2. It's been a long time and a cursory Google search didn't show any results,so I'm probably just having a senior moment. -.-

      I seemed to remember a gold post saying that Bioware altering the percentage chances for certain particular flashpoints to pop (assuming everyone was queuing for all) as a sort of 'highlight option' based on the time of day. I think the intent was to let people see the rarer flashpoints via group finder than the ones everyone had already run ad nauseum.

      That said, Battle of Ilum soon dominated (on my server) once all of those Sentinels/Marauders discovered that the Columi offhand hilt that dropped in there could be swapped over to their main hand. They would run a random once for the rewards, then just farm BoI for that offhand.

      All of this is from when Group Finder was first released so it may have been long since removed, though it wouldn't surprise me that this sort of code still is in there.

      On a positive note, I did see the initial GF post and was surprised to learn that only Lost Island was a Tier 2 flashpoint. Kaon was originally a Tier 1 FP. I guess I've had those two linked in my mind for so long because of story reasons that I had forgotten they weren't considered the same difficulty.

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    3. Have to admit that doesn't ring a bell. :) That doesn't necessarily mean that it's not true though - I didn't follow the dev updates that closely early on.

      I did remember that about Lost Island, because it was odd how it was in a category of its own. At the time we always figured that they were going to expand on the concept of flashpoint tiers, but then the change of trajectory towards F2P changed everything.

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  3. Ah, Cademimu, my old friend.

    I still like Athiss and Mandos better, but Cademimu is one of my favorites.

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