The Meta

I think the thing that really irritates me about teacher training is the conformity. “As a teacher, you are always on show. As such, you have to be a professional both inside the classroom and out,” was something that we were told near the start of the PGCE, along with “make sure your online presence is totally professional and private because parents and students alike will Google search your name.” Now, I understand that to a point; after all, no one wants to have a teacher who goes out on a bender every weekend and passes out in the gutter, or has a public Facebook profile covered in photos from that hedonistic holiday to Marbella.

However, like all things to do with this course, it goes to the extreme. I’m the kind of person who prizes my individuality. I love being me; one hundred percent pure, unadulterated me. I like my (cyber)gothic style, I like my strangely coloured and/or designed contact lenses, I like my (limited due to hereditary hair volume. Women who complain about having too much hair should really consider themselves lucky…) out-there hairstyles. What I don’t like is having to slot into what I am going to call the “teacher meta” where you have to be as generic as possible so you don’t scare parents into thinking you’re incompetent and unprofessional. To eternally present this image of the perfect role model. I’m never going to be the one to go out partying and get drunk and act like a buffoon, but really? My individuality makes me unprofessional? Specifically, my individuality in my own free time makes me unprofessional? My individuality makes me a bad role model? I have a younger sibling, and this is the last thing I would want them to see. Not me being an individual, but the idea of individuality being seen in a negative light. As a budding fantasy/science fiction author, I know dystopias, and this is really starting to feel like I’m living in a dystopian society.

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Okay, rant over. I have come up with a new revelation this week. That revelation is that dice hate me. Last weekend, I managed to roll a double 1 in Stars Without Number, used a psychic power to re-roll and… rolled another pair of 1s. Double snake eyes? Really? Not only that, but on the Sunday, despite having ludicrous numbers amounts of talents and skills and stats that make my Imperial Envoy a social god (and utterly incompetent at just about everything else), an NPC managed to charm my character by rolling incredibly well against my utterly atrocious dice rolling, which basically made my character appear useless. For most of that session, nobody came to my character for anything. At all. Even when we had a diplomatic situation later on, the intelligence officer took it and nobody thought to contact the actual diplomat. What am I even around for? It was a rough weekend for roleplaying, but at least I manage to perform well in pathfinder, though as a sorcerer I don’t really have to roll to hit or anything like that; most of my spells auto-hit with enemies having to make saves to avoid damage, thus removing my utterly terrible dice luck from the equation.

I’ve also gone back to SWTOR, but as a totally new character so nobody in the galactic starfighter community knows who I am (apart from one guy that I told who is very nice and shares my views on both gunships and overly-competitive pilots). It’s great being the new player; there are no expectations to do well, no victimisation where half the team comes after you. It’s liberating and, dare I say it, fun. I’ve also been playing a lot of VoidExpanse recently as well. On hardcore mode. Permadeath is very worrying, but the way the game is designed it wouldn’t be too harsh if I were to lose and have to start again. I’m playing a trader type, so a lot of my XP comes from buying resources on the cheap, then flying them elsewhere and selling them for large profits. The XP gains for this are pretty decent and it doesn’t take too long as you can just autopilot and minimise; most of the time it doesn’t bite you in the backside. Come to think of it, I’ve been in a real “space” mood. Space is pretty cool though… I wish I had the time to work on my science fiction…

Shadow of Revan – Revitalising or Revisiting? A brief overview of the 3.0 changes

In case you didn’t already know, I’m a fairly large Star Wars fan, particularly the Old Republic era ever since playing KotOR for the first time. Naturally, I had pre-ordered the upcoming expansion “Shadow of Revan” and thus have been able to mess about a little in the early access (and spend all those Galactic Starfighter requisition items!). I will outline my findings and feelings on this expansion in this article.

Firstly, I feel that I must comment on the pricing. One word sums up my opinion: yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. £12 is a suitable price for an expansion to an MMO. I don’t know how Blizzard gets away with charging new game prices for their expansions at launch, considering they also have a subscription model in place. Are World of Warcraft players made of money? I remember buying World of Warcraft back in the vanilla days for about £20 in… I can’t remember the game shop, but I do remember that it was in Churchill Square in Brighton, so it could have been Game or HMV. I remember buying the Burning Crusade expansion for around £15 or £20 as well, but the later expansions came in heavily at £30 – £35, leading to me just stopping my subscription and moving onto greener pastures. Whilst Star Wars: The Old Republic has a subscription model (it’s free-to-play, but free-to-play is crippling) and the content is nothing -that- special when compared to the RPG experience I can get in single player games like Shadowrun Returns, Dragon Age: Origins, Skyrim or Divinity: Original Sin, it also has sensible pricing on its expansions. As I said, Shadow of Revan is £12 and even includes Rise of the Hutt Cartel to those who did not already own it, and will go down over time as this is the launch price. The only MMO that I have played where the expansions were the same launch price as that of the original game were the original Guild Wars games, however that did not operate on a subscription model, instead using the superior (in my opinion) buy-to-play model where you buy the game and then can play it as much as you want without a subscription and without limitations. And these were still only £15 – 20!

The first thing that I have to comment on are the changes to GSF. There are some minor aesthetic details that have changed, such as objective markers looking softer now, but the real change is in the buffs to requisition gain that we all knew was coming. Let me tell you, it feels so good. I noticed the buff to requisition gained, as I managed 1.7k ship requisition on my Star Guard (with the 2x daily mult for 500 bonus req) which netted me around 250 fleet requisition instead of 170. Also, all of the daily and weekly items have been increased by approximately 25%, and having about a month and a half worth of them stocked up, you can imagine that I was a very happy person.

The big thing that I’m sure you all want to know about is the new disciplines system that has replaced talents. I am… Both pleased and disappointed with this system. The advantage is that you gain a specialised skill straight away, allowing you to really -feel- like a tank, healer or dps from the word go, howeverthe removal of hybrid builds hurts higher level players who may have wanted to try an interesting build (I ran a “Mandalorian” build for the Powertech/Vanguard class by going mostly in tanking, but then also in the middle dps tree for the wrist blade). It has a fairly simple interface, making it obvious what you’re getting yourself into at the moment of choosing:

There is no way you're getting confused with this interface.

There is no way you’re getting confused with this interface.

As you can see, from level 10, you instantly gain Underworld Medicine (which has been totally removed from the Scoundrel abilities and replaced with slow-release medpac, no longer a Sawbones only power). As you level up you gain new powers, as well as other passive abilities, automatically. There is no longer any choice for your specific discipline, however you do get to choose your utility abilities. Once you choose your discipline, you go to the next screen:

Very little choice involved!

Very little choice involved!

As you can see, your progression in your discipline is very linear. You level up and you gain new active and passive abilities as you go. However, you can choose your utilities and gain access to a total of seven at level 60. For a Sawbones such as myself they are very, very useful, however it varies from class to class. One of my guild mates said that he found his Guardian ones useless, for example. As I said, I don’t like this as it doesn’t allow for interesting hybrid builds, but I really like that it makes you feel like your chosen role from the moment you gain your advanced class. A quick note: Abandon is the same as field respec. You need to purchase it in your legacy window! I had the field respec, so I can abandon my discipline in the field if need be.

Next I will talk about gear and commendations. Commendations have been simplified: Planetary and Classic commendations are no more and were converted into Basic commendations. All previously owned Ultimate and Elite commendations were also transferred to Basic with favourable conversion rates. Warzone commendations and Fleet commendations remain untouched.

New CommsBasic commendations can buy you gear from the Ord Mantell vendor (the blue chestpieces) all the way up to entry level 55 gear (including gear that used to be bought with Classic commendations) for affordable prices. For the entry level 55 gear, you want to look for Zeskogo, near where the Corellia and Makeb commendation vendors used to be, his wares and prices are shown below:

Really useful if you've come from leveling a character on 12x with terrible gear!

Really useful if you’ve come from leveling a character on 12x with terrible gear!

Basic commendations can also be used to buy level 60 gear (186 rating) at the same place where Basic gear used to be sold. Prices seem to be the same as they used to be, just the gear has shifted up a few levels.

Then there’s the crew skills. I have not yet breached the new levels yet, but the cap has been raised from 450 to 500 in all crew skills. We’ll probably get the ability to craft up 180 gear and such items, but I can only speculate. Don’t worry though, I’m on the case!

Lexicon is on the job! ;)

Do not fear. Lexicon is on the job!

I have promised a friend that I would wait for him to complete the new areas together, so my exposure to those will be a little delayed though I plan on playing through on the Imperial side in his absence to get a feel for it (and to get a max level Cybertech!) Expect some views on the new sections soon

So… Am I happy with the changes? Yes. For an expansion, the appreciate the changes. To see whether or not it was worth the £12 I’ll have to wait and see what Rishi and Yavin IV have in store for me!