A couple of weeks back, I wrote an article about how the gear grind is "unfun." I don't like the grind, but I do like building good gear. I hate to admit it, but there is a little bit of min-maxer in me (just a little!).
With SWTOR turning nine months old, many news and guide sites have settled into a routine. Surprisingly, the sites that I visited pre-launch are not the sites that I visit now. Now I am interested in the more granular sites that help me with very specific tasks of the game. Granted, I still visit Darth Hater and TORWars when I'm looking for news, but I have a completely different set of sites and tools for character building. These are the three sites I use almost daily.
I could probably do a whole article on Ask Mr. Robot. These programmers and parsers own what is probably the most in-depth database on SWTOR armor on the internet. I don't mean to discount some of the database sites like Darth Hater and TORHead, but if you are looking to truly kit out a character or compare what your character has to what is best for your build, then Ask Mr. Robot is hands down the best place to turn.
I've included a link to my current PvE build on my Marauder just so you can see what this incredible tool can do. Not only does Mr. Robot do all the defensive and offensive calculations for your character's build, but it also allows you to customize your equipment the same way that SWTOR does. For instance, look at my main-hander, Punisher, which I earned during a Soa hard-mode fight. The modifications come actually from different drops. In fact, those mods come from the off-hand drop, The Oath of Ragnos, which I earned from two different hard-mode Eternity Vault runs from Gharg. This seemingly simple customization tool allows you to mix and match, even min-max, your gear before you go hunt for it. Check out my chest plate for another example.
There is no way I can cover everything this tool does right now, but there is one other major component I'd like to point out: the wish list. As I mentioned, you can set up your current gear in the character builder. Then there is another tab that allows you to build your future character and make statistical comparisons between the two sets. Just for fun, I added a Campaign-gear example so that you can see how the wish-list comparison works.
MOX, in this case, is an acronym for Memories of Xendor, an Imperial progression guild. This guild created the best combat log parser I've seen for real-time parsing. Granted, this tool isn't exactly the prettiest thing to look at. However, until the SWTOR developers allow us to embed these types of tools into the game interface, it's the best we've got. There are other parsers out there, one of which I will talk about in a bit, but most are not in real time.
If you run two monitors like I do, then there is no issue using a real-time parser on a second screen. However, if you're like the majority of MMO players and have only one monitor, MOX parser has a built-in solution for you. Normally, you cannot see items on your desktop while running the game, especially those of you who run the game in full screen. This parser has pop-outs for both raid group and your personal meters. These pop-outs are set as "always on top," so if you run SWTOR in full-screen windowed mode, then you can see these pop-outs as you are running the game.
As I mentioned, you can receive real-time information from your whole raid. Under the raid tab, there is a raid key that the raid leader can generate. When you enter this key into the correct area, you will be able to track numerically what each member of your raid is doing at a given time. As a piece of personal advice, I'd say don't use this tool as an excuse to remove someone from your event; use it to help a player grow and get better at his given role.
MOX is great for seeing exactly what you're doing while the game is running. But what if you're a raid leader and want to do a post-raid breakdown of what exactly happened during a specific run? I recommend Ask Mr Robot again. The many features of this parser are explained in a short video on its YouTube page, but let me give you the highlights.
Of course, as with the real-time parser, you can see the damage dealt, taken, and absorbed along with the healing cast and received. But as an added bonus, you can break down a given fight into a specific battle or even a specific mob. The great thing about Ask Mr. Robot versus the other parsers is that many of the specifics are done automatically, things like linking to your server, timezone, and other raid members.
MOX's parser can link raid groups together, but unlike MOX, Mr. Robot can link these fights after the raid is done. Although I'm not part of a hard-core progression guild, I can see how a tool like this would be invaluable. Mr. Robot will even save all previous raid logs so that raid leaders can see exactly how their teams are growing.
As I mentioned before, I like to use tools not to exclude people but to make them better players. I am very glad that SWTOR's combat logs reflect only what your character is doing. This way, giving out your personal performance information is completely voluntary. Take a look at these tools if you haven't already, and let me know what you think. And I will talk to you again next week!
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!