Some Red Eclipse PvP Data

Back in my State Of My Game post I mentioned that I haven't been too happy with my PvP experience lately. The thing is, I don't particularly like people who whine that their faction always loses. "If all your games are losses, maybe the defining factor is you," is usually the first thing that comes to mind. And even if they are not bad players, it's still very easy to get a distorted view of your win-loss ratio. I seem to recall reading somewhere that our brains find bad things happening to us two or three times as memorable as good things, so even if you actually win half your matches or more it can still feel like you're doing badly.

About three weeks ago I decided that I wanted to know for sure whether I was doing any worse in warzones now than I used to,  so I started to keep a log of all my max-level warzone matches: which character I played on, which warzone I got, and whether the outcome was an easy win, a hard win, a fair loss (where my team still put up a bit of a fight) or a bad loss (where we got completely steamrolled). I recorded the results of exactly one hundred games - because it's a good number and makes it easy to work out percentages. (Plus, you know, big PvP changes coming with tomorrow's patch, so I had to stop at some point if I wanted to get this post out before then.) A couple of these games were actually same faction matches, but they were so rare and unexpected that I forgot to remove them from my count as an exception that messes with my comparisons to the Empire. Oh well. I also didn't keep track of when exactly I played every time, but it's worth noting that my play time varied a lot over the past few weeks, so I played on pretty much every day of the week at some point or another, as well as during every time of the day, except for the middle of the night and early morning.

I played three different characters over the course of those three weeks, though all of them are healers: my Commando main, who is almost in full Conqueror gear, my Sage alt, who's in a mix of Partisan and Arkanian/Underworld, and my Scoundrel, who should have had the advantage of being way overpowered as a class right now, but personally I found that this was cancelled out by the fact that she's got absolutely terrible gear. With very few exceptions, I also queued up alone for the vast majority of these games, to make sure that I would only have myself to blame for the outcome (well, myself and the pugs of course).

In terms of which warzones I got, I'm happy to say that the randomiser works fine. I certainly had days where I kept getting the same maps over and over, but over the course of three whole weeks things actually evened out quite well. The warzone that popped most often for me was Novare Coast with 28 matches, and the one I got the least was Ancient Hypergates (thank god), which I only had to endure 11 times. Everything else was somewhere in-between.

So, how did it go then? Well, I'm sad to say that I was not wrong about losing a lot, as my overall win percentage was only a measly 35 percent. In terms of whether the games felt like fair fights or complete steamrolls, things were pretty even, meaning that trying to get my PvP daily done as a Republic player, on average, I'd win one game (fifty-fifty chance of it being an easy win or one we had to fight for), then experience one loss where we still put up a bit of a fight, and then get completely stomped into the ground in the third match (not necessarily in that order). Doesn't sound too bad when you put it like that - but reality tends to be less kind unfortunately. My worst losing streak was ten in a row, with seven of them feeling like we didn't even stand a chance. Not fun.

What other things did I observe? Well, looking at the split between characters, I was somewhat surprised to see my Sage end up with the best win-loss ratio - in fact she outright defies the average as she even won two more games than she lost. Mind you, I played fewer games with her than with the other characters (only 26), so I might have just been lucky, but it still surprised me. I expected either my Commando to come out on top due to having the best gear, or my Scoundrel due to the class being OP. In practice however, my Scoundrel ended up having a terrible time, losing five times(!) as many games as she won. I suspect that it's because of her poor gear and me not playing her as much as the other two and thus being less familiar with the tool kit, meaning that I made less of a useful contribution in each game.

In terms of the split between the warzones, it was interesting to see that while we did lose the majority of our games in all of them, the odds did vary depending on which map popped up. On Novare Coast for example we did so well that we almost won half our matches. On the other hand we did so badly in Huttball that chances of a Republic win in the Pit were less than one in three there. I guess we're not completely useless when it comes to the actual fighting, but as a faction we're clearly lacking when it comes to co-ordination.

Do these numbers prove anything? Not really. You've got to question how much of a difference a single player can make anyway - maybe I'm just really terrible and dragging everyone down with me! I suppose I could play a hundred max-level games on some of my Imperial characters and see whether those actually go any better. However, it wouldn't really be a fair comparison as none of my Imps currently have any PvP gear (or even high level PvE gear). Maybe something for a future project...

We will see how things pan out with the introduction of arenas tomorrow and whether they cause Republic side PvP to be invigorated or not. If nothing else, keeping a record of my wins and losses has been an entertaining distraction that made even the bad losses a little bit easier to bear for a while, knowing that, if nothing else, I was at least getting some interesting data out of the whole ordeal.


Saturday Night Ops

I originally wanted to do this five months ago, but sometimes it takes a while for an opportunity to present itself...

Also, I really love this screenshot, giving a whole new meaning to the term "being benched" - though in this instance it was actually simply a case of waiting for the bus boss to respawn...


State Of My Game

It's been a bit quiet on here lately. The reason for this is that I've actually been spending somewhat less time in the game during the last couple of weeks, which has left me a little short on subjects to write about.


I still enjoy levelling and always have a couple of alts "in the wings" so to speak, but... I feel like I'm in a bit of a levelling funk. My bounty hunter only has Corellia left to go for her class story and then I'll be done and will have seen all the class stories. (I obviously intend to make a post about that once I get there.) I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this prospect. On the one hand, I'm kind of proud of it as an achievement. On the other hand, I'm kind of sad, knowing that there won't be any more updates to the personalised class story, and that that's basically it. I don't play SWTOR just for the class stories, but they are a big draw, and the thought of losing that because I've been there, done that (so to speak), has put quite a dampener on my mood. There is definitely replay value left in some of the classes (I'd quite like a second Sith warrior for example and go light side this time), but it won't be the same. I think this is one of the reasons that I've actually been enjoying my time in Star Trek Online lately, simply because dipping my toes into a different MMO has provided me with new levelling content that I haven't seen before.


All is good in ops land as far as I'm concerned (and you might have noticed me bringing up the subject more often lately, simply because it's the main activity I log in for). I'm having fun during the casual runs...

... and we still work on progression once a week too. The problem is just that there's only so much you can say about that. It's been two months since we downed the Writhing Horror on nightmare, and ever since then we've been collectively banging our heads against the brick wall that is the Dread Guard Council. I'm not complaining about the wiping because I enjoy the company regardless, and we are making some progress even if it's slow, but there's only so much you can write about wiping all night, you know?


My other major endgame activity, running warzones, isn't exactly in the best place either. Back in June I expressed some concern about what the introduction of server transfers would do to The Red Eclipse's PvP scene. Most of the hardcore PvP guilds did indeed transfer off as soon as they got the chance, and it has had quite a negative effect on my personal PvP experience. With only some casual PvPers left, queue times for warzones have increased noticeably, and overall performance has decreased by quite a bit. From the looks of it, the Empire was also lucky enough to retain a few more of its experienced PvPers than the Republic, meaning that they win about two out of three matches these days. Yes, I've actually been keeping a diary of my wins and losses because I wanted to find out whether the situation really was as bad as it felt. I'll make a proper post about it at some point once I've gathered some more data. Anyway, the point of this is that long queue times and losing the majority of my games doesn't exactly make for the most riveting PvP experience. Not to mention that arenas are also looming on the horizon.

I suppose I can always look forward to the new operations coming out next month.


So long, Toborro

Last night my raid team finally downed Golden Fury in Toborro's Courtyard on 8-person hardmode. We were quite a bit behind the curve on that one, considering that we've been working on TfB and Scum nightmare modes for a while now. We have however had a pretty bad history with this boss.

I don't recall us having any issues the first time we downed it on story mode, but when we first tried hardmode shortly after expansion launch, it still seemed a little out of reach considering our gear levels at the time. We decided that we were going to come back to it later, and we did... but every time we tried to make progress on the fight, it was as if we were cursed. Once we nearly had the boss down and then one of our dps disconnected and didn't come back online all evening. Another time the whole instance seemed to bug out after a patch, and when we switched it from hard to story mode, the boss's health and damage output actually went up instead of down. Considering that it's a very long fight that offers little in terms of reward, it just didn't seem worth the effort of coming back again and again to work on beating it. It was only after we finished a quick Scum hardmode farming run last night and found ourselves with quite a bit of time left that we decided to have another go at Toborro's Courtyard - with the added promise that if we got the boss down, we weren't going to go back ever again. I guess we won't have to now.

To be honest I think Toborro's Courtyard has been a bit of a disappointment in general. I was open to the idea of putting the world boss for the weekly into an instance, but in practice it just doesn't feel right. I think of bosses like Nightmare Pilgrim and remember things like the fun I had spectating as other people fought him, or the suspense of meeting competition in the form of another ops group when we were out as a guild to hunt him ourselves. Yes, the boss being out in the open world meant that we didn't always get our kill, or that we had to wait for a respawn, but that just added to the experience. It was something different. A world boss in an instance is just a really small raid... and in the case of Toborro's Courtyard, one that's very out of the way and offers little in terms of meaningful rewards.

That just leaves the fight itself as a source of entertainment, and unfortunately that falls pretty flat as well. Maybe it's different for people who play more crucial roles, like the add tank, but from my point of view as a healer it's a terribly boring fight, and I imagine it's not that much better for most roles. Whack the boss/heal, dodge the massive lasers, go back in, dodge back out, go back in, dodge back out, and so on and so forth for fifteen minutes or however long the fight is exactly. More than anything else, the challenge seems to lie in not losing your focus as you go through the same set of repetitive motions over and over again, and at least in my opinion that's not a very fun challenge.

I can only hope that if/when Bioware decides to add another world boss in an upcoming patch, they won't use Golden Fury as their role model.


Following The News

I've realised that for someone who's enough of a fan of SWTOR to maintain a personal blog about it, I'm pretty bad at keeping up with news about the game. For example it was on Massively of all places that I read about the fact that access to Rise of the Hutt Cartel content will be given to subscribers for free from now on. I'm kind of wondering how that is going to work in practice. If you're on Makeb and let your subscription lapse, will you get booted off the planet?

Of course there were the usual complaints about how this is a slap in the face of the people who did pay for it, yadda yadda yadda, though there was a surprising amount of reasonable opposition as well this time around. Yes, seeing something drop in price compared to what you personally paid for it is always a bit disappointing, but it's also something that happens all the time, not just in video games. Nobody goes around complaining to real life shops about how they dare to drop their prices over time (or at least I hope nobody does). Anyway, RotHC cost very little to begin with, and weren't we going on about how subscribers should automatically get access to all the content anyway? Better late than never I say.

What was I talking about again? Ah yes, news. Back when I played World of Warcraft, I basically just followed WoW Insider and that provided me with everything I wanted to know. Whatever else you want to say about that site, it's comprehensive in its news reporting about the game and offers a good balance between news and opinion pieces. Unfortunately I haven't really found anything comparable for The Old Republic. I think TORWars has been giving it a good go, but it's a bit hit and miss in its reporting (which I can't really blame them for, it's run by what, two people) and I have to admit that I'm not very fond of the site's layout.

The game's official communications channels are actually pretty good: I like the articles on the website, including the more whimsical ones like the recent interviews with Baron Deathmark - bonus points for choosing a quest giver from Ord Mantell to be the interviewer! I just don't like how they tend to send you back and forth between the official website and places like Facebook and Twitter. Who has time to keep up with all of that? The only time I regularly check the official Twitter feed is when it's server maintenance day and I want to know when they'll come back up. And of course there is always a lot of interesting information that they won't report on the official site.

Lately the official forums have contained some very interesting stuff as well, what with the whole election of class representatives and the class Q&As. However, who genuinely wants to read the official forums all the time? So I only ever hear about updates on there when a guildie decides to tell me.

How do you keep up with the state of the game?


Trying Out A Different Space MMO

You'll have to excuse me for going off topic for the second time in a year, but just like it was the case with Neverwinter back in May, I found myself trying out another MMO recently and would like to talk about the experience a bit. I certainly wasn't looking for another game to suck up my time, as I know from experience that I don't do well trying to play more than one MMO at once, but my pet tank kept nudging me to try out Star Trek Online, as he had been playing it lately and found it quite fun. Since I apparently value friendship more than my sanity, I eventually gave in, installed the game and created a Trill science officer with a random name. (Won't get too attached to a character with a random name, right?)

My first play session was pretty bad. I found the gameplay clunky and it soon drove me up the wall. I whined and moaned endlessly about the clearly mutual dislike between the game and me... but I kept playing nonetheless, and somewhat to my own surprise, my dear friend eventually managed to drag me all the way to the game's level cap. Since then, it has actually managed to grow on me in some ways despite of my initial bad experiences. 


One of the first things that struck me was that STO is a lot more combat-heavy than any of the Star Trek TV shows generally tended to be. It's kind of the reverse of SWTOR really, which has more random dialogue and moral dilemmas than the Star Wars films are typically known for. That said, Star Trek Online still manages to hit the spot pretty well when it comes to its source material. The story missions usually engage you in the kind of scenario you would expect to see on TV too, ranging from diplomatic entanglements and conspiracies to alien abductions that eventually end in pit fights à la Captain Kirk in the original series.

Graphics & Sound

One of my first thoughts the first time I moved my character was: "she walks funny". However, I'm noticing that this is something that I tend to think pretty much every time I try out a new game, and I got used to it over time. The interior environments look and sound like you would expect Star Trek to look and sound: whooshing doors and pretty bland backgrounds (because they are not the point). Space doesn't look particularly exciting either, though I quite like the music that wells up during space combat. Some of the environments you explore during your away missions look quite funky as well. All in all, it's nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done and won't be an affront to your eyeballs (or ears).


Star Trek Online basically consists of two parts: space combat (where you "are" your ship) and ground combat, which is more like what you'd typically expect from an MMO, with your character running around and shooting things. At first I honestly found this overwhelming, trying to essentially learn how to play two different games at once, and it didn't help that I didn't take to the space combat portion of the game at all. I could appreciate its uniqueness alright, but it just didn't "click" for me and I found it incredibly tedious. However, it seems that at least part of this was due to the starter ship being extremely weak and slow, so things got a bit better once I was able to upgrade. Now that I've overcome these initial difficulties, I do have to give the game credit for achieving a good split between making you identify with your ship and making you identify with your character, which is very much in line with the Star Trek franchise and how captains and their ships were pretty much equally iconic for each series.

There are also some mini games, most notably the duty officer system, which basically allows you to collect starship crew members with different skills which you can then send out on missions for various rewards. I have to admit that I instantly fell in love with this one. It's actually kind of interesting to hunt down different missions in different areas and to collect the right officers for each particular job. Not to mention that the results of said missions can be unintentionally hilarious: my favourite so far was when Pet Tank sent a large part of his crew on an innocuous mission to perform Hamlet on the holodeck, but due to someone deactivating the security protocols it ended in disaster, with three dead and another three injured. (Didn't expect that, huh?)

What's My Role?

I've never seen Star Trek Online advertised as a game without the classic holy trinity (after all that was supposed to be Guild Wars 2's big thing, right), but from what I've seen so far, roles in STO are pretty fluid. Maybe it's different for hardcore players at endgame, but as far as I can tell the three types of captains (tactical, engineer and science) are only very vaguely specialised, anyone can fly any type of ship, and in any group content that I've seen things mostly seem to come down to everybody blasting away at the enemy and keeping themselves up as well as they can. Occasionally a big zerg can be fun (for example in a Red Alert mission versus the Borg), but in the long run I can't say that I find this kind of gameplay particularly engaging. I've been trying to specialise my own science officer and ship for support and healing, but the toolbox to achieve this seems quite limited compared to what I'm used to.


Back when I tried out Neverwinter, I complained at length about how some of the grouping mechanics in that game were a massive pain in the rear. To be fair, that was right after launch and since the game never took off among my friends like I had hoped, I haven't been back - for all I know, all the problems I complained about could have been fixed by now. Either way, it shows that STO is made by the same people as it suffers from similar issues, even though the game is a couple of years older.

Basically, it seems that the devs have their heart in the right place when it comes to grouping and do want to encourage it - but it feels like they then don't even do the most basic quality control on their features. All my most frustrating experiences with the game so far were caused by failures of the grouping system - such as when I got separated from my group and we couldn't figure out how to reunite because the button to join another person's instance is a small grey bar with no label or tooltip! Good luck figuring that one out. Then there were all the instances where we were beamed into a confined space as a group and one group member ended up stuck in a wall... these are just such basic gameplay obstacles, I can't believe nobody has bothered to fix those. There are also a lot of conversations to click through during some missions, and in a group whoever clicks through them first makes them disappear, whether you've personally had a chance to read them or not. Imagine if in SWTOR you could miss out on entire conversations just because someone else got trigger-happy with their space bar! Not cool.

On the plus side, STO is the first MMO that I've personally played that allows you to match your level to that of your group members, and while down-levelled characters are way overpowered and up-levelled characters remain very weak, it did serve me and my max-level buddy well enough while I was levelling up. The guild or "fleet" system also seems pretty involved. I had planned to stay away from any guilds since I didn't want to get too entangled by the game, but one joke invite later and I was a member of a big coalition. Oops? I have not talked to anyone beyond my initial "hello", but I've been quite impressed by all the features you get access to in a fleet, the most notable one being a personalised star base.


I mostly levelled up through doing the episodic story content, which is very good. I barely got through the first three arcs before hitting max level as well, so there is quite a bit left to do after the level cap. Still, story only takes you so far, what else is there? While I haven't been around much yet, there is plenty to do in space from what I gather, from randomised solo missions to group content for various sizes. Oh, and of course Star Trek Online has its own Foundry of user-generated content as well. It strikes me as a very feature-rich game really... just missing polish in some areas.

Even though I've hit max-level now, I have no idea what endgame is like, nor am I sure that I even want to know. (I've definitely got enough on my plate with SWTOR!) I've paid one visit to the endgame daily area on New Romulus and it gave me curious flashbacks to Vanilla WoW with all the bizarre little bits and bobs that you could collect to hand in here and there with the eventual goal of earning reputation with the Romulans (think Scourgestones, Dark Iron scraps, that kind of thing).

Free To Play

With the game being free to play there was no real barrier to entry for me to give it a try. While levelling up, I found the model to be pretty generous to its free players. I was limited in my bank space, what ships I could get and stuff like that, but I never felt like I was seriously lacking anything that I could only get by paying real money.

It's interesting that the game essentially uses the same virtual currency system as Neverwinter, but I found it a lot less annoying in this game. This is kind of ironic considering that Neverwinter was built to be free to play from the ground up - but I felt that everything store-related was very in-your-face in that game, e.g. store-bought mounts being displayed on the market square, store buttons everywhere and so on and so forth. STO on the other hand was originally a subscription game that was converted, and as such seems a lot more subdued in its monetisation efforts. Yeah, you get stupid lockboxes dropping everywhere, but I soon learned to ignore them and just throw them away now. It also does have a subscription option still, and I did eventually pay up for a month, both since I was having fun with the game and to unlock a couple of subscriber perks such as extra inventory slots.

In Summary

With its strange mix of space and ground combat, Star Trek Online is a slightly different sort of theme park MMO. At first there is a lot to take in, and stupid bugs can be a big turn-off if you're unlucky like me, but if you stick with it through the rough ride at the start you might find that there are quite a few things to love.


M1-4X is happy to see me

Good god, man, I know you get excited about the prospect of fighting Imperials, but this is ridiculous! I didn't even know droids were built that way!

(My 4X is currently suffering from a weird graphical glitch where his weapon appears to stick out of his lower torso... stop sniggering! Un- and re-equipping the rifle fixes the issue, but occasionally it reappears. I haven't noticed any pattern to it.

I was seriously unsettled the first time I noticed it though. "Has 4X always had four legs? Cause if not, he's just developed a sudden case of droid boner...")


Random 16-Man Ponderings

Let me put on my "back in my World of Warcraft days" hat for a moment. For the longest time, my playtime in WoW was dominated by being in a 25-man raiding guild and I loved it... until Blizzard announced that they were equalising the rewards for 10- and 25-man raids, and people predicted the end of large group raiding as we knew it - including myself. My own 25-man guild was forced to downsize only a few months after the initial announcement, and many others followed. While the format hasn't died out completely (as far as I'm aware anyway), there was definitely a big drop in player participation. The fact that 10s and 25s had to share the same lockout from Cataclysm onwards supposedly didn't help either, though it's hard to tell exactly how much of an effect that change in particular had on the exodus from the 25-man raiding format.

Why all this WoW talk, you ask? I mention it because seeing the game change to equal loot and a single lockout for both raid sizes made me quite unhappy at the time, seeing how my entire play revolved around the old system and Blizzard basically broke it. However, The Old Republic copied all these changes and made them part of its operations system from launch... and somehow, dealing with things being that way from the start and accepting it as a standard part of the game, I haven't minded nearly as much.

For the first ten months or so of me playing SWTOR, 16-mans might as well not have existed. I was in a small social guild that only did 8-man and that was that. I had no interest in 16s, nor any particular desire to learn more about them. However, when I joined Twin Suns and got a taste of the bigger format for the first time, I loved it. It was the closest thing to 25-man raiding I'd experienced in a long time, and we were doing it regardless of the rewards. We weren't exactly a 16-man guild, but we were large enough to do the bigger format occasionally, and it was fun.

However, not everyone in the guild shares my view on the subject. For quite a while now, running 16-mans has been a bit of a contentious subject in fact, as there are basically two factions in the guild: those who enjoy it and those who strongly dislike it. We currently have two 8-man progression groups and if we put the two of them together we could easily tackle some challenges on the harder difficulties, but once you subtract all the people who don't want to come to 16-mans, you suddenly come up way short of a proper team.

One of our two guild leaders, who is one of the main advocates of doing 16-man content, has recently put 16-man TfB on the calendar for Mondays, and basically takes whoever is willing to come. Most weeks we end up with a core of about 10-12 guildies who are happy to tag along plus a couple of friends from other guilds filling the gaps. Oh, and did I mention that due to the shared lockouts pretty much everyone is on an alt (since we need our mains for the 8-man progression)? If you think that this slightly hodgepodge arrangement makes serious progression on 16-man harder, you'd be right... but it's not impossible.

It's definitely more challenging to herd sixteen cats than eight, but it's somewhat balanced out by the fact that 16-man is designed to leave more leeway for mistakes. This wasn't actually true in some of the earlier operations, but by now it seems to me that the devs have managed to find a pretty sweet spot in regards to balancing. The content is still appropriately challenging, but you can take along a couple of pugs or slightly underperforming players and still make it.

From my perspective I've been finding the change in healing requirements between the different sizes the most interesting. In some ways, 16-man healing is less engaging because there is just so much cross-healing, it's hard to feel personally responsible for anything. However, at other times a boss will suddenly throw you a curveball by unexpectedly ramping up the damage of a certain ability that hardly hurts in 8-man.

This was the case with Operator IX on hardmode for example, where the AoE damage during phase two whenever his shield is up suddenly seems insane on 16-man. We eventually switched to doing the fight with five healers just because we kept losing people in that phase. This week we finally downed him, after weeks of wiping over and over and only making fairly slow progress. Even though this is something that we did on 8-man months ago, it still felt very rewarding in its own way.

I do wonder how many people actually care about 16-man operations though. I bet there are a lot of players, even among those who do raid, who are the same as me while I was still in my small social guild and don't even give a thought to the bigger format. And my own guild culture shows that even among those who could easily participate in 16-man content, there is a significant number who simply don't like the larger groups. It would be interesting to see Bioware's metrics for this, in a game where larger raid size never had the same status as it did in WoW.


Companion Dress-Up

I've previously written about how I never used to care much about my companions' looks, until some of my inquisitor's companions looking way off gave me pause for long enough that I ended up buying them some gear that was more appropriate for their roles and characters.

Lately I've discovered a new hobby that is somewhat related: dressing my companions so they look like player characters. If you're the type of person who wears a full Cartel Market outfit and just clones it for all your companions, this might not seem like a big deal, but considering that most people I know tend to mix and match a lot of their gear, trying to copy any given look can actually be pretty interesting (and amusing).

My main is a Commando healer for example. My healing companion is a female trooper too. Hmm... 

Even if you ignore the different body types and the giant assault cannon strapped to my character's back, it's not a perfect likeness - I was lazy and didn't bother to replace Elara's belt, and the boots she's wearing are a similar-looking but nonetheless different model to mine. Still, at a glance we make pretty good twins... and it amuses me to basically see "two of me" running around the fleet.

Of course you can then take it a step further and copy other people's looks. It only really works well if they display their helmet (and your companion can do the same), because otherwise the head and face kind of dominate the picture and that's something you can't copy. Body types pose a limitation as well, but still... you'd be surprised by the results you can achieve with just a couple of key pieces and the right dye kit.

Tanking pet or pet tank? Who can tell?

Disclaimer: Shintar recommends that you don't do this with people who are easily freaked out by you stalking their characters and staring at their gear as you make plans to copy their looks. Shintar also won't be held responsible for any negative consequences caused by pretending that your companions are other players and said other players taking offense at seeing their lookalikes get bossed around by you.