Also pugging again: my perpetually pugging Merc
I learned that Landing Party is better avoided right now, as the last boss is bugged, and finding out at the very end that you can't actually complete the instance is quite a bummer. I also realised that Trial and Error, the one with the rakghouls that I declared my favourite of the second set on release, is actually quite a pain on story mode due to what I can only assume is a tuning error. Dulfy has noted that story and veteran mode have the exact same damage and mob health numbers, and after trying both I'm inclined to think that those numbers are the ones that were intended for veteran mode. In my first pug for story mode that evening, which had no healer, my entire party simply melted on the first boss before we could even do much of anything, which caused the group to disband very quickly. I only managed to complete it later when I just happened to get a group that had an actual trinity setup. Now I really don't want to do it again, not until they fix those numbers anyway. But hey, at least the achievements work now. (Not long ago, these were bugged too and didn't tick off several of the uprisings when you completed them.)
Anyway, while none of these runs were super special (people were reasonably competent and didn't talk very much), I was kind of ridiculously happy to be out there among random players again. I'm coming to think that pugging is the perfect antidote to too much negativity.
And I have been struggling with the latter again for the past couple of months. I can't blame people for grousing about Galactic Command, but the regular old "Bioware sucks" and "dead game" I can do without - yet sadly these sorts of complaints just seem to be everywhere nowadays. "Just don't go to places like the official forums or reddit," you might say, but sometimes I do want to keep up with the news and see what people are saying! Where can I still engage in conversation about the game without seeing bland declarations of doom and gloom everywhere? Every game has its detractors, but where are the SWTOR community's happy places these days? (Actually, my Twitter feed is a pretty good place, as the SWTOR players there find a lot of joy in the game. But the format just has limited use for discussion.)
Anyway, what does pugging have to do with all this? To me, it's like an antidote to forum whining. When it feels like everyone but your guildies seems to hate the game (based on what you see in online comment sections anyway), there's nothing like joining a group of random strangers and seeing them actually have oodles of fun. In one of my uprising runs, two people said that they had never done it before, and one of them got super excited about everything; it was really cute. Recalling the bugs I mentioned above, not everything was sunshine and rainbows of course, but annoyances like a bugged encounter are very specific criticisms and not at all at odds with one's overall love for the game.
The other day, I read an article on Contains Moderate Peril, in which the author mused about "the average LOTRO player", and I couldn't help but think that if you replaced hobbits with Jedi and LOTRO with SWTOR, it would ring just as true for my own online home. The gist of it is basically that for all the loud complaints you see about any MMO online, the majority of the player base pays no attention to any of that and just sticks to playing the game itself, having plenty of fun in the process. Sometimes I really need to be reminded of that, after seeing enough people just hang out in comment sections and spout about how much they hate the game. And even though people daring to use the group finder are probably yet another sub-section of the player base that isn't necessarily representative of the average, pugs can be pretty great at reminding you that lots of people are still out there, having plenty of fun.
(Also, speaking of strangers providing you with a good time, you still have several days left to enter my companion giveaway!)