I received the comment above on an article I wrote last week about companion affection and the legacy unlocks associated with it. At the time I didn’t know that AMR even had an item database for SWTOR, much less that I could link to items in it. I had spoken to the team at Ask Mr. Robot around the time of SWTOR’s early access about testing out their SWTOR features but after I had agreed they never contacted me again (I thought we were friends too, AMR. Why the silent treatment, eh?).
As you can see from my WoW leveling guides and heirloom guides, I’m real big on linking to items when I have a reliable database that I can look things up in and actually work with. Up to this point I’ve been using Torhead, mostly because I had no other option, but also partly because I was hoping that Torhead would eventually get somewhere close to Wowhead in terms of database functionality. Here we are 4.5 months post-launch and Torhead is still lackluster at best as far as items are concerned.
So I went to Ask Mr. Robot and loaded up their SWTOR Items Database to see what I could find on Synthweaving patterns because I have a Sith Warrior who has 400 Synthweaving and I want to know when I’ve managed to get all of the patterns custom gear from Underworld Trading so I can stop running those stinking missions.
I had already done the search on Torhead, but without any worthwhile filtering on their schematics pages or their armor pages I had to scroll through thousands of items, fifty at a time, and look for the custom pieces myself. That being the pain that it was, I wanted to see how much simpler it was to do at AMR.
Having never even seen their database before, I was able to pull up the search in that screenshot above in about 15 seconds from the time I entered the URL to the time I had my results. You can click on the screenshot to take you to my search if you’d like to see it in action yourself.
Clicking on the individual items gives more specific information about that particular item, which is exactly what I want to see. You get which mods the item accepts, where the pattern for the item comes from, which materials are required to make it (which are also links to more specific info about the mats), what the required skill level is to craft it and at which skill rank it goes from orange to yellow to green to grey.
In short, it has almost everything I would ever want to see from an MMO item database.
How Could AMR Improve?
There are still a few features that I think could be added to improve their database. The filters that they have in place already make it better than Torhead’s in my personal opinion, but they could still add some more features that would make it even more useful.
I know the database isn’t the primary function of AMR so it’s not likely to be a high priority for them, but in the age of transmogrification and people wanting to customize their looks it’s going to become a big deal soon if it isn’t already. With changes in 1.2 allowing custom pieces to proc an Augment slot this gear is now moving into that best in slot category and picking and choosing for the best look is the nature of the customization beast.
One of the biggest features of Wowhead’s item database is that it has not only screenshots but also a 3D model of almost all of the items in game. I think SWTOR is currently locked down to where you can’t get those 3D images from it like you can with WoW, and that’s fine. But allowing users to upload screenshots would still be much better than just the in-game icon that we can see right now.
Most items have a different look depending on which faction you’re viewing them on, so you would need to be able to see pictures of how it would look for both factions if you were trying to decide on a specific look to last you through to the end.
The fact that AMR has any filters at all is a really big deal, but they could take it a step further to make it more universally applicable beyond their initial scope of just telling you how to optimize your gear. For example, I’d like to know how these items bind because I have no interest in crafting 25 of an item at once (queuing five on each of my five companions) to proc augment slots if the item in question is Bind on Pickup.
Some additional filters that I would propose include:
- Binds on ??? / Does Not Bind
Binding is a pretty big deal if you want to use this database from the perspective of a crafter/seller rather than simply optimization. If you’re making things to give to guildmates or to sell on the GTN then you want to be able to search your items based on whether or not they are Bind on Pickup before anything else. We may or may not see more items that become Bind to Legacy in the future, but having that as an option that’s already in place would be good for when and if that time does come.
Source might not be a huge issue right now with the game still fairly new, but as the game ages and more and more schematics are added to the game it’s going to become more important. Right now there are only a few different sources for schematics as it is, but it would still be good to be able to filter out which ones come from Underworld Trading missions versus which ones come from vendors and so on.
They have a filter for Advanced Class, but that doesn’t help much when you’re dealing with a piece of gear that can be used by Jedi Knights or Troopers. Some end game gear is specified for use by certain AC’s, so I can understand the reasoning for including AC as a filter, but I think they would be better served by have a combined list of both Class and Advanced Class rather than just the AC’s. I might need to play with the existing filters more to see if this is absolutely necessary or if we can get by just fine with what’s there already. I tested the AC filter to see if it would accomplish the kind of filtering that I was looking for, and it worked just fine.
Entirely selfish of me I know, but I would like to be able to export my filtered lists to a spreadsheet. The purpose of a database is to hold information and offer methods of querying said information. Once that information is collected it should be up to the end user to decide how to manipulate and present it.
I would really like to get spreadsheets of all of the custom gear that you can make with each profession so that I can keep track of which ones I have and which ones I still need. As a programmer who works with databases all day long at work, it’s not that big of a deal for me to get the information off of their pages and make my own spreadsheets with it, I just wish that functionality was built in so that I wouldn’t have to go through that effort every time.
If you want to see my first attempt at a poor man’s export you can check out my Custom Synthweaving Google Doc to see the full list of items. The most important thing I’m missing from that list is that there’s no link going back to AMR’s website so it’s not easy for me to look up which mats are required to make them, or where the schematics can be found. In patch 1.2 most of the schematics just come from Underworld Trading missions or PvP vendors, but in the future I’m sure we’ll have more that are world drops, dungeon/boss drops, or perhaps purchased from vendors for commendations or something along those lines.
Overall, I think the item database at Ask Mr. Robot is honestly the best one I’ve seen for SWTOR to date. It might not be perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than some of the others I’ve seen and as far as strictly items are concerned I would say it’s currently the best one out there.
I know that I have seen at least two other sites mentioned this week on twitter as having item databases in the beta stage. I haven’t looked at them (yet) because I don’t think either of those are actually open to the public just yet. Those new ones just might come out and surprise us all, but until I see them in action I’m going to have to give my stamp of approval to Ask Mr. Robot.