Exile’s End

With Game Update 5.10 out this week, SWTOR ends the year on a high note. But there is one aspect of Jedi Under Siege worth focusing on because of the part I played in making it happen.

SWTOR often uses its launcher to promote the latest Cartel Market deal with tag lines like “Wield the Unstable Arbiter’s Lightsaber” or “Drive the Landslide Assault Speeder”. I don’t often give them much thought, but the ad on July 27 caught my eye.

As anyone who knows me can attest, I adore dumb jokes, and I had to share my joy at the appearance of the beefsteak tomato of a Jedi that was “Don the Exiled Knight”. I snapped a screenshot of the launcher and posted it to the r/swtor subreddit. I figured I’d get some cheap karma and a few funny comments, and that would be the end of it.

But it wasn’t the end. The post was received with good humor across the board and even SWTOR’s Community Manager, Eric Musco chimed in with the hope that Don be put into the game at some point. And this week, Bioware made good on that wacky notion.

Not only can Don be found on the planet Ossus, Bioware also included some achievements and a decoration associated with his discovery and history. I could not be happier. I love the exploration and scavenger hunting aspects of MMOs, and with the recent Nerf Herding and unusual Star Fortress achievements, folks at Bioware seem to as well. Exiled no more, Don will find a permanent home as an honored guest in my stronghold.

In discussing this unexpected turn of events with my friends, there was some debate about how much credit I deserve for all this. The consensus was that I deserve very little credit but the lion’s share of the blame, and I’ll cop to that. Making a dumb joke on the internet is pretty easy, and I’m hardly the first to tell this one, but I’ve got to hand it to the SWTOR community who ran with it and the good people at Bioware who rolled with it and did the actual hard work of bringing good ol’ Don to life. As for me, I’m pleased that I get to be a little more in on this inside joke than most.

I do wonder if Bioware had to get approval for Don from the overseers at Lucasfilm. I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversation!

 

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Big Cat or Tiny Plumber?

As we eagerly await the arrival of Game Update 5.10, let’s take another trip to Corellia, a world like Ossus, that has seen more than its share of Republic versus Sith conflict.

I’ve been hunting Battlemasters recently and often race past this pair of banners on my way to the Sith base in Coronet City’s Government Center. The left sign is a civic banner similar to those we might see around the major cities of our own world. Rather than advertising a company or product, this sign with its dynamic layout and swooping stripes promotes Corellia itself as an exciting destination. This graphic has some unusual elements in its design including drop shadows and beveled edges, things not often seen in other similar signs in the game that tend to have a more “modern” design with few gradients and flatter color transitions. However the substantial amount of distress this poster shows indicates that it has seen better days and may have been flying for quite some time even before the outbreak of galactic war.

The second banner was far more challenging than its simple design would suggest. Its use of Galactic Standard instead of Aurebesh foiled my initial attempt at translation. It is most commonly found in Axial Park, home of the Corellia Zoo, and that context ultimately made its meaning obvious. The thing that vexed me the most, however, was the fact that I was looking at the illustration at its center wrong.  For the longest time, I did not see a ferocious lion or tiger or nexu, but instead I saw a famous Italian plumber and video game hero wearing a colander on his head. To this day, I still have to blink twice to see the cat.

I don’t know if the graphic’s double meaning is intended, but it will never cease to amuse me. Mamma Mia!

That’s all for now. See you on Ossus!

 

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Lok’tar Ogar: Five Things SWTOR Should Steal from WOW

On account of the holiday, I took the week off and instead decided to take the easy way out with another Dumb Top Five list. Back in early 2005, the first MMO I played was World of Warcraft, and although I quit in 2013, I still have friends who play and I recently decided to dip my toes back into the waters of Azeroth. I am certain that any WOW vs. SWTOR discussion ends only in madness, but despite everything that World of Warcraft has going for it, I will confess that this blog will not be renamed “This Week in Zandalari” anytime soon. Nevertheless, there are some quality of life features that I’d love to see SWTOR swipe from WOW.

Before I begin, I want to state clearly that I’m not a developer or programmer or someone with any actual knowledge of how an MMO-RPG gets made. It’s easy to make suggestions, but I understand that the resources Blizzard can throw at a problem are considerable. Whether what I’m asking of Bioware is feasible is an entirely other issue. I’ll leave that to the professionals.

The Launcher

Blizzard’s battle.net launcher is pretty slick, and the thing I most like about it is that it recognizes when I’m logging in from home so that I don’t have to input my password and security key every time I play. I know this only saves a few seconds of typing, but it’s nice feeling like I can jump in to the game that much faster. SWTOR’s launcher received a makeover a few years ago, but I think it could stand a modern overhaul.

The Pet Journal, Mount Collection and Toy Box

I don’t really consider myself a mount or pet collector, but over the years I have accumulated dozens of different speeders and critters to the point that I sometimes forget what I have rusting in the garage or going feral in the backyard. Having a better interface to sort through the many jet cars, rocket bikes, fearsome beasts and tiny robot pals I’ve collected over the years would be a welcome improvement. And if such an interface could also include regen items and other toys such as the Life Day Snowball Bomb that would be great and perhaps open up some needed (to a pack-rat like me) inventory space.

Multi-tapping

One of the least fun parts of the MMO experience is waiting for mobs like Trapjaw on Tatooine, Valen Korik on Dromund Kaas, or the Eradicator Droid on CZ-198 to respawn especially if you arrive just as someone else has engaged them. Even worse is competing with your own faction to tag a mob. Multi-tapping allows everyone who hits a mob and participates in fighting it to get credit for the kill and a share of the loot. I believe SWTOR may be one of the last MMOs to not allow multi-tapping, and I think it’s long overdue. In an MMO, you should want and like to work with your fellow players when you encounter them in the open world (outside of PVP, of course).

Extendable Raid Lockouts

I’ve started running Veteran Mode ops again, and it’s been a lot of fun. But we run once a week, and each week we spend much of our limited raiding time re-clearing bosses we already have killed in order to get to the fights we’re still progressing on. In Warcraft, you can extend Raid lockouts from week to week so that the raid group can jump right into the fights they want to work on without fussing with stuff they don’t. I’d love to be able to do this in SWTOR. Thanks to Galactic Command, we don’t need loot from the early bosses, and skipping ahead to the fights we haven’t done would allow the group to more efficiently finish the operation and move on to the next one we want to learn.

Flex Raiding

My small guild runs a weekly Story Mode ops night and all are welcome. However, it’s not unusual for there to be too many people for an 8 person group but not enough to upgrade it a 16 person operation. There is no worse feeling as a raid leader than asking someone who has shown up to play and have fun to sit out because there just isn’t room. Flexible Raiding gets around this problem by dynamically scaling the difficulty of the instance around how many players are in the group. If you have a couple extra folks, the bad guys will be just a little tougher to account for the extra firepower. I would love to see this system in place for SWTOR’s Story Mode ops. I can see the logic in keeping static sizes for Veteran and Master Modes where mechanics and tuning are more tightly controlled, but if Story Modes are meant for everyone, I say let everyone play.

Honorable Mention: Jokes with Voice Emotes

“So I have this idea for a great movie…” and “She sounded like a Murloc!” are two of the little things I miss from WOW. SWTOR’s voice acting is of course one of its best features, but it makes me sad that my characters in SWTOR don’t crack wise using the /joke emote. So let’s do it. Hire some comedians, have a contest, swipe some groaners from dad and get that great cast to record some gags!

I realize that at least three of these suggestions would affect other systems in SWTOR. How should loot be handled by multi-tapping? How would extending lockouts influence Conquest where last boss lockout farming is a thing? Should SWTOR adopt personal loot? Should a lockout extend or end if anyone in the group clears the operation? These are problems that are easy to point out, but more difficult to solve.

That said, I think they are nuts worth cracking. SWTOR’s debt to World of Warcraft is obvious, but if WOW can adopt AOE looting and finally allow players a choice or two after SWTOR did, then I think it’s fair that The Old Republic can still steal a notion or two from its older sibling too.

 

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SWTOR Unite

Last week I had the honor of being invited to participate in the SWTOR Unite event in which members of SWTOR’s podcasting and streaming community teamed up to tackle Gods from the Machine. It was a real thrill to be the Hawkeye on this team of SWTOR Avengers assembled from the Bad Feeling Podcast, the Council, the Escape Pod Cast, the OotiniCast, the Passionately Casual Podcast, ScrublandShad, the State of the Old Republic, the Usual Podcast, and, last but not least, Working Class Nerds!

The goal of the event was to unite all these content creators in one place and share their enthusiasm for Star Wars The Old Republic. In that regard I’d say it was a big, chaotic, fun success. Hearing so many familiar voices at one time and in one place was super cool, even before we started killing bosses. While the experience level of the group literally ranged from one extreme to the other, I was impressed with how far we got. No, we did not complete the operation before everyone started falling asleep, but we did come this close to killing Izax, so close that there is no doubt in my mind that we’d have gotten him down with one more pull.

SWTOR Unite’s activity of choice was an operation, but it is a testament to the game that it can be a great source of fun for players with many different interests from killing raid bosses and dressing up characters to fighting other players and translating fake space languages.

I want to thank Dr. SWTOR and Marcus for organizing the event. I can’t wait to see what madness they have planned next!

Relay Junction, What’s Your Function?

This week’s Aurebesh translation is a work sign that I found on Corellia. I imagine this one provides information for the technical crews who work to maintain infrastructure around the planet’s war torn capital.

The sign uses of the term “sub-section” and is similar to others seen around the galaxy. The element that I find most interesting is the design’ incorporation of both of Aurebesh’s number styles: the standard style that closely matches our earthbound numerals and the digital-style with dots and dashes style. The large Arabic numerals clearly work better in the design, but inclusion of the smaller numbers in the alternate Aurebesh form is a neat touch.

Here in my neck of the wood, Life Day is rapidly approaching, and I hope everyone’s vacation is filled with clear skies and full bellies!

 

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Star Wars: Resistance First Impressions

I really want to like Star Wars: Resistance more than I do. It has a lot going for it. The vehicle designs are terrific, the characters are bright and fun and distinct from most of what we usually see in Star Wars. And it was created by Dave Filoni who, I’d argue, channels George Lucas’ vision of Star Wars better than anyone else. I thought The Clone Wars was uneven, but at its best it was as thrilling as any non-movie take on Star Wars as we’ve seen. And I just loved Rebels for its characters, style and heart.

But after three episodes, Resistance just isn’t doing it for me. Like Filoni’s previous shows, it focuses on a young hero’s journey, which is something we’ve seen before both inside and outside of Star Wars lore. So far, the focus has firmly been on Kazuda, and the characters around him remain one-note cyphers. In the first episode, Kaz is introduced in a fairly tepid scene meant to establish him as heroic and likeable, but ever since we’ve only seen him as an arrogant, lazy, entitled, self-absorbed, clueless twerp. How hard up for help must the Resistance be that Kaz is the guy selected for a secret mission, heck, any mission?

Sure, I get it; this is just the starting point for the character. The Clone Wars and Rebels grew up around their main heroes, and I imagine Resistance will do so as well. But The Clone Wars was as much about Rex and the Clone Troopers’ struggle to find their identities, and Rebels explored a time period largely unseen in Star Wars lore. Ahsoka turned out to be the bright center of The Clone Wars and the point-of-view character the prequel era desperately needed. Rebels’ family unit was immediately engaging, and I cared about every single member of the Ghost’s crew. But while I wait for Kaz to grow up into someone worth rooting for, there has been little else in Resistance to hold my attention.

In addition, the stakes are incredibly low. It’s Star Wars without the wars. The First Order is lurking in the shadows, but for now it feels more like American Graffiti in space; just a bunch of kids cruising around in spaceships and getting into trouble. Yeah, that’s how Luke started off, but ninety minutes into Star Wars, he was well on his heroic journey; three episodes in and Kaz still has to be nagged to do his chores and eat his vegetables.

Mainly I think Resistance is not meant for an old fogey like me. Even more than its predecessors, it’s a kid’s show. That’s fine. I’m pretty sure 10 year old me would love Resistance. The bold colors! The super-cool spaceship races! The Miyazaki-esque aliens! The further adventures of BB-8! Even grown up me can see the appeal. Perhaps I’ll have to wait for Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian for a new Star Wars show to catch my fancy.

One thing the show is not lacking is Aurebesh and I’d be remiss if I did not include a quick translation. While I don’t know much at all the about character, Torra Doza is already a favorite  because I quite like how her flight suit and ship have borrowed the color scheme of Steve McQueen’s Porsche from the 1971 movie Le Mans. This display of her racing stats from the first episode shows that she is a pilot to be reckoned with. Hopefully she’ll become something more than just a background character or a sassy foil for Kaz’s journey to adulthood.

 

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Jedi Under Siege Livestream

I must hand it to the good folks down in Austin they did not scrimp on the news from the latest Cantina Livestream. That amount of stuff we can expect in the next game update previously might have been spread out across an entire season’s worth of a road map, so color me impressed and punch my ticket for the hype-train. Choo choo.

To start, I’m going to keep this spoiler-free, avoiding even the mild revelations from the livestream. Please check Galactic Antics, MMObits and Vulkk for far more comprehensive coverage than I could ever hope to provide.

For me, there is a lot to be excited about in Jedi Under Siege. The world, the planet’s design, the new and returning characters, it all looks cool. Instead of going into detail on each point, I think I’ll just discuss the two things that jumped out at me the most.

Story

I have written before about how I consider the choice of whether your character supports their original faction or switches allegiances my favorite part of the Iokath story, and I’m pleased that we will be allowed to reinforce that decision. When it comes to story updates, I tend to focus on my two favorite characters, one from each faction: my Consular and my Bounty Hunter. However because both characters opted to side with the Republic my journeys through Iokath were pretty much the same each time. But on the new planet, despite their similar previous choices, it looks like those characters will experience the story differently, and I’m genuinely psyched to dive in.

As we’ve seen previously, completing the story will unlock the new zone as a daily area. I seem to be one of the few people who like the Iokath dailies for their variety and scope (stomping around in a walker will never not be fun to me). I hope the quests and environments are interesting enough to make return visits worthwhile beyond the incentive to farm up the new gear. That the new zone will be populated with datacrons, a pair of world bosses and lots of new decorations is certainly promising. I do hope the world bosses are bit more pug friendly than the Dark vs. Light bosses and don’t have ridiculous respawn timers. If at least one is instanced like Toborro’s Courtyard and my guild can run it on our own schedule, I’ll jump for joy.

Nightmare Mode Lives

I have no plans to raid Gods from the Machine on its most challenging difficulty, and if scaling up all operations to max level remains the plan for future SWTOR expansions, it’s very possible that I will never even set foot inside it at that difficulty. And, yet, the news surrounding the return of Master Mode operations has me pleased.

During Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan expansions, I was part of a Hard Mode raiding team. We played casually, didn’t shatter any records, but were a solid group of fun people. During Hutt Cartel we and made steady progress on a light progression schedule. That changed during Shadow of Revan. The “hard-mare” version of Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice, created to be a compromise between Hard and Nightmare modes with the removal of Nightmare mode proved incredibly frustrating, and we ultimately stalled out after only beating the first two encounters of both operations.

I’ve never been more angry and disappointed with SWTOR than the night we gave up trying to beat the buggy mess that was Underlurker. Attrition set in and soon after Knights of the Fallen Empire launched without new Operations, the hard mode team was no more. I don’t blame any who quit. We found our groove in Hutt Cartel’s middle lane, and it remains a drag that the removal of a raiding mode that we barely ever touched eventually led to my team’s downfall.

The release of Master Mode Gods from the Machine also will included a rebalanced Veteran Mode that I assume will be along the lines of the old Hard Modes from Rise of the Hutt Cartel. If that is the case, then pinch my cheeks and call me Rosy because you can sign me up right now. I’ve recently started raiding Veteran modes again and as much as I do love Terror From Beyond, the thought of learning new hard mode bosses has me thrilled.

That’s just two of the things I’m looking forward to in the December update. Here’s hoping the year ends on a high note! However, I fear avoiding spoilers until then will be a challenge. Fingers crossed!

 

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Justice Has a Mustache

Today This Week in Aurebesh celebrates a rather improbable second birthday, and I thought it would be appropriate to a return to a spot I covered way back in the earliest days of this blog: Justicar Territory on Coruscant.

Like the last time around, I’ve re-created a pair of signs that demonstrate the two very different styles of the Justicar’s propaganda seen on Coruscant, and occasionally elsewhere around the galaxy.

The first sign is a recruitment poster with a fairly simple, yet effective design. Its words are inspirational, and the bursting sunrise lifts the entire composition. The double chevrons, as always, recall the Justicar’s origins as a military organization and while they might normally act to draw the viewer’s attention downward, in this case, they echo the upward thrust of the sunbeams and have the opposite effect. The vertical layout and use of glowing white highlights inform the viewer that the Justicars are bringing light back to Coruscant, and you can help that effort.

The second poster on today’s menu also has a simple layout and minimal color palette, but to me, it recalls wartime propaganda of the First and Second World Wars. There is little thought given to the poster’s graphic design. Indeed this actually looks to be printed on paper with torn edges and curled corners, unlike the previous graphic (and many others in the game) that seem to be displayed on a monitor. I guess the Justicars opted to slash their advertising budget after taking control of the sector.

I’ve often wondered who this fellow featured so prominently in the poster is, but his appearance doesn’t match any of the Justicars we meet in the game. Indeed, his huckleberry of a mustache is tragically not even available as a customization option for players. Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to say that this shadowy figure is not watching out for you, but just watching you. Oppression, not inspiration is the message of this poster, and its stark design makes that pretty clear.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has stopped by over the last two years. I hope this blog has been as entertaining a place to visit as it has been for me to create. It is weird to look back at some of my original recreations. My initial goal was to make them quick and dirty, but they strike me now as too quick and too dirty. As I’ve gotten more familiar with many of the wonderful graphic styles used in the game, I’m glad my recreations have become somewhat more faithful to the originals. I’ve not yet exhausted the game’s supply of Justicar propaganda, and I suspect we’ll revisit the topic again.

 

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Design on a Dime: Top Five Non-Cartel Market Decorations

With the release of the sprawling new Rishi stronghold, I’ve been looking through my stash of decorations and realized that many of my favorites can be acquired in the game and that spotlighting a few might make for a good topic for another dumb top five list. Paring down the list, however, was not easy. It’s to SWTOR’s credit that there is no shortage of very cool decorations that won’t cost you a single Cartel Coin.

Flashpoints/Operations: Rakata Mind Trap

There are numerous decorations to be found in flashpoints and operations, and the latest group content has been over-flowing with decorations. As much as I adore Copero fountains and get a kick out of seeing Tyth sulking on Manaan’s ocean floor, my favorite in this category is and always will be the Rakata Mind Trap. I love these things as art objects, technological accents, creepy Force artifacts or just the Star Wars equivalent of lava lamps. I have dozens, I put them everywhere, and I always want more.

Reputation: Ancient Voss Sarcophagus

All of the recurring event and planetary reputation vendors sell some appropriately themed decorations. While I think the Gree vendor has the best over-all selection, my single favorite reputation decoration is the Ancient Voss Sarcophagus. I’m always happy to visit Voss, and this decoration’s spooky sculpted face and eerie, green glow nicely captures Voss’s unique aesthetic. It’s appropriate for a Sith reliquary, a Jedi’s archive or a Bounty Hunter’s treasure horde.

Vendor: Custom Huttball Stand

For a cool 2,018,000 credits you can and should add a Custom Huttball Stand to your stronghold. This decoration is sold by the “Starfighter & PVP Decoration Vendor” on each faction’s Fleet. Before we could truly PVP in the Rishi stronghold, we could play Hutt Potato with friends using this interactive decoration. Grabbing the passable Huttball, starts a timer and the last person holding the ball gets blasted into the air by the exploding orb. Even when it comes to children’s games, the Hutts don’t mess around. One of the fun things about this decoration is that the explosion can hurl characters places they normally can’t reach. Some guildies and I once used the Hutt Potato to make it on top of the massive Holocron of Ancient Masters.

Achievement: All For One Four-Pack

The Star Fortresses added during Knights of the Fallen Empire are jammed packed with achievements and rewards, and while it might be a bit of a cheat, you can get four different decorations for completing a single achievement: All For One. It’s hard to beat that much bang for the buck. The Portable Sentry Turret, the Scramble Grenade Suspension Chamber, the Force Focus and the Prototype Medical Probe are all animated with glowing effects and one or more of these will fit the themes of any number of strongholds. The achievement requires reaching rank 10 influence with all of the Alliance base specialists which is fairly easy if you have a decent stash of supply crates from planetary Heroics, and then completing a Veteran mode Star Fortress with all the buffs that can be found around the Fortress. Unlike a few of the other Star Fortress achievements, this one can be completed in a group, so if you’re having trouble, ask a friend for help!

For the Truly Dedicated: Event Ambassadors

Having a vendor to repair your gear and take all that useless loot off your hands is a must for any stronghold. But wouldn’t you rather have a vendor with style? Not some rusty old droid or poor Felusia Stato and her silly hat. The Event Vendors dress for success. Sith and Republic versions of the vendors are available in the Cartel Bazaars of their respective fleets. Ambassador Ky’lee is a Cather who is not afraid to dress in white after Labor Day, and Ambassador Jirrik is a Chagrian who knows how to contrast his blue skin against red Sith robes. Either of these decorations will set you back nearly forty assorted tokens that can only be earned during the Relics of the Gree, Rakghoul Resurgence, and Bounty Broker recurring events. The events come around so often these days that’s its not that much trouble to save up for these swanky personnel decorations.

Honorable Mention: Craft Your Starship

Crafters can make all the essential utility decorations and many, many others from Synthetic, Industrial and Universal Prefabs, but toss in a few Dark Projects and you can park your favorite class’s personal starship. Dromund Kaas and Coruscant are the only two strongholds without the Starship Hooks these decorations need; otherwise they are prefect additions elsewhere. I won’t tell you which class has the coolest ship, you should pick your own, but it’s the Agent’s X-70B Phantom.

Honestly, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Certainly there are lots of neat decorations for sale on the Cartel Market or GTN, but there are plenty more to be found in the game, and with a little effort you can transform your stronghold from the place you empty your bags to a place you call home.

For more information about Strongholds that I could ever hope to share, please check out these invaluable resources for the decorating fanatic: TOR Decorating and Swtorista’s two episodes about strongholds and decorating from her Academy series.

 

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Beach Front Property

This week I’d like to share my first impressions of the Rishi stronghold. I hesitate to call this a review because I’ve only scratched the surface of all the spaces this stronghold has to explore. The stronghold lag bug meant I did very little with it the first week, and even though I spent a couple hours decorating this week, I’m still only at 12% completion as I write this.

This is fine by me. I very much enjoy the zen of decorating. For the Manaan stronghold I had a good sense of what I wanted to do with each area from the get go and most of the rooms were blocked out quickly. But I expect Rishi will be more like how I decorated Yavin, a process that took almost a year as I played with different options and furnished areas around brand new or old weird decorations.

The first stronghold change I want to mention actually happened earlier this year with the update to Conquest: the separation of the total stronghold completion percentage from the bonus granted from completing Conquest objectives. Removing the incentive to chase 100% completion has been a real boon. Even before the maximum number of hooks on Manaan was increased, my stronghold there was stuck around 75% complete, but it still felt overly cluttered. Now, I can declare a room done when I’m happy with it, not when I’ve maximized its usage of hooks.

Moreover, if in the weeks or months to come, I get a fancy new decoration, it’s nice knowing that I still have plenty of hooks left to place it on. I love my Nar Shaddaa stronghold but adding even one deco means removing another, and that can throw a whole room into chaos. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but I think it’s easier to balance the Force than find the proper ratio of tables to chairs.

The Rishi stronghold has several new features that we’ve not seen before. The most prominent is, of course, the PVP zones, and I’m impressed with how well they’ve implemented them with team colors, score keeping, spectating, and custom decorations for the pitch. I don’t know how much actual PVP I’ll do in my stronghold, but having the option to mess around with my friends whenever we want is pretty cool.

There are also other little things of note. That a dozen of my favorite pets eagerly watch while I beat up a target dummy makes parsing just a little more fun. And let’s not forget Speedy the Turtle who is the first unique inhabitant of a stronghold. I’d still like to see a Force ghost haunting Yavin, but watching Speedy trundle by while I chill out on the beach makes me smile every time.

And if Speedy doesn’t bring you joy, you can kill him dead. The inclusion of secret achievements and earnable legacy titles exclusive to the stronghold has been another fine addition. I don’t know if we’ll see full on questing in a stronghold (I can arm-chair-develop a dozen quest suggestions at the drop of a hat), but seeing the stronghold concept change from something static to something approaching dynamic is pretty neat, and I hope Bioware keeps exploring new ideas for things players can do in them.

There is one new feature that I discovered just last week: light switches in the rooms of the Overlook. I don’t know if it was a simple change, but it’s a subtle one that can totally alter the character of a room. It’s not quite the day-night cycles I’d have liked to see in all strongholds, but I really do like this addition!

Finally, the team at Bioware must get props for the agile response to player feedback they received from the PTS. The removal of clutter, the change of the color of the sand, and the addition of the overlook rooms are just three of the changes that came about because of requests from the players. I understand some of the fixes required herculean effort from the designers, but it has truly made for a better stronghold.

If your favorite stronghold is the front room on Coruscant or Dromund Kaas with the GTN, mailbox, a vendor and your banks all crammed within arms reach of the zone-in spot, then Rishi is an easy pass, but if finding the right rug to tie a room together, being the captain of a space-pirate ship or grabbing some rays on the beach are a few of your goals in life, it’s worth the credits.

 

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One Truth

This week, let’s take a look at the obelisk that dominates the great hall of the Sith Academy on Korriban. This pointed monolith has four faces with a swirling mass of twisted visages on two sides and a repeated Aurebesh inscription on the others.

While most players likely first encountered this monument on Korriban it is also available as a stronghold decoration. The currency needed to purchase it can be rarely found in the Korriban Incursion and Assault on Tython flashpoints. When my guild unlocked our Sith faction Guild Ship, several of us pooled our hard-won Recovered Relics to purchase the obelisk decoration. Unfortunately, the obelisk is very tall, taller even than the ceiling of the command deck on which we had hoped to display it. Instead we placed a more appropriately sized decoration, and the obelisk gathered dust in storage until the guild purchased the new Rishi Stronghold.

While Rishi may not be the most thematically appropriate spot for such a decoration, it was a relief to be able to erect the obelisk in a spot that won’t cause it to poke through the floor into the deck above.

The other benefit of displaying it on Rishi is that it’s a bit easier to decipher than in its usual spot in the mist-shrouded hall on Korriban, and so my translation and recreation was done in comfort on Rishi’s sandy, sunny beach.

A viewer might think that the monument records the principles of a Sith lord from the distant past. Instead, it does quite the opposite! The words were actually spoken by Darth Maul in a television ad for The Phantom Menace. Regardless of how or whether one might want to explain this rip in the time space-continuum, Maul’s “tone poem” is indeed appropriate for such a colossal sculpture.

The base of the obelisk is similar to the bases of glowing red and green triangular Sith holocrons found in ancient, Dark Side ruins from Korriban to Oricon. The Aurebesh at the base of the obelisk reads “Fear in power”, and it matches well with the holocrons that read “Power in fear.” This is exactly the kind of circular logic that appeals to the Sith and is nice design touch to tie these monuments together.

 

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