Monthly Archives: June 2017

Czerka: Titans of Industry, part 2

This week we return to CZ-198 to look at some more of the unique displays created for Czerka’s secret moonbase, focusing on signs found in the the flashpoint Czerka Core Meltdown.

At the entrance of the area, visitors are greeted with a helpful map, which indicates their position and annotates the major sections of the research facility that makes up the flashpoint.

Aside from the areas of note, this sign is of interest because it demonstrates one of several ways the Aurebesh handles upper and lower case letters. Formal Aurebesh makes no allowance for case, but several of the official and unofficial Aurebesh fonts handle capital letters in different ways. If you’re playing at the time this is posted, you may have noticed an image in SWTOR’s launcher promoting the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event that contains Aurebesh letters that seem to be mirrored. That’s because the image was created with a font that uses reversed Aurebesh glyphs when generating upper case letters. The font used in this CZ sign, however, simply renders capitals as larger than lower case letters. Neither version is correct. It’s just a matter of the various font creators finding different solutions to fill the gaps in the Aurebesh font family.

Venturing deeper into the flashpoint, visitors will come across two signs outside the facilities Biomes that contain two of the flashpoint’s boss encounters. One biome recreates the environment of the desert world Tatooine, and the other replicates the swampy interior of Dromund Kaas.

Each sign includes information on the planets in question. The resolution of the letters is not very high, making the text somewhat challenging to read. Moreover the text on the Tatooine sign is fragmentary. However, the content of these signs was derived from swtor.com’s holonet entries on Tatooine and Dromund Kaas, and you can read the complete entries on each planet there.

The text in both planetary signs seems to have been pasted into the text box with the hyphenation option active, so some words are broken up across lines. I have maintained the original hyphenation in my translation.

Finally, all three of these signs are available as stronghold decorations from the CZ-198 reputation vendor in the Sith and Republic staging areas outside the flashpoint portals. Check ‘em out!

Update: While collecting screenshots for this entry, I came across a poster, which I had previously examined in this blog. However, the example I translated was cropped, and it seems there was additional Aurebesh text on the poster that I missed. Therefore, I have revised and expanded my entry on that poster.

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Iokath Dailies: The Good, the Bad and the Walkers

This week, I thought I’d share my impressions of the Iokath daily area now that I’ve had some time to explore the zone and get used to the dailies. I’ve maximized my reputation on Republic side and am closing in on finishing Sith side.

Overall, I’d say it’s… okay. I like how SWTOR has handled daily areas in the past. In truth, I personally consider them weekly areas, since completing the weekly quest is the main incentive, and I like not feeling the need to revisit the Black Hole or Section X once I’ve knocked off the weekly. Iokath, however, isn’t like those other areas. The first thing you’ll notice is that to complete the weekly, you will to need finish more quests than are available on any given day, so you’ll have to return to Iokath two or probably more times to complete the weekly. Moreover, the daily quests change every day, and some quests aren’t always available.

Personally, I prefer the type of weeklies we have in previous daily areas, but once I worked out how to approach questing on Iokath, I got into it. Basically, I’ll head over to Iokath, check out that day’s quests, and focus on one zone, typically either the docking level or the main expanse. I will grab the other dailies, but keep them in my log so that when other quests in the same area are available, I can complete them all at the same time. For example, there are three different “kill X number of mobs” quests, and I try to bank those for when the walker daily is up so that I can kill four birds with one heavily armed stone.

Using this approach, it will take several trips to Iokath to complete the weekly; on the flip side, I spend very little time on Iokath on any given day as I only complete two or three related quests at a time.

SWTOR’s other daily questing areas, from Black Hole to Oricon have a flow to them. Completing a quest in one area naturally leads to the next, and the chain often climaxes with a tougher heroic or in the case of Ziost the dramatic reveal at the end of the scanner droid quest.

Iokath’s dailies, on the other hand, don’t really feel connected to each other structurally or narratively. Questing there means zipping around from one unrelated area to another.

I also want to mention a few other issues that I find frustrating. The Monitor daily is just a drag. That the Monitor droid’s most potent attack leaves you stunned and helpless is no fun. Nobody likes being stunned, and that I have to constantly inflict stuns on myself while playing as a Monitor, makes me avoid that quest all together.

Another issue is the mob density in the main expanse area. It is easily the most hazardous zone in the game to travel through. If you want to get to the droid factory or that one out of the way spot for the macrobinocular quest, you will have to fight lots of droids whether you want to or not. Given Iokath’s design, getting around without aggroing crowds of enemies is nearly impossible.

Lastly, it may just be my obsessive need to pick up all the things, but I hate that I can’t loot while controlling a droid or walker. I don’t know if it’s a design choice or technical limitation, but seeing all those loot beams go uncollected drives me bonkers.

However, it’s not all bad. Iokath itself is an impressive environment to explore and play in. There is a decent variety to the quests beyond standard killing mobs and clicking on objectives. And Iokath’s saving grace is the walker daily. Stomping around in a walker is absolutely a blast. You feel tough as crap, your weapons hit hard and all the big attacks are fun to use. I’ve seen some folks say that they won’t spend credits and shards to control the walker, but I think it’s totally worth it. It is the most fun repeatable quest in the game.

Finally I’d like to touch on the rewards you can earn on Iokath. The reputation vendor has the bare minimum of loot for sale: legacy armor sets, pets and mounts. What is there is indeed very nice; the sith faction’s armor set in particular is outstanding. Beyond that there isn’t much. No weapons, no decorations, no dye module recipes, no toys, and no companion customizations (how about Iokath themed customizations for HK, T7 or SCORPIO?). Likewise, the achievement rewards leave much to be desired. The Ziost and Star Fortress achievements rewarded decorations, titles and mounts, but aside from a quarter’s worth of cartel coins here and there, there isn’t any incentive to bang out those achievements once you hit the reputation you want. I’ve seen SWTOR do better in the past, so I don’t think I’m asking too much here.

As I said, I like dailies. I still enjoy questing on CZ-198 and Oricon, and I hope Iokath finds a place in the rotation of worlds I’m happy to revisit even years down the line. It’s not quite there yet, but I think it could be.

I hadn’t meant to spent a whole post on Iokath, but I’ll be back to translating Aurebesh soon!

Update

The patch notes for game update 5.2.2 were posted a couple days after I wrote this post and I was very pleased to see this note on the list:

Players can now loot enemies while in other forms while on Iokath, such as the Mouse Droid.

The beams will vex me no more! NO MORE!

 

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Good Hair Day: Five Hair Styles That Should Be Added to SWTOR

Last month, I was pleased to see that three new hairstyles were added to SWTOR’s appearance designer. When it comes to character customization, the more the better. Inspired by Kid Lee’s video exploring the possibility of body tattoos and Xam Xam’s blog post requesting more outfits from Star Wars lore, I thought I’d add to their excellent suggestions a few of my own with another dumb top five list of looks I’d like to see added to the appearance designer.

These suggestions are drawn exclusively from the Star Wars movies, and while I’m totally cool with more popstar and hipster haircuts, I think there is plenty of inspiration yet to be drawn from the film canon.

Leia’s Buns

Yeah, I know that there are already two kinda-sorta versions of Leia’s infamous buns available already, but neither feel just right to me. Leia’s coif in the first movie is THE iconic hairstyle of the entire Star Wars saga, and I firmly believe a screen-accurate version absolutely should be available to players in the game. As far as I’m concerned this one is a no brainer.

Padme’s Braids

Padme wore her hair in a great number of styles over the course of the prequels, but I thought I’d pick one that was both not too outlandish and not too likely to cause many clipping problems. Besides, her bun of tight braids from Attack of the Clones is totally cute and functional for any character of any class.

Anakin’s Shag

Players can find decent matches for most of the male hair styles sported in the movies, but all but one of those haircuts are quite short, so I’d like to see some longer options. Anakin’s shoulder length mane from Revenge of the Sith is similar to the look sported by Kylo Ren and old Luke in The Force Awakens, and having a choice between short hair and the full Qui-Gon would be nice.

Rey’s Triple Buns

I know, I know, still more buns, but, Rey is awesome, and I’m honestly a little surprised this look isn’t already in the game. While Leia and Padme’s hair tends to be neat and smooth, I think this messier look would work well too. And again, this style shouldn’t have too many issues clipping the game’s armor.

Cassian’s ‘Stache and Scruff

Okay, this isn’t technically a hairstyle, but I’d like to see more options for facial hair. Generally you’re out of luck if you want a mustache like those sported by Lando, Biggs and Cassian or a thin beard like Obi Wan’s in both the original trilogy and Attack of the Clones. Sometimes, you just want to be scruffy lookin’.

To be honest, it was tough to stick to just hair. I’d be interested to see more tattoo options for not just humans but also Togruta and Twi-liks and Zabraks, oh my! And pity the poor Cathar whose customization options are the most anemic.

I grok that the right haircut won’t kill a boss or cap a node any faster, but it’s hard to beat the feeling you get when your character looks just the way you want them to. So I hope more customization options will be on offer in the not too distant future.

SWTOR’s 2017 Road Map

Last week, Keith Kanneg shared with us the long anticipated Road Map for the next few months of SWTOR. I’m a bit late to the party with this post and I don’t really have much to add to the general happiness with which the road map has been greeted, so I’ll keep my comments short. On the one hand, most of the announcement contained information we already knew, but having a detailed idea of what is coming and when to expect it is excellent news. I’m not the biggest fan of the Nightlife event, and class changes always make me nervous but knowing that I’ll be able to go nuts decorating a new stronghold next month and run a new flashpoint with friends after that is great information to have. I have every hope the fine folks at Bioware keep up the good work they’ve done communicating with the community lately.

 

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