Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Last Jedi Review

I’ll come right to the point. I loved The Last Jedi. Maybe it’s not a great movie, but it’s a great Star Wars movie. I think it’s the best looking one of the whole lot. Obviously, the Ramming Speed! collision is a show stopper, but the white and red salt flats, Snoke’s throne room and Luke’s island are all beautifully realized set pieces. All the performances are good, and Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver do a terrific job holding the center of the story together.

Beyond that, the movie really pushes the characters to grow. One of the things I like about The Force Awakens is that it took the character types from Star Wars, but mixed them up. Poe thinks he’s the Han Solo, but he’s really Princess Leia, and in The Last Jedi Leia herself is kicking his ass to make him accept that truth. Our heroes eventually figure things out, but not by succeeding. Pretty much every plan made in this movie falls apart, but Rey, Finn, Poe and even Ben take their lumps and get back up again. I don’t know if Rose has a story arc, but I don’t care, she’s adorable.

As for Luke, the embittered old hermit, I buy it completely. I’ve always seen Luke as a loner; this is something I don’t think the Expanded Universe ever really got right, so I don’t think it’s out of character for him to retreat to the kind of life he saw Obi-Wan and Yoda living when things went bad. In Return of the Jedi, Luke’s heroic act is rejecting both Yoda and Obi-Wan’s urging to kill Vader and the temptation to the Dark Side. That he struggles to keep his own standards as a teacher is Old Luke’s tragic flaw, and it seems to me that Rian Johnson wants to call out Luke in a way that Obi-Wan and Yoda never were, and to force Luke to take responsibility for failing Ben instead of letting Rey do his dirty work.

I think that Leia was handled much better here than in The Force Awakens (or Return of the Jedi for that matter). I really believed she was leading this rebellion and not just a figurehead in the room. And her big moment seems to me to be the most impressive thing we’ve ever seen done with the Force in any of the movies. If we have to say good-bye to Carrie Fisher, I’m glad it was this way.

It’s not without flaws to be sure. By breaking up the band, the easy rapport between Poe and Finn and Rey, which was such a big part of what made The Force Awakens so enjoyable, feels like a missing piece. There are lots of characters, ideas and stories flying around here, and maybe some of it could’ve been trimmed. This density causes The Last Jedi to not have the same momentum as other Star Wars films, but, it does allow room to explore the Force more than any other movie in the series. And if the Canto Bight section drags, I’m willing to forgive it because it sets up the film’s coda. I think the scene with the kids is not only one of my favorite parts of the movie, but one of the best Star Wars moments ever.

Ultimately, The Last Jedi just works for me. It leaves me wanting more, but also feels complete in its own right. I like and care about Rey, Finn, Poe and Rose. I understand and pity Ben, I mourn the loss of Luke and Holdo. And Carrie. We should remember the truth of them as people, but we should also print the legend.

With that, I’ll bid adieu to 2017. I want to thank everyone for visiting and every bit of feedback from a like on Twitter to an award on reddit. I appreciate it all. Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!


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Filed under General Star Wars

Got Blue Milk?

This week, let’s revisit two vivid posters that can be seen adorning Nar Shaddaa’s Huttball arena and several kiosks found on Carrick Station. I had given these a look back when I transated another pair of similar advertisements, but I decided to punt them down the road for reasons I’ll go into below.

These graphics recently reappeared in A Traitor Among the Chiss on the planet Copero as handles on bar taps. The colorful nature of these graphics make them appropriate for anything from Space Mountain Dew to Grape Fizzy Glug.

However, these posters show the danger in working with fake space letters that simply don’t translate into English. The bright green poster on the left combines two different alien languages: Huttese for the bold cyan letters in the foreground, and Futhork for the yellow letters in the back.

The Huttese font first appeared in the pod racing sequence of The Phantom Menace and has appeared in other Star Wars games beyond The Old Republic. While some Huttese such as graffiti in the Black Sun sector of Coruscant and the sign above Hutta departures gate of the Imperial Fleet can be translated into English, this particular example cannot. I doubt the letters have any specific meaning in the game, and simply may have been selected for how cool they look.

And I have no problem with that. It can be easily justified by assuming the writing is meant to be read as Huttese instead of English or Galactic Standard. And when designing typography with alien languages, the priority should be in how the final result looks rather than how it reads. Indeed, the Huttese font itself is a designer’s nightmare. Several of the letters use the exact same glyph, but simply flipped or rotated in different directions. If you wanted to write “Porg” in Huttese, all four letters of the word would share the same shape, with each letter oriented differently, and one having an extra accent. I’m quite certain that Hutts across the galaxy have a good laugh every time some poor soul tries to puzzle out their nigh unreadable language.

The poster also contains some Futhork writing. Although they are hard to make out in my translation, the exact same arrangement of letters can be found in another poster that can be seen on Nar Shaddaa and Corellia.

Next up is a purple sign written in Trade Federation Basic, which, like Huttese, was created for Episode I. As with the previous poster, this one does not have a meaningful translation. I suspect the glyphs used were selected not for any meaning but for how they fit into the poster’s design. For my version, I faithfully translated the letters, but adjusted their orientation to maintain the poster’s horizontal and vertical symmetry.

Even though these signs may not translate into English, it is to the designer’s credit that their meaning is obvious. If you should catch sight of them in the cantina in the Copero flashpoint and find yourself craving a refreshing energy drink or an ice-cold pop, then they’ve done their work!


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Filed under Aurebesh to English, Futhork to English

Three Tomatoes

First, gentle reader, let me apologize for my lack of posts over the last month. Life has been particularly life-like lately and something had to give. I hope to be more productive in the weeks ahead.

November and December saw two major game updates, and in the interest of playing “ketchup”, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on both.

5.5: United Forces

This update was probably a much bigger deal on Bioware’s end than the players’. Indeed, I suspect the goal was that the server mergers have as little impact on the players as possible. From my perspective, I think they more or less accomplished that. Everything was where I left it prior to the merger and I didn’t lose any names I cared about. Even looking over my guild’s roster, fewer folks lost names than I would’ve predicted. I know there were some issues with Legacy banks that took a little extra resolving, but I tip my helmet to the folks at Bioware for making the mergers a remarkably smooth process.

The crowds on fleet after the patch were quite the sight, something not seen since the earliest days of the game. And while things have settled down since, I’m definitely seeing more action when it comes to group activity. I’m even getting pops and seeing ops groups form very late at night. So far so good!

That said, discovering that SWTOR no longer has a US West Coast server was an unpleasant surprise. I don’t fault Keith Kanneg or anyone on the community team for this, and given how they were talking about the east and west coast servers up until just before the update, I wonder when even they got the news.

Clearly this was a decision made well above their pay grade. I cannot deny the feeling that if the money people aren’t confident enough in SWTOR to fund a west coast server, why should the player base feel any better about the game’s future? I know bashing EA is and has been all the rage, so rather than just pile on, I’ll just cast that little bit of shade and move on.

5.6: A Traitor Among the Chiss

Last week’s game update’s biggest feature was the flashpoint A Traitor Among the Chiss. It’s easy to discuss this flashpoint without spoiling anything since it doesn’t do too much to advance the story. We do get at least two bits of important information, but the focus of this adventure is spending time with the Chiss and exploring the world Copero.

And what a world Copero is! This is probably one of the most beautiful settings in the game. The flashpoint is divided into three distinct and wonderfully designed areas: starting with the sunset and vistas of the resort town, through to a cavernous and dark factory and finally to the climax atop a picturesque, snowcapped mountain.

I suspect that this flashpoint was originally intended to be a story chapter like those in KotFE and KotET. The length and pacing feel very much in line with “Profit and Plunder” or “Mandalore’s Revenge.” And I’m very much okay with that if it means getting to tour one of the worlds and culture of one of Star Wars‘ favorite aliens.

I don’t think the “War for Iokath” story gave Elara’s return as much attention as it deserved, so I liked actually getting to spend time with Ensign Temple as a guide through the story. I did make the common mistake of running the flashpoint on Story instead of Solo mode, but at least on my second try I remembered to bring some companion gifts for Temple to make the second pass a bit smoother.

The boss fights themselves are pretty neat with some dynamic mechanics. I haven’t had a chance to try them on Master Mode, but I’m certain they won’t be easy.

I’m also pleased that the loot table of the flashpoint is filled with two neat armor sets and a ton of nice decorations. And while I work on crafting gold augments, I’ll take purple ones in the meantime. I’m glad to have incentive to return to Copero again!

On the negative side of things, Traitor is one of the longest flashpoints and the amount of trash mobs and their abilities can make the first section feel like a slog. Honestly, if I wanted to be constantly dealing with stuns, stealthers and immunity bubbles, I’d PVP.

My final nitpick is in regards to Temple’s abilities. She has returned with the standard array that nearly all tech companions have, but has lost the Force attack she originally had (although she still uses the voice emote that went along with it). I’ve touched on this before, but I really do think the various weapon options and abilities that many companions used to have should be restored to them. Nadia and Bowdaar could send enemies flying through the air. Heck, Blizz used to pack a freakin’ rocket launcher! That stuff was fun and cool. With so many companions available to us now, let’s see variety in their abilities to help set them apart.

Finally, the Gods from the Machine operation unveiled its third encounter, Nahut, Son of Shadow. It’s another good one, with atmosphere to spare and some neat mechanics. The wait between bosses can feel unending sometimes, but I don’t deny that I’ve really enjoyed learning each of these fights.

I was hoping to conclude that SWTOR is ending the year on a high note, and, in terms of new content, I think it is, but then an exploit emerged up and pumped billions of credits into the game economy. By now the exploited credits have long since been laundered through the GTN and guild and legacy banks. While I’m sure some folks who took advantage will be punished, the damage has already been done. These things seem to pop up at least once per expansion, and it’s incredibly frustrating to watch bush league mistakes happen again and again. The main result is that any player who engages in the game economy through the GTN is negatively affected and will see their credits have less and less value. So cheers to that.


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Filed under General SWTOR, KotET