Category Archives: Aurebesh to English

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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These Astro-Droids Are Getting Quite Out of Hand

This time around we return to Coruscant and a poster featuring an astromech droid, surely the most beloved and indefatigable model of robot in all Star Wars lore.

This is one of many signs whose prominent use of Mern, the Aurebesh “M” immediately marks it as an advertisement for the Coruscant Marketplace. Aside from the large M glyph, this signs shares elements with other advertisements: the double Mern, for example, appears in other posters we’ve seen around the galaxy.

In addition, the circular icon seen faintly in the center, dark gray panel is used on the high-tech banners or street signs that delineate the Old Galactic Marketplace neighborhood of Coruscant.

I think it’s pretty neat to see so many posters and ads, which may seem different and alien at first glance, were clearly designed to share the kind of common branding that we might recognize on our own advertising soaked world.

Finally, while preparing this post I recalled yet another sign that I covered back in the earliest days of this blog that also showcases a droid. To be perfectly honest, my original recreation is pretty much rubbish, so I decided to go all George Lucas on it and give it the Special Edition that every Gonk droid deserves. I think my second try turned out a bit better.

 

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I’m a Space Cowboy, on a Steel Bantha I Ride

This week, let’s turn our attention to some monitors that first appeared in Chapter 10 of Knights of the Fallen Empire, “Anarchy in Paradise”. The walls of the Overwatch headquarters are lined with wanted posters for a wide variety of criminals who flaunt the laws of the Eternal Empire.

The three posters I’ve recreated this week have also made their way into our Strongholds as decorations, but there are several more, which I’ll be sure to check out in the weeks to come.

The display on the left is easily the most remarkable of all the posters since it seems to feature a distant ancestor of Ahsoka Tano, the popular hero from The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels animated series. By her armor, this Tano looks to be a bounty hunter who is operating in cahoots with a Gamorrean and Ortolan, which suggests that she might have ties to the Hutt Cartel.

The right poster features someone who I imagine is a renegade from Sith Intelligence that continued to act against Zakuul even after the Sith Empire’s surrender. I am certain that a rogue cipher agent operating within the Eternal Empire could cause no end of trouble.

Last but not least, we have a Twi’lik bounty hunter with a very cool name. However, this poster, as well as the one for the Sith agent, shows that the Eternal Empire would not be bothered with such minor technicalities as spell checking in the pursuit of wanted criminals.

Many of the Overwatch posters share elements and text with each other, and several draw on elements from other signs in the game. The five letters atop the first poster appear in many, many other places, and the text beneath Tano’s known associates is amusingly non sequitur and seems to be drawn from a list of common Aurebesh phrases that appear elsewhere, such as the GTN screens.

The content of these posters basically amounts to what a friend of mine would call “useless flavor text”, but it sure would be cool if some of these characters showed up in the game. I’m certain folks would get a kick out of crossing paths with Ahsoka’s bounty hunting great-great-great grand ma.

They Say It’s My Birthday

Finally, this post marks exactly one year since I’ve started this blog. I hope visitors to this site have gotten a kick out of seeing elements of SWTOR in a slightly different light. I want to thank everyone who has given me feedback, corrections, and suggestions. It is all appreciated. I should also give special thanks to SWTOR Central, Xam Xam Says, Going Commando, Swtorista and FibroJedi for the shout outs, links and help over this past year. And, of course, major props to my friends from New Outriders who make SWTOR feel like home!

 

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Back in Black

In honor of the bug that has, for the time being at least, turned daily questing zones into CXP bonanzas, I thought I’d a pay a visit to the Black Hole section of the planet Corellia.

The Black Hole is home to the HyperMatter Corporation, which refined and sold hypermatter, the extremely volatile fuel used by the fastest hyperdrives in the galaxy. The notoriously corrupt Corellian councilor Torvix attempted to seize control of this hypermatter manufacturing center, but instead only attracted the ire of both the Republic and the Sith Empire. The conflict between the three factions turned the Black Hole into a warzone overrun with toxic sludge and rampaging gang members.

This daily hub features several logos, signs and posters related to the HyperMatter Corporation that appear no where else in the game. The sign above boasts of HyperMatter’s commitment to safety, but the fact that radioactive waste literally runs through the streets and basements of the neighborhood suggest that these claims might be slightly exaggerated.

This sign seems to feature one of the taglines featured in their advertising. I don’t doubt HyperMatter’s desire to see their fuel sold across the galaxy, but it’s also worth noting that the poster makes no mention of whether their product would be fairly or affordably priced.

Finally, here is an advertisement clearly aimed at Corellia’s large and infamous population of smugglers and hotshot pilots. I’m certain a crate or two of hypermatter could shave a parsec or two off many a freighter’s run, but hopefully it won’t also cause that ship to be consumed by an explosion of tachyonic plasma should the gas cap not be screwed on tight enough!

These signs are pretty cool, and I’d like to see all of them (as well as a Hypermatter crate) added to the roster of stronghold decorations. I should point out, however, that they do include some “incorrect” Aurebesh punctuation and use the comma glyphs when periods were probably intended. In the interest of clarity, I corrected the punctuation in my recreations.

I think SWTOR has a pretty good track record when it comes to its daily quest zones, and I’ve always found them an enjoyable way to kill time in the game, especially compared to the far less interesting heroics. That the ridiculously excessive CXP rewards have breathed some life back into these areas has been pretty neat and it’s nice to see people running around them again.

 

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Watch (Your) Step

This week, let’s look at this large sign, which I’ve seen on Coruscant, Corellia and Cademimu.

That this is a warning sign is pretty obvious whether you can read the Aurebesh or not. The eye is drawn to the prominent orange text and striped bar that indicate that the sign contains important safety information.

Beyond that, there is a lot going on here. It shares a similar design and graphical elements with many other signs in the game; in addition, it also includes a bit of clunky grammar which is also not unusual. At first glance, I thought the star graphic used in the background was the logo of the Black Sun criminal syndicate, but I quickly realized that it relates to the “Sun Section” referenced in the sign. Twelve must be someone’s lucky number because the digits pop up no less than four times on this one graphic. The large D  or “Dorn” letter is a common sight on other Aurebesh signs as well. In my recreation, I italicized the letter to make it more closely match the angle of its Aurebesh counterpart.

Finally, the tiny text in the left sidebar of the black, bottom section is probably also aurebesh, but if it contains any juicy tidbits, I can’t say since the text is far too small and low resolution for me to decipher.

Despite sharing elements with many other Aurebesh graphics in the game, this sign remains distinct from its siblings and works well in a variety of settings across the galaxy.

 

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Your Number is 2187, Isn’t it?

Your humble blogger is feeling a tad under the weather, so this week I thought I’d choose an easy sign to translate. While the recreation was a fairly simple task, this sign did lead to an aspect of Star Wars history to which I had not been aware prior to researching this post.

This sign is similar in style to many others found around Coruscant and other developed worlds of the Republic. It contains the usual bits of random letters and numbers, a neat calibration icon, a warning about stellar regulations, and a gentle reminder to always secure your safety harness when traveling by speeder.

While the large numbers atop the sign may seem random at first glance. They are far from it. Many fans will recognize them as the number of Princess Leia’s cell in Star Wars. And the numbers would come to even further attention as Finn’s stormtrooper designation in The Force Awakens.

The number’s true origin lies in the name of a short film titled 21-87 by Arthur Lipsett. This film had a profound effect on George Lucas as a young filmmaker, influencing Lucas’ aesthetic style and his habit of titling his early movies with numbered sequences; perhaps most importantly the film provided Lucas with the initial inspiration for the concept of the Force, which would lead directly to our beloved Jedi heroes and Sith villains.

The movie itself is quite abstract, occasionally disturbing, and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s interesting to see something that had such a seminal influence on Star Wars. “In terms of understanding the power of sound and picture relationships there is no one better than Arthur Lipsett,” George Lucas said of the man who created 21-87.

 

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Shut Up and Stellar Drive

I’ve been wanting to recreate this sign since I started this blog. For all its interesting elements, however, there are also parts of it that frustrated me, and I’m not sure I completely cracked this nut.


The sign itself can be seen all over Corellia, but many players’ first encounter with it may be at the start of the Cademimu flashpoint. The sign includes at least two different languages, the non-standard Aurebesh font Galactic Standard and a touch of Futhork.

The resolution of this sign is low, and the writing is blurry and indistinct no matter how close you get to it. On the left, the white text on the black background is so distorted that I can make neither head nor tails out of it. The word that appears twice beneath the Futhork ‘E’ is also difficult to decipher. I think it might be written using the Sith Prophesy font, and have done my best to translate it that way, but I would not be surprised in the least if I got that wrong.

If any sharp-eyed reader has better suggestions, I hope you’ll share your insight with me!

One interesting element of this sign is the array of five letters over the graphic of the planet and moon. This exact arrangement appears in very many other signs throughout the game, even ones that otherwise use proper Aurebesh. Whether it is simply a piece of commonly used clip art or an inside joke of some kind, I cannot say.

Even though aspects of this graphic remain obscure to me, it is still one of my favorite signs in the game. The use of space letters give it an alien touch, but the design keeps it grounded and recognizable as something that fits naturally in the Star Wars setting.

 

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When You Come to a Futhork in the Road, Take It

Vacation is over so let’s dive back in! This week we pay a visit to the war torn planet of Corellia, whose cosmopolitan history makes it a welcome home to many alien languages. Indeed, some of the signs found on Corellia can be found no where else in the game. This time, let’s examine two displays that prominently feature the language Futhork from the planet Naboo.

The large sign featured here includes a somewhat rare example in SWTOR of Futhork that can actually be translated into readable English. Therefore it quite literally speaks for itself. I also translated the smaller neon sign, which includes some bonus Aurebesh and Futhork. The two Futhork letters are oriented in different directions, although it’s hard to tell in my recreation; in addition the “I” glyph is modified with an extra arm stroke at the base of the letter.

Like many others in the game, this warm, glowing sign features arrays of seemingly random letters. This one is hanging upside down, but my translation has set it right side up. The center group of glyphs is again Futhork, but the shapes at the top and bottom seem to be cropped letters written using the Trade Federation script. This font, created for The Phantom Menace, can be found in many signs around the game, but when used, the glyphs are very often distorted or smashed together. The Trade Federation letters here are not only cropped at their midline, but by flipping the sign to make the Futhork orient properly, the partial letters have become flipped. This translator can’t win either way.

As I mentioned, Corellia is home to a vast trove of signage in Aurebesh and other languages, and in the weeks ahead, there will be plenty more material to explore.

 

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Turning Day Into Night Time

This week, let’s continue to examine some of Nar Shaddaa’s neon signs, focusing on two that Sith faction players will see as they enter the infamous Star Cluster Casino.

First up, we have something that at first seems to be another standard, simple advertisement exhorting viewers to travel to the Outer Rim, but there is quite a bit going on here, with several layers of graphical elements including rectangular and circular frames, two different starburst graphics as well as two different colored scattered accent shapes. Recreating this in English was a bit more challenging than I expected it would be!

This sign, which can be seen prominently on the Nar Shaddaa loading screen, is, of course, not written in Aurebesh, but looks to have been created using Erik Schroeder’s font Sith Prophesy which models the language officially known as Common Sith. This language mainly appears in Star Wars as the writing seen on Darth Vader’s chest control panels.

Given that pureblood Sith are common in SWTOR’s setting it’s not surprising that they’d have restaurants and advertising aimed specifically at them, although I confess I wonder what constitutes fine dining to a Sith.

This sign’s translation is a fairly common diner name, but I imagine it might also be a reference to Alton Brown’s beloved television show.

Manaan Stronghold Review

Patch 5.3 brought a bunch of stuff including the controversial change to tunings (I’m fine with it, especially once unlocked crystals and tunings become mail-able in legacy weapons) and the second encounter in the Gods from the Machine operation (crazy, fun fight!), but the one I’ve spent the most time with is the new Manaan stronghold. I thought I’d share a few impressions as I work my way towards 100% completion.

First off, it’s beautiful and I’ve absolutely enjoyed my time decorating. My complaints are mostly the familiar decorators’ laments about hook placement and type. Why aren’t the rug hooks where I want them? Why won’t that deco go up against the wall? Why won’t that deco fit on that hook?

Manaan does have a few specific issues. I’ve heard some folks complain that it’s too small, but after the massive sprawl of Yavin, I’m okay with a smaller stronghold. However, its size is actually deceptive. The stronghold’s main staging area is actually huge, but it kind of feels small. Yavin’s Temple Grounds area is much larger to be sure, but that section is subdivided into distinct areas (the temple roof, the bridge, the paved platform, the various clearings, the cave, the swimming hole out back, etc.), Manaan’s main area, on the other hand, is just one connected and visually identical area. I think this section could’ve been better subdivided using elements from the existing Manaan zone such as the tunnel that splits the two open areas and the side office in which we met Theron and Lana during Forged Alliances.

I welcome the generous inclusion of numerous centerpiece hooks (especially the ones on the ocean floor), but it’s frustrating that the alternative layouts for centerpieces are not great. Two out of the four options waste fully half of the hook space, and the other two can be awkward to use. This is especially the case in the two side rooms on the Underwater Observatory level. If you don’t want to place a centerpiece, getting those rooms just right can be a tricky. Personally I’d like to see an alternative layout (seen below) with both horizontal and vertical orientations for the Centerpiece hook that consists of two large hooks, flanked on either side by a mix of medium, medium narrow and small hooks.

The small wall hooks in the ceilings of those two rooms are a strange choice. I get that many large ceiling decorations might clip in those spots, but many other fixtures such as hanging lights and chandeliers would fit wonderfully. I know that Manaan’s architectural style doesn’t lend itself to large, flat spaces, but it should be up to the decorators if we care about the clipping.

Otherwise, I’m not a fan of the invisible wall outside the rooftop garden. I imagine that the entire complex is probably not fully rendered, but I do wish I could explore more. And even if I can’t decorate the interior spaces below the garden, I’d still like to place decorations on the roof down there.

My last Manaan specific nitpick concerns the elevators in the stronghold. When you exit them, your character is facing the elevator, forcing you to turn around whenever you enter a new level. You really should be facing the room as you step off the lift.

Finally, I thought I’d conclude with some general Stronghold and decoration changes I’d like to see. I like the hook system, I really do. Working within limits prevents me from going too far down the decorating rabbit hole and has sparked some creative solutions, but it could use some tweaking.

My main frustration is this: which decorations fit on which hooks has never been consistent. A café table will fit on a medium hook, but the similar-sized Dejarik table will not. Why? If a decoration can even remotely fit on a hook, we should be able to place it on that hook. I’d like to see the hooks for every decoration given another pass. There are many large decos that would fit just fine medium hooks, and it sometimes feels like the designers have forgotten the medium narrow hook even exists.

The introductory cut scene currently plays whenever you zone into Manaan, and I’ve seen this described as a feature not a bug. While I don’t want to have to spacebar through the scene every time I go to my stronghold, I will say it is sometimes cool to see that scene play once there are decorations in place. It’d be nice to have an on demand option to take the tour of a stronghold after each characters’ first visit. Could an option to watch the scene be added to the control panel that exists in every stronghold?

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy decorating strongholds, and Manaan has not been an exception. It is easily the most scenic stronghold and while, unlike Coruscant, it doesn’t feel like a place I’d live, it sure is a beautiful place to visit. I look forward to basking in the sun and putting the last decoration in place in the not too distant future.

 

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Bright Light City Gonna Set My Soul On Fire

This week, inspired by the return of the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event, I thought I’d take a look at a pair of the many neon signs that light up the night on the Smuggler’s Moon, focusing on two that are prominently displayed in the Club Vertica Casino.

This sign is written using Naboo’s Futhork font, and variations of it can be seen throughout Nar Shaddaa. In the example above, the sign is flipped and the letters are reversed, but the sign often appears with the letters properly oriented, as can be seen in the image at the top of this post. For my “translation” I’ve oriented the letters to be readable. Not that there is much to read, since the sign is as obscure in English as it is in Futhork. As I’ve said before, this doesn’t bother me, since the alien glyphs are most important as design elements. Besides the sign might make perfect sense to any native speaker of Huttese, Bocce or Mando’a.

A closer look at the graphic reveals that it is made up of several layers of different elements aside from the Futhork letters. The circle and bracket decoration can be seen in many other neon signs. In addition, a semi-scalloped circular pattern appears twice around the letters. This is a common pattern in Huttese decor. Next time you visit Karagga’s or Nem’ro’s palace, look for it on the floor of the larger halls.

This sign is also a common sight throughout the game, and is written using the non-standard Aurebesh font, Galactic Basic. Unlike the previous neon advertisement, this one can be translated; however one of the words in yellow at the base of the sign reads right to left. I would guess when it was typed on a path, the designer forgot to orient the letters “properly.” Again, for my recreation, I opted to make the sign readable in English. As for what the large initials mean, I can only guess. In fact, I’m happy to do so: how about “Jabba’s Dance Barge” or maybe “Jilasi’s Draft Boutique” or perhaps even “DJ Bareesh”? I bet that Hutt can lay down some serious beats!

Nightlife Event Review

Finally, I thought I’d offer some quick thoughts on the return of the Nightlife Event. I won’t lie; it was never my favorite. Clicking on slot machines is about as far from engaging game play as you can get. That said, I can’t deny that the event offers very neat rewards including some of the best legacy weapons in the game, and the new, interactive decorations. Fortunately, the items that interest me the most can be purchased from the vendors using Golden Certificates which are common prizes from the Kingpin’s Slot Machine. In addition, now that slots tokens drop from Flashpoint and Operation bosses, folks can participate and collect rewards without breaking the bank. This is a very nice, player friendly addition to the event.

If I really wanted the Gamorrean Companion or the Rancor Mount, I might despise the event for the monotonous click-fest and money-sink that it is. However, that I can take a pocket full of tokens awarded from a week’s worth of casual play and turn them into a dance floor for my stronghold or a Tommy Gun for my Trooper is something I won’t complain about.

I’ve said it before but, I remain hopeful that we’ll eventually see a brand, new event or at least a fresh coat of paint applied to the old events to keep them interesting for veteran players. Fingers crossed!

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