Category Archives: Aurebesh to English

And We’re in Bloom

And we’re back! I apologize for the longer than usual gap in posts. One thing that has occupied my attention lately has been the pursuit of Conquest points. As a member of a small guild with Republic and Sith sister guilds to feed, Conquest and the guild leveling that comes with it can be something of a time sink.

For characters who have completed the Ossus story, additional Conquest objectives are available related to deploying or destroying probe droids outside Republic and Imperial outposts around the galaxy. While zapping probes near the starport on Corellia, I spotted a sign I had not noticed in all my years of playing. However the bright glow emanating from the text made the sign extremely difficult to read.

There is a quick solution to this particular challenge. Disabling Bloom in the graphic settings makes the game world significantly less vibrant, but the sign much easier to read. After some more exploration I located a second example of the sign and was able to snap a clear screenshot for recreation.

At first glance, there isn’t much going on, but upon examination, there are several things worth noting. First, the sign is like many others on Corellia that refer to manufacturers of starships and podracers. “Ord Pedrovia” is a popular make of racer that first appeared during the Boonta Eve Classic in The Phantom Menace and is not, as I first thought, the name of a planet, which is the usual case when the forename Ord appears in Star Wars lore.

The glyph at the right edge of the graphic looks to my eyes to be a stylized English O and P logo, and I can imagine it splashed on the hood of the Ord Pedrovia’s podracer cockpit.

The letter on the left of the sign is not Aurebesh. I’m certain that it is, in fact, a Futhork “G” which has been disassembled somewhat for the graphic. The result is that translation turns the large word from “Ord” into “Gord.” There are many signs around the galaxy which when translated are seemingly random letters and numbers. I suspect some of these contain in-jokes or use the initials of members of SWTOR’s development team. I’m not in a position to know for sure, but in this case I think I can hazard a guess that this sign pays tribute to Gordon Walton who helped found Bioware Austin. Or perhaps it could be a reference to the late Gord Downie, lead singer of beloved Canadian rock band, the Tragically Hip. Or maybe hockey great Gordie Howe. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence.

Star Wars Celebration Community Cantina

Star Wars Celebration is just weeks away, and I’m sure I’m not alone in eagerly awaiting news of SWTOR’s future. Bioware has been extra coy this year, but we’re all expecting to hear about the game’s next expansion at the Community Cantina event in Chicago.

Sadly, I can’t make it this year, but if you’re in Chicago for Celebration or find yourself in the area, I highly recommend attending the event. I’ve been to a previous Cantina, and it is genuinely fun to meet the people who make the game, the people who play the game, have a drink and score some swag.

Somewhat remarkably, the official Star Wars website even included shout out to SWTOR in the lead-up to Celebration.

I sometimes think SWTOR is the red-headed stepchild of the Star Wars family. People are constantly posting in the r/swtor sub-reddit that they are shocked to learn that not only is SWTOR not dead, it also has a good population of players who truly enjoy the game. Even Bioware’s own Casey Hudson seemed surprised by the enduring popularity of SWTOR.

And yet SWTOR can’t seem to get much cross-promotional love from the Star Wars brand juggernaut. Last year I bought Chronicle Book’s Women of the Galaxy, an absolutely charming book featuring the stories of dozens of female characters from across Star Wars lore. As I read it, however, I was amazed by the inclusion of some rather obscure characters that came off as filler to me. I was disappointed that despite drawing from a wide array of Star Wars media, novels, comics, cartoons and even other video games, no one from SWTOR made the cut. Call me a homer, but I really do believe Lana or Vaylin or Kira or Vette are far more interesting and dynamic and worthy of coverage than some of those non-speaking background characters who barely rated seconds of screen time.

SWTOR had a fair amount of cross promotion at launch, but I do hope EA and Lucasfilm give the game another push with the next expansion. I’m no expert; I don’t know how to convince Marvel to publish a Theron Shan comic, Hasbro to make a Jakarro action figure (with C2-D4 head-butting action!) and Fantasy Flight Games to include the Gravestone in one of their miniatures games. Indeed, it’s fair to ask if any of that even would be viable or profitable endeavors, but a blogger can dream, right?

April can’t come soon enough!

 

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Sometimes You Feel Like Nahut

After a case of post-holiday blues and the near death of my computer’s hard drive, I thought I should get back into the swing of things with a request from Shintar, keeper of the great SWTOR blog Going Commando. Shintar asked me to take a look at the technical readout we see from Nahut’s point of view during the cut scene introducing this boss from the Gods from the Machine operation.

I was eager to oblige for several reasons. First and foremost, I very much welcome suggestions and requests. Second, Nahut is my favorite encounter in the Machine Gods operation. It’s a neat fight against a cool looking boss with fun mechanics in a unique, moody setting. Third, much of the hard work of the translation was already done! Nahut’s Terminator-style internal readout reuses elements from HK-55’s first person view from the famous musical montage from Chapter 4 of Knights of the Fallen Empire. Indeed, translating the Aurebesh from that scene is what inspired the creation of this blog, so I was happy to revisit it.

This also gave me an opportunity to update my original translation, and once again reflect upon the differences between how Aurebesh was designed and how it is actually used. Part of the readout includes appearances of several digraphs that combine two English letters with a single sound (such as “th” or “sh”) into a single Aurebesh symbol. However, it is very rare to see these glyphs used “properly.” Since the key strokes used to type out digraphs are not part of the standard alphabet, it’s far more common to seem them rendered as individual Aurebesh letters. In theory some well known names look quite different depending on how strictly the translator follows the extended Aurebesh alphabet.

In the example of Nahut and HK’s technical readout, all the digraphs used  here are meant to be read as the symbols to which they are bound on an English keyboard. I believe this display was created using the Aurek-Besh font, and here the the Krenth (kh) and Onith (eo) glyphs translate as the open and closed angle brackets: < and >. This makes sense given the context of computer jargon.

One last note, in previous discussions of this topic, I’ve referred to the digraphs as ligatures. The concepts are similar, but I’ve since learned that “digraph” is the more accurate term and I’ll stick with that going forward. “Damnit, Jim, I’m a doctor not a typographer!”

I’ve remarked before that the official Aurebesh alphabet is incomplete; it is missing some common punctuation marks, numbers and styles for capitalization. It’s up to the designers and font makers using these fake space-letters to fill in the gaps, and I would never dream of declaring any use of Aurebesh incorrect or wrong. Indeed, I find it interesting to see the different solutions to the problems the numerous artists working with Aurebesh across Star Wars lore have found. In a way, it makes Aurebesh seem like a richer, more living language.

 

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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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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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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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SWTORbringers

This week, I thought I’d take a look at the notorious MMO cinematic in which the leader of the traditionally “evil” faction and their associates stage a brutal attack on a beloved stronghold of the opposing faction. As the leader’s eyes glow red, they slaughter their enemies and leave the site a burning, destroyed ruin.

But enough about Darth Malgus, let’s talk about Shae Vizla. The Deceived cinematic, released nearly a decade ago, was Shae’s introduction to Star Wars lore, and she remains a popular character years later. In the space of this scene, she deploys all the gadgets and weapons you’d expect from a Mandalorian hunter including this pop-up display:

Based on information from my translation, I surmise that Shae had sliced into Coruscant’s space traffic control to track the arrival and explosive entrance of the Sith’s stolen transport. The display indicates that Malgus’ deception was successful, and that the Republic never saw the attack coming.

The Aurebesh text contains some awkward grammar and a misspelling or two, and I’ve tried to keep my translation as faithful as possible. In addition, it seems like the text in the right hand column was truncated mid-word. This could easily be chalked up as panic from the controller as they realized what is about to happen or that their feed had been hacked. The version of the Aurebesh font used here includes numbers that match our Hindu-Arabic numerals, and I did not bother “translating” all of those.

Falling From a Great Height is Never Fatal

Speaking of Malgus, SWTOR’s next expansion looms in the hopefully not-too-distant future. While not much is known, Bioware has indicated that we’ll be returning to a story based on the war between the Republic and the Sith Empire. As part of that, there has been speculation that this renewed focus on the game’s original conflict might also signal the return of Darth Malgus, perhaps as leader of the Sith Empire or an antagonist for both factions.

On the one hand, I am totally on Team Malgus. He’s my favorite of SWTOR’s many Darths, and had most of my Sith characters been given the chance they would’ve gladly joined his New Empire on Ilum. I take the original iteration of the False Emperor flashpoint as canon, and there is plenty of precedent in Star Wars for Sith lords surviving exactly the kind of defeat Malgus saw there. Moreover, there is the infamous moment cut from the Sacrifice cinematic that revealed that Arcann and Thexan had taken Malgus’ carbonite frozen body as a trophy. So I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that Malgus remains on the minds of the folks in Austin.

That said, between the Shadow of Revan expansion starting with the return of Revan and ending with the return of the Sith Emperor, and Darth Maul’s equally improbable return to popular consciousness just this summer in Solo, I wonder if maybe we’ve been there and done that already.

So I’m split and give it an even chance that he’ll be back. Star Wars needs good Dark Side villains, and he certainly fits the bill, but I wouldn’t be disappointed with someone new.

 

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In the Pink

I thought this one would be easy. I really did.  I had planned to post this recreation during the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event since this neon sign can be seen around the moon’s Promenade and casinos. Clearly, I’m late to the party.

The challenge of this recreation was not in the translation. Like many similar signs, it seems to be a collection of random letters in which I’ve long since given up attempting to find meaning.

At first glance, one might think this sign is written in Aurebesh. Technically, however, it uses Galactic Basic, a font that, like Aurebesh, was inspired by the script used on monitors in Return of the Jedi. Galactic Basic is actually more accurate to what can be seen in the movie, but Aurebesh was codified in official sources first and has since become the official version of the language.

The center logo, the inset letters on the upper left and the two repeating glyphs on the bottom are all written using Galactic Basic. The orange tinted letters in the next-to-bottom row are rendered in the Atrsian font. Like Aurebesh, this font has a tangled history. It also can be glimpsed in Return of the Jedi, and was featured in several early Lucasarts games.

My guess is that all these fake space letters were meant to be parts of the same “language” but because they were fleshed out separately, they all became individual fonts and scripts. I’m certain that had high definition screen captures and copious reference materials been around three decades ago, the current landscape of Star Wars’ written word would be very different!

The use of Atrisian is not an usual sight in SWTOR. This script can be seen not only in signs on Nar Shaddaa, but also carved in the ancient ruins of the Rakata on Belsavis. It’s amusing to think the same glyphs that adorned the great works of a long lost civilization are still emblazoned in neon around the galactic underworld.

The large logo in the center is what caused me the most trouble. The repeated letter rotating around the center translates to J, but I’d wager it was not selected because of any particular meaning but because of how the alien glyph maintains its symmetry in the arrangement. The English J, however, is not quite so accommodating and I tried many variations, fonts and even custom letters attempting to replicate the original layout. In the end I realized I was overthinking the problem, and took inspiration from the actual design. Reshaping the glyph to resemble a J more or less did the trick. I don’t think my recreation is as stylish as the original, but it’s close enough that I hope it gets the idea across.

Living Large on the PTS

Despite having played since launch, last week was my very first visit to SWTOR’s test server. I cannot deny it was fun to get an early peek at the Rishi stronghold and queue up for Saturday’s PVP test.

My first impression of the Rishi stronghold is quite good. I think they are aiming to address the major complaints regarding the previous strongholds on Umbara and Manaan. Unlike Umbara’s train, Rishi has a large variety of environments to explore and decorate, from the massive pirate airship to the beach and the cove. It also looks like they are paying more attention to how decorating hooks are being used. As much as I love Manaan, the widely spread out hooks and limited choices of what hooks are even available has been a source of frustration. Rishi seems to have a larger variety of hooks, placed closer together so that decorators will be able to create areas with more cohesion.

The PVP areas are a gimmick to be sure. But it’s a cool gimmick. And even if I’m just using it every once in a while, I’m fine with that.  As with the addition of target dummies, having more stuff to do in our strongholds is something I’m glad to see. I hope they continue to explore more ideas in the future. Maybe there could be a special boss on the pirate ship that can only be summoned during the Bounty Broker event, or a stronghold zombie survival mode in which the beach is swarmed during the Rakghoul Resurgence. Armchair developing is easy! But, hey, I can dream, can’t I?

I also participated in Saturday’s PVP testing during the morning and evening sessions. I don’t PVP a whole lot so take these comments with a grain of salt.

For the most part it seemed like the matchmaking worked. There were a ton of healers in the morning queue, but the teams had even numbers. The matches with three healers per side tended to stalemate; I imagine with a larger pool of dps that wouldn’t happen as much. I did notice that backfilling in arenas would not always keep the tank/healer balance, but I guess filling empty spots quickly might be more important.

I thought the Mandalorian arena was pretty cool. All my matches there were fought on the top level, so I don’t know if the lower ring or tunnel will see much action.

I ran four Voidstars during the day, and aside from the one with six healers, they definitely went faster. Once the first door opens, the other matches became a race to the finish, which I consider an improvement.

Overall, I went 7 and 6, which I rate a smashing success and had a really good time. It seems like most folks were there to poke around and have some low stakes fun. It was neat to cross paths with some SWTOR celebrities, and I like to think my healer saved a dev or two from certain death once or twice during the day.

I’m definitely in the camp that is happy to see the return of open PTS testing. That the good folks at Bioware have been quick to implement changes that have come from feedback has been great to see. I hope to visit the test server more in the future.

 

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