Category Archives: General Star Wars

Relish is a Lie, There is Only Ketchup

Like countless others last night, I tuned into the Super Bowl which is as much an advertising bonanza as a sporting event. I did not expect that anything I saw would inspire me in any way, but a commercial for Heinz Ketchup surprised me with its display of the official fake space language of this blog, Aurebesh.

The commercial features a split screen of visitors to various eating establishments across time and space that are united by a common use of the tomato condiment. One of the settings is an alien market adorned with banners that clearly use the Aurebesh alphabet. Even though some of the letters have been rotated and altered somewhat, there is no doubt that Aurebesh is used here.

If you’re like me and hoped for an inside joke declaring mustard to be the superior condiment, you’ll be disappointed. The letters do not translate into anything with an obvious meaning. I have no doubt that someone in authority made sure that there were no secret messages to be found. Indeed I think the use of Aurebesh itself was the whole of the easter egg for Star Wars fans.

Even if you don’t get the Star Wars connection, anyone can still look at those banners and recognize that they contain writing of some sort, even if it is not legible. That duality sums up Star Wars’ core aesthetic that seeks to strike the perfect balance between the alien and the familiar. Star Destroyers evoke battleships without looking that much like them. No Authurian knight or Japanese samurai ever wielded a laser sword, but lightsabers instantly connect the Jedi to those traditions. What is clever about Aurebesh’s design is how it is also strange and familiar at the same time. Aurebesh’s letter shapes are often based on their English counterparts, but their component parts have been twisted around or turned inside. If I find myself stumped by some Aurebesh, it actually helps me to translate it by “reverse engineering” the glyphs into familiar English letters.

This is certainly one of the more unusual things I’ve examined for this blog, but it never ceases to surprise me how far Star Wars has seeped into pop culture.

 

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The Rise of Skywalker Review

Beware: there will be some light spoilers ahead. My social media feed is filled with people who didn’t like The Rise of Skywalker, and I don’t really disagree with a lot of the criticisms, but I still enjoyed the movie. I’m enormously fond of these characters and I cannot deny having fun watching them fly around the galaxy having adventures.

I’ll start with what I didn’t like. I’m a Rose stan and was bummed to see her get the Return of the Jedi-Lando treatment. Her heart and earnestness is a big part of why I love The Last Jedi. I wish she had more to do than just be there. Related to that is Finn whose story doesn’t feel complete. Finn is the focus of so much textual and subtextual shipping in the first two movies that it is frankly weird that none of it was addressed much less resolved beyond everyone having seemingly friend-zoned each other. I know Abrams has addressed the question of what Finn wanted to say to Rey during a Q&A, but, in my book, that doesn’t count at all.

To raise a plot point, revisit it later, but never resolve it strikes me as awfully sloppy storytelling. For a movie that spends so much time dwelling on other questions that don’t really need answers, it’s disappointing to see ones that should be answered left hanging.

If there were only one thing I could change, however, it would be Rey’s family revelation. I admit that generational conflict and bloodlines have always been part of Star Wars’ story, but I just don’t think it was necessary here. I think you could remove that plot point and still tell the exact same story.

That said, I don’t think Rey Palpatine invalidates The Last Jedi or its message; indeed Rey taking the name Skywalker regardless is, to me, a satisfying conclusion to her story.

I hate to try to read the minds of any filmmakers, but I do agree with the popular notion that J. J. Abrams stuffed into The Rise of Skywalker the two movies worth ideas of where he thought things would go after The Force Awakens, but he never quite squares things with what Rian Johnson did in The Last Jedi. Not since the Expanded Universe, have we really seen the visions of two authors with different takes on the same setting and characters bump up against each other like this. Do I think the goal was to make a safe, non-controversial movie? Absolutely, but I don’t think Episode IX is even remotely close to being the first Star Wars story to do that.

This movie is a shaggy dog and, in spite of its mess, I still like it. The four leads are strong, and their chemistry is engaging. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley in particular are very good. The big set pieces are cool; the rain-soaked lightsaber battle was neat, and the space battle at the end was a blast. The trailer spoiled the reveal of the fleet, and that scene sure does feel like it cribbed from Avengers: Endgame, but I still cheered when Lando and the Falcon came to the rescue. I cheered when Rey handed the lightsaber off to Ben. And I cheered when she crossed the two blades at the end. I am on the record as someone who doesn’t think fan service is inherently bad, so stuff like Harrison Ford’s cameo (which I wasn’t expecting) worked for me, and the voices of the Jedi (which I were expecting) felt right on target. And Luke’s shit-eating grin after lifting the X-Wing out of the water was just great.

Finally, I think Carrie Fisher’s inclusion was handled well. While I wouldn’t call the integration of her old footage seamless, there were really only one or two shots that struck me as obviously CGI’ed, and I’d say they did a good job working in what dialogue they had into the story. I can’t imagine watching the movie not knowing that she is no longer with us, but I think it’s an appropriate tribute to Fisher and her importance to Star Wars.

I realize “Ah, I mostly liked it” is not the hottest of takes, but I’m not embarrassed to like something in spite of its flaws. Is the movie big, dumb and stupid? Probably. But I’m okay with that. Sometimes Star Wars should be those things.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Five

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Five: Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’m sure you are shocked –shocked- to discover that someone who writes about The Old Republic, also likes Star Wars video games. That said, despite the fact that I’ve been keeping this blog for three years, I’ve never really talked about why I love SWTOR.

I’ve been playing Star Wars video games since my misspent youth in the shopping mall video game arcade. Later, during Lucasart’s heyday, I leapt into the virtual cockpit of the X-Wing and TIE Fighter simulators and later rampaged around the galaxy as Kyle Katarn in the epic Dark Forces games. That said, I discovered Knights of the Old Republic very late in its initial life. To be honest, I had more fun watching my nephew run through the game than playing it myself.

But I was there the day SWTOR launched and have been on board ever since. Sure, the initial pitch of “World of Warcraft, but with Lightsabers” absolutely appealed to me, but the game itself also hits the same buttons as other items on this list: new stories outside the movies, stories that I have some part in telling through my characters, and adventures I can share with friends.

Very early on, after staying up extra late to finish the Taris storyline on my Consular, the game did a perfect job in putting me in the same headspace as the character I was playing. By the time I finished, we were both just done with that mutant-zombie infested, nuclear wasteland of a planet and had no patience for anyone who would second guess our choices. When the Consular expressed that in a way that was far cooler than I ever could, I knew from that moment that this character was my main; and she has been my favorite ever since.

Over the years, SWTOR has continued to put my characters at the center of new Star Wars stories set on new worlds that I always look forward to exploring. There are plenty of times when SWTOR made me smile or laugh or catch my breath: the time my Smuggler finished off Skavak with a Dirty Kick; the time I agonized over Jaxo’s fate; the first time my Inquisitor walked into the Dark Council chamber like she owned the joint, or my first night on Oricon when I looked up and saw the Dread Palace looming overhead.

Like the old tabletop RPGs, SWTOR is also something I get to share with friends. I have been extraordinarily fortunate to play with the fantastic people in the guild New Outriders as well as many other good folks around the game. Overcoming challenges with other people is one of the best parts of the MMO experience. I’ll never forget beating the original version of Hard Mode Lost Island with three other patient and good-natured souls who’d never grouped together before. I’ll never forget when NOR’s first progression team clicked into high gear with our victory over Hard Mode Operator IX during the early days of Rise of the Hutt Cartel. More recently, I’ll never forget cheering like a fool when Scrubland Shad unleashed some true last pull magic and was the sole survivor of the Bad Feelings Porg Team’s first clear of Hard Mode Explosive Conflict.

Beyond that, and perhaps even more importantly, SWTOR is a game which I get to play with people whose company I enjoy. Ops nights and flashpoint runs are filled with running jokes about snowballs, Marauder tanks, pickles, the inevitable triumph of gravity and my regular attempts to “try something stupid” instead of playing it safe.

I won’t lie and say that I haven’t ever been frustrated by SWTOR many times over the years or that it’s the best video game ever or that I haven’t encountered toxic behavior from people who take a game about wizards, laser swords and space cowboys far too seriously, but as SWTOR celebrates it 8th birthday, it remains something I can hop into and know that I’ll usually be able to have a good time playing. And that is a credit both to the good people I get to play with and the talented people who make this game.

Happy Holidays

This is likely my last post of the year. I’ll get back to the Aurebesh very soon and will endeavor to keep future ramblings to a minimum as well. In the meantime, I want to wish all my visitors a joyous holiday season, safe travels and good gaming in the year to come.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Four

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Four: Original Art

Before the internet united us all and ruined everything, there was one place nerds like me could gather and share our love for super heroes, starships and space wizards: the comic book convention. As I soon as I had money to burn and means to travel on my own, I started regularly attending local comic shows downtown and soon journeyed to some of the big east coast conventions in New York City, Baltimore and Atlanta. At these conventions, I got to meet and thank many of the creators of my favorite comic books and eventually started purchasing artwork they had for sale.

And then Ebay happened. Collecting original comic art had been a niche within the already niche hobby of comic collecting, and when Ebay enabled dealers and collectors to conveniently sell directly to each other regardless of location, a flood of artwork that was initially perceived to have little value hit the market. While Star Wars art, particularly covers, splash pages or pages from the movie adaptations, was always in higher demand than other comic art, there was still plenty out there for a collector on a budget, a collector like me, to acquire. Eventually I was priced out of the market; this may not come as a surprise to learn, but there are Star Wars fans out there with seriously deep pockets. Yet I remain grateful that I was in the right place at the right time to assemble a modest collection of original comic art and illustrations from several eras of Star Wars comics and books.

Typically, artwork for comics was drawn and inked on large 11″ x 17″ or larger boards, then scaled down for publication. For me, the appeal of collecting originals is being able to appreciate in person the care and details that were lost in the reproduction onto cheap newsprint, to see the traces of rough pencils and corrections, to read notes from the penciller to the inker, comments from the editor, but mainly to thrill at owning an actual piece of a story I very much enjoyed reading in comic book form.

The artwork from my collection that I’ve displayed here is from “Duel with a Dark Lady”, issue 96 of the original Marvel series published in 1985. The issue was written by Mary Jo Duffy, penciled by Cynthia Martin and inked by Bob Wiacek, and is one of my favorite Star Wars stories in any media. These four pages depict Luke Skywalker’s first encounter with and thorough ass-kicking at the hands of Lumiya, who assumed the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith after Darth Vader’s death. Martin’s clean, anime inspired style was unusual to see in mainstream comics in the mid-80s, and Duffy and Martin did a terrific job staging the battle like something from a samurai movie or manga. As the conflict escalates, the tendrils of her crackling whip fill the panels and overwhelm Luke, withdrawing only after his defeat. Also take note of the small detail of Lumiya’s jagged cloak which flies off her at the start of the fight, then is called back to her at the end. I loved it then, I love it now.

And, look, even in this era of lightsabers on pikes, with double-blades, cross-guards and handy bottle-openers, Lumiya’s light-whip is still just freaking cool.

This Thursday: From Quarters to Cartel Coins.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Three

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Three: Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game

In 1987, you would’ve been forgiven if you thought Star Wars was over. It’d been four years since Return of the Jedi came out, and Marvel Comics’ series ended the year before. George Lucas was clearly more interested in continuing the adventures of Indiana Jones than anything in a galaxy far, far away. And, yet, the second great age of Star Wars was about to begin. That year, a small game company called West End Games released a core rulebook and sourcebook for a tabletop roleplaying game set in the Star Wars universe.

Over the next decade, West End put out dozens of sourcebooks, adventures and guides that became not only the connective tissue of what became known as the Expanded Universe, but also Star Wars’ official canon. The background of so much lore that we take for granted came not from George Lucas, but the writers at West End Games who named those tube-headed aliens “Twi’liks”, described the Millennium Falcon as a YT-1300 manufactured by the Corellian Engineering Corporation and introduced the Jedi Code as a core part of the background of the Jedi Knights. Even Aurebesh as we know it now, the official fake space language of this very blog, was a creation of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A few years later, writers Timothy Zahn and Tom Veitch would use WEG’s source material as background for their own Star Wars stories, and with the release of Heir to the Empire and Dark Empire, Star Wars roared back to life for a whole new generation of fans to discover.

And as a game, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is terrific fun. The rules are simple to learn, and the game is quick to play. All you need is a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a handful of regular six-sided dice. The better your character is at something the more dice they roll; the higher they roll, the better the result. And that’s the core rule of the game. Armed with that knowledge, new players can hit the ground running, and experienced players can pull off spectacular feats worthy of heroes from the movies.

This top five list started when a friend asked what my favorite Star Wars stories outside the movies are. As I thought about it, I realized that many of the adventures told around a table by me and my friends would be on that list: the time Thrusty, bloody, beaten and a hair’s breadth from death, absolutely would not give up the fight; the time Ket whacked Tomar upside the head with a baseball bat; the time Darth Vader cut off Aruul’s arm; and countless other dumb, wildly unauthorized, wholly non-canonical and fun stories that are as big a part of our Star Wars experience as anything in any official movie, book or comic. I still love WEG’s Star Wars RPG for being a game that allows some of my favorite people to gather ’round and tell those stories to each other.

After West End Games went out of business, first Wizards of the Coast and now Fantasy Flight Games published more Roleplaying Games based on the Star Wars license. I’ve dabbled in both, but my heart remains with the old West End Games RPG. Over the years, I’ve gotten to interact and occasionally meet some of the people who designed the game, and I’ll always be thankful for their work. Growing up I loved reading comics and throwing action figures at each other, but the Star Wars RPG is something I could play and share with friends. And that simply cannot be beat.

Next week: “Then just say it: You’re a tracer!”

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Two

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Two: Action Figures

Growing up, pretty much every single boy (and some of the girls) I knew played with Star Wars toys, and I was no exception, eventually assembling a small army of dozens of miniature heroes, villains, robots and aliens from the original trilogy. Reinforced with assorted Adventure People, Micronauts and G.I.Joes, I staged many epic battles far beyond anything George Lucas would ever conceive or much less approve of.

My favorite Kenner Star Wars figure was Bespin Luke, but Darth Vader was my first and the character I have the most versions of today. All that remains of that original Vader is his head; it is likely that his body was lost to over-eager play or forgotten by me and consumed by my mother’s vacuum cleaner. A tragic outcome in either event.

Even Vader’s replacement has long since lost his lightsaber and stylish vinyl cape/vest. Both as a child and an adult, I had no interest in preserving my figures for future sale or display. I’m what collectors call an “opener.” I’ve never had a figure that I didn’t eagerly free from their clear plastic and cardboard prison. I always have one or two on my desk at any given time. My current figures see the bulk of their action during loading screens or on patch days.

These days I suspect more Star Wars toys are bought by adults than children, and I still indulge in Star Wars figures from time to time. Currently, the figures I buy are mainly from Hasbro’s Black Series line of six inch figures. Selling for at least $20 each, however, these guys are not cheap, so I try to be judicious in my purchases. However, this can be a tough line to hold whenever a new movie is about to come out.

Aside from the cost, the figures can sometimes be a challenge to even buy. Long gone are the days when I could walk into any toy store and find any Star Wars figure I wanted. Today’s figures are produced in limited numbers, and distribution to even large retailers can be spotty. You’re unlikely to find a popular character like the recently released Mandalorian at your local Target or Walmart, so you’ll need to be prepared to hunt various online sources if you want to pay a reasonable price. On the other hand, other figures derided as “pegwarmers” can easily found even a year or so after their release. To be honest, I’m not always sure which figures will be hard to find and which I’ll see marked down for clearance later.

The latest generation of action figures have far greater articulation and attention to detail than anything I would have dreamed possible back in the day. Within the last year or so, Hasbro has begun using “face printing” in which paint details are applied to a figure digitally. The result is that these toys can often have uncanny likenesses to their real life counterparts. If you’ve ever wanted a miniature Mark Hamill for your desk or shelf, it’s a great time to be alive!

Am I too old to be playing with toys? Yeah, probably. But putting Darth Vader into a menacing pose and setting him up against Han Solo as he draws his blaster has never stopped being a satisfying waste of time.

Next week: Dice not included.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part One

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

As I assembled this list, I quickly realized that there was no way I could keep it to a single post and give everything the space it deserved, so I’ll be presenting a new item from this list each week until the debut of the movie on December 20.

Part One: Comic Books

Back in 1977, my first exposure to Star Wars came not from the movie, but from Marvel Comics’ 6 issue adaptation of the film that concluded before I even got to see it in a theatre. This in no way spoiled the experience for me; from the opening minutes, I was still blown away by what I saw on the screen.

However, in many ways, the comics informed my overall conception of Star Wars. In the movie, the lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi is not terribly exciting, but if there is one thing comics know how to stage, it’s a fight scene. The comics’ version of the confrontation does a superior job conveying the epic duel between the old master and corrupted apprentice. Indeed, the moment of Ben’s death as portrayed in the comic is particularly macabre.

Marvel produced well over a hundred issues of Star Wars comics starting three months before A New Hope was released and continuing three years after Return of the Jedi. They are very much of their time, steeped in the styles and tropes of 1970s and 1980’s comics, but the two or three quarters I spent each month to follow the continuing adventures of the “Star Warriors” absolutely made the wait between movies easier to take. Forgotten heroes like Dani and Kiro and Plif the Hoojib and villains like Valance, Lumiya and the Nagai loom nearly as large in my memories of the early days of a galaxy far, far away as Luke, Leia, Han and Vader.

In the 1990’s, starting with the terrific Dark Empire series, Dark Horse Comics continued the licensed comic line and expanded the universe with a whole host of new stories. Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics were the first to visit the Old Republic setting and touched every era of the saga’s past and future. Currently Marvel, which like Lucasfilm is owned by Disney is again producing diverse line of comics which feature our favorite heroes from the movies but have added popular new characters like Dr. Aphra and also revisited some old and infamous favorites from the early days of Marvel’s original Star Wars series.

Over the years, countless Star Wars stories have been told, but I think the best of the comics, with their emphasis on impossible visuals and larger than life action in bite sized chunks, come the closest to recapturing the magic of watching the films. When I think of Star Wars, I’ll never forget sitting in a dark theater watching movies I love, but I also recall afternoons sprawled out on the rug of my parent’s living room floor, eagerly turning the pages of the latest four color classic.

Next week: Your plastic pals who are fun to be with!

 

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Cracking the Jedi Code

Today, “This Week in Aurebesh” celebrates a somewhat surprising third anniversary! I’d like to sincerely thank anyone who has taken time to stop by and check out this silly little corner of Star Wars fandom.

To celebrate the milestone, I’ve translated some writing from Star Wars: The Old Republic that is not in Aurebesh, but still figures prominently in the latest story arc and exploration area of the ancient runes near Ood Bnar’s datacron on the planet Ossus.

When Ossus was released last year, I took a half-hearted stab at translating the runes on my own. I assumed, correctly as it turned out, that the glowing letters probably referred to keywords from the Jedi Code. However, I was stymied by the fact that the words to which the letters refer are not in the same order as they appear in the code; additionally the lines of the code were also out of order on the wall in the initial release of Ossus, making translation even trickier. Later, when the Galaxy’s Edge theme park was opened at Disney World this summer, a translation key for the runes was discovered in merchandise available to visitors.

With this new information and a game update that restored the inscription to its proper order, I was finally able to easily decipher the runes. The inscription clearly refers to important parts of the Jedi Code, but which Jedi Code?

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.

The version above is the Jedi Code most familiar to Star Wars fans, but according to Star Wars lore, the code’s first version was rather less absolute.

Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.

I believe the Ossus inscription is meant to evoke the earlier version of the code since it does not include the negation of emotion, ignorance, passion, etc. Given the age of the ruins of Ossus, this strikes me as an appropriate choice.

Regarding for the language itself, I am not aware of any official name for this alphabet. As with other constructed languages, including SWTOR’s own Zakuulan, it derives from Norse runes. Furthermore, like so many other iconic images in Star Wars, the specific inspiration for this alphabet comes from the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie who included runic inscriptions on a painting of the interior of the temples on Yavin IV in the 1995 book The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. These glyphs would again appear as inscriptions inside the ancient Jedi ruins on Lothal and in the “World between Worlds” in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels. From there, examples of the writing can also be found in promotional material for the upcoming Jedi: Fallen Order video game and in Disney’s Galaxy Edge theme parks.

Most of examples of this writing seen on Rebels and elsewhere cannot be translated into English, but the Ossus inscriptions can, and they function as clever bits of world building that evoke both the spirit and the history of the Jedi and the ancient world of Ossus. A character’s discovery of these runes is only the first step in a journey across Ossus that I highly recommend that every SWTOR player take!

 

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Dantooine, We’re on Dantooine

Before June closes out, I thought I’d slip in under the wire and share some quick thoughts on this summer’s two in-game events.

Dantooine’s Pirate Incursion is the first new recurring event added to the game in many years, and I’d say it’s a solid addition. Like the other events, it’s light on story, but what it lacks in narrative, it makes up in setting. I write this every time we visit a new planet in SWTOR, but Dantooine is another distinct and beautiful world to explore. Don’t ever take for granted the wonderful work the game’s environmental artists and designers do.

The events quests can be neatly divided in two: regular dailies and heroics. The circuit for the dailies will smoothly lead you around the zone, and there is a decent variety of quests which mix combat with exploration. As someone who likes to stop and admire the view and venture off the path for crafting materials, I can still complete the daily patrol quest in under 30 minutes of casual play. I also really enjoy any quest that has me playing as a mouse droid. I can’t explain it.

If you have some patience, skill and gear, the heroics can be soloed, but, really, why would you? Group up with one or more players and they become much quicker and more fun. They can be combat heavy, so be ready to fight.

The weekly meta quest on Dantooine asks players to complete more quests and heroics than are available in a single day, meaning that if you want to complete the weekly, you must visit Dantooine more than once in a week. This is something we’ve seen on Iokath and Ossus. While I cynically understand this is meant to push player engagement in the game, I don’t mind it so much for regular dailies, but for an event I find it annoying. I often use events as an excuse to dust my alts and get them some action with a bite sized time commitment. Combined with the fact that the event currency, unlike all the other event currencies in the game, is character and not legacy based, I essentially feel compelled to run the event on my main characters.

If I have to run the same quests on the same characters every time the event comes around, I can see the Pirate Incursion growing stale, perhaps faster than other events.

Dantooine also has a variety of achievements, some of which can be more easily completed in peacetime than when the actual event is active. Dantooine’s peacetime state is a neat addition to the game. Unlike the testing area on Ilum which is empty when the Gree event is not active or the tunnels which are not accessible at all outside of the Rakghoul Resurgance, players can visit Dantooine any time they want. There are a pair of simple quests to complete and a few scattered hostile mobs, but for the most part, you’ll just encounter farmers going about their day.

Since the advent of level sync, it’s become less possible to visit a planet in more or less complete safety. Sure, there’s no real need to visit Dantooine outside the event, but if you have time to kill, it might be a pleasant alternative to running laps around fleet or jumping on the furniture in your stronghold. One of my fond memories of World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade expansion was when I would just chill out on one of Nagrand’s floating islands and simply enjoy the view. If you’re wondering where to find me while waiting for an operations team to form or a flashpoint queue to pop, look for me relaxing under a tree on Dantooine.

For many players, the meat of these events is the rewards. In that regards, I’d call the Pirate Incursion a mixed bag. The highlights include Quick Vrik, the Ugnaught companion, the Kath Hound mount and pet and an extensive selection of Dantooine themed decorations, but there is nothing I’d really consider a “must have”. I would generously describe the reputation armor sets as “basic” and might be annoyed that they are Bind on Pickup instead of Bind to Legacy, but I can’t see any reason why I’d ever want to buy them anyway. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t dust off the pirate themed armor from Shadow of Revan’s Rishi questline with some bold colors and fancy effects.

Outside of the Cartel Market, there hasn’t been a new crafted or reputation based dye or color crystal added to the game since Knights of the Eternal Throne’s launch, and I wish the Pirate Incursion had given crafters some new fun stuff to make while we wait for Onslaught.

Lady Luck, Please Let the Dice Stay Hot

The Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event has made its yearly return to the Smuggler’s Moon. I don’t really have anything new to add to my previous review of the event. I’m very happy with the new decorations that can be purchased with Golden Certificates, but I was able to buy all I needed with certificates won last year. I’m indifferent to the new companion and without adding a new armor set or mount to the vendor, there really isn’t anything I feel a burning desire to to save up for, so I may not be spending much time clicking slot machines this year.

I don’t doubt that the reason the Dantooine and Nightlife rewards seem sparse is that Bioware’s focus is on Onslaught in the fall, but right now I wish there were more incentives for me to really care about these events.

I will be back later this week with some more Aurebesh. What can I say? It’s summertime! I get distracted when the weather gets nice.

 

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Let the Wookiee Win

Some years ago, I had a brief encounter with Peter Mayhew at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. While waiting for a table at a restaurant near the convention, I noticed someone very, very tall in front of me but didn’t recognize who it was. As he walked away, I saw a distinctive gait and muttered, “Ha! That guy walks just like Chewbacca.” Mayhew turned and cracked a friendly smile, and I was rather embarrassed when I realized it really was him.

It’d be easy to suggest that he was just a big guy dressed as a shag carpet, but I’m quite certain that had someone other than Peter Mayhew been cast, Chewie wouldn’t not have been as beloved and iconic a character. Maybe it was the way he cocked his head or his soulful blue eyes, but Mayhew did more than just wear a costume, he brought a legend to life.

Artwork by Ron Frenz and Tom Palmer, from Marvel Comics’ Star Wars issue 72, 1983.

 

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