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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Crisis on Umbara Review

This week, I’d like to share my review of the Crisis on Umbara flashpoint and story. I’ll divide this post into two sections, the first is spoiler free and the second shall delve deep into spoiler territory.

Part One: Last Train to Umbara

Crisis on Umbara is well done and is everything I want from a flashpoint. The designers did a fantastic job with the new environment, and filled it with a neat variety of new creatures and foes. Crisis is filled many cool moments, from moving through and over the train cars to escaping the crash and exploring the purple, glowing Umbaran terrain with its weird creatures including half-dinosaur, half-mantis predators and an enormous and terrifying iridescent landshark of a boss.

Each boss encounter is distinct and all the fights require some understanding of mechanics, regardless of mode. Solo and Veteran mode are appropriately forgiving, but while I wouldn’t say they are tough, these modes require a bit more personal responsibility on the part of the players than most other flashpoints. I’m okay with that. Crisis’ Solo mode is the first not to include the GSI Support Droid which is so ridiculously powerful that it makes the players irrelevant and we end up more spectators than participants in the action. In my book, this change is a good one, and while I haven’t run solo mode to death, it feels on par with a tougher planetary heroic, which is where I’d imagine it should be.

Master Mode, on the other hand, is no joke; it is easily the most difficult Master Mode Flashpoint in the game. Because of real life concerns, my usual crew hasn’t yet seen the final boss, but so far fights are big and satisfying challenges, as they should be for the toughest mode.

I do have some nits to pick however. As cool as Umbara is, I do feel like it should be darker. While the first third takes place on a high-tech train, and it’s reasonable that the outdoor boss areas be illuminated, I wish the rest of the environment had better evoked the world’s appearance in The Clone Wars where the characters were often seen in silhouette and it seemed monsters could jump out of murky shadows at any moment. Umbara’s shadowy nature is right there in its name, but both Ilum and Imperial Taris are darker, and when I recall how well another flashpoint, Kaon Under Siege used darkness, it makes me think Crisis could’ve used a bit more shadowy atmosphere.

I do want to discuss the rewards. I discovered the hard way that the Umbara stronghold was the first to be released that also did not come with an increase in the cap on the maximum number of strongholds, so I am not yet able to purchase it. Because of my attachment to the other strongholds and the time I put in decorating them, I don’t think I’ll be unlocking Umbara until the cap is raised. Given my fondness for decorating, this is a bit of a bummer.

As for the other rewards that can be purchased with Alliance Recon Data, what we have is nice. I like the armor set, and a friend whose main character is a biochemist was overjoyed to see the return of reusable stims, medpacks and adrenals.

That said, there should be more. The flashpoint currency is character, not legacy based and has a weekly cap, but the value of the currency can vary widely between different characters. If you don’t have biochem as a crafting skill and don’t want (or already have) the stronghold, there is little else worth saving up for. No recipes for other crafters, no weapons, no dyes, no decorations. It is very easy to get to the point where Recon Data becomes useless to players. While I think that should happen eventually, it shouldn’t be after only a run or two.

I am glad to see that the bosses drop decorations, and that the drop rates are not ridiculously low like they are in other flashpoints, but I must say that I’m not at all a fan of the fact that the decos are holograms. I want an actual alien landshark in my stronghold, not a holographic one.

Once again, the achievement rewards are also anemic. Where are the trophies, the titles and other weird stuff to work towards? Crisis on Umbara is the only flashpoint without a trophy decoration. What’s up with that? Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’d rather have a trophy to hang on the wall of my stronghold than 20 Cartel Coins.

I made the same points regarding rewards and achievements in my review of the Iokath dailies. SWTOR has done well with these things before, and I think it’s fair to hold new content to those same standards.

I’d also like to see specific loot attached to the Master Mode version of the flashpoint. Because of the limited use for Alliance Recon Data, there should be extra incentives to run the flashpoint in its toughest mode. Given the 242 gear requirement and difficulty of the encounters, I don’t know what type of gear drops would be appropriate, but if I had a shot at a cool, rare vanity item, I’d gladly run the flashpoint again and again.

Part Two: Who Spoils the Spoilers?

The revelation of the traitor’s identity was probably and unfortunately the worst kept secret in recent SWTOR history. I’m probably being over-cautious to wait more than week before writing about it, but I’m sure there are many folks who don’t follow the SWTOR gossip and news as closely as I do. I figure better safe than sorry.

That said, let’s dive in! I managed to avoid having the traitor’s identity spoiled, but the general level of freak out in my social media feed pretty much insured that the traitor could only be Lana or Theron. Once I started the story, it was clear within the first dialogue scene that it was going to be Theron. So I can’t say I was shocked by the reveal.

Another reason I wasn’t that surprised is because it makes perfect sense that Theron is the traitor. I mean, of course, he is.

I like Theron Shan a lot, but the guy has enough issues to fill a comic book collection, and he chose a profession where betrayal is a part of doing business. First off, if the Outlander has made Dark Side choices or is even a little Sithy, the only surprise should be that it took Theron so long to make the heel turn. Nevertheless, even if your Outlander is like mine and made every Light Side choice, saved every unicorn and hugged every kitten, I buy Theron’s defection too. To him, that Outlander might seem too good to be true, and it’s not a stretch that he would pre-emptively self-sabotage the relationship. Why wouldn’t he? Ever since we first met Theron back during Rise of the Hutt Cartel, it’s been clear that he has chosen to nurse his abandonment and trust issues rather than deal with them.

Screwing things up is kinda what Theron does best, so I don’t think it’s out of bounds that he’d betray the leader of an Alliance he helped build.

I know Theron has many ardent fans, and I write this not to slag him. This stuff is what I like about Theron. It’s what makes him an interesting character. He may think he’s the James Bond of the Star Wars universe, but his Member’s Only jacket and faux-hawk reveal the truth that he’s really just a dork like the rest of us.

And Yet…

Do I think Theron has really betrayed the alliance and the Outlander? No. No, I don’t. There are two or three hints in the Crisis on Umbara story that pretty strongly suggest that he has done all this to infiltrate the mysterious Order. Indeed, going off half-cocked without checking with friends and allies first is another signature Theron Shan move. It’s exactly what he did on Ziost, and I think it’s what he’s doing here. That he wouldn’t let the Outlander know ahead of time makes sense to me given those trust issues I mentioned earlier.

We’re still in the earliest stages of this new story arc, and I’m reluctant to draw too many conclusions. We are certain to learn before long who and what “The Order” is but I’m not sure we have anything to go on at the moment. Beyond the return of Malgus anyway.

I think it might be interesting if the sincerity of Theron’s betrayal hinged on the choices the players has previously made during Knight of the Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne, but I suspect that might be a bit much to ask of both Bioware and the players.

It seems to me that Crisis on Umbara has got folks talking, jump started the next chapter of the story and has me curious to find out what happens next, so I’ve got to give Bioware thumbs up on this. Then again, I would’ve figured Theron for a Hawaiian pizza guy, so what do I know?

 

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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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“Scouting Iokath” Daily Quest Guide

This post is a follow-up to my review of the Iokath Dailies.

Recently I participated in a twitter discussion regarding the dailies on Iokath and mentioned that I’d worked out a quick path for completing the “Scouting Iokath” daily quest. Initially I skipped this quest assuming it was too much running around, but as I got used to traversing the Iokath Expanse. I realized I could get to the scanning points without too much trouble, and I thought I’d put together a visual guide for completing the quest.

While this might look complex at first glance, the trick is realizing that most of the travel is handled by Iokath’s trams and transporters, and the player’s own Quick Travel ability, with only a wee bit of speeder piloting on the side. Getting through the Weapons Factory will require a bit of fighting, but if you’re there anyway to work on other quests, it’s not too bad.

I want to give special thanks to FibroJedi whose screenshots of this daily came in handy while compiling this guide.

Iokath Suggestions

Since I’m on the subject, I thought I’d also make a few suggestions that might improve the questing experience on Iokath.

First and foremost, I think the Monitor and Mouse droid dailies should be revised to be more fun. As it is now, the player spends a lot of time on both quests just waiting. Waiting for the Monitor’s self-inflicted stun to wear off. Waiting as a Mouse droid for mobs to respawn (sometimes three or four times) and ever so slowly whittle down the walker. The Monitor design is really cool. Instead of looking forward to taking control of one, I actively avoid it. The mouse droid daily should be silly and funny, but, in practice, it’s a bore.

I’d like to see a revised set of abilities for the Monitor. They don’t need to be over-powered, and the notion of a major attack coming with a downside is a good one, but stuns are the worst.

As for the Mouse droid, either the self-destruct should do significantly more damage or the droid’s secondary attack should be able to debuff the walker so that it takes more damage from the nearby droids when they agro on it. This debuff could even have a short duration. Having to dart in between the walker’s legs and zap it while it’s fighting other droids could be neat.

The “Colossal Threat” quest should be a separate weekly, much like the “Walking on Hallowed Grounds” weekly on Yavin. In addition, the quest could use better rewards. The Colossus Droid is certainly nowhere near as difficult as the Revanite Walker, but as it is now, I haven’t bothered with it since getting the achievement. If it were a significant source of Power Shards or CXP or had a chance to drop a rare decoration or a pet or a mount, I’m certain there would be more interest in this quest.

Finally I’d like to see some unique quests or achievements based around the command modules that drop from the ops bosses. Having something to do or shoot for while controlling the Machine Gods out in the expanse could be fun. I think coming around a corner and seeing a player controlled Tyth raging in battle should not at all be a rare occurrence!

We will return to our regularly schedule programming next week!

 

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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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Czerka: Titans of Industry, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iokath Dailies: The Good, the Bad and the Walkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update

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

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

The beams will vex me no more! NO MORE!

 

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

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

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

Leia’s Buns

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

Padme’s Braids

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

Anakin’s Shag

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

Rey’s Triple Buns

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

Cassian’s ‘Stache and Scruff

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

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

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

SWTOR’s 2017 Road Map

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

 

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