A Mote of Dust Suspended in a Sunbeam

Hello there. This past month was busy, and I confess the end of expansion lull has me logging on a bit less these days, so I’ve not been as diligent in my blogging as perhaps I should.

To get back into the swing of things, this week’s recreation is fairly straight forward. This sign with its large planetary graphic is probably most familiar to Republic players who keep up with the Black Hole Weekly since it can be seen by the irradiated zone near the Hyper Matter Tower. It also can be found elsewhere around the galaxy and as a stronghold decoration.

The sign’s content and layout echo numerous others around the game. The use of prominent and seemingly random double letters is common element in many, many, many other signs we’ve seen, as is the featured use of the “D” glyph, Dorn. The planet symbol is also a recurring motif. The awkward English translation is also not uncommon. Threepio is most assuredly disappointed, but this sort of thing must be expected when working with alien languages. That said, even the Aurebesh on display here is somewhat distorted. The “Q” glyph, Qek has been slightly truncated with the downward stroke on the right side of the letter trimmed off, probably to make it fit on the sign. The kerning of the original Aurebesh font is pretty sloppy, so reshaping letters for design reasons seems fair.

It’s Fine. We’re Fine.

There has been a flurry of Star Wars news recently, and I thought I’d toss in my two truguts.

First up, SWTOR released game update 5.7: Legacy of the Creators. The Scyva encounter is neat and not too rough on storymode. If you can do Nahut, learning Scyva should be easy. Since I’ve only completed the Fallen Empire story on two characters, neither of which are a Smuggler or Inquisitor, I have not yet tried the new story content. That I haven’t been running all my characters through the story should not be taken as criticism. I think Breaking Bad is one of the best TV shows ever made, but I’ve still only seen most episodes once. When it comes to alts, I tend to run through the story super-duper casually: maybe a chapter once a week, sometimes not even on the same character. I’m happy to run stuff at my own pace, and I’m not ever going to spacebar-mash my way through just to be caught up. However, my story main is my Consular, and she is definitely feeling a little left out, but I’m certain Tharan Cedrax’s return will be EPIC. In the meantime, I am eagerly anticipating the next road map.

This week also saw the reveal of the long awaited or perhaps over-due trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story. I won’t go too deep, since predicting anything about a movie from its trailer is a fool’s errand. Any Star Wars fan with access to the internet knows that this movie has seen more than its fair share of behind the scenes drama, and I’m reluctant to get too hyped about a movie that may turn out to be a total mess. My expectations are not high, but Ron Howard is a reliable and experienced director who knows how to work within different genres, so I’m not without hope. I’m also down with Alden Ehrenreich. He looks as much like Harrison Ford as River Phoenix did, and what snippets of him we get in the trailer do seem to capture Han Solo’s mix of cockiness and dumb-assery, so I’ve got no issue there. And, c’mon, Donald Glover as Lando? Hell, yes.

And, if nothing else, the trailer confirms that the Terror from Beyond is canon.

Finally, it was also announced that David Benioff and D.B Weiss will be writing and producing some Star Wars movies. As a long time Game of Thrones hate watcher, I’m less than psyched, but I can see why they might be appropriate picks for a big franchise like this. There are a lot of Star Wars stories out there, and I don’t have to love them all. I’ll like what I like, and not worry about the rest.

 

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Filed under Aurebesh to English, General Star Wars, General SWTOR, KotET

Always in Motion is the Future: Five Predictions for 2018

The New Year is traditionally a time to look forward, and after reading Shintar’s predictions for 2018, I thought I could share a few of my own. However, as anyone knows me can attest, I am terrible at predicting the future. “I’m sure midi-chlorians will make sense in context.” “Don’t be silly, they’d never go a whole expansion without releasing new group content.” “Well, of course Rey is a Kenobi. It’s obvious!” Therefore I thought it best to free myself from the constraint of actually trying to be right and instead base my predictions on a reality where time, money and resources are no object and my own fickle fancies guide the way. So here are my Dumb Top Five predictions for SWTOR in 2018.

Faction, Schmaction

The most interesting choice in the War for Iokath story was getting to ally with either the Republic or Sith regardless of your actual faction. My Bounty Hunter had long felt on the wrong side of things, so it was very satisfying when she was presented with the opportunity to stick it to the Sith Empire. So far this choice hasn’t affected anything outside of Iokath, but this year, if we’re really moving back towards a Republic vs. Sith dynamic, let’s crank the faction choice knob all the way to eleven. Let’s have Sith chilling on Tython before they hunt down the remnants of the Dark Council; Jedi on Dromund Kaas meditating on how to overthrow the Republic; and Smugglers and Agents going wherever the heck they want. I have no idea what impact faction switching would have on grouping, guilds and PVP, I’m just making the predictions. I leave logistics to the people who know what they’re doing.

Legacy Avengers

One of the things I like about SWTOR is the notion that all eight of the original class stories happened in parallel and occasionally crossed over into each other. The Jedi Knight inadvertently created a job opening for the Sith Warrior, Mako and Kaliyo popped by other classes’ stories, and the Republic and Sith characters probably just missed bumping into each other on Makeb. The introduction of the Legacy family tree cemented in my mind the hope that one day my characters would actually get to meet “on screen.” Who wouldn’t want to watch their Smuggler flirt with their Consular, and their Agent butt heads with their Inquisitor? Again, details are for little people. I just want to see Havoc Squad, the Jedi Battlemaster, the Barsen’thor, and the Butcher’s Bane assemble to fight some massive threat to the galaxy, or a least a giant laser beam shooting from the sky.

True Romance

Speaking of the original stories, the choice of which companion was adventuring with the hero was usually up to the players. Starting with Knights of the Fallen Empire, the story nearly always dictates which companion is along for the ride. I don’t mind this since forcing interactions with different personalities is a good way to explore your own character’s… character, but it’s also nice to adventure with your best bud or main squeeze. While I trust that the drip of returning companion will become a torrent this year, I do hope that the romances are not shoved aside in the name of getting everyone back into the Crew Skill Queue. Hopefully the romances won’t just be a couple lines of dialogue here and there, but a whole story or chapter where the Outlander and their lover (whoever it is) have an adventure together. Obviously there ought to be a little bit of mushy stuff, but the focus should be on banter (the cheesier the better) and rescuing each other from improbable danger while reaffirming how awesome each other are.

All You Need is Porg

We need Porg pets, obviously, with flying and waddling variants, of course. A Porg combat companion to help with dailies speaks for itself. I expect a Porg Swarm regen toy that calls down a tornado of Porgs to swirl around my character. Not enough Porgs for you? Don’t worry; I’m just getting started. I demand an assault cannon that fires rocket propelled, armor-piercing Porgs at my foes. And if my Operations team is not fighting a fifty-foot tall, dread-corrupted Porg by the end of the expansion, I’ll consider the year a failure. Get on it, Bioware!

Assault Cannons, Dualsabers and Rifles, Oh My!

The quality of cut scenes in Knights of the Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne has been excellent and really showcase how cool Bioware can make our characters look. However, one thing hasn’t changed over the years. Whenever a Trooper or an Agent needs a weapon in a cut scene, they drop their bad-ass assault cannons and rifles, and instead draw the same dinky pistols they’ve had since level one. As for Shadows and Assassins, holding their dualsabers like a single saber often leads to some very awkward moments of potential self-mutilation. Let 2018 be the year we start seeing the complete variety of weapons that we have in play in the story’s cut scenes.

This post has been especially silly, but this last point is one thing I really do hope to see sooner rather than later. I realize this is also no small request. They’d be going from animating two types of weapons in cut scenes to as many as five (or even seven if they include dual wielders). But I think it would be worth it. Whether you dumped a bucket of credits on the GTN, burned all your cartel coins on the CM, busted your hump to earn it in game or even if you just like the quest reward you got back on Ord or Hutta, everyone should get to show off their favorite toy when the game is working its hardest to show off what it can do.

Well, that was pretty easy. While I expect to go zero for five again this year, you can rest assured that if I somehow back into getting even one thing right this time around, I’ll be claiming all the credit. All right, 2018, let’s do it!

 

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The Last Jedi Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Got Blue Milk?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Three Tomatoes

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

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

5.5: United Forces

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

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

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

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

5.6: A Traitor Among the Chiss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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These Astro-Droids Are Getting Quite Out of Hand

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

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

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

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

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

 

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A Little Splash of Color: Top Five Non-Cartel Market Dyes

Patch 5.5 didn’t come with much in the way of content, but it did include several quality of life improvements including a most welcome increase in the number of Strongholds and a revised Cartel Market interface. The most significant change to the Cartel Market has been the addition of many more direct sale items, most notably dozens of dye modules that previously were only rarely available directly from the Market or randomly from packs. For anyone looking to customize their characters this is a very nice change indeed.

However, before dropping Cartel Coins on a fancy dye module, take a look at some of the other options out there. You can often find something that looks just as good if not better for a fraction of the GTN cost without spending even a single Cartel Coin. To that end, I thought I’d share, in no particular order, a dumb top five list of my favorite non-Cartel Market dyes.

Dark Red and Black

I’ll just come right out and say it: Black/Black is boring. Yeah, ninjas are cool but black works best with contrast, even if it’s subtle. Darth Maul’s red skin stands out against his black tunic, and while Darth Vader is armored head to toe in black, he is a case study in creating contrast by mixing flat and glossy tones. Artificers have numerous choices in creating dyes that mix black with other colors including blue, red, gray and even a creepy pale yellow. But I’ll highlight Dark Red and Black which I think is the best alternative to black/black, especially for Sithy characters. The recipe for this dye module can be purchased by characters of Champion reputation rank from the Coalition Forces vendor on Yavin IV, and requires Artifice of skill level 500.

White and Light Gray

Next up is an affordable alternative to White/White. Unless you’re looking to be ghostly white, this dye module should do the trick, assuming it’s not after labor day. This recipe can be learned from the Artifice trainer at skill level 520. If you want to dye one piece of gear all one color, say white gloves or black boots, crafted dyes are the way to go. It’s not at all unusual for the either primary or secondary colors to not register much or even at all on some pieces of gear, and you can easily get the look you want with little expense or trouble.

Secondary Pale Brown

I am a big fan of the single color primary and secondary dye modules. These dyes can make either subtle or dramatic changes that still maintain the original look of the outfit to which they are applied. I’m giving the award to the Secondary Pale Brown Dye Module which can add some faded gold highlights that make details on some outfits pop. But the other dyes of this type can personalize a suit of trooper armor or complete the look of a Corellian Green Jedi. Primary and secondary dye modules of deep green, deep purple, light orange, medium gray and pale brown can be learned from the Artifice trainer at various skill levels.

Deep Brown and Deep Red

Maybe because it’s autumn, but the color red is getting a lot of love on this list. I thought about picking another dye module, but I really do think these warm colors go well together. I’ve used them on an Iron Man cosplay as well as smuggler jackets and bounty hunter armor. The recipe for this module can be learned from the Bounty Broker’s Association reputation vendor in the Cartel Bazaar section of both Fleets and requires Artifice skill level 500 and costs 50 Completed Bounty Contracts.

White and Deep Red

The last dye on my list is not crafted but can be purchased for the ridiculously low price of 5000 credits from the security key vendor on both Fleets. Whether you do it for the account security, the extra Cartel Coins or just easy access to a vendor when you zone into Fleet, I highly recommend anyone who is playing to pick up a security key if they can. As for the dye, my Canadian upbringing may be showing, but this is truly one of my favorites. I’ve lost track of how many members of Havoc Squad are wearing these colors. It may be too strong a contrast, but when it works, it works really well.

Even leaving aside the ability to craft useful relics and the classic color crystals, Artifice is still my favorite Crew Skill. Whenever I’m looking to customize a character’s look, I am nearly always able to find a crafted dye module that fits the bill. That I can do it without spending any cartel coins or millions of credits on the GTN is pretty sweet. Swtorista created a comprehensive guide to crafting dye modules as part of her excellent Academy series, and if you’re interested in much more detail than I can provide, check it out!

 

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Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Road Maps!

Since I had some time to kill while waiting for the new Star Wars trailer, I figured I’d jot down some thoughts on SWTOR’s latest roadmap, as well some other related news that came out of this week’s Twitch chat and NYC Cantina.

My first impression was very positive. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it are always good things. And being exciting about what is to come makes it even better. My biggest frustration with Knights of the Eternal Throne has been the gaps between new content and not knowing when they’d be filled We’re still well over a month away from the next chapter in the story of Theron’s betrayal, and it’s disappointing to learn that the Gods from the Machine Operation will not conclude this year. I’m psyched to see what happens on Copero and the new op has been really fun so far, but I do feel like content has been released at a snail’s pace this year.

Server Mergers

Of course, the big changes coming early next month are the server mergers. These have been long anticipated and truthfully long needed. Personally, I am nervous about them. I play on Ebon Hawk, and it has been a remarkably chill place to call home. I worry that the new Star Forge server won’t be as relaxed and welcoming to new players. And the possibility of losing character names is not great either. If I have to rename any of my favorite characters, I will be pretty grumpy about it.

That said, the mergers are necessary. Those low population servers are booby traps for new players. Discovering that you can count the Fleet population on one hand, that flashpoint queues take hours to pop even at peak times and that the GTN is devoid of anything of value completely sucks. The need for multiple servers is outdated for even much more popular games, and I can’t fault SWTOR for ditching barren servers so that new players will have the chance to actually interact with others if they choose.

It will be up to the players to create a server identity worth being proud of. Should we cross paths, gentle reader, I promise I won’t freak out if you want to watch the cut scenes, don’t know the fights or want to take on a bonus boss.

Devoting as Much Space to the Hot Prospect/Satele Shan Thing as it Deserves

All’s well that ends well.

Galactic Command

The Galactic Command system has been the cause of much consternation, and living through its growing pains wasn’t always great, but I think the Bioware team has done a good job iterating it into a pretty good place, with the changes to come helping to smooth out more rough edges. There are a change or two more I’d like to see, but I suspect the next expansion/gear reset will go much smoother.

One of the things about Command XP has been that it has been something of moving target. Uprisings, PVP, Flashpoint and Ops, and dailies have all seen their time in the spotlight as the best way to gain CXP. I doubt it was intentional, but I do think this has worked out to be a good thing and has kept things a bit fresher for folks whenever they want to farm up some Command levels. Going forward, I hope this is something Bioware keeps in mind.

Cuts, Copero and Companions

Bioware dropped more hints about the content to come this week beyond the road map. The most striking has been the teaser revealing Theron’s new look. I almost feel bad for mocking his faux-hawk a few weeks ago. Good ol’ Theron; he’s always one for rash decisions.

I get the same vibe from the betrayal story as I did from “Forged Alliances” at the end of The Rise of the Hutt Cartel, so it seems likely that we’re building to a cliff-hanger for the next expansion. However, I imagine the soonest we see a new expansion would be early summer.

On the way, I’m always happy to visit new flashpoints. Copero’s design takes elements from Makeb, Alderaan, and Rakata Prime but assembles them in way that makes it feel unique. The Chiss are probably the Expanded Universe’s most enduring contribution to Star Wars lore, and I’m looking forward to exploring their culture more.

During the SWTOR team’s twitch chat last week, lead writer Charles Boyd teased the return of many still missing companions, name dropping most but not all (Come home, Nadia!), and this is most welcome and overdue news. One of my hopes for the next expansion is to see more focus on those beloved but side-lined characters and romances that haven’t seen much daylight since launch.

Catch me in the right mood and I’ll grouse that I think this expansion will probably end more or less in a state in which it should’ve launched. That may overstate things, and I’ve very much welcomed the news we’ve had this week. I hope the development teams remains engaged with the community. Since I’m eagerly awaiting halftime of tonight’s football game, I think it’s fair to borrow a sport’s metaphor: keep the chains moving, guys!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They Say It’s My Birthday

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

 

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Back in Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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