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Filed under General Star Wars
I liked Rogue One a lot, but I can’t say I loved it. It’s interesting that this is a movie that George Lucas would never have made. It was the mission of the old Expanded Universe to tell stories like this (indeed, this very story had been told several different ways already), but for me Star Wars was always a cinematic experience; neither the books nor even my beloved comics were ever fully able to capture that feeling of watching Star Wars on the big screen, nevertheless I cannot deny that Rogue One does a good job of getting me there.
The things that held it back for me seem to be pretty common complaints. I got used to the “new” Tarkin in an Okay-Dick-Sargent-is-now-playing-Darrin kind of way, but the second computer generated cameo took me out of the moment. I didn’t think “Hey! It’s Princess Leia!” Instead it was, “Oh, that’s CGI Leia.” The Force Awakens and Rogue One end on almost identical beats, but I don’t feel like’s Leia’s appearance matched the power of Luke’s. On an extremely nitpicky note, I also felt like Vader was just a little off. Maybe it was the way the helmet was filmed, but it seemed like his neck was too thick.
I think a fair argument can be made that Rogue One leans too heavily into the fan service, but as one of those fans, I’m not going to complain. I do think it keeps the movie from standing on its own. I would not suggest to someone who has never seen Star Wars that they should watch Rogue One before Episode 4.
Probably the most damning thing I could say is that Rogue One kind of felt like a Marvel movie: Jyn’s arc is straight from the Tony Stark playbook, the villain was the least interesting character, and Vader fills the role of Loki. I was left feeling like many of the characters’ best stories happened before the movie. Who wouldn’t want to watch a Baze and Chirrut buddy movie? Or see Jyn’s life on the run with Saw Gerrera? And I can even imagine a paranoid workplace drama featuring Galen, Bodhi and Krennic. I thought the cast was very good, but a bit under-used and part of me wishes I could’ve seen them in a story where I didn’t already know how it ends. That’s probably where the Expanded Universe might have had an edge over Disney. A comic book series featuring Cassian Andor, Rebel Spy and his sassy droid would’ve made perfect sense back in the day.
All that said, oh, what fun! My previous complaint about the CGI characters aside, the effects were great. Every single shot of the Death Star was terrifying. The sight of a Star Destroyer looming over Jedha sums up the Empire perfectly. The climatic battle in space and on the planet was amazing. And I will never, ever complain about new types of Stormtroopers. I even bought my first Black Series figure to get a Scarif Trooper since I couldn’t find a regular size version. No regrets.
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Filed under General Star Wars
Just a quick post this week (it’s that time of year), but here is a look through the targeting scope of the great Aric Jorgan from KotFE’s chapter 11, “Disavowed” in which everyone’s favorite Cathar finally gets to show off his much vaunted skills as a sniper.
Unlike the view through HK’s optical sensors, the information displayed here is much more economically presented with significantly less editorializing on the target’s potential status as a meatbag.
The translation was straightforward, but there are a couple non-standard bits of Aurebesh. The comma symbol is used in the numbers, but I substituted decimal points since that seems to make more sense in context.
The krenth (kh) and onith (eo) symbols are used as angle brackets on account of how the font handles those symbols. Given that the Aurebesh ligatures are almost never properly used, I’m sure they’re at least glad to see the light of day for a change.
I wrote this entry while listening to Bioware’s latest Producer Livestream during which they discussed upcoming changes to the Galactic Command system. There are details to come, but since this week’s post is short, I might as well toss in my two credits. I’m most curious to know how many Command Tokens and Unassembled Components will be needed to buy gear. Assuming that number isn’t ridiculous, I think these are very positive changes, targeting the people, raiders and PVPers, who need certainty in gearing the most, while preserving the benefits of the system for everyone else. If you do run operations or compete in pvp, gearing alts and off-specs should also be easier. We’ll still be able to throw tokens at fresh 70’s, but I imagine they will still need to get a few Command Levels before they can cash them in. Given how quickly the first few levels come, I don’t think this is too much to ask. I also like the changes to how tokens will be dropping since it may at last encourage folks to raid places other than Eternity Vault and Karagga’s Palace.
All that said, while I think these changes to gearing are good, I’m still eagerly waiting for some place new to use that gear.
That’s all for now. Have a Rogue One-derful weekend, everyone!
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Filed under Aurebesh to English, KotET, KotFE
With a week or so of the new expansion under my belt, I’d like to share some first impressions of Knights of the Eternal Throne. To folks who haven’t finished or started yet, fear not, I promise to avoid spoilers.
Following up on the events of Knights of the Fallen Empire, the nine-chapter conclusion is a terrific ride. Once again, Bioware has crafted a story where you get to be the center of a massive Star Wars adventure. The scope is epic, and the stakes couldn’t be higher, but the drama stays focused on the characters. I’m not embarrassed to admit I got choked up a couple times and sat at the edge of my seat during the climax. While not everything is explained and a few plot threads dangle, the major characters and story beats come to an extremely satisfying conclusion. If you enjoyed the previous chapters, it’s worth hopping on to see how it all ends.
Most of the classes have received some tweaking and several abilities have been revised or replaced with others. Operatives’ new ability to throw ninja throwing stars already feels like something they should’ve been able to do from day one. However, I already miss some of the other old animations. Flame thrower is such an iconic Bounty Hunter ability that not only was Boba Fett shown shooting fire on both his first action figure card and poster but it is also the icon for SWTOR’s Bounty Hunter class. The Jedi Knight’s and Sith Warrior signature channeled attacks have also been replaced with instant abilities. Mechanically, the Jedi’s Blade Dance and the Sith’s Ravage were the same thing, but the animations boldly set the classes apart: the Jedi’s attack was acrobatic and precise and the Sith’s was an overwhelming display of power. The new animations are nice, but they just don’t compare. I understand that these changes were made in the interest of giving melee classes more mobility, but from an aesthetics point of view, I can’t help but feel like something has been lost.
And while Mercenary Bounty Hunters can still use Death from Above, my Powertech has had it replaced with a move a friend has dubbed “Backpack of Doom.” In this case, the change strikes me as a solution to a problem I’m not really sure exists. I’ve always described Death from Above as my all time favorite MMORPG button to press, and I’m disappointed that the Bounty Hunter I play can no longer blast into the air and rain down missiles on her foes.
Upon reaching level 70, characters will unlock the Galactic Command interface, which provides a wide array of activities in which to participate and the framework from which gear upgrades are now earned. The loot boxes with random rewards have been the cause of much uproar, but I can’t say it’s bothered me too much. After a week and a half, between crafting and drops from the boxes, I feel like my character is appropriately geared considering how early into the expansion it is.
The transition to Galactic Command has been a shock to be sure, but I think it’s worth pointing out that the gearing system we had during KotFE was outright terrible. That we could farm content that ran the entire gamut from trivial to easy for 220 gear every week, and best-in-slot gear two out of every eight weeks was horrible design. It had the net result of rending every other bit of content irrelevant. Crafting and flashpoints and storymode ops (some of which are harder than HM Eternity Vault and Karagga’s Palace) yielded worse gear, so why bother? As for other Hard Mode Operations, there was no incentive to attempt tougher content. Why spend hours banging your head against Hard Mode bosses for gear you can get for free elsewhere? I’m not blaming the players for taking advantage; heck, I got my 224 mainhand from Soa just like you did, but I won’t fault Bioware for wanting to move away from that system.
Is Galactic Command the solution? I don’t know, but I’d argue it is a step in the right direction. Players can participate in whatever content they like, and still work towards rewards whether their thing is farming heroics or wiping on HM Revan. Yes, there are flaws in the system. It’s not friendly to off-specs and alts; for now crafting is going to have to cover those gaps. And you have to feel bad for folks on cold streaks. A friend has opened twice as many crates as me, but is still waiting on her first set piece. That’s just not fun. In addition I truly believe teams running Hard Mode content beyond EV and KP should have more control over how their group gears up since they are actually doing stuff where that loot matters. However, these are not insoluble problems that require scrapping the entire Galactic Command system.
The last thing about Galactic Command upon which I want to comment is in regard to the Galactic Command XP boosts. It’s not my place to tell people how to spend their money or cartel coins, but I will not be buying any. Having to pay extra on top of my subscription to maximize GC advancement is something I simply refuse to do. These boosts are something more than cosmetics or conveniences, and I think everyone knows that.
I’ve only just dipped my toes into SWTOR’s latest group content, Uprisings, but so far they are a blast. These are flashpoints without the fluff. They are intense and fun with hilariously over the top power-ups and genuinely neat boss fights. So far the best part for me has been how great it is again to be discovering challenges where I have no idea what the junk is going on. Learning fights, getting lost and screwing up with friends is a great way to pass the time in an MMO.
I’ve also tried a few story chapters in Veteran mode and was pleasantly surprised how challenging they are. I expected that they’d be nothing more than non-face roll mode but quickly learned that I couldn’t spam AOE on every pack and expect to survive. I had to use my cool downs and play smart to finish many fights. I’m truly looking forward to learning these a bit more.
As I write this, it is a weird time for SWTOR. For the first time, I’m not really sure what to expect of the game next year. Beyond more Uprisings, Bioware has been frustratingly coy about their plans. With previous expansions, I felt like I knew what to expect in the months ahead. I don’t have the impression that more story is coming anytime soon, and “operations” remains “the word that must not be spoken.” Uprisings are great, and I expect I’ll get some mileage out of replaying chapters on increased difficulties, but I’ve got to wonder how long that stuff will hold my interest. It really is long past time that Bioware let the players in on their roadmap for the game in the coming year. The ball is in your court, Bioware. No pressure.
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Filed under KotET
Anyone familiar with the Aurebesh will have no doubt encountered many signs in the game that seem to defy decryption. Sometimes glyphs are shaped unusually, often letters are inverted, ligatures appear where they shouldn’t, and the whole simply doesn’t make sense. This is clearly not Aurebesh according to Hoyle.
And that’s because it isn’t. Nevertheless many of these signs can still be translated; you just need to try a different font. That font is Erik Schroeder’s Galactic Basic. In the course of his fascinating and extensive research into decoding the writing seen in Return of the Jedi, Schroeder discovered that the glyphs seen in the movie came from a design for alien writing (seen below) created by the great Joe Johnston at ILM in 1976. These symbols popped up in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back before being seen prominently as the language used in the scan of the shuttlecraft Tydirium.
I assume that the original Aurebesh was designed using low resolution captures from the movies, but Galactic Basic was derived from Johnston’s original glyphs. While Aurebesh has become the official font, Galactic Basic more accurately recreates what appeared on screen. Even though the two fonts share some similarities, there are differences that render them mostly incompatible.
Once you know what to look for, it’s easy to tell which font is being used, and it adds meaning to a whole bunch of signage in the game. From an in-universe standpoint, I would explain the differences as simply two related languages that use many of the same letters, such as English and French. A great many characters in Star Wars lore are polyglots, so it doesn’t strike me as odd that we encounter variations in similar languages across the galaxy. However, for simplicity’s sake I consider both to be Aurebesh since that is the canonical name for this writing and that both were inspired by the same source material.
This sign can be found in several places across the galaxy, most prominently in the Bounty Brokers Association’s section of the Fleets’ Cartel Bazaars, Hutta, Ord Mantell and even Ziost. Unlike the versions seen elsewhere, the sign on Ord Mantell does not have horizontally flipped side panels, so it at least can be read right to left.
BHG is almost certainly the Bounty Hunter’s Guild run by the Mandalorians. A Mandalorian crest, which first appeared on Boba Fett’s armor, appears on the right and center panels. The central display is dominated by a list of bounties with charming, Star Warsy names. The rewards for each bounty is written in both Aurebesh numbering formats: the standard numerals and “binary” dots and dashes. The right panel includes rules for hyperspace pursuit and the left pinpoints the location of another bounty, although most of the text, including the target’s last name, is too low resolution to clearly read.
This post was written as I downloaded the latest patch, but I hope have some first impressions of Knights of the Eternal Throne next week.
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Filed under Aurebesh to English
Like many of us, I am part Wookiee, so I’m taking it easy this week to celebrate Life Day with family on Kashyyyk. In honor of Black Friday I’d like to shine a light on my favorite Aurebesh sign in the game. This abstracted, three-eyed alien could not be happier about the SALE proclaimed atop the sign. That this simple yet clever poster is not available as a stronghold decoration makes me sad. Just sayin’.
Safe travels and happy eating, everyone! I’ll see you on the other side of Knights of the Eternal Throne!
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Filed under Aurebesh to English
Last month, Bioware announced that with the launch of Knights of the Eternal Throne they will do away with all commendation currencies and convert any accumulated crystals and Warzone Comms into credits:
As we have discussed previously, Warzone Commendations and Commendation Crystals are being removed from the game with Knights of the Eternal Throne. Our intention is that all of these currencies will be converted into credits on 11/29 when early access starts. Here are the conversion rates for each currency:
1 Warzone Commendation = 50 Credits
1 Common Crystal = 500 credits
1 Glowing Crystal = 1,000 credits
1 Radiant Crystal = 1,500 credits
Upon logging in on 11/29 each of these currencies will be completely removed from the game and the appropriate credits will have been granted to each character on your account. Note that there is a 2 million credit per character limit on this conversion. Please check the conversion table above, if you would earn more than 2 million credits on a character, we recommend that you spend the appropriate currency before that time so that it is not lost. If you have any questions about this conversion, let us know.
I don’t know all the details of the transition from crystals to credits, so take everything you’re about to read with a grain of salt, especially if you’re on a low population server. But I can suggest some options for preparing for the upcoming conversion.
This is the easiest way to go. No muss, no fuss and all your characters will find some extra walking around cash in their pockets on the 29th. With the removal of tokens and commendations, I suspect we may have to buy more things with credits during KotET than we’ve been used to. In the meantime this cash infusion will probably cause GTN prices to jump in the short term, so the extra credits might come in handy
I can think of a couple circumstances in which I’d suggest spending at least a few comms and crystals. Preferred status players who are at their credit limit will likely see these credits go straight into their escrow and not receive any benefit, so they might as well burn their crystals now.
It’s also possible to exceed the 2 million credit limit. To do so, you’d need to max out all of the crystal caps and have 5000 Warzone Commendations or be sitting on 40,000 WZ comms. That’s well within the realm of possibility for many players. To them, I’d at least recommend spending down to the limit.
Silas Fleetfire, the Smuggled Supplies Vendor who can be found on Odessen and Darvannis will trade you companion gifts and alliance crates for common crystals. Bioware has said that we will be able to buy companion gifts for credits in the future, but that the credit cost will be high since Command Crates are meant to provide a regular source of gifts. Even if the price for the rank 6 gifts is at the conversion ratio of 12,500 credits, it couldn’t hurt to stock up on specific gifts for that companion whose return you’ve been patiently waiting.
At the moment, Companion gifts still have high value on the GTN, so if you want to work the market, you can probably get a better return on those crystals right now.
The few non-gear options that cost Glowing and Radiant Crystals are Exotic Isotope Stabilizers and Dark Matter Catalysts, which are also sold by Silas. These crafting materials are still moving on the GTN, although their prices have dropped in the last few weeks as folks clear out their inventories. I suspect there will be less demand for them after the expansion. However, Exotic Isotope Stabilizers can currently be used to make Dark Projects, which can be traded for starship decorations. I imagine the decorations and projects might be good investments even after 5.0.
There are three vendors trading common crystals for legacy armor sets. The Adaptive Gear Vendors in the Supplies section of the Imperial and Republic fleets offer many of the iconic, faction specific class sets from launch, and the Black Market Goods vendor in the Underworld Logistics section of your Alliance base on Odessen sells the Sion set. There is bound to be a look to suit most tastes, and a good looking legacy set or two to trade around will always come in handy.
Credits and utility can only get you so far. Decorations are where it’s really at. The Data Crystal Decorations vendors on the fleet hubs sell a variety of Rakata themed decorations. I particularly recommend the yellow and blue hanging lights. The Black Market Goods vendor of your Alliance base on Odessen also has decorations on offer including the beloved and battered stolen shuttle you’ve flown all over the galaxy during KotFE.
That vendor also has some miniature space ships for sale. Who doesn’t want a tiny Gravestone following them around everywhere? Not you, I bet!
The Alliance Vehicle Engineer in the Military Hangar on Odessen has a couple unique mounts for sale. And don’t forget the Common Data Crystal Vendors who can be found on Ilum, Section X and the Black Hole. They will take your green crystals for a couple more mounts. I’ve always thought the red Longspur Blaze was pretty slick.
You might also want to build up a stash of Alliance Crates. I can’t say for certain if these will still be rewarded from max level heroics. I assume they will be, but it never hurts to have a few extra on hand.
If you’ve got Warzone Commendations on hand, then you’ve got tons of options. With the removal of Expertise, War Hero crystals will soon give Mastery, and you can buy many different classic color crystals from the PvP Items vendors on fleet. I don’t know if Critical, Mastery or Power crystals will be best in slot at level 70, but I’ll wager that the difference between the three will be so minor that you can pick the color you want and it will be perfectly fine.
I also suggest grabbing a PVP class set or two if you can afford it. These armors’ set bonuses will function in bolstered or level synced environments such as flashpoints and storymode Operations, so they’ll certainly remain useful for leveling and gearing up at max level.
There is also the PvP Weapons vendor on fleet with some unique low level, modable weapons. They’re BOP, but you might find a look you like.
If you’d just like to maximize the GTN value of your excess WZ comms, your best bet is to convert them to Jawa Scrap. Crafting materials wills always be in demand especially during crafting heavy Conquest weeks.
Finally, pay a visit to the Starfighter & PVP Decoration Vendor in your fleet’s Strongholds and Crew Skills section. They offer a wide variety of decorations that you can get for WZ comms. These decorations are not bound, so they can be traded and sold. But, really, if you don’t have a Custom Huttball Stand in your stronghold or guild ship, you’re doing it wrong.
In the end, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to spend your crystals and comms. Most of this stuff will still be available for credits after the expansion, and credits have never really been hard to come by. However, if you fancy the look of the level 65 armor or weapons from the PVP or data crystal vendors, you might want to grab them now, since that stuff has been cycled off the vendors after the launch of previous expansions.
When the Dark vs. Light Event was first teased I was pretty excited. I am a veteran of all the SWTOR events going back to the original Rakghoul Pandemic in 2012, and because it’s been a couple years since Bioware has introduced a new event, I hoped we might see something new.
When the details were announced, however, those hopes were dashed. The Dark vs. Light event is clearly not like the Rakghoul, Gree or even Bounty Broker events. Given that we’re in the closing days of the expansion, I realized that DvL event was actually this year’s version of the Epic Story Boost, in which the material rewards replaced x12 class experience.
Once I accepted that, I decided to give it a go. There were many in my guild looking to reach Eternal and Legendary levels, and we worked together to reach those goals. Usually our group activity is dictated by the ops rotation or conquest objectives, so it was nice to leave that aside for a bit and do a little bit of everything else for a change.
While the list of objectives seemed long at first glance, by setting modest weekly goals and treating it like a marathon rather than a sprint, I found I could knock out achievements at a steady clip. Progressing eight characters to level 50 was the most time consuming part, but with the complete Victorious Pioneer armor, it wasn’t too bad. To keep things fresh, I made an effort to level each character in different ways: story, flashpoints, pvp, space missions, etc. For the one character that had to complete the story, I revisited my very first character’s class, which I hadn’t looked at since launch. It was neat to play it again with fresh eyes. However, of all the new characters I created, I really only connected with that one. Since I did the event on my home server, many of the characters I created were deleted to make room for the next one to level.
Without a doubt, banging out the world bosses, operations and Hard Mode Flashpoints was the most fun part of the event because I could run those things with guild mates. I honestly feel bad for anyone who chose to do that stuff on their own. Doing group content with friends is the best part of the MMO experience, and I’m fortunate that I play with a great group of folks who are always willing to help each other out. At this point we’ve got Hard Mode Blood Hunt down and can easily clear all the world bosses in one night.
The rewards have been nice. The experience boost armor makes leveling a breeze, and I think it’s a neat look for any Agent. The loot boxes have been okay. I can’t say I received anything ground breaking (a black/black dye was my rarest prize), but neither was I counting on anything in particular. My biggest surprise was how rare the Tunings turned out to be. It’s disappointing to get all the way to Legendary and not be lucky enough to get an item that was promoted as an exclusive reward of the event. Of all the guild mates that I’ve heard from, only one got a Tuning. It’s a bit of a drag.
The other rewards yet to come seem decent. We’re actually a bit short on Force using companions at the moment, so I’ll take another one of those. The turret mount seems silly, but it might be good for a laugh to trundle around in
Ultimately, the best part of the Dark vs. Light event was the content I did with friends and nothing inherent to the event itself. For that reason, I think an event with achievement based rewards is fine, but I did not like the fact that to earn those achievements I had to put aside characters I’ve been playing for years and start from scratch with characters most of whom will gather dust once the event ends.
As I said at the start, it’s been quite a while since the last event, and with the Rakghoul and Gree events on bimonthly schedules (and lasting two week during DvL), those old events, as much as I like them, are feeling pretty stale. We definitely are overdue for a new event with a unique theme, objectives and challenges. I’m not planning on it, of course, but it would be most welcome.
As a way to fill time between expansions, the Dark vs. Light has been fine, but I hope in the future Bioware can hit a higher mark.
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Filed under KotFE
This week, I’ve highlighted two posters from Justicar Territory on Coruscant. The Justicar’s Brigade is not one for subtly, but these posters display two distinct styles worthy of examination.
The first one is almost patriotic with its splash of stars and stripes. The promise of protection alludes to the Justicar’s origins as a group of disgruntled soldiers looking to retake their neighborhoods abandoned by the government after Darth Malgus’ Sack of Coruscant during the war.
The hopeful tone, however, did not last. Other posters are much more ominous in design and message. This second poster’s sickly green color and warning make it clear that the Justicars are less interested in protection than maintaining order.
The inverted chevrons in both posters illustrate this change. In the first, they sweep upward and indeed seem to lift and support the planet at the top of the poster. The second poster, however, is weighted in the opposite direction, and the chevrons have become oppressive and point the composition down. You don’t need to read the Aurebesh to know exactly what the message is.
Justicars love their propaganda and there is much more to be found. I’m certain to return to this subject in the future.
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Filed under Aurebesh to English
This week’s post is a follow up to last week’s in which I encountered an example of a rarely used Aurebesh number system and incorrectly guessed how to properly read it.
In doing some research I discovered that it is possible to write Aurebesh numbers in two different formats, in the same way we use both Arabic and Roman numerals in English. With this new information, I have corrected the translation in the entry about Dromund Kaas signs.
The most common form of Aurebesh numerals more or less match the appearance of Aurebesh letters, but the second technical style uses pips and dashes and is perhaps related to droids’ binary language.
I was able to find examples of both styles in canonical sources and in SWTOR and imagine that most citizens of the galaxy use them interchangeably.
The origins of Aurebesh’s dual number systems, however, are murky as far as I can tell. The original Aurebesh guide from West End Games did not indicate glyphs for numbers, and two of the first fan-created fonts from the 1990’s included their own style of numbers. The iterations that followed use differing variations of those styles and have found their way into official content. I suspect which type of numbers we encounter in the Star Wars universe simply comes down to which font the artists who created the prop, scene or illustration had on hand.
Looking at both, it’s clear to me that the styles were developed separately from the original Aurebesh. The technical numbers with their pips and dashes are appropriately futuristic, but they don’t really match the rest of the alphabet. While the Arabic style more closely matches the Aurebesh, the glyphs too closely duplicate our own numbers for my taste. Those numbers could appear in a non-Star Wars setting and remain perfectly readable.
However, we can assume that the history and development of writing in the Star Wars universe is at least as diverse as it is in our own. The letters of the Aurabesh could very well have come from one corner of the galaxy, and the numbers from another. At any rate, be glad that we don’t count like the Gree and have to recite multiplication tables using hexadecimal color codes!
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Filed under Aurebesh to English