Yearly Archives: 2020

Give Me Steam

Last month saw the debut of a new event in SWTOR, the All Worlds Ultimate Swoop Rally. I’d intended this post to be my overview of the Rally, but the news from this week’s livestream is worth discussing instead. With the Swoop Event’s return next week I hope to revisit the topic and look at another Aurebesh sign prominently seen around the race tracks.

For now, however, let’s quickly check out this display from the news terminal on fleet which hypes the rally and serves the breadcrumb quest that introduces players to the event. This static screenshot fails to capture the charm of the Sportscenter-style animation that plays on this screen. Here the Aurebesh text seems to be a leaderboard of rally champions with some amusing and very Star Warsy names. This display reminds me of the Bounty Hunter Guild’s posted sign of most wanted targets that can be seen around the galaxy.

As I translated each name I made a guess as to which swoop team they race for. I’m quite confident that Scabend must be on the Blatent Beks!

Steampowered

This week SWTOR had their first livestream since the lockdown, and how you judge the stream’s big announcement depends on your point of view. If you are already playing the game, SWTOR’s arrival on steam probably won’t affect you. However, SWTOR’s prominent placement on gaming’s biggest platform is a very nice signal boost for the game.

I’m sure many fans of the game have encountered people who are surprised to learn that SWTOR is still around. Even with little promotion, SWTOR has outlasted most other MMOs and certainly earned a good profit while doing so. As a fan, I’m glad to see SWTOR get some attention again, and an influx of new players is always welcome. I don’t doubt that this wave will subside, but it can only be a good thing going forward that Star Wars fans might have an easier time finding the game. For old and new players alike, one of the immediate benefits of Steam is the ability to easily give gift subscription time and cartel coins to your friends, something that has become more difficult to do through other online retailers lately.

The other news from the livestream included the “Feast of Prosperity” a new seasonal event coming in the fall. The addition of two new events in a single year must be unprecedented in the game’s history. Like the Swoop Rally event, this one will be mostly free of combat and something that all players regardless of gear or level can participate in.

We also got some teases of the next story update and a Mandalorian themed flashpoint as well. Sadly, this story content is not likely to arrive until later this year. This is one delay that I won’t pin on Bioware. The logistics that go into creating SWTOR’s story content, even just the recording of the sixteen members of the main cast, scattered around the world, must be considerable, and the current situation in this country can only amplify those challenges.

I suppose they could deliver content faster using the silent “KOTOR-style” dialogue interactions we get with the Fallen Empire recruitment missions. SWTOR has employed this for the Swoop Rally and revised Nightlife events, and I imagine they will with the Festival of Prosperity as well. I’m no fan of the format, but I don’t mind it as much for content that is meant to be repeated. I cannot imagine it working or being received well for a major story update. The fully voiced and animated interactions are the defining hallmark of this game, and I’m fine waiting a little longer to get it.

It sucks that we’re not going  to experience as much story as I am certain Bioware hoped to deliver this year, but I don’t believe it can be helped. In the meantime, I have enjoyed the content they have produced under conditions that are not ideal for anyone. While I am unlikely to ever visit nightmare Dxun, I’m no where near finished decorating my Alderaan stronghold and I’ve found the Swoop Rally to be a lot of fun, and I’m glad to continue it next week.

 

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An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age

In general, I aspire to keep this blog focused on things that any player can encounter in the game as a part of regular play, but I’m going to make an exception this time, and take a close look at the Ancient Jedi Blade, a new addition to the Cartel Market because, let’s face it, it is pretty darn cool.

Given SWTOR’s setting, it’s not surprising that the most common weapons used by the Jedi and Sith are lightsabers, but there are examples of less fantastic weapons from training sabers and vibroswords to even the occasional axe or quarterstaff. The Ancient Force-Imbued Blade is the latest example of this type of weapon, not only for the back slung sheath where the blade is carried but also for the ancient runes carved on the length of the blade.

Inscribed swords such as Aragorn’s Andúril and Elric’s Stormbringer are common in fantasy literature, but in our own world, swords engraved with the names of their makers, their wielders, their deeds or mysterious inscriptions go back thousands of years.

In the Star Wars galaxy, therefore, it does not strike me as unusual that the earliest of the Jedi’s weapons would share in this tradition. Not surprisingly, the writing on this blade refers to the Jedi code. I really have to compliment whoever designed this weapon. That the word “Peace” at the tip of the sword is the first thing that goes into the wielder’s foe is an irony probably lost to many of this weapon’s owners, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

I want to thank my guildmate Alaer for modeling the sword for me. I am notoriously wasteful with my monthly Cartel Coin grant and wouldn’t be able to afford this luxury for four or five months! As a platinum item, the sword is especially pricy, so please don’t take this post as an advertisement. It’s not my place to tell anyone how to spend their money. If you’re like me and have to appreciate it vicariously for now, I hope you enjoy this close look.

Misguided

I usually wait a bit to digest new additions to the game before commenting on them, but I feel like time won’t really change my thoughts on the new Galactic Guide feature. I’m not sure where to begin with this misfire; I’m mainly just confused by it. Most folks seem to think that it is first and foremost there to highlight the daily Cartel Market sale, and I can’t really argue with that. In fairness, after greeting guildmates and clearing out my mail box, checking the daily sale is among the first things I do when I log on. As a whole, however, the guide is redundant with the main task bar atop the screen. It is not a good entry point to the Missions tab or Conquest tracker, indeed all it does is put an extra window in the way of those screens. I can’t think of a reason why I’d ever want to toggle it open.

It also does not help that the guide doesn’t play nicely with our existing customized interfaces and can’t be locked in place by the Interface Editor. As for the design itself, it seems like it is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist; replacing straightforward descriptors of our location, friends and guild with non-specific icons seems pointless at best and confusing at worst.

Ideally I want to set it and forget it, but it’s not even there yet since it can reset its position when I switch characters or instances. SWTOR‘s recent upgrades to the Cartel Market interface, Activities window and the Conquest tracker have been nicely done and welcome improvements, but the Galactic Guide hits so far from the mark that I’m not even sure what it was aiming for.

 

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Nor Gloom of Night

Hello there! Once again June proves to be a tough month for this blog. I do have a couple translations that I have been working on, but since they are related to content from the next game update, I’ve decided to hold off on completing them until the update is released. In addition, I have been wondering what place this silly little blog has in these difficult times. Playing SWTOR with friends has brought me comfort this year, and I celebrate the game’s improved inclusion in recent years. However, I also think that there is value in shutting up and letting the people whose voices matter do the talking, so that might mean stepping back from this project every one in a while.

In the meantime, I haven’t been completely idle. You might notice a new banner image in the rotation atop this page. I’ve also translated this very bright red and yellow sign seen on the war torn planet of Corellia. This particular sign can been seen by Republic players outside the Shipwright Auxillary Starport and is certainly one of the largest Aurebesh signs in the game. I’d roughly estimate that it’s at least 40 feet tall and 150 feel long! The first thing that the design evokes in my mind are French Curves, templates used in drafting and design. I confess my poor old set of curves haven’t seen the light of day in many years since even my recreation was created using digital tools.

Because the large Aurebesh initials were distorted to fit in with the sign’s shapes and swooshes, I used a different font than usual so that I could integrate those English letters into the original sign’s design.

Eagle-eyed viewers may also spot a second, smaller Aurebesh sign at street level. I did translate this sign way back in the earliest days of this blog, but I did a much simpler job than my current recreations, so I might give it another go if I hit a dry spell again.

That’s all for now. As another summer of SWTOR ramps up, players can look forward to the All Worlds Ultimate Swoop Rally in coming weeks. I tried out a few swoop runs on the PTS, and it promises to be some relaxed, low key fun for players of all levels. Even more good news came from Creative Director Charles Boyd who has let us know that voice recording for the next stage of story content is on the way, and I’m certain I’m not alone in looking forward to that.

Until then, I hope everyone out there continues to take care of themselves, their families and their community.

 

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Winner Winner Orokeet Dinner

Just a quick post this week to announce the winners of last week’s raffle. My New Year’s Resolution for this blog was to answer every comment I get this year, and to thank everyone for the most comments I’ve received on a post, I’ve decided to pass out some extra prizes. First off, congratulations to the grand prize winners: Gettalla and MagSul! I also awarded four 30 day SWTOR subscription codes and twelve 450 cartel coin codes! Yep, this week everyone is a winner! Because of the current situation many of us find ourselves in, the good people at Bioware were especially generous with codes and I’m more than happy to pass this bounty along to my visitors. I absolutely can’t promise I’ll ever be able to do this again, but it was nice to make it rain during these days when we’re not able to get out as much as we might like.

Stay safe, have fun, and may the SWTOR be with you!

 

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Arise, Go Forth and Conquer as of Old

Top of the Fourth to You!

This week let’s take a quick look at a sign that is quite appropriate for the fourth day of the fifth month. This neon sign glows from many of the cantinas, casinos and skyscrapers of Nar Shaddaa. It is written using the Trade Federation Basic font that has its origins on screen in The Phantom Menace.

I’ve previously translated another display with the same font and similar design that also can be found wherever fine goods advertised around the galaxy. The two graphics have an identical frame and layout, but the one above is animated with flashing lights and pulses between a red and purple glow. Unlike the previous sign, this one can be translated. Does the use of the number 54 refer to May 4th? Maybe, but I’d suggest given its context that it might equally evoke Studio 54, New York’s famous nightclub which was at its height during Star Wars’ initial release in the age of disco.  Perhaps 54 is the “top” floor of the most exclusive casino or sky-palace where only the most famous holo-celebrities, crime lords, and Sith boogiemancers are allowed past the velvet rope blocking the blast door to the hottest dance club atop the Smugglers’ Moon!

Conquest Bonanza

I want to comment on the most recent Conquest changes. Where the last initial round of Conquest revisions had us briefly earning conquest points at Ludicrous Speed, I think everyone now agrees that Conquest has gone to plaid!

Last week I scored on my own, more than enough points to meet my guild’s small yield target. I don’t deny this feels extreme, but I did play that character a lot last week, to the exclusion of most of my other characters. And since it was a character I was leveling, I took full advantage of the many Conquest objectives that came naturally with doing the story, heroics and flashpoints along the way.

Of the people in small guilds I’ve talked to, everyone is happy with the update. These are the folks who benefit the most. Nothing will change for the large guilds, they’ll continue to hit their yields, and the same guild that comes in first every week on your server will continue to dominate. But these changes will be huge for small groups of friends who just want to level up their guilds, gain access to perks, unlock their guild ships and earn useful crafting materials.

No one should have to pick between playing content that will benefit their guild’s conquest effort and playing what they want. Now anyone can level a character and still meaningfully help their guild when previously the points gained from basic leveling were not significant.

Are many of the conquest objectives trivial? To veterans, they sure are! But if Conquest allows new players to safely test out systems like Strongholds and companion influence and Amplifiers, I’m all for it. I do know PVPers feel like they got the short end of the stick again, and I think Bioware could add more objectives to reward PVP play without fear of it turning into the new KP or EV trash farm.

When it comes right down to it, if Conquest points are meant to be guild xp, then I think all activity should count towards it, not just a particular set of goals that change from week to week.

The most common remark I hear is that everyone expects this to be nerfed, so I encourage you to take advantage. Ride that speeder! Place those decorations! And pick those flowers while you can!

May the Fourth Raffle Time!

I fully acknowledge that as fake holidays go, May the Fourth is pretty fake, but I think this year we all could use a reason to celebrate, and as a member of SWTOR‘s content creator program, I’m in a position to help make that happen. The good people at Bioware have provided me a code which can be redeemed for 1050 Cartel Coins and I’m pleased to share it with one of my readers! To enter leave a comment to this post below. Do you have any thoughts about the conquest changes? What outfit, weapon or color crystal would you like to buy or unlock in your collection? How many characters are you planning to level during double XP? Comment below! Make sure you let me know how to contact you if you win: include your character, faction and server name and I’ll mail you the code in game. If you prefer twitter, include your twitter handle and I’ll send it that way. If you’d rather not comment publicly, I’ll also accept entries via email at twia@generic-hero.com.

We’re on the honor system here, so one entry per person, please.

I’ll choose a random winner from all submissions during the Conquest reset Tuesday May 12th.

Good luck, and May the 4th be with you!

 

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Filed under General SWTOR, Onslaught

I’m Making This Up As I Go

Nearly a month ago, SWTOR’s best blogger Shintar tagged me in her Blapril post to participate is this blogger-themed event. I’m still transitioning into this life where nearly all interactions are online, and I’ve not been able to find as much time for this blog as I would like. Nevertheless, I couldn’t let the month slip by without rising to the challenge and sharing a couple of this site’s origin stories. I’m just barely coming in under the wire with my assignment. It’s just like college all over again!

This Week in Aurebesh was born out of several different intersecting moments in my life and in SWTOR. I’ve been familiar with Aurebesh since it was introduced as part of The Star Wars Roleplaying Game in the nineties, and been stopping to read it in game when I could, but my desire to make English recreations and share them with the world, probably has more do with my work as a graphic and web designer. Often work for clients is meant to be functional and efficient, but that’s not always the most engaging stuff to make. By translating and recreating SWTOR’s alien signs, I’m able to have some fun both with the translation itself but also by deconstructing the design of the graphics the fine artists at Bioware have plastered across the worlds of this game. I was also surprised to discover how many official and fan-made variants of Aurebesh have worked their way into Star Wars’ lore. Aurebesh started as a frankly awkward alien alphabet, and it’s fascinating to me to see how it’s evolved and expanded over the years.

In addition, this blog started during the latter days of the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion. That was a strange time for the game. I did enjoy the story KotFE told, and I especially liked that period in which we were getting story updates on a more or less monthly basis, but the lack of any real endgame and new group content made things tough for my little guild. We understandably lost a lot of people, and many others would only pop on for story and little else. MMO Community commentary is a shitshow, obviously, and I had little interest in the usual venues, but I still wanted to express both my continued enthusiasm for SWTOR, as well as my concerns with where I felt the game fell short, even if I was just speaking into the void. Looking back at very early posts in which I reviewed KotFE and the Dark vs. Light Event, I think that nuance comes through. And it remains a balance I strive to maintain.

The name “This Week in Aurebesh” was the first and pretty much the only title I seriously considered for the blog. I knew at the time that the name would be damnable lie, but it appealed to me in a way I still can’t quite explain, and “Every Other Week or So in Aurebesh” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. However, I did misspell Aurebesh as “aur-A-besh” at launch, which goes to show you how much I knew about fake space-letters at the time. You can still see the error in the address of this site. I could’ve fixed it, but I left the mistake in as a reminder to keep me honest.

Shintar includes lots of good advice in her post and I can only echo it here, but I’ll try to add a couple pointers. First, set limits and until you are comfortable with what you’re doing, keep to them. I am naturally long-winded, but I make sure to keep my posts under a thousand words. I feel like I’m here to amuse my visitors for a few minutes, not take up their afternoon. This means I often cut whole sentences, paragraphs and sections all in service of getting to the point. If the thoughts I edit out are worthwhile I can always revisit them later. Finally, blogging, or “podcasting for introverts” as I call it, can be fun. Try out different things while finding your voice, and don’t be afraid to be stupid. For reasons that escape me, I wrote one entry from the position that the Bob and Doug McKenzie movie Strange Brew was George Lucas’ primary inspiration for Revenge of the Sith. You’ll never be as stupid as that, and even if you are, you can always bounce back with your next post.

Always Read the Plaque

Before I go, let’s not forget the reason for this blog: Aurebesh! My guild-mate, Dav recently completed the Agent story and sent me some screen shots from the Star Cabal’s secret base in which they display the secret society’s treasures from across the galaxy. Each exhibit is marked with a plaque which often functions in the game as a Lore Object to unlock a codex entry describing a nearby piece of Star Wars history or culture.

The most prominent of these plaques can be found on the Republic and Imperial Fleets. I’m always sure to click the plaques when they’re glowing blue. Codex entries are worth a little XP, often advance achievements and their flavor text fleshes out this universe we get to explore! And Lore Objects will almost never get you killed. Almost.

 

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Take Me Away to That Special Place

While messing about on SWTOR‘s Public Test Server this evening, I realized that the character I had transferred over last year still hadn’t leveled their crew skills. To remedy that, I flew over to Mek She to farm up some metals. While running through Brzo’s Wells, I came across an inaccessible instanced area that I don’t believe I had encountered before. Even more peculiar was the Aurebesh sign hanging outside of the area, and it is one I definitely hadn’t seen before.

This neon sign is amusing partially because it seems to advertise a restaurant (which specializes in bone broth soup no doubt) but mainly because its mascot seems to be none other than the breakout star of The Mandalorian series! Leaving aside issues involving canon, the time-space continuum and crass commercialism it’s interesting to note that even in SWTOR this little green foundling is still officially referred to as “Child” and not Baby Yoda.

I apologize for the lack of translation and recreation. I will endeavor to get a better screenshot once the next game update goes live in a couple of weeks, but I thought it would be a fun discovery to share today.

Who’s More Foolish?

Just updating this post with a late in the day addition. This is indeed an April Fool’s Day joke. I honestly wasn’t sure if I should go ahead with this prank, but some friends pointed out that now more than ever we all could use a laugh and more Baby Yoda in our lives. Swtorista has compiled a truly epic list of official and unofficial SWTOR related April Fool’s jokes and if you’re looking to raise your spirits definitely check it out!

Finally, here’s a peak behind the curtain at a higher resolution version of the “Sweet Child O Diner” poster before I resized, distorted, blurred and muddied it up into the Mek She street scene. I won’t lie, I’m quite pleased with how this turned out.

 

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Filed under Aurebesh to English, General Star Wars, General SWTOR, My Artwork

Five For Five: Revisiting Some Top Five Lists

With so much going on in the real world right now, perhaps it’s only natural that I find myself looking back a bit. Since the earliest days of this blog I’ve been compiling “Dumb Top Five Lists” meant to highlight some of my favorite hidden corners and overlooked collectibles that can be found in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I thought it might be neat to see if some recent additions to the game could manage to secure spots on some of those old lists.

Top Non-Cartel Market Mounts: Feirocian Cruiser

The first list of my favorite non-Cartel Market stuff covered mounts, but there have been many new mounts added to the game since that post. Many of those could be found in Galactic Command Crates during Knight of the Eternal Throne. The best, by far, of these is the Feirocian Cruiser which was a very rare prize found in Tier 4 Command Crates. This large, unique speeder is the closest we’re ever going to get to driving the Batmobile in SWTOR. The massive fins, crackling plasma binders and gold trim all combine to make this one of the sweetest whips in the game.

Does it make the top five? During KotET this would’ve been a tough call since the only source of this mount was the highest level Galactic Command Crates. I won’t lie; I ground a lot of CXP hoping to find this ride. Because of that difficulty, I would have put this in the “For the Truly Dedicated” category, but I’m not sure it could replace the beloved Pleasure Speeder in my heart. However, with Onslaught, the Cruiser can now be purchased from the Spoils of War Vehicle Vendor in the Supplies section of both Fleets for the relatively low cost of 500 Tech Fragments and 300,000 credits. This change parks the Feirocian Cruiser in the Vendor category where it easily earns the top spot. I don’t tend to like big mounts, but this one is worth picking up.

Top Non-Cartel Market Dyes: Dark Blue and Gray

Only two non-CM dye modules have been added to the game since my second list was posted, but they’re both nice combinations of Dark Blue and Gray. Their recipes can be learned from the Artifice trainer at skill level 620.  Despite sharing the same base colors, the two dyes seem to apply different shades. The Dark Blue and Gray dye, in particular, is very nice for a wide variety of outfits. The blue is very dark, nearly black, and the gray has a subtle metallic blue tint to it. I’ve applied this dye to Trooper armor, Agent gear and Sith robes, and it works well on all of them.

Does it make the top five? Absolutely. Despite the dearth of player crafted customization options, the Dark Blue and Gray dye module is a standout. It handily bumps Deep Brown and Red from my original list and doesn’t feel the slightest bit bad about it.

Top Non-Cartel Market Decorations: Bioluminescent Mushrooms

Where SWTOR has not been stingy lately is in providing numerous of decorations for players to earn in game on Ossus, Dantooine, Onderon and Mek Sha. Despite the wide variety of civic, furniture, environmental and technological decorations from these sources, my favorite is easily the Bioluminescent Mushrooms sold by astromech D3-C0 on Ossus. Prior to Onslaught, these decorations cost precious Masterwork Crystals, but they can now be purchased for a mere 50 Tech Fragments each.

Does it make the top five? Given that I have spent thousands of Tech Fragments to carpet the Killik Cave of my Alderaan stronghold with these happy little mushrooms, I think it’s fair to give them top marks in the Reputation category. They are small decorations, but they pulse with a pleasant blue glow and throw off particles for a pleasantly soothing effect.

Top Non-Cartel Market Pets: Flirron

The jungles of Onderon are filled with countless creepy crawlies, prehistoric beasties, and flying fish, and resourceful players can take home a friendly Flirron as a companion pet after completing a short achievement. This four-winged fellow is part fish, part bird and pretty darn slick with its shiny blue scales and red stripes. Onderon is stuffed to the brim with secrets and achievements, and I definitely recommend making friends with the local wildlife while exploring this world!

Does it make the top five? I’m not sure, since it would replace the Nerf Herding achievement which is more involved and, to me, more engaging than the fairly simple Flirron-Friend achievement. On the basis of looks alone, however, the Flirron at the very least merits an Honorable Mention.

Best Worst Ways to Die in SWTOR: The Dxun Train

I’ve been having fun in SWTOR’s newest operation, The Nature of Progress, which keeps up SWTOR’s proud tradition of insuring that not all threats come from bosses. To raid an operation with a real sense of humor and literal running jokes has been a nice change of pace, and it helps that it does not lack for good encounters. The showpiece of the operation is certainly the Mutant Trandoshan Squad in which a brave team of heroes face off against four mighty, metamorphosed Trandoshan hunters. Despite being nigh invulnerable, they are ultimately no match for several tons of high-speed rocket trains crashing into their face. I’ve been running this operation for several months, and it still makes me laugh every single time one of those poor fellows goes splat. The Czerka Express, of course, is also fatal to players who should make sure to get clear when the hear that train a comin’. Under no circumstances should you use abilities like Rescue and Transpose to endanger the lives of your fellow party members. That would be wrong. I would never do that.

Does it make the top five? Without question. That instant comedy deaths can be inflicted on players and bosses alike makes this one of the all time greats.

Thanks for this trip down memory lane. If I missed your favorite decoration or mount, please let me know! I have more Aurebesh in the pipeline, but in the meantime, I hope everyone out there takes care of themselves, their families and their community.

 

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Taking the Edge Off

The topic of controversy swirling about SWTOR’s raiding community concerns the removal of the Veteran’s Edge buff from Master Mode/Nightmare difficulty operations. Veteran’s Edge is a buff that increases a character’s main stats based on the overall item rating of their gear in most group content. With the release of Onslaught all pre-existing operations and flashpoint content were “level locked,” and characters running that content are scaled down to level 70. The buff is meant to take in account the gear characters are wearing and to complement Onslaught‘s emphasis on horizontal gearing. Assuming your character has equipped item rating 306 gear in every slot, you will get 30 stacks of Veteran’s Edge in most Flashpoints and Storymode and Veteran Mode Operations, meaning once you complete the short vertical progression grind, you will out-gear nearly all of the group content in the game. With Game Update 6.1, this buff has been removed from all Master Mode Operations, dramatically increasing the difficulty of these operations across the board.

Before I continue, I should make absolutely clear that I am not a hard-core raider. During Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan, I actively raided SWTOR’s Hard Mode (now called Veteran Mode) operations and I’ve recently picked it up again. The only Nightmare boss I have ever killed without the benefit of an extra tier of gear or extra levels is Nefra. Farming the easiest Nightmare boss for implants does not at all qualify me to talk about the concerns of the Nightmare community.

But I have some thoughts about level locked content, and they intersect with what is going on in the Nightmare community.

The purpose of level locking content is to keep it “evergreen” so that it does not require additional tweaking as the level cap increases in future expansions so that players will always be able to experience it in a fashion more or less as originally intended.

Level sync was first introduced during Knight of the Fallen Empire as a way to keep questing on the game’s many planets relevant for players even if they exceeded the intended level range of a planet. Flashpoints and Operations, however, were instead scaled up to the maximum level and again for Knights of the Eternal Throne. For the most part, level sync has been successful on the planetary scale, and it’s fair that Bioware would want to apply the system to group activity, freeing them to focus on new flashpoints and operations going forward rather than spend time re-balancing old content every time a new expansion launches.

That said, level sync is not perfect. Important stats like Endurance, Mastery and Power are capped in level synced content. The Veteran’s Edge buff is meant to account for our character’s gear and increases those stats. Let’s take two characters in full 306 kits, one has best in slot gear and augments in every slot; the other has a completely random assortment of unmodified equipment. When level locked, the two characters will have identical hit points and mastery. The character that is well itemized will have superior tertiary stats like Accuracy, Alacrity and Critical, but the difference will not be so great as when you run into both of them on Fleet or Dxun where stats are not scaled.

It gets even weirder when you realize that there are many, many set bonuses, stims, adrenals, class buffs, group buffs, relic procs and guild perks that boost Endurance, Mastery or Power and therefore have absolutely no effect in level locked content.

This is why you see people using relics that were previously scorned, why everyone including tanks and healers should use Accuracy stims and why some guides recommend dps and healers use Warding Mods; they are, after all, literally the only mods that have any effect on our stats in level locked content.

Onslaught’s Spoils of War system has given players the ability to customize our gear far more precisely than in any previous expansion; yet in the vast majority of the game’s group content it makes little difference. It’s not a bold statement to say that proper gearing should matter and that it should reward better performance. That some players keep a traditional set of gear for the Dxun operation and another that exploits the exceptions of level locked content strikes me as bad design.

Veteran’s Edge does a good job smoothing over those rough edges in Storymode and Veteran Mode content, but in my experience there are two parts of progression raiding: gearing and practice. During 2.0 and 3.0, gearing took longer since bosses dropped upgrades that people could use. Since 5.0, and arguably 4.0, it’s common to walk into an operation with gear beyond anything you’ll loot from a boss. I’m cool with that. To me, learning fights and getting the point where the team is properly executing them is more rewarding than wondering who will get their Underworld Relic this week. It also means it is much easier to bring in new or returning players without having to revisit old content to gear them up.

I run operations much more casually than I did a few years ago, and it’s nice that Spoils of War allows my teammates and me to jump to the fun part without needing to spend excess time on the boring parts.

Many nightmare raiders have different goals. They want the challenge and the knowledge that everyone on the team needs to perform perfectly to succeed. That is completely understandable and a legitimate thing to want out of the game. I’ve seen some raiders complain that Veteran’s Edge is a crutch, but others say that getting upgrades that improve the individual and therefore the team’s output should be a part of the raiding experience.

I’m not at all the one to resolve this dispute, but I think the problems with Level Sync have exacerbated the difference between those positions. Right now the jump between Hard Mode and Nightmare operations seems bigger than ever, and it may be rougher than necessary for raiders who want to make it to the big leagues.

Rather than put it off, I think it would be worthwhile for Bioware to take a hard look at how level sync works now.

 

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Filed under Onslaught

Standing Under the Bar Lights

First off, let me apologize for the longer than usual gap between posts. I had spent a couple of weeks working on another, much more complicated translation, but that project ran headlong into a proverbial concrete wall, forcing me to abandon it completely. Instead I’ve moved on to something whose translation was no challenge at all.

If you’ve spent time on the hollow asteroid Mek Sha, you’ve seen this holographic sign and many others like it. To say that there are a lot of bars on Mek Sha is a massive understatement. There are bars everywhere on Mek Sha. I imagine these establishments are tiny affairs, much like the countless bars and sushi joints packed into the narrow alleys of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. Each of the miniature cantinas on Mek Sha likely has space for just a few seats, but serves unique and exotic specialties tailored to Mek Sha’s diverse alien inhabitants.

The sign itself repeats the word “bar” three times and flashes on and off. It includes hex patterns that are common elements on other advertisements seen on Nar Shaddaa and the Republic Fleet. This is a nice aspect, which visually connects it to other holographic displays familiar to players already.

Alderaan Property Values

I should also touch on SWTOR’s latest game update, Pinnacles of Power. The update’s major feature is the Alderaan stronghold. Although I have purchased and fully unlocked it, I haven’t yet done any decorating at all there, so I can only offer some brief first impressions.

Once again, Bioware has provided players with a beautiful and vast space to make their own. The stronghold is packed with secret areas, achievements and a wide variety of spaces to decorate from  the waterfall and stream in the open field out front and the impressively creepy Killik cave to the stained glass glow of the great hall and the snow capped calm of the mountain retreat, my favorite area of the stronghold.

I have the same complaints I have with all strongholds about wanting more hooks in one place, different kind of hooks in another and wishing for more interactive elements, but that doesn’t diminish how cool Alderaan is. Like the Rishi and Yavin strongholds, I’m certain I will be decorating Alderaan for many, many months to come. Hopefully, I’ll be finished before the Death Star comes to pay a visit.

The Task at Hand

The game update also came with some story content. On the one hand, it is a brief interlude that doesn’t really advance Onlsaught’s larger narratives, but it is nice to touch base with characters old and new and see that things are happening even if they aren’t galaxy-shattering events. And if you’re a fan of Star Wars lore, there are some nice extra bits to sink your teeth into. For Republic players, characters from the Old Republic novel Deceived are introduced to SWTOR for the first time. In addition, Sith characters meet Darth Rivix, who is implied to be a Zeltron, an alien species first introduced way back in the Marvel Star Wars comics of the 1980’s. Those comics are my jam, so I am completely on board for this magenta hued Dark Lord.

A bug introduced to the game during Knights of the Fallen Empire does add a sour note to the update. The bug has to do with companions wearing armor that has different appearances depending on what faction the character wearing it is a part of. For example, if Elara Dorne is wearing Trooper armor, it will appear as Bounty Hunter armor in cut scenes. This is something many players may not even notice if they’ve dressed their companions in gear from the Cartel Market or recent expansions. As someone who’s been playing since launch, however, I have a collection of old school armors that are often good fits for my companion.

I understand that Space Barbie problems are far from game breaking, but it really does take me out of the moment when I walk into a cut scene and Kira is dressed like a Sith Inquisitor.

Aside from that, I think the story update does what it needs to do to keep the chains moving. Once again, things play out differently for Republic and Sith characters, and between some different dialogue options and companion interactions, playing through on alts has felt satisfying. I did not anticipate Malgus’ next objective, but I imagine we’ll be catching up with him in the ruins of Dantooine’s Jedi Enclave in the not too distant future. That can only spell trouble.

 

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Filed under Aurebesh to English, General SWTOR