Monthly Archives: November 2021

Life Moves Pretty Fast

Last month, I discussed how much I enjoyed participating in the Best View in SWTOR contest. I had an excellent time exploring the galaxy and taking a snap shot or two. Yesterday the winners were announced, and although none of my submissions were selected, I thought I should at least share them here.

First, however, I want wish a hearty congratulations to all the winners! I can see why each landscape was chosen and I look forward to putting their decorations on display in my strongholds.

As for my entries, I won’t waste your time with much commentary. If I’m being honest, I think most if not all of the winning submissions are superior to my own. Still, I am happy with my efforts. My favorite snapshot from my batch is the Zakuul oasis, but I can see how it is probably not an iconic view of the planet. I am also fond of the Tython and Tatooine landscapes. The Ord Mantell picture took some patience. Because of phasing issues, it seems the Smuggler’s ship is only visible to players in the outside world when someone else is just starting the Smuggler’s class story, the rest of the time the landing bay is empty. I had to be quick with the screenshot button when the ship phased into view! And, finally, yes, my Makeb vista was snapped in almost exactly the same spot near the infamous Makeb datacron as the winner’s. Great minds think alike!

Hutta

Korriban

Makeb

Mek-Sha

Ord Mantell

Ossus

Tatooine

Tython

Yavin IV

Zakuul

If your submissions are online somewhere, let me know, I’d love to see them!

There are many more worlds to visit, and I hope Bioware revisits this type of contest in the future.

 

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Who’s that Twi’lek?

Last Thursday, Bioware hosted a livestream to focus on the story of SWTOR‘s upcoming expansion  Legacy of the Sith. It was a short one, but they did not waste any time getting the news out. They shared some information about where we’ll be going and who we’ll be going there with. It was neat to see some old and new faces and places, but the developers also made sure to include two big pieces of information.

The first was entirely expected and long awaited: the expansion’s release date is December 14, 2021, less the one month from now! It will be an exciting race to the finish line. I think it would be generous to call the state of the game on the PTS “a work in progress” and I truly hope the team at Bioware will be able to get everything in working order for the launch with plenty of time to spare.

New Twi’lek, Who Dis?

The second big reveal was rather more unexpected, and I must tip my hat to the good folks in Austin for putting it out there and not remarking on it at all.

We caught our first glimpse of a mysterious new character in the lovely key art that will serve as Legacy of the Sith’ loading screen, followed by a few tantalizing frames at the very end of the teaser trailer.

Recently Bioware has been rolling out remastered versions of SWTOR‘s amazing cinematic trailers, and if you haven’t watched them in a while, it is worth it to revisit them in high definition to be reminded about what a breathtaking introduction to the game’s setting they are!

I thought the days of these types of cinematics in SWTOR were over. But when they revealed a new CGI model of Darth Malgus on the cover of Star Wars Insider, I started to wonder, but did not dare get my hopes up. However, one look at those big blue eyes, and it was immediately obvious that this shot was not rendered in SWTOR’s game engine. Something is coming, and I cannot wait to see it.

This past summer I took Bioware to task for not giving us enough to anticipate or wonder about for Legacy of the Sith, but with one loading screen and a few frames of video, they’ve excited my interest and got me asking questions!

The first and foremost is, of course, who is she? With my tin-foil-hat firmly in place, I have a theory. I think she is Darth Malgus’ daughter. While Eleena Daru came to a tragic end at Malgus’ hands, it does not strike me as impossible that she bore him a child. If true, this leads too all sorts of additional questions. Who raised her? Did Malgus know about her? Does she know who were parents are?

And I think there are some clues in what we’ve seen and heard already.

She carries a purple lightsaber, a color which Tau Idair’s voice actor Enuka Okuma aptly described in the livestream’s pre-show as a balance of the Jedi’s traditional blue lightsaber and the Sith’s red. Moreover, the figure wears black armor over white robes, imagery which again bridges the Jedi and Sith. I don’t believe any of this is by accident.

Is she Jedi? Is she Sith? Could she be neither? The notion of “Gray Jedi” is a contentious one. Personally it’s never appealed to me as a formal designation or coherent philosophy, but the concept of Jedi and Sith who exist outside their respective codes has long been a part of Star Wars and especially Old Republic lore. And Malgus’ voiceover in the teaser indicates a clear desire to break free of both the Sith and Jedi.

Is this woman part of his plan for that? His hope for that? His tool for that? And what does she think about her role in all of this?

I think the final clue comes in the name of the expansion itself. It may not be a metaphor at all. As the child of Darth Malgus, she would be the literal Legacy of the Sith.

Like I said, I have questions but no answers. And I love it!

Opal Vulpltilla Raffle

Finally, to celebrate this week’s announcements, I am lucky enough to be able to share with my community a chance to win an Opal Vulptilla mount. To enter this raffle, all you need to do is leave a comment below this post. Who do you think the mysterious Twi’lek is? What is your favorite Aurebesh letter? Will you redecorate your Manaan stronghold to reflect the war there? Which returning character will we be able to romance in 7.0 and why is it Darth Rivix? Let me know what SWTOR thoughts are on your mind! However, I must insist that you DO NOT post datamined spoilers from the PTS. I will delete and disqualify any such comments.

To enter, leave a comment below with the following information:

  • Your character name (be mindful of spaces and special symbols!)
  • Your faction
  • Your server

That’s it! I will accept entries for two weeks from this posting and will randomly select the winner on December 4 at 12 PM ET.

If you prefer not to comment publicly, I will also accept entries via email at twia@generic-hero.com or through twitter.

There are no country or server restrictions on any of the prizes that will be awarded.

This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with LucasFilm Ltd, BioWare or Electronic Arts Inc.

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

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing everyone in Legacy of the Sith!

If you’re new here, I hope you’ll take a look around. I’ve been translating SWTOR’s alien languages for more than five years now and sharing commentary about the state of the game as I see it.

 

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Filed under General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith

Iokath is Good, Actually

I feel like I’m overdue for a Dumb Top Five list, and while we have a moment to catch our breath between Legacy of the Sith announcements, I thought I’d pick a particularly hopeless lost cause to champion. For the record, I’m not trying to pick a fight with anyone in particular. The simple fact of the matter is that whenever anyone mentions Iokath, it is almost always in the context of how much they hate it.

However, long time readers will know that I’ve always offered at least lukewarm support of Iokath so, sure, if I’m gonna die on a hill, let that hill be the machine world run by SCORPIO. So as part of this project’s goal to spotlight parts of the game that some players might have overlooked, here are my top five reasons why Iokath is actually good.

Iokath is Just Cool

Questing across the inner surface of a Dyson sphere is one of those mind blowing scifi concepts that can be difficult to wrap our heads around.

Iokath dwarfs the largest sentient made structures in all of Star Wars lore. The closest thing to Iokath SWTOR players will have encountered is Kuat Drive Yards, the artificial ring around the planet Kuat, and that’s not even close at all. Iokath is a sphere whose perimeter is likely similar to the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun, and encloses and draws in the entire radiant output of a star! There are whole other planets orbiting inside of Iokath! Iokath’s surface area is several hundred million times that of the Death Star! It’s an astonishing notion to think about. Its makers are also responsible for the Gravestone, the Eternal Fleet and the pantheon of Zakuul’s Machine Gods, some of the most terrifying powers in the history of the entire galaxy.

So next time you’re on Iokath, look up and know that’s not sky you’re seeing. It’s an endless expanse of technology enveloping everything around you within an Astronomical Unit.

Iokath is Easy

This is probably where I’m gonna lose people. “Iokath is confusing!” “It’s a pain to get anywhere!” On my early visits, I certainly agreed, but whoever designed Iokath, I’d argue, did make it easy to traverse. Once I began to understand how the teleporters and trams connected across the zone, I discovered I had no problem getting from one quest area to the next. Armed with that knowledge, everything else came together.

The dailies lead players to two main areas: the Weapons Factory in the south of the main Expanse, and the instanced Docking Ring section near the Alliance Fleet Spire where players zone-in. There are other quests involving killing various types of droids, and those can be completed anywhere on Iokath. Otherwise there are a some other missions with objectives in the general Expanse area. These objectives are either near the faction bases, or accessible via teleport pads or tram stations.

Once I collect the dailies (Yes, I know. I’ll get to that later), I’ll decide whether I just need to turn around and drive back to the Docking Ring, or head to the Weapons Factory by quick-travelling to the Superweapon Command at the bottom of the map, then taking the tram to either Superweapon Command Entrance where the teleporter zaps me right next to another tram station that will drop me at the factory. It sounds more complicated than “Hop on your speeder and drive to the green arrow on the map,” but I get around Iokath quicker than I do Yavin or Section X.

I believe that having the missions spread out around the zone and questing be somewhat non-linear is fine, more than fine even. Exploration should be a part of the RPG experience and not every map needs to funnel players in a straight line from start to finish. It’s okay to let players find their own path or wander around a little.

Iokath is Fun

Fun is relative, of course, and in matters of taste there can be no disputes. The CZ-198 daily area is brilliantly designed to shuttle players through the zone in a non-stop frenzy of combat and quest object clicking, but sometimes I just want to do something different, and Iokath does a pretty good job scratching that itch.

I’ll concede that some people absolutely loath vehicle quests, but I don’t mind most of them. Rolling around as a seemingly harmless, chirping mouse droid and blowing an enemy walker to smithereens is good for a laugh. The turret daily is nigh impossible to fail and nice when I’m just looking to kick back and only press one or two buttons for a bit.

Above them all, I love the walker daily the most. I will never not enjoy stomping enemies into dust beneath my metal toes, blasting robots into next week with laser beams and raining missiles down on my foes.

If I just want to run around and kill mobs, SWTOR offers plenty of ways for me to do that, but I appreciate that Iokath at least wants to mix it up a bit with some oddball quests and and overall more relaxed pace. At the very least, the odds of having to compete with other players for quest objectives and mobs are significantly less on Iokath. If you in an anti-social mood, it’s the place to be.

Iokath has Good Rewards

First off, if you’re looking to score some Conquest points, Iokath will net you a bucketful. Assuming the values don’t change in 7.0, the weekly alone should still complete a character’s personal conquest.

In addition, the reputation rewards are nothing to sneeze at. The Iokath Annihilator armor set is, in my opinion, the best Sith themed reputation set in the game. The Republic counterpart, the Iokath Technographer set is a bit of an acquired taste, but its glowing piping and animated visor are as distinctive as anything you’ll find on the Cartel Market.

Each faction’s reputation vendor also has a decent selection of decorations. Personnel decorations are always useful for populating an empty stronghold, and I especially like the light cast by the Iokath Wall Lamp from the Republic vendor.

And if you want a big, pointy speeder to cruise around in, both faction’s vendors can set you up.

Iokath is Bad, Actually

In good conscience, I cannot gloss over the reasons people dislike Iokath. First and foremost, even though the weekly quest requires that we complete ten dailies, the quest terminal doesn’t actually offer enough quests to complete the weekly in one go. It seems, by design, Iokath is not meant to be completed in a single day.

This is fundamentally at odds with how nearly everyone, including myself, approaches daily areas. We want to get in and out all in one trip. People already don’t want to go to Iokath in the first place, expecting them to go back at least twice a week is silly.

To make matters even more confusing, the selection of quests offered on any given day rotates on a daily basis so that I may not be offered enough quests in a specific area to make going there a good use of my time.

My strategy when approaching Iokath is to collect quests early in the week and then check back later as the selection changes so that I get not only enough missions to complete the weekly but enough in the areas where I want to go. However, this tends to leave my mission log clogged to overflow when I’d prefer to leave room for others I want to complete that day.

To put it mildly, this is not at all player friendly design. If it were up to me, I’d put all the missions on the board and let players pick and choose the ones they want to do. At the very least, there should always be enough quests to complete the weekly, and if not every quest will be available, the ones that are should share common objectives and destinations to make completing them efficient.

Is Iokath good? No, but it could be. It should be! Players should not be expected to jump through extra hoops just to complete some dailies. Instead of keeping things fresh, the narrow and random selection of missions causes frustration and works to make visiting Iokath feel worse than it needs to be. Let players choose which dailies to take. Yes, someone will math out the most time-to-credit efficient path to take to complete the weekly in the fastest possible time, but I think that’s preferable to almost no one ever going there at all. And if other players want to mix things up and discover the joys of crashing around in a walker or grab a couple friends and take on the Colossus Droid, so much the better.

I like Iokath. I really do. When I manage to score a good mix of missions, it’s one of my favorite weekly areas. And if it could get out of its own way, I think more people might like it too.

 

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Filed under Dumb Top Five, General SWTOR

Welcome to the Hype Train

This week, I’m honestly not sure where to start!

Let’s take it slow and begin with a quick look at this sign seen outside the shattered Zoo enclosure at the center of Axial Park on Corellia. If you participated in the recent Feast of Prosperity event, you likely came across the sign on your way to fight Lucky the Rancor who an was objective of one of the World Boss ingredient daily quests.

At first glance you might think this sign is written in Aurebesh, but technically it’s not. Instead it uses “Galactic Basic” a font, which better matches the script glimpsed in Return of the Jedi. That text from the movie also inspired the official Aurebesh, but the two fonts don’t fully match. So while the fonts are similar, I’d say the are more step-siblings than directly related.

If you mouseover these signs near the Zoo, a pop up with alternate text appears. The literal translation indicates this is a welcome sign and its design with arrows and credit symbol are likely meant to point to a ticket booth, but the in-game translation turns this into a warning sign. In context, this make sense given that a dread-corrupter Rancor has broken from its cage, and it’s probably telling that that any authorized personnel who did enter the enclosure are no where to be found.

Legacy of the Sith Hype

The big SWTOR news is that after months of relative silence, a torrent of Legacy of the Sith information has been released, Bioware has made numerous posts about how various games systems will look in the next expansion, and SWTOR is even getting some welcome media exposure in advance of its tenth anniversary.

I should confess that I haven’t spent much time on the 7.0 Test Server. I was fairly active during Onslaught’s testing period but decided to lay off this time around so that I can go into the expansion with fresher eyes. That said I have been vicariously following the news and controversies roiling around the PTS. Nevertheless you shouldn’t consider my takes so much hot as tepid.

Some of the changes have me confused and asking “But why?” In general, however, I think I see what Bioware is aiming for, and I hope they’re able to hit their targets.

Among experienced players, the class changes have been the most fraught. I’m not up to date enough to go into any detail, but when it comes right down to it, ability bloat has become a real problem in SWTOR, and I can’t blame the developers for trying to rein it in. I don’t think we need three rows of buttons to play the game, and the sheer number of confusing and often redundant abilities makes learning the game intimidating to new players and even some veterans learning new classes.

I don’t envy Bioware this task. We’ve gotten used to having all these options, and for skilled players pushing the hardest PVP and PVE content, many if not all of those buttons find their use. Since the ability cull seems to be focused on defensive cooldowns, I’m not surprised tanks and pvp players are worried about what this means for their favorite characters.

This week saw lots of information for how Bioware intends gearing and itemization to work in Legacy of the Sith. I can’t possibly summarize it all, but basically different types of content will reward different qualities of gear. This marks an end to Onslaught’s “play your way” Spoils of War system. The last two expansions made it relatively easy for anyone to acquire the highest item rating gear, but they also fostered negative gameplay loops in that have lead to SWTOR’s group finder being dominated by Hammer Station and Toborro’s Courtyard. It’s not the player’s fault. To gear up fast of course people will run the easiest content for the best rewards.

But it’s not fun, and it’s not a great experience for new and veteran players alike who want to experience the breadth of SWTOR’s diverse group content only to be funneled into the same things over and over and over.

More difficult content will soon reward better gear. This is a good thing. I progressed through Veteran Mode Dxun and Nightmare Mode Explosive Conflict operations this year, and every single piece of equipment I got was ground into tech fragments. Honestly, it’s not a great feeling when collecting loot is more a bag-clogging nuisance than a reward for overcoming a challenging encounter.

It’s probably not an accident that Bioware has dusted off the Tionese, Columni, and Rakata names for the tiers of raid gear, since the expansion’s system is somewhat more old school in design. If you kill a boss, someone on the team gets an upgrade. There’s a reason that’s a tried and true model.

The advantage that 7.0 has over SWTOR’s earlier vertical progression systems is that everyone will have access to the same gear. No more will a solo player grind commendation tokens to buy gear with poor itemization and no set bonuses, gear which was worse than lower rated loot from operations. All players will be able to get Legendary items with “set bonuses,” and everyone will be able to collect and upgrade their equipment. There is no downside to everyone having access to good gear, and I just don’t see that changing.

But, yes, players engaging with the game’s most difficult content will have first crack at the best loot. That’s okay. Raiders make up such a small slice of the player base; let them have this.

I know some solo players are concerned about being left out in the cold. All I can say is that I’m not planning on doing much Nightmare raiding in Legacy of the Sith, so I will be in the same boat as them. I was most active raiding during the Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan expansions, and at no point did I ever have even a single character in a full set of best-in-slot gear, but I still killed lots of Hard Mode bosses, completed every flashpoint and had no problem running dailies and completing story updates. I will do the content I enjoy, collect the gear I get and upgrade it as best I can. I’m not worried.

If you are a solo player worried about gear, then let me encourage you to dip your toes into SWTOR’s truly wonderful flashpoints and operations. The group finder is not for everyone, no doubt about it, but running flashpoints with friends and guildmates is the best part of the MMO experience. There are lots of guilds that welcome players looking for a place to play at their own pace and are more than happy to introduce them to group content. Every weekend my guild hosts world boss hunts and operation runs, and we are always glad to teach folks new things. It’s never been easier to jump into SWTOR’s storymode operations, and seeing that notification when someone gets an achievement makes me smile every time.

This leads me to the announcement that Legacy of the Sith‘s new operations will not have 16 player modes. I have mixed feelings about this. I hear of few, if any, teams that progress on 16 player mode first. It’s almost always done after and only for the achievements, so I can see the value in focusing on the version of the operation that most people will actually experience. That said, I think its worth keeping 16 person modes for Storymode. Even my small guild often has more than eight on our Storymode nights, and we will bump things up to 16 person so that everyone can participate. Going even further, I’d love to see SWTOR swipe “flex raiding” from World of Warcraft for its Storymodes so that those operations could dynamically scale depending on the group size from 8 to 16 or potentially even 20 or 24!

Finally, we are racing to SWTOR‘s tenth anniversary, and still no release date has been announced. I am definitely looking forward to Legacy of the Sith, but the promised “holiday” release is looming ever closer, and it still seems like a lot of things are yet to come together. For now, I’m crossing my fingers, closing my eyes, and punching my ticket for the hype train.

 

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Filed under Aurebesh to English, Legacy of the Sith, Uncategorized