Category Archives: Aurebesh to English

No Justice

One month after I launched this blog, Trump won the presidential election and I considered scrapping this project in despair. I decided to keep going because I knew I would need a distraction in the days ahead, and I thought others out there could use it too. Over the next few years, this endeavor, SWTOR itself and the community of wonderful people I get to play with became an important respite from the turbulence of real life. But it can be hard to talk about fake space letters, giant robots and laser swords when so much is on the line. As an old straight white dude in a blue state, I have it lucky, but I fear for my friends and loved ones who just want to live their lives. People should be able to be who they are without fear. People should be able to love who they love without fear. Women should be able to decide what to do with their bodies without fear. People should be able to go to school, to church, to the store without fear.

Star Wars is a story about rebellion against institutions that seek to rule with fear, and its metaphors are not about a bygone age, but of every age, including our own. But it’s just a story, a simple children’s story even. The story of our age is much more complicated and difficult, but now more than ever, in my real life, I will continue to do what I can to stand up for the rights of people who are being forced into the margins, the shadows and the closet. This is the core value of my faith and the aspiration of my adopted country, and I think it is something worth fighting for.

As for this dumb little blog, I’ve got a half-written Obi-Wan Kenobi review and a folder filled with untranslated Aurebesh, and as the spirit moves me, I’ll endeavor to keep this corner of the internet a place for folks to find a small distraction from their day. I don’t know if it’ll work, but I will try.

Justicar Propaganda: Special Edition

I’d originally hoped to feature a new translation in this post, but as you’ll read in the next section, I had to give up on that effort. To get back on track I thought I’d take another crack at one of the first Aurebesh graphics I examined in 2016.

When I started this project, the goal was for my versions to simply be “quick and dirty” copies rather than the more faithful recreations I aim for now. I suppose my first attempt does have a certain rough charm, but I don’t think it’s aged well in comparison to my other efforts so a second pass felt it order.

The challenge of this new recreation was to match the painted texture of the background, the rough edges of the paper, and to more closely duplicate the original layout, things I only gestured at the first time around.

For example, I used lower case text in my first pass, and I’ve since come to the conclusion that Aurebesh (or at least my recreations of it!) work best in upper case. Technically Aurebesh does not include lower case letters at all, but various versions of the font over the years have attempted to fill the gaps in the original with features like case, punctuation and numbers. Some of these additions have stuck to various degrees, but when it comes to rules for upper and lower case, I don’t think any have been successful. I now prefer to always translate Aurebesh into upper case English letters.

While most of the elements of my recreation were made from scratch, I must confess the figure was digitally traced. The generic term for this process is “cheating”, so I guess a little bit of a “quick and dirty” ethos remains. As for the figure of the Justicar himself, I wonder if the symbol on the his sleeve is meant to have a specific meaning. It almost looks likes an Aurebesh “D” or maybe an inverted “S”, but it also somewhat recalls the “service bar” stripe with dashes and pips seen on the lower sleeve of Starfleet uniforms of the original Star Trek movies. All that said, the thing it most closely evokes is the armband worn on fascist uniforms in our own world, and that is, of course, right up the Justicar’s alley.

Atrisian or Not, Here I Come

Since this post has been mainly focused on my process, I thought it might be interesting to look at something in the game that I failed to translate. I’d originally hoped to recreate the monitor used in the terminal in the tunnels during the Rakghoul Resurgence event, but my efforts came to naught.

The font used on the left side of the display is most likely “Dark Katarn” or Atrisian, a typeface inspired by alien writing used in early Lucasarts games, particularly the classic Dark Forces. Like Aurebesh, these letters seems to have been based on those seen in Return of the Jedi. Unlike Aurebesh, however, the Lucasarts version was never codified into a full alphabet, and it remains a mostly obscure typeface. In SWTOR, it is most often seen as the alphabet used on Rakata ruins across Belsavis and the Foundry Space Station. I think it is a clever way to suggest an ancient language similar to, but still different from the more familiar Aurebesh.

As for this display, while I do think it is probably Atrisian, I do see letters here that could be from other fonts like Aurebesh, Huttese and Sith Prophecy. The text is so low resolution that I don’t feel confident making any kind of definitive statement about what we’re seeing here. Does it actually mean anything? Maybe? Probably not? I just can’t say for sure.

And that’s okay. I’ve often said that it’s not necessary for every alien language in Star Wars to be translatable. Fake space letters are meant evoke a fantastic setting without constraining creators to a rigid set of rules that they might break when aiming to simply make something look neat. And this does look neat and not at all out of place in the Star Wars setting whether it has an English meaning or not.

The image linked above shows a closer look at the display as it appears in game with the Bloom setting both on and off. Feel free to take a closer look yourself, and if you can suss out a meaning I’ve missed, please let me know!

 

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Walking on Black Sunshine

This week I’ve maxed out the second Galactic Season track, and I thought it would be a good excuse to take a look at some alien writing that ties into this season’s underworld theme.

If you’ve ever visited the Black Hole sector on Coruscant, even if only to do the “Face Merchants” heroic, then you’ve seen that the neighborhood is covered in graffiti which makes it clear that the sector is under the control of the Black Sun criminal syndicate.

Black Sun’s first appearance in Star Wars lore was in 1996 as part of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia event designed to give to fans all the books, toys, comics, video games, soundtracks and merchandise that they’d expect from the release of a brand new Star Wars movie, only without an actual movie itself. Several of the concepts, characters and vehicles introduced in Shadows found there way into other Star Wars stories, but Black Sun with its distinctive logo and ominous name has remained a regular presence in stories set on the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

SWTOR players will discover that Black Sun was born out of the chaos caused by Darth Malgus’ surprise attack on Coruscant, a seminal event in the Old Republic’s history. Even after the siege of Coruscant was broken, the Republic capital’s security forces were in disarray, and entire sectors of the world were left to fend for themselves. This void was eagerly filled by crimelords and gangsters who united to seize control of as much territory in Coruscant’s lower levels as they good. Helpless citizens under their thumbs ultimately had no choice but to hope that better a black sun than none. Black Sun’s advancement was nearly unchecked for years, and in that time they became a syndicate whose influence reached both across the galaxy and the ages into the era of the Clone Wars and the Rebellion against the Empire.

The Black Sun graffiti in SWTOR is written using two languages. The first is, of course, Aurebesh, but it is written in a free hand style appropriate for its context as spray painted vandalism tagged on a wall. Handwriting seems to be something of a lost art in Star Wars, with examples in lore being few and far between until the appearance of the “sacred Jedi texts” in The Last Jedi. In SWTOR, as in Star Wars in general, freehand writing most often appears as graffiti. In the example above, the larger text declares Black Sun’s presence with bold authority, and the smaller slogan threatens that they are as inevitable as the dawn.

The second language used for the smaller tag is now called “Outer Rim Basic” but at the time these graphics were created for SWTOR it was generally known as Huttese, and I’ll stick with that identification here. This writing style first appeared during the pod-racing sequences in The Phantom Menace, and iterations of it can be found in many other stories that touch on Star Wars’ criminal underworld. Fans of The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+ might recognize the graffiti tag used by the Kintan Strider’s swoop gang as being the letter “K” in a version of Huttese/Outer Rim Basic.

Given the overlap and rivalry between Star Wars’ various criminal syndicates,  it does not strike me as out of place to see Huttese used in this circumstance. For example, Skadge, the infamous and not-quite beloved companion from the Bounty Hunter story, at various times worked for both Black Sun and the Hutt Cartel, although his time with the Hutts (like most of Skadge’s relationships, I’d wager) ended in betrayal and violence. Regardless, an association with the Hutts, whether real or implied, could only help Black Sun’s burgeoning reputation in its early days, both with others gangs and local citizens who doubtless already knew of the danger of crossing the Hutts.

Nevertheless, for those interior decorators who would like to add a dash of scum and villainy to their stronghold’s ambiance, the Black Sun-Graffitied Underworld Couch is a reward for subscribers and free-to-play players alike at the fifth level of the current Galactic Season. As you kick back and plop your backside on top of it, take note, perhaps ironically, that it has been tagged with the same graffiti seen in my recreation above.

 

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February of the Sith

Late to the party as usual, I still feel like I should comment on the big announcement that Legacy of the Sith has been delayed until February 15th of next year.  Many, many folks assumed a delay was inevitable, but this was a bigger one than expected.

This year has been especially light on story content, and I am very much looking forward to jumping back into the thick of things, so it’s a drag that I will have to wait a couple more months. But I think it’s for the best. The version of the PTS that went up this week still doesn’t feel polished, and I would expect that the expansion should launch in a state better than “mostly playable.” As any veteran player can tell you, problems, even very serious ones, that pop up in SWTOR before the December break have traditionally not been addressed until well into January. So rather than rush to meet an arbitrary deadline, the good folks in Austin will get to go into the holidays at an easier pace, and should be able to take some extra time to tighten the nuts, patch the leaks, and smooth the edges out of the expansion. In the long run, it can only be a good thing.

However, delaying the expansion one week before launch and just three after the initial date was even announced is not a good look for Bioware. Does it affect me personally? No. In fact, I’m actually kind of glad that I won’t have to worry about gearing up over Christmas vacation. I’ll spend the extra couple of months keeping on keeping on. I’ve got plenty of achievements to knock out and enough alts in need of care and feeding that I won’t be lacking things to do. But I know other folks are feeling done with Onslaught and will be taking the time to check out other games.

In addition, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that other players might’ve subscribed early to catch up on story or re-familiarize themselves with the game in anticipation of next week’s announced update. SWTOR has long been a game that allows players to come and go as they please, and someone who took Bioware at their word that Legacy of the Sith would be launching next week shouldn’t have to re-subscribe in February.

If it were up to me (and, to be clear, it isn’t) I’d say anyone with an active subscription on December 14, should automatically receive access to Legacy of the Sith. In fact, I’d go even further. Anyone subscribed at any point between now and February 15, should get access to the expansion’s story and leveling content.

Look at me, spending EA’s money!

Titans of Industry, part 3

Finally, let’s not neglect the Aurebesh any longer and take a quick return visit to the moon CZ-198 to check out this hover train car that can be found in the freight depot in the bowels of the Czerka controlled installation.

The translation of the transport company’s logo is not complex at all, and it reveals a name that is either a fairly unusual surname, or perhaps a spelling mistake. The rules surrounding the usage of “I before E” have long vexed me, so if it is in error, it’s not one I’d ever hold against someone. If we read it as “Field Transit”, then the company name is somewhat mundane. I wonder if the logo’s design suggests another possibility. Could the prominent circle be symbolic of a sun or star? If so, “Starfield Transit” strikes me as a rather more poetically Star Wars name.

Spelling error or odd name? The galaxy may never know!

 

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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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Small Cheer and Great Welcome

SWTOR’s Feast of Prosperity event has made its second annual return. The Feast was a pleasant surprise at the end of last year, and once again I’ve fully engaged with the event.

First off, since there are numerous and generous Conquest objectives associated with the Feast, for the next couple of weeks I can take a break from my heroics, dailies and flashpoint routine but still score buckets of points for my guild. That I can play a few mini games and join a world boss hunt at all hours of the night and day is a refreshing change of pace from the usual busy work SWTOR typically has me doing.

For the most part, the Feast’s content and presentation have not changed. Because of the circumstances of last year, no original dialogue was recorded for the event and all the story interactions are presented in the “KOTOR style” in which our characters are silent and everyone else speaks Huttese or other alien languages. Given the focus of event, this makes a certain amount of sense. However, I am on the record as not loving this format of storytelling in SWTOR and since I’m running through the event again on alts, I don’t feel any guilt about spacebarring through those scenes this time around. That said, if it’s your first time, I do think it is worth it to read through the subtitles of the event’s entertaining story.

Aside from the story, the Feast is mainly structured around collecting ingredients from world bosses and their environs, and completing a pair of mini-games based around cooking meals and serving meals to hungry feast goers. These games are by no means difficult, but two harder versions of each game do require some concentration to successfully complete, at least by me, anyway.

The Cantina Rush dailies have the player take control of a serving droid, and race around a feast hall delivering meals to ravenous patrons in an occasionally hectic race against time. Although SWTOR’s quest tracker does not monitor your progress, the game’s setting does. An Aurebesh display in the back of the kitchen keeps track of how many dishes you have left to deliver in the round and how many mistakes you’ve made.

It might take a second or two to adjust your camera to properly spy the display screens, but if you can spare the moment, it might be worth it to know that the end is in sight!

Translating the Aurebesh scoreboard could not be easier, because it actually doesn’t need translation. Numbers in Aurebesh can be written using two very different styles, and in this case the designers smartly chose the version that can easily be read by readers in both this galaxy and in one far, far away.

Before you think me a complete slacker, the name of the banquet hall has some actual Aurebesh for me to translate. It’s an amusing name for a restaurant, but I would hope that meals served here digest a bit quicker than ones served at its namesake.

Finally, I must commend Bioware for adding a few new rewards to an already well-stocked event vendor. Having a reason to save up more tokens for some decorations and a cool ninja mask gives me plenty of incentive to revisit the Feast of Prosperity. Indeed, it is long overdue that the rewards of SWTOR‘s other recurring events get some attention. Most if not all of those old events have not been updated in years and years, and they could all use some attention to encourage veteran players to participate again. How about a life-sized Xenoanalyst decoration, a miniature Eyeless pet, Swoop team dye modules, a Bounty Broker weapon tuning, Pirate themed weapons, and Life Day color crystals? I honestly don’t believe any of that is too much to ask.

In the meantime, I’ll make the bold claim that the Feast has become my overall favorite of SWTOR’s events, and I’ll gladly spend the next couple of weeks collecting weird ingredients, frying them up in sauce pans and serving them straight into the bellies of hungry celebrants from all over the galaxy!

 

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Star Wars: Visions Review

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any Star Wars tales outside of SWTOR. Although I generally liked The Mandalorian and Bad Batch, I didn’t come away from them feeling like I had much to offer to the conversations around those shows. But having finished Star Wars: Visions this week, I did want to put some thoughts down while they’re fresh. I will, for the most part, avoid spoilers since I feel like we are still within the window of letting folks watch at their own pace. I don’t follow anime as much as I used to, but I did grow up with some of the series that made it over to North America in my youth. A French translation of Captain Harlock was my first exposure to anime, and, as a kid, I was enthralled by Starblazers and then Robotech, which in spite of how the original shows were truncated and transformed for western audiences, were clearly unlike any other cartoons on my TV. I had no interest in He-man or Transformers, but to this day I can still sing every lyric to the Starblazers theme song. When anime exploded in popularity in the US in the 90’s, it was cool to be able to easily see (often even in the theater!) films like Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Princess Mononoke. But aside from the odd movie or series here and there, I haven’t watched as much I used to. However, from the get-go, Visions seemed neat, and I certainly was gonna check it out.

To start, I’ll just lay my cards out on the table and get my one spoiler out of the way. Watching someone surfing on the nose of an X-Wing as they cut a Star Destroyer in half with a lightsaber is the Star Wars content I’m here for. I’ve always preferred it when Star Wars bends towards the mystical and weird, so I connected with many of the stories told by Visions. More space rabbits, laser umbrellas, outrageous duels and metalhead Hutts, please.

Clocking in at around 15 minutes each, the episodes don’t have a ton of space to breathe, so the breakneck pace didn’t do some of the stories any favors; maybe too much was left implied and unresolved. I ended up watching the whole series in one or two episode batches over a weekend. Not surprisingly, the installments share many of the same themes, symbols and even story beats, and had I binged the whole thing at once, it might’ve felt repetitive. At the very least, hearing “I have a bad feeling about this” every 15 minutes would’ve gotten old. But taken on their own and with some separation between them, I think I was able to get into each episode a bit more and appreciate the stylistic approach each team brought to the table. I have never been a purist when it comes to the sub vs. dub debate in anime, but in this case I do think that the episodes tend to sound better in the original Japanese with subtitles. Often the the English dub falls into the clichés of anime dubs in which English dialogue is awkwardly verbose and delivered very, very fast.

Given the focus of my blog, I would, of course, be remiss if I did not call attention to the appearance in the episode The Village Bride of an XS Freighter which every Smuggler in SWTOR will know and love as their class ship. The XS is a neat mashup of the Millennium Falcon and the Ebon Hawk, and it’s cool to see it pop up in an unexpected setting. If I’m being honest, the class ships have been neglected in SWTOR lately, so I’m glad at least one can get in on the action again. And additional points to the animators at Kinema Citrus for making an Old Republic reference to something other than Revan, who might be as close to overexposed as anything from that era can get.

Overall, I enjoyed Visions. If nothing else, I found it to be at least interesting. And if not every episode was great, each story’s individual approach to the material and setting gave me something to think about. I can see how the show might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but projects like this keep Star Wars fresh for new and old audiences alike. The answer to the question of which Star Wars movie or show someone should watch first does not have a simple answer these days, but Visions covers a lot of ground, and I think any kid or kid-at-heart can find at least one or two episodes to kick back and enjoy whether they’re coming at it as an anime fan or a Star Wars fan. Ultimately, I think Star Wars: Visions successfully accomplished an anthology’s job of leaving me wanting more, but not needing more.

But I can hear you asking the important question: what about the Aurebesh? And, yep, its all over Visions too. Its most prominent use comes in the episode T0-B1, and fortunately its translation is not a spoiler. Somewhat to my surprise, the Aurebesh does not translate into Japanese or English, but into Spanish. And while I’m not 100 percent certain, I am confident that the holographic text displayed in the episode is snippets of lyrics from the Latin flamenco pop song “MALAMENTE (Cap.1: Augurio)” by Rosalía. I have never been of the opinion that Aurebesh should be used strictly literally. It functions mainly to establish the flavor of Star Wars‘ space fantasy setting whether the translation makes sense in context or not. This blog is filled with numerous references to my favorite songs, so I heartily approve of the animators slipping in a tribute to music they like as well.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back in a couple of days to celebrate this blog’s fifth anniversary!

 

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Maps and Legends

Well, things sure got exciting this week for fans of the Old Republic era of Star Wars with the announcement of a “remake” of Knights of the Old Republic.

Remastering, remaking, reforging fan-favorite video game classics is common these days and it seemed inevitable that KOTOR’s turn would come sooner rather than later. Indeed rumors have been kicking around for quite a while already.

Details are scant, so this is a great time to indulge in all manner of speculation and hysterical over-reaction. What is the difference between a remake and a remaster? Is the story changing? Is the gameplay changing? Your guess is as good as mine. In fact, it’s probably better.

But baseless speculation can be fun, so I will indulge myself and wonder what Knights of the Old Republic, the remake means for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

In the short term I suspect, very little if anything at all. The remake is a couple years away, at least, so if SWTOR intends any direct cross-over with KOTOR, it will likely come at the end of the Legacy of the Sith expansion’s life cycle or as part of the next, next expansion.

Nevertheless, KOTOR casts a long shadow over SWTOR, and even though Revan seems have gotten their last hurrah at the start of this year, the setting of Legacy of the Sith’s forthcoming operation clearly evokes the mass shadow generator from KOTOR2. Still, if I’m being honest, I hope SWTOR doesn’t wade too deep into the KOTOR nostalgia pool. At this point, it would feel like going backwards to dig up Revan yet again or bring back Malak or Bastila. These days, I am far more interested in learning about Malgus’ interest in Darth Nul than knowing if Nihilus’ spirit is still rattling around somewhere.

There is also speculation that the remake will allow Disney to backdoor KOTOR into the official Canon. While there have been allusions to Revan here and there recently, KOTOR hasn’t quite made the jump into the “Canon.” Long time readers of this blog may have noticed that I rarely mention “Canon” and “Legends.” This is because in my mind there is literally no difference between the two. The Star Wars stories I like are the stories I like, and I do not care on which side of an imaginary line they are supposed to lie.

That said, the line does seem to matter to many fans. If Lucasfilm declares that the KOTOR Remake is “Canon” and SWTOR gets to slide in on those coattails as well, and if this encourages someone who otherwise would not to try either or both games, then I say, “Great!” I hope the KOTOR Remake is a success for the people who make it and the fans who play it. I hope it appeals to new and old players alike. And if it leads players who want to continue to explore the Old Republic era to SWTOR, I say again, “Great!”

There are many terrific Star Wars stories to be found in the Old Republic setting, and I hope as many people as possible get to experience them.

Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

Finally, let’s take a look at the star map featured in the brief story beat “Whispers in the Force” included as part of the latest game update. This holographic display depicts the route Heta Kol seems to be following through the Minos Cluster to the very edge of the galaxy. Before I begin, I do want to say it was nice to see Akaavi Spar again. I always found interactions with her fun on my Smugglers, even if they rarely saw eye to eye. After her disappointingly brief return during Fallen Empire, I feared she wouldn’t get any screen time again. However, her Mandalorian background makes her a logical choice to use in this stage of the story for both Republic and Sith aligned characters, and I’m always glad to catch up with an underrated favorite.

As for the map itself, some of these worlds will be familiar to even the most casual Star Wars fan, but there are others whose lore stretches back to the very earliest days of Star Wars‘ Expanded Universe. If you’re a fan of West End Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying Game, you might recognize Elrood and some of the worlds mentioned here.  In the time of the movies, Eraidu is known as the homeworld of Grand Moff Tarkin. The shipyards at Sluis Van were a target of Grand Admiral Thrawn in Timothy Zahn’s first trilogy of novels. In the Old Republic era, Karideph was visited by both Jedi Master Orgus Din and Havoc Squad under the command of Harron Tavus prior to the events of SWTOR, so there is no shortage of rich history associated with this corner of the Galaxy.

Does this mean, we will be visiting the Force Nexus on Dagobah or massing our fleets near Sullust? No, probably not. But the story seems to leading into a part of the galaxy were weird stuff has been known to happen, and I don’t think they just pulled the Rimma Trade Route out of a hat, but we’ll have to wait a bit more to find out for sure where Heta Kol is headed. It should be interesting.

 

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Danger, Will Robinson

I was recently asked by some guild-mates to translate a sign found on Corellia, the Black Hole, CZ-198 and other corners of the galaxy. It led me to another similar sign and I thought it would be fun to take a look at both.

The meaning of these signs ought to be clear even if you don’t read Aurebesh. Triangular and octagonal hazard signs are as common a sight on this world as they are on Corellia, and it’s certainly not a coincidence that they sport the colors of our own stop and warning signs.

Both signs feature a unique symbol. I confess at first glance (especially in the second sign below) it struck me as an icon of a ram’s head, but upon closer inspection is meant to evoke our world’s biological hazard symbol. It shares many of the same basic elements, but with that twist so common in so much of Star Wars’ most iconic designs that make it familiar and different all at the same time.

This second sign comes in orange and blue flavors so I thought I should include both in this post. While not the most complicated graphics in the game, I had a lot of fun with these recreations. Matching the signs’ layouts and weathering was only the first part; duplicating the rather blurry resolution of the graphics as they appear in game was part of the process as well. In my first recreation, I included for comparison’s sake both the final result as well as my original “high res” version.

I want to thank Gloom and Rye for asking about these signs.  They aren’t the fanciest in the game, but I’m glad for the inspiration to take a closer look. As always, I welcome suggestions!

 

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The Absence of Justice

Hello there. Before we get started, I must admit this post is coming quite a bit later than I’d intended. The short version is that I kind of broke this site and was unable to access it for a couple of weeks. Here is my pro-tip to any aspiring bloggers: make sure you know what a plug-in is doing before you start messing with it. Everything is at last ship-shape and Bristol fashion, so let’s get back to it!

Recently, Aviriia asked me to translate a poster in Coruscant’s Justicar sector. Although I’ve examined several other Justicar posters in the past, his particular example had long been on my to-do list, but the screenshots of it I’d saved were taken at a distance or awkward angles, but I figured I’d give it a go. To my surprise (and embarrassment) I found that there was a perfect view of the poster to the immediate left just inside the sector that I’d completely missed despite countless trips to Coruscant over the years.

The poster itself fits stylistically with much of the other Justicar propaganda plastered around the zone and it shares with them the same distressed paper texture and sickly green and black palette. Like the other posters of this style, the message is fascist and ominous in tone. Given what players learn about the Justicars as they play through Coruscant’s stories, this is entirely appropriate.

As we settle into another Summer of SWTOR, I’m planning to clear out my backlog of untranslated Aurebesh. I tend to prefer tackling translations that I can discuss beyond “This is what it says,” but I’m hoping I can bang out more recreations than normal since I’ll be able to skip out on the commentary (or “useless flavor text” as a friend calls it). If there is a sign, poster or display in the game that you’ve always wondered about please let me know in the comments below or via twitter or through email. I’m always thrilled to take requests.

I’m sure we’re all looking forward to SWTOR’s big 10th anniversary celebration later this year, but in the meantime, stay cool and have a most excellent summer!

 

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Aurebesh is Weird

As February ends, gentle reader, I am once again turning in my work at the last possible second. All I can say is that this month definitely did not work out the way I’d planned.

This time, I’ve chosen to take a fresh look at one of the very first translations I made for this blog, and make a more faithful recreation this time around. Given its translation, you will likely not be shocked to learn that this sign can be found most commonly on the planet Corellia. Amusingly, the blue text contains a spelling error. It’s not the only one in the game, but it’s also a common error, one I’ve made myself, so I’m happy to let it slide. The orange text is another example of seemingly random single or paired letters that are seen frequently in holographic neon around the galaxy, and the use of the letters “G” and “Z” are a common popular choice for numerous signs and displays in the game. For the blue text, I followed the original’s use of capital and lower case letters, but for the line of orange, single glyphs I opted to reflect the capital “G’s” rather than alternate it with a lower case “g’s” in order the better match the poster’s original design.

There are several aspects to this seemingly simple sign that make translation a bit more tricky that it might seem at first glance. My initial translation nearly five years ago was completely nonsensical because technically this writing is not Aurebesh. To the best of my knowledge this alphabet has not been formally identified in Star Wars canon, but it is actually the second attempt, after Aurebesh as we know it, to recreate Joe Johnston’s original alien alphabet created for the original trilogy. The particular font used here is likely Erik Schroeder’s Galactic Basic. The giveaway that the font used is not formal Aurebesh is actually the use of glyphs which in Aurebesh are two-letter digraphs. As Aurebesh has evolved over the years, the digraphs have been used less and less over time or repurposed as other symbols. In SWTOR when you see an Aurebesh digraph you can usually assume the font being used is not Aurebesh.

As fake space letters go, I continue to find the evolution of Aurebesh interesting. There are many, many issues with its original, official presentation. The punctuation is incomplete, and there are no numbers or rules for capitalization. Over the years, different fonts, very often created by fans, have filled in the gaps and fleshed it out in ways beyond its original intention. The overall effect of this is that Aurebesh feels rather like a living “language” with weird oddities and quirks that real alphabets develop through generations of use across vast distances. Aurebesh, from the very beginning, was never intended to be THE singular alphabet of the Star Wars universe, just one of many. (including our own English alphabet). In Star Wars: The Old Republic, this diversity of languages and scripts can be found around the game world, and eagle-eyed gamers will spot Huttese/Outer Rim Basic, Naboo Futhork, ancient Jedi and Sith runes and most recently Mandalorian alongside the familiar Aurebesh.

UPDATE! I just noticed a spelling error of my own in my recreation. I’m tempted to claim this is an intentional homage to the error in the original and totally not a basic mistake by yours truly. You be the judge!

 

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