Category Archives: Aurebesh to English

Echoes of Vengeance Review

This week I’d like to share some spoiler free thoughts on SWTOR‘s Game Update 6.2, Echoes of Vengeance. I won’t lie, I’ve been eagerly looking forward to SWTOR‘s first significant story update of 2020. I doubt there is anyone out there from the players to the developers who isn’t disappointed that we didn’t get more story this year, but I do think the game has closed out the year with a bang.

Echoes of Oblivion

MMOs aren’t really known for endings. To one extent or another, they’re all about keeping the treadmill running and hyping up the next big thing. Echoes of Oblivion, however, feels like the capstone to a journey started nine years ago. It ties together the major strands and story beats woven through eight class stories and all of the expansions, and brings them together for a conclusion that felt to me immensely satisfying.

There are the expected heroes and villains doing their thing, a few pleasant surprises, and one or two things put right that had gone wrong. In service of the story, there is once again an incredible setting to explore. We visited a similar mindscape before during Knights of the Eternal Throne, but this time the environment seems to have been modeled on the landscape of a brain with synapse-like paths connecting suspended islands of memories illuminated by glowing neuron-like formations. It’s unique and fantastic, and I definitely recommend taking your time to look around as you make your way through this adventure.

The who story itself is appropriately epic with moments of high drama and even a funny running joke early on. Each of the major non-player characters get a moment to shine and be cool, but none of it feels like kill-stealing or overshadowing of our characters. It’s our choices and actions have made it all possible and brought us to the end of all things.

With so many story beats and characters to juggle, it’s not surprising, however, that not every thread got pulled, even ones that perhaps should have. The climax surely could’ve had more personal impact if the Consular’s Shielding technique or the Inquisitor’s Forcewalking powers had been invoked. Moreover, I think it’s fair that players of Jedi Knights who have newly reignited or recently started romances with Kira and Scourge might be disappointed that their relationships weren’t acknowledged on-screen, despite their major roles in the story. I know there are countless combinations of characters and companions, and I don’t envy Bioware’s task of finding space for them all, but it does feel like any romances outside of Lana and Theron have gotten the short end of the stick for quite a while now.

I suppose I could also argue that Echoes of Oblivion is just SWTOR taking a victory lap, but if it is, it’s well deserved. Bringing a decade’s worth of story told by countless writers, artists, designers, developers and players to a rewarding climax is no mean feat, and the good folks at Bioware should be commended for sticking the landing.

The Spirit of Vengeance

But, of course, this is not the end. No sooner have we caught our breath than a new threat has emerged, and we’re off to a new flashpoint, the Spirit of Vengeance. Given the popularity of The Mandalorian, it’s not shocking that SWTOR would want to explore Mandalorian’s unique brand of politics. But they’re hardly riding any coattails. Generations of Star Wars fans have been mad about this stuff since Boba Fett made his debut in 1978, and SWTOR has been having fun with Mandos since launch. If the show’s popularity is an excuse for a deeper dive, I’m cool with that.

The flashpoint focuses on three clans familiar to SWTOR players, and each section is distinctive, giving the whole flashpoint a sense of progression. I’ve run the SoV on solo, veteran and master modes and each of the boss fights are pretty fun, although it’s not always clear how their mechanics work. I’m still not sure how best to deal with Bask Sunn’s tether and Troya Ajak’s songbird volley. That said, aside from the healing check on Troya, I didn’t find the flashpoint too taxing on Master Mode, especially as compared to the Onslaught‘s other new flashpoint, Objective Meridian. It is a long flashpoint, and that may not be for everyone. Personally, I consider Hammer Station speed runs to be the death of fun, so I am more than fine spending some extra time in SoV. That said, a group of four should have no problem moving through at a reasonable click. Curiously, I found solo the slowest mode since I had to slog through all the trash by myself. I wouldn’t mind if those power-ups from the Uprisings were a standard feature of solo-modes. A thermal devastator or two certainly would have come in handy!

Dar’manda

The flashpoint comes with numerous decorations to collect including three new Mandalorian themed posters. One can be seen below.

While the two other posters are written using the Mando’a font, this one is in Aurebesh, and for good reason. It features Indigo, leader of a clan of  Mandalorian exiles called Dar’manda who we met on Mek Sha. To their credit, the Dar’manda understand that it would be completely inappropriate for them to use the Mando’a language in their propaganda.

At first, I thought the text of this poster was a fairly basic aphorism, but in thinking about it in the context of the story and setting, it’s clear to me that the rewards being promised here are not the honor and glory sought by your bog-standard Mando, but far more material rewards. “Besom better have my credits,” as they might put it.

The logo at the bottom is a variation on the mythosaur skull and the standard Mandalorian T-shaped visor and helmet seen across Mandalorian lore. I don’t know if this is the first appearance of the symbol, but it’s pretty cool, and I hope we will get to see it in other contexts again.

I confess I went with a quick and dirty recreation here in hopes of publishing my take on the game update’s content while it was still somewhat hot. However, when I return next year, I plan to take a look at the two Mando’a posters in greater detail.

The Undiscovered Country

As this honestly crappy year comes to a close, I’m looking forward to the next. This silly blog, SWTOR and the good people with whom I’m honored to play have all been things that made a 2020 a lot easier to take. Next year is SWTOR’s tenth anniversary, and as Echoes of Oblivion closes the door on one adventure, the Spirit of Vengeance opens the path to another. Let’s see where it leads.

Stay safe, have fun and may the Force be with us all!

 

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry

With the brand new Feast of Prosperity event entering its final week, I thought I should share a short review while the event is still active for once. Like SWTOR’s other seasonal events, the Feast is less about rushing around fighting stuff (although there is some of that), and more about simple and hopefully fun gameplay. And I reckon it succeeds on that count.

Given how this year has gone, I think we could all use a fun distraction or two, and that’s what this event has been for this weary SWTOR player. The Feast of Prosperity consists of a one time story quest chain and repeatable dailies involving gathering exotic ingredients, cooking food and serving meals. None of this is extremely difficult. One of the daily ingredient quests calls for defeating world bosses around the galaxy, but with the respawn timers on those bosses drastically reduced and groups constantly forming to fight them, that quest is remarkably easy to complete.

The toughest quest isn’t mechanically difficult, but the Hard version of the Cantina Rush daily, which has the player take control of a serving droid delivering meals to a busy banquet hall, can get a little tense as you crisscross around the room trying to serve everyone their dinners before the timers runs out. During the seven or eight minutes it takes to complete that quest, I’m paying attention to nothing else!

One of the most interesting and neat things about the Feast has been seeing the crowds on Nar Shaddaa and teaming up to take on the various world bosses at all hours of the night and day. It’s nice to see the event give some love the second M in MMO.

The story is amusing as well and focuses on the two rival Hutts who have spearheaded the event. The choices players make while navigating the story lead to different results and rewards, and the finale felt satisfying to me. In addition, it was also a pleasant surprise to hear that the update includes some new music, specific to the tone of the Feast. Once you factor in the numerous new environmental assets, the Feast of Prosperity does feel like a stand out among SWTOR‘s events.

This is usually the part where I complain about the rewards, but not this time! The team did a great job including a wide variety of unique and fun items, emotes, decorations, pets, titles and achievements for players to earn. It’s all silly and I approve. I think it’s fair to complain about the armor set not being Legacy bound like most other event armors, but I confess I’ve been highly motivated to earn a Food Launcher on as many of my characters as possible.

Make no mistake, the Feast of Prosperity is hardly essential, nor is it meant to be. If you choose to skip it entirely, I doubt you’ll feel like you’ve missed out. However, if you want to earn some quick rewards, you can spacebar your way through the story and still come out with enough event tokens to treat yourself. Toss in a few of the trivial dailies, and you’ll be launching tomatoes at friends and enemies in no time!

Meet Jekiah Ordo

The last game update also included some actual story! Similar to the Task at Hand from earlier this year, it’s just a quick check in with Shae Vizla and an introduction to a new Mandalorian named Jekiah Ordo. This interlude is surely meant to set up the upcoming Mandalorian themed flashpoint. On the one hand, it is brief, but on the other I cannot deny it felt great to hear my characters talking again for the first time in many months. I’m eagerly awaiting the next story update. As I write this, it has not been official announced but hopefully we’ll be back in the thick of things before the year is out.

 

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Charles Boyd Q&A

This Week I get to continue the birthday celebration of this blog a little differently. Recently I sent a few questions to Bioware regarding SWTOR’s use of alien languages and none other than Charles Boyd came back with some responses!

Charles Boyd has been with the SWTOR team from its earliest days and wrote the original Trooper storyline. Soon after he became Lead Writer and most recently SWTOR’s Creative Director. He is also an avid cosplayer, and if, in the in the hopefully not too distant future, community SWTOR‘s Community Cantina events start up again, it’s worth the trip to stop by and see his excellent costumes in person.

I want to thank Charles for taking the time to answer my questions, and I look forward to seeing what’s next in SWTOR and its fake space languages!

How do the game’s artists and environmental designers interact with the encounter and story team? Zakuul has its own alphabet, and many of the ruins on Ossus are covered in Jedi text. Are these things that were specifically asked for or were they something that the art team created first before being incorporated into the story and scenery?

Charles Boyd: It can happen either way! Sometimes these elements are developed purely to suit the overall visual aesthetic – for example, the environmental signage on Nar Shaddaa or Mek-Sha largely originated from the art team. But in many other cases, that kind of detail is specifically requested by design or especially writing or the Creative Director (me) to suit the overall narrative or gameplay experience. Jedi text in ruins, specific signs for specific places that are key to the story, puzzle elements, etc. are good examples there – stuff that other teams ask for, and then the artists develop and implement to really bring those areas to life.

Lots of alien text in SWTOR can be translated into English. Engraved runes on Ossus refer to the Jedi code and a wanted poster from the chapter “Anarchy in Paradise” seems to feature a distant ancestor of Ahsoka Tano. When incorporating alien languages into the game’s scenery, to what degree do the artists try to make it “readable”?

On the other hand, some of the text featured in the game defies translation. Are these just random letters, secret messages, inside jokes or simply visually pleasing combinations of alien space letters? How deeply should we look for meaning in them?

Charles Boyd: As a rule, any text in the game is meant to have actual meaning. There are exceptions, of course; a few instances of placeholder text have unintentionally made it in over the years, and sometimes text is written to be “gibberish” on purpose, such as computer codes, encrypted data, and any other situation where it would make sense that the text should not be easily read by characters in-universe. We generally don’t use text like that for out-of-universe easter eggs or inside jokes, so odds are if you can’t read something, there probably isn’t a hidden meaning or mystery to decipher.

Some fans have deciphered Zakuulan and its variations, but not all letters of its alphabet appear in the game. Will the missing letters ever be revealed?

Charles Boyd: I’ll take that as a point of feedback! We generally don’t release stuff like this exterior to the game, so it would depend on returning to Zakuul at some point in the story and having a reasonable opportunity to include those missing letters in some background text. Feel free to send me the ones you’re looking for and I’ll make a note of it just in case. 😊

It’s always neat to see alien scripts beyond Aurebesh pop up in SWTOR. Some of the more recently developed languages like Mando’a feature prominently in the Bounty Hunter story and the Fallen Empire chapter “Mandalore’s Revenge”, but the writing seen in the movies’ Sacred Jedi Texts seem like it could also fit logically into SWTOR’s setting. Are these aspects that SWTOR might be able to explore further?

Charles Boyd: We can’t speak to the Jedi texts specifically at the moment, but we have mentioned in recent livestreams that there’s some Mandalorian stuff coming down the pipe later this year… seeing some Mando’a as part of that seems like a safe bet 😉

 

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Swoop-de-Whoop

SWTOR’s latest event, the All Worlds Ultimate Swoop Rally has come and gone, and before the next new thing hits, I’d like to share some thoughts about it.

The short version is this: I like it. I like it a lot!  The Swoop Rally is unlike any of SWTOR’s other events, and is much better off for it. I’ve been active with operations and even PVP this year, and zipping around the Swoop Rally has been a refreshing change of pace.

At its core the Swoop Rally is an obstacle course on three different planets with three different types of speeders and objectives. It’s not the most involved thing ever, but I’ve found it a relaxing way to cool off after a raid night or a fun way to pile up experience and conquest points on an alt. And I absolutely commend the team at Bioware for the speed and skill with which they assembled this content.

The courses themselves vary from planet to planet, and each speeder has a different enough feel and set of objectives, that I’m still enjoying it even after I’ve maxed out all three reputation tracks. For extra challenge I’ve been working on the achievements. I stayed up extra late the last night of the event trying and failing to complete the Horizon Razor’s Perfection achievement for Dantooine. Next time!

Many folks, however, only care about the rewards. On that score, I think they are a mixed bag. Each faction’s armor set has been assembled from pieces of gear already available in the game, and it shows. There are some neat individual pieces but no set stands out as a must have. Making these sets even worse value is the fact that they cannot be dyed and don’t color match to the rest of our outfits. I hope this is a bug that will be swatted sooner rather than later.

Each faction’s vendor also sells speeders of their own, but only one, the Blatent Beks’, features a unique model. That said, I am personally fond of the mounts selected for the Horizon Razors and Pit Screamers factions. And the gold plated versions of all three speeders available at Legend standing are distinctive and pretty neat.

In addition, there are lots of nice new and event-inspired decorations and droid rewards to be found as well.

The most interesting rewards are the Tactical items which all have silly effects related to mounting and dismounting from our speeders.  If you’re looking to min-max your character, there is nothing for you here, but if you want to show off a bit when you arrive at your destination, there is some fun to be had. The Razor’s Kickstart Tactical is genuinely useful for the extra boost of speed you get on mounting, and since it has no level requirement it’s the first Tactical that can benefit low level characters who may already be speeding through their class and planetary stories.

Events are the perfect place to include cosmetic rewards like this, and I’m glad to see Tacticals that are pure fun. Just don’t be like me and forget to equip an actually useful Tactical before pulling an operations boss. At least I got to Dash’roode first.

As with all events, I wish there were more rewards. It seems like dye module and color crystal recipes based on each team’s colors would’ve been obvious additions, and I am disappointed that some of the tougher or more unusual achievements don’t come with extra rewards. At the very least, “Perfect Idiot” absolutely should have been a title given to players for completing those weird achievements.

The Swoop Rally event, however, does come with a surprising amount of story, which unlocks in stages as players advance through each faction’s reputation levels. The story is told using the “KOTOR-style” dialogue interactions that were introduced with the Fallen Empire’s Alliance Alert missions. While I am on the record as not being a fan of this style of interactions, I understand that circumstances this year are unique, and will not object. I enjoyed these stories. They aren’t galaxy shaking adventures; they are about people just trying to work things out. Whether they come together or break apart is determined by the player’s choices.

I do wish that some of the conversations had options specific to our classes. I’m not sure my Consular needed the concept of the Trandoshan Scorekeeper explained to her, and I’m certain the Smuggler and Bounty Hunter’s underworld backgrounds could’ve played into other interactions as well.

That said, I enjoyed them and, as a light-side loyalist, was satisfied with the conclusions of each story.

Is the Swoop Rally SWTOR’s best event? I’m not sure I can make that call just yet. I understand that the racing gameplay isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I’m looking forward to its return, not so I can get more rep or grind more currency, but so that I can run the courses again. Moreover, I hope the good folks at Bioware are open to expanding the event in the future. I’m sure its no accident that there is room in the pits for a forth Swoop team. Additionally, I’d be happy to see the Rally visit other planets around the galaxy. Taris and Corellia seem like obvious destinations, but racing around Hoth and Manaan could be a gas too.

Very Fast, Very Dangerous

Finally, and at long last, let’s check out this Aurebesh sign featured throughout the Swoop Rally event. This sign will be a familiar to visitors to Corellia and Mek-Sha and features a speeder reminiscent of the iconic rocket bike from Return of the Jedi. This particular speeder is available in several versions in SWTOR including one awarded from a sidequest in Knights of the Fallen Empire and another found via excavation with the Seeker Droid.

The sign seems to have been designed as an advertisement for the speeder and proclaims that it is “coming soon” and includes some small text offering financing at an annual percentage rate that only a Hutt could love.

The speeder’s make or perhaps manufacturer is “Dynovibe”, a name you may not be shocked to learn seems to appear nowhere else in Star Wars lore.

As I indicated this summer, this recreation was a bit more challenging that I expected. The small text is somewhat difficult to read and I’m still not 100% confident in my translation. Instead of simply copying the speeder from the original, I had a go at recreating it from scratch. I didn’t get the same angle or lighting, but I’m otherwise pleased with my version. As seen in the game, the sign itself is lower resolution than others similar graphics, but my version is a little sharper in the interest of readability.

Today marks this blog’s 4th anniversary, and it has become one of the longest projects this freelancer has ever worked on. I’m certain I’d have moved on by now if not for the comments and kind words I’ve received from visitors to the site. Thank you so much for stopping by, and let’s hope things only get better in the next four years!

 

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The Company You Keep

This Week in Aurebesh will celebrate its fourth birthday tomorrow, but before the sun sets on September, I thought I’d sneak in under cover of darkness with one quick post to close out the month.

This Aurebesh sign has been on my to-do list since the earliest days of this blog, but I could never quite find a good spot to squeeze it in. The translation is relatively simple: at the bottom is the word “company” below a squished Aurebesh H or Herf set within a Q or Qek which has been rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise. It is possible that since the Q is rotated, the inset letter could be as well, making it a distorted C or Cresh. However, I think the sign’s most likely translation is “Company HQ”. While the text indicates it might have military connotations marking nearby headquarters, the sign is most often seen in cantinas, or other seedy parts of the galaxy such as Nar Shaddaa, so I’d classify it as an advertisement. Like another of my favorite Aurebesh signs, this one seems to be have been cheaply printed and plastered on walls where it has crumpled, faded and begun to tear over the years.

What I find interesting about this poster is how the shapes of the letters are incorporated into the design with the H sliding neatly into the gap in Aurebesh Q. For my recreation, I had to rearrange the letters a bit in order to roughly evoke the original’s layout. While not the flashiest sign I’ve examined, I still find it a clever bit of design and I’m glad I could finally find a spare moment to point it out.

I promise to have a bit more to say tomorrow as I finally present a recreation I’ve been working on since the summer. See you again soon!

 

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I Am Glott

Holy Hutch! August is almost over! I had planned on being a bit more prolific this month, but the recreation I’d planned to coincide with the Swoop Rally event turned out to be rather trickier than I expected. Just after, I had an opportunity to get out of the city for a bit and the change of scenery was most welcome.

I’ll save finishing the Dynovibe sign for the return of the Swoop Rally in September where I’ll also share my thoughts on the event as a whole.

To get back in the swing of things, here’s a somewhat simpler sign that can be found on Corellia. The sign serves as advertisement for Farwan and Glott a somewhat notorious manufacturer of Podracers. At the time of the prequels, Farwan and Glott’s designers were known for putting performance above pilot safety, and the company is said to have worked with the Hutt Cartel and bounty hunters to ruthlessly acquire the secrets to any special modifications made to their racers.

If that is the case, then their corporate strategy does not seem to have changed since the time of the Old Republic. Players who have ventured into the operation Scum and Villainy might recognize this sign hanging outside Olok the Shadow’s showroom on Darvannis. It seems that Farwan and Glott have a long history of illegal sales and shady tactics.

The sign itself has two versions: one orange and yellow, the other red and white. The sign’s bold white stripes seem to me to be cropped and mirrored Aurebesh G’s or Greks. There are other examples in the game of signs using mirrored letters as design elements and I’ve typically translated those letters into their English equivalents. However, in this case I kept the original letter shape since the overall design is more pleasing with the angled lines of the Aurebesh letters than the blocky G’s that would’ve taken their place.

Those, of course, are not the only mirrored letters. The sign also includes two Aurebesh Z’s or “Zereks.” I can only speculate as to their meaning, but it would not surprise me to learn that they refer to Bioware founder Greg Zeschuk. I suspect more than a few examples of Aurebesh in SWTOR include tributes to the makers of the game.

One Armbandits Crashin’

Before another Summer of SWTOR winds down, I thought I’d offer some quick thoughts on the revised Nightlife event, which had a buggy debut, but was thankfully extended so that everyone could burn off their casino tokens and win some prizes.

The addition of simple questing is a nice improvement to an event that is otherwise rather mindless. Interestingly, the Nightlife event, which was previously regarded as a time and credit sink, now has almost no credit cost to participate given how easy it is to earn tokens through regular game play. I looted many Emperor’s Tokens from flashpoint and operations bosses and even random mobs around the galaxy. Since a common prize from the Emperor’s machine is more tokens, I ended the event with hundreds of Kingpin Tokens, many, many more than I could reasonably spend. I know people who have thousands burning holes in their pockets.

Is this a problem? I don’t think so. While I won the new mount with little fuss and came away with dozens of Golden and Cartel Certificates, I know folks who were eager to get the Rodian companion and sunk a fair amount of time into their efforts.

The gameplay of the slot machines remains boring, but I’d hate to see the flood of Kingpin Tokens result in the odds of winning getting worse next year. I don’t mind credit sinks, but I’d hate to see the Nightlife event become even more of a time commitment. Perhaps next year, Bioware might consider adding something else to spend our surplus of Kingpin Tokens on. Maybe we could buy Emperor’s Tokens with Kingpins, even at a steep exchange rate.

I did not expect new games this year, but I was disappointed with the new prizes added to the Golden Certificate vendors. The new decorations are less than impressive minor variations on ones that were only recently added to the Onderon reputation vendors. Next time around, I hope we get something worth saving up for.

 

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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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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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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