Category Archives: General SWTOR

Swords Drawn

I just want to pop in with a very quick post to pass on congratulations to the winners of my recent mount raffle. I had so many entries that I added a few extra prizes to the pool. Bladebreake, Nezzir, Myst Draconis and Kaliyva, enjoy your sparkly Opal Vulptilla mounts! Zingerlo, Katie Cat, Meret-isesi and Celyddon have fun blasting off in your brand new Mandalorian Heavy Jetpacks! Check the mail of those characters for your codes!

Yesterday’s big news, however, was the announcement that SWTOR‘s development will indeed be moving from Bioware to Broadsword Online. Now that the news is official and the deal seems to be inked, the “broad” strokes of SWTOR‘s future are starting to appear. As far as I can tell, much if not most of SWTOR‘s core development, design and community team will be shifting over to Broadsword. If the intention is to transition SWTOR into maintenance mode, I strongly doubt we’d see so many people making the move. Moreover, you don’t have to read too deeply in between the lines of these folks’ social media announcements to see that the SWTOR team seems quite happy with this development.

If they are encouraged, then I’m encouraged! Other MMO’s have prospered after finding new homes, and SWTOR will still have backend support from EA and Lucasfilm Games. I’m certain Broadsword’s first objective is that the transition be essentially unnoticed by players who should be able to log on, subscribe and make Cartel Market purchases exactly as they have been doing for years already.

Beyond that, SWTOR‘s content for the rest of the year is already in development, and players may not see and feel the effects of this deal until next year. With a strong core at the helm, and a supportive studio to call home, I’m hopeful SWTOR will thrive in the years to come!

 

2 Comments

Filed under General SWTOR

Looking For Love in Alderaan Places

This week let’s do something a little bit different. Last Thursday Swtorista, with the help of her audience, devoted her stream to a discussion of and tier list ranking of the major romances of Star Wars: The Old Republic. These romances can evoke very strong and divisive opinions, and for many people are an important, if not the most important, relationship our characters have in the game.

If you’ve spent any time in the SWTOR community you can probably guess which companion romances rated the highest: the sassy yet approachable girls-next-door that populate most of the original class stories, and Lana and Theron.

I’m not here to criticize anyone’s story choices or dismiss any of these characters as manic pixie dreamgirls. Because I get it. I fell for Kira immediately; Vette is hilarious, and Mako is absolutely not just a pretty sidekick, buster. As far as Lana and Theron go, It’s a credit to SWTOR’s writers that they were able to introduce two strong romantic interests after the class stories that stuck with many players. Certainly at this point, our characters have spent much more time with them than our original companions

I do, however, want to examine two of the romances that crash-landed at the bottom into the F tier and explore why they are so hated, but also give them the love that many players seemingly refuse to: Doc and Corso.

SWTOR’s most successful romances are with the companions we as players get to spend the most time with before even starting the romance. Felix Iresso is a good example of a love interest introduced too late in the story to really stick the landing. He shows up two-thirds of the way through the Consular class story, and with so little time left, he starts macking on the Consular for flirts almost immediately after joining the crew. In my own play through, I quickly friend-zoned him, but it’s a shame because, once I got to know Felix, I discovered he’s a real mensch, and maybe if they’d met earlier, my Consular might’ve given him a chance.

But Corso and even Doc are introduced early on, but their romance arcs are rarely rated highly. I think there are several reasons for this. Some of them are based on their characters, some comes from gameplay issues and others are based on how players might react to the characters.

First off, Doc and Corso can be a bit much to take. Doc is basically the SWTOR equivalent of Schmidt from New Girl, and Corso was expressly envisioned as an annoying little brother. They are not cool, and it makes sense that everyone should want their character’s love interest to be cool. It’s also fair to say that their initial attempts to woo our characters don’t get off to a good start. Corso gets drunk and makes a god-awful pass at the Smuggler. As for Doc, he is definitely a guy whose guiding philosophy is “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

For the majority of companion romances (and in particular to the most highly rated ones), it is the player who initiates the flirting. I’m not a psychologist, but there might be something to the notion that some players might react uncomfortably to their avatar being hit on by an aggressive non-player character, whether it is male like Doc or even female like Kaliyo. I don’t believe this reaction is wrong. I can see how one person might feel like having to watch their character receive unwanted attention might hit too close to home or another feel like their character should not be the passive one in the game’s most significant relationship.

One of my favorite SWTOR love stories is with Aric Jorgan. He does not jump into it after the first flirt, but as his relationship with the female Trooper matures, his reaction changes and he and the Trooper end up in a sweet love story together. That is not how things play out with Corso and Doc. Regardless of our characters’ initial response to their come-ons, Corso and Doc keep trying. Someone who does not take no for an answer is at best a pest and oftentimes much worse. I imagine the writers and developers wanted to give players plenty of opportunities to jump into the companion romances so that they wouldn’t miss out, but fending off repeated overtures from characters you’re not interested in can feel less like banter than harassment.

I do understand the negative reactions to Doc and Corso. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to want to shove them out the airlock, but I also want to defend them and suggest that it’s worth giving one or both of them a shot. In each case, I suggest that you need to commit to the romance early on, and then you might discover they are, in fact, diamonds in the rough. And if it doesn’t work out, always remember that Lana and Theron will be waiting for you in Shadows of Revan.

Justice for Doc

Doc definitely has, as the kids say these days, “Main Character Syndrome”, and that’s apparent from the moment he is introduced in the Jedi Knight’s story. I take that as a sign that he’s a bit of a buffoon and a comic relief character. This is further reinforced by the fact that Kira starts dunking on him the moment they meet, and even the Jedi Knight’s dialogue options very often allow them to get in on the action too.

If you are a member of Generation X like me, you may very well recognize one big inspiration for Doc: the actor Bruce Campbell who is best known for his roles in the Evil Dead movies and the TV shows Xena: Warrior Princess and Burn Notice. I am certain that it is no coincidence that Doc rocks the exact same ‘stache and soul patch as Campbell’s character Autoclytus on Xena. Bruce Campbell specializes in playing comedic characters who aren’t as clever, charming and skilled as they think they are, and that sounds almost exactly like Doc. Like Ash and Autoclytus and Sam Axe, the humor of interactions with Doc comes in realizing that he is all talk and no game and then calling him out for his douche-baggery. Players who don’t get the connection to Campbell may very well have a different impression of Doc, but I think the game indicates pretty clearly that he isn’t to be taken too seriously especially when you start meeting his former girlfriends exactly none of whom come out of the relationship at all impressed with him.

But Doc’s heart is in the right place. He is out in the front lines of the war helping people when he could have a cushy practice on a core world. He may complain about it, but when push comes to shove, time and time again he does do the right thing.

All that said, the thing I find most amusing about Doc is that if he were a player character in SWTOR, he’d be a Smuggler. And not just a Smuggler, he’d be a Smuggler whose player mashes the [Flirt] button EVERY SINGLE TIME it lights up, which seems to describe how many, many people play their Smugglers. So if you find Doc to be a sexist and annoying pig, take a moment to pity poor Risha who has to deal with the same thing across the multiverse of SWTOR’s Smuggler storylines. #JusticeforRisha.

The Kind of Guy You Can Trust

Corso’s your buddy. Corso’s your pal. Corso will hold your beer while you go do something stupid. Corso will help you move even if the elevator in your building is busted. Corso will pick you up at the airport no matter how late your flight gets in. Corso laughs at your jokes, even the ones he’s heard before. Corso’s a righteous dude.

And, yes, Corso Riggs is a nerd and a dope who has absolutely no idea how to talk to women. I can relate. It is possible that, in my life, I may have, on an occasion or two, been less than smooth in my interactions with the opposite sex. If I can figure it out (kinda), I gotta believe that there is hope for Corso too.

Like a lot of you, I didn’t think much of Corso at first, but as his romance with the Smuggler played out, I discovered to my surprise that he grew on me. Part of the fun of it was calling out his old fashioned attitudes and then as things developed eventually seeing that he really is a big, dumb sweetheart. But still a nerd and a dope. Some things you just can’t change.

Tell Me What You Think and Win a Prize!

But I want to hear from you! Who is your favorite SWTOR character to smooch? Leave a comment below to enter a raffle I am hosting for a special in-game mount for your characters: your choice of an Opal Vulptilla or a brand new Mandalorian Heavy Jet Pack mount that debuted with patch 7.3!

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

  • Your character name (be mindful of spaces and special symbols!)
  • Your faction
  • Your server
  • Your favorite SWTOR romance
  • Which mount you hope to win: Jetpack or Opal Vulptilla

That’s it! For every 10 entries, I will draw one winner up to a maximum of 3 winners.

I will accept entries for two weeks from this posting and will randomly select winners on June 27, 2023 at 1 PM ET.

If you prefer not to comment publicly, I 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.

Please only enter for yourself!

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

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

 

65 Comments

Filed under General SWTOR

To Make Baskets or Broadswords

Gentle reader, you know me, I tend to ruminate on things before speaking my mind. Yesterday, however, news broke  that EA is likely planning to move SWTOR a new development home at Broadsword Online, a third party studio with experience stewarding Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. To say that I am having a wide range of emotions in response to this is an understatement. I have many questions, and I doubt that anyone outside of EA or Broadsword can fully answer them, so I will endeavor to not jump to conclusions.

I think, I hope, that I can speculate about the near future from what we know now about SWTOR. First and foremost, SWTOR is not dead. Keith Kanneg has confirmed that there is already content in the pipeline to at least last through the end of the year. Even beyond that, SWTOR is not going away.

SWTOR makes money. Star Wars is one of the most popular IPs in the world, and the bonanza of new Star Wars stories we’ve seen in the last few years attracts players to the game. It’s not a coincidence that we’ve seen so much Mandalorian content in the game recently. Fans want to play as Din Djarin and Bo Katan, and SWTOR does a good job scratching that itch.

As far as I understand SWTOR has been Bioware’s most successful title in the last decade, even if it doesn’t always seem like it’s been treated that way.

Was SWTOR the WOW killer? Of course not. Longtime players should know how it is by now. As SWTOR grew over the years it was in focused ways. SWTOR stopped charging extra for expansions after Shadows of Revan and made it easy for story focused players to dip into the game without needing to stay subscribed throughout an expansion’s peaks and valleys. If all you care about is PVE or PVP content, you are long since used to waiting through lulls for the thing you care about. I don’t think that was going to change under EA, and I don’t think it will change under Broadsword.

But SWTOR makes money. It doesn’t make the kind of money that makes EA jump up and take notice, but it has been a solid performer for Bioware for a very long time. And as long as Star Wars remains in the pop culture, there is no reason that can’t continue. Broadsword has every motivation to keep SWTOR a successful MMO.

Can they do it? I don’t know and I have no way of knowing. MMO-RPGs based on Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons have continued to grow after shifting to new studios. In SWTOR, story is king, so if Broadsword can produce the same quality of story updates we’ve seen from Bioware, then I think SWTOR will be fine. It’s no secret that Bioware has shifted resources around to shore up other games, and that has sometimes come at the expense of SWTOR’s development. At Broadsword, the game will become their biggest asset, and they’d be absolutely motivated to give it their full attention. And, sure, it would be great if they could squeeze in a new operation or flashpoint or PVP map every once in a while.

I do want to finish up with some thoughts about the human cost of all of this. Corporations love to restructure because it means they get to cut costs with layoffs. It breaks my heart that any of the good people who have worked their butts off to make SWTOR a success might be let go. They deserve better from EA, and it sucks that all I can do is thank them for their hard work.

I adore SWTOR because of the many, many talented developers, artists, actors, programmers, engineers and community team members who have brought the game to life. As a member of SWTOR’s content creator program, I have been very lucky indeed to have had opportunities to interact with and even meet some of the people who make this game. They have been without exception talented and dedicated people who want to make a game people will enjoy. More often than not, I strongly believe they have succeeded. That they have produced a game for nearly 12 years where I get to play a character at the center of an epic Star Wars story is an accomplishment worthy of celebration. I cannot think of another piece of Star Wars lore that comes close to the breadth and scope of what SWTOR has carved out for itself.

I hope the people who move over to Broadsword and those that stay with Bioware do very well, and that those who cannot find continued success elsewhere.

 

4 Comments

Filed under General SWTOR

Our New Machine Overlords

This week I’d like to explore a different topic, something that has been causing a big stir in nearly every sector of the internet: the explosion of increasingly powerful Artificial Intelligence tools that create words, pictures, sounds, music, voices and movies.

Machine learning or AI has been around for quite a while already. It helps our cars stay under control in bad weather, it helps ATMs read the handwriting on our checks, and helps rice cookers maintain the right consistency of our rice. But in the last year, the power and ease of use of many AI tools has exploded, and it has becomes this year’s corporate buzz-word. I don’t think AI art is better than what a human can make, but it is certainly faster and cheaper. Ready or not, I’m certain the effect AI will have on all of us will be impossible to measure. At the very least, we all know that if these tools can be used to cut costs, they absolutely will be used, whether it is for the good of consumers or not.

While this blog is still being written by a human, I thought I’d explore how it might affect Star Wars: The Old Republic in the months and years to come. Again, AI is already a part of graphics programs and functions as a powerful tool for writing code. It is almost certainly already being used in SWTOR in ways invisible to players.

So let’s think about how AI might change one of SWTOR’s most popular and defining features: its voice acting. I’ve often heard that the voice acting is the game’s largest single expense, and I believe it. Every time our characters speak a line, forty-eight different actors across two genders, three languages and 8 class stories have been hired to speak that line or variations of it. And that’s not including all the supporting characters and companions and villains and background characters. Let’s not forget the writers, translators, audio engineers and editors and every member of the team who also are instrumental in bringing these voices to life in the game.

Alien dialogue has been used as a short-cut throughout the lifetime of the game, but it’s become more obvious with companions unlocked by the Galactic Seasons rewards track. So far, each of the four companions introduced during the seasons talk using languages from SWTOR’s library of pre-recorded alien languages, and we find out to varying degrees of plausibility why those characters speak that way. Of course it’s cheaper and easier to use pre-recorded alien languages for these interactions. I can’t blame Bioware for saving the fully-voiced characters for major story beats.

However, I think it’s fair to say that players have an easier time connecting to characters when they understand the language they are hearing. In my own case, I tend to zone out after long interactions with aliens. Unlike a foreign movie with subtitles, there isn’t a performance of the dialogue that I can relate to even if I don’t understand the meaning of the words being spoken. For example, I can’t honestly say the secondary Manaan storylines made a strong impression on me. After a certain point, I just started skimming the subtitles and space-barring through the alien speech. But I engaged more with Ruhnuc’s secondary story because, while my characters’ side of the conversations were not voiced, at least Lane Vizla and Kur Ha’rangir were.

There is a fan-made add-on for World of Warcraft that uses AI to give full voice acting to the dialogue boxes with quest text in the Classic version of the game. Although there is narrative associated with all of WOW’s quests, the vast majority of the game’s player base has long simply ignored the boxed text that quest givers deliver in order to get on with the game. The add-on does an impressive job delivering WOW’s exposition. The performances created by this add-on are not perfect, and the range of voices is limited, but it’s been stunning to see what a single add-on developer has been able to accomplish.

What if this technology could be used to make our interactions with Fen Zeil, PH4-LNX and Amity in English (and French and German) as well? If there simply isn’t enough in the budget to hire voice actors for one-off companions, wouldn’t that be a better, more player friendly option?

Let’s not stop there! SWTOR already has a vast library of recordings that could be used to train an AI to deliver realistic performances of existing characters. This is how Darth’s Vader’s dialogue was generated for the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi now that James Earl Jones has retired from the role. Similarly there are members of SWTOR‘s cast that have passed away since the game’s release. I imagine AI could be used to help bring Tanno Vik and Xalek back to the game in meaningful ways.

Let’s keep going and get rid of those “KOTOR-style” interactions and have an AI replicate the voice of the main cast for every side quest and companion recruitment mission. And how great would it be to have more companion interactions as well? Don’t worry, they won’t need to hire Laura Bailey and Troy Baker, when they already have years of recordings to use as datasets for the AI, and we’ll get to hang out with Kira and Theron whenever we want!

Look, I know these think pieces all have to have a Terminator reference, but the danger of AI doesn’t come from killer robots from the future, but from the corporations that want to cut every corner and squeeze every little guy on the way to greater quarterly profits. I don’t know the legality of this. I don’t know what’s in the fine print of the contracts the SWTOR cast signed well over a decade ago. Would it shock me (or anyone) that some suit at EA would just love to remove voice actors from SWTOR’s budget? Of course not.

Legal or not, I would not feel good about playing a game in which a computer program simulated the voice of someone without the original actor’s consent.

All I can say is this: even as the technology gets more impressive and the results so very nearly indistinguishable from the real thing, I am increasingly of the opinion that I’d rather see Luke Skywalker played by a person and not a special effect. Isn’t Star Wars better off with Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan and Donald Glover’s Lando despite the fact that they did not originate the roles?

More than a decade ago, I connected with my Consular in a way that made me love the character and love the game. It is in large part because of the performance Athena Karkanis delivered. It is in large part because of the writers and artists and developers, all the people at Bioware, who created the stories and brought SWTOR to life.

Artificial Intelligence tools are already powerful, but right now (and I suspect into the near term) still require knowledgeable and skilled human guidance to get the most out of them. Nonetheless I do believe that they will have a huge impact on how games, movies, music, books and shows will be made. Maybe one day soon we won’t be able to tell the difference between something created by a human and something generated by code, but Art at its core is about people communicating through time and media whether it is the outline of a hand traced on a cave wall tens of thousands of years ago or a video game about wizards and cowboys in space, and I think there needs to be people on both sides of that interaction for it to really be Art.

 

4 Comments

Filed under General Star Wars, General SWTOR

Showdown on Ruhnuk Review

This week, at long last, let’s finally take a trip to the newest world added to Star Wars: The Old Republic: Ruhnuk. SWTOR’s Game Update 7.2 Showdown on Ruhnuk revisits the Mandalorian conflict begun in Onslaught’s Spirit of Vengeance flashpoint and the challenge to Shae Vizla’s rule from the mysterious Heta Kol. If you’ve yet to check out the new update, don’t worry, I’ll be keeping this light on spoilers.

This is an addition to the game that I very much enjoyed. Ruhnuk from the air is a stark, stony environment, but once you settle into its lush river canyons, the world’s beauty reveals itself. The stories told on Ruhnuk do a nice job leading players across the world’s zones, and the planet’s various exterior and interior spaces feel different enough to keep things fresh as we progress.

This update further explores Mandalorian culture which is very much front and center in the most popular Star Wars lore these days. However, this time, our character, the Alliance Commander steps aside to let Shae Vizla take the lead in this adventure. I found it amusing that Shae’s seems to treat my character in a way that SWTOR traditionally treats our companions. I’m quite okay with that. Since Fallen Empire, SWTOR has so strongly focused on the Outlander/Commander as the key figure in the larger conflict that it is nice to see the narrative put the attention elsewhere for a bit. Shae is a character with ties so deep in SWTOR lore, that it doesn’t feel out of place to give her the spotlight for a bit.

Showdown on Ruhunk’s story of feuding Mandalorian clans is the most epic in scope we’ve seen since Fallen Empire, and I had fun watching it all play out. This chapter also integrates lost Jedi Padawan Sahar Kateen and her brother Ri’kan into the narrative, so it also successfully keeps SWTOR’s main story in motion as well, and our trip to Ruhnuk doesn’t quite feel like the distraction that the events on Manaan did.

I have not yet played Showdown on Ruhnuk with a character who saved Torian during Knights of the Eternal Throne, but it was nice to see Akaavi Spar involved in the story’s events. I think Akaavi is an under-rated companion, and I’ve come to appreciate my characters’ interactions with her even if they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Likewise I enjoyed the interplay between and with the Ordo brothers, both of whom I’ve become quite fond of since their introduction. Akaavi, Jekiah and Rass are three very different characters that do a good job showing the range of personalities that those who call themselves Mandalorian can still have.

To my great surprise, the end of the main story was not the end of my time on Ruhnuk. It was, in fact, only the beginning. A second story, which I cynically assumed was meant only to introduce the daily area, once again had me criss-crossing Ruhnuk on an entirely new adventure. And then there was the “Relic Hunt” which has the players exploring the world’s hidden corners for power-ups and eventually the game’s latest Datacron.

I always take things slow, and it took me a few weeks on Ruhnuk before all I had left to do there was the daily quests. If this is to be the model for new additions going forward, I highly approve!

Daily Dally

Before I talk about Ruhnuk as a daily area, I should describe my approach to dailies these days. I mostly avoid daily areas now. To be honest, I’m bored with Conquest. Outside of Galactic and PVP Season objectives that also score Conquest points, I am not particularly motivated to do the same objectives I’ve been doing for years on end. With one odd exception I have not visited CZ-198 or the Black Hole since last fall. I know they are good sources of credits and Conquest, but I feel like I’ve done that content more than enough and I want to spend my time doing other things for a while.

I have never measured my playtime by the metric of credits-per-minute. This probably explains why the dailies I prefer are on Ziost and Iokath, two areas with unusual mechanics and less emphasis on traditional combat. During Legacy of the Sith, the majority of my daily questing has been during once a week visits to the Manaan Invasion Zone and most recently, Ruhnuk. In both cases, I progresses my reputation at a slow and steady pace, and once I capped out the reputations associated with both zones, I haven’t revisited either since.

As a daily area, Ruhnuk definitely tends towards the Iokath side of things. You can’t zip over to Ruhnuk and expect to blaze through it like CZ-198. While I was working on the Mandalorian Trat’ade (“Forces”) on Ruhnuk reputation track, I’d set aside an hour or so of time to complete the weekly quest and heroics.

And here’s the thing: I had fun doing it. I’ve often written about how I enjoy the exploration aspects of the MMO experience. I don’t mind getting lost or turned around; I like figuring out the best ways to traverse a zone, and it did take me a few weeks until I felt like I always knew where I was when on Ruhnuk.

My time on Ruhnuk was not without hitches. Looking back, I wish I’d completed the Relic Hunt quest chain before focusing on the dailies and reputation track because having access to the Jump Pad shortcuts really make a difference when questing there. In my final weeks doing the dailies with the perks unlocked, I felt comfortable on the planet and cleared the dailies at a pace that felt good to me.

Do I plan to keep going back every week? Nope. And I’m fine with that. I don’t think whether Ruhnuk should be deemed a success should hinge on how fast it takes to do the dailies or how efficient it is as a source of Conquest. If I want quick Conquest points, there are dozens of things to do in SWTOR that I’ve done dozens of times to score those points. I’d rather judge a zone by how I felt exploring it and what nooks and crannies I discovered on the way.

Because it doesn’t feel like we’re done on Ruhnuk. The second story involving Lane Vizla and Clan Ha’rangir certainly feels unfinished. And there are interactable objects and extra areas all over the world that seem like they might be relevant to adventures to come.

Until then the reputation track offers a ton of cool decorations (not to mention the dozens I looted while questing), a fun mount and one of the best looking Legacy armor sets in the game. At the very least, the Legacy titles unlocked along the way “Be’mand’alor Tomad”/”Mandalore’s Ally” and “Par’jilla Gehat’ik”/”A Tale of Triumph” are cool for anyone roleplaying a Bounty Hunter. I don’t feel like my time on Ruhnuk was wasted.

Well, mostly. I farmed up the two items necessary to unlock the “Wraid Night” achievement and discovered that the drop rate for one, the Fresh Dewback Corpse, is way, way too low. I told my guild-mates we’d complete the achievement on our fun run night, and in preparation I spent hours upon hours over three days mindlessly killing dewbacks. This reminded me of those truly awful vanilla World of Warcraft quests with horrible drop rates, and what should’ve been a fun and funny achievement left an extremely sour taste in my mouth.

My other wish is that the power-up perks unlocked by the Relic Hunt quest should be Legacy wide, especially since the hunt ends with the discovery of Ruhnuk’s Datacron whose benefit does apply to my entire Legacy. As I mentioned earlier, those perks make questing on Ruhnuk easier, and I think it’s fair that alts have convenient access to them since there is no need for them to hunt down the Datacron.

Clan Ha’rangir

Finally, let’s take a look at a brand new Mandalorian banner, which we discover on Ruhnuk and can be also unlocked as a stronghold decoration. The banner belongs to Clan Ha’rangir, the latest erstwhile Mandalorian clan to have joined Heta Kol’s crusade. This banner is interesting to examine because there are elements of its design that directly relate to what kind of clan Ha’rangir is.

Most obviously, the writing on it is not Mandalorian at all. It’s the ancient script that SWTOR players first encountered on Ossus, and is typically associated in Star Wars lore with the Jedi and Sith. But not in all cases. After seizing control of Jabba the Hutt’s palace, Boba Fett sits on a throne engraved with this ancient form of writing. I think we can conclude that both the Hutts and Clan Ha’rangir chose this “language” to establish and connect themselves to something that is not just old and traditional, but something ancient and immemorial.

Likewise, the clan itself is named after the Mandalorian god of the underworld Kad Ha’rangir; indeed, its clan leader Kur Ha’rangir claims to be a descendant of the god himself, a bold claim to make in any era, but especially in one where the Mandalorians don’t seem to be particularly religious. It does do a lot to suggest that the goals and methods of Clan Ha’rangir aren’t just old fashioned, they’re positively medieval.

It will probably not come as a shock to learn that the symbol emblazoned on the banner is not a traditional Mandalorian Mythosaur skull, but a helmet that matches the only known depiction in Star Wars lore of Kad Ha’rangir who is shown wearing armor festooned with barbs, spines and spikes, and that is reflected in its symbolic appearance on the banner.

I am no expert in Mando’a, the Mandalorian language, but my best guess for a translation of “Ha’rangir” would be something along the lines of “Hell Fish” which suggests to me that Kad Ha’rangir is decked out in armor inspired not by a Porcupine as it might appear at first glance, but rather a Puffer Fish. I’m certain Kur Ha’rangir would condemn me as a heretic for such a assertion, but I stand by my interpretation.

As we discover on Ruhnuk, Clan Ha’rangir’s focus is on restoring a mythical past that probably never really existed while ruthlessly consuming whatever resources it takes to make their vision of Mandalore a reality. The motto on their banner speaks of tradition, but it’s a hollow promise, nothing more than a flimsy excuse for more war and conquest without regard for the future of the Mandalorian traditions they obliterate along the way.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Ancient Jedi Runes, General Star Wars, General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith

Bits and Bobs

This week,Star Wars: The Old Republic released Game Update 7.2.1 which included SWTOR’s update to a 64 bit client and the debut of both the fourth Galactic Season and the second PVP season.

Updating a game well over a decade old to 64 bit was most certainly a herculean task that, if done properly, should be mostly invisible to players, and from what I’ve experienced so far Bioware has pulled it off. The fact of the matter is that there are so many versions of Windows, graphics cards and hardware set ups that accounting for every possible permutation of computers running the game is all but impossible, but so far I think it’s safe to say the upgrade has been a success. There have been some glitches here and there; it seems like Soa is so deeply woven into the primal fabric of the Matrix that any tug on any of the threads holding SWTOR together causes his encounter to once again bug out, but overall the game as I’ve played it feels a bit zippier. The PVP matches I’ve played this week have been less janky, and the large group content I’ve done has felt smoother over all. Thursday morning, we stuffed so many people into a single area of Voss to fight the Nightmare Pilgrim that the game had to close the instance, but the fight itself ran remarkably well.

SWTOR’s modernization effort over the last year or so has resulted in updates that aren’t necessarily sexy, but they do bode well for the long-term health of the game. Just yesterday, Bioware announced that next week players will be able to test a new cloud based server in the Asia-Pacific region. This is a temporary server, but it does mean that players on the other side of the world from the US may sooner rather than later have a more reliable server to call home. Without the move to AWS, the ability to even test a new APAC server would simply have been impossible.

Season After Season

This update also saw the debut of not one, but two seasonal tracks for the fourth Galactic Season and the second PVP season. For players who like to fill bars, it’s a bonanza of fresh activities, but I’m among those who feel like the last seasons have just barely ended.

It is a very, very rare feeling indeed that SWTOR gives players too much to do, so I don’t want to look this gift horse in the mouth, because I’m certain the summer doldrums will set in before I know it. That said, now that I’m used to the cadence and demands of both seasons, I’m going to take it easy this time around rather than risk burnout, especially when it comes to the PVP season. Two or three levels a week will allow me to complete the season with plenty of time to spare without feeling like I’m queuing beyond the point that it feels fun. As for the Galactic Season, goofing around with friends is the best part of the MMO experience, so I am always glad to team up to take on world bosses and flashpoints and other objectives.

Bioware has indicated that going forward, both seasons will be released at a less frenetic pace, and it does indicate to me that after Legacy of the Sith’s launch delay, the folks at Bioware are working hard to have SWTOR move towards a regular release schedule for its seasonal content.

The new companion at the center of this Galactic Season has an interesting twist and I’m curious to see where his story goes. Likewise, I have not looked too closely at the season’s rewards. Summoning the mount awarded from the first rank of the season track was a moment of genuine surprise that made me laugh, and I’m looking forward to charging around the galaxy like an Odux in a china shop.

Finally, I thought it would be fun to take a close look at a pair of the icons that have appeared on the Galactic Season rewards tracks. These icons have been in the game since launch, but most often seen by players in our inventory as tiny mission items. In the Galactic Season interface they appear much larger and are legible at this scale, so quick translation is definitely in order.

Since I don’t think Star Wars and SWTOR exist in the Star Wars universe, I feel confident in stating that the translations should not be taken as diegetic. That said, the idea that my characters might be playing an MMO and watching and debating the movies when I’m not looking is quite amusing! I’m pretty sure my Smuggler would main a Mara.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Aurebesh to English, Galactic Seasons, General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith

Make Your Mark

I’m back! I’d fallen behind working on another translation project and rather than stay bogged down in it, I switched to another that I thought would be quicker to finish. I’m not sure that turned out to be the case, but I am glad to finally take a closer look at a particular holo-sign that had long been on my to-do list.

This sign can be seen in many shady, neon-soak neighborhoods around the galaxy, most notably on Nar Shaddaa and Mek Sha, but because it is usually hung in out of the way spots, I’d never really been able to get a good screenshot of it until it was released as a stronghold decoration called the “Red Light Sector Sign” hologram in the Nar Shaddaa Holo Signs Bundle last year. Hung on the wall of my guild ship, I’ve at last been able to get up close to this distinctive red and yellow holographic image.

First let’s briefly look at the graphical elements seen at the top of the sign. The use of the repeating hex pattern is a common stylistic flourish across many of SWTOR’s signs. Likewise the quartered circle inside of an octagon can also be seen on its own or incorporated into other holographic signs across the galaxy.

Two different Star Wars scripts are featured in this graphic. The prominent letters in the center are written using Futhork, a calligraphic style from the planet of Naboo. This font was created by Iain McCaig for The Phantom Menace, but shows up in many places around Star Wars: The Old Republic from Coruscant to Nar Shaddaa to Makeb.

The letters at the bottom are reflected on either side of the sign and are rendered in Atrisian, a font, which like Aurebesh, has ties to Return of the Jedi, but was fully developed in the 1990’s by Lucasarts. This font is also fairly common in SWTOR both in the neon of the game’s present day and in the ancient carving of the Rakata on Belsavis. One thing to note about SWTOR‘s use of Atrisian that I find curious is that I’ve yet to discover a single use of it in the game that can be directly translated into English. Every other “language” can at least in a few instances be translated.

The content of the sign is elusive to say the least. The Atrisian letters seem random, as do the two large Futhork letters. Even though I can’t say for sure, I do think this is another example of Bioware’s founders, in this case Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, slipping their initials into the game. Would it surprise me that the smaller letters are the initials of other developers and artists who worked on the game? No, it wouldn’t, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to know for sure whose names they might stand for.

Inside jokes are best when they are for the insiders, so I’m fine not knowing who left their mark here, but I do think it’s neat that the good people who made this game possible got to lay some Easter Eggs in the game world for players to discover.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Futhork to English, General SWTOR

One for You, Nineteen for Me

This week Bioware delivered news of what to expect in the next game update as 64-bit testing continues on the PTS. It looks like the next Galactic and PVP Seasons will launch hot on the heels of the update. The controversy roiling the community seems to be the news of changes to SWTOR’s hyper-inflated economy. Among others, the SWTOR Escape Pod Cast and Shintar have chimed in, and I thought I’d add my two credits as well.

Bioware has been slowly making adjustments over the last couple of years, but the next update includes adding a credit cost to Quick Travel and other travel conveniences. I’ve discussed the economy in SWTOR before, and I support any steps to cool off the game’s white-hot inflation.

First and foremost, let me say this: credits are pretend money. They are meant to be spent. We should want to spend our credits!

For much of SWTOR‘s history, players have been easily able to accumulate far, far more credits than they’ll ever need to spend. The root cause of SWTOR’s inflation is that over the years Bioware has added more and more ways for players to generate credits while reducing the need to actually spend them. For example, training costs, which frequently left my first characters nearly broke as they leveled, have been removed altogether.

While purchasing gear upgrades from this expansion’s various vendors has some associated costs, they stop being a concern once we reach the gear ceiling. Repair costs are considerable if you participate in progression raiding, but for the majority of players who do not, repairs are a minor expense.

In my previous post I speculated that day-to-day expenses would increase in Legacy of the Sith, but I think they’ve actually gone down. Attaching a modest credit cost to Quick Travel is a start. Everyone who goes out into the game world to quest, explore or run dailies will have to pay a little more now. That’s okay.

In his post discussing the changes, Eric Musco wrote that Bioware wants to take it slow and adjust the levers of the economy as gently as they can.

Pricy and lavish credit sinks are great, and it’s fun to speculate about what people would spend a billion credits on. I would gladly purchase fun Legacy unlocks and new cosmetics, but optional, one time purchases won’t fix the economy if the root cause of the inflation is ignored. The place to start is to balance how much we earn with how much we spend.

Of course long time players won’t notice paying a few thousand credits to criss-cross the galaxy via Quick Travel, but I also don’t think it will adversely affect new players as much as people claim.

I created a new character on the PTS last weekend. I ran through the Sith Warrior Origin Story on Korriban doing only the class story, the two heroics, and Quick Travelling back to the academy after completing each quest; this earned me around 5500 credits, enough to pick up mods for my main hand weapon and a newly purchased modable off-hand on Fleet. By the time I’d finished Dromund Kaas (Quick Travelling back to the city after each story quest), I’d completed Conquest and arrived on my ship with more than 35,000 credits. This is by no means extravagant wealth, but it is enough to play as I would on a character with access to my main Legacy. Further I suspect new players would be doing side quests that would net them more credits and vendor trash. And that’s not even considering Log In rewards, which we can often sell for hundreds or thousands of credits, or Galactic Season rewards, which we can post on the GTN for a few million.

That said, I do think the travel costs on the starter planets should be cheaper; my very first Quick Travel nearly wiped me out completely! I think it’s reasonable that new players should arrive on Fleet with enough credits to spend on a mount, adaptive gear, mods for that gear, crew skill missions, and the freedom to fully deck out their first slot in the Outfit Designer.

There is no magic bullet to fix MMO inflation where credits are generated out of thin air and, to be sure, there is much more to be done. There are trillions upon trillions of credits floating around SWTOR. I don’t imagine they’re going away soon if at all, but I think it’s in the player’s interests if the nozzle of the hose that is blasting endless credits into the game got turned down a notch or two.

Another point I want to reiterate from my previous post is that I would be very reluctant to see any kind of way to directly turn credits into Cartel Coins. Yes, we can turn Cartel purchases into credits via trade or the GTN, but I don’t want to see the process reversed. Credits are Monopoly money and I don’t think Bioware should support a means to attach a real world cash value to them.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Finally, although it does look like both the fourth Galactic Season and second PVP season will be launching with the next game update, I again want to say I wish there were separation between seasons of all kinds. We don’t have a time frame for when the next update will launch, and my general impression from the PTS is that it is still a ways out, but I would prefer a break to do other things for a bit and not have to think about filling bars every time I play. It’s hard to know how long Bioware would like to go between seasons. Season two was pushed back by Legacy of the Sith‘s delayed launch, and it feels to me like Season three would’ve paired well with last summer’s Nightlife event, but instead was moved to fall to not overlap with the previous season.

The gap between the start of Season two and three was roughly 8 months, but it seems likely that there will be less time between the current season and the next, perhaps 6 months. To me, participating in the concurrent PVP season has meant I don’t feel like I got much of a break. Perhaps Bioware’s intent is that there should always be some kind of seasonal event going, whether it’s a Galactic or PVP season.Ideally I’d like to start a new season ready to get back at it rather than feeling like “Here we go again…” I know Battle passes are the new hotness in online games, but nothing turns optional content into a grind faster than constantly hitting players with the Fear of Missing Out when there are other things they might want to do sometimes both inside and outside the game.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Galactic Seasons, General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith

Tomorrow Never Knows: Five Predictions for 2023

Before we get too far into 2023, I decided I should bite the bullet and put out my annual list of five predictions for SWTOR in this brand new year.

The results from last year’s list were poor even by my standards, so I’m going to strive a little bit harder this year to predict things that might actually come to be.

Darth Nul is the Big Baddie

Darth Malgus is on ice on Fleet right now, but I don’t think anyone believes that the events he set in motion after breaking free of the Emperor’s control are close to completion, regardless of whether he will see his plans come to fruition in person or not. My suspicion that Malgus won’t survive this expansion has waxed and waned, but I’m starting to feel again that his time may soon be up.

So far Darth Nul, who we first heard about in connection to the events on Elom has remained a remote figure who may not actually even be alive anymore. Nevertheless the spirits of malevolent, powerful Sith have a nasty habit of lingering long past their time, and I think we might soon be in her presence. As the “mother” to the Children of the Emperor, there is no telling how much influence she has over them after Valkorion’s ultimate defeat.

With the Showdown on Ruhnuc story, SWTOR’s plot threads are being woven together, and it seems the next step is to fully reveal Nul’s role in all of this. Whether it’s as a spirit controlling her children, or as a fully corporeal Sith Lady, or a ghost scheming to transfer her essence into Sa’har, I don’t dare guess.

Down for Dathomir

But where will it all happen? Elssha recently posted a poll on twitter asking which planet from live action and animated Star Wars lore folks would like to visit. I voted for Kashyyyk (because Wookiees), but it got me thinking.

Towards the end of Onslaught, Sana Rae, the leader of the Force Enclave of our Alliance sensed a disturbance in the Force, and we had the option to send Arcann to investigate it. Whether or not Arcann was around in your version of the story, the specific source of the disturbance has curiously not been revealed.

This suggests two possibilities. First, the folks at Bioware didn’t know when they started the story, or they chose not to tell the players. I favor the latter theory, but it begs the question: why didn’t they tell us? An answer that makes sense to me is that it is a world that is filled with possibilities and history that the players might very well know of even if our characters would not. Dathomir, a planet steeped in the Dark Side of the Force, with a history in lore filled with defiant female witches seems like just the vacation spot Darth Nul might want to visit or set up shop.

While the infamous Nightsisters are likely not around during this era, the planet itself could still be home to all manner of threats to our characters from Rancors, Dark Side Zombies and Force wielding shaman which the Cartel Market suggest do exist at this time.

A trip to Dathomir certainly would put the Sith in Legacy of the Sith!

Arts and Crafts

This expansion’s launch spread out updates to several systems associated with an increase in the level cap, but crafting has thus far been untouched. It is starting to stand out as something in need of an update, and I hope this is the year crafting gets some attention.

MMO Crafting is tough to get just right. When it comes to allowing players to make endgame gear, the gear is either too poor to bother using or so powerful that it obviates other progression paths, It’s rarely anywhere in between. At this point, I don’t think it really makes sense to add yet another gearing path, but I think there might be other ways to make crafting interesting.

SWTOR crafting, however, has never really been a major part of the game for most players. The ability to craft reusable stims, medpacks and adrenals has made Biochem the stand out crafting skill for endgame players, and the utility brought by other skills has lagged behind. I remain fond of Artifice as a source of cheap dyes and color crystals for my stable of alts, but my other characters’ skills see little use beyond crafting augments and kits.

At the very least, Bioware should revamp the crafting UI which has been hardly touched since launch. Trying to find specific a item amidst the long lists of items in the numerous categories is more difficult than it should be.

In addition, the changes that came with the Onslaught expansion made crafting a slog. To make an item, you need to make components to make more components which are needed for yet another level of components, and then you repeat the process for another type of component. It’s tedious and requires a vast supply of crafting materials and baby-sitting of companions on crew skill missions. It’s not engaging, and it certainly isn’t fun.

But how to fix it? You got me. Should it be possible to craft Best-in-Slot gear? I don’t see why not. Back when 50 was the level cap, Artifice, Synthweaving and Armormech each allowed players to make non-tradable, Bind-on-Equip, best-in-slot gear in a pair of slots. Maybe that’s something that could return to boost the other crafting skills. Should it be easy or hard to gather the necessary materials? Or something in between?

Personally, I love adding recipes for color crystals and dyes to my repertoire, and I feel like there are lots of retired cosmetic weapon and armor appearances that could be given to Armstech, Armormech and Synthweaving. Likewise, it’s been a while since Cybertechs got a new mount or grenades to craft. Are more craftable cosmetics the key? I would dig them, but I don’t know if that would be enough for other folks.

Regardless, I do think it’s time Bioware gave crafting a good look.

Hats and Hoods and Hair, Oh My!

Throughout the game’s history, there have been countless cool outfits that are marred by hoods that make players look bald or hats that come with odd skull caps. It’s time we finally had hats and hoods that show our hair. This wish was actually on my very first Dumb Top Five list, and I would not revisit it if not for one recent addition to the game: Ri’kan’s armor set.

As far as I’m concerned adding headgear that includes Twi’lik head-tails for everyone who wears it is letting the camel’s nose in the tent. If I can wear a helmet that gives Lekku to a Cathar, then we can have a hat the puts hair on Rattataki.

Are there technical limitations to what I’m asking? Can headgear that includes hair even match the color we selected at character creation? I feel like it should, or at least it shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem to solve.

Nico’s wide-brimmed hat looks great on him. A stray lock of hair spills out of Vaylin’s hood. I very much would love to see options like this finally be made available for our characters.

For Every Season There is a Porg

The theme uniting the next Galactic Season will, of course, be Porgs. It all makes sense. Bioware wouldn’t simply throw an adorable, much requested, lore appropriate pet on the Cartel Market; they would have to be introduced with all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect of a Galactic Season.

Long time readers will, of course, not be surprised by this prediction. In fact, it’s been locked into this spot on this list for months (if not years). But here’s the thing, I think a Galactic Season based around a creature companion is actually a good idea. First off, it obviates any need to worry about voice acting since it’s expected that a creature would only need to growl, chirp or purr. Furthermore, all sorts of extra rewards suggest themselves: customizations with different fur or feather colors, mount versions of the creature we could ride, cute baby versions to hatch as pets, and so on.

Conversation interactions could involve training the creature to be either as friendly and huggable as a Charhound or as vicious as an attack Porg. Would you teach your animal companion to bring you your slippers or go for the throat?

As much as it breaks my heart, a Porg might not actually be a good choice for this idea, but there are plenty of neat creatures all over our SWTOR stories that would work. How about a lion-maned, dinosaur-horned Ranphyx like the ones we encountered on Elom? I think that would be pretty darn cool, especially if we could work towards a customization that gives it the glowing eyes and electrified hide of the boss we fight in the Ruins of Nul flashpoint.

I still want a lil’ Porg buddy though.

So here’s to 2023! I hope it’s a fun and rewarding year for all of my readers, and that all of our Star Wars dreams come true, even if most of these predictions probably won’t! Let me know in the comments your predictions for this year.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Dumb Top Five, Galactic Seasons, General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith

Seasons’ Greetings

Just popping in this week to mark the end of 2022.

As I write this I’ve have recently hit rank 100 on the third Galactic Season track and have also started off the new PVP Season.

Once again I had fun with the Galactic Season. There was a nice mix of objectives and a very solid collection of rewards to earn. While I understand that over-the-top armor sets are a staple of the MMO design aesthetic, it’s good to see the Season 3 outfits include a comfortable jacket and pair of pants that look like something an average person could actually wear. While there should always be a place for armors with countless straps, flaming skulls and unnecessary spikes in odd places, I always welcome the option to wear something my character could reasonably sit down in while wearing.

The G.A.M.E. Pit Boss jacket is adorned with patches recalling aspects of games of chance from Star Wars lore including a sideways Cartel Coin symbol, Han Solo’s famous lucky “spike dice”, the face of a Sabacc card on the right shoulder of the jacket, and the back of another over the heart. This symbol also adorns the weapons and mounts rewarded during the Season.

The origins of the card game of Sabacc stretches far back into Star Wars lore as the game of chance in which Han Solo infamously won the Millennium Falcon from his pal, Lando Calrissian. Originally called “sabacca” in an early draft of The Empire Strikes Back, L. Neil Smith changed the name to Sabacc (perhaps to sound less like “Chewbacca”), in his delightfully odd 1983 novel Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu. Sabacc has been a stable of Star Wars‘ underworld gambling scene ever since. The first playable version of Sabacc, an amalgamation of Poker and Black Jack, appeared in West End Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying Game module Crisis on Cloud City in 1989, but many, many variants and updates to the rules have appeared since. Even in the Star Wars universe, there is no single rules set for Sabacc, and this has allowed creators to include and adapt the game in whatever ways they need from Black Spire Outpost in Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge theme park attraction to the game’s big screen debut in Solo: A Star War Story.

The large patch on the back of the Pit Boss jacket is especially fun, and once I picked it up, it immediately became a go-to outfit on my smuggler. I know SWTOR merchandise is a rare thing these days, but I’d love to see that “Galactic Champion” emblem on a patch or a pin or t-shirt for me to wear in the real world as well!

I definitely recommend sprucing up the jacket with a cheap Secondary Black Dye from the Underworld Reputation vendor who can be found on your fleet’s Cartel Bazarre. If you ever wanted to be cool like Fonzie, this might do the trick!

Weapons, Name Calling and Cheating

The latest game update also saw the debut of SWTOR‘s first revised PVP Season, and I’m dipping my toes again into regular player vs. player matches.

My first impression is that I wish there wasn’t overlap between the Galactic Season and the PVP season. Since participation in either does take time and commitment, having a break between seasons is important. It is nice when the game rewards different activities, but sometimes I just want to kick back and decorate, explore, complete dumb achievements or other stuff that does not actually advance any progress bar. I think that the game should remember to let players direct themselves sometimes.

Since I haven’t PVPed much this year, the PVP season does feel fresh to me, and it’s been fun shaking the rust off. Truthfully, when it comes to player-vs.-player, I am just average, but it’s nice to be able to queue for warzones alone and not have to worry about having an arena popping and dealing with the pressure of having to perform expertly in order to not let my teammates down. In the 8 versus 8 objective-based warzones, while I definitely want to win, I don’t really care if I don’t. As long as I did my part, I shrug and move on to the next one.

Progress down the season’s track, however, does strongly reward winning and active participation in the matches. It is difficult for some classes to achieve 8 medals even in a victory. I can’t tell you how many times my Sorcerer has finished a match with a 59k biggest hit, and once again missed out on the Annihilator medal that triggers at 60k.

While I understand that earning medals is easier in Arenas, in Warzones, it takes active engagement to come away with the magic number of 8 medals needed to advance the weekly objective for earning medals. Players need to aggressively engage in completing objectives, and folks who prefer to act in support or farm numbers may struggle to finish that season task.

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. Capping nodes, scoring the Hutt Ball, and planting bombs on doors all make matches faster and, I think, more interesting. I’m certain Bioware will adjust the numbers next year, but I’ve had some entertaining games so far. I have had some stinkers too. Solo queueing into a match against a pre-made group is never a great experience, and isn’t an uncommon occurrence during off-peak hours.

The rewards for the season are worth discussing. The Cartel Combatant armor set doesn’t really stand out in comparison to the Galactic Season rewards and certainly not in comparison to old Ranked rewards. If the armor has a connection to Star Wars lore, I can’t quite place it; likewise it doesn’t feel thematically tied to any of the classes or either faction. I don’t dislike the set, but I don’t feel like it fits any of my characters. That said, the interactive decoration are pretty neat and my favorite items on the track so far.

For me, the rewards that motivate me the most are the season tokens that can be used to buy replicas of the flashy old Ranked Season rewards. I know this is a touchy subject for some, but my general feeling is that it is okay for elite cosmetic rewards to become more accessible after their time has passed. This has long been a staple of MMOs and even SWTOR has been recycling Nightmare armor and weapon cosmetics for years. If you have some leftover Light Side tokens, you can buy weapons identical to the Kell Dragon ones my team busted our humps to earn back in the day.

I won’t lie, I’m hoping to save up enough PVP season tokens to grab the weapon set I came up short earning nearly 8 years ago. But it’s going to take some time. Realistically, I won’t have enough tokens until well into the second season. Players who are better than me and more willing to participate in arenas will earn those tokens faster.

Again, I’d say this is okay. I know many Ranked players are lamenting their rewards being turned into participation trophies, but if I’m being brutally honest, it would’ve been much easier and quicker in the last couple of years for me to win-trade enough ranked currency to buy those replica weapons than it will take me to earn the new tokens through a couple of season tracks where the matches are real and people are trying.

Overall, I think the season is off to a good start. The season should be long enough for me to earn enough tokens towards my goal without feeling like all I must do in SWTOR is PVP. The solo queues have been popping, and I hope that means more people are trying it out. More people PVPing should mean better season rewards in the future and hopefully even new maps. There is no downside to that.

Happy New Year!

Just as the holidays began in earnest, Keith Kanneg, SWTOR‘s Project Director, delivered an early present with news of SWTOR’s ongoing modernization efforts. I’m no expert when it comes to computers, but folks who know tell me that upgrading to 64 bit should help the game be less resource intensive and allow some more robust processes in the game. In addition, by moving the servers to the cloud, most users should see reduced latency, especially folks who play on the Virginia-based Star Forge or Satele Shan servers, but are not themselves on the US’s east coast. These changes are hardly glamorous, and if done right should be close to invisible to most players, but they do demonstrate Bioware’s commitment to the game.

That said, for the vast majority of SWTOR players, the only updates that matter are story updates, and I don’t think anyone is satisfied with the amount of story we got this year. Hopefully as these infrastructure projects wrap up, we might see a more regular cadence of story updates, but we also need to understand that story requires a whole host of additional organizational expenses that other updates to the game don’t. Remember, at the very least, every time your character speaks a single line of dialogue, 48 different voice actors have to record that line, and that’s not including the writers, translators, audio engineers and everyone in the production pipeline who makes SWTOR‘s most prominent feature, fully voiced story, possible. Does moving SWTOR to the cloud mean we’ll get more frequent story updates? I want to hope so, but I think it’s best not to assume too much.

Finally, let me wish everyone who’s stopped by here a happy, safe and prosperous New Year! I’ve got a backlog of topics and weird alien text to translate and I hope to see you on the other side!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Aurebesh to English, Galactic Seasons, General SWTOR