Monday, June 2, 2014

SWTOR inside jokes

Wikipedia defines an inside joke/in-joke/private joke, as a joke whose humor is understandable only to members of an ingroup, that is, people who are in a particular social group, occupation, or other community of shared interest. It is an esoteric joke that is humorous only to those who are aware of the circumstances behind it.

Whenever a community exists for a long enough period of time, it gives rise to its own inside jokes, & the SWTOR community is no exception. While there may be players of the game who have never even heard of some of these things, if a person does know about them then they almost certainly are/were SWTOR players.

Heal to full

Back in July last year, Bioware started their class representative initiative. While it has been for the most part successful there was one regrettable incident, when the SWTOR dev team answered a few questions that were raised by the sorcerer/sage community regarding class balance. These responses came across as dismissive and condescending, and the shitstorm that followed shall go down in history as a lesson of what not to do in PR.

But one of the good things to come out of this is a very quotable line that has been the source of much hilarity and parody:
....comparing a Sorcerer to a Marauder or Sniper is not exactly a fair comparison. The fact is, Marauders and Snipers cannot heal themselves to full.

Since this one is fairly recent, most of you will probably know of it, but for those who don't, or those who might want to know more, there is a detailed post over at Ravalation on this.

Devs are in fire !

Back when the game was in beta, a forum user with the screen name 'padawanhichem' made a rather unusual post on the forums, the contents of which can be seen in the rather humorous video above. From what I can tell, the OP meant to say that Bioware's developers were "on fire", as in "on a roll". He was a good sport about the mostly good-natured teasing that followed in the thread. Although this one is not as well known as some of the others (and the contents of the original thread have been lost), it was apparently popular enough at one point for T-shirts based on it to be made.

Sword in box

Another one from SWTOR's beta days, on the beta forums, a player going by the name 'Battlebug' made this rather unusual post:
can you make sword in box light sword so sword come out when opened? then if sword is back after sword, use light saber on box, and saber will be boxed after sword is out.
What followed was one of the most hilarious threads I have ever read, as various other players posted humorous replies or attempted to decipher just what this guy was trying to say. While it may seem to some that this is one of those posts made by a non English speaker, if you had read other posts from Battlebug, it was obvious he had a better understanding of English then the 'Sword In Box' thread would lead you to believe. So this was almost certainly a troll post. Either that or the OP was inebriated while he made it.

I found a very detailed analysis of it here, which includes a possible origin for the idea behind the post. Though the original thread was deleted when the beta forums were wiped you can find the thread's content archived  here.

The Orange Pixel of Death/Doom

Back when SWTOR was in Beta, for several builds there was a little orange pixel under the edge of the chat window. Though it was such a tiny thing, a lot of players found it hard to ignore once they noticed it the first time. There were even rumors of players buying new monitors, believing it was a dead pixel, only to find it still present, even after the change.

It was patched out just a week or two before release, but for some unfathomable reason it is remembered fondly :P by a lot of players. For those curious, you can see what it looked like here.

Sir Copperfield

I wasn't sure whether or not to include this guy on my list, because 'SirCopperfield' is basically a troll. The posts that this self professed "Gaming Legend" makes are so ridiculous and over the top however, that if anyone reads one of them, they will almost certainly remember it. Anyone who visited the SWTOR forums with any regularity since it's launch with be familiar with this fellow. Some of his posts are somewhat similar in a way to the infamous Dos Equis commercials. Others are parodies of the "obsessed gamer" stereotype. As amusing as his posts are, it is even more amusing when some of the other players, actually take his posts seriously and respond accordingly. He has apparently moved on to TESO, but I have a feeling he will be back.

If there are any that I may have missed feel free to mention them in the comments.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

More info on 2.8

Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event:

I'm sure most of you reading this have seen the floating casino in Nar Shaddaa, even if you did not go there for any missions. Back when I was leveling my Operative, I paid it a visit during the course of her class missions there, and I was struck with the thought, "Wouldn't it be neat if those slot machines were actually usable?" and then promptly forgot all about them, a few minutes later. Well, it seems when 2.8 hits, those slot machines will finally have a purpose..

Nar Shaddaa Casino. For the first time, players are invited to the casinos on Nar Shaddaa to try their luck on the slot machines. Credits can be used to purchase tokens, which in turn can be used on slot machines. Lucky winners will receive certificates that can be traded in for unique rewards that will only be distributed during the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event. This event will run from June 10th to August 19th.

I'm a bit disappointed that they chose to add this as a minigame rather than adding Pazaak or Sabacc particularly since those actually require a certain amount of skill, rather that relying completely on RNG. Though officially we only know about the slot machines so far, for those who are curious swtor_miner has made a reddit post about the possible rewards and a craps mini-game as well that he found while digging into the PTS. Do note however that data-mined stuff does not always make it to the live build.

I don't know why they decided to make this a limited time event though. The casino is a part of the world, and it's not going to take off at the end of the event like the Gree ship does. It makes little sense to have this sort of thing be a limited time event IMO.

Groupfinder change:

The announcement also mentioned a significant change to the group finder, with regards to operations:

Groupfinder Operations Overhaul. Story Mode Operations will be more accessible to endgame players (levels 50 – 55). The Operations section in the GroupFinder window will list available Operations on a pre-determined schedule, rotating in different Operations every few days. Players who meet the level requirement of the Operation will be Bolstered, removing the requirement for endgame gear. Rewards have also been improved, making this a great opportunity for players to earn Ultimate Commendations and experience new content. These operations will also be for 16-man mode to ensure faster queue times (both 8 and 16 man need 2 tanks and that is typically the gating factor). 16-man is also more forgiving to mistakes and should increase the chances of a successful group.

One of the things I miss the most about WoW is LFR. With this change it seems that SWTOR will now finally have its own version. Although the percentage of players who raid in SWTOR is probably greater than that of WoW's before LFR, it is possible that a significant portion of the playerbase has not even seen the inside of an operation. This change will hopefully mean that players like that will finally have a chance to experience that content.

Other Events:

Double Fleet Requisition, Warzone Comms, and Credits from PvP matches. For three weeks at a time, events will run that yield increased rewards for participating players. Galactic Starfigher will grant players double the Fleet Requisition and double the credit rewards they would normally get. Warzones will similarly give players double the standard Warzone Comms and double the credit rewards. The increased rewards only apply to the rewards on the scorecard at the end of matches, not the rewards you get from daily/weekly missions. The Starfighter event will run from 2.8 – 2.8.1. The Warzone event will be active from 2.8.1 – 2.8.2.

While the double XP events were pretty successful, judging by the increased player numbers during those events, I'm not sure these will be as successful. I admit, I'm just theorizing here, but for the majority of players who take part in these activities it is more about just completing the daily rather than grinding out comms to get to the highest tier as fast as possible.

Events! We will be running every one* of our major recurring events over the period between 2.8 and 2.9. Events include:
  • Double XP Weekend
  • Gree Event
  • Bounty Contract Week
*Except the Rakghoul Resurgence. Obviously, the Rakghoul plague was completely eliminated the last time, and the galaxy is absolutely safe from another outbreak. Right?

I still have plenty of class stories I have not played through yet, so more double XP weekends are always welcome, so long as they are far enough apart that I don't end up burning out. It's been a while since the last Gree event, and since the Helix Components are now BoL instead of BoP I am looking forward to it even more. I'm not sure how to take that last bit though. At first glance it seems like he is saying the THORN Rakghoul event will not return in that period, but they did use almost those same words just before it took place the first time, so...

The rest of it was mostly just stuff we already knew, at least as far as I could tell. On the whole though the announcement basically means that we won't be getting any actual story content till 2.9 hits in august.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Where to, from here

When I first heard the announcement that Star Wars EU was no longer canon, I was pretty upset. One of the things that drew me to the Star Wars universe in the first place, how vast it was, and the fact that in spite of this, it all more or less fit together. Sure there were a few rough edges here and there, but for the most part it formed a pretty cohesive overall story. There was a fixed timeline and nearly every book/comic/videogame with a Star Wars logo on it had its place there. This was in stark contrast to things like the Marvel or DC comic book universes which were rebooting themselves so often, that there was no point in delving deeper into those, as in a few years they would just throw it all out & start over. And that is not even taking into account the wildly different interpretations of these characters in film & television. This is my fear here: If the people at Disney decide, some years down the line, to once again throw out everything and start over, they have already set the precedent. No longer will the Star Wars universe be one (almost) cohesive story. Instead it will be split into different eras like the DC/Marvel Silver Age, Golden Age, New 52 etc. It has already been split into two eras, Legends & the Disneyverse.

Another thing that upset me about this, is that I no longer know, what I know. I'm the kind of fellow who, when I read about a ship or see a new species in a game, I want to know all the background details about it. If its a ship I want to know where it was built, & what the original purpose the model was built for, if its an alien race I want to know which planet they are from, what is that planet like and what is this species known for that sets them apart. (I should mention though, that there are only two other franchises besides this one that I have gone into with such depth) But now, it is possible, even likely, that all those facts are no longer valid.

It may be that the future retcons may not be as bad as I expect, & many parts of the old EU will make it into the new one. Only time will tell. The franchise did however survive The Clone Wars, which messed up several things, so I think in the long run it will survive this as well. The best way for me to resolve the differences I think is if I just treat the new material as if it is taking place in an alternate reality. That way I can still enjoy the new stuff, and not be bothered by however much it contradicts the old stuff. Though this has diminished my interest in Star Wars somewhat, I am still looking forward to seeing how Rebels & Episodes 7-9 turn out.

Regarding the Ep. VII cast


I was a bit puzzled as to the date on which they announced the cast for the new movies, as I had previously heard they would be doing this on May 4th. So either they have an even bigger announcement planned for that day, or they just did it to distract fans who were pissed off about the canon announcement.

Like many, I am glad that they managed to get almost the entire main cast of the original trilogy. And while I would have liked to see Benedict Cumberbatch in the Star Wars universe, I am also relieved that they chose not to go with any big name Hollywood actors for the new additions (by that I mean actors like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise).

Other than Andy Serkis (who I know as Gollum from LOTR/The Hobbit), Domhnall Gleeson (who I know as Bill Weasly from Harry Potter / Tim Lake from About Time) and Max von Sydow (who I know as Lamar Burgess in Minority Report), none of the newer actors were immediately recognizable to me.

Even though the Star Wars EU is no longer canon, it is possible that these actors may be playing characters based on certain EU characters, if not those characters themselves. Here is my speculation on what characters these actors could be playing:

Daisy Ridley is probably playing Han & Leia's daughter, Jaina Solo
Domhnall Gleeson is probably playing Luke's son Ben Skywalker
Oscar Isaac could be playing Jagged Fel
Max von Sydow could be playing Admiral Gilad Pellaeon
Adam Driver could be playing Kyp Durron
John Boyega could be playing (an older version of) Lando Calrissian's son Lando Jr./Chance

As to Andy Serkis, I have no idea, but since several of the roles he is famous for are CGI characters, it is possible his role in this movie will be similar.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Star Wars EU no longer canon

Lucasfilm just announced that the past 35 years worth of Star Wars comics, novels, videogames etc that form the Star Wars EU or Expanded Universe is no longer canon. Going forward, only the 6 movies, the Clone Wars TV series will be considered canon, along with whatever they produce from here on out.

Some may think that this is no different than the way it's always been (G-canon, T-canon, C-canon, S-canon, N-canon and D-canon), and in theory it certainly seems so. In practice though, under the old system, everything was canon until stated otherwise. Under the new system, nothing is cannon except the movies & the tv series.

Apparently all the other old material will be rebranded under a new, non-canon  'Star Wars Legends' brand and will still be sold, so we wont lose them completely. But its a bit irritating that even though they will be ignoring the stories that play out in these, they still want to make money off of them. To add insult to injury, they will apparently be plagiarizing parts of these for their future works while ignoring the events in them.

When I first heard that Disney had acquired the Star Wars brand, & would be releasing new movies set after EP VI, I realized that some parts of the EU (i.e. the parts that took place in that time period), were going to be possibly retconned or discarded. Never in my wildest dreams did I think they were going to pretty much throw out 35 years worth of material.

Last year they had announced the formation of the Story Group, whose goal was allegedly to abolish the canon hierarchy system and create a single cohesive continuity, to basically decide what to keep, what to discard and what to change in the existing material. But now they've basically said 'everything before now is not canon and everything after is'. No offense to these guys but a blind, deaf, comatose, lobotomy patient could have done that, so what the hell were these guys doing all these months?

Even though George Lucas fucked up a few things in recent years (like the hippie Mandos & Moraband), not even he was stupid enough to completely discard the EU, and he was the one who created the Star Wars universe in the first place. Considering how many people this is going to piss off, I'm don't know how anyone at Disney though it would be a good idea.

It may seem silly to some, to be getting upset over what did or did not actually happen in a fictional universe, but the fact is that cononicity of these stories does matter to me, and I'm sure it does matter to a lot of other Star Wars fans. Being told that they are no longer canon robs them of something that I cannot really put into words. But there is a small bright side to this I suppose, at least Dark Empire in no longer canon.