Larry 'Shaddoe' Everett

Reporter

When not sitting at his computer, Larry... just kidding. He is always sitting at his computer. Larry has made a career out of running websites and playing MMORPGs, so posing in front of a monitor is a way of life. If he is not busy updating his web designs, he is digitally painting or typing out that novel he will never finish.

You can follow his Star Wars: The Old Republic writing in his long-running column, The Hyperspace Beacon.

"Listen, you don’t know me, son, so I’m gonna say this once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed."

Personal blog: Hyperspace Beacon
Twitter: @shaddoe

Hyperspace Beacon: 10 things you need to know about SWTOR’s Chiss

Star Wars: The Old Republic will launch its sixth major update since Knights of the Eternal Throne at the end of November. It will include an additional operation boss fight and another flashpoint to continue the Alliance traitor storyline. And even though the update is well over a month away, we know that storyline will continue on the Chiss-occupied world of Copero, once again tying author Timothy Zahn to the game.

But who are the Chiss, and why are they so important to the Star Wars universe? Besides being the species of the Imperial badass Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Chiss are very much a mystery to the galaxy at large. However, thanks to the many books, comic books, and video games, we do know a thing or three about this secretive species. Here are 10 things that you need to know before jumping into the new content.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s 5.5 adds cringeworthy changes in the name of balance

Today, when I talk about the balance of a class, I hope you’ll understand that I come from the perspective of a PvEer and raider. I also have a tendency to favor classes that are a little bit more difficult to play. So when I say that I take issue with some of the changes that Star Wars: The Old Republic has made with Update 5.5, understand that I already believe that my favored class is starting from a disadvantage.

Update 5.5 was supposed to bring the classes into a kind of balance. To understand what balance is about in SWTOR, we will have to go back to a post that Eric Musco made back in June of this year. In it, he details the target markers for each of the different types of DPS without giving specific numbers as to what those targets are. Musco quotes the BioWare combat team: “The deeper reason for a ‘buff’ or a ‘nerf’ lies in a Discipline’s ability to perform at their target DPS.” I will be referring back to this post as I talk about the class that I favor the most: Marauder.

So let’s dive into the deep end.

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From New York Comic Con, SWTOR and Timothy Zahn welcome you to Copero

The developers for Star Wars: The Old Republic held their Cantina Tour event just outside New York Comic Con last night. To help promote the SWTOR content “Traitor Among the Chiss” coming to the game this fall, BioWare developers as well as favored Star Wars novelist and creator of the Chiss species Timothy Zahn spoke about the newest planetary addition: Copero.

At the NYCC, BioWare Creative Director Charles Boyd mentioned that Zahn was a key consultant in the creation of Copero, a planet located in the Chiss Ascendancy. “It was a fun chance to explore Chiss culture that hasn’t come up in the books yet, like Chiss structures and rituals,” the official SWTOR Twitter account quoted from Zahn at the event. “It’s fun to start theorizing about how the Chiss could have withdrawn from the greater galaxy over time… between the Old Republic and the films, and possibly explore how that happened in a future update.”

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Hyperspace Beacon: The pros and cons of SWTOR’s United Forces server merges

First, if you’re hoping this is going to be an article hating on server merges and declaring them the ruination of an MMO community, then prepare for disappointment. I believe that server merges when done correctly are more beneficial to the health of a game than attempting to over segregate the playerbase. In fact, if I haven’t written about it here, I have mentioned multiple times in other forums that I think a single-server is probably one of the best things to happen to MMOs. EVE Online and Champions Online were a couple of the first MMOs to embrace this idea, and I know I’ve applauded them for it.

Although Star Wars: The Old Republic isn’t going down to one single server for its whole game, it is greatly reducing the number of servers. On November 8th, BioWare will reduce the servers to one server for each of the major English-speaking regions: US West Coast, US East Coast, and Europe. Then one server for each of the other languages represented in the game: French and German.

Surprisingly, most of the community is reacting positively to the idea of combining the servers. While the studio hasn’t actually used the term “server merge,” it’s been clear that everyone’s being moved into combined servers once again. However, there is one hold-out community that takes issue with how the merges are being handled. There are pros and cons, and there is really no way to combine servers without someone losing something, but the hope is that the overall gain will outweigh the losses.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Outside-the-box features to look for in a SWTOR guild (or any MMO guild)

On my server in Star Wars: The Old Republic, there are more guild advertisements than chatter in the general channel on the starter planets and fleet. This can quickly become overwhelming to those who don’t know what to look for. I have actually seen these advertisements turn people away from joining a guild altogether. The SWTOR population has also fluctuated quite a bit, so it’s difficult to find a guild that is active and has been in the game for an extended period of time. In other words, general chat is flooded with advertisements for guilds that aren’t very old. In fact, there are many who advertise needing a person or two to help start a guild.

If you are returning to SWTOR or maybe jumping in for the very first time, you are going to want to find a good guild. It’s possible to play the game without interaction with other people, but you will not really get the full experience until you join up to play the game with like-minded individuals.

My advice on finding a guild will avoid some of the obvious questions: Are they friendly, do they have regular events, and do they fit your playstyle? Instead, I would like to focus on the questions that are a little outside-the-box but are just as important if you want to find a guild that actually makes you want to stay in the game instead of flee it.

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Tamriel Infinium: First impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC

It’s hard to know where to start with these impressions because the upcoming DLC for Elder Scrolls Online is significantly more complex, more extensive, and more fun than I originally anticipated. Clockwork City has surprised me on multiple levels. Those who were fans of the Tribunal expansion for Elder Scrolls III will find nostalgia everywhere, and those who are new to this part of the lore will find a world that is similar yet very different from the rest of ESO.

Over the last couple of days, I have been spending my time on the public test server for Elder Scrolls Online where ZeniMax Online Studios has dropped its latest DLC: Clockwork City. This isn’t the first time we’ve been to the Clockwork City, but this DLC will be the first time that we are allowed to freely explore this creation of the god Sotha Sil.

There is no way that I am going to be able to sum up the hours of gameplay that Clockwork City has to offer in just a few hundred words, but let me hit on a few things that were the most important to me: aesthetics, storytelling, exploration, and gameplay.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The 10 best places to find SWTOR content outside the game

Just this week, a long-running Star Wars: The Old Republic fan-made website mentioned that it was shutting down, one among many that have come and gone since the launch of SWTOR. I was just mentioning the other day to a friend how Darth Hater pretty much faded into nothing and how many of the old fan-shows and websites no longer exist. It seems to be a rare thing for creators to make content since the launch of the game, and it’s even rarer for them to have created it before the game launched.

And now SWTOR-RP is shutting down, one of the last sites to have been reporting on SWTOR for over seven years. I know this because I was one of the three founders, and now the three of us remaining have decided it’s time to move on and let the site go.

So where does a SWTOR fan get content now? Are there still fansites that report on the latest news coming from BioWare Austin? I can hear Massively OP readers now: “Larry, your content is great and all, but I need more than a thousand words in Hyperspace Beacon every week.” And I hear you; I need more than that, too. So that’s why I’ve compiled another list of 10 podcasts, YouTube channels, and websites where I get my SWTOR information.

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Hyperspace Beacon: A happy accident in Star Wars The Old Republic gives us hope for the future of CXP

The last couple of weeks have been really rough week for Star Wars: The Old Republic from a technical standpoint. The Umbara update itself gave us a handful of bugs, including some that were very difficult to bypass. Then players also noticed a couple of extreme bugs that were deemed exploits. Community Manager Eric Musco acknowledged the exploits, and for one of them, he emphatically said do not do it. “Following the bug being fixed we will begin to investigate the impact of the exploit and what action is required,” he said on the forum. In the past, those actions have ranged from a slap on the wrist to a three-day suspension to revoking future access to that account. I don’t think things will get that harsh for this exploit, but I do foresee players losing the items gained. I’ll get to the specifics of that later.

What was most interesting was BioWare‘s handling of the second major bug. Under normal circumstances, if players circumvented the normal rate of character progression, the MMO developers would stop everything they were doing and fix the bug immediately, or at very least, they would tell players to stop lest they be punished. Instead, Musco said on the forum, “Until they are fixed next week, enjoy them. We tried to fix the bug, the bug didn’t want to be fixed.” He actually encouraged people to take advantage of the bug.

Let’s talk about that, why it happened, and why this happy accident is one of the best things that’s happened to SWTOR in a long time.

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Tamriel Infinium: ZeniMax’s Rich Lambert on Elder Scrolls Online content development, past and future

Morrowind was very likely a great boon for The Elder Scrolls Online. Although ZeniMax Online Studios hasn’t released any solid numbers, the staff has over and over proclaimed just how great things have been since the launch of that expansion. In fact, I recently sent some questions to Creative Director Richard Lambert, and when I asked him to quantify the success of Morrowind, he reiterated its success:

Morrowind has been really great for us and a huge number of players are exploring the new content, class, and battlegrounds. We’ve seen an influx of new players and returning players and our existing player base has really enjoyed the addition so far. It’s been a pretty gratifying experience for us.”

But even Lambert would tell you that this upward climb for ESO started long before the launch of Morrowind. And with the launch of the latest update Horns of the Reach, I was able to ask Lambert some questions about how ESO built up to the game it is now and also talk about some of its future — specifically, the Clockwork City update.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Impressions of SWTOR’s Crisis on Umbara update

I questioned BioWare‘s delay of the latest update for Star Wars: The Old Republic. According to a post on the official forums, the team decided to delay the launch of Crisis on Umbara because of a bug that could “prevent a substantial amount of gameplay when a player experiences it, from not playing the intro cinematic to not allowing re-entry into the instance.” Before reading the explanation, I joked to friends about the delay, saying that something must have happened to break the cash shop, otherwise, BioWare would never delay an update. It would just be released and fix it later in a patch.

But since it was delayed for legitimate reasons, the update should be bug-free, right? We will talk about that in a bit.

BioWare did eventually release the update on Thursday morning, actually. And I spent all of yesterday playing through the instance on different classes in story and veteran mode. It wasn’t too bad, and it’s certainly worth tossing a few bucks at BioWare if you like a little bit of group activity in SWTOR. Let’s break that down.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s Umbara is shrouded in darkness

Have you heard of the planet Umbara before? The Star Wars fan who has seen only the movies will likely say no, and even if you are a BioWare or Old Republic Star Wars fan you will probably say no too. The only people who would likely know what Umbara is are those fans who watched the Clone Wars television series. However, any Star Wars fan who has seen the prequel trilogy has seen a character from Umbara. You probably don’t know the name, but you’ll know the face of Sly Moore, the bald, pale woman who stood next to Chancellor Palpatine in Attack of the Clones. She was his senior administrative aide, and more importantly, she was the bearer of his secrets.

Star Wars: The Old Republic takes a journey to the shadowy world in the next update, dubbed Crisis on Umbara. Of course, since this is the Old Republic timeline, we are thousands of years before the Clone Wars, and really anything can happen. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have clues for what to expect, however. Let’s discuss the things we know about Umbara and what we know the update is going to bring us.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic’s Uncle Owen problem

When Star Wars: The Old Republic first released, an old Star Wars Galaxies argument popped up, and the crux of that argument was this: “No one wants to be Uncle Owen.” If we say that SWG pre-NGE was the Uncle Owen game, where players could successfully play a simple moisture farmer, and compare it to SWTOR, where you can be a member of the Dark Council, then we would see that SWTOR is clearly the winner if we are talking about the sheer number of players. However, SWG was one of the founding MMOs; it helped kickstart the genre. There were just not that many people playing MMORPGs at that time, so comparing the raw numbers is a bit unfair.

The argument continues. If we look at the story in the upcoming Battlefront II game, we see a kind of Uncle Owen story. The main protagonist of the game is a Commander of a squadron of Imperial soldiers that we have never heard of until now. Her name is Iden Versio, and she is, for all intents, a faceless Stormtrooper. Star Wars fans are very excited about playing through this storyline. I’m one of them.

However, the biggest place where we see the Uncle Owen controversy is in the SWTOR roleplay community, and I believe that if we study their arguments for and against playing a powerful character, we will gain a greater understanding why some storylines work and others do not.

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Tamriel Infinium: Impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Falkreath’s Hold dungeon, part of the Horns of the Reach DLC

Although the vast majority of my time in Elder Scrolls Online is spent solo, running through the single-player storylines, I raid and have done a lot of group activities in other MMORPGs. So when I was invited to run the newest dungeons with some of the developers, specifically Creative Director Rich Lambert and Dungeon Lead Mike Finnigan , I had to say yes. The actual run was livestreamed yesterday and since posted to YouTube. (I’ll post the video below.) But during that time, I didn’t really get a chance to give my impressions of what was happening, so perhaps now would be a good time to let you know what I thought.

Most of us here are PC players, so you will be glad to know that this dungeon releases on August 14th with the Horns of the Reach DLC for PC, but for those playing it on consoles, you will have to wait another couple of weeks until August 29th to actually play the dungeons. As for the whole DLC itself, it’s much like the Shadows of the Hist DLC: There are new achievements and meta-changes to classes, but for the most part, it revolves around two four-man dungeons. The one I ran was called Falkreath’s Hold.

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