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

Tamriel Infinium: Where will the next Elder Scrolls Online ‘chapter’ take place?

In case you missed it, a couple of weeks back there were a couple of spoilers datamined from the testing files that seem to point in one direction for the next chapter of Elder Scrolls Online. By chapter, of course, we mean the next Morrowind-tier expansion, not just the regular and ongoing DLC and updates. And let’s be honest, we have long suspected that we would eventually see the location mentioned in that article open up as an explorable; it was just as obvious as Morrowind itself. But it’s not the only possibility! There are other more interesting locations that could eventually be on the ZeniMax agenda, either this year or beyond.

As I speculate on the possibilities for the next chapters and what these locations have to offer, imagine what would be the most interesting story and offer the most potential for content. There is also the aspect of nostalgia and attachment to new players that have to be considered, too; after all, one of the reasons that the Morrowind chapter worked so well was because of its strong connection to Elder Scrolls III.

If we look at the map of ESO as it currently stands, thanks to the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages, we can see five major areas that have not been filled in yet. Those areas could probably be separated further, like the east and west banks of the Nibenay Bay. The Nibenay Basin and the Blackwood on the east side and Elsweyr on the west. But those are not the most likely areas to open up next. I’ve narrowed my picks down to three.

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Hyperspace Beacon: No, Star Wars The Old Republic isn’t on the verge of sunset

I recently read a wild argument based on unsubstantiated rumor that Star War: The Old Republic is nearing its end of life, that BioWare is tired of it and is considering shutting it down. It’s just one among many I’ve read lately, and I don’t believe they are right. Instead, some appear to be repeating the same tired premise: “I don’t like it, and therefore no one should like it.”

Now, I don’t like many games, but I understand the merits and positive qualities of even some of the oldest, most shop-worn MMORPGs. First-person shooters make me disoriented because of the camera placement, but that doesn’t make them bad. In fact, one of my favorite series of games, Bioshock, was all told in first-person, but that didn’t affect the quality of the game. (Of course, I had to play it in super-easy mode just so that I could get through it without getting sick, but that’s beside the point.)

So in that vein, I would like to present my argument for why I believe the rumormongers are wrong about SWTOR.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The case for mature-themed guilds in the SWTOR community

I am a huge advocate for guilds that can remain friendly to the under 18 crowd. One of my favorite Star Wars: The Old Republic guilds, Unholy Alliance, is open to everyone. They have rules in place that make the guild friendly and fun for both adults and those under 18. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend any MMO for those under 13 that wasn’t specifically made for children unless they are accompanied by a trusted individual over 13. If you’re a guild leader, I believe it’s in your best interest to keep your guild friendly to those under 18. It gives you a greater opportunity to grow the guild, and teenagers are some of the best advocates for the game.

On the other hand, many guilds are 18+ and with good reason. Some have even gone so far as to say they don’t want members under 21. Granted, the guilds I’m talking about are usually roleplay guilds. In fact, SWTOR has the most 18+ guilds per capita over any other game from my perception. It’s tough to find a roleplay guild in on Star Forge that accepts players under 18. Although I don’t believe that every guild should be this way, I can understand some of the reasons why, and not all of them have to do with erotic roleplay — although that’s in there. What are the mature-themed guilds that you will find in SWTOR? And do they have to be mature-themed? Let’s answer that below.

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Tamriel Infinium: Three things MMORPGs could learn from Elder Scrolls Online

Looking at the title, you might think that I believe Elder Scrolls Online is the perfect MMO, and in that case, you’d be incorrect. Elder Scrolls Online might have won the Massively OP MMORPG-of-the-Year award, but if you read my post in that article, you will notice that ESO won my vote for that award from me because it didn’t have any major blunders – not because it did everything the best way possible.

That being said, there are a lot of things that other MMOs can do to rise to the level of competency where ESO currently sits. I would like to spend a few moments here at the beginning of a new year to talk about the things that ESO consistently gets right and that other MMOs can learn from.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Three things SWTOR could add in 2018 to turn itself around

Star Wars: The Old Republic did not have a banner year in 2017. It was the first year since the launch year that did not include an expansion. And the expansion that it released in late 2016 didn’t actually live up to its expectations.

Despite this, we did see some good things come out of 2017, like a couple of new PvP maps and some great changes to group finder. But what kinds of things can we see added to or improved upon in 2018 that would make up for this underperformance? Well, I have three of them. And I have done my absolute best make them realistic and doable with the existing team of developers. Let’s talk about that.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s 2017 year-end report card

I love the Bartle Taxonomy; it’s been around for a long time, and it’s still relevant today. This is why when I am given an MMORPG to judge, I will measure the game’s content against the taxonomy. Star Wars: The Old Republic has been my game for years, and I continue to play it nearly every day, even this year. I’ve been in constant touch with its community, and I don’t believe there is a part of the game I have not played in some fashion. How does it measure up this year to the Bartle Taxonomy?

The Bartle Taxonomy divides players into four categories that pull from two axes: the worlds-vs.-player axis and the acting-vs.-interacting axis. Crossing these two axes create for quadrants called Socializer, Achiever, Killer, and Explorer. A balanced MMORPG will sit right in the middle of these four quadrants. I have given SWTOR letter grades based on how I thought the game performed in those categories this year.

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Hyperspace Beacon: A six-year retrospective of Star Wars The Old Republic

Happy birthday, Star Wars: The Old Republic. I don’t think your birthday has actually ever fallen on the same day that my article released, so this is a great treat. And it’s also an interesting time for SWTOR because things have changed so much since launch, and it continues to evolve as does its audience to some extent. (Except me; I have not evolved.)

I started writing professionally about SWTOR a year and a half before it launched, so I have been there since the beginning. And although I’ve had my ups and downs with the actual amount of time I spent with the game, I have remained a subscriber and participant in all the activities that the game has to offer. Admittedly, my time in the game as made me a little bit jaded, which is why I have taken some breaks when the content cycle was low. Regardless, I have always stepped back into the game because, at the end of the day, I still believe that it is a good game with an even better community.

Today, in celebration of SWTOR‘s birthday, I would like take a look back to the game’s launch and each of the major stages of the game’s life cycle. I also invite you to talk about your favorite SWTOR moment in the comments.

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Tamriel Infinium: Our 2017 report card for Elder Scrolls Online

All in all, 2017 has been a fabulous year for the Elder Scrolls Online, and although I have been light on talking about the game recently, I have jumped in regularly to explore Vvardenfell and Clockwork City. This year ESO saw its first expansion and dare I say its greatest addition to the game: Morrowind. But that shouldn’t diminish the other great stories in the Horns of the Reach and Clockwork City DLCs. Also, ESO introduced one of the best player housing systems I’ve ever seen with Homestead earlier this year. I really don’t know how ESO is going to top 2017.

Let’s pull apart the accomplishments of ESO this year into my standard for grading MMORPGs: The Bartle Taxonomy. MMORPGs are wonderful because of the breadth of different activities that players can participate in. They draw together many different kinds of players, and Bartle’s Taxonomy breaks these players into four different categories: Socializers, Achievers, Killers, and Explorers.

Most people will be a blend of two or more of these categories. I’m going to measure the merits of the game based each category individually using a scale you’ll often find in American schools: A, B, C, D, and F.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR, it’s time to destroy the Eternal Empire

Those players who were looking for consequence in their Star Wars: The Old Republic storyline can, I’m glad to say, look to Knights of the Eternal Throne to get it. Although the Vaylin side of the story will remain virtually unchanged regardless of the player’s choices, it’s possible to lose multiple companions, and there is even one choice where you have to choose one companion over the other. However, the quality of the story really hinges on how much you like or dislike Valkorion’s family. They are a bunch of rich brats doing bratty things, so on a personal level, I couldn’t care less about them.

You know what I do care about, though? The Empire and the Republic. You know what most fans of Star Wars care about? The Empire and the Republic, or possibly the Jedi and the Sith. Whether it’s a story buried in the conflict of those two armies colliding or it’s a gangster taking advantage of being in the middle of those two opposing parties, the Empire and the Republic have been central to all the engaging Star Wars stories.

For this specific reason, it’s time for BioWare to tear down the Eternal Empire.

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Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR’s Chiss flashpoint

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched update 5.6, which gave us many new quality-of-life changes to the game as well as our first trip into the Chiss Ascendency via the “A traitor among us” storyline. I am in love with many of the additions like the legacy credit storage and the activities window. But I think the casual player would be most interested in the story on Copero. It’s also the part that I’m most unopinionated about. It’s all right and a good addition to the game, but it’s also just kind of average. It’s better than bad – but it’s not excellent BioWare storytelling.

Let’s take a few moments to talk about SWTOR Update 5.6 and all the things in it, then dive into why I think the Copero flashpoint could have used a little bit more polish.

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Hyperspace Beacon: What potential lockbox gambling laws could mean for SWTOR

Late yesterday I read these words Google-translated from Belgian news site VTM: “The Minister of Justice wants to prohibit purchases in video games if you don’t know exactly what you’re purchasing.” Yes, he means lootboxes, or what MMO players usually call lockboxes. These words stem from the growing controversy of lockboxes in video games. Gamers might argue that pay-to-win boxes are the real problem, but to an outsider, there really isn’t a way to distinguish pay-to-win from other lootboxes, and so here we are.

Because Star Wars: Battlefront II was the target of the latest lockbox controversy, I wondered what it would mean for EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, which has long been criticized for it’s handling of lockboxes and cash shop. The simple answer is that it probably will not affect the game much at all because as I understand it, SWTOR follows most of the existing gambling regulations for Belgium. BioWare or Electronic Arts would just have to file for an online gambling license.

Is this just the beginning, though? What if other European countries follow suit and started calling lockboxes and lootboxes gambling?

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Hyperspace Beacon: Assessing SWTOR one week after the big server merges

Many people believe that server merges are innately bad because in games like ArcheAge (or even all the way back to Star Wars Galaxies), they were done completely wrong or the game itself wasn’t designed for its servers to ever consolidate. However, other MMOs – RIFT comes to mind – have nearly perfected server merges. And for the most part, server merges help the game and its population. Because many of the smaller servers combine together with larger servers, there are more people around, group-finder queues tend to pop faster, PvP is more dynamic, and roleplayers can reach the all-important critical mass.

If I were to just look at the Star Wars: The Old Republic server merges from the perspective of the overall benefits of combining different server communities, I would have zero issue with them. SWTOR is one of those games that has no innate issues with combining server save for players losing character names. It could be done without losing character names, and I will get into the flaws of that system in a bit.

Now, let’s talk about my specific perspective having experienced two server merges by BioWare, then we will get into the details of how this latest one affected those in my community.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Datamining suggests big changes for SWTOR’s companions

It might be a little hypocritical of me to read into the datamined information from Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s upcoming patch 5.6, but I’d be failing at my job if I didn’t at least take a look. Of course, I’m not a fan of much of the datamined stuff because it leads to abhorrent speculation and misjudging, but there is one part of the most recent datamined info that has me kind of excited… excited about crafting, of all things.

So before we dive in, I should mention that datamined information might never make it in the game and that datamining itself is against the terms of service. And much of the datamined information can be and usually is taken completely out of context. That means that I want you to take everything that I’m about to write with a grain of salt. It probably means nothing, but every once in awhile, it’s fun to tread in places you’re not supposed to go. So if you would like to speculate with me, let’s talk about some very interesting changes that could potentially come to your companions.

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