hyperspace beacon

Hyperspace Beacon is a Star Wars: The Old Republic column by Larry Everett. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

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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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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Hyperspace Beacon: The sexual harassment problem in SWTOR

As most of our readers probably know, I consider myself a member of the roleplay community in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have been a part of MMO roleplay communities since 2004, and there isn’t a lot that I haven’t seen. However, there is a problem in the online communities, in general, that I have been quiet about, but I feel that something needs to be said about it before it hits a breaking point. And the gamemasters of the SWTOR world are stretched too thin and have to take extreme action — an action that will likely limit those who are innocently trying to have fun. The problem is harassment against women.

In my community, we have some very strong women, and I don’t want to call them out because I don’t what to make them targets. But I do want to thank them for their effort, and I would like them to know that their extra work has not gone unnoticed.

I myself merely play female characters sometimes, and many times when I’m on those characters, people assume that I am a woman in real life. Although I know that my experience only scratches the surface of what a woman gamer goes through, even I can see that it’s a problem. So I would like to touch on what I’ve seen and why I see it as a growing issue.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic’s mid-term report card

You would probably expect me to cover the new Star Wars: The Old Republic Manaan stronghold because it just released yesterday, and indeed, I will be covering that in my livestream with MJ this afternoon. But if you came here for my elevator-pitch impressions of the new stronghold, I can only say that it is mixed. There are some really great things about the new stronghold and some really bad things about the new stronghold; the base would have a bigger impact if there were visuals connected with it. I will lay that all out in the livestream with MJ.

Here, I would like to give my impressions of where Star Wars: The Old Republic sits in the middle of the year. As always, I like to use the Bartle Taxonomy to see how it appeals to different types of players. Bartle’s archetypes are Socializers, Achievers, Explorers, and Killers. I’ll get more into the details of what that all means in a bit. No one will fit any one of these archetypes 100%, but people will tend to lean heavily into one category or another.

Massively OP writers took a test based on Bartle’s Taxonomy a while back, and although it doesn’t cover everything that players are interested in, I believe it gives a good impression of what players of MMORPGs are looking for. Below, I have pulled apart the key features that each archetype is looking for in SWTOR and measured them with a letter grade scale.

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Hyperspace Beacon: An open letter to all roleplayers in MMORPGs

I really hate when non-RPers get their kicks out of making light of what roleplayers are doing to have fun. Many times, the roleplayer will be standing at the bar minding his own business on an RP server no less, when all of the sudden some bored 12-year-old in a 40-year-old body spams as many particle effects at the people just attempting to have a conversation in character. You’d think if that happened enough that it would cause people stop roleplaying; I’m fairly certain that’s in the back of the griefer’s mind. Sometimes it works, but most of the time, I like to believe that it just strengthens the roleplayers’ resolve. They try harder to find a place where they can be comfortable doing what they enjoy doing, or they simply ignore the flashing effects around them and barrel through.

But the funny thing is I don’t believe it’s that kind of thing that actually drives roleplayers from a game. I believe that the biggest detriment to roleplayers is other roleplayers, and the biggest hurdle in attracting new roleplayers to the gameplay style is ourselves.

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Hyperspace Beacon: A three-step guide to conquering SWTOR’s Nightlife event

Last week, Star Wars: The Old Republic brought back the Nightlife event on Nar Shaddaa. In a nutshell, it’s a gambling event. After all, Nar Shaddaa is an underworld haven, and if mob movies have taught us anything, it’s gambling and casinos go hand-in-hand with the underworld.

The sad thing is that I kind of like this event. It’s not because of the activity of the event; that part is the most boring thing to watch because you’re literally just clicking on terminals. And it can’t be because of the cost; a player can literally go through millions of credits in just a few hours.

It’s because of the prizes. They really are some of the coolest things that you can get without having to touch the cash shop in any way.

I was watching Sechari from the Passionately Casual Podcast hang out with his Twitch chatroom as he was playing through the Nightlife event when I realized that it’s possible that not many people know how to maximize their credits for this event. I’m going to give you the same advice I gave Sechari, in three easy steps.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The three key problems with SWTOR’s War for Iokath

Unlike some gamers, I actually like Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Trooper storyline. In fact, one of the most meaningful choices in the whole game is made by the player in the Trooper’s arc. After spending several missions with an operative for the Republic, you are faced with a choice that will leave her dead or kill many Republic senators whom you have never met before. It’s a tough call for a character that is supposed to be loyal to the Republic and loyal to the crew. No other choice in any of the other class stories was as difficult for me.

Because of his proven ability to create meaningful moments like those in the Trooper story, I have been happy to see Charles Boyd at the helm of the creative side of the latest updates to the SWTOR experience. But I was disappointed by War for Iokath from a storytelling perspective. And I was especially disappointed by the less-than-meaningful choices players had to make in this update.

I’ve held off talking about Update 5.2 because I like to focus on the positive in the MMO genre, but I think it’s time to face what has to be one of worst updates I’ve seen for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Let’s examine why I felt so cheated, and let me know if you agree with my assessment in the comments.

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Video: Story vs. lore, Star Wars: The Old Republic vs. The Elder Scrolls Online

In the ultimate battle for your dollar in the MMO industry, two MMOs with rabid fan bases duke it out by serving you a deep and engaging narrative. Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online both want to draw you in with the worlds they have to offer, but each does so in a unique fashion: One gives you interesting characters build up your ego by making you the most power being in the galaxy, while the other tempts you in with a wondrous world to discover.

In Massively OP’s latest video, we’ll examine these two games and ask which is more appropriate for an MMORPG: story or lore. It’s a tough question — there might not be a satisfying answer!

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic will finally allow us to switch factions

Long-time players of Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the next update 5.2: The War for Iokath, you will finally be able to switch factions. Insert disco horn here.

That’s right: If you are a Republic character, you will finally be able to fight alongside the best people in the universe: the Sith Empire. And if you’re a traitor to the Empress, you can fight alongside the Galactic Republic.

I also wanted to amplify another announcement about a couple of long-awaited companions. Republic Troopers, you will finally get your love interest Elara Dorne back, and Sith Warriors, you will finally be able to Force choke Malavai Quinn again, just as you always wanted.

I’ll explain the details, my opinion, and show a teaser video on the matter below in this edition of Hyperspace Beacon.

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Hyperspace Beacon: If you’re not playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, why are you still subbed?

Let me start this article by answering my own headline: It’s partly because I’m an idiot and cannot let go of this IP.

Star Wars: The Old Republic has been a part of my life for over six years, and not having it there to fall back on would be difficult. But I could still play SWTOR without a subscription. Many of my friends still do! The truth of the matter is that I’m still having fun in the game, just not playing the game. I still have a guild of about 50 people who log in regularly to participate in activities. I have friends whom I’ve grown close to. And as much as I hate to say it, there is no other game that can give me my Star Wars fix.

I guess it’s possible that I could still log into the game and not pay a dime for it, but hopefully, if I tell you what happens during my typical game day, you will understand why I still hold a subscription for the game, despite not playing a single bit of the content BioWare has given and sold me.

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