hyperspace beacon

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

Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR Summer roadmap might get you back into PvP

Star Wars: The Old Republic producer Keith Kanneg just dropped the next roadmap earlier today, outlining the features upcoming before September and a little bit beyond. Although he didn’t give much detail about the future of the story for the game, he gave us enough hints that we can speculate about the direction it’s headed.

At the very top of the roadmap post, Kanneg thanks everyone for such a great first year as producer of SWTOR and hopes that everyone enjoyed the traitor storyline. The story ends with a lot of questions unanswered, but unfortunately, those questions will not be answered until sometime after September according to the post. However, it’s possible that some of the setups this summer are pointing toward what the developers have planned.

Kanneg said the devs have been listening to players and “as a result, [they will] be making a lot of changes based on your feedback, beginning with our PvP plans this summer.” 2018 will be the summer of PvP for SWTOR, so let’s break down everything that the developers are doing.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s Update 5.9 concludes the traitor storyline in classic style

May the fourth be with you, Massively OP readers. I hope you are having a wonderful unofficial Star Wars holiday. And if you’re thinking about jumping back into Star Wars: The Old Republic to celebrate, then I would highly recommend that you drop down enough subscription money to play through the recent storyline.

I’m rarely surprised by a SWTOR storyline anymore. Even if there is a nice twist, it’s not totally unexpected, and it can usually be predicted that your character will play a side role in whatever conflict is happening in the galaxy at large. But it seems to me that BioWare has taken that criticism to heart and shifted focus in its storytelling in a big and surprising way.

In order to get into the depths of what I mean by SWTOR returning to form, I will have to spoil the storyline, but I also would like to help encourage people to play through this storyline. So I will compromise: The first part of this article will be a spoiler-free discussion of the long flashpoint that makes up the majority of Update 5.9, The Nathema Conspiracy. But the second part will be completely hidden under spoiler tags and will discuss what sets this storyline apart from the previous two years of storylines.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR prank that revealed so much about the hungry fanbase

With April Fool’s Day falling on a Sunday, Passover, and Easter, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time on the internet watching the pranks and funny videos. Even Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t have its normal joke videos or Cartel Market sales. However, the SWTOR influencers did have a little bit of fun. SWTORista, Kid Lee, and especially Vulkk participated in a little bit of fun on the prankster’s holiday by making videos about the game.

Sid Caeser is quoted as saying, “Comedy has to be based on truth.” And I was surprised how close to the truth Vulkk’s video was. But that’s not the only things that as hitting home with long-time SWTOR players and even the most loyal fans of the game. Let’s take a few moments to talk about Vulkk’s video and the recent changes to the Cartel Market.

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Hyperspace Beacon: So SWTOR’s Update 5.8 happened

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched the delayed Update 5.8: Command Authority to the servers. BioWare now offers its first complete operation since Shadow of Revan. For those keeping score at home, SoR was launched way back in December 2014. We also see some much-needed improvements to the guild questing system that was originally launched with Strongholds expansion earlier in June of 2014, although BioWare has been adding to and improving strongholds since then. And lastly, we are introduced to some of new interactions companions Arcann and Ashara.

It’s only been a day since the launch, but I’ve had a chance to take a long look at most everything BioWare introduced in this expansion. And overall, I’m glad to see an update, but it’s just kind of… there. I have to wonder whether it was really necessary to make the bulk of what was introduced into a major update at all – or the developers could have placed the individual pieces into a much more impactful update. Let me explain what I mean by breaking apart the major pieces.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Why SWTOR fans should be excited about Fogbank

This week, I’m going to depart a little from the usual insights into the world around Star Wars: The Old Republic and talk about another studio that isn’t owned by LucasFilm and certainly isn’t owned by Electronic Arts. I’d like to talk about Fogbank Entertainment.

Some people believe that a studio makes a game what is it. Others believe that it’s the IP that the studio carries that makes the video game unique. I think that IP and the studio name carry weight. I certainly would not play SWTOR as much as I do if it carried an IP like Valérian and Laureline. But one of the primary reasons that I believe that SWTOR performed as well as it did (or didn’t, depending on your opinion) was the quality of the people behind it. For me, some of the most integral people to making a good game are the writers. And many of the SWTOR writers have moved on from BioWare and have effectively started their own studio: Fogbank.

If you recognize names like Daniel Erickson, Alexander Freed, Drew Karpyshyn, and Hall Hood, then you will definitely want to see what they are up to at Fogbank Entertainment. If you don’t know who they are, then give me a moment to explain why they are superstars of the gaming and MMO industry.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Carving up the new SWTOR Conquests

The original Lead Systems Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic was a man named Damion Schubert. A friend of mine used to call him my nemesis because he seemed to be in charge of everything that I disliked about SWTOR. At community cantinas and other interaction with fans like the Guild Summit, he said that he is work on SWTOR would not be done until he was able to give guilds their own flagships. He was true to his word. On May 11th, 2014, BioWare launched Galactic Strongholds, and with it guild flagships. Shortly after, we found out that Shubert had moved onto a different project.

Now, Shubert isn’t really my nemesis, but Strongholds in many ways have been a point of love and contention for me, especially when it came coupled with Galactic Conquests, a system that never really lived up to its potential.

With Update 5.8, the BioWare team is looking to revamp Conquests. As promised in the 2018 roadmap, BioWare Community Manager Eric Musco gave us a more detailed update on Conquests on the forums. But the changes to Conquests won’t be as meaningful to you unless you understand where Conquests are currently.

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Hyperspace Beacon: What was not said in the SWTOR 2018 Roadmap

Star Wars: The Old Republic players leaped for joy when Producer Keith Kanneg finally released the winter and spring 2018 roadmap last week. It was good to hear from him after so much silence over the holidays. I don’t begrudge the silence, personally. It’s typical for people in the games industry to slow down some over the November and December holidays. And many companies do not receive their annual budget until mid-to-late January. So the simple truth is that BioWare Austin probably couldn’t make any real promises for 2018 until February.

Also, Kanneg made some great statements at the beginning of his letter to the SWTOR fans. He said, “We’ve decided to use the Forums as the means to get you the information about the next couple months versus waiting for a Roadmap.” I’m completely on board with this. And I hope that SWTOR fans on the forums allow the developers to be more open and honest with their communication. That would mean that there will probably be things that are said that have to be taken back and more we-hope-we-can-do-this statements that aren’t actually promises.

Despite the good things, there were a few subjects that weren’t talked about or were glossed over in the roadmap that do raise some concerns.

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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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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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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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