hyperspace beacon

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

Tamriel Infinium vs Hyperspace Beacon: Three ways to make lockboxes work better in MMORPGs

Last week, I stirred up a hornet’s nest by bringing up the topic of lockboxes and how I really didn’t mind them in general.

Hyperspace Beacon and Tamriel Infinium are our biweekly columns on Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online, respectively. Both are penned by Larry Everett. Today’s edition is a mash-up of both.
It’s an important topic given that Elder Scrolls Online just released its version of lockboxes in its last update and Star Wars: The Old Republic has run into its share of controversial situations regarding its lockboxes. I’d like to continue that discussion this week.

I mentioned in the article last week and many times in the comments that I have some major caveats to how I think lockboxes should work, and I mentioned that neither ESO or SWTOR actually handles lockboxes well. Both have their good points, but neither does it perfectly.

This week, I’d like to dive into what could make lockboxes simultaneously viable for studio funding and far less frustrating for the customer. If lockboxes are here to stay, why not try to fix them? Let’s look at three ways to make lockboxes better — for everyone.

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Hyperspace Beacon vs. Tamriel Infinium: An unpopular opinion on SWTOR and ESO lockboxes

I expect to come under fire for the opinion I’m expressing today for a couple of reasons.

Hyperspace Beacon and Tamriel Infinium are our biweekly columns on Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online, respectively. Both are penned by Larry Everett. Today’s edition is a mash-up of both.
First, I know that many people have very strong opinions regarding lockboxes, including some other writers here at Massively OP. Second, my opinion will likely put me at odds with a lot of the people who visit this site. I would like to state right up front that anything expressed in this article today is my opinion alone and should not be taken as a reflection of the opinion of this site or any other person who writes for it.

With Elder Scrolls Online introducing lockboxes, we have lost what was pretty much the last vestige free from virtual gambling. Some ignorant people have accused me and this site for not calling lockboxes what they are: gambling packs. (In fact, we have called them out, repeatedly.) That is what they are; except you don’t ever get your money back, as you would if gambling. That is one reason game studios can get away with not calling it gambling, although that’s exactly what it is. I understand that there are legal implications when calling them gambling packs, so I guess I understand why game developers avoid calling them exactly what they are.

However, I don’t have issue with lockboxes in principle, and in some ways, I encourage game developers to continue making them. But this wouldn’t be much of an article if I ended it there.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Five things BioWare needs to do to keep SWTOR players around

I write a lot of words about Star Wars: The Old Republic. And over this last year, the Knights of the Fallen Empire has done some really great things, like adding level-scaling, presenting a compelling story, and making all companions viable again. However, I think it can be agreed that KOTFE also took some steps backward as well.

We are in a content lull right now, so I know that people have been stepping away from the game because of that. However, many of the major players and fan sites started to drop off well before the KOTFE chapters were actually finished, and I’ve really had to take a step back and ponder that. In asking why, I believe that I’ve come up with five things that BioWare can do in the next expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne, that will help bring some of the people back, or at very least, entice players to stick around.

Be warned: There are spoilers ahead!

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s bonus chapter wins because of story

As threatened, the Shroud is back and like you’ve never seen him before. Seriously, you’ve never seen the Shroud like this. Star Wars: The Old Republic released its bonus chapter for its expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire. This was an intended loyalty reward for those who have been subscribed to the game since January, although there are reports of some people who were not subscribed that whole time actually receiving the bonus chapter. But most of the cases that I heard were those who were unsubscribed for only a day or two.

Of course, everyone will want me to jump in and tell you what I thought of it, but like everything with BioWare, there appears to be no easy answer. In order to really give you a feel for what I thought of it, I will have to break it down into two parts: story and gameplay. But where do I start? Let’s take the sandwich approach and talk about the good things first.

As always, I will not spoil any major twist or plot points in my review, but I will talk about some of the things that happen during the course of the chapter so that you can, as players, make your own decisions about the content.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The Shroud of Star Wars The Old Republic

I’m going to hit you again with some lore this week from Star Wars: The Old Republic. However, I promise that there will be a lot less speculation and a little more factual information because we are going to talk about a character who is reemerging for the bonus Knights of the Fallen Empire chapter Shroud of Memory. Some of you might be thinking that I’m going to talk about HK-55 or the HK series of droids in general, but you’d be wrong. I want to talk about the central figure in my absolute favorite series of quests, the macrobinocular quests: the Shroud.

I have played through every storyline in SWTOR. I have played through every operation and every piece of group content. I’ve downed every boss and even explored some places I was supposed to go. (Ask me about Belsavis on Twitter.) Out of all of those places and questlines, my favorite series of quests is still the Shroud series that released at the same time as first expansion for SWTOR, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. Give me a few moments to explain why this series was my favorite and why I am excited that this character is coming back to SWTOR.

For those who’ve not played through the macrobinocular questline, I will not spoil it. Promise. Continue reading.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Who is Star Wars The Old Republic’s Emperor Valkorion?

I took a look back at some of my previous Hyperspace Beacons and noticed that I have really never talked about the Sith Emperor, who has been the primary focus of Star Wars: The Old Republic since the game launched about five years ago. I’ve sprinkled hints here and there, but I’ve never really dedicated a whole article to the most powerful force user in the entirety of the Star Wars universe. I think I will remedy that today.

But I’m not just going to give you an article about the Sith Emperor; I will also dive deep into my speculations surrounding this mysterious figure and who he might actually be. I was recently speaking to a fellow roleplayer about the Sith Emperor and where he might have come from. He said that my theory was amazing and said, “You should write for BioWare.” I don’t know that my theory was that great, but I believe that it makes the most sense given the personality changes between person we knew as Lord Vitiate and Emperor Valkorion.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The five sins of roleplay in Star Wars The Old Republic (or any MMORPG)

I know that I have complained quite a bit about what Star Wars: The Old Republic doesn’t have, but I still play the game. However, a large chunk of my time is spent roleplaying and creating roleplay-centered events with my guildies. In fact, we held an RP-PvP event last night, and many guilds on the roleplay servers are using this bit of a content lull to increase the number of events they put on. So if you were ever looking to get into roleplaying in SWTOR, now might be the time to do it.

On the topic of our RP-PvP event, I also saw some of the worst roleplay imaginable during this event as well. During a previous post, I talked about a friend who just could not seem to wrap his head around roleplay. I respect that. But there is not understanding roleplay, then there are the things that I saw last night. In fact, many of the things that I saw were so awful that they inspired me to write this article.

If you haven’t guessed it, these are the top five worst things players do during roleplay inspired by last night’s RP-PvP event. I am not going to name shame anyone in this article, regardless of how tempting it is, but it should be noted that none of my examples is from my guildies. If they are reading this, they should know that they are in the clear… for now…

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Hyperspace Beacon: Why Star Wars The Old Republic’s KOTFE finale was satisfying and disappointing

The new era of Star Wars: The Old Republic passed a milestone late yesterday when it launched the final chapter in the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion. The fact that it launched several hours early actually gave me an opportunity to play through the last chapter twice, allowing me to see the end from a couple of different perspectives.

Just as I am watching a season finale for a television show, I’m left feeling both satisfied and empty at the same time. I want people to play through it themselves, but at the same time, I want to prepare players for a bit of disappointment.

As I review what is essentially the end of Knights of the Fallen Empire, I would like to warn you that there are some minor spoilers for some of the previous chapters, but I promise not to spoil the story of final chapter itself. If you have not played up to chapter 15, then now is your time to back out of this review.

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The final SWTOR chapter for KOTFE drops a few hours early

At approximately 5:15 p.m. EDT, players in Star Wars: The Old Republic received a warning that the servers were coming down but didn’t learn why unless they turned to the forums. According to Community Manager Eric Musco, BioWare was “bringing all servers down as [it deploys] Game Update 4.7 and Chapter 16.”

Players logging in this afternoon were greeted by an announcement stating, “Error: Your current game version does not match the server’s, please restart the game.” After some investigation, the SWTOR team discovered the source of the issues, and according to Musco, decided that the best solution was to move the scheduled maintenance up a few hours.

The maintenance only lasted a couple of hours, coming back online at about 7:50 p.m. EDT. Players who are granted early access the final chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire can now see how everything ends, instead of waiting until tomorrow morning. And for all of those people without early access, you get… a brand-new experience opening cartel packs?

Source: SWTOR official forum, Larry’s guildies, and update 4.7 patch notes.


Hyperspace Beacon: Five reasons I still play Star Wars: The Old Republic

It’s hard not to be negative about your favorite game when it appears that it’s changing its original goals. “What? You’re just now realizing this, Larry?” you might be thinking. No, I recognized it when Star Wars: The Old Republic launched its Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion. The studio head James Ohlen is a great nerd and wonderful creator, but he’s easy to read. Fortunately for us, he cannot eloquently lace a presentation with PR speak. During his Star Wars Celebration faux interview (finterview, fauxnerview… there should be a term for that) with Warwick Davis, he couldn’t call the game an MMORPG. It truly appeared that some public relations rep was hanging over his shoulder whispering, “Remember to call it an online roleplaying game.”

This irritated me, but I still log in at least every other day to hang out with friends and play this not-MMORPG. And thanks to positive proponents in the community like Vulkk and SWTORista, I performed an assessment of the reasons why I still played Star Wars: The Old Republic. And in the process I’ve come to realize that some of the reasons are very personal. I understand why some of these reasons aren’t enough to keep some people around. Some people will believe that these reasons are weak reasons to play a game, but that’s OK. I’m not going to attempt to try to convince you to come back or to stick around. I felt that I should share because people have asked.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Wild speculation about SWTOR’s Knights of the Eternal Throne

Who else was disappointed by the Star Wars: The Old Republic presentation at Star Wars Celebration over the weekend? I had really hoped that it would be more, but I guess it’s difficult to give too much information about a story-driven expansion when the last expansion hasn’t even finished its story yet. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t tease something other than a vague slide key art.

Today, to make up for the lack of information, I am going to propose some wild speculation about Knights of the Eternal Throne. As I do this, I should warn you now about two things. First, there will be spoilers contained in here. If you don’t want to hear about some of the things that happened in the latest Knights of the Fallen Empire chapter, then stop reading. Secondly, everything that I am speculating about is just that: speculation.

If you’re still reading, let’s have some fun.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s mid-term report card scored by Bartle’s taxonomy

Well, BioWare, it’s half-way through the year. It’s time to look at how you’ve done with Star Wars: The Old Republic and what can be done for the rest of the year to improve on what you’ve given us. I like to make my judgments based on the Bartle Taxonomy. I believe that it’s a worthy and tested way to judge if an MMORPG is hitting all the expected marks. The taxonomy, created by Dr. Richard Bartle, can be used to judge MMORPGs in four different categories based on the player types and what those players look for. This types are Socializer, Killer, Explorer, and Achiever.

I will get into what each of these player types are about as I give the grades, but I would like to mention that these categories are not black-and-white; each player falls along a spectrum with these categories representing key points in that rainbow. Very few players will fill one category 100%; most will have an emphasis one to three of the categories.

There are flaws in the system, and I am aware of them. I understand that the taxonomy doesn’t include a good judgment of modern gameplay types. It doesn’t separate players into PvEers, PvPers, or Roleplayers, for instance. It makes no judgment on large-group or small-group activities. It doesn’t talk about solo gameplay. However, the taxonomy works well when judging a player’s interest in the game as a whole from my perspective.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s clear message of indifference for its most loyal players

I don’t like to rant. I like my opinions to be measured and thoughtful. But sometimes I need to cut loose and let something off my chest. Last week, I said that I was not going to write about Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s Dark Vs. Light event in spite of the controversy surrounding it. Controversy always surrounds everything that BioWare does with SWTOR since it inception. I didn’t want to rehash the things that others in the SWTOR community were already saying, even though my opinion was probably a bit contrary to the loudest public opinion. I was even willing to defend BioWare over the event; I thought it had the potential to be challenging and frankly a lot of fun.

But after listening to the Producer’s Livestream, I’ve realized that BioWare has misunderstood precisely why people are so upset about the promotion.

I really wanted to talk today about the latest Knights of the Fallen Empire chapter because it was great, but unfortunately, I cannot shake my disappointment in the way that BioWare is handling its veteran and loyal players.

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