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.

The real crisis on Umbara

Although the issues probably started well before the intended patch day, the general public was made aware of the issues with Update 5.4 the week that we were supposed to receive the new flashpoint and story update, Crisis on Umbara. However, you might have noticed that my impressions of that flashpoint fell very late in the week. That was because the patch was delayed by two days because there was a bug that would prevent some players from being able to finish the content.

Even then, that was clearly not the only bug with the update. The other big issue was an exploit that was not visible until the following Tuesday, when players could actually earn the 60 data currency that it took to unlock the Umbara stronghold. The 60 data didn’t actually give you the stronghold; rather, they allowed you into the room where you could then purchase the stronghold for yourself and your guild. What BioWare didn’t foresee was people cleverly using the guild-summon ability to give other people access to that room — people who had not earned the 60 data. Even after another patch, BioWare was not able to fix that bug (though again, BioWare is aware of this exploit and will take action against those who use it).

There is a light at the end of the buggy tunnel that comes in the form of another mistake in programming. The daily areas in Czerka, Oricon, Black Hole, Yavin 4, Ziost, Section X, and Iokath were all giving more Command XP than was originally intended. If I recall correctly, each mission would give about 75 CXP per mission. With the bug and without any other kind of bonus, these daily areas granted 1125 CXP after the Umbara patch. BioWare granted double XP to all players for the end-of-the-summer event, and players could also get legacy bonuses and CXP boosts from the fleet or Cartel Market. The end result was that players could earn in the neighborhood of 3600 CXP for missions that were intended to grant only 75 CXP.

An unexpected benefit

“I managed to gain 200 levels and to echo a lot of your comments here, it was fun to see so many others on Yavin, in Black Hole, over on Iokath and Section X,” Producer Keith Kanneg said in a forum thread last Wednesday. And really, who wouldn’t want be there when the game was practically giving away CXP?

The whole Command Rank system has been one of the most criticized additions to SWTOR for a very long time. In fact, it was such a bad system that many players – including me – decided to not participate in it. Unlike some, I didn’t quit the game, but I did not actively pursue gaining CXP. There have been fixes to the system like raid bosses dropping specific pieces of gear instead of players relying on the random Command Crates, but for my raid group, that was far too little too late. They were gone.

With this bug and the subsequent encouragement from the Producer of the game himself to take advantage of the bug, I went ahead and joined in the fun. I now have two characters well inside Tier 2 Command Rank. I was late to the party because of my aversion to command rank in the first place, so those of you who took part before could’ve earned far more than I did.

In the same thread mentioned above, Kanneg said one of the most reasonable and encouraging things I have heard from a SWTOR developer in a very long time: “There’s a legitimate reason to lower the CXP values as they are out of whack with the rest of the game, but there’s an even more compelling reason to not lower it all the way back to 75 and to review the values across the board.”

I used to love running dailies in SWTOR. I know it’s weird. I even wrote a couple of articles in Massively-of-old outlining the best way to earn credits through dailies, so hopping back on board these dailies to earn CXP was like climbing into a comfy chair. I loved it.

As of today, Musco still stated on the forum, “We are not fixing the bug with Daily Area Missions, so those CXP rewards will remain crazy high for the time being.” Although he calls them crazy high, they aren’t as high as they were before because the double-XP event is over. However, you can still earn about 1125 CXP or more per mission, and that makes me pretty happy.

I don’t want to end this without asking your thoughts. The bugs were pretty horrendous over the last couple of weeks, including where the servers were offline for most of the day. But do you think BioWare handled it well? Are you encouraged by the changes to dailies? Is Command Rank all right now, and will you jump in to do dailies because of the change? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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The Galactic Command system was my main reason for quitting the game at the end of 2016. I still followed the game through podcasts and other fan created content but very rarely logged in as a preferred player. No real point playing max level toons as preferred and I was burned out of levelling after the summer of DvL.

When 5.4 dropped I used a referral link for the 7 days sub status and after doing the FP and seeing the story I did some dailies and was surprised at the amount of CXP they rewarded and thought well they’ve certainly made it easier to level up.

It was only later I discovered that this was not intended and that a 2x week was about to start. I then waited to see if the bug was fixed and when it wasn’t I subbed and levelled 3 toons from almost 0 to 300 in the 2x week. I don’t usually like grinding but in this instance, I felt like I was compressing 8 months of pain into one week and I even surprised myself by actually enjoying it. Congrats Bioware your “bug” made you at least $15, with a chance of more since I may well stick around for a few months now the initial grind is done with.

The system is still broken and needs a full overhaul in 6.0. I do like the basic premise of allowing everybody to have access to best in slot gear I’m just not thrilled with the implementation.

Jared Funk

I think the bugs are not immersion breaking and are not that big of a deal.

I think the major issue was with the new story. Messing up the best parts of our Alliance with no details about the future of the story or when we’re going to find out more. Not to mention the twist was totally not a surprise but I felt it was super lazy writing.

Bugs happen all the time in all kinds of games. However, lazy story writing is not something to just easily overlook.


A “Happy Accident” in SWTOR would be a plot development that surprises and delights me with it’s cleverness and how well it honors the various classes/story decisions my “Outlander” might have made. Bonus points if it actually bothers to earn it’s plot revelations.

As-is, I got a tone-deaf plot (which skipped a pair of key cutscenes in the flashpoint because bugs) that completely railroads the player character – again. And this time it even does it on a train. I love Star Wars, and I used to love SWTOR. These days, I have trouble even liking it. *sigh*

Kickstarter Donor

Oh okay it was some CXP bug whew, I was playing away in SWTOR last week and never keep up with news so had no idea any “exploit” was about

With the EXP boost and an EXP booster my new Imperial Agent is level 30 and only just landed on Dromund Kass for the first time haha


The CXP values of the dailies alleviates some issues, but they far from remedy the disaster that is CXP. In and of itself, CXP isn’t the entire problem. I actually feel that CXP levels and their loot crates are a good thing for solo players, but the contents of the drop rates of gear are abysmally low, making a once alt-friendly game much, much more limiting than it once was. Thi creates problems for alt-o-holics, Raiders who need off-specs or off-spec classes to aid with raid comps, and anyone that prefers tactical, group-based gameplay (I primarily pvp in a high-end pvp guild, and it has been challenging for us at times). Quite a few changes need to be made to this game (content, gearing mechanics) in order to see myself playing this game into the future. As of right now, it is merely a placeholder until a better mmo pvp option comes along. I log in (when I am not taking a break from the game) for its familiarity and pvp community.


Oh, and bring back the Mod and Enhancements vendor from the previous expansion – this makes it really difficult to min/max certain playstyles.

A Dad Supreme

I guess that’s good news for people subbed now, but I can imagine others coming after that aren’t able to participate in the Bug XP rush now and be that much further behind existing players, thereby making gaps even larger.

Not sure why this would be a good thing.

Kickstarter Donor

Eh, it’s not quite that bad. The only thing folks are “missing out” on is the double XP, the “bugged” rewards remain as-is so folks are still going to be progressing much faster than before (unless I’m missing something).

As for the gaps, I think that’s less of an issue. The bigger deal seems to be less that you gear up faster (though that’s a nice perk), and more than the rate at which you progress through ranks “feels” a lot better and makes the Command system considerably less awful to deal with. I saw some chatter to that effect in the SWTOR reddit, though I’ve not had a chance to really look too deeply into player response beyond, “we like it!”.

The good thing is more than this bug, while obviously unintended, was extremely well received by players. And rather than penalize folks who used it or simply hotfixing it out, they’re leaving it in for now because it’s making players happy. The fact that, unlike with many of the previous bugs/design choices that led to them responding in very unpopular ways (KotFE 4.0.2 [I think?] changes to companions say sup!), their response this time seems to be pretty well received overall. That’s a very good change in their behavior compared to previous years, and one that we can only hope continues. It’s probably one of the most “human” responses from them on an issue like this, to boot.


I do not understand how bugs like this made it to live. usually a game this mature doesn’t make big mistakes like this. At least they are going with the flow this time.

Kickstarter Donor

The extent of the issues is definitely concerning, BioWare shouldn’t be pushing out updates with these kinds of problems. Either they’re not QAing these patches before they push them live, or they’re doing a terrible job of it.

As to the response from Keith specifically though, that’s probably one of the most heartening things I’ve seen from the SWTOR team in a long, long while. It continues to give me hope that the next expansion, which he’ll have a heavy hand in (unlike the current crop of content), will be much improved over prior content releases. At least in terms of design and reception.

Command system still needs to go or receive a complete top-to-bottom overhaul, it’s so polarizing and unpopular that even BW seems to acknowledge that it’s taking a pretty big bug to make it tolerable, or even toe the line with “fun”.

I’d only caught bits of this before reading the article so it’s good to have more context. I hope they continue to approach issues like this moving forward, it’s infinitely better than any of their previous responses to controversies over the years. I don’t want to pin all the recently “good” (quotes because I find them good) decisions/changes on Keith, but I’ve gotta say that since he’s taken over I find myself far more optimistic about the games future than I’ve been in years. I’m still pretty uninterested in the current storyline and crop of content, but for the first time since the lead-up to KotFE I’m actually legitimately optimistic about BioWare’s ability to take the game in a good direction moving forward.

Also, obligatory –

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