OK, I’ll come right out and say it: I love the Rishi stronghold. The Star Wars: The Old Republic
developers have outdone themselves. I will unlock that whole stronghold as soon as it’s available on the live servers. It will be expensive, even for me. But I will do it, and I will not regret it.
Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMORPG that has taken some hits for not doing things right for its community, might be turning some things around with its latest patch 5.9.2. Of course, this latest update puts a lot of focus on PvP, but for an MMO that places the story as a major pillar of its design, we know that PvP will never be its only focus on any patch.
Even though I admit that I love the new patch and stronghold, I am not blind to its flaws, so let’s take a tour of the new stronghold to examine the good and the bad.
Yesterday, the game that solidified my place in the MMO space would have turned 15 years old, and MJ, Bree, and I took a trip down memory lane by hopping into one of the Star Wars Galaxies emulators. All the memories of the adventures I had came flooding back, even though my muscle memory for the combat mechanics was gone.
Since the launch of SWG in 2003, we have seen the launch of two other MMORPGs (Clone Wars Adventures and Star Wars: The Old Republic) and other multiplayer online Star Wars games, like Battlefront. If your experiences in these online games were anything like mine, you’ve made many friends that you would otherwise never had contact with and have lived through virtua; adventures you’d never dreamed of experiencing in real life.
There was a time in this column’s lifespan that I would talk about all things Star-Warsy, leading up to the launch of SWTOR. And given that we just celebrated the original Star Wars MMO’s 15th anniversary, I figured I could take a moment to reflect on one of my favorite moments in Star Wars MMO history and ask you what your favorite moment was.
Last night, BioWare Creative Director Charles Boyd
and Community Manager Eric Musco
were guests on the Passionately Casual Podcast
to discuss the lore of Star Wars: The Old Republic
. And since I host a segment on that podcast regularly about roleplaying in the Star Wars universe, I got to sit in on that interview and pose my own questions about the current and upcoming lore for the game.
I realized after listening to the questions that I asked last night that some of them deserve a follow-up to help strengthen your understanding of where the question came from or understand why I put forth the question in the first place. I’d like to spend a moment talking about the answers that Boyd gave to my questions and what I think they mean for the MMORPG. Of course, there might be some spoilers for the latest additions to the game story, but if you’ve not played through it by now and are still reading this column, spoilers probably aren’t that important to you.
Since the server merges, the Star Forge server has unofficially become the roleplay server for Star Wars: The Old Republic
. And roleplaying’s fight to remain a relevant way to enjoy this MMORP
G has never been tougher. Roleplayers, if nothing else, are resilient. We are still in the game and attempting to find our place in this world where there is little support for our gameplay style from the developers.
Some of you might remember the late ’80s, but for those who don’t that was a period of time when the only thing keeping Star Wars alive were the RPGs. Timothy Zahn would not pen Heir to the Empire until 1991, the best video game we had was arcade-only made in ’83, and The Phantom Menace was well over a decade away. This was the period of time that the keeper-of-canon Pablo Hidalgo started his quest to become a part of the Lucasfilm family. It was the time when only two things were keeping the Star Wars alive: the Kenner toys and West End Games’ Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. We know it wasn’t the made-for-TV Ewok Adventure movies.
Roleplayers have been the undercurrent that has kept the franchise alive, even during the dark times — during the prequels. What is their current status in SWTOR?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.