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Hyperspace Beacon

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's 2014 report card

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's 2014 report card
In 1996, Richard Bartle published a study of MMO gamers that eventually led to his 2003 book Designing Virtual Worlds, which was at the time the de facto MMO genre's design bible. Of course, this was before World of Warcraft hit the scene, but many of the principles Bartle laid out still hold true. In fact, if you don't believe me, take it yourself: GamerDNA still has an online test based on the Bartle study.

Bartle categorized players based on their interests in the game; I would like to do the same this year as I did last year for Star Wars: The Old Republic since it's a good way to measure the game against the average expectations of certain types of players. Bartle divides us all into Achievers, Socializers, Explorers, and Killers. I'll explain what each of those means as I discuss the different aspects of SWTOR. If you know what that means and so you have a point of reference, my profile is SEAK, which means that I interact with all types of players.

For fun, I've added a grade-card-style of rating system: A, B, C, D, or F. Just remember the information I give about that score counts for more than the score itself.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR's 3.0 combat

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR 3.0 combat
BioWare has finally begun revealing the specifics of the Discipline system landing in the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion. We have seen the Bounty Hunter, Trooper, Inquisitor, and Consular paths. We have seen in detail how the Discipline system changes the leveling process in SWTOR. We've seen that tanks become tanky faster; we've seen that healers gain healing abilities earlier in the leveling process. A primary goal of the new system has been to ensure advanced classes learn role-specific abilities earlier without worrying about those abilities being exploited by hybridization.

With characters now able to level to 60, BioWare gave each advanced class at least one new ability. For instance, Deception Assassins gain Ball Lightning, a 10-meter ranged ability that inflicts 2652 to 2780 damage and costs 32 Force. Many of the new abilities were specifically designed to make your character feel more powerful, which makes sense, right? You should feel that your character is growing with each level. But do these changes and additions actually make you feel more powerful, or are they just unnecessary impedences to the current priority flow or rotation?

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR Shadow of Revan FAQ

Sci-Fi, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Free-to-Play, Races, Roleplaying, Rumors, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guides, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR Shadow of Revan FAQs
With every expansion, there are questions -- a lot of questions. Star Wars: The Old Republic is no exception. Shadow of Revan changes a lot of game mechanics and expands the story of SWTOR. With all the interviews and Cantina Tour chatter, it's difficult to tell what is true and what isn't. So I thought it'd be best to make an FAQ to answer some of those ponderings.

When does Shadow of Revan release?

The official release date for Shadow of Revan is December 9th. However, if you preordered before November 3rd 2:59 a.m., then you will gain early access, which starts on December 2nd.

Do I have to subscribe to play Shadow of Revan?

No, Shadow of Revan is a paid expansion and can be accessed by a free-to-play player. However, to be eligible for the 12x XP bonus, you do have to be subscribed to the game.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR and the transparency dilemma

Sci-Fi, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Community Q&A, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon
This past week on The Republic, I talked to prominent community members about transparency and broken promises in regard to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Both Heather from Corellian Run Radio and Redna from Ootinicast agreed that BioWare's community team has communicated too little and too infrequently with the players and has actually driven people away from the game because of that lack of dialogue.

Also this past week, former Operative Class Representative Snave interviewed Community Manager Eric Musco, asking why the community team has been so quiet as of late and why it promised to deliver information by the end of September but it didn't. Snave also asked why there hasn't been more transparency from community team, especially when Musco specifically said that one of the things that he wanted from the community team was more transparency. Snave accused Musco of speaking out of both sides of his mouth when he said that he wanted more transparency but then wouldn't reveal what was going on with the announcement.

Compounding recent events was a kerfuffle over the ongoing Cantina Tours. Players became upset when the Cantina Tour date for Las Vegas was moved from November 7th to November 15th, even though back in February, Community Coordinator Courtney Woods posted the planned dates of the Community Cantina Tour with the caveat that they were "subject to change."

As a community, SWTOR players don't seem to be happy with or without transparency. The SWTOR community team cannot, as the saying goes, win for losing. What is the solution here? Let's discuss the details and maybe a solution or two.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Eight quests you should play before SWTOR's Revan expansion

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guides, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Eight quests you have to run before SWTOR's Revan expansion
The next expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic is coming in December, and any BioWare fan already knows the primary antagonist: Revan.

Revan has been BioWare's focal Star Wars character since its first Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic. SWTOR even features Revan in multiple questlines. I could recommend that you read Drew Karpyshyn's book Revan, but there are plenty of ways to get Revan's story in-game. In fact, there are eight different questlines that you should run if you want to get caught up, and more importantly, if you want to prepare yourself for the next expansion. If you have been living under a rock for the last three years, be forewarned that this article will contain spoilers for you.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Exploits and SWTOR_Miner

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Exploits and SWTOR_Miner
Over the last couple of years, the Star Wars: The Old Republic community has changed. I believe it's matured. We changed from a community that wants everything yesterday to one that understands timetables but is still very interested in what's coming next. When we hear about the next storyline, we want to see how that's going to fit with everything that came before. Originally, I wanted to talk to the king of predicting the future of the game, SWTOR_Miner, about where the game is headed and what hidden secrets are in the client files.

However, last week something happened that redirected my thinking. Late last Monday night, Miner posted on Twitter, "Just got word that @SWTOR is cutting ties with fan sites that have dealings with me. Guess I won't be coming in from the cold." Of course, the whole community went bug-eyed, wondering what exactly had happened. So when I sat down to talk to SWTOR_Miner, the only thing I wanted to talk about was what's going on?

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Hyperspace Beacon: Five tips for making SWTOR conquests work for smaller guilds

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Guilds, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guides, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Five tips for making SWTOR conquests work for smaller guilds
In my last column, I explained the shortcomings of the conquest system in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Despite the issues I have with the system, I still think it's a great way to encourage players to revisit older content, and most importantly, to build guild unity. I know there are some guilds on my server in which members don't even have to participate at all in conquests for that guild to appear on the top ten. But what about those guilds who don't have hundreds of members? What about those guilds who have maybe 20 or so members? Can they even compete?

My guild has about 20 people who log in on raid nights; when the raid is done, maybe five or six will stick around. Now, I'm not saying that this is a healthy state for a guild (we are looking for more members!), but the few dedicated members pulled us ahead. For the last two weeks, our guild was in the top 10, and not barely in the top 10 either. This week we hit number seven, and the week before we were six.

Here are my tips for how your small guild can get ahead in conquests, too.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Guilds, Patches, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, Crafting, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet
I'm writing this late on Sunday night, and I have some disappointing news: My Star Wars: The Old Republic guild did not make the top 10 on the planet we were attempting to conquer. It's partly my fault; I happened to choose the planet that would be the most hotly contested. Who knew that other guilds would flock to Makeb when conquests went live?

It wasn't all bad. In fact, I'd say that SWTOR kind of pulled our guild together a bit. We participated in content we hadn't done in a long time. It was a rallying cry for us: "Hey, look, this stuff is fun, and you can still have fun doing it." On top of that, it's reintroduced the idea that open-world PvP is possible. But with all the good that it's done -- player housing, guild housing, and open-world PvP -- there are somethings that have fallen short of what it could be.

I think the best way to explain is to tell you about my week.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR guild ships and Rakghouls

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR guild ships and Rakghouls
This weekend was full of space zombies and capital ships in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I ended up dividing my time between the live servers hosting the Rakghoul event on Tatooine and attempting to make the most out of having a guild ship on the public test server.

Unfortunately, my guild's capital ship fell victim to the Bermuda Triangle bug that makes ships completely disappear, and I wasn't even able to buy a new one. I chalk that up to testing. And I certainly will not cry foul because of it. Besides, the ship was eventually restored, just not in time for my guild to really make any headway in the conquests for this week.

However, I did get to experience the ship some because I was on the SWTOR official livestream last week, and I also created my own guild on PTS to test out the capital ship features.

But first, let's talk about Rakghouls.

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Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: First Impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion
It's been an exciting weekend: I've spent many hours just absorbing the contents of the new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Of course, the largest part of Update 2.9 is Galactic Strongholds. I'll come right out to say that the SWTOR livestreams do not do it justice. I'm finally glad that I could get my hands on it to see exactly what the hook system feels like, where I can find all the furniture, and mostly importantly, how much it is going to cost.

Beyond the strongholds themselves, BioWare also introduced a new planet and flashpoint this weekend. I took some time to also visit Manaan, and I know I'm going to sound like a fanboy when I say that it blew me away. I was absolutely not expecting something that gorgeous for a simple flashpoint.

We have a lot to talk about, and if you've spent some time on the SWTOR PTS, I'd like to read your opinions in the comments. But first here are a few of my thoughts.

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Hyperspace Beacon: 250 reasons you don't want to miss SWTOR Galactic Strongholds

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hyperspace Beacon, Housing, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: 250 reasons you don't want to miss SWTOR Galactic Strongholds
When I first hopped into MMOs way back when Ultima Online hit the scene, I believed that the best thing about the game wasn't the gamey side. I wasn't interested in the monsters that I could kill nor the mechanics of taking down a daemon or a lich lord. I was most interested in living in the world of Ultima with Lord British and the town of Trinsic then. Although my tastes have changed in the 14 years since, I still feel the longing to live in the world created online.

The next expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic gives me nostalgic feelings of when I first stepped into Ultima. True, owning a house in UO was more complicated than what Galactic Strongholds gives us, but there is a great level of complexity all the same.

In the livestream last week, the developers gave us a tour of the Nar Shaddaa stronghold and layout many of the decorating tools. The "hooks" on the floors, walls, and ceilings can be configured into many different configurations of large, medium (column-like), and small areas, with a couple of large exceptions, like centerpiece and starship hooks. Developers Troy McCall, Jack Wood, and Eric Musco dropped many items on the floors, walls, and ceilings of the stronghold, showing over 250 items in the various menus. Even if you watched the livestream as it was happening, you couldn't have caught all 250+ items. Let's look at some of the most interesting.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Fixing SWTOR's community representation problem

Sci-Fi, Classes, Culture, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, Subscription, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Fixing SWTOR's community representation problem
You might be aware that I was once a community representative for Star Wars Galaxies. The player governing body was called the Senate. I don't remember who started it, but I do remember the formal revamp during the time Kelly "Valara" Knox served as Community Manager. It was during that period that I represented the roleplay community in the SWG Senate.

Because of my time serving as an MMO community representative and my vested interest in the Star Wars: The Old Republic community, I can say that the representative system employed by BioWare is ineffective. But I don't solely blame the BioWare community team for its shortcomings. Indulge me as I discuss how it could be better and how we could better utilize the current system.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Beating the system in the new SWTOR event

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Patches, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guides, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Beating the system in the new SWTOR event
​I'm not a huge fan of gambling in general. "The house always wins" isn't a motto, it's the truth. But if you have fun while you're doing it, then it's fine that the house wins. However, I don't have fun playing most gambling games, especially the overly simplistic ones like slot machines. Some gambling establishments will claim to have the loosest slots in the business, but I can tell you that the slot machines in Club Vertigo and the Star Cluster Casino are not that loose. But there is a best way to play the game.

On June 10th, Star Wars: The Old Republic launches Update 2.8: Spoils of War, and the casino event called the Festival of Splendor along with most of the patch already resides on the public test server. Over the last week or so, Voidmynx (a.k.a Laura Williams from Gamebreaker's The Republic and HSB Sci-Fi MMO Show) and I have tried multiple methods to beat the slots. And I believe we've found a decent one.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's plan to survive 2014

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, Housing

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's plan to survive 2014
Star Wars: The Old Republic launched successfully but ran into issues shortly thereafter because of its unpolished endgame. Despite this, even the loudest haters agreed that the personal story held the game together. Although thousands of people played through the same questlines, players latched onto these stories because they felt personal and unique to the individual player. Unfortunately, the MMO could not retain that individual feel for a number of reasons, including a focus on larger storylines and a considerable staff reduction.

This year in particular, BioWare wants to turn things around so that it focuses on core ideas that made the game enjoyable in the first place. But how does the development team plan on doing that without creating new personal story arcs? Are there ways to keep the players connected and immersed without class stories? BioWare is going to give it a shot.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The end of a SWTOR season

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), PvP, Endgame, Opinion, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guides, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: The end of a SWTOR season
Uncle Owen talked about Luke staying on for another season, but when you're on a desert planet, what does that mean exactly? More importantly, can you imagine what would have happened if Lars had allowed Luke to leave for the Academy -- the Imperial Academy, I might add -- with his friend Biggs Darklighter? We would have a completely different story and certainly a far different Luke Skywalker.

BioWare developers slated the end of Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP season one to coincide with the launch of Update 2.7, which hits servers on April 8th. With that, the SWTOR leaderboards will reset and bring a few other changes. I think the biggest surprise for everyone is the ranked rewards for the end of season one. These rewards have hit extremely late in the season, which could give some players an unfair advantage in ranked warzones, sparking the question, "Should I stay on the moisture farm or try to jump into PvP to nab these rewards?" Or maybe there's another option -- a Ben Kenobi out in the Dune Sea, if you will.

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