Rediscovering Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR)

I have been a dedicated player of Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) since its beginning, but lately my interest has been waning. I’m not sure if it’s the game content or the need for something different. After all, even filet mignon will get boring after the eighth dinner in a row. There was also a brief sojourn back into World of Warcraft (WoW), but I had no desire to continue there either. I could assume fantasy overload. I write fantasy novels, read and review fantasy novels, play fantasy MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), and have watched several fantasy movies. Perhaps the need for a change signaled the gaming muse to poke and prod me into having a second look at Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR).BLOGSWTOR

In the Beginning

I acquired my SWTOR subscription several months after the game went live and immediately loved it as much as LOTRO. Of course, being part of a gaming guild that spanned multiple MMORPGs helped. The same friends who played LOTRO and WoW were also becoming quickly addicted to SWTOR. The initial era of the game before its first expansion was a fair and fun time. Then a great change took place. We all eagerly awaited the first expansion, level cap increase, new weapon and armor modifications, and new content. But alas, the changes left a bad taste in my gamer’s mouth. Also, less than two weeks before, I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. My disappointment with the Star Wars franchise was something of a double blow in a relatively short span of time. Therefore, I cancelled my subscription.

A New Hope

Call it a whim, something in the air, fate, destiny, or even kismet. I logged into SWTOR on a high-level toon. My stronghold (house) and everything else, were still in place as if frozen in time when I unsubscribed three years earlier. I had to dig through my mind’s cobwebs to remember the game functions. After some difficulties completing a quest, my fingers remembered what to do, but I still felt somewhat clumsy in game. Therefore, I decided, why not start from the beginning again? I logged into a server where I have no toons and created a Jedi Knight, to relearn the game from the proverbial “ground up.”

Return of My Jedi

Usually, one can tell when an MMORPG is ready to pass away. Simply create a new toon and play in the starting area. If it feels like a ghost town, call the MMORPG undertaker. But this was certainly not the case with SWTOR. Planet Tython, the starting area, was a veritable flurry of activity, with lots of chatter and guilds forming and recruiting. I gleaned from other players that many were just like me, former subscribers with a sudden resurgence of interest. There were four active layers on Tython to handle the number of players. Applause! Most MMORPG players are “Altaholics” and I am no different. I also created a Trooper and a Sith Sorcerer. Yes, Ord Mantell and Korriban were just as freshly populated as Tython.

I must say, I missed SWTOR and had forgotten how visually gorgeous it is, how non-repetitive it is, and how the interesting stories draw you in and hold your attention. Rediscovering SWTOR is akin to going back in time and discovering lost love with a renewed freshness. If you’re a former player or looking for a new MMORPG experience, then get that SWTOR subscription now!

New Star Wars Content: Ho Hum

In the past few months many things have happened within the Star Wars entertainment universe. We’ve had a media campaign blasting the public with promos, teasers, and intermixing promotions for Star Wars: The Force Awakens from new labels on coffee creamer to soundtrack music in car commercials.

However, there were other things for fans. The MMORG Star Wars: The Old Republic went through a complete facelift and redirection of its gaming content. Billed as a great revamping and improvement, this subscriber will soon be a former subscriber.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Spoilers abound)

So it all starts on a desert planet with Storm Troopers looking for information stored within a droid. Doesn’t this sound all too familiar? But wait, it’s not Tatooine, it just happens to look exactly like Tatooine, and has the same architecture, economy, moisture vaporators, and a hint of a Sarlac. But this planet is called Jakku, and therefore completely different. Yeah sure, what a stroke of genius!

Wait! The droid with the information isn’t R2D2, it’s has a different design and name, BB8, who (just like R2D2) serves as comic relief and makes cute noises. Another stroke of genius! It’s round features should give way to the lucrative Star Wars themed cat toy market.  Okay I’m lying. That’s not a prediction. I actually saw some Star Wars dog and cat toys yesterday in Petco.

Stroke of genious number three. The Storm Troopers may be wearing the same uniforms from the past six movies, obey every order no matter how brutal, but they’re no longer clones, and they’re working for someone else. A new evil has risen from the ashes of the Empire. It’s called The Order, and uses the same ships and uniforms as the Empire, but wait, we’re supposed to believe it’s different. Yawn!

After our heroes Rey (who is a junk scavenger just like Watto on Tattoine from Episode 1)and Fin get the droid, they board the Millenium Falcon, which just happens to be abandoned near them on Jakku. Deus Ex-Macchina (DEM) for everyone! (and more to come)

Right after they take off from Jakku, they discover hyperdrive problems (Ep. V) and Han Solo and Chewbacca just happen to be there waiting for them (DEM). Wow what a coincidence!

Sigh, our heroic foursome can’t even enjoy a cup of intergalactic tea. Pirates and smugglers have boarded Han Solo’s ship. Han owes them money (Eps. IV & V) and there’s no escape. As luck would have it, Han has some dangerous cargo, namely vicious creatures known as Rathtars. They’re let loose and devour the pirates for our heroes. What luck! Especially for Fin.

After an action sequence where the enemy pirates are eaten within seconds of being caught in a Rathtar’s tentacles, Fin gets caught by one, but this Rathtar holds him for at least a minute. That leaves more than enough time for him to be rescued by Rey.

On their way back to Rebellion territory they stop on a planet for repair parts, a perfect excuse to subject fans to another Cantina Sequence (Ep. IV). Oh boy what a coincidence! The tavern owner just happens to have Luke Skywalker’s light-sabre stored in a trunk in her basement. She gives the light-saber to Rey, who has recently discovered her force sensitivity (Ep. IV). Also, Rey will have a duel and defeat Kylo Ren, a master of the Dark Side. Huh? She’s only a raw novice at best with the force and has never held a light-saber before. But hey, if “girl-power” messages are appropriate for 21st Century Western Civilization, then it’s also good enough in a galaxy far, far away. Really? Just what were they thinking?

They eventually deliver the droid to the Rebellion (Ep IV), and a plan is made to destroy The Order’s superweapon. It’s a Death Star on steroids, and it can destroy multiple planets in one shot. The Rebellion finds the weak spot (Ep. IV) and sends Han and the others to the planet to the disable Force Field that protects the target (Ep. VI).

I’ve merely scratched the surface and this blog post could go on forever, but I think you get the idea about how this latest installment of the Star Wars saga is a truly sub-standard movie experience.

The previews for World of Warcraft, and Independence Day 2 were the best and worthiest part of my ticket price. However, Star Wars: The Force Awakens nearly put me to sleep.

The Death Star Pillow- photo by Ernesto San Giacomo

Star Wars: The Old Republic (Knights of the Fallen Empire)

There were oodles of promises that the game would be an even better invention since the wheel or white bread. However, that is not the case.

The new game content is horrifically boring. Many have rightly complained that it is just too easy. Agreed! However, the game has also become boring for the style of play. You experience all nine chapters like an instance rather than game play. One feels like you’re on a track plodding along. There are no decisions to make. In other words, you’re not playing; you’re being lead along like a dog on a leash.

Part of the enjoyment of SWTOR was crafting the right armor and weapons for your character and companions. Each class had its own story line. Now you have to take every character and run them through the same boring nine chapters.

Before the revamp, if you couldn’t get through a tough fight, then you upgraded some equipment. If that didn’t work then you called upon a guild member for aid.

There’s no difference for light or dark side either. All of the game content has become a repetitive amorphous blob.


Some fans were very worried when the rights to Star Wars were sold. There was talk about the new business interest destroying the saga and reducing the content in favor of some quick marketing. Those voices of doom were correct.

Of course the new style will be defended by the amount of revenue generated. However, they should keep in mind that there were legions of fans world-wide excited at the prospect of new material. They flocked to the movies and the game without even attempting or wanting to see a review. Pssst, you won’t be so lucky next time.

So were you disappointed by the film too? And have you cancelled you’re subscription to SWTOR?

Gaming Etiquette

There are quite a few websites out there with a handy list of “Do’s and Don’ts” which don’t take very long to peruse. The lists are not extensive, but offer a quick and easy guide to making more friends than enemies, and to keep precious game time fruitful and fun.

For me, the three most annoying things that one player can do to another are Kill Stealing, Node Stealing, and Ignoring.

Kill Stealing occurs when you’ve cleared the way to a boss and are restoring your health or power to prepare to take him on.  Suddenly, another player runs past you and hits that boss, effectively “stealing” him.  Now you have to wait for the respawn.  It’s just plain annoying.

Node Stealing is similar. Here’s the scenario: you come upon a crafting resource node such as ore or wood, but there’s a mob right next to it.  You have to kill that mob to get to the node.  But while you’re engaged in battle, some little twerp runs in and nabs the ore.  How rude is that?

The last thing that gets to me is getting Ignored.  No, not put on someone’s Ignore list.  Say you’re down to your last sliver of health – or even dead – and other players just run on by.  No heal popped, no one joining in to save your rear.  Makes me glad it’s not my physical body lying in the street.

So how do different gaming communities rate?

The worst in my experience is World of Warcraft (WoW). If you like to do underhanded things to other players, and don’t mind when it’s done back to you, then this is the place for you. Anti-etiquette seems to be the norm on the few servers that I’ve tried. Kill Stealing, Node Stealing, and Ignoring happen all the time, along with a lot of choice words in chat.

Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) comes next. The players there generally abide by the standard rules, but once in while you’ll run across a selfish moron who steals your kill. But generally other players will heal you, and don’t swipe nodes.

And the winner for the most etiquette-based gaming community: Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO). I’ve only had two nodes stolen from me in five years! Other players will jump in and help you in a tough fight and if your toon goes down for the count, you will get a rez. Also, most players will send you an invite to group up if you’re both going after the same boss. Most importantly, when LOTRO opened up Eastern Rohan, they introduced “open-tapping.”  Even if someone else “steals” your kill, just do one point of damage and you get credit for the kill as well.

What other good and bad gaming communities have you found out there?

The World of Tyrennia

I’m writing a fantasy novel called Storm of Divine Light. It is the first in The Tales of Tyrennia series. Set in a Tolkien-inspired world with other muses like the famous tabletop Role Playing Games (RPG’s) Dungeons & Dragons, and Pathfinder. Also, there are the equally inspiring experiences associated with Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) and World of Warcraft (WoW).

Within Tyrennia are the three Human Kingdoms of Ravenna, Easterly, and Quintalya. Ravenna is the most powerful and wealthy kingdom as is its main city Mentiria, which also lies near The Shantokran, a separate area for light mages.

In the far North lies the Dwarven Kingdom and The Golgent lands of the Dark Mages. There are also Gnomes and Halflings lands as well as an Elven refuge.

Eleven of the first twelve chapters are set within Mentiria, a hustling and bustling cosmopolitan city containing taverns, saloons, guilds, and shops of all sorts. The tale opens during the Festival of the Summer Solstice, in which readers will encounter street vendors, performers, magicians and drunkards. The city’s atmosphere and culture provide ripe raw material for tales, adventure, and world-building.

Within the novel’s pages, the reader will follow a quest-based adventure with my two main characters, Dagorat and Cyril. Something precious and powerful has been lost (and no, it’s not a ring), and our heroes must retrieve it. Along the way they will be joined by interesting personas, all of whom bring something unique and fun to the journey.

Although classified as a fantasy novel, Storm of Divine Light has a healthy dose of humor, magic, religion, romance, mystery, action and adventure.

Is Tyrennia the name of the world or simply the main continent? Or both because the continent is the known world?

You’ll have to read to find out.