Guild Starships: where’s Spaceball 1?

Not what I want, but it would do...



It wouldn’t be Star Wars without starships. In every single movie, from the original A New Hope in 1977 until Revenge of the Sith in 2005, the movie opens with spacecraft. The battle between the Imperial Star Destroyer Devastator and the Tantive IV in Star Wars: A New Hope was one of the most iconic scenes ever done for a movie.  The opening scene from Spaceballs was also iconic, if for VERY different reasons. Indeed, I doubt there was much that Spaceball 1 ever gave way for. But we are not here to steal air – we are here to play The Old Republic.

Many things have been written about the starships in The Old Republic. From the BT-7 to the Defender and the XS on the Republic side to the Mantis, the Fury and the Phantom on the Empire side, all are epic Star Wars goodness. Many people dislike the ‘on rails’ type of space combat, but as an adjunct to the ground game, it works fairly well most of the time. And come on, who DOESN’T enjoy blowing enemy fighters out of the sky, no matter their affiliation? But like all gamers, we want more.

One thing that many people have been asking for recently has been more guild related items. Guild banks are coming but many other games have guild halls. These structures serve as meeting places, decoration, and last but certainly not least, ways to flaunt how many people and resources guilds have. We are all human, right? We all want to flaunt what we have.

So, why NOT capital class starships as guild halls? We have all seen the Star Destroyer and Republic battleship designs from The Old Republic by now. Both designs would work as large scale trophy type things. Star Wars Galaxies had customizable guild halls. Many other MMOs did as well – City of Heroes comes to mind for extreme guild hall customisation. But how could we make it work? Starships are not small. Starships that would serve as a means of flaunting the guild would be even larger than the personal transports that are in game now.

What would we want? Do we want starships the same as the Empire and Republic have now? The frigates such as the Black Talon or Esseles and the cruisers such as the Overlord or Gav Daragon? Do we want something different? Would it be enough to have them or would we have to be able to make them stand out? If someone wants a rainbow colored Star Destroyer –gag me, but someone asked for it. I HOPE he was joking, but can they get it?

One idea for such things, IF Bioware does manage to get them up, would be to set player fleets across the galaxy. That way, Republic and Empire ships can be in similar places, visible to show off the guild’s ill or righteously gotten gains. Would we be able to build them, or would we have to buy them? I think a mix of the two. Buy the hull and build components. Armstech can build weapons for them, Armormech can build starship hull plating, Cybertech can build other pieces. I can think of all sorts of things you can build for large scale starships in a game. Heavy turbolasers, multiple launch missile systems with tracking, ECM pods, point defense weapons… The list goes on and on. Engines, hull, support systems, internal defenses… Wait a sec…

One cool thing that I personally never got a chance to try in City of Heroes was raiding opposing player headquarters. So, what if some rival guild comes along, finds your starship in whatever it is hidden –if it is not instanced that is- and tries to board it? Do you have epic scale PvP boarding actions? Or would that be too complex for this game as it is?

On that note, what would you want for a guild starship? Obviously something larger than the Millenium Falcon. What about something the size of the Tantive IV? I know everyone is going to say a Star Destroyer, but do you have ANY idea the fuel costs for something that size? Let alone the insurance costs…

Oh I can just see it.

Insurance agent: You want to insure WHAT? Against starfighter attack? Oooookaaaay….

In conclusion, I would love to have guild capital ships in the game at some point, but I have no idea how they would manage it. And I DO want Spaceball 1 as my own personal ride.

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An End to an Embargo, and Fanfiction is still Red-Headed

Well… The Media Embargo is officially ended. IGN is saying that they will be offering regular updates of coverage on the game until the actual launch. Does this mean we are going to get more information? Do we really WANT more information?

Wait a sec… What the HECK am I saying? OF COURSE we want more information! The question is… Do we want more info, or do we want the game? And of course the answer is WE WANT THE GAME! NOW!  But as in all things that humans do, “you can’t always get what you want” – according to the Rolling Stones anyway. So, we should be seeing a veritable blitzkrieg of information coming our way shortly. Some of it is already here, we are seeing more and more interviews, sit downs and talks with people showing up on the updates on With the launch date now less than sixty days away, we are likely to be seeing a whole lot more than we have before.

On that note, it should be said that there is remarkably little beta footage available and most of what is available on the internet is fake. Most beta testers either don’t want to face Lucasarts’ legal staff (I don’t blame them one little tiny bit by the way), or they are so enamored with the game that they don’t want to take the chance on not being able to play at launch. I am actually going to go for the second answer there. I have talked with a few people who are in the beta, including my colleague Mark. All of the ones I have talked to have been VERY careful about possible NDA violations. They really, REALLY want to play the full game when it comes out.

We have been raised, many of us, in a world where litigation is second nature. If someone bumps into you on the bus, you can sue them. You probably won’t win, the judge will likely laugh you right out of court, but you CAN sue. It’s not taken for granted, but it isn’t seen as serious. For those of us who have never been in a courtroom anyway (DON’T ask…It’s too embarrassing…) People see the NDA on a game, scroll down to the bottom and click ‘accept’ generally never thinking about it. It’s just not taken very seriously most of the time. Until now.

What is it about this game that is different?

It’s an MMO. There have been so many MMOs recently that few people can keep track of them all. Free to play, subscription, WoW clone, whatever. So many kinds of MMOs are out there now.

It is a Star Wars game. Well, there have been a bunch of those as well, some great, some not so good.

It’s fully voiced. That is new for an MMO.

It’s story-driven. That is not new, but the heights to which Bioware and Lucasarts seem to be taking it are.

All of this adds up to the fact that we have a new type of game coming. A massively multiplayer online role playing game that looks, sounds and plays like single player game. Will it work? I dunno. But I can’t wait to roll a trooper and blast some Sith scum.

Okay, we are going to be seeing a LOT more media on the game now. Good. And we have seen more fan creation recognition as well. But – no mention of the fan fiction section of the forum. I guess people just don’t have time to read all of the good stories that have been posted. It isn’t intentional that the fan fiction writers (including myself) are treated like red headed step children. The community coordination people have only a certain amount of time to find, select and choose which works will be featured in the Fan Fridays. I know this. But it doesn’t make me feel very good to be essentially shoved to the side, even by great artwork.

As was said in the podcast a while back, fan fiction is a lot of work. Admittedly, some of it is not very good. I include my own stuff in that. Many writers are trying out writing for the first time and selecting Star Wars because they like it, or find the framework that George Lucas has created to be easy to write in.  But reading things is time consuming. Even if it is an incredible work, it takes time to read something. Looking at a piece of art is easy. You look at it and say ‘It’s good’ or ‘Eeeew…’. But reading some of the admittedly very good works on the fan fiction forum takes time. Even if it is not my own story arc, which is at 95 chapters and counting, many people simply don’t have the time. I do think Bioware could at least MENTION the fan fiction forums, but then again, if they did that, would they have to spotlight one of the works every time? I don’t know. I won’t pretend that it makes me feel good to be ignored, but I do understand about time constraints. Maybe with the raising of the embargo, more attention will be given to the great works that have been languishing in durance vile in the deepest darkest recesses of the fan fiction section.

Okay, okay… I know… I go off on tangents. So sue me. NO! It was a joke. A joke! No! Don’t call…the…lawyers…*sigh*

Ah well… Maybe by the time the next story is due I will have made bail.

Mad Max beyond Thunderdome Masterblaster via image

Oh me, oh my… At E3… Return…!

And you thought YOUR day was bad...?

We knew they were going to do something big this E3. They had to. After all the hype, after all the teasers, after all the releases of class information, both really cool CGI trailers… They had to come up with something. So what did they do? They gave us the intro cinematic for the game. It’s called ‘Return’.


Wait a sec… Whoa…

Isn’t that…? um… Kind of something that you do last or near the end of the game making cycle? You really nee dot have the game pretty much done before you make the cinematics, right? Or am I completely off base?  Now I am not saying, because they are not saying, when the game will be released. But from everything I have heard, read or seen, this game looks ready to go. There are probably logistical issues, maybe some polishing that they want to do. But the gameplay that they showed at the fan summit was incredible. Maybe they are going to give out release information during E3? The gameplay trailer that came out at the same time as ‘Return’ was to drool over. A release date? Maybe? Pretty please with Correllian black sugar on top?

Calm… Must remain calm…

Anyway… This trailer is just as incredible as the previous two. All three are chronological. Malgus shows up in this one, as do the Jedi and Trooper commander from the ‘Hope’ Trailer. We even hear her name, and it actually IS Satele Shan. I won’t ruin the rest of it it for people who haven’t seen it yet, listen for it:

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If it ain’t broke, maintain it!

Men at Work

Maintenance. We all know what it is, right? How many of us have not had to do some kind of minor repairs to something around our houses, our cars, our computers? It is something that a lot of people take for granted, but it shouldn’t be. Speaking from painful, and expensive, personal experience, the car works much better if you keep the oil topped off and changed every 3000 or so miles. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not going to be flying on SouthWest airlines ANYTIME in the near future, if they even stay in business. Something about having holes suddenly appear in the planes in flight really bothers me. But that got me thinking about maintenance in Star Wars.

One thing that I always thought was well done about the original trilogy was that things did not always work as they were supposed to. The Millennium Falcon in particular was one huge mess of problems. Han Solo and Chewbacca were always fixing things. In the Expanded Universe, the descriptions of the Falcon in particular were always somewhat on the hilarious side. It was a constant battle to see who would win, the ship’s multiple brains, the crew or the various and sundry people who wanted the crew dead. Without Han and Chewie’s skill at keeping the ship going, it would have fallen to pieces.

We see Rebel techs maintaining the fighters in the hangar bays before the battles of Yavin and Endor. Ground crews work to fuel, arm and basically get ships ready for battle. Fighter planes today are incredibly complex pieces of equipment. Pilots and ground crew alike have to know what they are doing with each and every part or bad things can happen. And if those bad things happen in flight…

This is the point. Maintenance is needed. Many people who should know better take things for granted. If the car is working, why bother to check the fluids, right? The brake fluid, oil level and radiator fluid level have to be good or a light would be coming on, right? Not necessarily. When the engine in the car I was driving seized up, the first notice I had was when it went ‘clunk’. Not a pleasant feeling, let me tell you, especially on the highway.

So… what does this have to do with Star Wars: The Old Republic? Well, every Wednesday, the website goes down for routine maintenance. This shows that Bioware is not as clueless about some things as a certain 18 year old was. They are also likely going to be taking hints from other publishers of MMOs who shall remain nameless. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t work very well in high tech settings. Ignoring problems when computers are involved is a recipe for disaster. The words ‘cascade failure’ sends shivers up and down the spines of most IT professionals who know them. That is, a small problem happens, and is not corrected quickly. It causes other problems and then those problems cause more problems, and on, and on, and on. It is also called ‘The Snowball Effect’. Roll a snowball down a large hill and it grows as it rolls. Entire networks have been taken offline in the past because one lowly tech decided that some insignificant seeming problem was not worth his time. Bets on how long that tech kept his job?

Bioware is likely not going to be making these mistakes. They have seen, from other publisher’s mistakes, how small, seemingly insignificant issues can cause HUGE problems. Star Wars Galaxies comes to mind, but many MMORPGs have had the same thing happen. Who remembers having a patch come out, and all of the sudden, no one can play the game? A hotfix, or quick patch later and things are almost back to normal. We can hope that Bioware does not have to do rollbacks. There was nothing quite so annoying as logging in and finding that an entire week’s worth of playing was just gone. Well, except logging in and finding out that several YEARS worth of playing was gone with the NGE… but… no ranting today…

Without maintenance, any high tech equipment will fail, given time. Nothing made by man is perfect, especially when things are made by the lowest bidder.  A quote from the Bruce Willis movie Armageddon comes to mind. “Rockhound:  You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder.” Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? We need to maintain what we build, or it will fail, usually at the worst possible time. Bioware knows this. Whether they can keep up with the needs of what will probably be one of the most demanded titles of the twenty-first century is open to debate. We will have to see, but I for one have hope. And I will not get on another plane for quite a while…

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Okay, who is ready for school?

I was just finishing my mid-term exams when I had a thought. Is there school in Star Wars? Then I remembered that yes, in A New Hope, Luke wanted to go to the Academy. But what about the first, what was it, nineteen years of his life? Was he home schooled? Was he taught in a classroom somewhere like Anchorhead? Did he have a tutor? What kind of school would Luke Skywalker have gone to? Or did he?

At first thought, it is a no brainer. He had to have gotten some kind of education. Maybe it was all in moisture farming, but, no – that doesn’t work either, since he is a pilot and apparently a good enough one even in the wilds of Tattooine that his friend Biggs comments on it when they meet again right before the Death Star attack: “Luke is the best bush pilot in the Outer Rim, sir.” Contrary to popular belief you usually cannot do what Anakin did in The Phantom Menace – crawl into a starfighter with no training at all and fly it like a professional. Admittedly, what he did was autopilot mostly and/or was incredibly lucky / the Force. So… maybe with the Force, you don’t have to study to be a pilot? That doesn’t work very well, does it? I sure wouldn’t want someone piloting anything I am in who didn’t study to be a pilot.

So some more on piloting issues.Surely it involves stuff like mathematics, history, sciences, stellar geography, astromechanics, navigation, plumbing or electronics? ‘How to fix broken stuff without the proper parts’ might be course in Tattooine schools, or it might not have been. Some of that could be taught by tutors, or as an apprentice of sorts. That is another question: how much of any of that list of subjects did Luke know? Admittedly, he was in hiding, unbeknownst to him. The Skywalker name was fairly distinctive. If word had gotten to the upper echelons of the Empire that there was a kid with the Force who had that name, would that have been a good thing? I don’t think so. So the whole reason that Owen kept denying Luke the chance to go study at the Academy was to keep the boy out of the sight, or try to anyway. Not that it worked in the end. So how well educated was Luke in A New Hope?

He obviously knew one end of a blaster from the other, he knew how to fix droids, and he knew how to fly. Beyond that? Who knows. My personal feeling is that he was not uneducated. This is a ‘gut’ feeling from watching the films so many times. He was reasonably well educated for someone who grew up in the back of beyond. Kind of like a young man growing up in the Western United States during the latter part of the nineteenth century. That is, he probably sat in a classroom with a bunch of other people his age for part of a day, several days a week, from the time he was five or so. The rest of the time, he was working with his uncle, keeping the moisture farm going, not an easy task. Maybe the teacher was a stern, possibly handicapped former farmer who couldn’t work, but found a place doing something he either enjoyed or despised. Not a nun, not on Tattooine. After all, his brain was still in his skull, right? So no B’omarr involved. Good thing too, ick.

Higher education is covered well in the movies, with the Imperial Academy mentioned a few times but no one covers any lower education. Maybe it is simply too commonplace to be seen in normal conversations. But to be a reasonably functional member of society an education is pretty important. If you make it a high tech society, like Star Wars is set in, well it is kind of important.

In the end, we don’t really know what Luke Skywalker had for an early education. He learned a lot ‘on the job’, as it were, with his uncle. But for actual education, classroom type education, we have no idea. If so, it was likely a small classroom, maybe the kids of the area in some kind of place set up by the Darklighters. Maybe in Anchorhead. Or maybe he was just so skilled in the Force that the things that us lesser beings need education for, he could do naturally.

What do you think? Can you see Luke Skywalker as a kid in a classroom?

What do we really want?


We want more exotic dancers in Star Wars The Old Republic! Uh… maybe?*sigh*

So many people have so many different ideas about what the game will be. We are getting a lot more information now, some of it dribbled out to us on a weekly basis and some gleaned from interviews that we find with staff members. And most of it looks very cool. But what are we looking for in a Star Wars Old Republic MMO? I mean besides seeing a young Carrie Fisher in a metal bikini again? There are a gazillion things that we want, but…seriously.

Well first of all, we want a cool story. Just a thought, but I think they have that covered. No matter what anyone may think of Bioware, they do tend to have cool stories. The twists that they throw at the players are legendary at times. I mean, how many people knew who the primary character was in Knights of the Old Republic before it was exposed? Yes, they seem to have a have a pattern they follow, but it works for them.  The bottom line, as always is simple. People buy the games and enjoy the games, so they must be doing something right. Even people who hated MDK, Mass Effect and Jade Empire had to admit that the stories were well done for the most part. For many games, story has always taken a backseat. After all, what kind of story was in Asteroids, or Donkey Kong? Now players want more. We want cool stories with intriguing characters, plot twists that take us completely by surprise, and a sense of completion at the end of the game. We don’t want ‘Oh, we have to wait for the sequel to find out what happens. Grr.’.

Second, we want action, but there are stipulations. The days of mashing the shoot button down and running through a video game are over. We want to feel heroic or evil depending on our preference. One problem with today’s games is that action seems to have become the single most dominant factor. Games that were stealth based, such as Splinter Cell, are now about how fast you can kill people. In MMOs, action was almost always there, but it could be hard to find. You had to walk all over the place to find those blasted gnolls/orcs/undead/demons/whatever, to kill them to finish the quest. Once you found them, you had the chance to fight, but you had to find them first. Now most games seem to be going the way of Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. Shoot now, shoot later, shoot some more and then try and find the mission objective after you blew up the building it was in. Oops, it was a hostage. Oh well, they deserved to die for being a hostage. That seems to be the mindset of many games these days. Maybe it is just my own perspective, but that is what I see.

Star Wars video games have always had action – The Empire Strikes back for SNES. Star Wars: Battlefront 1 and 2 in particular were fun. And yes, you had to shoot fast and straight to survive. It didn’t help a lot when you got hit by the blast from a Walker, but it was fun. And that is the final thing we want. We want fun. The problem is, everyone has a different definition of fun. My definition of fun is sitting in a hole a long way from the battlefield and shooting bad guys in the head from long range. Boom! Headshot! Evil, yes, but fun for me. Other people want to get into vehicles and shoot big guns and crush their opponents under treads, mechanical feet, whatever. Yet others want to run into a melee with knives/swords, whatever and duke it out mano a mano. For each type of player out there, there is a different definition of fun.

So, for Star Wars The Old Republic we want story, action and fun. And we want it all with the feel of Star Wars. Star Wars Galaxies pre CU, may it rest in peace, (Yes, I know it still has active servers but it is dead to me. Let SOE rot in the deepest level of Hades!) had that feel. You were there, when the bugs/glitches and sheer stupidity of the SOE execs did not ruin it. Not every Star Wars game that has come out has been able to do that. Most of them have had the characters, the ships, or something right. But few of the games managed to get everything right. The original Dark Forces did a great job in delivering what we wanted. Bioware delivered with Knights of the Old Republic.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am very optimistic about this game. MMOs are designed to cater to many different kinds of players. I will be able to play a ranged combat specialist. Others can charge into battle with lightsabers and the Force. I cannot help but expect cool stories from Bioware, given their track record.  Just seeing the in game footage that we have seen so far, the action looks amazing and very ‘Star Wars-y’. The ability to take on multiple bad (or good) guys at once is very, very cool. And as for fun? Big guns and the ability to use them! What more could I ask?

Is there anything specific you would want in the game? (Keep it family friendly please…)

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Science fiction or Science fantasy?

We all know what Star Wars is, right? Swords made of light, a mystical energy field that pervades all life, spaceships, heroic (and not so heroic) good guys and dastardly bad guys – all of these are part of what makes Star Wars. The word science rarely comes up when talking about Star Wars. Star Wars is entertainment. It is not even remotely supposed to be factual in any way. So why do some people insist on calling it science fiction?

First we have to define these, and bear with me as I spout more dictionary stuff again. According to Wikipedia:  Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting.

It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”. Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possibilities.

The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality, but the majority of science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader’s mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements.

So, science fiction is, in a nutshell, writing about something that is plausible. It may be totally improbable, but it is POSSIBLE. Spider Robinson, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, all of these people wrote science fiction. There are two basic categories of science fiction, hard and soft. Hard science fiction is where every single thing a writer writes is not only plausible, but probable. Jules Verne was laughed at by some critics when he wrote ‘20000 Leagues Under the Sea.’ Who is laughing now? Submarines like the Nautilus are science fact now. How about ‘From the Earth to the Moon’? Laughable that a man might get to the moon in a capsule. Right? Um, tell that to Neil Armstrong. Jules Verne wrote science fiction, and many writers have taken up his mantle, with great writers and not so great writers all over the charts. Soft science fiction on the other hand, places less emphasis on science and more on the actual story. Heinlein’s work is a bit out there. Anyone who has read ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ will likely agree. Modern day, most writers mix hard science with story and plot devices when science can’t cover things.

George Lucas did not write science fiction.  What he wrote is best described as space opera or science fantasy. This genre also has its roots in the early twentieth century. Also according to Wikipedia:    Space opera is a subgenre of speculative fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities.

Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale. Sometimes the term space opera is used in a negative sense, to denote bad quality science fiction, but its meaning can differ, often describing a particular science fiction genre without any value judgment.

So, by that definition, Star Wars is space opera. But is this a bad thing? We see enough real life marvels in our daily lives, cloned sheep, cars that use no gasoline or that can swim or fly, and other things that would totally astonish someone from less than a hundred years in the past. Take cell phones. The whole idea of having a phone in your pocket was ludicrous until the late 1980s. But now phones are not just phones. Now they are cameras, music players, datebooks, miniature computers with internet capacity…indeed some even have word processing functions. What was fantasy fifty years ago is reality today in many ways. We expect more, and many times more than real life can give us, so we look to entertainment.

Back to Star Wars. Star Wars is, to me anyway, a willing suspension of disbelief. I want to travel to ’A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.’ I want my bad guys to look and act like bad guys. I don’t want the bad guys to act like good guys until they turn around and kill my family because they can. I don’t want to quibble over what tenets of the Mandalorian Code seem out of place or stupid. I want the Mandalorians to be harsh, brutal and at the same time, somewhat honorable. I want them to be worthy enemies, not wimps. I don’t want to get in a long winded argument with someone about how hyperspace would not look like a long blue tunnel, or how parsecs are a unit of distance not time, or how elite troops are supposed to be able to shoot straight. I want to watch Jedi fight Sith and not have to worry about how the heat from the blades would melt the handles. I want to see starfighters fly and not think ‘Why did that X-wing just make a banking turn in outer space? There is nothing for it to bank against…’.

I want to be entertained. I want to have fun. Reality is good, but a smattering of the illogical, of fantasy, is necessary in today’s world or we get jaded. There is too much bad that is seen in today’s world, we need to relax, we need to have something simple that anyone can understand.

George Lucas gave us a simpler view in 1977. Empire was bad, Rebellion was good. Sith were bad, Jedi were good. Things have changed significantly since then. Some people may call the changes good or bad. Personally, I think they are somewhere in between. The Old Republic will likely turn a bunch of our preconceptions of the roles of Jedi and Sith on their heads, and that will probably be a good thing. We need shaking up every so often or we get complacent. And we all know what happens when the good guys get complacent, right?

In conclusion, some people may say Star Wars is science fiction, but they are in error. Science fiction is plausible. Star Wars is not plausible by our ways of thinking, and according to our knowledge of science. But that doesn’t really matter. It is FUN. And that is all that matters, isn’t it?

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WHAT did that being just say? Profanity in SWTOR

We all know what profanity is. None of us were born yesterday. But…what is it exactly? And why does it exist in Star Wars? Star Wars is a fanciful setting, filled with fanciful beings, so why have such a gritty, not very nice aspect to it?

According to Wikipedia: “Profanity are words, expressions, gestures, or other social behaviors that are socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rude, vulgar, desecrating, or showing disrespect.

The original meaning of the adjective profane (Latin: “in front of”, “outside the temple”) referred to items not belonging to the church, e.g., “The fort is the oldest profane building in the town, but the local monastery is older, and is the oldest building,” or “besides designing churches, he also designed many profane buildings”. Over time, this meaning changed to the current meaning.

Other words commonly used to describe profane language or its use include: cursing, swearing, expletives, dirty words, sentence enhancers, cussing, blasphemy, and irreverent, obscene, foul, indecent, strong, pejorative, choice, bad, or adult language.”

Profanity has most likely existed for as long as long as spoken language has. It is not always a bad thing. Interjections are used in sentences to indicate extreme emotion. Also according to Wikipedia: In grammar, an interjection or exclamation is a lexical category used to express an isolated emotion on the part of the speaker (although most interjections have clear definitions). Filled pauses such as uh, er, um, are also considered interjections. Interjections are typically placed at the beginning of a sentence or in a sentence by themselves.

The word “interjection” literally means “thrown in between” from the Latin inter (“between”) and iacere (“throw”). Interjections are generally uninflected function words and have sometimes been seen as sentence-words, because they can replace or be replaced by a whole sentence (they are holophrastic). Sometimes, however, interjections combine with other words to form sentences, but not with finite verbs. When an exclamation point is not needed, a comma can take the place.

Interjections are used when the speaker encounters events that cause emotions. The emotions are often strong (surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, enthusiasm, etc.), but are not necessarily so (boredom, irritation, mild surprise, etc.). However, several languages have interjections that cannot be related to emotions.

The point of this language lesson is that profanity is probably one of the few things that can be recognized in almost any language. It is almost universal. Now, we might not understand what someone says that is profanity in another language, but likely we can get the gist.

It is worth noting that some of the better known science fiction series had profanity that resonate even today. Battlestar Galactica, both the original series and the newer version, had ‘frak’. Example: ‘That frakking piece of frakking junk just frakking frakked up’. Farscape had ‘frell’ which filled the same role, being profanity that would not anger anyone. It is obviously profanity, but it is not any that anyone would know, and it does not call into question anyone’s ancestry, beliefs or any of the other aspects that are usually impacted by profanity.

Star Trek, as it was originally envisioned, did not have profanity. They were supposed to be beyond that. But then, the Klingons came along and they had to have some form of insults for everyone. Calling someone a ‘P’tak’ who is not a Trekkie will probably just get you an odd look. A Trekkie may or may not reply in Klingon and possibly draw his dagger or Bat’leth. Or they might just laugh, depending on the Trekkie.

But in Star Wars, why would we want profanity? Profanity is not nice. But then again, many of the situations in Star Wars are not nice. But at times, being polite is better than being insulting. After all, would you call the real Darth Vader an ‘***hole’ to his face?

I didn’t think so.

Profanity adds a level of realism to the game. Real people, when they drop a wrench on their foot, generally do not say ‘Oh darn that hurt’. Well, not any of the real construction people I used to work with anyway. What they had to say in that kind of situation was not for any kind of online forum anywhere. Many people react in stressful circumstances with profanity as a stress reliever or a distraction of sorts. Soldiers in particular had a reputation for being profane, and it is one that if fairly well deserved. I once heard a master chief petty officer in the United States Navy curse for three solid minutes, without repeating himself. He had cause, mind you. A lower ranked seaman had done something dumb and put civilian lives in jeopardy, mine included. From the dawn of history, soldiers have used profanity to express displeasure at situations, officers or orders. Only in recent years has there been an attempt to curb the use of profanity in the ranks, a more politically correct military, which is an oxymoron if I have ever read one.

Profanity is seen a lower class thing, but that is not always the case. Anyone can use profanity, but it is not usually accepted in the higher levels of society. For instance, there had better be a very good reason for a President say, so speak something profane during a live TV broadcast.

In some cultures, profanity is more accepted than others. For instance, some parts of the Maritimes of Canada seem to have the F-word as a normal figure of speech. It shocked the heck out of me the first time I heard a six year old talking that way and his mother leaned over to me and said “It’s okay, that is just how we F-ing talk up here.”  You could have knocked me over with a feather. It is not insulting; it is just part of how they talk. That kid had no clue what it meant. It was just part of how he had grown up. My own mother would have literally washed my mouth out with soap at that age for saying that. She did it to my sister for that exact word.

In Star Wars, it is supposed to be a family friendly series and it shows. DarthDerriphan on the TOR forums actually put together a list of profanity that was used in the movies, shows, books, comics, etc. Swearing in a galaxy far, far away… It’s a long list. It helps add character to various beings in the Star Wars universe. They can act like real people.  Real people get emotional, get angry and say things that they sometimes regret. But sometimes not. Jabba the Hutt calling someone an ‘Echutta’ is obviously not a compliment. Boba Fett calling Han Solo ‘Son of a Barve’ likewise.

It adds another level of immersion to the game, to the story, when the characters act like real people. For instance, in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, Joker is NOT politically correct, but he more than makes up for it in piloting ability. If he drops profanity all the time, no one minds, because he is the greatest piloting things since sliced bread.

I personally think there should be a language filter for any game that children (Under the age of 13 when they likely know all of the words and more) will play. But I am old fashioned. Or am I?

What do you think? Profanity in Star Wars or no?

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For the Republic!

Come GET some!

Wow! Not since the ‘Hope’ trailer have I been this jazzed.  Troopers ROCK!

Some people recently asked me what the heck a trooper was, and I was like…what? Then I had to think about it. Besides the iconic stormtrooper/clone trooper, how many people actually know where the original word ‘trooper’ came from? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a trooper is a private soldier in a cavalry or armored unit.  Almost anyone who has seen movies has seen images of cavalry, right? John Wayne’s works like ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’ and ‘The Undefeated’? You know, the guys on the horses? Charging in to save the day in the nick of time? What? You DON’T? Sheesh…what do people learn these days…?

Ok, back to basics. Cavalry units, that is soldiers who fought from horseback, were generally thought of as elite forces, separate from the rank and file of infantry, artillery, etc. That fits this new update from Bioware to a ‘T’. These soldiers of the Republic are anything but common. And the video… I won’t ruin it. Just…watch it. Watch it NOW! Even if you plan to play Empire, you need to see this stuff:
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Finally: a good bad guy!

What is it with the bad guys always becoming weenies? I mean, come on, Darth Vader was the ultimate bad guy. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were notable films in a lot of ways, but the main focus was always Darth Vader. He was big, clad in black and very scary with his mechanical breathing and that nasty little thing that he did when someone displeased him. ‘I find your lack of faith disturbing’. THAT is bad guy. Sure he wimped out at the end, the love for his son undid him, redeemed him and let him die a Jedi. That was the whole point of the Star Wars story, Episode 1-6, the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. But… Why are all the other bad guys only bad guys for a while and then become weenies?

Ok, let’s look at Exar Kun. Jedi who becomes a Dark Jedi, bad news bad guy, right? Wrong. Sure he wreaks havoc for awhile, and then his base is discovered, he gets obliterated and turned into a Force Shade. And then what happens? Several thousand years later, he gets beaten and destroyed by a group of student Jedi, not even full blown Jedi Knights. Talk about going out with a whimper… *sigh*

Lets look at someone different, a non Force user. Mitth’raw’nuruodo, more commonly known as Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was probably the best bad guy ever created for Star Wars. He didn’t need the Force, he was just that good, always three or four steps ahead of everyone else. He was not about fighting for the sake of fighting. To quote one of his subordinates, ‘Thrawn always stood for order’. He wasn’t a proponent of the New Order, he wanted a stable galaxy, and the Rebels upset the galaxy. So he fought the Rebels. The only time that he was outfought was when two of his enemies outsmarted each other and wound up working together against him in the novel ‘The Last Command’. And then he died knifed in the back? By his bodyguard of all people…? Aw COME ON…! *Double sigh*

I am not even going to go into Isard, Prestage, Zinj, the list goes on and on… They are all weenies. Dangerous for a time and then they went out with whimpers. Whatever happened to bad guys you feared? Darth Vader was scary, Emperor Palpatine was scary in Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi. Malgus at least seems scary at the moment, but will he too go the way of the weenie? I hope not.

Ok, we come to last week’s update. A new timeline, ‘Rebirth of the Sith Empire’ and a new bad guy. The first Grand Moff Odile Vaiken, is long dead by the time of The Old Republic, but his legacy is the strong and overwhelming Sith military. Born on Korriban, and utterly loyal to the Sith, Vaiken seems to be a new direction in the evolution of bad guys.  He is skilled, intelligent and loyal. He was not in it just for himself, he wanted his empire to succeed. And to die the way he did, on the bridge of a Star Destroyer in battle, well, that was anything but weenie like. Wait a sec… Star Destroyer…? Hmmm… *evil grin* Very few problems cannot be solved with a Star Destroyer in orbit.

We had some good news this Friday as well. It looks like we are going to see more of Darth Malgus now, with the announcement of a new book, based on him. I truly hope they do not do what they did to Anakin. I don’t care if the man has issues. I want evil. I want blood! I want guts and horror and war and carnage! I want my bad guys to be bad guys! Not weenies!

To sum it up, Sith and servants of the Sith have always had to lose in Star Wars. The good guys always win in Star Wars, maybe not right away, but always in the end, the good guys win. But… Um… Who ARE the good guys in The Old Republic? The Republic with its fractional corrupt government or the Empire with the Sith leading it and all the stuff they do?  With the massive amount of reviews that were dropped on us recently, we have received some hints that there may not BE any ‘good guys’. It all may be shades of gray. And that is typical Bioware, always the moral choices with lots of room for interpretation. I for one can’t wait.

If Odile Viaken is any indication of the sort of people who follow the Sith Empire now, well… I look forward to fighting them as Republic and fighting beside them as Empire. They will make great allies and enemies. Memorable ones, and that is what we want. We don’t want weenies.

Well, what do you think? Are the bad guys going to go out with bangs or whimpers? And bad guys may be either Republic OR Imperial.

Yay! Wizard is out!

Wow. What an update a week or so back. Bioware seems to be really making sure that fans of The Old Republic are salivating. Well, first of all, they renamed Jedi Wizard. It’s about freaking time! Of all the choices they had, Jedi Sage was probably the best, but most of us knew that already, right? But then, the crew skills explanation… Whoa… I can see a whole bunch of people’s eyes going huge at that.

The advanced Jedi Consular class name of Jedi Wizard was apparently a placeholder title. Personally, I doubt that it was a serious name. I mean it, come on, this is Star Wars, not Dungeons and Dragons! The Sith may have Sorcerers, but that is what they are- Sorcerers. They use Sith alchemy and Sith magic, or at least they do in the Expanded Universe. Jedi are not, and never have been the wizard type. They have been called that on occasion, but it was almost always an insult.  Yes, they have mystical powers like wizards. But where wizards usually seek power for their own ends, be those ends noble or selfish, the Jedi do not seek power for themselves. And the name Jedi Sage is much more suited to a consular type anyway. A consular is supposed to be a teacher, negotiator, diplomat, truth seeker, not some half crazy man or woman in a pointed hat with stars all over his/her robe. We don’t need fireball spells in Star Wars. We have orbital fire support for things like that. I was pretty sure that the name Jedi Wizard was going to vanish and it did.

So, the new explanation of class skills. All I can say is wow. I like it. And there was a neat little thing hidden in there. Weapon types -“blaster pistols, blaster rifles, sniper rifles, and assault cannons”. Whu…? Wait a sec… Assault cannons? We get ASSAULT CANNONS? I want one! Is that the really big gun that the trooper that Malgus pulled to him was carrying in the Hope Trailer? If so, I really want one!

So, Armstech. The crew skill that will allow characters to build weapons. Speaking from personal, real world, experience, nothing else comes close to building your own weapon. Nothing else feels quite right in my hands now, besides the sword that I built. Admittedly, I built it from pre-built parts that I got from various sources, but I assembled it. No, I cannot forge a katana blade myself. Oh how I wish… That sword is mine. Every other blade I have handled, even a three hundred year old blade that my sensei let me handle once, has paled in comparison. So it just makes sense to have people build their own weapons, even if they are not the crafting sort normally. So I can build my assault cannon.

Ah, the memories. I remember pre-CU Star Wars Galaxies where the greatest of the artisans could basically demand any price for their wares, because they were simply better than anything else out there. The demands for resources were never ending. I remember being sent out to Dathomir and getting ganked there again and again just to gather rare resources for the guild I was in, so our weaponsmith could make the best polearms/swords/scythes, etc. In The Old Republic, you can just send a minion/slave/friend. But wait, there is a catch…

Do your companions like you? We don’t know if this is going to be like the approval rating in Dragon Age: Origins. We all loved slapping Morrigan around, didn’t we? I know I did. It does make sense.  A companion who likes you will work harder for you than one who is there because he or she is a slave or whatever. This is simple work theory. Happy worker = more productive worker, usually anyway. Make your workers love you (or fear you) and they will move mountains for you. Hey, it worked for the Pharaohs. The addition of rare and artifact crating ingredients will likely keep many players playing just to get some of those. I don’t know about you, but I will. I want an artifact assault cannon. Did I say that enough? I want an assault cannon!

Anyway, The Old Republic is shaping up to be a great game. Bioware has apparently learned from the mistakes of many other games, both recent and not. The crew skills and crafting seem to be well thought out and efficient. The whole system seems to be geared both to casual players and the hardcore, ‘I want it all and the best I can get’ player. People who like to build will be able to build. Those of us who like to just go out and blow things up will be able to do that and leave our faithful minions to sweat over the workbench while we are out blowing things up. With assault cannons!

In conclusion, this week’s update was a good one. Jedi Wizard is GONE and good riddance. Armstech looks well thought out and accessible even to casual gamers, which was the idea. You don’t HAVE to spend 8 hours a day playing just to get that fat loot to craft the flux capacitor to attach to your gun to make it good. Although you likely will be able to play that much if you wish, and I likely will be playing at LEAST that long a day for the first couple. I really want an assault cannon now. Have I said that enough? Give me an assault cannon! When in doubt, get a bigger gun!

Local or central servers?

There is a bit of a debate now as to the necessity of local servers versus centralized ones. Now some of us will likely say ‘what is the big deal?’. What is so special about having servers that are close to the players as opposed to a central server located wherever the game developer is based?

Most of us have likely played online games of some kind. Whether they are First Person Shooters like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, top down shooters like Alien Breed: Impact, or Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Games like EVE, World of Warcraft and The Old Republic is going to be. We have all encountered problems with transmission lag I bet. You know, when you have set up that sweet sniper shot from a long ways away, and then your character freezes just long enough for the other player to see you and shoot you. It’s annoying as hell. Or even better, when you are playing a MMORPG and you lag in the middle of a battle and your team is wiped out because you were the healer. You get a lot of irate comments.

What actually happens in online games is not very well understood by some people it seems. They seem to think that either the full game is on their system or it is some kind of magic. The actual game is NOT on your computer. There is no way most personal computers would have any chance of holding even a fraction of what is needed for a game such as WoW. What happens is that your computer, called a client, sends information through the internet to a main computer, called the host server. The host server sees what you ordered your character to do. Anything from ‘move here’ to ‘hit that orc’ to ‘heal that person! NOW’, all of these are sent from your home system to the main system. The main system recognizes that data, changes what will be represented on your screen, and sends THAT data back to the client. The systems communicate this way every second or so. The communication and changes on the screen normally takes just a few microseconds, a time frame that most humans are incapable of recognising when it is shown on a computer screen. But sometimes, well, the internet gets quirky, the transmission feeds get crossed, or Murphy rears his ugly head and it takes longer. I remember in Star Wars Galaxies how my character would get hit and run almost all the way back to a city before dying from that one hit. That was the most extreme case I remember. I was 900(!) meters from the guy when he killed me. That was one heck of a shot.

The idea of localised servers is a good one. This puts the main server closer to the players, thus minimising transmission time for information between the host server and clients. But as in all things, there is no free lunch. Servers are not cheap. And good servers are seriously expensive. So if a game company is going to want to set up localised servers for multiple different areas, say one in Europe, one in the States, one in Australia or somewhere in Asia, they need to include that in the price. Most players that I know wouldn’t mind. The ease of play more than makes up for any additional cost. They will need to charge more because they are duplicating the main server in multiple places and that costs a lot.

A centralised server on the other hand, is just what it says. The server is located in one place, usually very close to the game developer’s offices. This allows for ease of service and upgrading, usually anyway. When you have multiple servers scattered across multiple time zones, using multiple languages, you cannot always use the same patches for all of them. With a centralized server, all you need to do is keep the clients updated. Now, you CAN do that with localised servers, but it will cost a lot more. Staff costs, maintenance costs, the list goes on and on. Centralised servers are more cost effective, but have a higher incidence of transmission lag for players.

In the end, it boils down to mainly two things. Cost and player satisfaction. Centralised servers are more cost effective, generally. They are easier to maintain and upgrade. Localised servers are easier to play from, usually anyway. So the players will enjoy the game and tell their friends about the game, and then they will hopefully buy the game.

I could go into all kinds of horror stories about various companies trying different means to skirt the edges of the need for local servers. *Cough* Ubisoft! *Cough* But the need is there. Especially with such huge games as The Old Republic is going to be, to have most of the data required not on the customer’s system. The voice over files alone are going to be massive. Personally, I think that localised servers are the way to go. Keep your players happy and you do more business. If they do not enjoy the game because they can’t even move their in game avatar for the transmission lag, then they will not play it. It is as simple as that. And I can’t see Bioware being that dumb.

What do you think? Local or central servers?

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