Umbara Stronghold

So when the announcement was made of a moving train as the newest stronghold for SWTOR, I was interested to see what Bioware was going to create.  After seeing a walk through of what it would look like, I had an idea of what I could do, even if the idea itself may not be unique.

So I just kept with the theme of hauling supplies, and went about decorating the way I thought it would look cool.

A video walkthrough of this stronghold can be found here.

I decorated the half of the first car as a mobile medical area, capable of transporting wounded individuals to better equipped hospitals.  I also added my basic needs area here, since its the first area you are transported to.

The next train car I decorated as an operations center, capable of monitoring stuff that is happening on the planet or in orbit.  However, I may be moving this one further up the train at some point.  I failed to notice some background decorations that could make an area like this cooler.

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The next area is one of the first cargo flat bed areas, and I just added some cargo containers to it.

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This is a shot on top of the train looking towards the back of the train.  Once the additional strongholds are added, and they are all used for the conquest bonus, I will be removing most of the cargo containers from the top of the train, as they really don’t make any sense being up there.  At the very back on the starship hook, I believe I have the Alliance fighter decoration, and not the Koth’s Shuttle one.

On the next hauler car, the one with the sides, I have more storage containers.  Lots of food, medical supplies, and other things required to keep the Alliance going.

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The next car is used for transporting troops to different parts of the planet.

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The next flat bed train car is decorated with more storage containers.

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This is a view on top of the train, looking towards the front.  Again, I plan on removing the storage containers from the top, once the shared conquest bonus is implemented.

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While this car currently has storage containers in it, this is the one I was thinking of moving the operations center to, as you can see in the middle of the walls, what appears to be data units built into the side.

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The final flat bed car on the train has you guessed it, more storage containers.  However, as you can see from the picture, there is clipping for any decorations placed on the outside, if the hook layout is changed from the default centerpiece style.

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And finally, the last area which only has some single hooks available, so I put some personnel down.

Overall, I like this stronghold for its uniqueness, and I actually do like the train track sounds that accompany the area.  However, there are some hook placement issues that hinder what could be a really cool area, although it doesn’t suffer as bad as the Manaan stronghold.

 

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Why the Decoration Market is Volatile

For the past few months, I have been trying to desperately to bring attention to a real problem within the decoration market.  Several people have written posts on the official forums and reddit trying to bring attention to this problem as well, and while some of these posts have been been met with derision, others have sparked real discussion.  I am hoping that I can get some attention to this post, and hopefully get some insight from Bioware on this.

An Example of RNG (Random Number Generation)

I was introduced to the concept of RNG in two separate instances at a pretty young age:  computer programming and Dungeons and Dragons (DnD).

In computer programming, trying to get a real RNG value can be hard based on different factors.  So most computer languages have existing functions to get a random value, although these values again, are not truly random.  The Random class/function that exists in the .NET framework for example, will take a seed value to try and create a random value.  By default however, if no seed is provided, it will use a time value (look at the constructor definitions to see this).

In DnD, a dungeon master (DM) would use RNG to determine what type of treasure, weapon, armor, or even random encounter a party had discovered.  For example, the DM might roll a d10 (10 sided dice) to determine what type of item the party had found, ie. armor, weapon, magic item, etc.  Based on that value, the DM might then roll a d100 (100 sided dice), or two d10’s, and then consult a loot table to determine what the actual item is.  For example, the DM rolls a d10 and gets a 3, which means the party found a weapon.  The DM then rolls two d10’s, with the first being a 7, and the second being a 1, for a value of 71.  The DM consults their loot table and determines that rolls of 70-75 mean the weapon is a broadsword of giant strength.  Some DM’s or even some published adventure modules, will use a single loot table to determine what item is found.  So in the previous example, a roll of 71 is that broadsword of giant strength, while a roll of 70 is a potion, a roll of 72 is something else, and maybe the general rolls of 1-30 for example, is some coins.  These loot tables could be as generic or specific as needed.

The Current State of the Cartel Pack

So a few weeks back, they put one of the old stronghold packs, if I remember correctly, the Gatekeeper pack, back up on the Cartel Market.  As one of the first packs with decorations in it, its always good to see some old items back on the market.  At the time the stronghold packs were released, there were 7 slots in each pack that could be filled, which had both positives and negatives to it.  For example, a positive was the fact that you could get up to 4 or 5 new items in each pack, with the other 2 or 3 slots being things like Jawa junk, cartel certificates, or companion gifts.  The big negative with this however, was that there was also the large opportunity to get a ton of stuff you didn’t want in each pack, like in this group of packs with the Series ### cybernetic armor pieces, or the Antique Socorro weapons.  Because the market was flooded with these things, I don’t know how many times I just destroyed them, because I couldn’t sell them and they were taking up valuable inventory space.  This is one of the big reasons why I love the bronze/silver/gold item packs, because it focuses on a specific item type and except for the gold armor packs, doesn’t give extra items that you need to get rid of.

The current packs however, only give four items, with two of those slots being used for Jawa junk and companion gifts.  In fact, you are now only guaranteed to get a new item from the current pack in one of those slots.  I believe the current pack changes mean the other slot can be a grand chance cube, or any item from the current or previous Cartel packs, with armor being full armor set boxes, and not the individual pieces or upper, lower, supplementary boxes.  That’s what, at least 1000 items from the entire Cartel Market that can pop up in that second slot.  That’s a lot of RNG right there.  The argument can be made for a new player it might not be that bad however, because they get an opportunity to possibly get an item through RNG that they missed out on because they weren’t playing at the time, and that may go for several million credits on the GTN.  Okay, thats a valid argument.

The problem however, is it is taking a guaranteed slot from an item in the current pack.  Most of us who buy packs now, are doing so to get the new items, not old ones.  With only a single slot dedicated to the new pack, it means there are less chances to get an item from the new pack.  So the economists out there might say thats a great thing, because it means less items are flooding the market for sale, and people who are looking to make some credits can do so, without massive undercuts going on.  However, it also means that there are multiple items from the current pack fighting for that spot.

The Good, the Bad, and the Collection

So a few years ago, the Collection interface was added to the game, which allowed players who got an entire armor set, weapon, mount, toy, pet, or emote, to purchase an unlock of that item for their entire account.  This was a great thing, because it allowed those of us who had multiple characters, or played on multiple servers, to only have to get one item from a Cartel Pack, and then we could unlock the ability to get a copy of that item on any character we had now, or created in the future!

However, this feature was also met with some outrage from players who were selling Cartel Market items on the GTN.  The prime example here, was before the change, I would have to buy multiple Tulak Hord armor boxes if I wanted that armor set on multiple characters.  At the time, this was seen as a valid argument, but at the same time, the argument was made that it still meant a player had to get the item and for armor, they had to unlock the entire set before it could be unlocked in the collection.  For those who were unlucky, you still had to chance buying the armor set from the GTN, which meant someone was still making some credits on it.

For me, this mimicked a feature that guilds had, where users who had unlocked a Cartel Market decoration, could then spend credits and unlock one or more copies for the guild to use.  The only limits there were the number of that item that could be unlocked, up to 999 items for several item types, and the number of credits the player wanted to actually use to unlock the decorations.  Prefab decorations, or those bought from vendors with cartel certificates or credits, as well as trophy decorations, are not eligible for guild unlock.

A Volatile Market for Decorations and Stronghold Decorators

So one factor I haven’t discussed yet, is who is actually decorating strongholds for something more than conquest bonus.  If you are someone who is trying to create a good looking stronghold, and do not want to have rooms full of basic chairs and meat trees, then you are either looking to buy decorations from the GTN, buying Cartel Packs to get the latest decorations, or looking to buy the gold/silver/bronze decoration packs when they go on sale.

If you are looking to buy items from the GTN, then you will have noticed that most decorations, no matter their assigned rarity, can be going for several million credits.  This has led to several posts on the official forums and reddit, on what many consider ridiculous prices for these items.  Some of these posts are then met with comments of stop whining, or other derisive or immature comments, but some people cannot see what the actual issue is here.

And what is that issue?  Unlike every other Cartel Pack item, you can only unlock one decoration per item you get.  If you get a volcano deco out of the current pack, you as the player, can only unlock one volcano for your personal use.  If you do not want the volcano decoration, then you will probably sell it on the GTN.  However, if you are looking to get multiple volcano decorations for your underwater Manaan area for example, then after the one you get from your cartel pack, you will either be trying to get another from an RNG pack, or be frantically searching the GTN waiting to snipe the next one that pops up for sale.  If you are like me however, you have a max amount of credits you are willing to pay for that item.  The buying and selling of items for profit on the GTN has actually created a type of player who will create multiple characters, one per server, who are looking to make a profit or get a good deal on an item, and will move items between servers in order to make the most profit!  Theres nothing wrong with that either, I just thought it was a weird thing that has popped up in the SWTOR economy.

Which brings me back to the RNG examples from before.  If you have only one slot per new cartel pack that is guaranteed to drop an item from that new cartel pack, then what are the chances you will get an item you want, especially if it is a decoration.  Well i know the rarity of the item will probably have some weight in the item that can be obtained.  So using my previous example, lets say a d10 rolled to determine the item type, and then two more d10’s are rolled to determine the actual item.

For our current Cartel Pack example, lets say the type rolls look something like this:

  • 1-2 is armor
  • 3-4 is weapon (including tunings)
  • 5-6 is mount
  • 7-8 is decoration
  • 9-0 is misc (toys, emotes, pets, flair)

Well if we rolled a 1, then we get armor.  So lets see how the armor would break down.  Each armor set could be found together in the result list, or spread out across the result set.  Well, unfortunately for this pack, all of the armor sets are considered gold, so the break down would be pretty even:

  • 1-11 – Diligent Engineer Supplementary
  • 12-22 – Keeper of Iokath Supplementary
  • 23-33 – Shikaakwan Royalty Supplementary
  • 34-44 – Diligent Engineer Lower
  • 45-55 – Keeper of Iokath Lower
  • 56-66 – Shikaakwan Royalty Lower
  • 67-77 – Diligent Engineer Upper
  • 78-88 – Keeper of Iokath Upper
  • 89-99 – Shikaakwan Upper

So what about a decoration from this pack, how might that loot table look:

  • 1-15 — hex light: red
  • 16-30 — set light bar: green
  • 31-45 — house organa banner
  • 46-60 – aquarium – see scalefish
  • 61-75 – volcano (i thought this was gold and not silver)
  • 76-87 – cooling tower
  • 88-99 – manaan: fountain of knowledge

Now my example assumes that based on the rarity, there should be an equal division of chances for each item in that rarity.  But what if thats not always the case?  What if some items are given more chances to hit since there are no more bronze items, but Bioware still wants to consider some silver items common.  What if the decoration results looked like this:

  • 1-20 – hex light: red
  • 21-40 – set light bar: green
  • 41-55 – house organa banner
  • 56-70 – aquarium: see scalefish
  • 71-81 – volcano ( i essentially make this a gold item rarity)
  • 82-90 – cooling tower
  • 91-99 – manaan: fountain of knowledge

Obviously, there are more chances to get one of the “common” light items now, than one of the rarer items like the fountain!

So What Does This All Mean?

Well if you love decorating your stronghold, you might be thinking that just waiting for items to pop up on the GTN is the safest bet.  And if you don’t have a lot of disposable income then you would be correct in thinking that.  The problem is, how many other people are thinking that as well?  How many of those rare Manaa fountain items are being put up for sale?  If you do have some disposable income, then buying a hypercrate or two might be what you think is best.  If you open the packs, you have a chance on getting the items you want, and those that you don’t want can be sold.  Obviously this plays into the mess of gambling on RNG, and praying you have lots of luck to get the items you want.  And if you do just sell the hypercrate, the packs, or even the items, then you have to hope that you make enough credits to buy the decorations you want.  The other problem here, is how many other people are wanting that volcano, or the manaan fountain?  how many of those decorations could pop up on the GTN?  again, you have to be really lucky sometimes to get the chance to get the items you want.

Is There a Good Solution?

Yes, I still think there is a solution to the volatile decoration market, and I’ve provided that solution in a previous post:  have the same type of interface for buying decorations for a guild, just make it for individuals.  Just like the guild version, you have to have previously unlocked the decoration in order to buy copies of it.  if the individual unlock has to cost more than the guild unlock, in order to satiate the fury of those who think paying 100M credits for the Yavin head sculpture deco is a good thing, then so be it.  However, that unlock cannot be more than double the guild unlock price.  For example, it costs 50K credits to unlock the volcano decoration for a guild, then it cannot cost more than 100K credits to unlock a copy for an individual.

Theres no good arguments against this idea, at least none that I have seen.

  • You have to have unlocked the decoration before.  This is the same as weapons and armor in order to unlock it in collections.
  • It has the huge potential of removing large amounts of credits from the economy, which has the added benefit of fixing the massive inflation that exists right now, which could bring other GTN item prices under control.
  • and with the ridiculous GTN prices on not just decorations but armor and weapons under control, it means less people being tempted to buy credits!

Hopefully I’ve got everything I wanted to say on this topic, off my chest now.  I just hope an influencer, Bioware employee, or other SWTOR player sees it, and wants to get other opinions on it.

 

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My Thoughts on Update 5.4

Well first off, for those who have not played the update yet, I will not spoil the plot twist here.  I personally had the twist spoiled for me, because several Tumblr users decided to not put the twist behind some type of spoiler tag.  So thank you Tumblr users…

I am going to be giving my thoughts not just on this update, but everything going back to the release of Knights of the Fallen Empire, because it all ties into something that has frustrated me with this storyline.  So if you haven’t played any of the story going back to Patch 4.0, then everything below here is a giant spoiler.

Continue reading

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Common Decorations #1

So I have been going around, looking at different planets, going through different buildings, caves, or outposts, looking for decorations that I think are common, and could easily be added to the prefabrication kit droids or to the basic decoration vendor.

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The bounty board can be seen in a couple of places, including two places on Ord Mantell and Hutta.

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While the canisters on a pallet was the primary decoration here, I still believe the forklift is needed as well, as its commonly seen in every hangar.

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While I think they are a flag bearing item, these items are also seen everywhere.

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These little generators or whatever are also seen in several locations.

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These stacked crates or shipping containers are seen in several locations as well.

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I believe this is an environmental item, something to control temperature maybe.  And of courses, they are everywhere.

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These are located all over the place as well

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I see these in most ships, usually Republic ones.  We need things like this, if not for strongholds, then for guild flagships.  They can’t all be floating bedrooms.

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Like the banner thing above, I see these all over the place as well.

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This is something else i see mostly on ships, but have seen in some planet buildings, such as a quest cave on Republic Balmorra.

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Oh look, a shelf with a bunch of boxes on it!  We need more basic chelves with things on them.

We did get the ammo container (with the green dots) in a cartel pack.  We need these common large containers as basic decorations though.

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The very basic computers are also found all over the place.

The next several pictures were taken on Iokath, but I still believe that these decorations should be added, although I have a sneaky suspicion if they are, they will be from Cartel Packs.

 

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Updated Thoughts on Decorations

I was hoping a recent thread in the General Discussion forum on swtor.com would bring to light a problem those of us who like decorating our strongholds have been facing for awhile now.  I posted a response there, but wanted to expand on it, as well as put some other thoughts down here.

At the heart of the matter, is what I see as an across the board nerf to the drop rate of decorations for all game activities.  While I have seen some veteran flashpoints drop decorations on the bonus bosses, most Group Finder groups do not do the bonus boss, as most people are just trying to get their daily done as quick as possible.  The interesting thing here, is that for the Shadow of Revan flashpoints that used to drop special tokens, they no longer do, which means the Jedi and Sith decorations that required 25 tokens per, can no longer be acquired.  The Story Mode flashpoints do not drop decorations for their bonus bosses at all, which means an avenue we used to have available to acquire these decorations no longer exists.  I remember several weekend afternoons, whether by myself or sometimes with others, going through the pre-4.0 flashpoints on my level 60-65, just to get the decorations.

If that wasn’t bad for normal in-game activities, the constant reworking of the Cartel Market packs, has seen a shift that means not as many decorations are dropping.  I believe this is just one symptom of the current price ranges seen on the GTN for decorations from the new packs.  Its simple supply and demand really.  If there are not enough decorations dropping from the packs, like in the past, then the prices will be higher for those items deemed in demand.  When the current pack with the latest reworking went live, i purchased two hypercrates, and got 8 decorations total, with 4 being duplicates.  I’ve been watching the GTN closely to purchase additional decorations that I am wanting, but again, if prices are higher than I am willing to pay, then I won’t be purchasing the item.  In my personal opinion, this lack of decorations could be alleviated with a pack design like so:

  • 1 guaranteed new item from the current pack, can be armor, weapon, mount, decoration, title, flair, emote, etc..
  • 1 guaranteed decoration from the current pack.  drop rate could be based on the rarity
  • 1 item from any pack, which would include grand chance cubes and armor boxes
  • 1 jawa scrap or cartel certificate
  • 1 companion gift or reputation token

As I mention in the above post, the prefabrication droids have not had an update since the launch of strongholds.  They really need to add some new things, common or even uncommon decorations, to these droids.  Someone mentioned in the post, that there are new grades of crafting materials that have been added since the stronghold release, but no new rank for prefabrications.  So lets see that new Mark 4 Synthetic, Industrial and Universal Prefab Kit.  This new rank could have some decorations that have never been released before, but decorators have been clamoring for, like statues that are in game, more computers, etc…  You could even have a new droid added, that takes a mix of different prefabrication kits, or kits and credits for decorations.  And while I understand, the Universal prefab kit should be the real hybrid kit, mixing different kits, including Universals could be a neat way to introduce some cool decoration designs that are already in the game.  For example, two universal kits, and one industrial kit, could create a interactive moisture vaporator for a large hook.

In addition, the basic decoration vendor list is needing some new items to sell.  The good thing here was that when the Yavin stronghold was released, we got two new ruin pieces and a couple of moss decorations.  Now that Manaan has been released, and with the upcoming Umbara train stronghold, we need some new basic decorations that are themed to these locations.

There has been some discussion on the official forums regarding the fact that you can no longer acquire cartel market certificates, but no official response has been given for this.  Well, if there are no plans to bring them back, then the certificate decoration vendor on fleet, needs to have those items converted so they can be purchased with credits, just like what happened when the data crystals were removed.  In addition, new items need to be added to this vendor on a somewhat regular basis, like two or three new items per quarter.  With all of the stuff surrounding Zakuul, Iokath, and in the next patch Umbara, theres a wealth of items that could be added that would freshen up strongholds and make decorators happy.

I like the thoughts presented in this post, but it would take away from the use of the prefabrication kits.  That being said, some type of vendor or interface that would allow the customization of decorations would be great.  I like the idea of customizing the rugs and carpets with different dye modules.  However, for customization of lights, a different dye kit would probably be best, as a Deep Purple and Medium Pink light doesn’t make much sense to me.

I believe I had mentioned a customization of computers in a previous post awhile back, but I will repost those thoughts here as well.  So throughout the world of SWTOR, there are examples of different, customized computers, monitors, and other technology, that essentially looks like hybrids of different pieces.  I would like to see a vendor that could either take existing decorations and combine them, or a vendor where you purchase the different pieces you want, either through credits or prefabrication kits.

  • So for an example of taking existing decorations and combining them, take the Computer Desk (Republic), and the Server Monitor, to create a computer with a large display monitor.  They have released some decorations that have a hybrid look, such as the Multi-State Mainframe Terminal, which is an interactive, single-sided version of the Ship Computer: Republic (Full) decoration.  In addition, the Republic Data Storage Unit, is a combination of the Computer Desk (Republic) and two Czerka Data Cores.
  • An example of the second customization option, would be for example, take the Czerka Data Core as your base, which costs 1 million credits or 5 Universal prefab kits.  You then purchase just the stand portion of the Datacron pedestals for 200000 credits or 2 Synthetic prefab kits.  This combination could create an interactive decoration for showing holographic items stored in the data core.  In fact, whether or not the item is interactive could have a cost to it as well.  Or for things that need to show a hologram or display, what is being displayed could have a price to it.  Random pictures of ships or people, could cost one price, while generic planets could be a another price.
  • Either example could have some basic customizing as well, so that maybe the monitor is higher up with some type of attachment, or the pedestal could be on the left, right, or center of the data core.

While I would really like to see someway to scale some decorations, I would prefer some actual thought by the designers be used when designing decorations.  I don’t mind the large hook microscope, but I would also prefer one that could fit on a medium hook.  Or items like the Sun Generator that is currently a starship hook decoration, but could have easily fit on a centerpiece hook.  Or if some of the decoration designs are intentional, then make some changes to the hook layouts.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a starship hook like in the hangar on Tattooine, with the XS Light Freighter, but now you have people decorations or items like a generator or desk computer with wires and hoses running diagnostics.  Adding some basic hook patterns to the centerpiece or starship hooks, similar to how the Large hook is designed, could go along way to creating some really cool scenes.  Since we are restricted by the hook system to begin with, we need some better layout patterns that allow for some creativity.

I would to see a z-axis configuration when placing decorations.  I realize it might not make sense for all decorations to have this, so maybe just apply it to the ones that it does, or at least to the floor decorations.

And finally, while I am against some type of collection unlock for decorations, I would be ecstatic for an interface similar to the way decorations can be purchased for a guild, but for personal strongholds.  The obvious down-side to this would be that some decorations that people want a bunch of, and can currently only be found on the GTN, would decrease in value because of the lower online demand for them.  However, similar to the way it is used with guilds, it would be a great way to remove large amounts of credits from the game.  I watched 30 million credits shrink to 5 million for a guild I was in, and that was just from purchasing decorations for a new guild ship.  I would make a stipulation though, that only unlocked decorations can be purchased, just like with the guild version.  that would at least mean anybody wanting to purchase multiple decorations, especially the rare ones, would have either had to have it drop from a cartel pack, operation, flashpoint, etc… or purchased it from the GTN.

Unfortunately I realize most of this is just pie-in-the-sky daydreaming, and that no one from Bioware Austin will probably read this, but it is my opinion that implementing some of these, especially the changes to the prefabrication kits and basic decoration vendors, would go a long way in making those of us who enjoy decorating our strongholds happy.

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Random Thoughts – 01-26-2017

Uprisings

  • I believe Uprisings were intended to be something quick and easy to jump into
  • I do not believe they were meant to take the place of Flashpoints or Operations
  • I believe they could be a great way to showcase boss mechanics, get people accustomed to the mechanics, like us filthy casuals taking up space in PUG operations in group finder.
  • I do not mind them reusing assets in order to create them.  If it helps them create some simple but memorable encounters, then great!
    • I had a weird feeling in Crimson Fang on Taelitha, since Port Nowhere was “my base of operations” before being frozen.  The specialized intro dialogue for smuggler was great as well.
    • I got to to the new Trench Runner uprising last night, and had a blast.  It was short and simple, not overly complicated and something perfect for a tactical style PUG
  • I do think the fact that med packs do not respawn on a wipe needs to be fixed.  Especially for an all DPS group, it usually leads to one or two more attempts at a boss, and then everybody quitting.  Even tactical flashpoints are more forgiving in this respect.
    • It feels like a punishment when the med packs do not respawn, while flashpoints have static med stations.
    • the Fractured double boss encounter especially feels unforgiving for an all DPS group, when there are only two med packs in that final area, and the possibility to get one shot from an Exterminate is there

Today’s Livestream

  • I’m not in the “make or break” boat, and won’t unsubscribe if I don’t feel like I’m being catered too
  • I’ve mentioned before that I wanted to be able to explore Iokath in more detail, and it looks like I will get that wish with the new daily area.  While the story will be focused on this new superweapon, I hope it will delve some into more of the history of this artificial planet
    • yes i know the technoliths were there, and they provided some interesting codex entries to read, but I still have a gut feeling there is something more here.  Something that could explain some of the great mysteries that exist in the Star Wars universe.
  • I love the fact that we are getting back to some Empire vs Republic drama, even if it is focused on who the Alliance wants on their side more.
    • It sounds like some interesting dynamics will be in place especially for the cross-faction appeal.  Like if an original Republic player decides to help the Empire side, or vice versa.
  • I like the fact that we are getting two companions back, even if its just based on your faction.  And it will be cool to see how they react to the choices made, especially if you are helping the opposite faction.
    • While the meta doesn’t exist for some of my Imperial characters in regards to Quinn and his traitorous ways, it will be interesting to see if he brings what I saw as an elitist or snobbish attitude into this new update, especially when dealing with none Sith Warrior characters.
    • I am interested to see if Elara will have any reactions or interactions with the other trooper companions, especially Jorgan.  Like it was cool to see the brief interaction between Scorpio and Kaliyo during KotFE, but it kind of went nowhere after that.  And so far there has been little reactions from most of the companions as they have been added to the Alliance mix.
  • I’m interested in this new operation, even as a filthy casual.
    • I am happy with the approach being taken, given the size of the current BWA team
    • If they take the feedback from the PTR and use it, tweaking the boss encounters appropriately, it could lead to a finely tuned Operation which would be a great thing
    • Obviously this will not bring most of the hard core raiders back, but I do hope it brings some of them back, that they see BWA is at least trying to get back to a balanced approach to releasing content.  If they can see it as an olive branch, at least its a step in the right direction.  However I still feel a bunch of raiders will wait until the whole operation has been released, subscribe and run it enough that they feel they have it down, and then unsubscribe and wait for the next one to be released.  And thats being optimistic.

 

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Where to go from here

According to this article from Massively Op, Bioware is definitely thinking about who the next big adversary could be for its players.  Who can top the Sith Emperor as the next major baddy to be challenged by the Outlander or the Alliance?  Whatever your opinion is on how Bioware finished the story of a character they created 15 years ago, its going to be a challenge to come up with a new bad guy that could rival the Sith Emperor as someone the players know they have to destroy.  And while I don’t have an answer to who should be the next major adversary, I do have some ideas on how to possibly get to point of revealing this new bad guy.

I do not consider myself a master wordsmith, and the stories I have told over the years, usually in Dungeons and Dragons games are full of tropes and over-used scenarios that people can see from miles away.  But I will take a page from the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and a hint in the above article, and say the next major bad guy is someone we may have met before, but would love to see something new.  So here’s some thoughts on basically the next several expansions, including maybe the ending to the game itself, another 5 years down the road.

Expansion 6.0

  • Its been mentioned with the final cutscene of the KotET story, that the Republic and Sith Empire are proving to fall back into their old ways.  While I do believe this was initially meant to give a brief intro for the Uprisings feature, it could be used for the next expansion as well.
  • I want to return to the Republic vs. Sith Empire, but now there is also the Alliance as a third party, that could be looking to keep the peace in the galaxy, or one looking to exude its power over the rest of the galaxy.  I think this sets up a perfect conflict that could be used to set the scene for the state of the galaxy post-Eternal Empire.  It creates a perfect tension that could exist within each former government.
    • Groups within both the Republic and Sith Empire are not happy with the Alliance and the power it has, so they see it as a threat.  They are looking to bring back the order and systems they had before the Eternal Empire invaded.
    • Others within each government, could see the Alliance as good for now, but want to use it for their own benefit.
    • There is also a group looking at the Alliance as a dictatorship no matter what the Outlander says, and they’re pointing at the destruction of the 5 worlds from KotFE as the Alliance’s fault, or at least, the Alliance brought that destruction because they were fighting Arcann at the time.
  • Does the Jedi Council and Dark Council reform now?  Who do they align with?  Satele Shan is still in exile with Darth Marr’s ghost.  They mention something coming in a cutscene during KotFE, but do not reappear in the KotET story from what I recall.  So what is this ominous new thing?  I don’t believe it was Valkorion or even Vaylin.
  • Plus we still have missing companions, so how to handle them.  Its no secret for the Outlanders original crew that they are back, after all the news has been all over the holonet for the months that KotFE and KotET take place.
    • Risha for example could have gone back to Dubrillion and worked with the nobles who saw her reign as legitimate to try and fix the civil war that was happening.  This leads to a perfect reason to call on the Outlander for assistance.
    • Corso could have joined up with a resistance group against the Eternal Empire and is looking to get back into the heat of the action.  He could also be someone that can’t tell who or what the Alliance is really fighting for.
    • It would be interesting if Kira, Nadia, Ashara and a light-sided Jaesa found each other over the five year span and have been fighting the Eternal Empire invasion.  And because each of these companions had personalities of independent women, maybe they are not looking to rejoin other Jedi’s or Sith that do not think like them.  Maybe they see the Jedi Council and the Dark Council as problems.
    • Lord Scourge is an interesting companion because he could be like the SoR version of Revan, free of the Consular, he’s hunting down the Sith Emperor across the galaxy.  He could be someone that doesn’t believe the Sith Emperor is dead, and that whoever Valkorion was, he was an imposter.
    • After escaping the destruction of Asylum, Tanno Vik has maybe found his way back to known space and is looking to recruit a new gang.  They know of the Outlander and the resistance, but maybe he still sees that there is some money that could be made somewhere.  It may be that Andonikus or even Akaavi find their way into this gang.  If the Empire and Republic are still fighting each other, as well as fighting against the Alliance, it could lead to some opportunities for this new gang, which could lead to crossing paths again with the Outlander.
  • So who is the new main bad guy?  No one knows.  But someone is working awfully hard to destabilize any type of peace in the galaxy.

Expansion 7.0

  • The Alliance is teetering on the brink of dissolution.  Uprisings all over the known galaxy have meant a long state of war still exists.  While some planets are not mired in the conflict as bad as others, the people are still weary.  From Coruscant to Dromund Kaas to Zakuul, nowhere is safe from conflict.
    • New areas are opened on the capital worlds, reachable from new shuttles that are appropriate to level 80.  These are daily zones with some new heroics and daily missions.  Odessen is still considered the main seat of the Alliance, so there’s shuttles to each of the new capital city areas here as well.
    • It would be great if new phasing features could be used for other planets, so that visiting them while under a story mission, they could be changed and yes, old assets reused, but for new purpose.
  • The groups opposing the Alliance have become large organizations, and they’re still fighting their own governments.  They use their armies of followers to sow discord among regular citizens just trying to eek out their meager existences.
  • More companions could show up at this time, either aligned with one of the opposition groups, or independent.
    • Raina Temple has risen to the rank of Admiral in the New Sith Empire, the one that supports the Alliance, but is looking for its own powerbase.  Raina is seeing some disturbing trends with recent events, and believes there is a plot brewing to kill the Outlander.
    • Malavai Quinn joined the opposition group looking to topple the Alliance because he believes the Outlander ruined the perfect empire the Sith Emperor had created.
    • Elara Dorne is the leader of the new Havoc Squad, that is part of the Republic group that is working tightly with the Alliance.  The new Havoc Squad is spending most of its time fighting the armies of not just the Sith but the other Republic groups that are opposing the Alliance.  During a mission on Corellia, the unit is attacked before a meeting between the Outlander and a group of senators.
    • Whether the Outlander saves Tai Cordan or not, at some point after KotFE, Tai Cordan is killed.  It could even happen in the stuff for 6.0.  With the loss of Tai Cordan, Balmorra has once again fallen into a poor state.  Groups from all sides have set up bases there to try and take control of the Okarra Droid Factory and Balmorran Arms Factory which is currently under the control of the Balmorran Resistance led by Zenith and Doc.
    • After the events of Shadow of Revan, Republic SIS was left in turmoil, and a new Sith Intelligence was created.  During the invasion from the Eternal Empire, both of these intelligence agencies were essentially destroyed.  With information brokering for all sides fetching huge amounts of credits, several organizations formed for the purpose of information gathering.  One of these has risen to a powerful position amongst the others, and its lead by Mako.
  • So we have more conflicts in this expansion.  The leaders of various groups have either placed themselves as an ally or opponent to the Outlander.  But by the end, the Alliance is down to a core group again, with no large army to back it up.

Expansion 8.0

  • The Alliance and its army is no more.  Reduced to a core group of people, the Alliance is trying to figure out where their support went.  Enter in the two leaders of the main opposition groups to the Alliance, and the people who have made it their missions to destroy the Alliance.  Face to face, hologram to hologram, it becomes apparent to the Outlander why everything around them was destroyed.  But the revelation still has one more surprise for the Outlander — Darth Malgus returns, brought back to life through Sith alchemy.  But this does not seem to be the Darth Malgus the Outlander fought trying to remove him from the false empires throne.  But Darth Malgus has been building up his power over the last several years, while trying to stay out of the eye of the Sith Emperor, Darth Marr, or any members of the old Dark Council.
  • With the Alliance destroyed, the Outlander has to rely on its remnants to show the failed Republic and Sith Empire what these opposition groups have done, and how Darth Malgus is looking to enslave the galaxy.
  • The rest of the companions can be used now.
    • Several years after the Consular disappeared, while working on a new project, Theran Cedrax has an accident that causes Holiday’s memory core to be wiped.  After learning of the machine planet Iokath, he travels there under a research grant to try and bring back Holiday.  However, someone else has plans for the inventor.
    • After the disappearance of the Agent, Vector Hyllus tried to return to the Diplomatic Service.  However unrest and then the Eternal Empires invasion, forces him to make a drastic decision.  He formulates a plan to move the Killik colonies on Alderaan to a planet outside of the influence of the Republic, Sith Empire, or Eternal Empire.  However, someone else wants to use the killiks for their own devious purpose.
    • Satele Shan has been in exile for far too long.  While she wanted to help rebuild the Jedi Council and the training areas on Tython, theres been an ominous presence that has been keeping her distracted.  Recent events however, have leader her to believe she knows the identity of the dark presence, and theres only one way to stop it.
  • By the end of this expansion its revealed that the original essence of Tenebrae was trapped in the Sith Holocron once occupied by his father.  And he’s looking for revenge against the Outlander.  However something is still not right.  Are Darth Malgus and Tenebrae merely puppets for something darker and more evil?

Expansion 9.0

  • Darth Malgus continues the reign of terror he started in the last expansion, with Republic and the New Sith Empire fully in his sights to destroy.  Tenebrae however has other ideas.  And while he and Darth Malgus don’t see eye to eye on where this new partnership will lead, Tenebrae still has one goal to accomplish:  kill the Outlander.
  • Despite both governments seeing Darth Malgus and Tenebrae as apocalyptic threats to their worlds, the Republic and New Sith Empire are still locked in open warfare not only with the different factions trying to control each government, but with each other.  Resources are becoming scarce as well, with fleets and armies being built and then destroyed like matchsticks.  There is no longer a safe place for refugees to hide from the conflict, as any place that tries to become a sanctuary is brought into the war.
  • At this time, the newly reformed Jedi Council lead by Satele Shan, is looking to stop the galaxy spanning war, and put an end to Darth Malgus and Tenebrae for good.  Standing in their way is the Dark Council which has come out of hiding, lead by Darth Ravage, who has killed Darth Acina, believing Darth Malgus should be the new Sith Emperor.
  • The Outlander is looking for allies to take on Darth Malgus and Tenebrae, so there is some teaming up of Jedi Council, as well as the New Republic armies, and slowly planets are being taken back and liberated.
  • One moon however, Yavin IV is showing an increase in dark side energy, which is what has been felt by Satele Shan for these last several years.  The dark presence will finally make itself known, and all of the puppets will quake in fear.

Expansion 10.0

  • And who is the Dark Presence???  Something new, that has been hinted at with discussion of the light and dark side of the force.  Something that has been using all of the war and death to grow powerful.  Something unlocked on Yavin IV when Revan summoned the Sith Emperor.  And what does this new Dark Presence start doing?
  • It starts summoning Dark Lords of Sith from the past, and with the puppets Darth Malgus and Tenebrae, starts wreaking havoc on planets all throughout the galaxy.  Even planets that seemed to be liberated, will feel the impact of these resurrected Sith lords and the destruction they bring.
    • It wouldn’t be a party without some of the nastiest Sith lords being brought back, like Naga Sadow, Freedon Nadd, Marka Ragnos, Ludo Kressh, Karness Muur, Darth Malak, Darth Kreia/Traya, Exar Kun, etc…
    • There should be at least one Sith Lord resurrected for each major planet.  Malgus and Tenebrae do no count toward this.
    • While it doesn’t need to be an Operation, maybe Flashpoint level, there should be boss fights, and they should have puzzle and fight mechanics that go well with the Sith Lord.
  • Two more individuals are brought back who have been Force ghosts for far too long:  Revan and Darth Marr.  However, its not the Dark Presence that has brought them back, its light side of the Force in an attempt to balance what the Dark Presence is doing.
    • We will finally get a proper ending for Revan, unlike the current, “oh lets unleash the Sith Emperor and then just vanish.”
    • There should be two Operation level sets of encounters here.  And because it may require use of old assets, let the Revan fight happen on the Foundry against Tenebrae, and let the Darth Malgus fight happen either in the Battle of Ilum or False Emperor.  However because its now an operation, more trash and better sub bosses would be required.  And do not bring back HK-47, no matter how much Eric begs and pleads!
    • In addition, because there would Operations for these, it might be good to have solo versions available as well, maybe to complete the story portion, that like the Revan fight in SoR, bring your companions along.  In fact, you should be able to pick most of them, except Lana and Theron.
    • In addition, Revan and Darth Marr are quest NPC’s who will act on their own, but will do special things when certain events occur.  Like if Tenebrae erects a force shield that the players need to figure out how to lower, Revan is keeping Tenebrae distracted or something.
  • And for the final battle against the Dark Presence, its similar to what has been described above.  Operation level setup in the Temple of Sacrifice.  Mini bosses could include avatars of the resurrected Sith lords, with a pre-final boss of Tenebrae and Darth Malgus together, weaker than before, and yes it means they escape from the operations some how.
  • And with that, the galaxy is saved for the next 3000 years, minus things like the New Sith wars and such.

 

And there you have it!  The next five expansions, and something I feel could lead them into a real maintenance mode until the servers shut down.

Obviously its not fleshed out to game bible details, but its a start.  And while I didn’t highlight new features added, things like the planet phases and multi-companion solo battles would be really cool to implement in my opinion, because it definitely opens up possibilities for what can be done.

So these are my thoughts and ideas.  Would love to see what others who may have been thinking about this have!

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