SWTOR: Legend of Hipstar 1: Character Creation

By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 18, 2016

Filed under: Lets Play 90 comments

A couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning out the drafts folder on this blog. I had a hundred of so article stubs that I never managed to turn into proper posts. It was mostly just random notes and single-paragraph article stubs. But mixed in with those scraps was this thing. Way back in July 2012, I apparently began and subsequently abandoned this LP of SWTOR.

I think my heart just wasn’t in it. In the past, I’ve managed to make some fun stories. Champions Online was too dumb for its own good. I thought Lord of the Rings was earnest and admirable despite its occasional insanity. And while there are few places more well-traveled than Azeroth, I like to think I found a few funny places and ideas that hadn’t yet been given the mocking they so richly deserved.

But Star Wars the Old Republic is too bland a target for my kind of humor. It felt like the game wasn’t even trying to make a case for itself. When mocked, the game doesn’t even have the decency to fight back. The (early) quests were a bit lame, but not mind-bogglingly stupid like Champs Online. SWTOR was based on well-known source material, but unlike LOTRO I didn’t feel like this game arose from a genuine love and appreciation for the universe. Oh, I’m sure plenty of people on the project love Star Wars, but that wasn’t coming through the malaise of cookie-cutter game design. The stories eventually get interesting, but only after many endless hours of soul-crushing hotbar-based combat and trudging through environments that are too dull to mock in screenshots.

This isn’t fun and it isn’t funny. It’s mostly just sad to see how much money was spent to make something so lifeless. I’m only posting this because my choices are:

1) Delete this and leave the blog blank for a few days.
2) Post it.

So don’t read this and think, “This is supposed to be good.” More like, “This is hopefully better than having no content for several days.”

Okay, back to me-from-2012…

Get on With It Already

Let’s play Star Wars the Old Republic. Partly because I want to comment on the game, but mostly because it’s free-to-play up to level 15. Assuming you can get in. Not that I’m bitter.

Unlike some of my other series, I’m not going to meticulously track in-character and out-of-character commentary. Also, I’m not going for comedy here. We’re just going to jog past all the quests while I point at them like a tour guide. In keeping with the standards of tone and continuity set by the Star Wars Expanded Universe, we’re going to half-ass this.

Are your expectations sufficiently lowered? Great. Let’s get started…

Step one is to create a character.

I’m just kidding. Step one is actually creating an account on SWTOR.com, a process somewhat akin to filing taxes through an interpreter. Step twenty three is to create a character, so let’s skip to that one.

Oh wait. At some point, we start the launcher. After you log in, you get this screen:

Pick an environment? Really? Like what, Star Trek? Farscape?

Note that there is only one environment available. And it is not selected by default. It’s a menu with only one option, which must be selected before you can continue. Click on “SWTOR (swtor)”, then click on “Next”. There’s no explanation to the user as to what they’re choosing or why. Now, I’ve done this enough that I can guess this is probably where you would select the beta servers if you were in the beta. But what is your average user supposed to think here?

The next screen is a little splash screen of upcoming content, so this list could easily be put there as a drop-down list or something.

You might say I’m being petty. Okay, yes. But I say the devs are at least as petty. How contemptibly apathetic do you have to be to make a dialog like this? No, it doesn’t ruin the game, but it’s trivial to fix: If there’s only one environment available, then skip this screen. Barring that, have it selected by default. Barring both of those, explain to the user what this mystery quiz is for. Barring that, quit your job designing interfaces and go back to greeting people at Wal-Mart.

Anyway. Once you’re all nice and logged in, it’s time to make a character. Which means we need a name.

We know how character naming works in Star Wars. The trope even has a name: Luke Nounverber. A good Star Wars name mixes a short first name with a noun-verb last name. Julia Cakebaker. Stan Chairsitter. Vicky Boobhaver. Bob Booblooker. Eddie Fartsniffer. Shamus Blogblogger. Et cetera. Bonus points if you can work some outer-space flavor into the name, as in “Skywalker” or “Starkiller”.

The other kind of Star Wars name is the three-syllable pair. Jengo Fett. Han Solo. Mace Windu. Qui-Gon Jinn. Moff Tarkin. Mon Mothma. Max Rebo. Count Dooku. Boba Fett. Princess Leia. Vrook Lamar. Raana Tey. Visas Marr. Krynda Draay. Owen Lars. Cliegg Lars. Darth Vader. And others.

So for optimal name-making, we should have two names. Unfortunately, you can’t give yourself two names. The game won’t let you. I don’t know why. Other games have made this work, but not SWTOR. Online gaming being what it is, the available supply of non-idiotic one-word names is likely to fill up quick. Like, this has already happened. Ages ago.

Veteran players tell me that you can get second name, much later in the game. The game can’t be bothered to tell you about this at the outset, so it’s not like a new player can plan for it. This also means that your first name still needs to be server-unique, which defeats the biggest benefit of having two names.

Now the truth is, I’m more of a Star Wars fan than most of you. I might know less about the universe. I don’t read the comics, or the books, and I haven’t played half the Star Wars games out there. But I saw the movie first, which is what matters most. I was six when the original movie came out, and I saw it like, a bunch of times over the years.

I even owned the original toys. I lost them or they broke or I traded them for candy or whatever, but the point is: I once owned toys that, if I still had them and if I hadn’t ruined them, would be older than most of you. This is the most important thing about fandom.

In keeping with this line of thought, and thinking back to the benefits of having “star” in your name, I’ve decided to name myself Hipstar. If I ever get a second name, it will be “Fann”.

Let’s see… who do we want to play? The game has eight character classes, four for each side. Let’s consider:

Sith Warrior

Starts on Korriban. A dreary brown starting area that involves about ten thousand miles of hiking. Pass.

Sith Inquisitor

Same starting area as Warrior.

Bounty Hunter

Starts on Hutta, world of the MAXIMUM ORANGE color filter. I really don’t want to post nothing but orange screenshots for several weeks, because that would be almost as monotonous as playing through Hutta yourself. On the other hand, Bounty Hunter is a fun class and seemingly indestructible as far as I’ve played it.

It’s a great choice if you happen to be playing the game on an amber monochrome monitor. You won’t even notice.


Imperial Agent

PRO: Really interesting quests. Really neat to see how the rest of the Empire views their Sith masters.

CON: Hutta, again. Pass.


I get what BioWare was trying to do with the Smuggler. They wanted a wise-cracking Han Solo type. They failed. The voice actors are wrong for the part, sounding too much “Welcome to Applebees, can I start you folks off with an appetizer this evening?” and not enough “swaggering rogue”.

But the real problem is the dialog. Your “jokes” are not. They are stupid and lame. Worse, you don’t even get the last word. The NPC always gets the last comment, where they point out how stupid, inappropriate, or lame you are. You’re not a wise-cracking scoundrel. You’re a tone-deaf idiot, mugging for an audience that doesn’t care.

Your quest involves your ship getting stolen, repeatedly. That’s right, as the scoundrel you get tricked and ripped off by the NPCs, not the other way around. This is like playing as a Sith Warrior that gets beat up all the time or a Bounty Hunter who can’t find his dog.


Republic Trooper

Five thousand years before the events of the Prequel Trilogy, you play as a… stormtrooper. Sure, it completely muddles the events of the movies and undercuts the established idea that the pre-Jar-Jar Republic didn’t need a central army, but this is a Star Wars game and the fans demand soldiers in white armor called troopers. So shut up.

It’s not a bad questline. It’s basically the Bounty Hunter power set. The starting area is kind of a bland, generic war-torn ruin. (Same starting area as the Smuggler, actually.) You’re supposedly fighting against a rebellion, but the rebels outnumber the non-rebels so it’s not clear why these guys need to start a war to take over. The planet seems to be made entirely of military bases, though, and I’m not sure why the bases are all clustered together and I’m done trying to make sense of this.

The female Trooper is voiced by Jennifer Hale. Adjust your gender accordingly.

Pass, reluctantly. Might come back to this one later.

Jedi Knight

Great looking starting area. Appropriately themed conflict. Good power set. Plus, you know, Jedi.

Jedi Knight, I choose YOU!

Jedi Consular

Too late! I already picked Jedi Knight.

Hey! I thought this was my story. Why isn’t my name in it?

Anyway, let’s see where this goes…


From The Archives:

90 thoughts on “SWTOR: Legend of Hipstar 1: Character Creation

  1. MichaelGC says:

    I'm not going for comedy here.

    Seem to have failed pretty hard so far, then! :D

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Was gonna say -I’m cracking up. “Too late, already chose Jedi Knight!”

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        Shamus trying to not be bitterly humorous is rather like a fish trying not to swim.

  2. With the various adjustments made to the game over the years into more of an always online single player game I’ve seriously considered jumping back in, but I’ve come across very negative things regarding the free to play set up and suspect the story, however much improved, may still not be worth trudging through the core gameplay loop again. I really liked WoW but I had enough of that after six years. Light sabers and blasters aren’t enough to overcome stale mechanics.

    If anyone else here has more recent experience with the game I’d love to hear about. I’m more than open to being proven wrong. My own experience doesn’t extend far past the first 3~4 planets in the Sith Inquisitor story line a few months after launch so i should imagine there’s a great deal I’m unfamiliar with.

    Additionally, Shamus you were right to skip past the Sith classes at the time. Their starting planets and those first few thereafter are beyond boring. Unless you like being cartoonishly evil or arbitrarily contrarian there’s not much fun to be had with their stories.

    1. ehlijen says:

      I first and last played it a couple years back (free to play) and nope, not going back to that cashgrabbing grindfest.
      I forced my way through the bounty hunter storyline and it’s dumb. Not worth the grind (ftp accounts must do all the sidequests to gain XP to stay level appropriate for the story).

    2. Mintskittle says:

      As someone who was playing shortly before the release of the latest expansion, and enjoyed playing SWTOR, I can tell you that the free to play version is absolutely not worth it, because so much of what you can do gets put behind a paywall. Very strict limits on how often you can warzone, or do space battles, or how much money you can have on hand, limited # of character slots. Alot of these I could actually put up with, but the worst is after a certain point, they start limiting how much XP you earn, which is completely intolerable. There are items you can purchase through the cash shop to temporarily lift these restrictions, but you’d end up spending far more in RMTs than just subbing.

      In my honest opinion, subbing is the only way to play, since it lifts all those limits, and you get a few cartel coins every month you sub, so you can partake of the cash shop every now and then if you so desire.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Feels to me that the only way to play is during double XP events, where doing nothing except the class quests is viable. Sure, levelling may be significantly faster now than at launch such that you can skip all the sidequests (anything with a non-purple quest marker), but it’s still “balanced” around doing the main questline for each planet which often is just as boring as those sidequests (and often run contrary to the characterisation of many classes).

      2. lurkey says:

        “Free” to play is utter garbage, but you can buy some conveniences (like helmet toggle, licence to wear purple gear, third crafting ability), let your sub expire and play as preferred without much hassle — if you’re here for the story, that is.

    3. Beardiemcwarren says:

      I recently resubscribed to play Knights of the Fallen Empire. I originally quit the game because the slog of every planet became too much to deal with. Coming back with the new XP setup was nice, and I managed to finish KOTFE (or at least get as far as they have content for in the story) and the Smuggler story from lvl 1 in about 2 weeks. When I tried to start another class I found that I didn’t really want to sit through the planetary quests again.

      If you subscribe you do have the advantage of being able to just do your class quests because the game auto level adjusts you to every planet and instances. So if you really just wanted to see the story and you had enough free time you could probably power through a few classes in one months time. The biggest problem with this option is the game is still designed like an MMO so you are trekking across a huge map to have a five minute fight and some conversation, then fast traveling back, then trekking again to another new area. It makes just doing the class quests tedious.

      For $15 you get a pretty decent experience and if you don’t have much to play or just an itch for some Star Wars its not a bad option, but you probably won’t get more than a month out of it.

    4. Benjamin Hilton says:

      See I had a very different free to play experience. All of the things that are “blocked” from you can be bought by subs and then put on the market for credits (in game currency). I got all the stuff a sub has by level 20 on most of my characters just by buying them with credits.

      Also even with “lowered” xp I was still higher than the recommended level of every planet just by doing the side quests, and with the new expansion you really don’t even need to do those to level super quick.

      Yeah the story’s are watered down versions of what a good single player game would be but it’s enjoyable enough, and since I’m not paying I don’t feel bad about going on hiatus for a few months before coming back.

      Full disclosure: I have a high tolerance for BS and got the disc from a friend, meaning for me this game was 100% free so at no point did I ever feel like I wasted anything, It’s just free entertainment.

      1. I’m curious, how does SW:TOR handle mounts now in F2P? Before it was almost as bad as vanilla WoW: You were forced to wait far too long and pay far too much for too little. I doubt it’s much better but if there’s a reasonable way to earn some faster ground travel – either through credits or premium – I’d gladly take it. Mounts are usually the first things I go for. Anything to cut down on travel time.

        1. Benjamin Hilton says:

          Usually you need to wait till 20 to get a mount as f2p as opposed to 10 as a sub, but again this is one of those things that you can either buy from other players or he in game legacy menu for credits without ever spending real money.

    5. Etto Demerzel says:

      To be fair, the game does a couple of interesting things if you go for the light side with the sith warrior. I don’t remember the beginning (it’s been a long long time) but at close to max level the story acknowledges the thinking that goes with playing a light side sith in your options and companion conversations.

  3. ehlijen says:

    Was this a free to play account?

    1. Taellosse says:

      Probably – he started in July 2012, which was a month after F2P became an option. And given his feelings on the game leading up to its release, I doubt very much Shamus wanted to pay much for the privilege of writing this.

  4. Gruhunchously says:

    Hey, at least this game give you the opportunity to roleplay as Captain Okona.

  5. krellen says:

    This was before you started putting jokes as alt-text on your pictures. This is what I miss the most.

    Jedi Knight’s story is almost certainly what KOTOR3 would have been if they had made KOTOR3, so there’s that at least.

    1. Ilseroth says:

      Honestly, I think that is a bit of a shame. The jedi knight story is probably the most bland of any of them, though I will say the Smuggler story can go jump off a cliff.

      I personally haven’t played too much of the game, I got bored early on, but I was curious about the stories so watched them through.

      If we are going for what KOTOR3 would/should have been, I think Jedi Consular would be a much better choice. Instead of just going around like a soldier, you essentially turn your ship into the host for ambassadors for different planets and listen to whatever ills they are having and help them with them as they come up. Assuming this was a plot for a single player game and not for an MMO they could allow for choice of who you focus on to help and how you help them. Sadly it’s an MMO so it’s just a checklist, but oh well.

      Proper dues to a few scenes from Sith Warrior for being entertaining and Bounty Hunter for allowing you, in an MMO even, to get the last word on almost *every* single NPC you meet with exception to one. Seriously the bounty hunter doesn’t take shit from anyone.

      1. James says:

        The Sith Inquizitor and the Imperial Agent have the best stories imo, then maby BH, Jedi Knight is bland seen it before save the world stuff, the consular is something to do with space virus cancer or something, and Ord Mantel is sooooooo boring i never finished it more then once

        1. krellen says:

          FUCK the Imperial Agent story. People who like it are bad and objectively wrong.

          Sorry for the words, Shamus.

          Imperial Agent story is so bad. Worst goddamn thing I’ve seen in a long time. The act II “twist” – which I bet is why so many people like the story – is complete bullshit and comes out of nowhere. It’s completely unearned.

          Sith Inquisitor is great, though. It’s pretty much the direct opposite of the Agent story – it earns its twist, and it uses its twist to add player agency, not to remove it. Sith Inquisitor would have made a pretty amazing single-player game if it would ever be possible to actually release such a thing.

          1. Hector says:

            Sfdebris ran the entire Imperial Agent story in his own inimical style, and I have to say he makes it sound pretty fun. Yes, there’s plenty of random “gotcha” crap, but the game does at least go into a great deal of this. The only real problem is that they had something Very Important happen off-screen (and without making it clear that time had passed in between some events). That’s a bad story beat, but it is only *one* story beat and it’s very plausible that it could have happened.

          2. James says:

            To be fair, i never got to the undercover double agent stuff before i stopped playing, so the IA agent might turn to shit very quickly.

            The Sith inquiz story handles the idea of Power as the sole or main goal of the sith better then almost any other media ive experianced in the EU

            1. Humanoid says:

              I found myself hitting the Esc button to back out of conversation choices more as the Inquisitor than I did for all the other classes I’ve tried combined. Generally speaking there was one answer that played out alright in the end, but it often was pure guesswork in terms of which answer that would be.

            2. Jakale says:

              If you’re curious, the SF Debris guy did a series on the game and chose the agent’s story line. It’s a pretty interesting watch since he normally focuses on tv or movies, so he leaves out the gameplay mostly and combines analyzing the plot and game with role playing it a bit.

          3. lurkey says:

            I wouldn’t say it comes out of nowhere. It’s just isn’t telegraphed in with usual Starwars’y subtlety of a rancor raiding fine china shop. There’s a hint here that such a tech is possible in universe, an off-hand mention there that Empire uses loyalty programming on its people, tiny things like that. For me it was enough not only to accept this totally awesome* Act 2 twist, but to figure out that it was Empire that did it as well.

            I loved Inquisitor because the character was fabulously delightful, but I don’t see any opposite nor great agency. On the contrary, the Act 1 is all “Apprentice, go there and get that”, Act 2 – “Apprentice, hello! Missed me? Now go there and get that or else you’re in deep shit”, and Act 3 “Apprentice, go over there and get this or else you’re even in deeper shit”+”Hello my lord, we are Moffs who are thinking about throwing in with you so if you went there and did that for us it would be grand, thanks”. In short, everyone and their dog tells you where to go and what to do and then you’re on the Dark Council. (And then expansions come and everyone tells you, now one of de facto rulers of Empire, where to go and what to do). Mind you, I don’t have a problem with that. I just don’t see any superior agency.

            *Would you think mean things about me if I confessed IA’s story got a place in my RPG pantheon next to Planestape: Torment? Because I like you. :(

            1. krellen says:

              Of the Inquisitor:
              Yes, Zash orders you around. But unlike the Agent, the Inquisitor is allowed to – every single time – snark about how they are doing all the work, not Zash. Even just that little bit makes it more okay.

              But Zash stops ordering you about halfway through Act 2, when you become a Forcewalker. At that point, the “twist” sprung, the character takes over agency (even if the player is still accepting orders from someone else). It is the Inquisitor’s quest that drives the plot; they are no longer someone’s pawn.

              In Act 3, the player is a major figure in the Empire, and others seek their help. The player doesn’t drive the plot, but I’m not sure what video game ever gave you the idea that was even a possibility. But it is appeals to the character‘s power and agency that drive the plot – it is the character deciding to gather these allies and do these things.

              It stumbles a bit in the prologue, while where the stories are pretty much the same for every class, but there are definitely moments by Shadow of Revan and KotFE where the Inquisitor really feels like one of the ruling elite of the galaxy.

              To the *: I would think your taste in stories is somewhat questionable and possibly confused. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s mean or not.

              Of the agent: If the conditioning happened before Act 1, before the start of the game, it would be better. Saying it happened at a nebulous off-screen time THAT YOU WERE PLAYING is complete horse hockey.

              1. I almost regret not seeing the Inquisitor’s story through. I got to Tatooine, I think, burned out and quit. Wasn’t terribly impressed up to that point, though. Following orders as an apprentice to a master was all well and good, I knew I was going to kill Vash eventually because Sith, it’s just the errands I was sent though never felt substantial or interesting enough to motivate me. They pretty much amounted to little more than “Go here and be generically evil because Sith.”

                Maybe I’m being to harsh. I might’ve looked more favorably on the quest line if I didn’t lean in so hard on the dark side options. If I ever do play it again maybe an ironic light side playthrough might be more fun. Just do everything I can to spite my “master”, the empire, the order, and even my race. A goody-two-shoes Pure Blood should prove at least mildly interesting.

                1. krellen says:

                  Tattooine is a pretty intolerable place, I can’t really fault you for faltering there. The only place worse is Hoth.

          4. Daemian Lucifer says:

            You disagree with Chuck?Well,he has a site of his own,with a bunch of videos on it,so you are objectively wrong.

            1. krellen says:

              Who the fuck is Chuck?

              1. ehlijen says:

                Aforementioned sfdebris guy. Jakale’s post has the link.

          5. Ninety-Three says:

            Nevermind the twist, I just hated how MMO-y the whole plot was. The story keeps telling me I’m low-tier spy and yet every single mission amounts to “Murder everything between point A and point B, then murder the target at point B”. That’s not espionage, that’s not even assassination, that’s an action movie. If the grenades I was throwing could damage the environment I’d be an actor with all the subtlety of Godzilla. By level twenty-something I had engaged in subterfuge exactly once, disguising myself so that I could sneak into point B then murder everyone.

            There’s a sith tomb so haunted that everyone who goes in there becomes either possessed or insane, and the NPCs who were sent in there basically accept that they’re on a suicide mission. Then you waltz through it like every other baddie-infested zone in the game, never have to deal with the huge mental threat the plot plays up, are left wondering what was such a big deal about it. Why exactly did they need to send in a stealthy agent when your plan amounted to “Walk in the front door, kill everything I see, make my way to the target, kill the target”? Any idiot with a gun could do that. And that’s really the problem. The story says you’re a spy, but it makes you an idiot with a gun.

            At one point you meet Watcher X whose introduction consists of him saying “Look for weapons, look for bugs, scan the room. Play the game, I’ll wait.” I was delighted to find a character who had any commitment to notion of being something other than the world’s biggest murderer, but every other character dismisses him as a paranoid nutjob, for daring to be the only person in the plot who can even spell espionage.

            1. lurkey says:

              I don’t think there are that many — if any at all — story-specific quest objectives that outright require murder instead of providing it as an option. The one you mention, for example, needs you to find and disarm some explosives. That’s it. And if you’re stealth instead of a sniper you can actually sneak past most of the mooks and have very little casualties. The MMO shackles of needing to put groups of three dudes on your path wherever you go and suchlike silly buggers are not exclusive to Imperial Agent — it litters every character’s story and is especially prevalent in planetary quests, so it’s unfair to hold it against IA’s story specifically.

              In the end, you just have to accept this is a MMO and learn to zone out of medium-specific idiocies such as a)hundreds of other super special Chosen Ones, every one as special and unique as your own Chosen One, running around, b)bikinis on female characters, c)names like Darth Fluffykins, and so on.

              Oh, and the reason you’re lone noob braving that haunted temple? That’s because your Sith boss wished so. There’s a conversation in the game where the Keeper starts giving orders to assemble the team of pros just to be overruled by Darth Insano with “Nope, this temple is sacred ground and I will not have you peons stampeding through it, so I’m sending this lone inexperienced rookie and that’s an order”. I really loved how the writer here used deficiency of game’s mechanic to emphasize his “Sith are horrible morons and a burden to Empire” message.

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                The MMO shackles of needing to put groups of three dudes on your path wherever you go and suchlike silly buggers are not exclusive to Imperial Agent “” it litters every character's story and is especially prevalent in planetary quests, so it's unfair to hold it against IA's story specifically.

                It is fair to hold it against the Imperial Agent, because the Sith Warrior storyline didn’t open by calling you a shadowy operative, and spent its time establishing you as someone who was really good at killing things and doing space magic, instead of a trained spy. You can’t just say “It’s an MMO so you should expect WOW-style mass murder” because the game itself keeps saying you’re a spy, which primes you to expect literally anything but WOW-style mass murder. Your commander says “Violence as a tool, not a crutch”, but if violence is the Agent’s tool, it’s the hammer that makes everything look like a nail.

                It’s the exact same problem Skyrim had, which I best heard described as “If there was a Prostitute’s Guild, the quest to become leader of the Prostitute’s Guild would have you kill a tomb full of Draugr to recover the ancient artifact Thong of Hooking.” The narrative is trying to sell you on concepts that the gameplay is completely uninterested in.

                The one thing I’ll give them credit for is acknowledging that the Sith were incompetent madmen, and the idea of a group going around cleaning up their messes is interesting, but it loses all that interestingness very quickly when the answer to every problem turns out to be more mass murder.

        2. Benjamin Hilton says:

          For my money a light side Sith warrior is where it’s at.

    2. MrGuy says:

      What are you talking about? They did make a KOTOR 3, which was recently released. It’s currently an Apple exclusive, and you need an iPhone to make it work. Just set the date on your iPhone to Jan 1 1970* and you’ll see a hidden app appear with the download code. Try it and see!

      * PROTIP: Do NOT actually do this.

    3. Trix2000 says:

      So I wasn’t the only one continuously mousing over the pictures going “WHY WON’T YOU WOOOOORK?!?!”

      1. BenD says:

        I long-touched each one on my phone for the same reason and then I came down here to jest that we can tell this piece is half-assed because it has no alt text… But I guess I have to go with the ‘written prior to that feature’ explanation. XD

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      This was before you started putting jokes as alt-text on your pictures. This is what I miss the most.

      Same.I keep hovering my mouse over every single picture in the hopes that at least one will have a hidden joke,but alas,nothing happens.

  6. Ilseroth says:

    I note that you at no time mentioned race selection, and I can take a wild guess why. your options are Human, Head-Tail Human, Spiky Human, Blind Human, and Green Human. Apparently they later added the Cathar which for the most part just have different eyes.

    honestly, I don’t really get why either, most of the other species in the game that have a humanoid body type are rigged with the normal skeleton and generally have the capability of wearing whatever the humans wear with exception to Wookies (and Trandoshan tend not to wear shoes.)

    My only real guess as to why would be voice acting, listening to your character run the stock clips of however many stock clips that species has could get boring, but you know what else is boring? Humans.

    1. ehlijen says:

      And free to play accounts don’t even get to pick a species, it’s just humans.

      1. lurkey says:

        Also cyborgs and Darth Mauls.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Really? My bad then.

    2. Vect says:

      Well, by default (and presuming you’re a subscriber), Republic has Humans, Cyborg, Zabrak, Twilek, Mirialan (green people with tattoos) and Miraluka (Visas Marr’s race). The Empire has Humans, Cyborg, Zabrak, Twilek (exclusive to the Inquisitor since they start off as slaves), Sith Pureblood (red people with cthulhu tentacles), Chiss (Thrawn’s race) and Ratataki (bald pale people). Cash Shop races include the Cathar (cat people) and the Togruta (Ahsoka Tano’s race). I believe by either taking a race to level 50 or by paying for it, you can unlock races for all classes, meaning you could totally play a Sith Pureblood Jedi Knight despite how lorebreaking it would be.

      If you’re F2P, then you just start off with Human, Cyborg and Zabrak for everyone.

  7. Armagrodden says:

    Another rule for naming Star Wars characters, at least in the movies, is that human females have to have a last name that sounds “feminine.” So we get Leia Organa, Padme Amidala, and Mon Mothma.

    1. Humanoid says:

      For a while I assumed Mon Mothma was a Hutt. Dunno, guess it just sounded like a monster name (from Mothra I guess).

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        For the longest time, I thought Mon Mothma was a Bothan, who I had somehow seen a picture of (maybe in one of the games), and couldn’t figure out who this red-head talking was.

  8. Will says:

    I hate to be that guy to Shamus c. 2012, but

    Moff Tarkin

    “Moff” is, unexpectedly enough, a title. Tarkin’s forename is “Wilhuff”. (And he’s not just a Moff; he’s the Grand Moff, in charge of all the other Moffs. I swear I am making none of this up.)

    To be fair, you’ve got a few other titles in there (“Count” Dooku, who seems to have no surname, “Princess” Leia, and the also-made-up but well-known “Darth” Vader), so maybe this was intentional. “Moff” is just too ridiculous a word not to be pointed out.

    1. Joe Leigh says:

      Also, Princess Leia is four syllables, and Cliegg Lars is two.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        Well, ‘Princess’ is her title. Her name is apparently Leia Organa, which has five syllables and also makes her sound like a surgeon or a pizza topping.

    2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Grand Moff is not a one off title. There are a bunch of Grand Moffs. You actually see more Grand Moffs in the EU than just Moffs…

      1. Will says:

        I got the impression, from a brief glance at Wookiepedia, that there is only one Grand Moff at a time.

        As for their frequency of appearance, well, the EU is incredibly bad at giving the galaxy the slightest sense of scale, so I guess that’s to be expected.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          Maybe there SHOULD be only one Grand Moff, but the EU is about 80% after Return of the Jedi. At which point, the Empire fragments and everybody wants to be the supreme ruler at the same time, so they ALL call themselves the Grand Moff. Hence… there’s a lot of Grand Moffs.

    3. Andy says:

      Yet another reason I hate single-name character creators. Much more room for fun with a space:

      Moff Innman
      Moff Tuwerk
      Moff Mymeds
      Moff Divarr

      … And so forth.

      1. Mike S. says:

        While it postdates Shamus’s time there, SWTOR has “legacy names” that apply to all your characters, and can be displayed as a surname (Foo Bar), “Foo, member of the Bar Legacy”, or hidden. So it’s possible to be Nuke Airstrider or whatever, as long as you’re okay with all your characters likewise being Airstriders.

        My wife has gone all in, with her characters all being descendants of her long ago KoTOR character using the surname she was then operating under. (Her headcanon says the guy who shows up in SWTOR claiming that mantle is some poor shmoe driven crazy by the Emperor– maybe another distantly-related descendant.)

  9. WWWebb says:

    Yipee! Hooray!
    It’s a Let’s Play!

    I’ve missed these. They really are Shamus’ best writing outside of The Witch Watch.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Agreed. I wish for more of these so-called droughts.

  10. Hector says:

    I played this game last month. (Yes, seriously.)

    It is better. It’s not really as polished as one would have hoped, but still pretty entertaining. The combat gets very repetitive, but they lowered the difficulty very far such that players w/ companions are almost one man (or woman, or alien) parties.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Admit it:You are just posting this now to get on the lucrative episode 7 action.You big sellout,you.

    But hey,now that youve had your taste of the succulent disney teat,maybe youd like to try their other franchise as well.Marvel heroes 2016.Also free to play.

  12. lurkey says:

    I see Korriban as orange and Hutta as sickly piss yellow. :-/ And Tython, pretty as it is, is the worst starter planet because it’s littered with trash mobs you cannot avoid (you can on the other 3).

    Anyway. Looking forward to you doing the story I hold in very high contempt. >:-)

    1. Thomas says:

      Hutta has to be one of the ugliest planets ever designed for a game. It’s incredible someone sat down and thought that was a good idea.

  13. Mephane says:

    What I still remember from the Jedi Knight starting area is the one quest where you got to choose to enforce the lawful evil Jedi code. If I were to play the game ever again, I would create a Jedi Knight and deliberately undermine all the stupidity and backwardness about the Jedi order at every possible occasion, and bask in all the dark side points one gets just for having common sense.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hey! I thought this was my story. Why isn't my name in it?

    Do you know how hard it would be to put your name into TEXT?And then display it in this slanted manner?Youre asking the impossible!

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That's right, as the scoundrel you get tricked and ripped off by the NPC's, not the other way around.

    Im no expert on the apostrophes,but I think that should be NPCs,without one.

    1. Henson says:

      This is one of my biggest pet peeve’s. Apostrophe’s are not pluralization, and yet everyone does it nowaday’s. It is painful to see such eyesore’s.

  16. Adalore says:

    It has been a very long time since I last touched that game.

    I just remember being very annoyed at how my Jedi knight didn’t get squat for actual tanking. I am not sure if I even had a taunt before level 20.

    Nor did they give me a companion that could even heal me for any of the content I played through. I have been told that, since I played near release, you can make any companion do whatever role your character needs to “Solo” through the game content.

    1. Thomas says:

      Yeah, companions now do anything. It makes them more generic, but it also means you can take whatever companion you want with you and play however you feel like playing.

      They’ve also ridiculously and deliberately unbalanced the game so that everyone can see the story and spend the minimum amount of time actually playing the game. To the extent that I accidentally alt-tabbed out of a boss fight before telling my character to do anything, and when I finally loaded back in, not only was I at full health because my companion had been out-healing the boss’ DPS, but the companion had also taken off a big chunk of the boss’ health.

  17. Artur CalDazar says:

    This fills a gab in your spread of content, been a long time since you talked about Bioware.

  18. Mersadeon says:

    I actually really wanted to play SWOTOR about two months ago. I was just aching for more Star Wars and I had heard some of the class-specific storylines are actually really good.

    But they really didn’t want me to play the game. Basically, it would never, ever start, no matter what I did, no matter what I tried, and their support basically said to themselves “it’s not a lost sale if this idiot just wanted to play free-to-play anyway, so why bother helping?”

  19. RTBones says:

    Oh Star Wars Galaxies, how I miss thee.

    I wonder if your impressions would change if you played this again. I havent, but I have read that it has gotten better over the years.

  20. mwchase says:

    Three syllable pairs?

    … “My name is Yon Yonson, I come from a galaxy far, far away…”

    1. Incunabulum says:

      George? Is that you?

      1. mwchase says:

        Huh. Either that was a straight question, in which case the answer is no, sorry, or it’s a reference I didn’t get, in which case I will answer “Mu”.

  21. Zaxares says:

    Does SWTOR allow you to play different races like Twi’lek and Wookie? Because if so, I wonder how many Wookie players are named “something-bacca”. I have a friend who’s way more into Star Wars than me, and he tells me this is actually a thing in the (now defunct) Expanded Universe. It seems like every Wookie and his cousin is named -bacca. Lowbacca, Robacca, you name it!

    1. Henson says:


    2. Vect says:

      Wookiees are not playable races since they’re both too big to model equipment for and they don’t speak Basic.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Soo… Wookies are not a playable race because they are too hard to animate?

  22. Ninety-Three says:

    Jengo Fett


  23. NC_Schrijver says:

    “Sure, it completely muddles the events of the movies and undercuts the established idea that the pre-Jar-Jar Republic didn't need a central army, but this is a Star Wars game and the fans demand soldiers in white armor called troopers. So shut up.”

    The Republic did have an army before the pre-Jar-Jar republic, but all of that was changed in the Ruusan Reformation, where the Army of Light was disbanded and the Jedi were demilitarized in favor of them being the galaxy’s peacekeepers.

    1. Daimbert says:

      And The Old Republic has ALWAYS had a standing army, starting from KotOR. So, really, what we have is: The Old Republic has a standing army; the Republic, for some insane reason, didn’t, and the New Republic had a standing army (still being at war with the Empire and all).

      1. WJS says:

        The idea that you don’t need an army is that special kind of idiocy you get when you haven’t had a major war for generations. Given that the franchise actually has the word “War” in the name, it should be no surprise that that lunacy doesn’t last very long. And coming off of the Mandalorian war and the rise of the Sith? Forget about it.

  24. drlemaster says:

    I am not sure I feel the need to write up a brief review/tepid defense of SWTOR, but I do. Keep in mind I have played and enjoyed Wow off and on for years (not a great game, but I have friends and family who play), so I have a fairly high tolerance for grinding and running around the environment just to get to quest.

    I played a fair bit of this game last summer and fall. My daughter really wanted to MMO with me, so we were looking for one we could do completely free, and she liked SWTOR's controls better than LOTRO. I had actually tried to play SWTOR back when it was newly free-to-play, but had trouble registering. For whatever reason, that was not a problem this time.

    If you are doing free-to-play, the game is very grindy, even grindier than things we consider quite grindy. If you are just to hang out online and shoot stuff with a friend or family member, this is no big deal. It is a problem if you actually want to make progress in the game. As far as the gameplay itself, it is not bad as far as hotbar, MMO combat goes. I mostly played the smuggler (stealth subclass), and it was fun to bear Star Wars foes by sneaking up on them, shooting them with a shotgun, and then punching them a lot. But eventually I got the levels where I needed to buy an expansion to use the gear that the quests were rewarding.

    The recent update let you choose any role for any companion (tank, healer, damage), and made all companion gear cosmetic only, both of which are big improvements. The environments aren't great, but didn't bother me nearly as much as Shamus.

    The writing is typical Bioware quality (i.e. some of it is quite good, most if serviceable if you don't think on it too hard). I thought they generally did a good job with micro-consequences for your choices. It may not affect the main plot if I kill this one guy, or steal this one thing; but the game will often send your character mail thanking them for their help, or paying them their cut after fencing something they stole. And it is cool to get that tiny bit of feedback that a choice I made did something.

    Eventually I gave in and got my daughter her own WoW account, so we can play that together. I only very occasionally go back to SWTOR to do a couple of quests or a space battle.

    One weird trick I picked up that made the game more fun for me: Initially, I was making any character all light-side or all dark-side, but this lead me to some odd choices. I turned off the light-side/dark-side indicator on the dialog screen, and started making choices only based on how I was playing the character, and then see how the game awards those points. You get some weird results, which I find entertaining. (Letting the horrible evil bad guy go is light side? Not ratting out my friends is dark side?) This has further cemented my view that the Jedi are mainly stupid, and sometimes good; while the Sith are mainly evil, and usually stupid. You'd think they could bond over their shared love of nonsensically stupid moral codes.

    TL;DR: It's fine, if you like MMOs and would prefer yours with some Star Wars and/or Bioware elements. But free-to-play is the grindiest thing ever.

    1. Daimbert says:

      TOR isn’t the best MMO I’ve played — and I’ve played a few — but it’s the only one where I’ve gotten a character to the level cap. I’ve played 6 of the 8 stories — I only have Trooper and Imperial Agent to finish yet — and the stories, for better or worse, really do make the game worth playing through … but also make it so that my normal alt-o-holic tendencies are repressed.

    2. WJS says:

      The idea that Jedi are pacifists just needs to go die in a fire already. Their primary weapon is a vorpal sword, for god’s sake! Jedi kill the bad guys, and if a game developer doesn’t think that fits with their arbitrary morality meter, they can just GF themselves.

  25. Zekiel says:

    Just wanted to say – thanks for posting this mini-series Shamus. I particularly enjoyed your skewering of the appalling experience of opening the programme and creating a character – i.e. those bits that you could expect to have the most effort put into them.

  26. RCN says:

    I know I’m late for this, but I’m backlogging.

    Anyway, about the topic of Star Wars names, the series has the particular infamy of having tons of names that need to be changed in Portuguese because they sound either really dumb, really inappropriate or both.

    One example is Count Dooku. In Portuguese, this sounds exactly like “Count of the Ass”. So it was changed to Dookan.

    But the best one is probably Master Sifo Dyas. It sounds, literally, like Master… err… Fucks Himself. It was changed to Master Zyfo Yias.

    Then there’s Queen Amidala. Her name wasn’t changed, but it means “Queen Tonsils”.

    There’s tons of more examples. It makes one wonder if one of the script writers is brazilian and likes to slip in those ludicrous names.

  27. Lun says:

    So, Shamus. When you wrote this piece:

    “Now the truth is, I’m more of a Star Wars fan than most of you. I might know less about the universe. I don’t read the comics, or the books, and I haven’t played half the Star Wars games out there. But I saw the movie first, which is what matters most. I was six when the original movie came out, and I saw it like, a bunch of times over the years.

    I even owned the original toys. I lost them or they broke or I traded them for candy or whatever, but the point is: I once owned toys that, if I still had them and if I hadn’t ruined them, would be older than most of you. This is the most important thing about fandom. ”

    ……you didn’t know that I, for one, know people who think like this unironically. Ouch.

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