Archive for Old Republic

How Star Wars Impacted My Life Journey

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 18 May 2017 by Megan

by guest blogger Fibro Jedi
https://fibrojedi.me.uk/

Hi there! My name’s Martin, better known as Fibro Jedi. Some of you may be following some of my characters’ fan fiction journeys, but I wanted to give you an idea of how long…and how deeply George Lucas’ Star Wars creation has impacted my own journey in life. Despite it being fiction, Star Wars has enabled me to be creative, meet new people and even affected some of my own life approaches. Please join me on this journey!

Star Wars Episode 1

Don’t hate on me but my Star Wars journey began with The Phantom Menace. The family I grew up in weren’t into anything that could be classed as geeky. My Mum read fiction, and both my parents watched the occasional period drama. So I had to find my own path. With the release of Star Wars Episode 1, I suddenly became intrigued in the SW Universe. At the same time a friend introduced me to an online chat site based on Star Wars ideas. As part of that, they had forums for written role-playing – in the old-style turn-taking model. It was in that community that I began writing within the SW universe – and it was there that Cor-Jhan Arcturus first appeared.

Cor-Jhan Arcturus was first created nearly half my lifetime ago!

Despite Star Wars being based on the traditional Good vs Evil mechanic, it was more complicated than that. Good people could become evil, or commit atrocities, and evil people could be redeemed. Subsequently watching the other movies started to get me thinking more about the detail of the universe, how nothing is certain – but above all, there is always hope.

Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy

I just want to make a passing comment about these two games. Jedi Knight II (Jedi Outcast) was my first introduction to playing with others online. I was part of a clan, you could rise in the ranks by learning from, and fighting against more experienced players. I ended up in contact with a couple outside the game – and one of them came to my wedding – all the way from the States!

SWTOR

I had a long gap (many years) of not pursuing my interest in the Star Wars Universe – getting a job, changing jobs, getting married – and other life things got in the way. But when a friend introduced me to Star Wars: The Old Republic, my interest was rekindled. More than that, creating characters, seeing how they reacted in different situations, and ‘getting to know them’ actually sparked my desire to write again. Although I recreated Cor-Jhan Arcturus, it was the former slave Talitha’koum that I really enjoyed writing about.

Talitha’koum rediscovering her identity during the events of Knights of the Fallen Empire

When you write within a framework, you have to understand the rules of that framework. So I learned more about Star Wars technology, lore and even about different species in the galaxy. There’s still so much I don’t know!

That’s when you realise that when George Lucas created the Star Wars movies, they were really only scratching the surface of how the galaxy operated. It gave birth to different cultures, planets with different eco-systems and characters that traversed different walks of life. The movies were great, but they are a small percentage of what you can discover. SWTOR gave me insights into those, but I’ve still learned more on my own initiative.

Friends and a Blog

Even from the early days of my role-playing forum and Jedi Outcast, the fact that Star Wars exists has meant I have had contact with new people, some of whom have become real friends. Friendships have really blossomed in those I know through SWTOR. You don’t just know the characters, you can get to know the people behind them. And it’s those friendships and connections that keep me playing the games I do. Features of a game change over time, but when you make friends, that transcends what’s happening to the game. Had Star Wars not been created I wouldn’t have had those friendships and I wouldn’t have had the blog that I do today!

Finding Balance

The more I’ve looked into the Force, the more I have seen some of the good in the Empire and some of the bad in the Republic. No governmental system is perfect, and extremes of behaviour can be found in both the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’ people. Although originally aligning myself with the Jedi, now I find myself pitched between the two sides of the Force – within the shades of gray. Although I am a Christian and therefore I don’t let things like fiction affect my actual faith, I do try to strike a balance now: between ‘work’ and ‘play’, listening to both sides of an argument and not dismissing either side, avoiding extremes etc. Balance in the Force wasn’t achieved by wiping out all the Sith. The real world is made up of people from various cultures, religions (or none), languages and worldviews. We need all those held in balance to get along with other people – to not just tolerate them, but to show all humans have intrinsic value regardless of how they think. If we could all be accepting, the world would be a better place. The Force needs both sides represented to be in balance – the same should apply to what goes on here on Earth.

Chronic Illness and Gaming

The last awesome thing I’ll say is that running @FibroJedi has enabled me to connect with people who have Chronic Illnesses. But it has also helped me find (or be found by) people who are in a similar situation to myself – they have a chronic illness, but use gaming as a coping mechanism. This has been made possible because Star Wars exists. I would have picked up gaming (I used to play The Sims way back when, and Sim City) as a coping mechanism, but without online games, or communities, I wouldn’t have been able to connect person-to-person with people who share my life experiences. And that’s something that works in both directions.

TL;DR Star Wars and My Life

I’m in my 30s now as I write this. That means Star Wars and its various off-shoots, have been a major part of my life for more than half of it. From helping me pick up fan fiction writing, to coping with my pain, to making real friendships – Star Wars has been integral throughout that time. Criticise the movies all you want, none of the lasting value I have in my life comes from there. None of George Lucas’ legacy to me and my family derives from how well SW game developers do their jobs.

The greatest value is in the people and the communities that Lucas unknowingly sparked. Without him I wouldn’t feel an emotional link to the characters I write about. And without Star Wars, my Fibromyalgia would have been even more isolating than it is now. So to that end, I will be eternally grateful to what George Lucas started.

May the Force Be With You – May It Make You Strong.

The Greatest Sin, The Most Forgiveness

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on 14 April 2017 by Megan

It’s deep in the human psyche that betrayal is the worst thing anyone can ever do to anyone. The crux of Julius Caesar is not whether the Caesar was a good or bad ruler who should or should not be removed from power — it’s a tragedy that hangs on betrayal, on E tu, Brute?

When Dante described the lowest circle of hell in his Inferno, he described a place reserved for betrayers — the worst sin that deserves the worst punishment. He also assigns the worst fate (being gnawed on by Satan himself in the center of the pit) to the two most famous betrayers in history — Brutus, betrayer of Caesar, and Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Christ. The creature who betrayed Christ fills us with such revulsion that we no longer use the name “Judas.” When Ben-Hur was being adapted into a film, the producers wanted to change the main character’s name from “Judah” because they thought it was too similar. All of this resonating from the deep human repugnance at the notion of betrayal.

This is a very literary opening, isn’t it? Well, Star Wars is literary and so am I. This is all leading somewhere.

In Luke’s Gospel, 7:47, Jesus makes the profound statement that one who loves much is forgiven much — and one who is forgiven little, loves only little. If betrayal is the worst thing one human can do to another, then it follows that a repentant betrayer is forgiven more and surely loves more than any other person. In light of this, let’s turn to the two most famous betrayers in the Star Wars Saga.

Although they were born 3,000 years apart on opposite sides of the galaxy, these two have remarkably similar stories in the great saga. Malavai Quinn, whose name literally means leader going bad, was born on Dromond Kaas 3,680 years before the Battle of Yavin. One of thousands of frustrated military men, he enters the saga as a companion of the Emperor’s Wrath during the cold war between Old Republic and Empire. A cunning military mastermind, he was exiled to a post on Balmorra after embarrassing a Moff; he only escaped execution due to the good graces of a Dark Council member named Darth Baras. Baras, an exacting master, was content to let Quinn rot on Balmorra until such time as he needed his services. The Wrath was merely an apprentice when Quinn joined his crew; when this Sith received the Emperor’s commission and became Wrath, he aligned himself against Darth Baras and put Quinn in an unenviable position of serving two masters, each wanting the other dead. Not knowing which master was truly serving the Emperor, or which truly desired the best for the Empire — Quinn’s driving passion — he obeyed Baras’ orders and attempted to destroy the Wrath in a crushing betrayal. Defeated by the Wrath, he begged forgiveness and begged to continue serving him for the Empire’s sake.

Lando Calrissian was born on Soccoro 31 years before the Battle of Yavin. Always a restless spirit, he left home as a teenager and acquired a reputation as a professional gambler. He participated in military actions such as the Battle of Tanaab but was always more of a businessman. Constantly sniffing out opportunities for profit, he more than once found himself uncomfortable when the situations went bust. One of his most successful ventures was when he took over as Baron Administrator of Cloud City, a tibanna gas mine that flourished under his control. Many of its citizens came from dubious backgrounds and criminal pasts; they viewed the mine as a way to start over, to go legit. When the Empire arrived on the hunt for Han Solo, it was a disaster in more ways than one. Lando and Han had been friends for years, but due to a falling out, hadn’t spoken for a long time. With the Empire threatening the colony of people who depended on him, Lando tried his best to make the situation work. Betrayed in turn by Vader, Lando was forced to call the city to evacuate and dedicate his energies to rescuing Han from the trap he had helped create.

Both of these men are forced between two profound loyalties when it comes to “the betrayal.” Neither of them choose to betray their friends for something trivial such as greed or lust. Both men are willing to sacrifice for and desperate to choose the best for their respective communities; however, it’s even two-pronged on Quinn’s part, for Darth Baras has treated him well for ten years, protecting him from Broysc’s pettiness, even confiding in him. By contrast, however much Quinn respects and admires the Sith Warrior who becomes the Wrath, this person is a recent acquaintance whose behavior may be quite erratic as far as the good of the Empire is concerned. Sith are notoriously self-serving, and Quinn believes he has ten years of Baras’ behavior to count on.

Both men defend the decision in the heat of it. Lando’s “I’ve done all I can! I’m sorry I couldn’t do better, but I’ve got my own problems” and Quinn’s “I didn’t want to choose between you, but Darth Baras has forced my hand” are nearly interchangeable. No doubt it’s on this very brief moment their detractors most focus — but look at how much, how weighty the evidence is on either side of this flash.

Both men instantly regret the decision. One could say they merely dissolve when it goes sideways on them, but look at their history and you can see that’s not in their character. They both express their remorse right away. Quinn programs battle droids to kill the Sith and Lando stands by while Han is tortured, but as Quinn realizes the Wrath is more powerful than he thought and as Lando realizes Vader intends to destroy Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, they freely acknowledge they’ve gotten in over their heads. Both take steps to rectify the error as quickly as possible. Quinn later explains to Darth Vowrawn that he is trying to make up for a past indiscretion.

Neither man is questioned on his loyalty again. Quinn is integrated fully into the storyline after the anticlimactic betrayal scene. And while Han’s last words to Lando before carbonite are a stony, “What’s goin’ on, buddy?”, the first thing he does free of carbonite is attempt to save Lando from the sarlacc. There’s no hesitation. Not only does Lando reflexively call out for Han to help him, Han leaps into action despite being blinded and weakened. And when Han takes a blaster to shoot the tentacle holding Lando prisoner, neither man even considers the possibility that Han would take revenge–Lando’s only concern is Han’s ability to aim with hibernation sickness affecting his vision.

Now, I understand that The Old Republic is a game, and the Emperor’s Wrath is a character that is played differently by everyone who plays it. While I’ve freely noted Han’s interactions with Lando, I’ve refrained from speculating on the Wrath’s. Maybe you play a really dark side Sith who would like to kill anyone who ever looked at him sideways. I don’t have anything to do with that. I only present the canon version of these events: namely, that Quinn is accepted into the Wrath’s crew once more and remains a player in galactic events, just as Lando is welcomed into the rebellion and becomes an integral part of the Star Wars. How you feel is your business; I am under no circumstances telling you how to feel. So far, I haven’t even mentioned how I feel. I’ve just given the bare facts of the story.

Now, this is how I see it: if you want to be like the kids who threw things at Billy Dee Williams’ car when he picked his kids up from school, if you want to be like the kids on Twitter who moan about how much they want to kill Quinn, it’s your prerogative. It’s my prerogative to love both of these characters. I love the friendship between Malavai Quinn and my Wrath, a Chiss named Chan’drakan’tah. I love the friendship between Han and Lando. I can only hope my real life friendships are as strong and as stable — I hope if I feel forced between loyalties and choose the wrong one, that forgiveness and not condemnation will meet me. I promise my friends that if they make the same bad choice, I will forgive.

Because he who is forgiven much loves much. And, also, I love both these characters. Much.

Review: Revan

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on 30 June 2016 by Megan

revan_coverby Drew Karpyshyn.

Ah, Revan. How does one embark on a book about the most popular character ever spawned by a Star Wars computer game? Well, although I’d had this book for a few months, I actually only picked it up to read it because I saw on Twitter that it’s mostly about Lord Scourge. Lord Scourge is the coolest! So I picked it up.

It’s a few years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic II (which I haven’t played; nor have I finished KOTOR 1, but that didn’t make a difference as far as the plot was concerned). Revan, an inconvenient hero kicked to the curb by the Jedi, is having nightmares about a storm-covered planet and some darkness he is sure he and Malak discovered on the Outer Rim. He simply can’t remember what.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the Sith Empire that remains hidden from the Jedi. The Dark Council are plotting against the Immortal Emperor, and a young Sith lord named Scourge is stumbling across the first threads of this plot.

swtor 2016-04-25 23-54-35-90

Scourge is my homeboy!

Anyway, my overall impression of this book is that it feels incomplete, which is probably inevitable with a book based on a video game and written by a guy who writes video games. The player supplies massive amounts of context to the game, but that style can’t be translated into a novel. It just made it feel like whole chunks were missing; there was no real inner monologue for anyone, and the descriptions were heavy handed. Unlike Joe Schrieber, who invoked the feeling of TOR in me even though I don’t even know if he’s ever played the game, Karpyshyn seemed to be working hard to make sure I never forgot for a minute I was reading a video game.

swtor 2016-04-25 23-57-03-20

Yes, stylistically, I found the book wanting — however, since the reason I picked it up was Scourge, I was not disappointed in that department! Much of the action centers around him, so if you’ve played the Jedi Knight class in TOR and went through his entire conversation arc, you’ll get a lot of blanks filled in. The book also strongly compliments the Revan flashpoints in TOR (Maelstrom Prison and The Foundry), and so in that respect it’s worth every minute to read it.

Canderous Ordo makes an appearance, though sadly nothing to indicate why you can find his skull in TOR (hahaha). HK gets a mention, though not an appearance, and a pregnant Bastila Shan shows up along with T7’s adorable predecessor. It’s definitely an information and companion story goldmine that’s worth reading if you enjoy these games.

It’s also a good background on Revan and what the big deal is with him if you aren’t particularly interested in the games. However, I assume due to being the main character in a first-person RPG, there’s very little development of him as a person or character, and my main impression at the end of the book is that he is by far the most depressing person in the entire Star Wars canon. His existence makes me uncomfortable and I dislike him for those reasons.

swtor 2016-04-19 18-58-30-16

In conclusion: Scourge. All Scourge, all the time, because he is cool. He’s also the most developed and most interesting person in this book, and I would again reiterate that if you read it for him, you will not be disappointed! It’s a fun little video game novel, so really I have no complaints about it.

Game Time Started

Posted in Fun, Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 25 May 2016 by Megan

4A review of Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) which I have officially been playing for exactly one year today.

This is how Star Wars has gone for me: 1997-2005, Oh my gosh Star Wars is the most awesome thing ever and I swear I will know everything about it that was ever created or published because knowledge is power and I will be the most powerful Star Wars fan ever. 2005-2011, Education is distracting and anyway all that new Star Wars stuff is crap written by people who don’t know jack diddly about Star Wars. I know better than all of them so I can’t be bothered to read their stupid ignorance anymore. 2011-2012, New renaissance! Life is good and wow I missed a bunch of Star Wars stuff and need to catch up. 2012, My life is in the dumpster and to top it off, Star Wars has been destroyed. I give up and quit. 2013- New new renaissance! I will NOT be told by a mouse to get out of my fandom! Star Wars is MINE.

This includes games. I never really played Star Wars games, either because I never had computers that could handle the graphics, or Sims took up all of my non-school hours. Dark Forces II was a perennial favorite, but frankly the way everybody went on about Knights of the Old Republic had me pretty confident I was going to ignore it forever. (I don’t like things people go on about.) I didn’t know The Old Republic was separate. I got sick of hearing KOTOR this that and the other and determined never to play.

And then Disney took everything away. Disney made me reevaluate Star Wars. Also, GOG sold games I could install on Windows 7. So I bought KOTOR and decided to give it a try. And then I found out that The Old Republic was something different.

Star_Wars-_The_Old_Republic_cover

Somebody from the Star Wars group encouraged me to get an account, so I chipped into the game with extreme caution. I logged in, did the first scene, walked out into the cantina, and immediately had a panic attack.

It was huge. It was mind-bogglingly, indescribably huge. And every person I saw was a real person who could see me, too. And they were all judging me. I hadn’t even wanted to ask the NPC in KOTOR for the tutorial because I thought he’d think I was an idiot; how could I handle an entire game full of a hundred real life people actively actually judging me walking into walls, getting killed, and behaving with general incompetence?

Sweet relief, the phone rang and I logged out. I genuinely thought at the time that I probably would never log back in again. So my one-year-ago-to-the-day experience was quite truncated.

Funny thing was, I couldn’t stop thinking about that initial cutscene. As much as everything else made me panic, the fact that I could click on buttons and my character actually said real words filled me with awe. Every other game was stuff like “ask about X” and the person replied; there was no first-person dialogue from me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with interest to know what my character would say. So I tiptoed back in.

anmaradi1

She’s a Zabrak because as f2p, I didn’t have any other nonhuman options. I’ve always come up with insane backstory for every character I’ve ever played — seriously, the hours I used to spend as a kid playing Alley Cat, I spent the whole time coming up with complex histories for the cats. So by the time I’d finished creating Anmaradi, she had a rich history — and I truly intended for her to be me if I existed in the era of TOR.

She made me feel like a badass. It wasn’t easy to learn, especially in pre-KOTFE days, especially for someone who had barely even heard the term “MMORPG” before. But the cutscenes kept me coming back and for awhile, I played just cutscene to cutscene.

And then we decided to form a guild. The group expressed interest mainly in a Republic side guild, so I had to make a pub side character. Anmaradi acquired a brother — a Zabrak smuggler with a grudge against the Empire.

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By then, I realized that I was enjoying the game and that I didn’t like KOTOR. I broke my neck to get internet connection in my new apartment because all I wanted to do was play TOR. And with my first long weekend, I bought a hardcopy of the game from Amazon for $9 and finally got to play as a subscriber.

Which made me really want to make a Twi’lek.

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And then we were collaborating with another guild so I decided making an ambassador alt would be a good idea. And because I had cartel coins — and didn’t imagine I’d ever have another use for them — and I like Sith and didn’t really want to play a Jedi anyway, I decided for the ultimate joke, I’d make a Sith Jedi.

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Safe to say by the time Vulkeen rolled onto the scene, I was addicted. The music was incredible. The graphics were incredible. I was still addicted to cutscenes. There was so much to do, so much to explore.

When I found out that there were Chiss specific interactions, at least for bounty hunters and agents, I embarked on a new quest — to play every class as a Chiss. And just like that, I’d gone from “not logging back in again” to “gonna play the agent and that’s it” to “four characters is plenty” — to “I’m going to play all 8 classes twice.”

It’s addictive. It’s stunning. I’ve never encountered anything like this game before, but I don’t think that’s why it’s so breathtaking. The story, graphics, characters, companions, gear, everything is made with such attention to detail, such attention to Star Wars — real Star Wars, the way George Lucas originally envisioned it — even though it’s 3,000 years before the Battle of Yavin IV, it feels like Star Wars.

I laugh. I cry. I ride tauntauns and fight with lightsabers. The books seem more vivid when I read them, because I know how it feels to fight my way down a corridor of shock troops. I’ve looked up at a Hutt from his beast pit; I’ve told an emperor his overconfidence will be his undoing. I’ve walked a path of pure light and of pure dark and discovered how each can be painful and difficult. I’ve made friends, lost them, avenged them, married them.

And I’m not even halfway through.

TOR is a great gift. Thanks to the Star Wars group person who got me into the game. Thanks to the people who made the game. Thanks to swtorfamily on Twitter.

And thanks a bit to Peter Cushing’s Ghost who caused me to discover another 40% of the game I’d utterly been missing, because she got an account in January and I discovered just how awesome the social aspect of the game can really be.

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Laugh.swtor 2016-05-22 16-05-16-81

Cry.sweetvector

Love.

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Get social.

I now have 13 total “toons” with at least three more in planning. My first has 6 days, 3 hours, 8 minutes of play time, while my second has 5 days, 14 hours, 58 minutes on the second. After racking up 48 days, 17 hours, 56 minutes of total play time in one year (that’s roughly 40% of all non-working, non-sleeping hours!), I couldn’t ask for more from a game 💝

Review: Red Harvest

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on 20 December 2015 by Megan

by Joe Schreiber.

redharvest

In many respects, Schreiber (whose name, deliciously, means writer in German!) redeemed 21st century Star Wars books for me. He writes gory scifi horror,  so it’s kind of sad/frustrating that a lot of Star Wars fans, those who don’t like horror or can’t stand gore, will never get to experience him. But with as haphazard as post-2000 Star Wars books are, the Schreiber stuff is always gold.

Essentially contemporary with Star Wars: The Old RepublicRed Harvest
focuses on the Sith Academy at Korriban, where a Sith lord is seeking the ultimate prize of immortality.

It also touches on the Jedi, the famous Agricultural Corps where Force-sensitives who don’t make the grade are often sent. Hestizo Trace is a young Jedi who did make the grade but whose gifted skill with plants has left her assigned to a rare orchid — which just so happens to be the key to the immortality ritual. When Hestizo is kidnapped for the rare orchid, her Jedi brother chases across the galaxy looking for her.

To the mix of kidnapped Jedi horticulturist, semi-sentient orchid, and Liam Neeson as Jedi Knight in Star Wars: Episode Taken, throw in a healthy dose of undead plant zombies with lightsabers.

Yes, what I’m telling you is that this book is a lot of fun. Yes, it’s got quite a bit of cheese, but it’s done right — and cheese done right can be like macaroni and cheese or cheesecake, too good to pass up!

taken_redharvest

I see what you did there ;) No, I wasn’t kidding about the main character being Liam Neeson.

All that being said, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book as much if I hadn’t started playing SWTOR. It’s a typically great Schreiber horror ramble, wonderfully atmospheric with gore, jump scares, and tropes turned Star Warsy — so I’m not saying it’s not worth it if you haven’t played TOR. I’m just saying that if you do play TOR, you’ve got an extra special journey in front of you.

I’m really convinced Schreiber must’ve played some before writing this. So much of the book feels like it’s straight from the game, with mad lords, scheming acolytes, morally nebulous bounty hunters, stubborn Jedi, and plant zombie “mobs.” The description, atmosphere, plot all seemed to come out of my favorite planet arc, “The Thing that Czerka Found,” so it made me enjoy the whole book that much more. A great bit of Old Republic realcanon!