Category Archives: Gaming

Skyrim 10th Anniversary Edition

Yes, that’s correct. Bethesda and their masters at Microsoft are putting out yet another version of Skyrim. Just in time for the game’s 10th Anniversary, it will be released next month. Probably on the 11th, just like the original was.

Why It’s NOT A Good Thing:

The new edition will include improvements that will allow the game to take advantage of higher settings and performance available to newer machines. THAT part is good.

However, PCGamer.com is also reporting that the upgraded code will break all existing mods for the game, and that the plan is to make the basic version of ‘Anniversary Edition’ a forced upgrade of ‘Special Edition’. Ergo, players won’t have any say in the matter for keeping their previous version and the literal TONS of free content for the game produced by other players.

The ‘upgrade’ from MS Visual Studio 2015 to the 2019 version will change the ‘under the hood’ code that free content producers use as “hooks” to connect their content to the actual game. There are roughly 40,500 free mods to plug into the game at Skyrim SE Nexus alone. None of which will work moving forward.

The ability to easily “mod” their games has been a trademark and selling point for Bethesda games for almost 2 decades. They publish a free editor to allow players to create content. For the last few years however, they’ve gotten greedy and were no longer content to make money off of their own work. Now they want to make money off of others’ work as well.

The “Creation Club”:

The Creation Club is Bethesda and Microsoft’s attempt to monetize the work of others AND to increasingly move towards monopolizing distribution of all player created content.

It allows those folks the ability to charge for their work, BUT with Bethesda taking a sizable chunk of any money earned under the guise of quality assurance and providing a virtual store front for the mods. In the mean time, Bethesda releases new updates to their games that break mods which don’t come from their hosting site. That was almost weekly when I last played Skyrim SE (almost a year ago). That in turn left the mod developers scrambling to make patches.

It’s quite the extortion racket that Bethesda has going there. Maybe they were a good acquisition for Micro$oft after all.

Speaking of extortion and bad business… The “full” edition of Anniversary Edition (beyond the forced game engine upgrades) will cost $40 and consist almost entirely of paid mods from their “Creation Club”

TES VI… Some Year, MAYBE…

Let’s not also forget this is yet another stalling tactic for Bethesda to avoid doing any development of Elder Scrolls 6, despite years of fan outcry for the project. That should came as little surprise though when Bethesda’s president went on record as saying they’re “not a two button vending machine and will make what we want”.

And people call Trump a narcissist. How a company stays in business when they’re so deliberately blind to their market is completely beyond me…

BRIEF Update and SWTOR CR8-O-M4T!!!

Otherwise known as a Czerka Corp Crate-O-Matic in Star Wars, The Old Republic.

I scored one yesterday!

What is it, you ask?!? A curiosity primarily, BUT it’s also the absolute most rare item in the game. It allows you to disguise yourself as a shipping crate, which supposedly will let you not be detected by enemy non-player characters. I have yet to verify that claim. At any rate, it’s potentially handy for stealth based characters at the very least. 🙂

So yes, FINALLY a bit of good luck. If the thing was sellable, I could write my own check for an obscene amount of in-game currency via the game’s trade network. One does not simply SELL a crate-o-matic however. It’s a rare goodie.

The Actual Update:

Beyond that, there’s not much to report. We’re in a holding pattern until we talk to a termite inspector and a lawyer so we can better plot a path forward. Right now, there are so many variables flying our way from out of left field, it’s hard to formulate any sort of a plan.

We did find out today that the roof on the new place is indeed older than disclosed and in worse shape than the initial home inspection said.

We’ll see how much, if any, of that is from termites.

Spent the Day in the Vault!

The VADER’S VAULT that is!

Yes, that’s right, THE Vader’s Vault; home of some of the best custom made lightsabers on the planet.

So, cool background story… We had to run into Georgia today to take care of some other business. I’d also been gawking longingly at more lightsabers online, and found out that Vader’s Vault “store” (shop really) was only 27 miles away from where we had to go. I talked the spouse into a quick ride with the idea of checking out whatever kind of showroom Vader’s Vault had and asking a few questions.

In short, I wanted to try to get a handle on whether or not Vader’s Vault sabers are actually worth the money. Also get a look at a few sabers as well, I’d hoped. 😁

What I got was completely unexpected. Instead of a quick look and a few questions answered, we got… the grand tour!

We talked to somebody up front, and they went and got the boss (owner). He came out, gave us a quick run down of the stuff in the showroom and then asked if we’d like a tour.

The showroom included this case full of sabers and saber cases from their history:

That saber up at the top is one of only EIGHT real world copies of the “Twisted Fang” lightsaber available in the Star Wars: The Old Republic game.

A couple of other highlights from the showroom:

Their case of manufactured helmets.

More sabers, emitters and some toys on the bottom shelf. That’s a “mouse” droid in the lower right corner also.

That, unfortunately is all the pictures I got. The rear area of the shop had rooms for wiring work, CNC machining equipment, 3D printers, etc… I didn’t snap any pictures back there though because the owner was lamenting how any time he puts something online, there’s a cheap Chinese knock-off for sale a day or two later. They were also working on one completely new model and some tweaks to existing models (relocated power switches and a few other minor things). I have a sneaking suspicion that we MIGHT see that new model for a May the 4th sale too.

For any readers who may be wondering, I asked about the limited availability of sabers right now. It’s the usual supply chain issues. However, they expect to have a few models back in stock in the next few weeks. I did see them working on a batch of “Revancrist” sabers (Darth Revan’s lightsaber):

Those are one of the few sabers still currently “in stock” also.

One question led to a highlight of the tour also. I asked if their special made sabers with crystal chambers were duel worthy. The big guy brought out a Starkiller and explained in detail:

The cliff notes version is that the hilt itself is strong enough for it. The bracing rods on the chamber are full on steel. HOWEVER, their crystals are a piece of clear quartz which could break or break loose in heavy sparring. So, he advised against using such a saber for more than light to moderate horseplay.

Why quartz? Disney has “cool” 🙄 colored epoxy chunks that they sell for ONLY $30, you say? Well Vader’s Vault sabers have the ability to change blade colors, and the Starkiller will actually shine the same color as the blade into the quartz to make it look like that color Kyber Crystal. It will always match the blade no matter the color.

More importantly (lol) for a couple of moments, I got to hold a $2600 Vader’s Vault masterworks Starkiller in my hand. 😁 Well, minus it’s outer cover anyway.

We briefly talked about the differences in blades also. Plecter Pixel blades are just as combat worthy as the old LED tubes. Both are polycarbonate, and will eventually break at some point while dueling. The Pixel blade gives a much better and even light quality and is capable of producing effects that an LED “flashlight” type design can’t. All this at a higher price point, of course.

Personally, I’d probably save the Plecter Pixel blade for “show” sabers and use an LED one for dueling. We’re talking $30 vs $130 for a replacement when it finally breaks.

Bottom Line:

Are they worth the price and increased wait time?

I went in a little wary. Half of me was looking to rationalize buying elsewhere. They really are absolutely worth it in my opinion though. Here’s why:

Better Grip, Weight and Balance: The balance on every saber I got to handle was extraordinary. My two black series sabers (Dooku and Mace) and my Ultrasabers “Fallen” saber:

are just plain stout. They’re like wrapping your hands around an old “D Cell” battery Maglite police flashlight. The Count Dooku saber is majorly off balance as well. I got to hold a Vader’s Vault copy of that same saber. The hilt is slimmer, more in line with what a real sword might have, the finish was brighter too. The machining was done so well that it was hard to see where the parts of the hilt actually connected together.

Better Sound Quality: I’ve heard people complain about Ultrasabers and Saberforge being bad in poor quality or muffled sound. My Black Series sabers are fair in this regard. Not great, but fair. Every Vader’s Vault saber I heard sounded like I’d just stepped into one of the movies. Crystal clear quality with sound effects for everything from swings, blade clashes and defected blaster bolts (all of which a plexer pixel blade’s light will respond to also).

Massive Customization: Vader’s Vault has features that Ultrasabers and Saberforge don’t even offer; hilt lighting and illuminated power buttons for starters. Some of their options they don’t advertise on their site. I suspect that has to do with variable costs involved. I saw sabers that were mirror polished, powder coated, weathered, acid etching engraved, inlaid with wood, leather wrapped… you name it.

THIS, I found out today, was done in the owner’s garage when it was just him and his wife. Imagine what they can do now!

Good Company Working Environment and Customer Service: Why is that important? Because even if you don’t care about the workers’ conditions, a happy staff is highly motivated to excel at their job. That means you get a defect free product.

Customer service should be self-explanatory in importance. If you have any doubts about Vader’s Vault though… Keep in mind they COULD have just run me off, or spent a couple minutes answering a few questions and then politely said they had to get back to work. Instead we got treated to an almost hour long tour with Q&A, looks at all their work areas, a demonstration of all a plexer pixel blade can do, peeks at several models in various stages of manufacture or remodel, and even a sneak peek at a pre-production prototype of an upcoming release.

How often do you see that nowadays in ANY sort of business?

Bottom line, you’re going to get a better saber made of higher quality materials and machined to tighter tolerances, better electronics, more bells and whistles, made almost any way you want, and better customer service.

What you’ll get elsewhere is poorly fit together sabers that can’t even hold up to a Disney toy:

M$ Just Ate Bethesda and Zenimax for $7.5 Billion

Yes, another giant corporate merger that never should have happened as we move more towards a cyberpunk future where massive corporations truly hold all the power.

Microsoft already has a virtual monopoly on operating systems with the only real alternatives being Apple (which is still largely home use) or Linux. And they do solidly have a lock on the office productivity market via M$ Office. There’s Libre Office you say? Yeah, try interviewing for a job and telling them that you don’t have Office certifications but you know Libre Office inside and out.

OK; this is absorbing a (fairly large) gaming company, so what’s it matter in the grand scheme of things?

If all you care about is how much money Microsoft can make you as an investor, it’s a good thing. Microsoft just put ZeniMax Media, Bethesda Softworks, and all their subsidiary game studios on the payroll making games for their X-Box systems (and only that). Those subsidiaries include Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. Among the game franchises that come with them are Skyrim and the rest of The Elder Scrolls series, Fallout, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, Wolfenstein, Quake, and Bethesda’s upcoming space RPG, Starfield. In short, some of the biggest franchises in gaming.

As a consumer, there’s now less competition in the market, and less incentive for any of the above franchises to be as innovative as they once were. Less competition equals higher prices and lower quality, almost without exception.

As a gamer, one of the things that Bethesda in particular has been known for is the ability to create modified files “Mods” that add content to a game or change gameplay for certain aspects of the game. Microsoft already treats all their products like cash cows. The price of Office is obscene, as a prime example. Doubly so since the program suite hasn’t changed in a meaningful way in 20 years.

Bethesda has already tried to monetize it’s modding community twice also, and Microsoft will likely (in my opinion) push those attempts even farther until they are making money off of people who create projects and share them with the community strictly for love of the game.

That’s IF they don’t try to shut down the modding community altogether via suspending the availability of the “developer’s tools” used to make them. This is a move I’d expect to see more from Disney, who keeps a paranoid grip on all their trademarks. It’s why there’s never been a Marvel game where you could create your own character.

Microsoft is still a giant, unthinking corporation though, and could very well make the same move citing the creation of adult content for some of the games as unwholesome and against it’s corporate values, yadda yadda. Bethesda thus far had left that subject as “We disapprove and that’s not what we released the tools for”. We’ll see if Microsoft forces Seattle values on it’s new acquisitions.

Either way, to me this feels like the same situation with Disney not wanting to deal with competition and being pissy that Marvel had previously licensed the rights to the X-Men and other characters to Fox Movies. When they couldn’t buy the rights back, they did a hostile takeover of Fox Movies. Why should Microsoft negotiate licenses from gaming companies for X-Box titles when they can just gobble up the companies and make sure those same games never get released for their competition’s systems?

Mark my words folks, these mergers are NOT good for the public nor small businesses at all! If you want to avoid a future where world is controlled by a dozen mega-conglomerates and small business is all but extinct, you’d better start standing up to it now.

A Couple of Canon Star Wars Cannons

Yep, bad puns and Star Wars… Life is good, lol. So I was talking with Jacob over at the Sandcrawler Blog about how Disney is being a bit… random regarding what is currently ‘official canon’.

The video games are a contentious subject with a few fans but there’s multiple examples of things being cherry picked from them. The infamous TIE Defender seen in Star Wars: Rebels was first seen ages ago in the 1994 TIE Fighter: Defender of the Empire flight sim by LucasArts.

For all of those confused here… Don’t panic. This is called a floppy disk. Younglings… *headdesk* LOL

Anyway, here’s the 1994 version, launching from a Star Destroyer:

Anyway, that’s one example.

Knights of the Old Republic 1’s Jedi turned Sith turned Jedi (identity crisis anyone?) Revan has also all but been confirmed as canon in Rise of Skywalker.

Yes, he turns up in SWTOR also. 🙂

Let’s get to the headline though. What I found interesting and had forgotten about is that Star Wars: The Old Republic also had two different beam weapons that likely inspired the planet busting cannons attached to Sith fleet Star Destroyers in Rise of Skywalker

Nerd Rant: She wasn’t a Skywalker, and trying to tie her to that legacy at the end doesn’t make the sequels any better. 😛

OK, now that THAT is out of the way… First, I give you “The Gauntlet” super cannon that the Republic Trooper destroys as part of their class story line:

And secondly, “The Silencer” which the Sith Inquisitor helps complete as part of their class story line.

Both those pictures from my own in-game knowledge database.

As can be seen from the first picture, Dreadnaughts (the SWTOR version of Star Destroyers) had a split nose design, so the weapon was stuck in the nose in both cases instead of underneath.

I haven’t heard it confirmed officially, but it’s a pretty safe bet that those cannons inspired the ones seen in The Rise of Skywalker.

By the way… Grand Admiral Thrawn’s first appearance may have been in Timothy Zahn’s awesome “Heir to the Empire” trilogy, BUT he was also in TIE Fighter: Defender of the Empire long before appearing in Rebels:

The game explains why he wasn’t front and center during the original trilogy: He was off fighting a large group of renegade Imperials on the edge of the galaxy, including the scientists who developed the TIE Defender. Only fitting that he was involved in that as part of Star Wars Rebels also.

The only thing we really haven’t seen out of TIE Fighter yet as part of canon is the infamous Missile Boat:

My friends and I considered the Defender to be a pocket Star Destroyer, given it’s firepower and shields. But if the Defender was a pocket Star Destroyer, then the Missile Boat was pocket Death Star. Shielding equal to a small capital ship. A full power turbo laser in the nose, and the ability to carry and launch more photon torpedoes than a couple of squadrons of X-Wings…. oh and it had a starship equivalent of an afterburner as well for sudden lightning acceleration. I literally wiped out an entire fleet single-handedly with one (NO wingman) in the last mission of the game.

Bad Things, man… BAD things!

The thing is so overpowered, I’d be surprised if it ever becomes official canon.

Getting back on track…

It’s hard to say what’s officially canon out of the games. The storyline from X-Wing and X-Wing Alliance already contradicts canon, so they’ll never be official. Battlefront 1 & 2 are just shoot ’em ups. Starkiller from “The Force Unleashed” is so overpowered that he makes superweapons like the Death Star obsolete, so I doubt those games will ever be canon without some major dialing back.

Still, bits and pieces of Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the Jedi Knight series are slowly becoming official. Kyle Katarn is official now I believe, and the jet pack troopers seen in Rise of Skywalker were first in the Dark Forces / Jedi Knight series also.

Looks like Rise of Skywalker borrowed alot from video games, lol.

So yeah… Star Wars canon is evolving. At first, the entire Extended Universe was cut out, but we quickly saw Thrawn added back in to start, and it’s been growing since, with bits of EU and game canon added to the (Marvel – no Dark Horse) comics and movies.

SWTOR: The Basics & The Bounty Hunter

I’ve been on a Star Wars kick lately, mostly because of my return to the game “Star Wars: The Old Republic”. So, I’ve decided to go with it for my blogging and do a few posts about the game.

First I’ll have to go over a few basics, then each new post will cover one of the eight character classes (types) and a bit about their story. If you’re not a gamer, this will still give you some Star Wars semi-official history and the stories are pretty awesome as well. I’ll only be speaking of them in general terms as to avoid spoilers for potential new players though.

THE BASICS:

On the surface, SWTOR is like any other MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game. The controls use the same layout on nearly every MMO since Everquest 1 was released decades ago. No surprises there; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Graphics are good, especially given that the game is 9 years old now.

Beyond the technical stuff, the game takes place about 3000 years before Episode 4: A New Hope. Everything in Star Wars time is measured before or after the Battle of Yavin where the Death Star was destroyed. It’s also about 300 years after the “Knights of the Old Republic” video games. The Empire and the Republic exist side by side, with an uneasy truce in place as the game starts.

The game is made by Bioware, so your character has a fair amount of control over the story via the choices they make during the game. You can chose from 8 general character classes (think of them as professions or archetypes), with each class having two advanced specializations. The classes are:

Jedi Knight: The lightsaber combat specialists of the Jedi Order. Their two specializations are Guardian and Sentinel. Guardians use one saber and the strongest armor. Sentinels use two sabers and medium armor.

Jedi Consular: The Jedi more focused on using the force vs lightsaber combat. Their two specializations are Shadow and Sage. Shadows use a double bladed lightsaber staff like Darth Maul, have stealth capabilities and a nice array of short range Force abilities. Sages are almost pure force users with a wide array of long range force powers but minimal armor.

Sith Warrior: Pretty much the Dark Side version of the Jedi Knight. The class’s two specializations are Juggernaut and Marauder. Juggernauts are the same as Guardians and Marauders are the same as Sentinels. Their abilities will have different names and appearances though.

Sith Inquisitor: A Dark Side version of the Jedi Consular. It’s two specializations are Assassin, which mirrors the Jedi Shadow, AND Sorceror, which mimics the Jedi Sage. Again, the abilities have different appearances though. A Sage will telekinetically throw rocks whereas a Sorcerer will use force lightning.

Republic Trooper: Soldiers for the Republic’s special forces (which is why your character has such freedom of movement). The class specializations are Vanguard, which is the heavily armored close combat specialist, and Commando; which wears medium grade armor but carries a blaster gatling cannon.

Smuggler: It wouldn’t be Star Wars without a Han Solo tribute class. 🙂 Smuggler specializations are Gunslinger; which carries two blaster pistols and makes liberal use of them, and Scoundrel; which has stealth capability and several in-close high damage attacks. One is even a “dirty kick” which ironically works on beasts and droids too, lol.

Imperial Agent: Since a standard Imperial Trooper wouldn’t have much freedom of operation, Bioware put operatives from Imperial Intelligence into the game as an option. The two specializations are Sniper, which I don’t think I have to explain, and Operative, which plays much like an evil Smuggler Scoundrel with different animations for attacks.

Bounty Hunter: Yes, the fun folks are represented. Pretty much a given since they factored into Knights of the Old Republic 1 & 2, and Jango Fett brought them into popularity with the prequel trilogy. Bounty Hunter specializations are Power Techs; which specialize in heavy armor and a wide array of close range attacks (mirroring the Vanguard) kind of like Boba or Jango, and the Mercenary. Mercs dual wield blaster pistols like a Gunslinger, but have heavier armor and fewer extra tricks than the Gunslinger. They’re akin to characters like Cadd Bane from The Clone Wars series.

What about Mandalorians??? We’re getting there. 😉

Now in terms of story… Each of the above eight classes has it’s unique but slightly connected storyline. While you will be steered along a general path with the game, you do have a “Light” and “Dark” path to all of them. The choices that you make while playing can determine if certain paths are open to you and if a character may or may not help you later, etc…

Likewise each planet your character visits has it’s own mini-story line along with some miscellaneous side missions that can be taken. There are light and dark options for many of these also, which can also impact your progress in various ways.

That said, let’s get on to our Bounty Hunter’s story!

Yes, each class has an opening crawl

Our Bounty Hunter starts out on the home world of the infamous Hutt Cartel; Hutta. Every ten years, the Mandalorians call “The Great Hunt”, which is a largely secret competition among Bounty Hunters to find the very best among them. Your character is a hunter who was just recruited by a grizzled veteran to spearhead his team for The Great Hunt. To get into the Great Hunt however, our protagonist needs sponsorship by the local crime lord; Nem’ro the Hutt. That’s where your newly acquired support team is supposed to come in.

However, after running down a few bounties to help establish your reputation in Nem’ro’s town, your support team is murdered by a competitor intent on keeping rivals out of the Great Hunt. Your tech expert Mako was away during the attack and survives to become your first crew member (and romantic interest for male characters). The rest of the missions on Hutta consist of taking down bounties for Nem’ro to prove yourself. There’s a twist or two along the way, but I don’t want to ruin the surprises.

Once you gain entry to the Great Hunt, you’re sent to the Mandalorian Enclave on the Imperial home world of Dromund Kaas. When you and Mako arrive, you’re told by your handler “whoops, we overbooked the show”, and that there will be a competition to see who gets the one remaining spot in the Great Hunt. The competition is “simple”; take down three bounties on Dromund Kaas without ticking off the Sith and their Imperial lackeys. Those who get all three are allowed to enter the melee for the final spot.

Half the hunters present turn tail and leave. As one says on the way out “It’s not the jungles that are dangerous on Dromund Kaas, it’s the people”. Suffice it to say the three bounties you’re assigned are entertaining and definitely intended to try to run you afoul of a whole planet full of Sith and Imperials.

After you get your bounties and win the melee (wouldn’t be much of a story otherwise, lol), you’re off to the Great Hunt. The hunt’s rules are simple. Hunters are assigned some of the toughest targets in the galaxy, and each target has one other hunter assigned. Winner of each round is the one who collects the bounty AND eliminates their rival. Rinse, wash repeat until there’s only one left. There’s your grand champion of the great hunt.

Your first target is on the war zone planet of Balmora and is an Imperial Admiral who almost never leaves his well guarded command starship. An interesting plot evolves to lure the admiral down to the surface as you’re employed by one of his underlings. This Imperial Major has no idea of the great hunt, and wants you to do jobs to discredit his superior so the admiral will promote him.

After the Admiral is tagged and bagged, you’re off to Hutta’s moon of Nar Shadda, which is the Star Wars version of Las Vegas. There you have to hunt a retired assassin with a perfect record. He’s gone into the private security business though. In order to lure him out, you attack the company’s assets. Your rival here is a fairly comical one also, and you have the option of sparing them after you beat them.

Round three of the Great Hunt sends you to Tattoine. There, you’re after an infamous con artist who is as slippery as they come.

After you’re finished on Tattoine, you’re recalled to the Mandalorian Enclave. It seems some weasel got his hands on the Great Hunt’s target list and the Hunt Master wants you to eliminate the guy and recover the list before the hunt is compromised. If you want to go full on dark side, you can eliminate everybody at the auction, which the Mandalorians heartily approve of.

Round Four leads you to Alderaan, where you’re tasked with killing a noble with a reputation for being unkillable. Along the way, you aid one of the noble houses that’s loyal to the Empire, and even have the chance to decide who takes over as it’s head at the end of the mission arc.

As soon as you’re on your ship and leaving Alderaan, you get a call from the legendary Mandalorian Hedarr Soongh, who offers to help you resolve the issue with the dirty competitor who has been trying to sabotage you repeatedly and killed most of your crew back on Hutta. When you arrive on Nar Shadda and meet Soongh, it turns out that he trained the competitor and finds his interference disgusting and a betrayal of the Mandalorian standards of honor. You’re provided the opportunity to trial by combat with the competitor’s chief henchman to end the interference.

After that’s resolved, you’re given the final target of the Great Hunt: A jedi master onboard a republic battleship. Here’s where things get to be a little bit of a stretch also for me, BUT it makes for typical grandiose Star Wars storytelling. This Jedi Master single-handedly took down roughly 100 Mandalorians during the final battle of the previous war and has the nickname “The Mandalorian Killer”. You and your rival get to take him on solo however.

Your handler’s plan is simple enough. Get on board the ship, disable it’s shields and hyperspace stabilizers, then set it to jump to hyperspace and tear the whole ship apart with the jedi on it. Of course, that would be too easy, so the jedi master and his padawan are waiting for you at the navigation controls. After you kill the jedi that 100 Mandalorians couldn’t beat, you’re declared Grand Champion of the Great Hunt.

As for your dirty playing Mandalorian rival… I’ll save that as a surprise. 🙂

Thus ends chapter one. Chapter two opens with the Hunt Master telling you that your victory has earned you an audience with Mandalore himself, and you’re sent to Mandalore’s flagship. Mandalore has his inner circle of elites gathered; all past winners of the Great Hunt. You’re made a Mandalorian and part of Mandalore the Vindicated’s clan, then sent on a hunt to test you.

After you succeed there, Mandalore says that you’ve earned a spot in the inner circle, and that you’ll be taking his place as the Mandalorian in the group, because he has to focus on “winning the Sith’s war for them” since at this point open warfare has broken out again.

The rest of the group explains that as part of this elite group, you now have access to the legendary “black list”; a collection of ultra high credit bounties on targets that make the great hunt look easy.

The first target you’re given is “the traitor”; Jicoln Cadera. Cadera led his clan in opposition to Mandalore’s rise to that role. He believed that the Mandalorians should be testing themselves against the Sith, not fighting the Jedi, whom he viewed as more honorable. Cadera has been in hiding on the planet Taris, which was completely ruined by Imperial bombardment during Knights of the Old Republic 1. It’s all ruins and toxic swamps now. You’re aided by Cadera’s son, who is determined to kill his father and restore his clan’s good name within Mandalorian society. After you eliminate Cadera, his son becomes a member of your crew, and a romantic interest for a female character.

Torian Cadera is a great addition to the crew, and reveals a great deal about Mandalorian culture and language that I hadn’t seen before. It MAY have been mentioned elsewhere before, but this was the first mention of Beskar steel and Beskar’gar (armor) that I recall.

Side Note: Wookiepedia says it was first mentioned in Star Wars Insider magazine in 2006, about 5 years before SWTOR was released. I think it’s fair to say it’s inclusion in SWTOR helped solidify it being canon and appearing in “The Clone Wars” and “The Mandalorian” though.

As you’re leaving Taris, you get a call from AdasCorp, who offers you a ridiculously generous endorsement deal for their battlefield performance enhancing drugs. When you arrive at their building on the planet Quesh, you discover it’s all a trap by the Republic Strategic Information Service (think CIA), and you get to shoot your way out. The SIS was attempting to capture you to stand trial for the destruction of their battleship and the death of the Mandalorian Killer.

That plot thread is left dangling as you’re sent after the next target; a pirate lord running a huge operation on Hoth. It’s here you meet the legendary snow jawa Blizz and he joins your crew after the pirate is dealt with.

Yes, there really IS a snow jawa, LOL… Sort of…

As you finish up on Hoth, the rest of the inner circle call and congratulate you, teasing that you’re making them look bad. They still want to throw a big party to celebrate your wins though, as they bring glory to the whole group. When you show up at the party on Nar Shadda, the SIS and Jedi have killed them all. Because you’re the baddest hunter in the galaxy, you defeat the group of SIS and Jedi, and then escape.

Returning to your ship, you find out that the Republic has put a 10 million credit bounty on your head and has a mile long list of made up war crimes that they’re blaming you for along with the few jobs you did do. The Supreme Chancellor himself is on the Holonet declaring it all. Yes, the Republic’s leadership is nearly as dirty as the Empire. The fallout is so bad that even the Empire starts to disavow you, but one Darth takes an interest and summons you to his command dreadnought.

Arriving there, you find out that our Darth has an elaborate plan to win the war and lure out the Supreme Chancellor and his Jedi assistant that’s responsible for most of your grief. To cut this short, the Darth has out fearless hunter eliminate a few key pieces from the galactic stage, which helps set up the Empire forcing the core world Corellia into joining the Empire.

Forced to travel to Corellia to seek a diplomatic solution with it’s government, our hunter first gets to deal with the Jedi Battlemaster that framed them, and then go after the Supreme Chancellor himself.

Big Spoiler here: In what is likely the biggest Light vs Dark decision in the game, the Supreme Chancellor admits to being duped by his Jedi advisor, but takes full responsibility for his actions. He transmits the truth of the hunter’s actions to the public, and offers to return to Coruscant for impeachment if spared. He also offers the hunter full immunity for the things they DID do, IF they’ll return to the Imperial ship and kill the Darth that helped them. Said Darth is guilty of major war crimes on multiple planets.

Your decision there pretty much ends the original game story line, with your Bounty Hunter telling the crew that there’s more bounties out there after they’ve had a well deserved rest.

As an added bonus, here’s the promo trailer for the Bounty Hunter:

Ever Wonder What Alderaan Looked Like?

Friday Fun Day here at the blog, so time for something on the lighter side. If you’re like many Star Wars fans, you’ve probably found yourself wondering at least once what Alderaan looked like before the Death Star blew it up. We all know it looked something like this afterwards, lol:

Asteroid field with space fog background – yes, dark humor. 😛

Well, I was always curious what it had been like anyway; this peaceful utopia with no weapons (per Leia).

The only real look that I know of comes via the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic. Yes, it’s a video game, but Disney has adapted elements from different games as part of canon already, including The Old Republic. The Chiss Ascendancy being one example.

Bottom line, this may or may not be canon. My best educated guess is yes, because Disney’s overall pattern with deciding what’s canon seems to be “does it fit and would we have to pay royalties to anybody outside of our existing sphere”. Alderaan’s description fits and is from Bioware / Electronic Arts, which is inside of it’s existing realm of control.

My opinion of Disney overall has been covered in previous posts

So, What Has Been Disclosed About Alderaan?

I remember ages ago that Alderaan, at the time of the movies, had been described as a planet of artisans and tradespeople. Largely rural as well, if I recall correctly. Alderaan 3000 years before the battle of Yavin (when the game is set) was the same geographically, but different socially. It’s a mountainous planet with a very similar look to the European Alps. It has quite few rugged peaks with alpine meadows, lakes and rivers between them:

The architecture doesn’t blend with nature in the classic definition, but it’s artistic with a feel of sharing nature as opposed to dominating it, at least to me. Below is one of many mountain passes on Alderaan’s playable map area:

Alderaan, both in game lore and during the time of the movies, is ruled by a royal family with other noble houses playing advisors and lobbyists to the royals. The high ranking noble houses have lesser “vassal” noble houses that follow them, and then there’s the public. It’s fairly feudal in nature without the “serfs bound to the land” aspect.

The ruling family / house can change with the death of the king or queen, since apparently the nobles have to approve the new ruler. If there’s a disagreement, then you can end up with a civil war, which was the case in the game. House Panteer was the ruling family right up to the time of the game, and MUCH later, House Organa had the throne during A New Hope.

The high ranking noble houses are described as some of the most wealthy in the entire galaxy, and I think the House Organa palace reflects that pretty well:

The actual Alderaan royal castle makes that look like a shanty town plywood shack too.

Ergo, I think one might conclude that Grand Moff Tarken had a secondary objective in blowing up Alderaan; ending it’s economic power and influence within the Empire.

Alderaan was far from peaceful 3000 years before the movie. I already mentioned a civil war. All of Alderaan’s noble houses prided themselves on and bragged about the quality of their knights and officers, as well as their battle droids. One noble house; House Rist, even worked strictly as a guild of assassins and information brokers for the other noble houses, with no loyalty to any of them. Sounds akin to the Iga and Koga ninja of feudal Japan.

Obviously, if Leia was being honest when talking to Tarkin, Alderaan had grown a fair amount in the 3000 years leading up to the movies. The noble houses were clearly still there and holding power however.

You Stuck Up, Half-Witted, Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder!

Just about everybody remembers THIS scene from Empire Strikes Back:

Well… one of the highlights of my original time playing this game was finally seeing a Nerf! YES, they’re real, and they’re raised as farm animals and exist in the wild on Alderaan:

I thought it was a nice touch, adding them into the game, and showed the developers were true fans, LOL. Yes, that’s my pureblood Sith Adoxia that I got the screenshot with as well.

Looks Like it’s Back Into the Cockpit!

You may not know it, but back in the day, ol’ Silk was the best starfighter pilot in the galaxy, LOL. I played through X-Wing, it’s expansion campaigns, TIE Fighter, Defender of the Empire and X-Wing: Alliance with spectacular success. In Alliance, I racked up kills on 5 Imperial class Star Destroyers and 2 Executor class Super Star Destroyers on top of a half dozen interdictors and heaven knows how many other smaller ships, AND the second Death Star. 😀

Inside the cockpit of the Incom T-65 space superiority fighter – X-Wing (original game)

These were flight sims designed to be as realistic as possible, unlike other Star Wars games. They put you through your paces too. Clearing mine fields before a freighter arrived (mines in Star Wars shoot lasers too, BTW), escorting a shuttle as wave after wave of TIE fighters come after it, attacking a Star Destroyer… Challenging, occasionally frustrating, and always fun.

Well, a couple of days ago, Electronic Arts announced a new Star Wars flight sim that is NOT an arcade game; Star Wars Squadrons.

The game promises a story driven single player campaign mode as well as multiple options for team PVP, with numerous craft for both Republic and Imperial pilots.

Judging from the graphics in the video, I’m going to be glad I have a maxed out PC also. 😀

I’ve been grumbling for years that there hasn’t been a real Star Wars flight sim since X-Wing Alliance. Looks like I *may* have finally gotten my wish.

Soon, it’ll be time to suit back up and give Poe some flying lessons. 😀