As a last-minute addition to beta, these little machines have turned out to be a lot of fun. The one pictured above sits in the Fort Garnik cantina on Ord Mantell, but nearly every cantina has one of these. Speak to the cantina vendor and he will sell you a token for 100 credits to play the song you'd like. All the songs have that Star Warsy space-band feel to them. The community team released some of them on its YouTube channel, like Average Brown Wookiee and Kayfoundo Naweea. Just the names of some of them are awesome. I don't know about you, but for me, these little nuggets make the game a bit more fun and immersing.
The codex certainly isn't a secret, but not much about it is mentioned regularly. What is a secret are the updates. We know that personal story is the cornerstone to this BioWare game, but few players realize that the codex is tailored to their personal story. For instance, the entry for Balmorra for a Republic-aligned character is quite different from the entry for an Imperial character. Sometimes it goes further than that. Jaesa Willsaam's entry in your codex greatly depends on the choices you make over the course of the story. I really want to tell you more, but I shouldn't. You'll have to play a Sith Warrior to find out.
Datacrons are a type of Holocron, a device that stores ancient Jedi or Sith history. Besides the inevitable Mario Bros. game required to retrieve most of these Datacrons, these little boxes give your character a boost in stats: +2 or +3 willpower, aim, cunning, or strength. For lower-level characters, these are a good boost, but for the explorer types, finding these Datacrons is like finding gold. I suggest that if you're an explorer, do not look up Datacrons in the SWTOR databases that have been released. If you're crazy about TOR lore like I am, then you will enjoy that these Datacrons give you a history lesson entry into your Codex. For instance, the Datacron in the Black Sun marketplace of Coruscant gives you the story of King Adas, the first Sith'ari.
Hopefully by now you know that SWTOR has story. It's a little thing the team at BioWare has touted since the very first game video three years ago. Part of building a good story, especially one within an existing universe like Star Wars' universe, is latching on to familiarity. For instance, I am sure you noticed that the Trooper class very much resembles the Stormtroopers from the first Star Wars movies and the Clonetroopers from the prequels and animated series. This helps tie the player to the story by tapping into his nostalgia.
The biggest bits of nostalgia come for those gamers who have played either of the Knights of the Old Republic games. As the writers have said, this game is not just Knights of the Old Republic 3; it's Knights of the Old Republic 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Each class story has its own tie back to the original single-player games. Even some of the character names bleed over; for example, Satele Shan must be a descendent of KOTOR's Bastila Shan, but of course, we don't know the exact connection. By the second planet, your character will begin to run into callbacks and characters from KOTOR. Imperials should keep an eye out for a cult of Revanites, and Jedi Consulars may run into Bastila one way or another...
If you haven't checked them out on the SWTOR official site, then search for the hidden messages sewn into the background of many of the pages. These are all written in Aurebesh, the Star Wars alphabet, and they contain interesting tidbits about the story revolving around that specific entry. For instance, when I originally wrote the Hidden Messages Hyperspace Beacon, I did not understand the meaning behind the word "tainted" on the Tython page. Now, having played through the Tython storyline, I understand it better. But the website isn't the only place where you can find Aurebesh. Most of the signs on the planet of Coruscant are written using that alphabet. The signs you see as you take a taxi are interesting, to say the least.
However, Aurebeh is not the only alphabet used in the game. Many people have been confused by the letters above the first cantina you see on Hutta (the one named Poison Pit). To those familiar with Aurebesh, it looks like some of the letters are upside down or backward, but they don't all match up correctly. That's because on other planets, Basic isn't the primary language, nor is Aurebesh the primary alphabet. On Hutta, Ord Mantell, and Nar Shaddaa specifically, you will find signs that are written in the Galactic Basic alphabet. Roam around those three planets using the "decoder" below and tell me what kinds of things you find. I noticed a bounty board on Ord Mantell a while back.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!