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Hyperspace Beacon: Roleplayer's rant


I don't like to rant. Really! Usually, ranting is full of emotionally charged rhetoric, and oftentimes it's riddled with inaccurate statements. I especially don't like to rant about something that I like a lot. For instance, Star Wars: The Old Republic has, by far, exceeded my personal expectations for any MMO; however, some missteps in production have tainted its perfection. (No, I'm not going to talk about Ilum again.) Of course, we are all looking for our version of perfection in an MMO, right? Unfortunately, no MMO will live up to that expectation. In fact, if I did find my version of MMO perfection, I would probably be the only one playing it. But I do believe I have ideas that those in my community could latch on to. They are also relatively simple. Yes, yes, I know nothing is ever as simple as it seems, but indulge me for a few moments.

As many of you know, I enjoy roleplaying in my MMOs -- character creation, really. I'm not one of those roleplayers who hang out in a pub all day never experiencing any gameplay. Although there's nothing wrong with that, I find it a be a waste of $15 a month.

I have complied what I believe will make the experience of SWTOR more enjoyable for those who enjoy playing the game like I do, and I think that those of you who don't necessarily like to roleplay per se but do like to create unique characters in the MMO space will agree that these are a must. I did set some personal criteria when compiling the list. For instance, I didn't want to break BioWare's general vision for the game. I also wanted to use existing items in the game so that my expectations were realistic -- no guild capital ships or image design system. And all of these items have been mentioned in print someplace before, so I'm not the only one who believes these should be implemented.

Hyperspace Beacon: Companion options on the station
First off, I want to give BioWare huge props for allowing my Mako to look different from my friend's Mako, even if she does constantly stand in front of the item I wish to click on. From a roleplayer's perspective, it makes no sense for my companion to be the same character as the companion of the player I'm traveling with. I will look past the fact that there was only one Deshade in service of Tulak Hord as long as my Khem Val is blue with red stripes and yours is red with white stripes. Don't change any of that part. It's a great implementation, too, with the kits.

Where I think this idea falls short is the location of the vendor selling these kits. Maybe someone can correct me if I'm totally off base about this, but the first planet I saw on the Imperial side that sells companion customization kits was Taris. (No, the CE vendor doesn't count.) This means that if I'm playing the game (without looking it up on an external website), Mako would suddenly change from the cute brunette to the hot blonde at about level 32. Well, that just goofed up all those cutscenes I've been Frapsing for my Mako romance compilation. Guess it's time to reroll...

Hyperspace Beacon: Sitting in chairs
If you've listened to the roleplaying podcast that I do with Baraslan, Beyond the Grind, then you have heard us harp about the fact that we can't sit in chairs -- not even all the chairs on our ships. When Georg Zoeller told us that sitting in chairs appeared in one of the builds he had been testing, we were truly excited. Then, when it was mentioned in one of the later beta builds we were ecstatic. Unfortunately, we could only sit in chairs on our ships, and then only in specific chairs.

The lack of chair-sitting isn't the worst of it. By now, I'm sure most of you have tried to sit down in this game. By default, hitting X lets you sit down -- on the ground -- lounged back with your leg positioned as if you're saying, "I know you want this, baby." Don't get me wrong -- a little saltiness in my video game is OK, but some of my characters would just not sit that way. I would also have less of an issue with not sitting in chairs if sitting on the ground didn't look so ridiculous.

Hyperspace Beacon: Cross-faction emotes
The chat system in SWTOR has many issues, starting with the UI and ending at chat bubbles, but for the roleplayer, custom emotes are very important. You would not believe how happy I was to see that BioWare allows players to generate their own emotes. The next time you're in game, type something like "/me reads the Hyperspace Beacon on his datapad." In (default) orange text, the chat box will display "Shaddoe reads the Hyperspace Beacon on his datapad." Roleplayers love these sorts of emotes because they allow your character to do things that game mechanics don't, and they allow you to show tone or inflection in your character's voice.

Thank you, BioWare, for giving us this chat option. Now allow for the other faction to see it. On Lord Adraas, my current main server, the Slippery Slopes Cantina hosts events and random roleplay all the time. Slippery Slopes rests in the lower promenade of Nar Shaddaa. It makes for a great roleplay hub because both factions can visit there. However, if I were to "read the Hyperspace Beacon on my datapad" in the Slippery Slopes Cantina, only those of my same faction would see what I'm doing. My Imperial emotes don't appear in the Republic's chat box. You'd think this would be an easy fix, something that would have been in at launch, but apparently not. This should be a simple fix for BioWare. Please, flip the switch so the other faction can read my emotes. Kthxbye.

Hyperspace Beacon: More Armor options
If you followed Star Wars: The Old Republic back in April, then you should remember the first fan site summit and the images from the armor concept wall. I was amazed to see the variety of armor shown on that board. As I understand it, those little cards have now completely filled up that board and are stacked on top of each other. However, in the game, there seems to be a lack of personalization when it comes to armor. Granted, not everyone is dressed exactly alike, but I often run into another Sith Warrior wearing the same clothing combination as I am, especially if he's my level. It's a bit disheartening.

I get the idea that Sith Warriors should look like Sith Warriors, but when every one of the Sith Warriors looks the same with a different shade of dull paint, it starts to feel... same-y. Don't get me wrong; there is a large variety of clothing, especially social clothing, in the game. But no one can wear it unless he or she is just hanging out at the bar. No one but the Sith Inquisitors and Jedi Consulars can wear that gear while leveling or on missions. I understand BioWare's desire to make a distinction between social wear and combat wear, but if a larger variety of combat armor is out of the question, then the next best thing would be to give social clothing a light, medium, and heavy rating so that such gear can be used on missions.

Hyperspace Beacon: Chat bubbles
I won't harp on this long because I have talked about this issue in multiple places, but if an area has more than, say, 20 people all talking at the same time, chat scroll is hard to follow. With 50, it becomes a pain. When 100 people are chatting at once, headaches follow. If 150 people are all trying to RP together in one place, like during the opening of Yocola Tonka, then it's impossible -- even game-breaking for some roleplayers. Chat bubbles need to be placed in the game again ASAP!

That's enough out of me this week. I really am enjoying the game; I hope you are, too. Are there any minor fixes that would make your gaming experience better? Let me know in the comments, and I will see you next week!

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, recently released by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

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