Winding Down 2018

Traditionally-although never planned to be that way-I seem to do a slowdown at the end of the year.  This year’s probably no exception.  Still, there’s at least a couple things that will likely make an impact on the blog posts as we warp up 2018.

First, we’ve got a new Star Wars: The Old Republic publish coming soon, which will actually have content I’m interested in playing.  I still remember when Bioware kept hyping the “fourth pillar of story” for the game, and that was one of the big draws for me.  (The other being, duh, Star Wars.)  It’s been a long drought since I’ve been online there for any real length of time, and I’m hoping to have a return to the game in the reasonably near future.

Second, which is sort of over to the side, is an upcoming delivery of a new computer system, which is sort of long delayed.  I’ve had my current system for more than half the lifetime of this blog, which in computer-years is Methuselah-like in scope.  It’s hard drive is begging for mercy, and the graphic card struggles at times, particularly when newer graphical stuff get thrown in; I haven’t ever actually seen the “Lighting 2.0” in Star Trek Online because my system can’t handle that.  The new system, on the other hand, if all goes according to plan, should be able to handle maximum graphics settings on the games I’ve got and maintain a high frame rate.  We’ll see.  Some of my screenshots will hopefully look a lot better when that time rolls around.

I was this close to getting ready to pick up the character of Selak back in STO again; the Foundry came back online, but I’m not sure the kinks have been worked out.  I chose a Foundry Spotlight mission, which indicates that this is a mission that should be working just fine, and it wouldn’t let me advance past the first map.  So, his chronicle stalls a bit longer.

The winter festivities have begun in STO, and although there aren’t new activities, there is a new ship for those interested in putting the time into doing races every day, and a few new other wintry related things.  No winter festivities have started in Champions Online yet (to my knowledge, anyway), but SWTOR is set to kick off its Life Day festivities on the 11th (amusingly, the same day the Republic/Empire war re-ignites.  Happy Life Day!).  I imagine the other assorted MMORPGs have also either started or are getting ready to start their winter events.  I usually don’t go all-in for these events, but I do enjoy doing some of the stuff.  Whether it’s throwing snowballs at Sith at Vaiken Spacedock or engaging in combat with caramel-throwers against snowmen (or most recently, taking my Jem’Hadar, arming him with a candy swordfish, and hacking away at Krampus), it’s a nice break from the usual storylines of the games I play.  After all, games are meant to be fun-and if you don’t take them too seriously, this season is big on fun.

(Except Ewoks on Valentine’s Day.  That was just wrong on so many levels.  Long story.)

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Wait, This Isn’t a Star Trek Online Post!!!

You could be forgiven if you thought, over the last few months, that I only played Star Trek Online.  And to a certain extent, this is true:  STO has dominated the blog a bit lately, with the “Victory is Life” expansion rolling out, followed not long after with the “Age of Discovery” patch and the dev plans to advance the storyline based on the Star Trek: Discovery show.  So it’s kind of sucked all the oxygen out of the room for a while now-especially since I have a pair of character chronicles on standby in that game who can’t really advance until said Discovery-related episodes get released or the Foundry gets restored again, or the devs finally get off their hindquarters and fix the so-called “streamlining” of their mission journal so my Cardassian can do the Lost Dominion arc at a time when it actually makes sense.  (I’ve ranted on that subject enough.  Moving on.)

It also hasn’t helped that the other pair of games I mess with regularly, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Champions Online, haven’t exactly put out the kind of stuff I mess with lately.  CO is CO, with the iffiness of its content releases, and SWTOR has been focusing on its raid stuff a lot lately.  And even though I’m an avowed altoholic, there comes times when I’ve burned through the same storylines enough times that I just need a break-one of the reasons why STO and its Foundry have been invaluable in giving me an excuse to indulge the altitis.  The Foundry gives me stories I haven’t played through ad infinitum.  I can’t say that about SWTOR, where I’ve done most of the class stories no less than three times each, and the subsequent “shared” content at least twenty times.  And I can’t say that for CO, whose leveling path for most characters is nearly identical, with minor variations with Canada and the Desert.  So I find it’s easier to wait until the new arrives for those games, or when I feel a craving to get my lightsaber or cape on.

Fortunately, at least for SWTOR, newer content is coming in December-on the 11th, to be precise, barring surprises.  The Republic/Empire war is getting ready to reignite, and an old Jedi stronghold on the planet Ossus is the flashpoint (which may or may not actually include Flashpoints; I haven’t been keeping up).  Ossus is from the long-ago days of what is now known as the Star Wars Legends era as an important site for the Jedi, which means we’re likely looking at more Jedi-centric content.  Well, I guess I can’t complain horribly much.  The last major storyline was intrigue and treachery and didn’t focus so much on the Force except in a roundabout way-it didn’t forcefeed that kind of thing at you like the previous big storylines.  And I get that the Force is going to be centric in any Empire/Republic storyline, because the Empire is the Sith Empire, which means the Dark Side of the Force, which means it’s opposed by the Jedi Order, but still.

It’s just my perception.  I feel like we just got out of major Force-related stories, even though it’s been a couple of years now since we wrapped up Valkorion and his family issues (man, has it really been that long?), and we’ve got another one likely on deck.  I will admit that I haven’t done much reading up on what’s upcoming with the plot-I like surprises-but the fact that it’s Ossus screams Jedi vs Sith stuff, and that’s just the way it is.  I guess it’s a hazard of the “all classes are one” story prospects now, although it sounds like we’ll be separated into Republic and Imperial sides once more (and intriguingly, not necessarily the sides your class may have started out with).  But there are times I really miss the class stories, where bounty hunters could be bounty hunters, troopers could be troopers, agents could be agents, and smugglers could be wiseasses.

But it’s coming, and I expect to play through the content upon its release.  There are companions who will be making their returns (most of which, I believe, only for the classes they worked with in the past); significantly, one of them is an individual who could’ve been a Dark Sider or Light Sider depending on choices made, which was a big question mark for a while.  One more note of interest:  upon starting the new content, at least one Alliance Alert for a companion may be automatically completed (which may or may not matter, depending if you got him as a companion during the previous storylines).  It probably means it’ll happen regardless if you actually started that Alert-I’m guessing it’s considered “started” if it shows up in your list of Alerts.  We’ll see.

It’s been a quiet time in a galaxy far, far away, but it might be time to revisit it very soon!

SS: End of an Era

 

“At the last, victory is mine.  Vaylin is dead.  Vakorion is dead.  And now, I rule the Eternal Empire.

Yet, I cannot help but feel a stirring of pity for Vaylin.  My time on Nathema gave me insight on how Vaylin came to be so twisted.  Would I have held up against years of experimentation by Jarak?  Now, there’s someone I didn’t mind seeing die.  I’ve seen Inquisitors torment victims far beyond what I would consider rational, but when I think about what he did to Vaylin…well, it’s probably for the best that I didn’t have the opportunity.

Valkorion, however, acted exactly as I expected he would.  My only regret was that I had underestimated his full strength.  But in the end, his own arrogance was his downfall-virtually his entire family came to contribute to his downfall.  Just like that, my war is over.

And I have won the throne.  I am now Empress.

Not an ‘Eternal’ Empress.  I don’t have that level of conceit.  But Zakuul is mine now, and the Eternal Fleet is mine.  The Gravestone is mine-although Koth still debates me on that score.  Arcann, the former Emperor, has pledged his allegiance, as has Senya; I believe the two will make excellent commanders for the Knights going forward.

Now, I have a place where I can stand as I prepare to change the galaxy.  The Republic is in shambles, and the Sith Empire is reeling from the Fleet’s attack.  My Empire is stronger than both combined, and this puts me in a position where I can change the destiny of both.  This is the moment my life has been leading to-from my days as a slave to my ascension to the Eternal Throne.

I am ready.  With my allies at my side, I will bring about a new age.  And so I close the book on this story, realizing that the next one awaits.

May the Force ever serve you.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

And done!

With the completion of the last episode of the Knights of the Eternal Throne story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I also complete Sorshan’s Story-and also complete the journey of the two characters I’d created for the Light vs Dark event a couple years ago.  It took me a while to get here-mostly because of the other characters I had to get through the KotET storyline-but I’ve finally gotten it wrapped up.  Like Anthrandos before her, she’ll be sitting on the big chair and ending there.  I did do one little bit of extra work:  getting Andronikos and Ashara back in the fold via the Alerts.  But beyond that, I feel I’ve gone as far as I need to with this character.

Players who have gone through the post KotET content, of course, know that Sorshan’s grand plan is doomed to failure.  But hey, let’s have the relatively happy ending here.  Speaking of which, I took her only second Dark Side choice:  to rule the Eternal Empire instead of doing the whole “I’m no Empress” thing.  I always felt that her story arc was to try to change things by being the woman in charge, and dammit, if that’s a Dark Side choice, then she’ll do it!  (And given all the Light Side choices she’s made in her career, it took exactly the two companion missions to erase the Dark Side points entirely.)

I expect I’ll do another full chronicle soon, but I’ll need to decide what game to mess with.  As I tend to fiddle with this one, Champions Online, and Star Trek Online, I’ve got no shortage of options.  I’ve got some vague ideas for all three games, so odds are that I’ll pick one out of a hat and let Fate decide.  It helps, of course, that there’s not much in the way of new content that I’ll do in any of the three (having completed the “Victory is Life” stuff in STO, and CO being CO, and SWTOR focusing in the PvP arena for now).  In the meantime, the next post or two might contain new entries to the Cast List; it’s been a while since I’ve put up entries for other characters.

SS: Halfway from Iokath

 

“The discovery of Iokath and the conflict with ARIES has at least resolved our issue with SCORPIO and its betrayal.  I suppose, in the end, I could empathize with its desire to grow into something more than a slave.  It is the story of my own life.  Now, I can reflect on recent events.

The summit with Empress Acina of the Sith Empire proved fruitful.  My return to Dromund Kaas was tinged with regret.  I had been made a part of the Dark Council, after all, and I believed that there was a chance that I could sit upon the Empire’s throne one day.  That goal is gone now-and events push me to a greater one.  I searched within myself for any signs of resentment towards Acina, and found nothing.  I am at peace with where I am now.

Is this how the Jedi feel all the time?

A greater regret is the loss of Iokath.  The radiation makes it impossible to explore it-and its store of advanced weapons-for the foreseeable future.  I need a counter for the Eternal Fleet beyond just the Gravestone.  They can be many places at once!  The Gravestone can only be in one-and it remains vulnerable, as Vaylin’s gambit showed.  I must accept the truth:  I will have no other assistance against Vaylin.

Senya remains comatose.  I’m still wondering why I let her live.  I’m still wondering why I let Arcann live.  Perhaps because I can use them against Vaylin?  But can I?  Will they?  Should I even locate Arcann again, who is to say that he will be willing to attack his sister?  More, who is to say that he won’t attempt to reclaim the Eternal Throne?  Is it because I can’t believe the only way forward is a path filled with corpses?  A trail of blood that follows me wherever I go?  No.  The Sith Code does not speak of slaughter.  It doesn’t speak of mercy, either, but since being merciless has proven to serve the Sith Empire poorly, what is the harm in trying another way?  I’ve been betrayed before, but I’ve also been surprised.

Valkorion continues to haunt me.  I’ve tried to find a way to bind him to my will, as I did with the ghosts of Sith past against Thanaton, but I’ve failed.  He is…too strong.  Or I am too weak.  I cannot control him, so he continues to be a problem.  He clearly wants me on the throne, but I would be naive to think that is the end of his ambitions.  The Sith ghosts tried to make me dance on their strings before I remade myself, body and mind.  Valkorion is worse than all of them-can I expect any less from him?  No.

I am Sith.  And despite his babble about the Force being “more than Dark or Light”, so is Valkorion.  And that means I live only until he gets what he wants from me-and then he will turn on me.

Unless I turn on him first.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

I’m at the halfway point of the “Knights of the Eternal Throne” story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Sorshan’s advancing nicely.

It took me quite a bit of effort to get used to using her abilities again.  It’s been long enough that I’ve lost any muscle memory as to which of her abilities work together.  I tend to be fairly consistent with how I set up my action bars in a general way, but that only gets you so far.  On the other hand, I haven’t been killed off at any point, so I must be adapting pretty quickly.  Or maybe it’s because I try to be smart with giving companion gifts so that they can bail me out of bad situations.  (It could well be both!)

There really isn’t much to add as I go along here.  I’ve commented on this story before, and the stuff I’ve said in the past probably still applies.  I do admit to being a little disappointed with the interactions between Acina and Sorshan; we’ve got a pair of very ambitious ladies here, both of whom have managed to rise beyond their status as Sith to become effective rulers.  Plus, I like that Acina’s not insane, like so many other Sith.  She’s more moderate than Darth Marr was; but she’s not exactly a nice lady either (poor Lorman.  “That’s MINISTER Lorman!  MINISTER!!“).  Of course, she is still Sith, which gets demonstrated amply in the post-KOTET story, but that’s beyond the scope of this particular story.

Still doing the Light Side as primary choices.  Let Senya live and blow it with Arcann, didn’t kill Lorman, and didn’t kill off Suresh.  Sorshan’s still trying to make her choices with careful thought instead of instinct.  (I did take Sorshan’s first Dark Side choice here, though.  There was no way I wasn’t going to try to break Suresh’s jaw for that stunt on Odessen….  Let her live, though.)

Only a few more episodes to go, and then it’ll be time to figure out what’s next on my MMO agenda!  We’ll be all clear for a new chronicle, and the only question is where I’ll spend it.  Decisions, decisions!

SS: Back Again, Back Again….

“This war has dragged on for longer than I care to imagine.  Arcann has been dethroned, but his insane sister has stepped into his place, with the treacherous SCORPIO by her side.

Better by far if Arcann still controlled the Eternal Empire.  Damn Senya for failing to deal with her daughter on Arcann’s flagship!  And damn SCORPIO for her games!

For this, I abandoned the Sith Empire for this rag-tag Alliance?  The anger fills me, sustains me.  It doesn’t last-and perhaps that is why I have been unable to make much headway against Vaylin.  I’ve spent so much time mixing the Light with the Dark that I cannot be purely either anymore.  Damn Marr and Shan, too.  And damn Valkorion for freezing me in the first place.

And if I take it far enough, I should damn Zash and Harkun for bringing me into the Sith in the first place.  Enough.  I need to examine the situation beyond my own personal issues.

The Empire has fallen silent; I don’t know what is going on with the Sith, although Theron assures me that Acina is still in control.  The Republic…watches.  And since they do nothing, I gain more Jedi to my cause.  Jedi!  It’s unbelievable to me.  Master Ranos was only the latest to join the Alliance, and I have spent much time talking with her; she’s an acknowledged maverick among the Jedi, but that means she and I have been able to do something that no Jedi and Sith Masters have been able to do for as long as I can remember:  speak without resorting to insults or violence.

There may be something to the Jedi beyond what I have seen in the past.  Can Sith and Jedi leave each other in peace?  I’m forced to admit that the answer is still no.  We two are hardly average representatives of our orders.  And how many Sith would be willing to use calm and serenity to touch the Force?  How many Jedi would let their passions be their guide to the Force?

Not many.

In between such moments, the war continues.  Reports are coming in from Voss that a scouting force from Zakuul has been sighted.  I dispatched Theron to investigate, and I fear that we will need to mobilize our own forces to defend Voss.  We cannot afford to let the Voss be used by Zakuul.  Their mystics can swing the war against us, if Vaylin gets her hands on them.

…Why now?  Voss has been vulnerable since the very first days of the Eternal Empire’s thrust into this part of the galaxy.  Why go after Voss now?”

-from Sorshan’s Story

It’s the pregame show for Sorshan’s Story in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I’m getting ready to plunge right in with Sorshan, but there were a couple other details to take care of first.

The most significant details were making sure that I had gotten all of the available Sith Inquisitor companions still outstanding and available pre-Knights of the Eternal Throne, plus the other companions I’d effectively “earned” through subscription loyalty rewards and such, including Master Ranos, who I decided to incorporate into the little fiction above.  It had occurred to me that Ranos was literally the first Jedi Knight (outside of Master Satele Shan) who didn’t try to kill Sorshan on sight, and the only one who could be used as a companion-at least, in non-story related content.  I mean, sure, there was Ashara, but Ashara was hardly a Knight, much less a Master.  Andronikos, of course, has to wait until the end of the storyline, and I’ll probably do that as a wrap-up for Sorshan’s Story.  Naturally, the last thing I did in the leadup was to do the HK chapter and get yet another companion.  I wrapped that set by also making sure to pick up Shae Vizla, since I hadn’t gotten around to adding her to the roster.

So now, I’m on the cusp of closing out Sorshan’s Story, and the plan is to continue her generally Light Side choices, although I do have a Dark Side choice planned.  Let’s see how far we get before I get sidetracked by something else!

Calm Before Victory

I’ve hit a quiet moment on the MMO front recently.  I’ve taken a brief pause in Star Wars: The Old Republic, after completing my work on Anthrandos, before I pick up with Sorshan and get her wrapped up.  On the other hand, I’ve kind of held back on any major activity in Star Trek Online, because the “Victory is Life” expansion is coming up in a matter of a few weeks (no, I don’t have an official release date for it as of yet, except “June”, so playing the odds here.  I’m a bit dubious, since the last time I was on the test server, the lighting in DS9 was pitch black and it still hasn’t been fixed to my knowledge unless you’re using the more machine-intensive “Lighting 2.0”).  As a result, I don’t want to start a new chronicle when I’m already expecting to do so with the Jem’Hadar (which will probably be a very, very brief chronicle due to how they’re being handled).  I’ve spent a little bit of time with Captain Rick Masters there, my Temporal Agent, who I figured could use some reputation ground gear, and since he had maxed out his Temporal Agent reputation, it seemed sort of obvious.  So, I figured the best way to get temporal marks would be to hit the Badlands adventure zone.  I never covered it with Dathiro, because, well, it’s a max level zone, so by the time he could go there, I was done with him.

The general conceit is this:  the Terran Empire from the Mirror Universe is attempting a foothold in the Badlands, and you (along with everyone else in the zone) want to kick them out.  It’s pretty similar in nature to the Undine adventure zone, where your ships are attempting to capture sections of the zone, which has one of three possible minigames; those minigames make a reappearance when all the sections are captured, as three starbases from the Mirror Universe appear-including the Mirror DS9-which require you to pretty much do all of those minigames to shove them back to their universe.  After that, if you manage to push out all three, you get the big fleet battle as Mirror Universe ships assault, including the I.S.S. Enterprise.  For the most part, it’s pretty much the Undine zone with a Mirror Universe paint job.  It seems to still be reasonably popular, though; there were usually about 8-15 people in one instance, which is enough, with some effort, to do the job.  Thus, I’ve gotten Rick two thirds of the ground rep gear, and the third may get enough marks any day now.

But that’s pretty minimal activity needed on my part to log in, do a capture of a section to get the marks, and log out.  And since the expansion could be landing at any time, I’m not sure about starting something new and having it get interrupted almost immediately.  One possibility is a new Champions Online chronicle, but my concern is that it’ll wind up too similar to Willforge’s; while CO isn’t as linear as SWTOR and STO, it’s still got a fairly repetitive path.  Another is to commit myself to pushing Sorshan in SWTOR since I need to get her through anyway-although I’m not greatly concerned about timing on that, since it seems the next story content is months away.  EVE Online isn’t the best choice, since it really does require a certain level of commitment to the game that I’m not prepared to give.

So, decisions, decisions.  We’ll see what develops.

EoA: The Eternal Commander

 

“At the last, the Eternal Empire is gone.  Zakuul is free.  The Republic is free.  Even the Sith Empire is free.

The only one who is not free…is me.

Valkorion’s manipulations were masterful.  I never wanted the Eternal Throne, but I found myself forced to sit in it in order to stand down the uncontrolled Eternal Fleet.  If Vaylin hadn’t somehow managed to regain control of the GEMINI droids that SCORPIO had freed, would things have been different?  Maybe.  Maybe they wouldn’t have been bound to destroy everything, and I might have been able to step away from this burden.

But I cannot.  The Throne needs an occupant, and this is the path the Force has led me to walk.  Someone must maintain the control, and it is better that I do it than Empress Acina, for example.  It had to be me.

But I will not rule.  I am no Emperor.  I am a Jedi-and until such a time as we can find a way to free the GEMINI droids from the Eternal Throne, and defang the Fleet’s ability to destroy autonomously, I will command the Eternal Alliance, free beings from the Empire and from the Republic, who chose to fight for freedom rather than live under the boots of the Eternal Empire.

Eternal.  I objected to the name.  Nothing lasts forever.  I don’t know how long this Alliance will last.  The Force has offered no guidance beyond this moment.

But as long as I follow the dictates of my teachings-as long as I behave as a Jedi Knight-I believe that the future will be brighter than the past.

Until I am free of this burden, I will depend on my friends…and the Force.

May the Force be with you.”

-from the Epic of Anthrandos

It took me heaven-knows-how-long, but I’ve at last finished the Epic of Anthrandos for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I wrapped up the last of the Eternal Throne chapters, and I’ve chosen to use this as the end-point for the character of Anthrandos.  After all, I have a heap of other characters who have higher priorities in SWTOR, and of them, few have gone beyond the end of the Eternal Throne storyline (two because I consider them my mains; others got to go as far as Iokath because some of their old companions were tied to it).  I did wrap things up by doing the available Alliance Alerts to get the last available companions for Anthrandos (which, honestly, consisted of solely Darth Hexid), but that’s been about it.

That leaves me with but a single character left to run through the Eternal Throne expansion.  After that, who knows?  Will the next big SWTOR patch of content land before I wrap that up?  That would make a big difference as to what my next move here is.  All that said, with the upcoming Star Trek Online expansion about to occupy a chunk of time, it’s possible that it may be some time before I can get to that point.  Or maybe not-it depends on just how much is there to work with in that expansion.

Another possibility is doing another chronicle such as this one, but for one of the other classes.  I’ve mentioned this before; I’m disinclined to do a Jedi or Sith, because I’ll have just finished a pair of them.  So, could be an Agent, Smuggler, Hunter, or Trooper.  I won’t likely go as far as the Eternal Empire with them either-in fact, I’ll probably only get them to the end of their class stories, which includes Rishi for the Revan storyline (and honestly, that’ll probably be a little postscript).  I just like to make remarks on the class stories, and I feel that I’d be treading over the same ground over and over again beyond those; that’s the cost of having stories that aren’t class-specific anymore.  It’s certainly more cost-effective for developers to make content, but it does rob the assorted classes of what make them unique-especially since the leveling path is pretty linear in SWTOR.

Until then-one more to go!  Sorshan’s Story continues…soon!

Eternal?

For a completely life-dead planet, it sure recovered fast, didn’t it?

Okay, let’s take Star Wars: The Old Republic, specifically the latest patch.

Let’s do the non-spoilery stuff first.  I don’t plan to go into detail about how the big part of this publish ends, but I’ve kept quiet on the identity of the traitor long enough-anyone who wanted to know likely knows by now.  It’s been a number of months, after all.

This publish includes the return of some more companions, again-for the most part-only for the Smuggler, Jedi Consular, and Bounty Hunter.  That said, the Smuggler and BH gets to get an extra companion for the price of one.  The first pair is the return of Mako and Akaavi Spar, who have gone into business for themselves.  Doing their mission can net you both of those companions (I suspect you can arrange to only take one, but why?  The more the merrier, I say-but of course, my way isn’t the only way).  Conversation with them may seem…interesting…if you haven’t done the big content piece of this publish, but it did give me a general idea of what was about to happen.  More on that later.  The other companion return is Felix Iresso, soldier of the Republic last known to be serving with the JC.  Life has not been kind to him in the interim, and he has some things to say that may very well match up with your character’s feelings towards certain governments.

Okay, now I’m going to slap in a break, so if you’re one of the people who really really don’t want to know about the Alliance Traitor, stop reading now!

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EoA: She Came to Bargain

“The war against the Eternal Empire has had many twists and turns, and yet I remain confounded by the path I continue to walk.

I could imagine no future, no present, like the one I am living now.  One in which I was invited to walk freely on Dromund Kaas, the beating heart of the Sith Empire, and seal an alliance with Empress Acina, Vitiate’s successor.  She sounds reasonable-much in the same vein as Darth Marr and even Lana.  But she is as ruthless as any Sith-if I had not been there, I suspect her former minister would have also been formerly alive.  But…she also let him live on my word.  Was that a sign of how desperate she has become against the Eternal Empire?  Or is she playing a longer game?

Valkorion certainly is.  He has returned, and continues to hound me to kill his daughter and seize her throne.  It’s more and more obvious to me that Vaylin is who she in, in part, because of something her father has done to her.  He brainwashed her, for pity’s sake!  Who does this to a child?  Was she truly as uncontrollable as he claims?  I don’t know.

We escaped from our mutual traps on a place called Iokath, she no longer in a position to harm me directly, nor the reverse.  We leave Iokath and SCORPIO behind-and return to the task of determining how to defeat Vaylin.  Yet, I sense that even defeating her will not end this.  I believe that Valkorion is still several moves ahead of me.”

-from the Epic of Anthrandos

In between all of the fun going on in Star Trek Online, I’ve tried to sneak in some time in Star Wars: The Old Republic, because I still got characters who need to finish the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion.  So I went back to my Jedi Knight representative from the Dark Vs Light event, and pushed him through the halfway point of the expansion-the world of Iokath.  Naturally, I had him go with Light Side choices all the way-although I did have a fleeting temptation to deck Saresh for her stunt on Odessen.  It’s hard to be pure, sometimes.

If I can get Anthrandos through the rest of the expansion by the end of next month, and get started on Sorshan’s wrap-up, I’ll consider it a win.  After that?  I haven’t given up on the idea of doing a new “series” with one of the other main classes.  I’d had fun doing Anthrandos and Sorshan, and I’d like to give a non-Force-user perspective.

It’s worth a note-I’m not sure if I’d mentioned this in the past or not-but an awful lot of stuff that was Cartel-Pack exclusive went up on the Cartel Market for direct sales, so I did take a little advantage of that.  I didn’t have a pressing need for most of the weapons or outfits, but I did grab a few vehicles-a pair of mobile thrones (one Sithy, one less so), and an overseer’s mobile stand, which I gave to Sorshan-it worked for that character.  The Sith throne will probably go to my main Inquisitor-he’s got that ego-and the other may well go to my main Consular, since he’s not Sithy, but definitely sliding down the slippery slope fast.  Now all I need is a new Collections sale, where I can do account unlocks for those vehicles at a cheaper price….

Anniversary Companions

Well, it’s been an entertaining week with the MMOs I play.  Both Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online had significant publishes this week.

Let me look at SWTOR first.  One of the big deals with that publish is the release of a new raid boss.  (Okay, “Operations boss”.)  Since I don’t really do those, I can’t really speak for that sort of thing.  There’s a number of warzone patches, which I don’t really do much of unless I feel I have to.  I keep promising myself that I’ll at least run a bunch with my Smuggler and Agent mains, just so I can wrap up getting all the companions possible for those characters, but I never do.  I’m glad I didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution on that one, because it’d clearly have been busted by now.  There’s double xp rolling, which isn’t really a big deal for me, running until the end of the month.  This also applies to Command XP, though, so if you’re going for the upgraded gear stuff by getting those Command boxes, this would be a good time to start running dailies and the like.

The “Unhappy” part involves an old “friend”….

Oh, and there’s some returning companions.  There’s a couple of caveats, of course.  Firstly, these are literally returning companions:  if you didn’t have Risha, Corso, or Andronikos in your roster before, you aren’t getting them now.  There’s talk on the forums about making them available the same way you can get any companion who hasn’t returned back via the Odessen terminal in your quarters, but that isn’t the case at the moment.  Secondly, you have to have completed the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion.  At that point, if you happen to be a Smuggler or Inquisitor, you’ll get a new Alliance Alert which results in the return of said companions.

The good news is that, unlike most Alerts, this is fully voiced-you don’t have that KotR interface that most Alliance Alerts do.  But…honestly, there isn’t much to these.  There’s moments if one of the companions were a romance during the original story, but for the most part, it’s “Oh, here they are!”  I get the impression that these missions were along the lines of “let’s just get this done so bloggers stop complaining about the rate of returns”.  That said, I imagine actual missions on the scale of other returnees would have meant we’d have gotten one companion back this publish-if at all.  At this point, being a couple years out from the loss of the companions in the first place, I’m all for this for companions who aren’t likely to be pushing forward the continuing story in the game-and the number of those prospects are awfully short.  I could see Lord Scourge as a big deal, for example, but Vector Hyllis, not so much.  If I were to make a guess, I’d say that we’ll see Alliance Alerts for non-Jedi, non-Sith, non-Mandalorian characters, while Jedi/Sith/Mandalorian ones will be incorporated into the ongoing story somehow.  (Given that I can only think of one outstanding Mandalorian, I’d be willing to bet that she could wind up as just an Alert, but Mandalorians are big deals, given the Eternal Alliance’s reliance on them.)

Still, this does at least bring the Smuggler-who I’d derided for so long as not getting any of their people back-generally in line with most of the other classes.  I note that all of his returnees, however, came from Alerts.  Just an observation.  In fact, there’s only one outstanding Smuggler companion now.  The Inquisitor companion brings that number to two outstanding.  Still the big loser:  the Jedi Consular, with a whopping one Companion still around.  If that class doesn’t have at least a couple coming up in the next wave of returnees, they’d be justified in going to Bioware and giving in to the Dark Side!!!!

Ahem.

Anyway, the companion thing for Smugglers and Inquisitors takes maybe 10 minutes if you don’t spacebar through conversations, at best.  No excuse for qualified characters to get their people back-and with a lot less hassle then most.

Two stations, a horde of starships, unexpected allies and enemies…just another day in Starfleet.

On to the second one:  Star Trek Online, which hits its eighth year anniversary.  The last week and a half has been spent giving stuff away, some of which was more impressive than others.  (And believe me, some of them were really unimpressive.)  We do have the usual festivities:  Omega particle hunting, a new anniversary ship (a Bajoran ship, interestingly enough-more on how that ties in momentarily), the Q-in-the-Box at the Academies, which includes a new type of anniversary popper device; at some point, I’m gonna grab four random poppers, equip them all, and run around Spacedock in a frenzy.  Well, maybe not.  Eight years is nothing to sneeze at, anyway:  no single Star Trek series has gone on so long, although you’d have a good argument that a series delivers at least as much entertainment.  It’s also remarkable for being a long runner in a genre that has seen many others pass away.  MMORPGs that make it this far have demonstrated serious staying power.  I don’t know if it’s the setting, the lockboxes, or what, because I wouldn’t have predicted this long a run when the game came out-hell, there were times when I thought things were as good as dead-but STO is still with us, and by all appearances, will be with us for at least another year or more.

Also of note:  a new Feature episode, with appearances from Captain Kurn, General Martok, Geordi La Forge, and…well, let’s just call it a surprise appearance, shall we?  I wouldn’t spoil things.  The Tzenkethi are upping their game, about to go after multiple worlds to with protomatter torpedoes, and your crew is called upon to stop them.  The good news is, you do get help.  The bad news is, one of those worlds is Bajor.  (My conscience is clear in noting that; the presence of an anniversary ship tied to Bajor with the notes about it talking about its use in the defense of Bajor has already spilled those beans.)  The attack on Bajor seems to be a catalyst, however, because just when you think you’ve gotten the Tzenkethi under control…all Hell breaks loose.  Expect a battle royale in space with multiple factions getting involved, a return of an old adversary (sort of), and ramifications that are guaranteed to lead to the theoretical expansion this year (as far as I’m concerned, it remains theoretical until we get more than a segment of a trailer video).  I’ll admit to being impressed with the episode; it did a great job in ramping up the threats.  You’d think a worldkilling fleet would be the climax of an episode, but they’re just the appetizer.  Every time a battle ends, something kicks up the stakes another notch.  Klingons in particular should be overjoyed by this episode.

Starting up year nine in STO promises to be exciting.  I better get cracking on Dathiro, because I have a feeling that I’m going to be very busy later this year.