twitter logo and link to our twitter account
SWTOR Life Logo
Search our SWTOR Database

MJ’s Ultimate Guide to BARPing (Part 1)

Published by under Role Play on Jul. 12. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #38))


BARPing, otherwise known as “bar RP” has been a staple of MMOs since bars, inns and cantinas were first placed in the gaming space. It’s a simple and well-known precept that characters will congregate around hub areas similar to communal spaces you’d find in the real world. And, ever since the first hairy-chested guy with a gold chain asked, “What’s your sign?” bars have become the stereotypical meeting place for nearly every walk of life.


They’re the place to go to meet new people, hook-up for that one night stand, celebrate a team’s victory (or loss), drown your sorrows, or let your hair down after a stressful day. The bar is where you go to hang out with friends when you don’t know what else to do, host an impromptu class reunion, play games or watch the Big Game, even face off against a rival for bragging rights.


There has been a lot of criticism about the casual nature of RP around a bar, particularly because “cantina chat” is stereotypically the same old song and dance. As I mentioned in the last RP XP, it’s usually the slave girl, the smug smuggler, the anti-Jedi, or the trooper drowning himself in Corellian ale as a way to fight off post-traumatic stress, that populate the local virtual “bar scene.” I’m one of the not-so-outspoken opponents of BARPing because it thins character by reducing interaction to the here and now. Remember that back story you gave your Sith Marauder, about how she turned to the Dark Side by accident because she stole a starship? That’s an interesting story, but will it come up in casual bar chat when all the Bounty Hunter next to you wants to know is if you’d like to take your drinks to his ship so you can be alone? Doubtful.


That said, there are ways you can turn BARPing into a more well-rounded experience that invites deeper levels of RolePlay—yes, like the kinds you hope for in the open world but never find.


(How to Recognize Different Kinds of BARPers)


Only interested in ERP—I’m sure you realize that the scantily-clad women gyrating on tables aren’t there because they’re looking for a new apprentice, or that female characters with names like “Ima Slavehoney” or “Gimmieluvin” were born from a long lineage of former Tatooine Moisture Farmers. Most (but not all) of the time, a conversation with these buxom beauties will fall down the rabbit hole of “personal interaction” and a desire to “please you, master.” Likewise, the Smugglers, Agents or “Fallen Jedi” who keep pushing drinks toward female characters with a side chat hinting at “alone time” are generally looking for hook-ups. If all you’re looking for is a “good time,” by all means, enjoy. Just don’t complain when you finally get to be alone with one of these types and they’re not too keen to listen to your story about the time you fell into a nest of gundarks… Unless they think that’s “code” for something else.


Troll Strollers—These folks will make you dizzy. How many times can the same person walk around the same four cantina bars without stopping for a drink? Oh, sure, they’ll vary it a little by riding the elevators up to the VIP level and back down again, even roam around the outer ring. They never say anything, never do anything, but they are on the hunt for RP. Some time ago I talked about the “walkers” (That was before I heard someone in General Chat use the term “Troll Stroller” and I about spit blue milk through my nose at the clever turn of phrase), and the fact that “walking,” like personal emoting, is a sign that someone is acting with their character in a more realistic way—and therefore are likely to respond if approached in a realistic way. It’s easy enough to engage a Troll Stroller in RP. Typically, all you have to do is highlight their character and type /nod, /look, or /smile and you’re sure to get the same back, if not the start of a full-fledged conversation. The hard-to-get Troll Strollers aren’t worth your time if you’re serious about sitting down to some deep RolePlay. If you throw them a “/look” and they shoot back with a “/nod,” and move on without another word, they’re either just spinning their wheels or waiting for the PvP queue to pop—or, they want you to do all the work.


Fishers—These characters are a lot like the Troll Strollers except they stand still. They usually find a spot at the bar where no one is around, or stand at an empty bar. Sometimes they sit (in that strange not-really-sitting-way) in chairs overlooking the bars. Sometimes they stand at the railings on the outer ring of the cantina area. Most of the time, Fishers are quiet. They’re just waiting for that “in,” the moment when they overhear a snippet of RP that holds an interest for their character, or they’re scouting out other Fishers or Troll Strollers for potential chat.


PRPers—Personal RolePlayers can be any of the above, but they attract RP to themselves by giving you something to respond to, typically in emoted behavior or exposition, but sometimes by spoken mumbles of monologue. Examples include: The Twi’lek who acts like they’re being choked or shocked by an unseen assailant, the Bounty Hunter who sharpens his war blade, the Jedi who meditates or practices levitation, the Imperial Agent who “spies” on everyone, the Smuggler who makes racist comments in order to pick a fight, or the person who roams around checking the time as if they’re waiting for something (or someone). These people are good to watch, sometimes very entertaining to listen to, and can offer up some great RP, especially if their PRP line matches up with your own (Like you hate Zabraks as much as the racist Smuggler).


Griefers—These are the guys who make you wonder why they’re on an RP server, and I only mention them here because some actually make periodic (if not horrible) attempts to RP. Griefers fire AOE weapons into crowds, they park their full sized speeders on top of the bars, they dance on the bar (unlike “dancing girls,” they’re typically shirtless guys with some sort of pet following them around), they use foul non-canon language, they speak OOCly and typically with abbreviated “TXT speech,” and they generally make asses of themselves in order to bust up RP moments. My advice is to add these people to your friends list, then use the COMMENT option to notate, “GRIEFER.” Why? Because you may want to pass three days later when the same person steps up next to your character at the bar and engages you in conversation (sometimes Griefers try to blend in with RolePlay only to execute their own form of “knock-knock” jokes by shouting an obscenity or running off mid-sentence after wasting an hour of your time. This is not typical, but I’ve seen it done. You are warned).




“Can I buy you a drink?” may illicit an eye roll from the player across the country, staring at their monitor as your character steps up to RP, but it’s not an invalid question AT A BAR.


Here are some other perfectly adequate opening lines:

“Are you waiting for somebody?”

/e notices the lightsaber on your belt and asks, “Are you a Jedi/Sith?”


/wink (keeping in mind that this introduction may be taken as well as it is in real life. Unless you want your character to be branded as some kind of creep, avoid the wink until you’ve made proper introductions).

“Hi. What’s your name?” or, even better, “Hi, I’m (YOUR NAME HERE). What’s your name?”


These are all fairly simple, easy to manage and easy to execute even if you’re relatively shy about RP. Try taking your opening lines up a notch by incorporating your surroundings. Some of these are good opening lines, others are good follow-up to introductions:


“Have you noticed how slow the service is around here? I think these droids need maintenance.”

“Excuse me, do you happen to know when the next shuttle leaves for Sullust?”

“Do you know where I can get a droid’s memory erased around here?”

“The air smells funny. Do you think maybe the atmosphere processors are on the blink?”

“Do you think what I’m wearing is ok for Tatooine? I hear it’s hot there.”

“Excuse me, but I’m bound for Taris in a few days. I heard there’s a problem with rakghouls there. Do you know anything about that?”

“I desperately need to get to Nar Shaddaa. I’m meeting someone about some money I’m owed. Do you know if there are any transports leaving in the next few minutes?”

“Do you happen to know if a model R-29 Aerodust speeder will fit the cargo bay of a Corellian freighter?”


These kinds of openings add extra levels to the conversation right from the start, and they can also give you the opportunity to bring in some of your own characterization. The line about the air smelling funny can be part of a character trait you don’t just “say;” in this case that your character has heightened senses, or at least a really good sense of smell. The active tip here is to USE YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Remember, that you are on a huge space station peopled with aliens, droids and all sorts of personalities among the NPCs.


You may wonder why there are questions about shuttle departure times. Why would your character need a shuttle when they have a ship of their own? Well, maybe you RP that your character doesn’t have their own ship; or maybe they do, but they’re trying to stay under cover. Asking about transportation also gives you the possibility that the character you’re talking to will offer you a ride where you want to go. This opens up time alone aboard their ship where you can exchange background information, forge friendships, or… yes… get lucky, if that’s your thing.


In the next RP XP with MJ I’ll talk about creating involved stories in the BARP atmosphere without interrupting other people’s RP. I’ll also show you ways you can use your legacy to spice up the BARP, and how to lure quality RolePlayers into the open world and away from the bar.


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively here on You can contact MJ directly at swtorliferp(at) You can also follow him on Twitter @MJswtor. MJ answers YOUR QUESTIONS coming up in #40, so send ’em in!

Comments Off on MJ’s Ultimate Guide to BARPing (Part 1)

Introducing: The Playable Droid Race!

Published by under Role Play, Uncategorized on Jul. 05. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #37))




No, it’s not the next expansion, and I seriously doubt we’ll see “playable droids” in our SWTORian future, but who says you can’t make your own rules in an MMO?




Here’s a run-down on your typical cantina RP:

~ A Jedi Knight who has become disillusioned with The Code and seeks peace through passion. (Could also be a Sith who has become disillusioned with the Empire and seeks power through peace).

~ A Twi’lek slave/dancing girl looking for a master (or temporary master, or any form of ERP).

~ A Mandalorian who drinks Corellian whiskey through his helmet while spouting phrases in Mando’a.

~ A Smuggler who drinks hard, flirts with the ladies, and swears (sometimes using actual canon swears like “kriff” or “kriffing”)

~ A Soldier fresh off the front lines looking to drown his sorrows (until the next PvP queue pops).


Sound familiar? The pain behind your eyes from rolling them so much is almost enough to send you into PvP–not that there’s anything wrong with a stereotype now and again (that’s how they become stereotypical), but you’d like to see something new. Once in a great while you find a RolePlayer who breaks the mold, who creates a character so rich with background, so unique with characterization, so specifically animated, it renews your RP spirit and gives you hope that there’s more beyond the “bar scene.”


I was lucky enough to bump into one of these characters while trolling around Vaiken Spacedock looking for a random RP encounter. When my character was “scanned” (Cyborg species emote) by a heavily armored individual who then walked away without a word, my curiosity was piqued. I ran him down and immediately went into a stream of IC incredulity, throwing out my best “Hey! What’s the deal!?” exposition. To my delight, the response was instantly intriguing: “That information is restricted to personnel without authorization.” No matter how I pressed, I was flatly denied and told repeatedly that I was “not authorized to access the unit.”


The lack of emoting, the painstaking enunciation of every word… By the moons of Corellia, I’m talking to a droid! Sure enough, this character (whose floaty name identified him (it) as “Sentient” from the guild “Execution”) was a flawless portrayal of an assassin droid, even down to the look—which reminded me of the poor victims Lord Grathan’s cyberneticist on Dromund Kaas. **SPOILERS (for anyone who just picked up the game yesterday)** Remember Captain “Duchess” Sarnova’s quest just outside Grathan’s estate? The one where she asks you to find her missing troops, and you eventually find that the poor slobs are being turned into droids to do the Empire’s bidding? Sentient even had that “look,” though somewhat sharper and more fear-inducing.



IMAGE: Left – One of Captain Sarnova’s (inset) men converted into an assassin droid. Right – The real deal, “Sentient.”


After our brief RP, which was even more inspiring because Sentient refused to be baited into a drawn-out chit-chat (he is an assassin droid, after all, and has programming to follow—no time for idle BARPing), I caught up with him and asked if he’d mind being interviewed for the RP XP.




How long have you been RPing?


“I must have been about fourteen or so when I first started RolePlaying, though it might be even further back than that. One of the first places I RolePlayed was in an infamous Korean MMO called Ragnarok Online. I don’t RolePlay on any other MMOs at the moment, though I had a brief stint on World of Warcraft.”


How did you come up with the concept for Sentient?


“When I initially joined SWTOR, I recognized a lot of similarities between the different characters I observed. I always like to do something that would provide me with an interesting challenge. I’d always been fascinated by the concept of artificial intelligence and non-organic characters in video games, for example, Legion in Mass Effect… They can often end up coming across as more human than the human characters—and subsequently acting as social commentary on our own species and its shortcomings. I was not someone who wanted to see a droid class at first, but I believed it would be a welcome addition to the game and one that I personally would love to see. In addition, I’ve always been something of an in-universe droid sympathizer, seeing as most characters view them as nothing more than slaves and tools for a decadent organic culture.”


Well said.


Do you keep notes on how you believe a droid would behave? How do you keep consistency in the portrayal of Sentient?


“Interestingly enough, I’ve never kept any notes, but I make sure to keep the character acting in a subservient role. [I do, however] take regular screen shots of conversations with other characters to form a literal ‘record’ of dialogue and information so I can refer back to it at a later date and pull up that information much like a droid would when accessing memory logs within its internal databanks.”


What is Sentient’s background?


“Sentient’s creation is one that is marked with a number of underlying agendas, many of which I can’t go into detail about as they’re relevant to an upcoming storyline within the guild. I can provide you with some basic information, however. Sentient was created as part of a secret black project called the ‘Sentient Heuristics Initiative’. The objective of which was to develop an operative that would be infallible and utterly loyal to Imperial Intelligence, and more importantly the Dark Council. No danger of being reprogrammed or brainwashed, and incapable of going rogue as a number of organic agents had no doubt done so in the past. Holowan Laboratories, a well known canon staple, were employed as external contractors to build the actual unit itself. However, just as the project was nearing completion and the unit was just about ready for launch, the entire initiative was scrapped and shut down. All records were destroyed, all personnel involved in its development were quietly taken care of and the unit itself was scheduled to be consigned to the scrap heap…”


Now that’s a lot of detail. While it’s not typically necessary to go that deep into your character’s background, the more you have stored up as backstory, the easier it will be to “act” when RolePlaying in the open world. Sentient’s “role” becomes easier for the player to articulate because he knows what the character has been through.


What advice would you give to other RPers out there looking to improve their RP, or enhance their RolePlay?


“Don’t be afraid to experiement. Don’t settle for something that’s within the realm of familiarity. I also suggest observing other characters and seeing what others have done, and noticing what kinds of characters seem to be more popular. …At the end of the day, RolePlaying is about having fun!”




If you’d like to know more about Sentient’s portrayal, his guild, or the possibility to crack his programming in RP, feel free to send him a PM or in-game message. You’ll find him on the Ebon Hawk server.



Sentient allowed me to break protocol (pun intended) and share with you his recipe for crafting the appearance of an “assassin droid” based on what I glimpsed from “Inspect Character.” Note, these are only suggestions, and most of the medium and heavy gear (particularly on the Sithy or BH side) look fairly “mechanized.” There is a lot out there to pick up, craft or buy that can be mixed and matched (and now “dyed”) to fit any droid portrayal you want to create. If it looks “droidy,” go for it. Here’s some of Sentient’s recipe:

Head – Polished Marauder Headgear / Ablative Turadium Headgear

Chest – Ablative Turadium Vest

Belt – Black Hole Mender’s MK-2 Belt

I do believe you can craft the head and chest pieces at Synthweaving Level 54.


If you come up with your own droid character, let me hear about it! My smuggler is in need of a new protocol droid to replace C2-N2. If you have a special twist on characterization, motivation or appearance, let me know. If you have any RP ideas or “spins” unique to the art and you want to be featured in a future column, drop me a line!


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively here on You can contact MJ directly at swtorliferp(at) You can also follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.

Comments Off on Introducing: The Playable Droid Race!

A Captured Moment with Arlon and Jurie

Published by under Role Play on Jun. 28. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #36))



I’m introducing a new segment to the RPXP inspired by the great living atmosphere of SWTOR’s set design and NPC placement.


Have you ever stopped to smell the roses? There are a lot of awesome little mini “scenes of drama” (or comedy) playing out throughout the SWTOR universe. Around every corner or thoroughfare there are NPCs going about their daily lives, arguing, laughing, crying, throwing up into fountains. There are even Easter eggs and inside jokes for Star Wars diehards (have you found the “Darth Vader bounty hunter briefing” aboard the Imperial fleet’s Ziost Shadow as a nod to the scene in EpV, or the wookiee who pulled the droid’s arms out of its sockets per Han Solo’s warning in EpIV?)




Did you ever wonder what the BioWare designers had in mind when they set these scenes up? That has to be one of the most fun things about working on an MMO like SWTOR, the little inside jokes or captured moments they don’t expect you to actually “see” unless—like me—you stop to smell the roses.


So, I thought it would be fun to take a tour through BioWare’s Old Republic and make up stories for those captured moments found throughout the galaxy.





A young dark haired male human apparently upset about something near a seated blond female human.


(-946, 1441) “Garden of Justice”, SenatePlaza, Coruscant



Let’s call them Arlon and Jurie. That’s not what BioWare calls them, as far as I know, but let’s extend the RP beyond ourselves for a moment and see what we can come up with for these two.


Arlon and Jurie live in one of the sky-scraping behemoths that line the horizon of Coruscant. He’s a loadlift operator at the nearby spaceport, and she works the diner on sublevel 141 at the Senate Plaza.


One day Arlon comes home to a hastily tapped note on a datapad that reads, “My Dearest Arlon. I’m sorry to tell you this, but I’ve decided that I love Wokum more than you. I can’t go on living this lie and I have to follow my heart. The times we shared together walking in the Garden of Justice were memorable, but I need something more. Love always, Jurie. PS – Please don’t be weird about this just because Wokum is Trandoshan.”


So, what does Arlon do? He tracks down his lady friend at their favorite walking path and finds her sitting wistfully staring out into space, happy about her decision and waiting for her the taxi that will take her to Dosha. As for Arlon? He’s obviously at a loss for words.


Of course the scene could be more serious than what I’ve depicted here, or it could even be more lighthearted. How would you paint this picture?



If you have a favorite “captured moment” scene, screenshot it and send it to me (swtorliferp(at) If you’ve got a story to go along with it, let’s hear it; or if you want to see what I can make up, we can do that too. ((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively on You can contact MJ directly by writing to swtorliferp(at)gmail, leave a comment, or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.

Comments Off on A Captured Moment with Arlon and Jurie

Do Guild Events Kill RP?

Published by under Role Play on Jun. 21. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #35))


I recently received an email from a fellow RPer who expressed—at length—the same concerns about RolePlaying in SWTOR that I share. They’re not just SWTOR concerns, either. I’ve seen and felt the same rumblings in other MMOs where RP is par for the course. There were a lot of good points in the email, some of which I’m sure I’ll hit at a later date, but for now let’s talk guild events, and the question… Do guild events kill RP?


The reader had several good points about how organized events in an MMO kind of suck the life out of quality RolePlay. Guilds, particularly large RP guilds, tend to schedule “events” and encourage attendance ICly. The problem with these large-scale forays is that they either A) Focus on one character’s story or plot (Even if the story is all-encompassing, it had to have started somewhere, and that person is typically played by the GM guiding the story—It’s their character’s story); or B) Are relegated to “mix and mingle” “dance parties” where ERP hook-ups become the norm. Now I’m not saying that all guilds are like that, but so far I’m batting a thousand on my own personal experiences. If you do things differently—and it works for you—by all means, please share! I’d like to hear a success story or two.


You can waste time with your friends when your chores are done.” — Owen Lars


To most casual RP guilds, the “dance parties” are a cool way to meet other guildies, recruit new ones, and have casual fun in character before going back out into the grind. Don’t get me wrong. I “get it.” I also think there’s a time and a place for it, especially in casual or part-time RP guilds.


So how is it kill RP?


To answer that question, we need to look at RolePlaying as an art form within an art form. As I’ve extolled upon previously, RP involves character writing, plot formation, background building, interaction and progression. Now, I don’t want to be the guy who points a finger and says, “You’re not doing it right.” The IC mix-and-mingles are a perfectly fine way to maintain guild unity and grow membership, but consider the “reality” of an in-character dance party. If you’ve created a Sith Lord who is plotting the demise of his master while grinding his teeth over the failings of his apprentice still stuck on Korriban, who spends his days hunting Jedi for sport, is he really going to belly up to a bar and say to the Twi’lek slave girl next to him, “So, sweetie… You live around here much?”


I’d say no. If you create a character who was born on Galactic Standard Date 20138, lost their parents in a horrific freighter accident, picked and scraped through the back streets of a long forgotten city on Horuz to earn enough money to make it to the next system, met and fell in love with a young Kiffar woman who was later killed by an Imperial soldier at a checkpoint… you probably don’t want to spend your nights sending Jawagrams, lighting fireworks or emoting belches. I’m not saying your character wouldn’t visit a cantina now and again. Hell, a story like that would lead anyone to drink. But I wouldn’t be far off the mark if I suggested you’re looking for something different, something more. And you’re not going to find it at your guild’s “Dance Event.”


So, am I rallying against the Mix-And-Mingle RP? Not at all. It’s perfectly fine for more casual guilds or guilds that keep RP around as “flavor” between flash points and ops. But if you’re in a guild that takes RP to deeper levels, you’d do much better hosting OOC (Out Of Character) events, or box them into a theme that makes sense to your guild’s charter. If you’re a Jedi guild, for example, you might want to package your mix-and-mingle as a “Council Meeting,” or call it a “Republic Planning Committee Session.” Just keep in mind that such meetings aren’t nightly occurrences.


Didn’t we just leave this party?” — Han Solo


In larger guilds, the problem of diluted quality RP becomes tangible if you’re creating a story. Having 25 guildies coming to the rescue of a downed smuggler friend’s ship on Tatooine is overkill (How did so many people become involved in a story that works best with 3-5?). If you don’t think the story’s diluted at that point, put yourself in the shoes of Guild Member 24. There’s a good chance Guild Members 1 through 5 (at least) are close. They’ve been together the longest, they write good stories together, they do a lot of PRP (Personal RP) together, their characterizations come out clearly. But Guild Member 24 can’t keep up. Lack of chat bubbles aside, how do your newer members stay focused, stay in the loop, and participate in something so massive?


Scenarios like that can lead to Guild Elitism. Through no fault of your own, your guild becomes “elite” because newer members too shy to be open in chat, members who can’t keep up with your stories, and—worst of all—members who never get the chance to host their own stories, end up leaving… bitterly. That can be a problem if your intention is to be all inclusive to fellow RPers who share your passion for the art.


The bigger problem is that guild story events don’t make sense with that many people, unless of course your story involves a full-scale military assault on an enemy base.


So, how do you have guild story events that include everyone—and make sense—without it degrading into a pointless strain on the chat box? The first answer will hurt: You don’t. The core issue is the quality of the RP. Too many people all vying to get their character’s personalities out in the open will rapidly dilute the story and destroy immersion. Most crafted stories will only need the participation of a handful of people. Take the original Star Wars trilogy for example. The Episode IV “guild” was comprised of Luke, Ben, Leia, Han, Chewie, C-3PO and R2. Their story of rescuing a princess from an evil Empire allowed everyone’s personality to shine through easily, and even they broke into sub-groups from time to time.


I have a bad feeling about this.” — Everybody.


If you have a huge RP guild and want to give everyone a chance to shine, there are a few ways you can be accommodating. First, create a system that allows for one guild leader per every five to seven members. There’s no rule that says a guild can’t be built from cells of smaller groups. Each leader can then “GM” story events, or members can rotate the Game Master role. To make sure the precepts of your guild are maintained, the guildmaster can call monthly (or whatever period works best for you) OOC meetings to see that everything is running smoothly.


Another option is to make RP in your mammoth group more “viral” by planting seeds and making PRP introductions. Do the Henry V thing; walk amongst your guildies and listen. Pick up on their stories and deliver them to others. Encourage your membership to mingle WITHOUT the party.


In a future column I’ll take a look at BARPing (Bar RP) and talk about how it’s a million times worse for RP than the “Dance Party.” Oooh, did I just get your ire up? Good. Let’s chat.


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively on You can contact MJ directly by writing to swtorliferp(at)gmail, leave a comment, or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.

Comments Off on Do Guild Events Kill RP?

The Endar Spire Conspiracy (A Role Player’s Perspective)

Published by under Role Play on Jun. 14. 2013.



The thousands of workers at Rendili Hyperworks had no idea the hand they played in fate as they watched their labors rumble to life. Moorings shook and fuel vents shuddered as the enormous ion engine flutes of the Hammerhead-class cruiser illuminated her berth like four caged suns.


And so launched the Endar Spire, the ship of lies.


The conspiracy hidden within the corroded and overgrown shipwreck on the surface of Taris begins with questions about her sinking more than 300 years ago. We know that Jedi Knight Bastila Shan was given command of the Endar Spire’s last mission. We know that Revan was aboard, disguised as a common Republic soldier. We know of Revan’s importance to the Jedi Council at the time—the former supreme leader of the Sith, brain-wiped and under the care of Bastila. We know that Bastila’s gift of Battle Meditation made her extremely valuable to the Jedi Order and a prime target of Darth Malak.


So why would the Council allow Bastila and Revan to head out alone aboard the Endar Spire to Taris, a world occupied by the Sith and protected by a blockade overseen by Malak himself, especially considering Revan’s defenseless condition at the time?


I recently paid a visit to the broken spine of the Endar Spire at the behest of the Galactic Republic, on cryptic orders from a Captain Childress whose detachment of soldiers had not reported back from the wreck. I was curious to see for myself how well the ship’s grave held up, swallowed by the local fauna, a breeding ground for rakghouls, pirates and armed settlers. I had to ask why the Republic would even bother sending a team to an old shipwreck?


Exactly. There’s too much going on with the Taris Reconstruction Project to waste manpower on a centuries-old downed cruiser. Or, that’s what I thought until I started putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and realized the Republic wasn’t doing enough to secure the Endar Spire, considering my suspicions.




So, fully armed and geared up with my trusty sidekick, a smuggler I call “Mr. Funny” because of his penchant for naming inanimate objects (and if I hear one more time about his beloved “Torchy” I’m gonna blast him myself), I set out for the crash site. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was immediately stunned as we crested a ridge of upper city wreckage and saw her, the Endar Spire, surprisingly intact and still maintaining the familiar profile of a Hammerhead-class cruiser.


I suppose the first mystery of the Endar Spire is its surprisingly good condition. Not only had the ship apparently survived total vaporization in orbit—contrary to popular belief until this time—it also survived Malak’s savage bombardment of the planet’s surface. The Endar Spire was reported lost days before the Sith glassed Taris, yet here she lay, relatively pristine despite the attack and three centuries of natural and man-made abuse.




The pirates camped near the wreck weren’t much trouble, and we made our way inside in no time, aiding a small band of research scientists protected by the faltering remnants of a Republic military detachment. Astonished is too weak a word to describe my surprise at finding some of the ship’s functions still operable. After making a mental note to have future upgrades to my own ship done at Rendili Hyperworks, we concluded our short escort mission and returned the research team’s materials to the Republic base camp nearby.




And that’s when I realized a full-blown conspiracy was in the works, a web of secrets and lies between the Jedi Council and the Republic military dated centuries ago and maintained to this day.


According to the officer I spoke to back at base camp, the Republic was only interested in the surveillance footage captured by the Endar Spire during her last moments of life, surveillance of Sith warships that were in service 300 years ago! I knew that had to be a mistake. There had to be something more, and this was just a line the military was giving to civilians stupid enough to serve as volunteers.


That’s when I took note of a quarantined field hospital filled with groaning soldiers and workers diminished to pathetic shadows of their former selves, the wraiths of Taris, the rakghoul victims. Did the Endar Spire’s secret mission to Taris have something to do with the rakghoul curse? After all, the slavering beasts had been around since well before the sinking of the Endar Spire, a curse born out of the twisted mind of Karness Muur thousands of years earlier, a curse that seemingly would never die.


The ancient Sith mastermind of the rakghoul plague “left the oven on,” so to speak. It was only a matter of time before someone tapped the ghastly abominations haunting the lowest levels of Taris and released them on an unsuspecting galaxy to spread like an unstoppable virus. I believe the Endar Spire’s last mission was to lure the Sith attack, to sacrifice the city planet in an effort to prevent Malak’s Sith from using the rakghouls to their fullest potential.


Which begs the question: had the Endar Spire not taunted Malak into the bombardment of Taris, would the rakghoul plague have raged out of control centuries earlier?


And why send such an important Jedi Knight to a Sith-controlled world along with the Jedi Council’s most enigmatic prisoner? Taris has always been just out of reach of the Republic. The resources and manpower required to launch an assault on the distant world would attract too much attention; in particular the attention of Malak who was seemingly ignorant of the deadly viral weapon in the deepest gutters of Taris.


The solution? Use Bastila to lure Malak’s wrath. She was the only carrot the Jedi Council could dangle in front of the Sith; the Endar Spire the only cruiser capable of getting her as far as Taris. As for Revan, I personally believe he was an expendable asset, unless Bastila was totally unaware the role the Council wanted her to play in the destruction of the rakghoul curse. Revan was given an alias and listed as a soldier aboard the Endar Spire. Is it possible Bastila was completely ignorant of his presence? Is it possible the Jedi Council knew Revan would regain his strengths and somehow rescue Bastila from the very attack they were planning?
That seems far fetched, and unfortunately, many of these questions remain a mystery. All we know of the facts are that Bastila abandoned ship during the Endar Spire ambush leaving Revan to die. Considering her responsibility to him we have to wonder why. We also need to consider the miracle of the Endar Spire’s survival and the Republic Military Machine’s interest in a 300-year-old corroded hulk.


Is it possible the Endar Spire’s final resting place holds more than old surveillance images? Could the clue to the Endar Spire’s last mission still be locked within her aging memory banks? Or does she hold something more? Does she hold the clue to Karness Muur’s curse and the secret to preventing a rakghoul pandemic like the one that recently made its way across the Outer Rim to Tatooine? Who is brave enough to find out?


((I hope you enjoyed this little “side step.” I present this article to you as an example of TGI (Total Game Immersion). At the very heart of RP is the desire to breathe life into the story first written by the game developer. In this case, I bridged the gap between BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars The Old Republic by stepping into the mind of one of my more curious characters. I hope you enjoyed it. Now… What’s your story?)) 

Comments Off on The Endar Spire Conspiracy (A Role Player’s Perspective)

Return of the MJedi

Published by under Role Play on Jun. 07. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #33))



Hey! I’m back! Miss me?


Ok, enough pretention. Let’s talk about why I disappeared, and more importantly, why I’m back.


My last column appeared here in March of last year. There were a lot of personal things going on in my life, most actually related to business, and I needed some time away from my writing here to concentrate on my writing elsewhere. I like to think I’ve grown, even improved a little, and SO MUCH has happened in our beloved SWTOR that I just HAD to come back.


So what was it that brought me out of the gloom and shadows to carry the torch of ((The RP XP with MJ)) once more? Hello!? Appearance editor!? I woke like a startled Krayt Dragon when I saw the notes for Patch 2.1. As BioWare continues to struggle with making PVPers happy, I was delighted to see a respite from that particular grind and some love shown to the RP community.


Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that BioWare has continuously strived to make every play style available to every player, but let’s face it: SWTOR is a PVE/RPer’s game. The stories are so rich, the characters so well acted, the set pieces so spectacular, I don’t mind spending time at PVE away from the comparatively mundane RP that floats around the cantina.


So, what are my plans for the RP XP?


Well, I’m coming back with a vengeance! In addition to the usual Tips n’ Tricks for RPers, I’m going to throw in more commentary about the game from an RPer’s perspective, reviews of story elements from the game (no spoilers – promise!), special segments that cover the art and writing of the game, and maybe some commentary about Star Wars in general with a slant toward how SWTOR connects with The Canon of the Future (with all due respect to the House the Mouse Built, of course /bowrespect). Oh, and I definitely want to hear more from you! I’m hoping future installments of ((The RP XP with MJ)) will include interviews, links and snippets from your RP worlds!


It’s so good to be back. I’ve never been more excited about RolePlay in SWTOR, storycrafting, character building and interacting with all of my fellow SWTOR-RP fans and friends.


See you again soon!


~ MJ


PS – My very special thanks to Serge for keeping swtor-life and swtor-spy alive and well! There’s so much content at swtor-spy it’s crazy. I’ve been going there since launch for all my PVE and SWTOR survival needs!


((I know it’s been awhile, but the doors are open for your input, ideas and questions. Write me at swtorliferp(at)gmail! Until next time… AFK BRB))

Comments Off on Return of the MJedi

SWTOR 2.0 Rise of the Hutt Cartel Guides

Published by under news on Apr. 09. 2013.

SWTOR Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion increases level cap, and introduces new planet along with new quests, datacrons and much more. For this new adventure, our sister site Swtor Spy has a bunch of surprises for you, which will guide you through the new content.

  • SWTOR Talent Calculator 2.0
    Skill calculator with the updated skills for all classes so you can check out all the changes to your skill tree. All Class Skill Trees have been adjusted significantly, and all player Skill Points have been refunded.
  • Makeb Datacron +10 Presence Guide
    Head to the south-west part of Makeb, in Perekta Mesa (X:-1720, Y:4343). This datacron is can be collected in a few minutes.
  • Makeb Datacron +10 Endurance Guide
    The starting location for +10 Endurance datacron is in Frinn Mesa, while the datacron itself is located in the Cartel Mining Mesa. There are several tricky jumps during this adventure, thus, be patient!
  • New SWTOR 2.0 Makeb Codex
  • SWTOR Legacy Achievements Database
    We released for you online version of the in-game Legacy Achievements system with full functionality. The Legacy System has expanded to include Legacy Achievements, which recognize important accomplishments and milestones across all characters in your Legacy.

Comments Off on SWTOR 2.0 Rise of the Hutt Cartel Guides

HK-51, Cartel Market, 1.5 and more on SWTOR Spy

Published by under news, Patch on Nov. 15. 2012.

Ruddyscale Kowakian Monkey lizard

Although SWTOR Life is no more I had to notify any visitors that today is the launch of Free to Play option for Star Wars: The Old Republic and our sister site SWTOR Spy, has been preparing for it extensively. Having a responsibility for tens of thousands of visitors we have updated SWTOR Spy with new information and introduced some new functionality. If the first thing you are interested in once game is open to players is to get the new HK-51 companion you will want to read SWTOR Spy’s guide to obtaining it, because there is a rather long quest chain with multiple points of interest you should check out. The guide is full of screenshots and detailed explanations and you can find it at:
HK-51 companion quest guide
Note: HK-51 gift information and general information are included on that page as well!
Next big thing coming in this patch is the Cartel Market and you can check out the following articles and tools SWTOR Spy provided:

  • Cartel Market Web Calculator (simulates the in-game market. You can check out the prices of all the items available in the shop and add them to your wishlist, which you can share with your friends)
  • List of all Cartel Market Super Rares with screenshots (you have a chance of getting a Super Rare item from Cartel Packs you purchase for Cartel Coins. We have a list. Note: not all items are activated yet)
  • List of all Cartel Market Items (these are the actual items you get when you purchase something in the Cartel Market – datamined so not all are available in-game yet)

Last but not least are updates to the content SWTOR Spy is famous for and that’s been updated for 1.5.

There will be more updates over the coming days, but there is plenty to go through as it is. To all those still enjoying The Old Republic, or that are about to start enjoying it we hope you will find SWTOR Spy’s content useful.

Comments Off on HK-51, Cartel Market, 1.5 and more on SWTOR Spy

The End

Published by under Site news on Sep. 19. 2012.

Now that it was announced that Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk are retiring from Bioware I see no reason to continue running SWTOR Life. If a man that ran the creation of the game for 5 years and has a tattoo of its logo on his arm is now gone to make beer, I see no reason whatsoever to be spending my time on writing or talking about the game the way I did in the past 2+ years. This was a pure passion project fro me. I did hope and work on it becoming something more than a small fansite of SWTOR and we had some wonderful ups and downs throughout these two years, but I see no reason to keep doing fansite stuff anymore because I am not a fan anymore. It is now apparent SWTOR is an Electronic Arts product and not a Bioware product anymore and I want nothing to do with Electronic Arts if at all possible. I can support Bioware Austin, but I can’t support EA Austin.
I will continue working on SWTOR Spy because there is technology involved in that website and it would be a shame to see hundreds of hours I invested into that go to waste, but fanboy-ism, editorials, interviews and such are thing of the past (as far as SWTOR is concerned). Currently, I can’t think of anything that can happen to SWTOR that will make me change my mind and start posting on here again.
I would like to thank anyone and everyone that ever visited this website. Thank you for your comments and opinions and participation. SWTOR Life and SWTOR Spy together have been the second most visited website on the internet when it comes to The Old Republic and I am very proud of that fact.
I would also like to thank all the people that ever participated in the creation of SWTOR Life. I wish I could have done more for all of you, but things turned out the way they did and there’s nothing I could have done different.
I would also like to thank former and some of the current Bioware staff that showed us their support and love and selflessly provided us with loads of opportunities we did not deserve.
I wish you and yours the very best.
Serge out!

8 responses so far

Top 5 Reasons Why SWTOR Failed

Published by under Editorial on Sep. 19. 2012.

Now that mostly everyone that worked on the creation of Star Wars: The Old Republic is fired or left and that sufficient time has passed to have enough distance to talk about everything that transpired I want to list the top 5 things that, in my opinion, caused SWTOR to fail. TOR is not a bad game by any measure, but considering the fact it lost at least 75% of its initial players (and if we are to be honest the number is now closer to 95%) and sold less copies than most AAA single player games do, I feel confident enough to call it a failure. If John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts, called it that I see no reason why I shouldn’t. For the past couple of months I considered hard whether to call it the biggest failure in the history of MMORPGs since Age of Conan, but the jury is still out there on that one so I’ll stick to just calling it a general failure.

  1. Tech/Hero engine – Bioware chose to use a 3rd party engine to create SWTOR. Most companies out there invested in having a developer team that created their own engine. I am guessing that Bioware wanted to shorten the development time by using an already available engine called – Hero engine. On paper it looked like it would accomplish everything it needed to do. In reality things worked out a bit different.

    As seen on Ilum, large scale PvP is impossible in SWTOR, because once more than 40 people showed up in the same place things would become a lag fest with the graphics simply killing your computer no matter how strong it was. What kind of MMO is it if large number of people can’t be in the same place?

    The engine seems to be incredibly difficult to modify and implement initially unsupported features. It took them months to create a dungeon finder and server merges. Talking to the developers I heard over and over again how hard it was to put in features that were not already in the engine. … and than the bugs… oh my God the bugs.

    There seems to be something incredibly hard or wrong with the scripting part of the Hero engine because even the simplest events initially had bugs.

    Can you say loading times? It takes upwards of five minutes to load Belsavis! Higher the level the more loading screens you would see by moving from your ship to another planet and back to the fleet. Every time I had to go somewhere I cringed a bit.

    The game was not broken at launch per se. However, due to being faced with modifying other people’s tech it took months to do things that should have taken weeks. Which brings us to our no. 2

  2. Failure to react on time/initial number of servers/empty servers – Bioware decided to be generous with the number of servers they had at launch. Someone over there thought that queues at launch are much worse than having empty servers a month later. After all the beta testing they went with a very conservative server cap and I am not sure if they had more than 2000 concurrent players per server allowed before queue started to kick in. That is how it felt, because rarely you would see more than 50 players per planet on a moderately populated server with the most people being on fleet (100-150 max on med server). As with every MMO that launched in the past 10 years we had 25% of players leave within the first three months. In SWTOR’s case this meant 500.000 players left. You know what that did to the medium population servers? They became low pop and we had 10 people per planet and 30-50 players on fleet … in a Massive Multiplayer Online game. Can you say “single player MMO“?

    It took them 6 months to initiate the first server transfers (not merges – no). By then they lost 50+ percent of their subscribers. Someone over there did not think a technology for moving player characters between servers will be necessary so they had to develop it… You know, it is unheard of for a MMO to need to reshuffle its population in between servers post launch…

    This inability to react to things players demanded was visible in other areas as well, but nowhere did it hurt the game as much as the empty servers did. Next time your players tell you the servers are empty do not reply with snark comments how “the galaxy is a big place” mkay? If they had done server merges and extended the pop cap back in March we would have seen a much lower churn rate and the game would probably be in a much better state now.

    Can you also say group finder? How could it take so long to make such an essential tool available?

  3. Inability to communicate – the corporate rules imposed on Bioware have made communication with the players just a bunch of “soon” and “happy thoughts” statements. When things were the most critical the players were kept in the dark, which caused them to lose faith, which caused them to move on. There is a lot of faith involved in MMORPGs. Faith that the developer will continue to produce content for the virtual world you chose to participate in and pay subscription for and that the developer will fix the current bugs or systems that are not up to par in quality. That faith is best reinforced with honest communication and delivering on promises. Instead we had weeks and months of silence.

    The most incredible display of how grossly awkward the rules of silence are in Bioware was during GamesCom 2012. I was at the SWTOR booth because they were showing the new warzone – Ancient Hypergates. I was filming the gameplay with my camera and a person from Bioware came to me demanding to stop filming! Why? Why would you want to stop your players and fans from seeing the new stuff that will be coming to the game. Are you freaking insane? Out of 10 or so games and companies I filmed during GamesCom – none of them asked me not to record. None, except Bioware! And it was at a public booth where everyone could play the new warzone!

    I always understood that there are delicate forces at work with Lucas Arts overseeing all of the things happening and EA having their own policies about public presentation. What we got in the end is a community team that was let go for following company rules and bunch of angry players that left due to not having confidence in “we are working on it” sentences. Also – server merges are server merges and not server transfers.

  4. Electronic Arts – I feel pretty confident saying now that EA killed SWTOR. Now that the good Doctors retired from Bioware the last piece of the puzzle fell in. I do not think Bioware intended to launch SWTOR in the state it was ultimately launched in. They had to release it in 2011 (and if any of you remember, it was John Riccitiello, CEO of EA, who first said SWTOR will launch in 2011) so that EA honchos had something to show to the investors in that year. Just remember the rushed announcement of the launch at Eurogamer Expo 2011 and the terrible date of the launch (launch a few days before Christmas – nice). From my last interview with Gabe Amatangelo we heard that Ilum PvP was rushed due to launch and I assume the same stands for other parts of the game that looked rushed (semi-functional GTN; basic chat functions; basic UI; bugs in end game). That was the first thing that hurt SWTOR a lot. It is almost a consensus now that if the game launched with 1.2 features things would have played out a lot different.

    The second thing that EA did to kill SWTOR was pull the rug under its feet way too early. We now learned that the good doctors gave notice in April and in May we had the first wave of layoffs in SWTOR studio in Austin, TX. This means that EA pronounced SWTOR a failure 4 months after launch and I think consequently Greg Zeschuck gave notice and Ray followed. This reduced the studio’s ability to fix bugs and create new content and directed the game towards free to play and scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    With those two moves there is nothing left of Bioware’s vision of this game that we were fans of and the we followed for years; instead, we have a new Electornic Arts’ SWTOR

  5. Fear of innovation/playing it safe – It was pretty apparent Bioware will create a themepark MMO with familiar game mechanics right of the bat. When I first played the game back in 2010 I jumped right in and did not need a tutorial or anything. Everything was done in a well established manner and where they tried to innovate was quality. The quests were improved by voiceovers, cutscenes and some primetime writing. The companions had better AI and more personality than similar “systems” in other games. The worlds had more lore and very rich environments. Were any of these things an innovation? In my opinion – no. They were an evolution perhaps, but not an innovation and obviously players did not appreciate this.

    As a matter of fact, they started picking on everything that was not on par with the quality in other games. You have no dungeon finder? Fail. You have no customizable UI? Fail. There’s a lesson to be had here. If you are not going to bring anything innovative and new to the table, at least have everything on par with the competition. That is, if you are planning to be a top contender on the market.

Bonus fail – Red Zone – I will never forget the fact that Bioware allowed to have players segregated by the country they live or were born in. They only allowed players in the West to purchase the game initially. This meant the United States, Canada and most (but not all) of Europe (oh and Russia too). Games are a great medium that is (mostly) race, gender and class agnostic. Whoever you are and wherever you live you can sit down and play a game and you would play it the same as any other person out there in the world. In MMOs this is even more so because you would have a chance to meet and communicate with people from different cultures and different continents as if they were right there in your room. Bioware decided to split us up into prime time countries and the rest – the Red Zone. Guild Wars 2 at least let everyone purchase the game while “they had copies”. They stopped sales for everyone once they wanted to stop the pressure on the servers. That is what means being race, gender, country and class agnostic and what games should be all about.
The game was not all fail though and that is what makes this fail hurt even more. SWTOR did some things exceptionally well and I think it would only be fair to list them here as well.

  • Story telling – after SWTOR it will be difficult, to say at least, to enjoy storytelling in any other MMO. I tried several MMOs since SWTOR launched and it was hard to “swallow” Guild Wars 2 static dialogues and The Secret World’s lack of voiceovers for all quests. There will probably never again be a game that invests so much into storytelling and its presentation as SWTOR did and that’s a real shame.
  • Companions – the first “pet” system that provided you with a genuine buddy. Companion stories made you feel connected to some of the companions and their AI wasn’t half bad. Choosing a different companion gave you an option to fine tune your game style more towards survivability or DPS or whatever you like.
  • Warzones – I believe SWTOR had some of the best PvP arenas out there. Huttball is one of the best designed PvP maps ever (pity some classes had such clear advantage). The fact that more than 50% of SWTOR players actively participate in Warzones speaks for itself.
  • Classes – I like SWTOR classes. Maybe I am influenced by playing an Assassin most of the time and it was able to provide me with different play styles for a very long time. In any case I think that the classes represented well classic Star Wars prototypes and provided distinctly different ways to play your character based on the build you chose. It was not exactly groundbreaking or anything, but it was not bad
  • some of the raiding – I loved the fact I could kill a Rancor. I liked the SOA fight when they fixed all the bugs. I liked the Karagga fight. I liked the accessibility of raids so that most players could do them. I hated the puzzle events because they presented a barrier for groups without voice communication. I thought that having so many trash mobs is retarded.

16 responses so far

« Prev - Next »