A Broadcast by the Bureau of Social Harmony
I hope you are all doing well today – I am Dr. Zara Anoleis, completing our tour of the Outer Rim with the elusive planet of Belsavis before we move on to the more populous areas of space. What an extraordinary trip it has been so far.
Belsavis is a rather unique world. It is possibly the largest individual prison ever constructed. As we understand it, an ancient civilisation built the first vaults, then the Galactic Republic came to construct their own secretive prison on the top of the now-archaeological vaults below. While one can see the appeal of such a place – where the worst scum can be sent and not be a danger to civilians – there is much to question, not least the aforementioned secrecy.
Our preliminary research shows that this was indeed a facility for the worst of the worst criminals in the galaxy – these in turn were often segregated by their species and tested on in medical and social experiments without the knowledge of the wider galaxy. Such a lack of transparency and amoral behaviour is in of itself deeply disturbing and official lines on the matter are somewhat uncertain, though our sources have word that suggests the secrecy was to prevent the recovery of prisoners of war.
BioWare have announced on Facebook and Twitter that there is going to be a big reveal on Tuesday 1st December during their Twitch livestream. We don't know what they're revealing, as per BioWare's usual ninja-like secrecy, but we can speculate. And speculate is what people have done.
There have not been any hints about the reveal. However, we can try and use the information we have to try and narrow it down. The image they've used is the header image above. It's of Fallen Empire. We can combine that with who BioWare addressed in the announcement, which reads as follows:
"Attention #SWTOR Subscribers! Prepare yourselves for a BIG announcement during next Tuesday's Producer Livestream: http://bit.ly/1NPiUPT"
They've targeted subscribers. Fallen Empire was free for subscribers. Combine that with the image used in the announcement, and we can surmise that we might be getting news on Fallen Empire. Some say that we're going to have the next story chapters announced. But, chapters is something we expect. Charles Boyd posted this as a reply to the announcement on Twitter:
"Can't wait for people to see this! Gonna be so crazy and so fun ;-)"
It's almost as if we should expect something more than just the next chapters to the story.
What do you think is going to be announced during the livestream? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.
A Broadcast by the Bureau of Social Harmony
Good greetings once more, this time from the planet Hoth in the Outer Rim; I am Dr. Zara Anoleis! You must pardon any interference on our part, our live broadcast is being greatly hampered by the local weather.
Quite honestly, when Hoth appeared on my travel itinerary I was curious about the point of our presence here. As it turns out, this system has been host to a number of rather unfortunate conflicts in space. The debris from these myriad disputes has amassed into a veritable graveyard – it is even called such – on the surface’s frozen wastes. When those present have so allowed, even encouraged, a ‘starship graveyard’ to form, it really must stand as a morbid reminder and a testament to the consequences of such a short-sighted destructive campaign.
Thus ensued a greed-fuelled scavenger rush; pirates flooded the void to loot valuables then one galactic power followed to reclaim their military secrets and those of their opponent, followed swiftly by the other. Yet another example of how the indifference of a belligerent galaxy can lead to naught but conflict and ruin! Even now, they pick and steal like those they call pirates. What separates a pirate from a soldier if they are doing the same thing for the same reasons?
For countless years beyond the boundaries of our vision, the Galactic Republic has established peace, justice, and freedom in our galaxy. For many of those years, however, the decadent Sith Empire has interrupted our freedom by spreading its twisted ideals of peace upon the galaxy, causing nothing but havoc.
Never did any of us foresee that one day, the Republic and the Empire would have to collude and collaborate together in hopes of overthrowing another Empire whose vision for our galaxy is even more barbarically twisted that any other foe we've faced.
The embargo placed on our galaxy preventing your news agencies from reaching out to its citizens is getting tighter as the days go by, but it has not stopped the ludicrous propaganda of the Eternal Empire from spreading its ill-minded views upon our galaxy.
The Eternal Empire believe that our galaxy has succumbed to piracy, criminal conduct, and that we're nothing but a cesspit of such behaviour. How wrong they are. Their Empire has not thought to step back and take in the beauty of our galaxy and the wonders it has to offer the appreciative eye. All they see is space to conquer to make their own.
This is not their galaxy. It is ours. And the Republic and the Sith will not stop until we've pushed these trespassers out for eternity.
Scrambled ident-code | CBNS Reporter
For most of us, it's been a while since we made our characters. Some were already experienced with the setting and the MMO scene, others (like me) were not. Some will look back on the characters when they were first made and feel proud, others (like me) will wince inwardly and pretend that none of it ever happened.
I know when I first made Takrael, there were many, many things that I did which now I realise were entirely silly. I hate to go into detail, but if I'm asking you guys to do it, it's only fair. Originally I had the character stomping about in heavy armour and a helmet the entire time. He was a Sith who didn't have a posting, any duties, and I hadn't bothered to work out what area of the Empire he worked in. It takes a lot of retrospective wrangling to align some of those things with how a character has developed, which is why those are pitfalls I try to help people avoid when I can.
Characters develop for lots of reasons, and not all of them are IC. Understanding of the setting can change, the experience and style of the writer can change, sometimes the writer can just decide the character would work better differently. The line of questioning for this week's Friday Focus comes from Tairae, who saved me a lot of headscratching.
What mistakes did you make, if any? If you could make your characters from scratch, or go back in time and make them again, what would you change, and why?
Binary Sunset by SpartanK42
A Broadcast by the Bureau of Social Harmony
Greetings, loyal citizens of the Eternal Empire and core-world estranged cousins alike, to this informative broadcast from the little-trodden world of Tatooine in the aptly named ‘Outer Rim’. I am Dr. Zara Anoleis, bringing the Zakuulan vision of harmony and order to a galaxy rife with miscreants and short-sighted belligerents.
On Zakuul, we have long considered it a point of pride that our society is built on the strongest foundations; and the strongest foundation for any civilisation that hopes to stand the test of time is justice. At home, the great Knights of Zakuul guard the innocents of our home from any would-be criminals who would seek to reap their misguided or simply mad schemes upon those who live law-abiding and peaceful lives. Alas – beyond the borders of our great home, the galaxy has no such fortune. Decades of war swell the pockets of pirates, smugglers and violent criminals – so much so, in fact, that entire worlds devolve into cess pits where such behaviour is not only commonplace, but almost expected. Such a concept is so alien to me and I believe in a vision where such a concept is foreign to every innocent child born into this galaxy.
So it is here on Tatooine – a scorching desert world with a queer natural beauty and a certain appeal as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of well-settled territories. However, the hostile weather, lack of abundant groundwater and unfriendly locals make it less than ideal as a retreat. Settlers and farmers alike just trying to make a peaceful living are performing great feats of fortitude every day just to survive, drawing their only water from the air itself!
My character stands in a cargo bay full of fluffy stuffed toys. A cheap and cheerful trader with a scruffy beard tells him to 'get sorting'. Amidst the variety of varactyls, reeks, cuddly wampas, and other assorted animals are the gizka my character has purchased. They must be seperated and collected into an army of multi-coloured inanimate and fuzzy pests.
How this situation came about is a long story, but it hinges on the chap whose ship we're writing in: the trader. He's been roaming around Nar Shaddaa for some time, selling what he insists are 'genuine Beastie Babies' for thirty creds a pop (twenty if you ask nicely). In a world full of whiskey sipping, downward glaring, occasionally smirking spice-dealers, bounty hunters, and inexplicably placed Sith, an honest (sort-of) trader trying to make an honest (sort-of) buck by selling collector's toys is a real breath of fresh air.
The sorting commences over friendly banter - toys are thrown about and their facial features compared to friends. My character's partner in crime soon has a wonky eopie sticking out of the back of her trousers, and a vrake stuffed down her top. When the sorting is (despite a singular lack of focus on the task) finally complete, some thirty-odd stuffed gizka toys (plus a gorg for good measure) have been collected, and everyone retreats to the kitchen for a tea-break.
The trader's live-in assistant plays a racing game in the corner of the room, ignoring all but her high-score as the kettle boils. The conversation casually drifts to the brand of the tea, and before I can say "slick business sense," the trader has sold a few samples of reasonably priced tea leaves, including an industrial sized sack which he offers to arrange transport for.
It occurs to me, in the midst of this shamelessly free-wheeling merchantry that this is how spice deals should happen, at least on Nar Shaddaa where it is legal. There's no shadiness, just a casual segue from the sale of one item to another. I wasn't aware that gizka toys were the equivalent of a gateway drug to the tea trade, but I feel duly enlightened by the experience.
If you’ve ever been to a writing seminar, you’ve probably heard something along these lines:
“A story is about a character who wants something very badly, and is having trouble getting it."
Think of any halfway conventional story and you’ll start to see how this works, but the film’s climax rarely focuses around the hero getting what they originally wanted. They want to win, they want to be promoted, they want to be the best. Think back to some famous films – how often does the hero get what they set out to get? If they do get it, quite often it’s not how the story ends, or they realise that it wasn’t worth it. So how does the story end?
Generally, the story ends with the character recognising that what they wanted wasn’t what they needed. They may have wanted that promotion, but they wanted it because they were lonely. They may have wanted to win, but they wanted it because they needed to be confident. The best stories with the highest tension will have the wants and the needs diametrically opposed. Every time they move towards getting what they want, their need drags at them like a fish-hook in the cheek, and every time they move towards their need, what they want pulls back, painfully so. They’re caught in the middle of the tension, and that’s what drives the story.
It works for ninety minutes, or three hundred pages, but when you have to stretch that want and need out into years of consistent story, things can get a little complicated. This is a driving reason why people burn out. Their characters either resolve what they wanted and needed, or the tension becomes stale, or the writer doesn’t understand what their character needs, and so the character becomes stagnant just as the writing does.
This whole article basically boils down into one writing tip for anyone who wants to consistently write the same character again and again: keep in touch with them. Keep thinking about what they want and what they need, and think about how you can draw those sources of tension further apart. All too often I see writers having their character arbitrarily kidnapped so their want can shift. They don’t have that specifically in mind, but it’s what they’re doing – they’re providing a new source of tension, but if there’s no conflict with what the character needs, the action grows stale as soon as the rescue is enacted.
There's no honour among thieves, but in the world of Star Wars and The Old Republic, the same could be said about some of the lesser loyal scoundrels, bounty hunters, Sith, and lost Jedi out there. Characters have been made to cut all ties to their allegiances and switch sides for a number of different reasons. Anakin betrayed the Republic in the name of love (and all those other underlying issues), Jacen Solo became Darth Caedus in an effort to restore peace at any cost, and we have Revan who switched sides probably for a long list of reasons, but morality is perhaps up there at the top of the list.
With Fallen Empire, we have a new mega faction that has conquered the galaxy and forced it to bend to its will. The Republic and Empire are now controlled by the Eternal Empire, but have many of their heroes remained loyal?
In today's Friday Focus, we'd like to know if your character has jumped ship and joined the Eternal Empire. Was it for the money? For power? Does your character just like to be on the winning side? Let us know if you've remained loyal or defected and why in the comments section below.
Everyone, by now, has heard of the terrorist attack enacted on the broadcast center of the city of Iziz. Reports have focused largely on the identity of those guilty: the political radicals willing to sacrifice the lives of the innocent to further their agenda.
In doing so, aren’t we guilty of the same thing they are? Dismissing those whose homes and families have been torn apart? It’s easy to focus on the perpetrators, and it’s natural to want someone to blame, but both the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic are assisting in the manhunt for those responsible – the very organisations the terrorists make claim to serve. It’s clear that these are the actions of delusion and extremism. What has barely been touched upon is the aftermath, the harsh and brazen truth of what results from such a disregard for life.
Walking through the old broadcast station in Iziz brings back memories of the war that used to ravage our worlds, back when saying ‘our worlds’ was a statement of antagonism, and not one of unification. These toppled walls and smashed computers may have been put together with the technology of our benefactors, they may have been more powerful, and they may have drawn more jobs to the broadcast industry, but when blasted apart, they look the same as any room of scattered, ruined debris.
There are still sections of the building that are considered too dangerous to search. At the border, I met Dalin, a boy of six. Calmly, he told me that his mother was in there, somewhere, and that they’d rescue her as soon as it was safe. The emergency workers looked on, ashen-faced. No-one wanted to hear how certain Dalin was that he’d get to see his mother rescued. As I realised the pain I’d brought up for these men and women, I felt a terrible guilt.