Nine: And so, the time has come...

...to say goodbye.

When I created this blog nine years ago today, I had no idea how long it was destined to last. I had previously tried creating a blog a year prior, although it had very little longevity and I lost interest after writing three posts. I remember thinking it would be quite fun to focus a portion of that blog's energy around specific characters and their activities, like gushing over an Inquisitor's new ship, and so on, although that didn't come to pass ultimately. I even tried creating my own version of the character portrait frames as part of the aesthetic, something I'm very glad didn't survive beyond the conceptual phase!

Still, I hadn't quite abandoned the idea of blog-writing entirely, and a few months later Spawn of the Dread Master popped into existence. Through it, I got to interact with several members of the blogging community while getting my thoughts about the game out and about. It was really quite good fun, and I have some excellent memories from this blog's tenure.

Still, there comes a point when everything reaches its end. It's nice to think that something has the potential to go on forever and ever, but in practice it often can't or shouldn't work out that way. In some regards, I feel very fortunate; considering my track record for various projects, that what is now Galactic Antics even managed to reach its first anniversary without collapsing is incredible.

To reach nine? Wow. 

I'm choosing to pull the plug on this blog now rather than try and help it through another year or more simply because I've always believed in ending things on your own terms. I'd rather give this blog a proper ending rather than let it just die, and I'm genuinely concerned that when it comes to finding things to write about and subsequently getting my thoughts on paper, my current success rate with fleshing out a post concept will result in the blog just dying on its own with no send-off.

Plus, it feels right that it should be put to rest on the same day and even the exact same time my first post was published. Oh, yeah, pulling out all the poetic stops with this one!

Since I had been intending to end the blog today, for the past few weeks I had been trying to hash out some posts that I either always wanted to write or those which were relevant to my current interests. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful, but I will provide a short summary of what I would have liked to write about with each below!


Favourite Music in SWTOR

This one has been in my "I must write about this some day!" list for years. As someone who is big into soundtracks such as SWTOR's, it seemed logical that a post about this would be right up my alley.

Yet it never got written, because I felt absolutely terrified about inadvertently getting out of my depth. I enjoy music, but I could never dive into the themes, the melodies, or provide any substantial thoughts or feelings about a given piece of music other than saying "it's cool, I like it" and variations thereof. It's disappointing to almost be paralysed in such a manner regarding something that I love, but it is what it is.

In terms of pieces of music I would identify in such a post, the list would include the following:

A War of Heirs

Alderaan, the Throne

Balmorra, the Forge

Clash of Destiny

Coruscant, the Capital

Hope, the Republic Trooper

Peace, the Jedi Consular

The Clairvoyance of Aryn Leneer

I think some of these largely became my favourites courtesy of repetition, allowing the tune to get stuck in my head. Notably, part of Hope, the Republic Trooper would play on loop during the end to Act I aboard the Justice, and since that was the very first Act I conclusion I saw and it happened to be really quite long back in the day, it ended up sticking. That's also not the mention the music that plays when the trooper leaves a space station or planet with their ship, which is second only to the consular's in my view.

The consular definitely cheats, however, by making liberal use of the frustratingly-unreleased music that accompanies Obi-Wan's arrival to Utapau in Revenge of the Sith. That's a beautiful piece of music and I am sorry that we have no official avenue to accessing it.

Others, such as Balmorra, the Forge and The Clairvoyance of Aryn Leneer, I fell in love with the first time hearing them, especially as the opening 50 seconds of the former accompanied Imperial characters' visits to Balmorra from day one. In general, Balmorra, the Forge is a brilliant piece to represent the theme of Balmorra as this war-torn planet, where it is your job to help tear things down further before eventually building it back up again. That last minute and 12 seconds is absolutely glorious, and is well used in the Knights of the Fallen Empire launch trailer

I have a particular soft spot for Alderaan, the Throne, courtesy of its almost medieval-evoking harpsichord. It creates a very strong mental image of civility and elegance, and honestly would probably fit a generic fantasy game very well outside of the Star Wars brand. It's just such a lovely piece to accompany the peaceful landscapes of Alderaan.

There are some pieces of music that I really like that were never officially released, either on SWTOR's youtube channel or via the Collector's Edition CD, like the rendition of the KotOR theme that plays during Revan's grand entrance at the end of Legacy of the Rakata. While some videos do exist of the ripped music files, I cannot in good faith include them officially on this list.

I have absolutely loved listening to the music of SWTOR, and I look forward to hearing what new pieces they have in the pipeline for future content.


A Gut-Feeling Comparison between SWTOR and WOW

This one has tried to take several different forms over the past couple of months. Obviously, my take on the latter game is going to be heavily biased; I'm new to it, I've been used to what SWTOR has done for almost twelve years, and my idea of what makes a game fun and compelling will be very different to a lot of the typical WoW playerbase.

With that in mind, the latest iteration of this post would have looked at things I ultimately loved about how SWTOR handles things compared to WoW. This would touch on the incredible alt-friendliness, something which SWTOR feels increasingly like it was ahead of its time with, lack of emphasis on "short-term" current content, and viability of so much of the game courtesy of level-scaling compared to what WoW does.

For example, the middle category of those three would touch on how WoW loves to have cycles of new activities or various 'seasonal' dungeons for its playerbase that may or may not include gear upgrades, then introduce something new a short while later that may give better gear, causing some of this earlier  'new' content to just become abandoned even if only two months old.

It's just so baffling to me that this is just how things are. I mean, I know things also become fairly quiet in SWTOR once people get all they want from it, but the game does at least try to encourage you to go back to older daily zones, and at least because their rewards are mostly timeless (i.e., mainly cosmetic) that doesn't render them redundant if starting them afresh with newer characters or as a new player!

Additionally, I tend to find that in the case of the Mythic+ dungeons, where eight dungeons at a time are made available in difficulty-scaling mode that can increase up into the +20s, having such a concentrated focus actually makes it harder to memorise stuff. Within SWTOR, I know I don't need to fret about working on memorising stuff, as I've been doing flashpoints and operations for years, and because they're all scaled up to our level it is quite easy to just go and do them. In WoW, because you have to memorise so much in such a short space of time, that paradoxically makes it easier to forget about things if you have to take a break of even a week or two.

It doesn't help that there's so much more going on courtesy of the "affixes", which give different challenges each week, so there may be some weeks where you don't need to worry about 'extra' stuff and can just focus on the proper dungeon mechanics themselves, and other weeks where the affixes present a significant difficulty upgrade for whatever reason. I get the feeling that I'll finally have cracked which dungeon does what, where, and when by the time the season ends and another eight get set up. Not fun.

Yeah, that's right, I'm finding reason to complain about an MMO churning out multiple significant updates in a short period of time. MMO players, always finding something negative about the grass which we don't realise is greener, huh?

There's also much less onus on just keeping up-to-date with a character in SWTOR, because you can just get gear and level up regardless of where your character is in the story. Sure, someone like me who has all their characters caught up to the most recent story is in the unlucky position of always having to repeat the same stuff in short order, but someone who has ten, twenty characters, all of whom are spread out story-wise? There's a lot of variety there for what you can do and how slowly or quickly you want to progress any given character through stuff.

Heck, there's a guildie of mine in SWTOR who hasn't even started Knights of the Fallen Empire on the vast majority of his characters, and has never seen beyond the earlier parts of 4.0's storyline despite being max-level with several characters and a frequent contributor to endgame progression and fun casual content. I can't say I blame him, given the quality of a good portion of the content that succeeded Rise of the Hutt Cartel's various storylines, but it's a stark contrast compared to WoW, where if you want to get a character to max-level and geared up, you need to have access to the new expansion's area or group content and will be steered towards doing the new stuff even if you're halfway through the previous expansion's content. 

Essentially, I think what I'm getting at is that I'm not a huge fan of how WoW focuses so much on making each of its newest expansions, events, or areas relevant until a new one comes out and they essentially abandon what came before compared to SWTOR trying its best to keep the entire game relevant somehow. WoW is massive, but it feels tiny at the same time due to just how much stuff is just... irrelevant beyond a certain point. Even trying to level through an old expansion kicks you back to doing the 'actual' story the moment you hit a certain level (which, as of the latest patch, is now level 61, and before that 60 and 50). That's not a good look in my book.

Ultimately, this comparison is really what's hurting my long-term potential for WoW, and why I do not believe I will be investing in any future expansions unless things change drastically. I love having the option to flit between multiple characters in SWTOR and use them for whatever I want to, as they all have the same rating gear and I know how to use them to a good standard. There is much less effort involved in focusing on a given character, and it subsequently doesn't feel as much of a waste to focus intermittently on different characters if you're having trouble deciding which one you enjoy most.

It's certainly a risk in WoW that you can feel like you've made a 'mistake' in switching mains and losing needed time and opportunity to gear up another character. This is also not helped if this realisation coincides with a once-thriving zone now being abandoned, depriving you of decent and casual access to upgrade materials and the like. That isn't a fun feeling at all.

I may have a fair number of issues with SWTOR and what it's doing, but I will always define it as "my" MMO simply because I have far fewer long-term issues with its core gameplay and values. Sure, BioWare kept us in the dark a lot of the time, and chances are that will continue under Broadsword, but at the same time I'd rather not be faced with the knowledge that this or that piece of content will only be relevant for a couple of months, if that, before something new comes in before it even gets released. 

I'll take 'timeless' content, where in theory you can come along to it any time you like and still get the exact same experience as you would have done on day one, over stuff like that any day.


What my "Ideal" MMO would be

Having played five MMOs, I've seen a fair number of features across them that I really like when compared to similar features in other games. Thus, it seemed like an idea to try and highlight what these features would be and combine them into one big ideal MMO.

Of course, this is a massive concept, and it can't be denied that a number of the things I like would be impractical except if money were no object. I mean, SWTOR's story delivery in terms of origin stories, and fully-voice-acted cutscenes, and treating classes as characters rather than vice-versa is probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. It's absolutely fantastic, but we know from experience that it quickly became something that not even SWTOR could keep going to a great extent for very long.

Other features I would have identified beyond quest and story delivery would be the customisation features seen in Neverwinter Online and The Elder Scrolls Online, where the outfit and dyeing systems blow SWTOR's out the water with things like dyes that can be applied in any order to an outfit and even weapon's available colour slots (a maximum of three) rather than being a pre-packaged deal of two dyes that are occasionally released alongside a reversed variant. It seems like such a small thing to call out of all the features possible, but designing a character and their looks is incredibly important to me, so of course I have to prioritise it.

Definitely would pick the alt-friendliness of ESO and SWTOR in terms of gearing characters. ESO needs to learn more about alt-friendliness with things like mount training, but then I guess they wouldn't profit from riding lessons sold on the Crown Store as much... 

World-design would be ESO, hands-down. ESO is by far the prettiest MMO I have ever played, and courtesy of many town NPCs having unique looks and even names their towns also feel the most alive of any MMO I have ever played, with WoW following behind. Heck, the NPCs even have different voiced dialogue, both with other NPCs and directed at the player, depending on your quest progress. That's pretty swish, even though some lines do get tiresome. 

Dragons, in your own homeland! Praise Vivec! THE GUILD HAS NEED OF YOU, COMRADE! Oh, just shush, you lot.

Otherwise, in terms of core gameplay it would have to be more akin to SWTOR and WoW's style than the actiony style of ESO and Neverwinter. I found myself absolutely loathing the action gameplay when I tried raiding and harder difficulty dungeons in ESO, and when it came to SWTOR in some form with R-4 Anomaly I just noped out of there very quickly. I'm sorry, I play these games for fun, and having to be aware of when to move, where to move, constantly doing stuff on the move, etc. etc. just isn't fun to me. I may have a ton of respect for players who can play these games well, but I have no interest in imitating them even by choice.

When I tried Jedi Survivor I promptly pegged it down to the lowest difficulty, as the parry-dodge-block style of combat just isn't what I live for. I'm happy I didn't pay for that game (courtesy of EA Play Pro, I didn't steal the thing; it's not even worth that!) given that I stopped after about six or so hours, and no, "it gets good after x hours" is not an excuse for forgiving dire gameplay in the first few hours, especially when it's not good enough to make up for a dragging storyline.

Getting sidetracked. Point is, I'd pick anything but actiony quick-reflex gameplay.

Funnily enough, aside from combat and content structure (raids, dungeons, etc.), the latter of which is shared to the letter by almost all of these games, I actually don't know if there's anything I would actually pick from WoW that no other game does...


Conclusion and Farewell

Well, here we are. The end.

These past nine years have been good fun. I have enjoyed nursing this blog through the years, and I'm grateful to have given myself the opportunity to start anew after my prior attempt.

Would I want to pick blogging up again? I can't say I would at the moment, at least not until I get over my current struggles with actually writing things to a satisfactory standard. Indeed, to prove that point, this is actually the second time I have written this post out in-full due to my not liking the original "final" draft.

If I were to create another blog at any point in the future, it would be more general and just be used as an outlet for anything that comes to me on any subject. I firmly believe that the days of maintaining a specialist blog, even one with a theoretically wider scope, are behind me.

Regardless of how rough things have been over the past couple of years in particular, I have very much loved being a part of the wider SWTOR and blogging community. I hope people have enjoyed reading my various thoughts on what's been going on in SWTOR, and even though I may no longer be jotting them down I will still be paying close attention to what does go on in the future. Those of you reading other SWTOR blogs will likely see me cropping up in their comments sections from time to time, so I'm not going to fade entirely into obscurity.

It's been fun. Thank you all for sticking with this blog for as long as you have, and for now: 

Farewell, and may the Force be with you.


  1. Well, hell.

    I start reading your blog in the last year just in time to see it end.

    Although it'd be selfish to hope that you'd keep blogging, I respect the choice to pull the plug when you feel you're ready. So good luck in your future endeavors!

    1. I appreciate your readership regardless, and thank you for the kind words. ^^