Fan Art Friday: SWTOR characters

Continuing with our Star Wars theme for the month, here are a few quick sketches I did of my characters from the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic.  When I get bored at work I doodle, hence the Post-its and notebook paper.

First up is the first character I created for TOR, a Chiss bounty hunter named Sind’onin.

I usually have her wearing the Dengar-style head wrap, but underneath that she’s got awesome hair and a mottled scar on the right side of her face.  I think I got her default facial expression pretty well!

Next we have one of my favorites to play, Ixendra the Imperial agent (lower right of the Post-it).

This one didn’t come out nearly as well; I made her face too round so she looks cute instead of fierce.  I was more focused on the hair, I guess.  And of course, we also have a Meiling sketch in the top left because why not?  I don’t think this one really looks like Meiling either, though.  I need more practice!

Someone talk me into buying Shadow of Revan



It’s been about 6 months or so now since I’ve played TOR.  I was hoping Shadow of Revan would be the thing to pull me back in…but I haven’t even purchased it yet.

I’m sorry to say I’ve been unimpressed with the expansions and updates for TOR thus far.

  • Rise of the Hutt Cartel: I still haven’t finished Makeb because I found the story average (and it’s the same for all characters on each faction), but mostly because it was TOO HARD.  I just got sick of dying.  If you are trying to do a story expansion, why make a world where it’s hard to even walk around without randoms killing you?  I gave up and went and leveled to 55 on Black Hole.
  • Galactic Starfighter: I had been kinda looking forward to this.  I played it once and was so bad at it I never went back.  I guess I’m just not much for PvP.
  • Galactice Strongholds: Really don’t care.  At all.

Shadow of Revan should be right up my alley.  I adore KOTOR and am a huge Revan fan.  For years I basically wanted a KOTOR 3 game, which would cover more of Revan’s story.  But we got TOR instead.  So I appreciate that they are making story content for fans like me.  Plus 2 new worlds, including Yavin 4? Yes!


I got the 3.0 game update, and opened up my Imperial Agent (Operative) to check out the new discipline system.

And I hate it.  Hate. It.  They have basically forced you into one single skill tree, instead of letting you pick things from any of the three class skill trees.

So my Operative has lost a bunch of key abilities, and I have to re-learn how to play my character at level 55.  I get that they needed to nerf the Operative for PvP (she is definitely my best DPS), but as a PvE player, that is just not my problem.  Taking away player choice in skills will NEVER endear me to a game.

Also, I heard somewhere that the storyline for SoR is the same for all classes.  Is that true?  Can anyone confirm or deny?  If so, that’s pretty lame.

Right now, my plan is to work on my Trooper (who’s still at very low level) until I get used to the stupid discipline system.  Then maybe I can run her or another character through SoR.

Someone come convince me that change can be a good thing.  There have to be upsides to the discipline system, right?  Tell me!!

Sci-Fi Spectacular

Despite predictions of rain, Sunday evening was a beautiful time to catch the Cleveland Orchestra from the lawn at Blossom Music Center.

The lawn at Blossom (2013)

I was even more excited because the program was called “Sci-Fi Spectacular!”  There’s nothing like hearing a world-class orchestra play the themes to my favorites movies (mostly, I mean Star Wars).  I first attended this set back in 2009, and it was just as great this year as it was then.

WP_001066The evening featured Jack Everly as conductor–he was wonderfully enthusiastic, even he if couldn’t remember if Superman is a DC or Marvel character–and George Takei as narrator.  Being on the lawn, I was quite far away and couldn’t see him all that well.  But he was really wonderful; he spoke about how Star Trek: TOS used scifi elements to describe contemporary human issues, and even push the boundaries of TV as a medium.  The Starship Enterprise is a metaphor for the world, and so different characters represent different parts of the world, all working together in their mission.  Mr. Sulu was to represent all of Asia, so rather than go with a name that would be tied to a specific Asian country, like “Kim” or “Tanaka,” Gene Roddenberry chose the name of a sea near the Phillipines–Sulu–because a sea touches all shores.  You can tell he’s told that story many times, but it was really well done.

Takei spoke the intro to Star Trek (to boldly go, etc.), and also later recited the speech that Klaatu gives to the people of Earth at the end of The Day the Earth Stood Still.  Which basically boils down to: Earthlings, get your shit together, but phrased much better, and it resonates even today.

The program featured no less than SIX pieces by John Williams: Star Wars’ Main Title, End Title, and Duel of the Fates (with chorus!), Superman‘s Theme, and suites from E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Stormtroopers came out onto the stage at intermission; when the orchestra returned, Everly dismissed them, saying, “These aren’t the musicians you’re looking for!”  He also managed to sneak in a quick performance of “Mad About Me,” which you may know better as the Cantina Band song.  FYI, you can play this song on the jukebox in the cantina on Tatooine in SWTOR.



Star Trek did not get overlooked, either.  They played a medley of all the TV show themes (except Enterprise–I guess everyone wants to forget that theme), and some of Michael Giacchino’s wonderful scores to the two recent Star Trek movies.

Another fun treat was the conductor’s arrangement of various sci-fi TV themes, including Lost in Space, X-Files, The Jetsons, The Twilight Zone, and Stargate, plus some others I think I am too young to recognize.  They gave away a lightsaber to an audience member who could name at least 4 of the titles.

The program was rounded out with the iconic “Also sprach Zarathustra” featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the theme from Somewhere in Time, which is a movie I had never even heard of before.  The soprano Kristen Plumley also contributed her operatic voice to several of the pieces, even coming out in a Star Fleet officer’s uniform for the Star Trek theme.

And as the lights came down on Star Wars‘ End Title, the conductor’s baton lit up, and suddenly he seemed to be conducting with a lightsaber –a great ending to a great show!


Rancor mount

I have been avoiding Nar Shaddaa like the rakghoul plague since the update came out on Tuesday.  I barely have any interest in gambling in real life, so there’s no way I’m doing it in-game.  I don’t need all those people increasing my lag time.

But my husband, always the more adventurous, managed to win a rancor mount on Tuesday.  The first day!  It only took him 300,000 credits…

I’ll admit, it does look pretty impressive.  I feel like it should make a shock wave when it jumps or something.

And she’s hotter than reality by far

I’ve been reading some really interesting research recently about MMO avatars and their relation to their players.

Avatars occupy an interesting place in our psychology, because we control their actions and experience the MMO world through them, as if we were them.  But of course we are not them, and other players can only interact with us via the avatar as kind of a filter or façade, always one step removed.

The “Proteus effect” describes a phenomenon where people actually change real-life behavior based on the behavior of their avatar, especially one that looks like them.  In one study, people who watched a digital representation of themselves running were actually more likely to exercise after leaving the lab.

I'm still not likely to take up smuggling or visit Ord Mantell.  Oh well.
I’m still not likely to take up smuggling or visit Ord Mantell. Oh well.

Looking at choice of gender for an avatar can also reveal interesting details.  For example, male and female WoW players heal about equally.  However, female avatars heal more often than male avatars.  Which means that male gamers with female avatars are healing more and women with male avatars are healing less, perhaps feeding into the stereotype of women as healers (a very maternal role when you think about it ~_^)

A recent study looked at this gender-bending concept and discovered that men play female avatars much more frequently than women play males ones (23% vs. 7%) and that the gender-switching male players selected conventionally attractive avatars and used more emotional phrases in chat.

However, avatar movements were correlated to player gender, not avatar gender.  Male players moved their avatars around in certain ways regardless of the gender of their avatar.

This study is behind a paywall, but Nick Yee has an excellent summary here.  (He has also written a book on avatar psychology, The Proteus Paradox.)

All this got me thinking about how I choose my avatars.

My TOR toons in order of creation.  Not a Body Type 4 in sight.
My TOR toons in order of creation. Not a Body Type 4 in sight.

I clearly have chosen mostly female toons, 2/3 to be specific, across alignment, class, even personality of the character.  (And yes, my healing character -the Twi’lek- is female.)

But I take a very role-playing approach to character creation.  Not one of these characters resembles me in real life.  I specifically chose their races and classes to create interesting character stories.  The Chiss Jedi who never backs down from a challenge (he gets it from his mom, the bounty hunter).  The cyborg Agent who uses her enhanced brains (and her looks) in her dedication to the Empire.

They are mostly conventionally attractive.  We all enjoy staring at aesthetically pleasing things for hours.  In fact, I regretted the decision to give the Twi’lek Jedi a little extra weight because she looks so awkward when she runs.  I sure wouldn’t want to watch myself run, either!

However, none of my characters wear “chain mail bikinis” because it doesn’t fit with their characters.  I have also yet to engage in any companion romance options at all, because I created other romance options for them: my two Jedi are married; my bounty hunter can’t be bothered; my Agent has a thing for Hunter; my smuggler has a thing for anyone female.

But who knows what my next toon will be?  The Cathar trooper is low-level, so I could do companion romance with her.  I’d love to do a Sith–maybe she or he would wear skimpy clothing!

I think of TOR as an RPG where other people also happen to be playing.  But when I do interact with other people, I don’t do it as my character, in a role-playing way.  I have no idea if others can tell I am female (no voice chat), or if I act differently towards players depending on which character I’m playing.

Guess that means more research is needed! Back to gaming!!