The Quesh Mess and My Garden of Eaten.

The planet of Quesh, in The Old Republic, is overrun with mutant animals, infected with Republic scum and oozes toxins, unless refined, that are deadly to breathe. My back patio was overrun with insects, infected with rodent scum and oozed toxins from the cigarette butts of past renters. In both the world of The Old Republic and in the world that is my back patio, my goal was clear, clean this place up.

Quesh is inhospitable for the most part; unless you take a serum to help fight the toxic environment, you will quickly die on the planets surface. To add to the hostility of this planet, the toxins can be refined and used as war-turning adrenals, that boost the bodies healing abilities, reflexes and concentration. My patio’s environment was deadly, until winter blew gingerly through and killed the toxic leaves of the suffocating poison ivy and sumac. Once cleared, the patios limited ground space will be converted to produce nutrient rich vegetables.

Obok Stillsky and his companion Torian, go on safari.

The first to be cleared from Quesh’s surface are the Republic troops that stand in the way of both my credits and the Empire’s manufacturing of adrenals. I’ve started my killing spree and I’ve crippled the Republic’s toxic mining abilities. I can taste success and I can already see the credits piling up in my ships cargo hold. After raking, yanking out weeds and shoveling out roots, I can taste the bounty of vegetables in my mouth. I can imagine my refrigerator stocked with carrots and onions.

In the background, the flames of adrenal production.

I’ve laid down the foundation for the Empire’s conquest of Quesh. I’ve left Republic miners dead and even better, buried and alive within the same tunnels they were using to stockpile adrenal agents. I’ve turned the soil of my garden, coined The Garden of Eaten, and put down top soil that will be the foundation of my gardens growth. I’ve lined my pockets with blood-credits of fallen Republic soldiers and I’ve lined my patio with contractor grade edging.

As I near my triumph on Quesh and within my backyard, I become embolden. I start  to plant the seeds of multiple victories over the Republic forces, taking all offered missions. Standing on my patio, I can see the Dark Side within the freshly turned over dark soil. I am energized and my plans for my Garden of Eaten expand like the conquering vines of the Sith Empire

The Old Republic, License to Kill. Learning Permit, License to Thrill. Pt. II

(Continued from last week’s post: The Old Republic, License to Kill. Learning Permit, License to Thrill.)

Rather than the air horn acting as a signal to stop, it acted more like a starter gun at a track race. The car lurched forward and the front end rose in the air from the sudden acceleration. The cone burrowed into the underside of the car like a porcupine trying to escape the spears of a San Bushmen. After a good 20 yard dash the car finally came to a sudden stop, but not due to anything the driver did. Thanks to the fast acting efforts of the passenger, motivated by survival instincts, who pulled the emergency break. The cone, trapped and dying, billowed smoke as if bleeding. Then, as a revenge to the car and the driver who killed her, the cone caught fire.

Rodian eyes are big but the largest on record belonged to the one standing before Obok at that very moment. As if the music was a living being, and was capable of noticing the tension, it shut its mouth. The Twilek dancers’ gyrating generators slowed, then stopped and their lekkus lowered to their sides. Obok gave the Rodian a chance to speak, just to hear the stupidity. “Can I get you a d…d…drink?” fumbled out of the beak that Rodians call mouths.

My passenger and I finally stopped laughing just as the cone caught fire and the two girls in the car performed a real life fire drill. The counselor was cool under a cones fire and made sure the two drivers were fine before rushing indoors. By this time everyone was out of their cars and about a month early, we were all getting practice at our first high school pep-rally bonfire. Standing in a scattered, well distant circle, we watched the bonfire and the crying girl behind its creation.

Obok only dressed for a drink on very rare occasions, today wasn’t one of them. His “clubbing” outfit said only one thing, killer. Everyone in the basement already new the name of Obok’s attire and were already on the floor and behind bar-cover. Two glorified Gamorrean bouncers, embolden by their recent, Twilek infused, increase in salary, flanked the Rodian. Obok drew first, shot first and killed first.

The counselor was on his way out of the school, extinguisher in hand. Watching him make his way towards the fire, like a shop owner trying to save his burning store, gave me another excuse to cackle. This time my laughter was echoed by another. A girl from class, who I had also shared glances with prior to this mutual experience, was laughing with me.

“Makes this entire class worth showing up for?” I quipped as our eyes met, both gleaming due to the enhanced lighting from the cones death.

“Sure does,” she replied with an inviting smile.

I pressed the issue, “How about we put our new license to use and do something together this weekend?”

As the fire was put out and the smoke rolled around our heads she smiled and replied, “You bet.”

As Obok’s personal shield activated, a blaster bolt shot out of his highly modded S-110 blaster gripped in his right hand. As his blaster fired, so did his flamethrower attached to his off hand. The Gamorrean to the Rodian’s right was hit just above his armor and dropped to the ground like Bantha poop, before his blaster could even clear the holster. The Gamorrean to the left of the death mark had dropped his vibro-axe as he squealed and burned, his skin blistered and darkened and he too dropped to the ground just like his axe. The Rodian turned to go for a blaster in the couch behind him but slowed by his liquid exuberance, he only got turned around before Obok’s electrodart hit him square in the back, paralyzing him. Obok walked up slowly and calmly to the gyrating green-skin and turned over the Rodian as the electrodart’s potency died out. “You don’t take a bribe for a mark’s freedom, it’s not very professional,” was the last words the Rodian heard before his permanent retirement.

Obok, took off his helmet. Sweat dripped from his purple skin. He reached to wipe his brow but one of the Twilek dancers that he interrupted earlier was quick to pat the sweat away with a lace scarf. “From what I figure you owe me credits for at least a couple of dances,” she whispered with a smirk.

Obok smiled and said,”I’ll buy you dinner, maybe we can share a dance.”

As the bartender put out the burning bacon behind Obok’s shoulder and the smoke swirled in the air the Twilek replied, “You bet.”

Many a Gamorrean have been turned to bacon by this flame thrower.

The Old Republic, License to Kill. Learning Permit, License to Thrill.

The twin suns of Tatooine hit the fins of Obok’s speeder bike and gleam in the eyes of the rabble mulling around the vendors. A Jawa, drunk on juri juice, narrowly misses being clipped by the nose of my Ubrikkian Striker. Slow to react, I hear him scream “Utini!” about 20 meters after our close encounter. Obok Stillsky is pursuing a Rodian bounty hunter who took credits, rather than fulfill his contract. In the Great Hunt, taking a bribe rather than closing your contract is punishable by death, at least in Obok’s mind.

Ubrikkian Striker Speeder

The summer prior to my sophomore year I remember walking to my soon-to-be high school to attend a week long drivers ed course. The morning sun was gentle and wouldn’t be a problem until later in the day. The course was useful, mostly because upon its completion, it lowered car insurance premiums. It was also a good way to meet other incoming sophomores from different junior highs around the area.

Obok had taken any bounty he could get his hand on, on a multitude of planets. Any side jobs made available to him, no matter how minuscule, were accepted. Obok scrimped and quested until he had reached level 25 and had 40,000 credits. In TOR, not only do you have to be level 25 to be eligible for speeder piloting training but you also need 40,000 credits to pay for it. The irony, Obok already owned a star ship (The Abort Ion). He had already piloted his way to different galaxies but until just seconds ago, Obok had never felt the hot desert wind blow through his armor while seated on a speeder bike.

There were about five cars total, running through the cone course in the parking lot of the high school. Each car had two occupants that would switch off on the task of driving. For the most part you would just idle through the course, take your time, and leave at least a two cars length distance from the car in front of you. Today’s class, however, would go a little different.

Traversing the epic landscapes of Tatooine by foot would be painstaking at the very least, deadly for most. Obok knew where ole-tentacle-eyes was enjoying his riches, thanks to a generous donation of information from a Bith staring down a blaster muzzle. A little dive cantina that had watered down drinks but great Twilek ass was the perfect place for a washed up bounty hunter to spend his negotiated credits. It would also be a great place for Obok to corner the bugged-eyed-bastard and maybe, pick up a date.

On the opposite side of the circular course I noticed a car take a turn too sharp and acquire a coned shape passenger under its front right tire. My passenger and I laughed. Instead of just stopping, the driver panicked, accelerated and wrenched the cone deep into the wheel well. My passenger and I cringed. The class instructor, also one of the high school counselors, blew the air horn signaling everyone to stop. Everyone did, except for the one toting a cone.

Getting to the Rodian’s retirement party quickly was an essential part to Obok’s plan and having a speeder made it possible. Getting the drop on a bounty hunter was an advantage for Obok but getting the drop on a drunk bounty hunter was even better. The cantina was multileveled and the VIP section was down stairs, that’s where Obok’s mark would be. Scoping the the room from the bottom of the steps, the Rodian stood out just like you would imagine a green skinned would. Drunk and throwing money away on drinks and dancers you could tell he was having fun, which made it that much more enjoyable for Obok to kill the mood. Like Moses of fiction, Obok parted the Twilek sea of dancers, “Sorry to interrupt.”

To be continued…

Sh*t I’m Engaged, to The Old Republic.

I skipped the dating phase, force jumped over the “exclusive” period, and went right to putting a ring on its finger. I’m engaged to The Old Republic [TOR]. I went from fearing even going out on a date with TOR and straight to commitment. The ring is purchased (game) and I am already set up for potential alimony payments (monthly subscription fee). I’m fully invested and loving every bit of the honeymoon period.

                        Should she be laughing that much?

In my younger years and admittedly, even in my 20’s, I would get lost in the books that make up the expanded universe of Star Wars. Reading intricate stories about the fringe characters from the movies (especially the bounty hunters) and playing the D&D based Star Wars role-playing game [RPG], provided me an expanded view of the dark and seedy underbelly of Star Wars. It is this dark and seedy underbelly that made my love for Star Wars what it is today, it is also the reason I threw caution to the wind and put on ring on TOR.

So who am I? In the RPGs, I always gravitated towards bounty hunting. It’s true, there’s no better prey than human, or Wookie, or Aqualish, or Nikto, or Gungan… especially Gungan. I was Obok Stillsky, Tusken Raider turned bounty hunter. I was lawful and only took bounties on those who deserved it. I was part of the seedy underbelly but kept my hands clean from a moral standpoint. With age though, I’ve become a bit more dark sided.

My main influence to role-playing my TOR character is derived from Watto’s famous line in the Phantom Menace,”Mind tricks don’t work on me. Only money.” I am still Obok Stillsky but I am a Chiss; a purple skinned, red-eyed hunter, with only one motivation… credits – Mitt Romney would be proud. I don’t negotiate with targets, no matter how sympathetic their story may be. I don’t fear falling towards the dark side if it means getting the results I need on a bounty. What kind of bounty hunter would I be if I didn’t fulfill my contracts?

Perhaps the most famous Chiss of Star War's lore, Admiral Thrawn.

The books and RPGs of my past are now being relived in a digital world. TOR does a wonderful job of further adding to the great Star Wars lore and even throws in a few, rather large, easter eggs that reference games and books of the past. There is actually a Raven (of Knights of the Old Republic fame) cult, referred to as Ravenites, who play a large role in the game play on the planet Dromund Kaas.

The themes I’ve encountered as a money hungry bounty hunter have been mature and fun, even in conjunction with Disneyesque dialogue. A request by a high ranking  Imperial officer to kills his daughter? If the credits are right, Obok will oblige, and did, despite her whimpering pleas. All the gadgets you saw in the movies are there too. Jet-packs, flamethrowers and explosive/electric darts are all at your disposal. Even the great negotiator, the thermal detonator, is available at higher levels.

So from the pages of the RPGs and books has come TOR. Looking to play the stoic Jedi or embrace the dark side? TOR has it. Want to be a Han Solo like smuggler or a shifty Imperial agent? TOR has it. TOR has drawn from the database of Star War’s sources and turned it into one of the first multiplayers I have spent more than four hours in, much more than four hours.  TOR is the marriage of Star Wars lore and underworld-done-right. I have found my future wife and within her world, Gungan bounties are done pro bono.

My Inability to Commit: Keeping My Distance From The Old Republic

There is no other universe that I cherish more than that of Star Wars. From the hippie-dippie Jedi to the skilled stalkers of the Bounty Hunters Guild, Star Wars has been a constant in my life. It has provided me with thousands of hours of entertainment, spurred creativity and brought me closer to certain family members. It has also caused me great pain. The death of Qui-Gon Jinn, of Yoda, and the lack of a death for Jar Jar Binks, have all caused me moments of sadness and, in Yoda’s voice,”Suffering.” One Star Wars related experience, in particular, had a double impact.

One thing that has been on par and now surpassed my love of Star Wars has been PC gaming. When the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game Star Wars Galaxies released in June 2003 I was just getting ready to start my last semester of undergrad and had been anticipating its release. What a perfect game for me to get lost in during the summer before my last semester? Well, it wasn’t. It was a disappointment. I played very little during the free month provided with its purchase. I never played it again. Like Obi Wan on the Death Star it disappeared. Occasionally, like the force, it would whisper to me through news bits on gaming websites. I’d even listen, on occasions, to a podcast that reviewed add-on content, but I never committed to it again.

When news of a new Star Wars MMO (Star Wars: The Old Republic) first started making its rounds I was vaguely interested but mostly brushed it away like a juvenile Bogwing. As more info came out about The Old Republic [TOR] the more interested I became. When BioWare was named the developer of the new MMO, my Jedi senses raised the hairs on my arms. I had been fooled once before by the Lucas hype machine so I still didn’t commit. This time I would wait for the reviews and make an educated decision, not rush rashly towards a choice like some kind of scruffy nerf herder.

Well the reviews are out, and they have been spectacular. I must admit I was hoping  that they weren’t. I was hoping for poor reviews and an easy excuse for me not to commit. I was wanting the Death Star to win this one, by blowing away my desires to play, but with Jedi Masters like those at BioWare, I new this games destiny was greatness. Now it really pains me not to commit, not to play and not enjoy a universe that I consider almost family.

My fear? This game will take too much of my time. This is a worry I’ve never had, for any game. I would actually welcome such a fear for most games and then follow it up with a purchase. Not this one. I am actually hesitant to commit. I am fearful of the amount of time I would invest into this game. Will I eventually change my thought process and hyper jump into the TOR universe? One thing keeps repeating in my head as I continue to fear this purchase, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” I would hate to end up suffering but I hate monthly subscription fees even more.