Entry #9

Saturday, July 05, 2003, 4:20:11 AM (ScreenShot0100) 

Later on that night, I found myself alone, camped in the middle of Lok. Every lifelong CH remembers this day. You didn’t have any pets yet because you didn’t break into the CH elite profession, so you still found yourself in the middle of nowhere, harvesting mobs. For me, it was a no brainer… Langlatch nests. Oldschool CH’s know what I’m talking about. In the first few weeks of launch, Langlatches were borked. It was the ultimate jackpot for anyone going the route of Scout/CH/Ranger. The Langlatches, because of a coding error, were incredibly slow. It would take them over a minute to get to you. To take advantage, you’d shoot a wild nest once, and a few Langs would pour out. When you picked them off, you’d repeat the process. One nest would yield maybe around 20-30 Langs if you hit it right. The Combat XP (when it was working) was decent, but the real steal was the harvesting XP and the Wooly Hide.

This is where everything came together for me. It all clicked while I was sitting by myself in that camp that night. I didn’t know it yet, but that harvested Wooly Hide enabled me to put a price tag on my networking abilities. I now had a commodity that many crafters needed to grind with. And I had an overwhelming abundance of it. I remembered back to the last time I put the stuff on the Theed Bazaar… it completely sold before I even got back to the Starport. At first I saw dollar signs in my head… and then the reality hit me. Why sell to random people? I needed to work out a deal with a crafter. And that’s exactly what I did.

Saturday, July 05, 2003, 5:05:27AM (ScreenShot0107) 

Darkghosty. Man I miss that guy. He was the one that was buying my hide the second I dropped it on the Bazaar. He made contact and we made a pact. I’d only sell to him, and we’d agree on a price that was worth my while. And then we made a much better pact as far as I’d concerned. Instead of him giving me credits, he’d pay me in crafted items. And this is how I would tend to operate forever. I rarely had credits on me, but I had everything I ever needed using this method. Darkghosty pretty much made everything I ever wore, all the furniture in my house, harvesters… anything I needed in the early days came from DG.

But there was a catch. He was in (what would one day be) a strict Imperial guild… it was located along the Theed River behind the Starport. Me on the other hand… I had already gone Rebel (I wanted Hutt, but that faction didn’t exist). We never met in public after that first meeting. We always met in his lab, away from prying eyes. It was a pain in the ass too, because I was the type of player that was overt 24/7. Overt people of opposing factions couldn’t trade with one another, so I’d have to go covert first… it was probably for the best, showing up in Theed as an overt Rebel in those days was a suicidal concept anyway.

Saturday, July 05, 2003, 6:20:27AM (ScreenShot0115) 

A little while later, I got a call from Zox. He was somehow more excited then usual. He mailed me a waypoint and told me to get there as fast I possibly could. He told me to fly into Bestine, an Imperial held city first of all, and then run to the waypoint. So… I flew into Bestine, and when I spawned in the Starport the red dots were already coming my way. I mashed the burst run button and made it out of the starport, into a sea of Imperial blaster fire. But it wasn’t at me… the Rebels were attacking from Anchorhead, it was total chaos. I finally made it out of the city, and thanks to my scout modifiers, I was able to get over that first hill without getting noticed. After a minute, I came across a good 20 houses, one of Tatooines first cities. Jarnis, the servers premiere weapons dealer operated out of this city. I assumed Zox wanted me to meet him at Jarnis’ place to show me a new gun or something. Then I looked at the map… and the waypoint was right outside Wayfar!

Long walks to popular places are interesting when you’re an overt noob. Everyone is pretty much on the same path, meaning that I periodically ran into people on my long walk. And if I die, well I end up back in Bestine, uncloned. I had to decide to take a longer route and not run in a straight line, or take my changes on the traveled path. I took my chances. So far no Imperials coming my way. I wanted to hit burst run, but I figured I’d hold onto it in case things looked bad. And they did immediately. Three Imperials emerged in the distance, running right towards me. No big deal, I planned for this, and would burst run off the path and go around. Too bad I didn’t account for the drop spawn of Tusken Raiders that just landed on me. I got some of the burst run off, but the raiders incapped me pretty quickly. You all know what happens next… the Tusken slowely walks over to DB you and send you on a quck ride back to the nearest cloner.

Now you guys are probably thinking “how the hell does he remember this one walk from back in 2003?” Just as the Sandpeople were about to DB me, they were engaged by the three Imperials I saw. It was a fair fight, but the Imps won. Well, it’s not really a win for me, cause it just changes who’s going to DB me, right? Almost. They gathered around me, and one of them says “whats the matter Vro, cant hack life off Lok?” I look up, and it was friggin Kastore. He had two Stormtrooper pets with him, and those were the three red dots on my radar. I was never so glad to see that dude, he totally saved me another half hour of running. “Zox is looking for you at the Tusken Camp near Wayfar,” he told me. WTF was the Tusken Camp? Who cares, after what just went down, I was in the mood to dish out some payback. Kastore was going back to his house (same town as Zox, Jarnis, Fuxu, Khan, Rudd… they all lived outside of Bestine), so again I was on my own.

When I arrived, I heard a lot of commotion going on in the distance. I didn’t even get to check out Wayfar, I just ran in, cloned, and ran out the other side. Right down the hill, about 100m away, was the picture above. There was about 20 guys brawling it out with a continuous spawn of Tuskens. It wasn’t very organized, but it was fun as hell, so I jumped right in. Grouping was bugged, so it was every man for himself with harvesting XP… which was all I cared about, because I was around 2000xp away from getting Novice CH. Tusken Banthas were spawning in the mix, so that’s what I was looking out for. By hook or by crook I got my XP, and just as I did, Zox told me that he couldn’t find me in the chaos, and asked me to meet him back up the hill in Wayfar.

Saturday, July 05, 2003, 6:44:27AM (ScreenShot0116)

Zox hit CH before I did. There, I said it. Now my memory is a lil foggy, I’m not sure if players were allowed to train one another in Novice Boxes or not… if they were, then Zox trained me in CH, and that Cu Pa was my first pet. If it wasn’t the case, then I had to go back to town to train, and promptly got myself a Cu Pa of my very own. Anyway, back to Zox. He was a CH, but he also had his own methods of getting what he needed… case in point, that droid. I didn’t even know DE’s had grinded that high yet (I think he bought it from Zannex actually)… but Zox knew, and he got himself some muscle when he bought that thing. We were all starting to push into our elite profession boxes, but having pets of any kind was a big help while on hunts.

Saturday, July 05, 2003, 7:20:14 PM (ScreenShot0119) 

This lil guy next to me is Homer. I tamed him that day on Tatooine, and he never left my side thereafter. The only time that I didn’t have him with me was when the NGE hit. I was stripped of my profession, and subsequently lost the entitlement to call him. Later on, they changed the system again (adding Beastmaster), and I cloned him in an incubator to get him back. But years before that, everything was about Homer and I. People would always know where I was because Homer would be parked outside the Cantina door. He was my calling card. And thanks to SOE’s garbage pet pathing early on, I’d get /tells from people saying “uhhh you know Homer is drowning in the Theed River right now, right?” Remember, this was before mounts, so Homer had the luxury of not having me on his back at the time. And in these very early days, either pet naming was borked or I didn’t even have the ability to name my pets yet, so he was still known as “a Cu Pa (baby).” But he was my first pet, and my most loyal companion. I’m sure every CH has a “Homer” of his own.

Saturday, July 05, 2003, 7:27:14PM (ScreenShot0125) 

After hitting CH, I (of course) decided to head back to Lok… but not before a quick stop to hang out with my real life buddies on Rori. Nosun and I were the entertainment of course, Zannex was grinding away having finally broken into DE, and Junon was just about to hit Novice Pistoleer. You can see that I tamed a baby Ikopi, but I ended up letting him go on my way back to Restuss because I saw a giant Leviasquall that I just had to have (this will make sense a lil later).

But through this picture, you can start to see the amount of cliques that I was a part of. You had these guys, my real life friends who were a lil less obsessive, and a lil more content just hanging out and enjoying the scenery. You had the Transcendents, an established gaming guild that would eventually pass SWG (like most people) in favor of WoW. You had Darkghosty, my personal Architect/Armorsmith/Tailor/whatever else he dabbled in, and of course you had “my guild,” which was Zox, Ciale, Rampage, Kastore, and maybe Fuxu if he was still on Eclipse (he ended up on Scyllia I think). And there were even more then that on top of it.

I was a pretty social fish, anywhere I ended up I added the people who seemed cool to my friends list and kept in touch. If I came across an item, or a circumstance, and none of my friends could make use of it, I’d dial up one of these acquaintances and pass it off it to them. Everyone appreciated the gesture, and in doing so I ended up building a network of potential buyers and sellers that I would introduce to one another if the circumstances (and price) was right. That’s right… I’d sell information to people I didn’t know that well (never charged friends of course). If I knew a guy who needed meat, and I knew a guy who was harvesting meat, I’d talk to them both separately, work out the details, and then offer them a chance to have the same kind of relationship that I had with Darkghosty. Now of course, this falls somewhat into the category of roll playing, and some people didn’t know what the frig I was talking about. But most people thought it was really cool to use the game like this.

People became business partners this way. They got to meet new people, see each others houses, etc. It was a cool way to operate in general. And people were thankful! My name got thrown around even more, and people were now coming to me frequently for pretty much anything. Usually asking about Lok hunts, but also asking if I knew of anyone who wanted to buy this or that, or knew of anyone that had a good pistol for sale. And this was the legitimate start of my Middleman Career. I wasn’t a Droid Engineer, or an Armorsmith, or a Weaponsmith… but I knew who they were and I could direct you to them (remember, no global vendor search… hell some of these guys didn’t even have vendors). And those guys all thanked me for the referrals. If anything, I was an “information broker.” And soon, I’d blend it all, involve all the cliques, both factions, all the people I met, and create a giant web of transactions that actually had curriers deliver items to the doorstep of anyone that had just about any request. All you needed was to know my name. I wasn’t great at anything, but I was “good” at everything, and the one thing I could depend on was that I had great people around me, and if I planned it, they could make it happen. It wasn’t about making credits, it was about helping the fledgling economy get rooted, before the impending credit dupe inflation hit and threw the economy out of balance forever.

Sunday, July 06, 2003, 3:06:10 AM (ScreenShot0130) 

Finally, back on Lok. This next series of screenshots may be the most interesting to anyone who plans to find themselves XP hunting big game. As you can see from the conversation above, I hired Rowah, the best Medic I ever met, to come on a hunt. Medics in those days were busy people, and to get a good one, you had to put up some credits. I’m sure Rowah would’ve done it for free, but I was big into overcompensating my friends.

You can also see us talking about aggro management, which is critical when you’re not able to take on the world just yet. That day, we were going to hunt Kimos for the first time since the game launched. At this point, I was an established group leader, specifically on Lok. I was in a lot of Kimo groups back in beta, so I knew what it took to get the job done. There’s a good chance that no one on Eclipse had even made the attempt yet, nevermind succeeded at that point. The chances of us doing so were slim. No way in hell the two of us were going to do it alone… Rampage was getting his gear together next door, but still we needed more. So I did a /who, and invited everyone who came up on the list. This was incredibly risky, because Kimos are tough enough, but if the guys I invited were not up to speed, then we’d be spending a lot of needless time getting into all sorts of trouble.

But aggro management was the first step. If you’re hunting Kimos, then you’re hunting Kimos. You’re not stopping to fight Perleks, or Snorbals, and you’re certainly not trying to agro the hundreds of Kusaks that are dying to take a chunk out of your ankle. This group was about Kimos. I didn’t hire Rowah for anything less. And you know Rampage wasn’t the type of guy to waste his time in a messy group pulling aggro with all the Mercenaries and Pirates that were lurking out there. The focus was the thrill of going after the big game, at a level where we could barely even consider it. We had to stay vigilant. Which is why I tamed that Giant Laviasquall on Naboo the day before.

Sunday, July 06, 2003, 3:25:10 AM (ScreenShot0131) 

This was the assembled group of strangers (of course aggroing a Flit nest). Of the stragglers, that big furball named Shoten ended up being a very longtime member of the eventual guild I’d end up in. There were a few more guys, we had about 10 total. Rampage had Jarnis custom make that FWG5 if memory recalls. There was never a time that Ramp didn’t have the very best pistol that money could buy. And he’d need it with the learning curve of this group. We spent over an hour getting to the middle of Lok, a spot I knew from beta that was known to spawn Dune Kimos. And as promised…

Sunday, July 06, 2003, 4:40:20 AM (ScreenShot0137) 

“Why does this guy keep talking about that Laviasquall?” Com’n you know the question crossed your mind. Here’s the deal. The ten of us were an even match for a Dune Kimogila under two circumstances. The first, we had to be incredibly tight. You fight one at a time or you’re dead. You don’t aggro anything else in the area, or you’re dead. I made this aggro rule incredibly clear to the newcomers. If you were gonna get DB’d, then you get DB’d. What you don’t do is run away, and aggro something else, so the group wipes. I didn’t have to tell Rowah this stuff, he’s a Medic and he knows how a good group operates. God knows I didn’t have to tell Ramp. Matter of fact, you don’t tell Rampage Savage anything. He tells you. And you listen. The other circumstance is having a capable Medic. Without a Medic this trip doesn’t happen.

So here’s the process. One person pulls. That person is always me. Everyone else stays put, and I alone move ahead. Well not exactly alone… I bring “Kimobait,” the eventual name of the Giant Laviasquall. Starting to make sense now isn’t it? The server had warping issues, and there’s no chance in hell I was going to have a Dune Kimo warp on top of me. Even if the group was a safe distance, it’d take me a half hour just to get back to them, and risk the Kimos despawning. Remember, “rezzing” had not been invented yet. No Medic had the ability, even if he broke into the Doctor elite branch. When you die, you cloned. There was no other option. And Dune Kimogilas one hit DB. There were no “buffs.” There was no way to withstand a direct hit by the kind of mob this was. And this is exactly why we hunted it.

So instead of risking a warp DB, I sent Kimobait over to the Kimo nest. Now I’m not sure if any of you have ever witnessed a Giant Laviasquall go about his or her business, but lets get this out of the way… it is no quick process. At first, the group is wondering why in the world I’d have this thing with me in the first place. There weren’t many CH’s in existence at this point, so the non-CH’s on this trip were looking at me thinking the entire profession was a big joke. And now… well we’re all waiting like 2 minutes for this giant bunny to walk 64m across the Lokian desert. Ramp knew what I was doing though. He was sending me /tells along the lines of “dude no one is going to believe this.”

And so this was how I did it. Once Kimobait was in range, the Kimo would of course “take the bait.” Even if it warped, it would warp on Kimobait, and not on me. If it didn’t warp, I’d call Kimobait back, and kite the Kimo away from the nest. As soon as I felt it was far enough away from the pack, I’d lay a health shot on him to get his attention. He’d turn his attention to me, and now all the pieces are in play. Remember, at this point in our progression, there were no “tanks.” It’s not like an endgame circumstance where you can have a guy absorb all the hits and heal him while everyone else lays on the DPS. In this event, if you get hit once, you’re most likely dead.

But that was Rowahs problem. We all had our tasks. Rowahs job was to keep us standing. My job was to make sure that in the ensuing riot, we did no aggro the rest of the Kimo nest, or any of the other many mobs that were near by. I did this by sending messages to individuals in caps (“YOURE TOO CLOSE TO THE MERCS COME OVER BY ME”). You can only clear so much, things respawn at a decent pace. You have to be aware of all of that… and that was my job. Ramps job was to kill this thing. He had the skills and the guns. The problem was, if you hit it hard enough, it’s going to turn to you, and that’s the risk that Rampage had to always take for us. When you put up the most damage, you will always pull the most aggro. And that’s what this whole thing was. It was all of us circling this massive pissed off creature, Rowah trying to catch up and drop heals, while the rest of the group tried to pull aggro off of Rampage as he tried to reestablish it towards himself. These are the types of aggro management techniques that keep groups alive. If you can coordinate it, then you will get strangers asking you to take them out on your next hunt. We built the foundation out of our first guild on this basic premise. More on that in later entries.

Sunday, July 06, 2003, 4:46:20 AM (ScreenShot0138) 

This picture explains it perfectly. One Dune Kimo looks at his dead friend, while I’m standing right next to their nest with my giant bunny rabbit. I was a Novice Pistoleer/Novice Creature Handler at most. There’s no way I got past the novice boxes at this point. The reason why I was able to stand in that spot, on that planet, was because of group coordination. You don’t need to have the master skill boxes, you don’t need the elite weapon drops that sell for a hundred million credits. Hell, I never had more then a couple thousand creds as I previously said. What you need is teamwork. You need trust, you need coordination, and above all you need to love what you’re doing.

Sunday, July 06, 2003, 4:55:43 AM (ScreenShot0139) 

We took the whole nest out in less then an hour. Anyone who was second guessing the fish with the Laviasquall shut their mouth when that first Kimo crashed and shook the world around us. The thrill of helping move the aggro around was a learning experience for everyone, including myself. The first guy got to harvest an unimaginable amount of hide in comparison to what they were getting off of anything else they harvested before (I was always last in the group to harvest), and everyone saw the incredible combat XP roll in. The second Kimo fell just as fast, but the rest fell even faster. Everyone was on the same page.

SWG went from being “a game” to those casual guys who were out exploring, to them thinking “this isn’t like anything I’ve ever done in a game.” You were part or something on those early hunts. Everyone was thankful, and everyone told their friends about it. Soon my hunts were capped, but I ended up making a 10 man limit to make sure I got enough XP out of the trip. Eventually we were going out there, just a couple of us, and of course, solo… but that’s a story for later on.

The hunt that day was the most satisfying to date, but that’s not the big deal of the day to be honest. If you look at that last screenshot, you see a name called “Florian” in there. You can’t see him because he’s standing behind that giant furball, but he was on that first hunt. I didn’t add his name to my friends list, it was getting full, and unless I talked in length with someone, I had dropped the habit of adding everyone I met by this time. This guy ended up being the final piece for the Middleman thing I was getting off the ground. We ran into one another later that week at the Tusken camp outside of Wayfar (if you were a CH, you were grinding XP there frequently). I was playing my slitherhorn in a camp to heal some minds, and he stumbled in and gave the old “holy crap, you were the guy from that Kimo hunt!!”

The rest is history. We got to know one another, and it turned out that he had a mining operation with his close friend Alistea. He was doing with mining what I was doing with information. He was dishing off bulk minerals to grinding architects and weaponsmiths, selling the stuff faster then he could extract it. I remember him telling me about how hard the ore runs were, the good stuff spawned on the adventure planets and to get to your harvesters you had to traverse through serious obstacles. On top of that, they didn’t have the big time BER harvesters that we all remember from later on in the game… so you had to make many trips or risk capping out and losing profit.

But this was just the guy I needed. On top of all that business stuff, he had deep Rebel connections, which would come in handy as time went on. But this is how it happened. Florian enabled me to branch out and meet way more people. He was the friendliest guy in the Galaxy, and on top of everything else, he was a fish! The amount of hijinx the two of us got ourselves into was epic. We even had multiple matching outfits, so out of no where you’d get these two fish in matching white duster outfits picking off Imperials as they were taking their Rebel destroy missions outside of Bestine. Imperials were practically shaking their fists at us, I actually remember them creating groups just to hunt us down and protect other Imperials who were running NPC missions.

Flo was the man. There’s going to be a lot of him as this story unfolds, but I’ll say this up front… years later, I named my TransGalMeg “Rihkxyrk” Attack Ship after the guy, just because I missed seeing his name on my screen.

From the Florian Files –

Those days in the game were about as good as it gets. Specifically this Kimo hunt; it was spectacular. There were probably a dozen or so of us; i literally think we all just bumped into each other at the spaceport…

As we landed, there was this interesting fish named Vroflus asking for volunteers. There weren’t many people at Nym’s, as pretty much everything on LOK was an instant DB for most people. Our group of 4-5 joined up with Vro’s clan. Right away, in groupchat, the seriousness of the expedition became very clear. Vroflus was the obvious leader, as he was the guy with the plans, repeating things like: “do not target random mobs, you will die”, “stay in the group” etc… The hunt itself was unbelievable because death meant death, and a long walk back from Nyms. There was a serious penalty for screwing up out there….Miraculously to me, those Kimos spawned right in the area Vroflus, with his scout skills, had pointed out. I just remember thinking, NO WAY, were F%^%ed!!!!! But, fear of death, and respect for those creatures kept us together as a group. There was nothing more satisfying than taking those kimos down… Like vro said, that hunt really framed what our guild became about: ingenuity, imagination, and a true sense of teamwork and camaraderie.Cheers,

Florian the fish

Read on for entry 10

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