Monday, 9 March 2015

Aerial photography in the Old Republic

I have a friend that uses drones to map dunes, which results in pretty pictures to dissect for science. I think her favourite pet in-game is a drone too. Unfortunately, you can't really make pictures with a drone in Star Wars. But did you know you can create the same views by zooming out really far?


Well, if getting a picture of your whole Tatooine stronghold at once isn't enough of a reason for you, this was my immediate motivation:

Yesterday evening we were getting laughed at by Master & Blaster doing some super serious progression raiding on Master and Blaster in the Ravagers raid on hardmode. A big part of that fight is predicting where to run in time, so it's important to see where the orange circles spawn long before they start becoming a problem. However, the space where they can spawn is larger than the area your screen covers. We suddenly made a leap forward by increasing the maximum zoom distance so we had an overview of the whole platform at once. I wouldn't want to keep this from you, so I'll explain below how it's done.

It seems hunting datacrons from this angle isn't too bad either

Naturally there's other instances for which increasing the max zoom distance can be nice. Some of them involve cheating on other players, so I'll not go into that in more detail (cheating is lame). I changed my settings back after taking the pictures for this post, because accidentally zooming out to be the size of an ant isn't exactly helpful for normal gameplay.

Increasing your max zoom distance in SWTOR

Before you do anything, shut down the game.

Now you'll have to localize the document that determines your SWTOR settings. This is where it was stored for me:

This PC > Boot (C:) > Users > Ravanel > AppData > Local > SWTOR > swtor > settings > LoginName_Account.ini

Obviously you can exchange the first Ravanel with whatever you made your computer believe you are called, and you will have to mentally replace LoginName with what your SWTOR account is called.

And then to think I didn't even need to climb a tree to get this shot

Opening this document will show you a bunch of settings, among which the following at the bottom:

Controls_CameraMaxDistance = 25.0

The setting is 25.0 if you have set it to maximum in the in-game UI settings (and lower if you didn't), but in this file you can change it to anything you want. For instance, for the Master & Blaster HM encounter I spoke of earlier, 75.0 is a good number. Zoomed out that much, you can see all edges of the platform where the orange circles can spawn. For the extreme zoom-out in the pictures of this article I used a maximum of 250.0 as value. Higher values stop having meaning eventually because you'll get clouds in the way and won't be able to see clearly.

After you've changed the number, save the file and restart Star Wars: The Old Republic. Good luck!

More pictures

Can you recognize the places where I took the following aerial shots?

 I love how much detail has been given to places that players will never be able to reach

Some places have nice repeating patterns

I can see the end of the world!

What places would you like to see from above?

Top picture: Raider's Cove, Rishi; 1) Master & Blaster ship, the Ravagers raid, Rishi; 2) Savrip Island, Ord Mantell; 3) Voss; 4) Senate Plaza, Coruscant; 5) Manaan; 6) Space Port, Raider's Cove, Rishi; 7) Coruscant; 8) Y-u'no's Smuggler's Haven, Nar Shaddaa 9) Imperial Fleet; 10) Northeastern Island, Rishi; 11) Fort Garnik, Ord Mantell.


  1. Those are some amazing shots! I'll have to remember to try that trick myself some time - I've often thought it's a shame that it's impossible to find a good vantage point to get a wider view of some planets. I didn't even recognise Rishi on some of your shots.

    (PS: Surely the answer to 8 needs to be Nar Shaddaa?)

    1. I'm glad you like them. And thanks for being so sharp-eyed; Coruscant obviously was a daft typo!

  2. Those look pretty cool. Some of them look like those promotional material when a gaming company wants to show off some place. :)

    1. If only I worked at one... I could make aerial shots the whole day!

  3. Very, cool. I wonder if I can mess with other games' ini files that way.

  4. I don't think I ever thought about it with other games but I recently had to do this in Rift because their zoom limit is too short compared to other games. At least, I don't think I've changed the zoom in any others but it's completely possible I did and have just forgotten by now. Pretty nifty stuff.

    1. I agree that it's something you won't need in most games. In SWTOR you definitely don't need to zoom out for normal content (it does help a little bit in that particular boss encounter I mentioned - although not many people will be doing that because it's deep in a quite challenging raid), so it was mostly for a good laugh and getting some good-looking pictures. Interesting to read about Rift, though.

  5. Woah! I found this from your Zakuul aerial shot and it's amazing. Thanks for the tip!


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