Friday, 29 January 2010

Threat of Peace, Issue #25

This Friday's update is just a Threat of Peace issue. Here's the official news:
The twenty-fifth issue of Threat of Peace™ begins in the heat of the fight between the Jedi and the Sith in Dantooine’s crystal caves. Lord Baras confronts Satele Shan with the fact that her Master was responsible for the attacks that threatened the peace process. When Satele hesitates, Lord Baras tries to urge her towards the dark side, even as Master Dar’Nala screams at Satele to strike the Sith Lord down…

Check out the latest issue of Threat of Peace now.
And it'll likely remain fairly sparse for the next few weeks as Sean noted on the official forums:
While we have announced our target launch window, we also realize there is a lot of information to release between now and then. We met with the development team soon after returning from the holiday break and discussed some of the information we want to release. In going over that, we decided to wait on a few things to ensure we are giving the community the most accurate information possible. We understand that pretty much everyone would love to have all the information about The Old Republic now but we wouldn't be serving the community properly if we told you all about a particular feature or mechanic only for it to be completely different than the way we explained it when The Old Republic releases.

We definitely have some new reveals and announcements coming up but I wanted to inform everyone that our next couple of updates won't be those. And while I'd like nothing better than to tell you what is on the horizon, I can't for the very same reason as I talked about above. We have a plan on what information we want to release and when we want to release it but we always make sure the rest of the team is confident with the information we are releasing before we put it out there.
Ah well, so it goes. With more than a year to go before release we'll have to be patient one way or the other anyway.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Gamasutra Interviews LucasArts President

Gamesutra has an interview with LucasArts President Darrell Rodriguez "On 2010 And Beyond". They talk about all kinds of games-related LucasArts things, but there are a few bit about The Old Republic as well, which I'll quote here:
You've worked with some obviously strong partners to bring some of the Star Wars game in recent years, like Krome. Do you hope to continue those relationships or are you staffing up to sort of bring back control of your products in-house?

[Darrell Rodriguez]: We're doing both. So, we're definitely growing internally, like I mentioned. And we'll also have phenomenal partnerships. We've got a great partnership with BioWare on The Old Republic, one of the best partnerships that I've personally worked with. I love working with Ray on a personal level, Ray and Greg, and we'll continue to look for those opportunities.

How closely do you work with BioWare? They have a very robust creative process that they're bringing to the project. Is it more approvals, or do you support them when they have questions about the lore, that kind of stuff?

DR: We work with them very closely. We work with them very closely on marketing, on the voiceover, on content in the game. BioWare, yes, they are brilliant at what they do, and they've got a great team and a great process, but it's much more than approvals. There's a great back and forth and great communication.

Unlike most MMOs, it's going to be a deeply story-driven one, so I would imagine that it's just a very important process to make sure that it stays consistent with the established parameters of the universe, right?

DR: Yeah. And that's the beauty of the Star Wars universe, that it's infinite. We can look at different timeframes within the Star Wars universe, which is what the Old Republic was.

Do you have people on site at BioWare Austin, or is it more of a conference call kind of situation? How does it work?

DR: There's a lot of frequent flyer miles, back and forth between both teams. Honestly, BioWare's here today. They're here today. We're reviewing a lot of stuff. The game is looking phenomenal. I'm actually extremely pleased with how it's coming out.
Nothing really new there, but perhaps nice to see a bit about how the relationship between BioWare and LucasArts is.

Though the other questions aren't directly related to The Old Republic, follow the link for the entire interview if you're interested.

[link] to interview with Darrell Rodriguez at Gamasutra.

IGN Video Preview

IGN has a short (two-and-a-half minute) video that they've titled "Star Wars: The Old Republic PC Games Preview". There's nothing new in it at all, it's just IGN summing up in broad strokes what we already know over a composite of old footage (particularly the gameplay trailers). But it's a nice overview and might be useful to explain to people roughly what Star Wars: The Old Republic is if they haven't heard of it yet.

I still can't help but cringe at seeing some of the character models though.

[link] to "video preview" at IGN.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Timeline 6: Onslaught of the Sith Empire

Today BioWare gives us a new Timeline update, in which Master Gnost-Dural talks about the surprise attack of the Empire on the Republic. Here's the official news:
A new holorecord in the Jedi Archive tells the story of the Sith Empire’s surprise attack at the start of the Great War over 28 years before the Sacking of Coruscant. Master Gnost-Dural notes the brilliance of the Imperial military’s carefully orchestrated assault which put the Republic at a disadvantage for the duration of the conflict.

BTC 28 – Centuries after being driven into exile, the Sith Empire returned from deep space to launch the most calculated military assault in Republic history. Strategically revealing its attack in a menacing manner, the Sith struck fear into the hearts of the Republic’s defenders even while orchestrating surprise attacks at carefully targeted locations across the galaxy. When the Republic fleet rushed to respond, they discovered the Sith had established puppet governments on several planets in the Outer Rim. Surrounded by enemies and traitors, the Republic fleet was forced to scatter, allowing the Sith Empire to sweep through most of the Outer Rim without further challenge. The Empire’s initial victories put the Republic at a disadvantage for the duration of the Great War.

Watch the sixth Timeline holorecord, Onslaught of the Sith Empire, narrated by actor Lance Henriksen.

You can also download a high resolution version of this video.
The video mentions a couple of planets we haven't heard before (which isn't to say that those will be in the game). To quote Darth Hater:
We noticed a few more planets mentioned, specifically in the Tingel Arm sector: Belkadan, Sernpidal, and Ruuria. A green planet is shown, referred to as located in the Sluis sector of the Outer Rim. We think this is Sluis Van (find credit: bigbaldpapa).
And the video even more sets up the Sith Emperor as a big bad.

IGN Presents the History of BioWare

With Mass Effect 2 right around the corner, IGN posted an article, titled "IGN Presents the History of BioWare", looking at the history of developer BioWare. Starting with their humble beginnings as two students of medicine programmign educational software at the University of Alberta, right down to the present day of them working on Star Wars: The Old Republic it looks at the string of successful titles they've released, the publishers they've worked with and such.

Here's an excerpt:
Shattered Steel was a modest success, receiving positive reviews and seeing decent sales. Of particular note was the detailed deformable terrain that allowed players to blast craters in the sides of hills, and zone damage that allowed strategic-minded sharpshooters to take out weapons mounted on enemies. Interplay was pleased with the game, too, and a sequel was planned for 1998. It would never come to pass, as BioWare's second game was about to completely eclipse anything Shattered Steel could have hoped for and define the company's direction to this day.
Though you most likely already know most of it, it's still a nice read to see where they've been and perhaps get a bit of an idea from that where they might be going.

[link] to article at IGN.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

SWTOR Trailer Nominated for VES Award

The Visual Effects Society (VES) announced the nominees for the 8th Annual VES Awards ceremony, with awards in various categories for film, animation, television, commercials and video games.

Among the various categories Star Wars: The Old Republic has been nominated for "Outstanding Visual Effects in a Video Game Trailer". I'm assuming that this refers to the "Deceived" cinematic trailer they unveiled at last year's E3 (mainly because it's the only official trailer):

Star Wars: The Old Republic isn't the only BioWare Trailer nominated; one of the other nominees is Mass Effect 2 (with I assume their cinematic trailer revealed last Christmas). Both trailers were created by Blur. Though that makes me wonder why the Dragon Age: Origins trailer wasn't nominated.

Other nominees are DJ Hero (with I'm guessing this trailer) and Halo 3: ODST (I'm guessing for this trailer). I think that they make a decent chance of winning.

Congratulations to BioWare and Blur on the two nominations.

The 8th Annual VES Awards will take place on Feb. 28, 2010, at the Hyatt
Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Rumor: Elder Scrolls MMO

In the "not SWTOR" news column a somewhat interesting rumor just surfaced.

It's been leaked (by the court filings of the case between Interplay and Bethesda over the Fallout MMO Interplay is working on) that Bethesda is working on it's own "World of Warcraft type MMO". Now VG247 claims to have been "very reliably informed" that this MMO is in an Elder Scrolls MMO. Combined with earlier rumors that has been registered by ZeniMax (Bethesda's parent company) as well as a slip-up stating that the next Elder Scrolls game is set 200 years after Oblivion and it's looking quite likely to be true.

Apparently the MMO has been in development since late 2006. If we estimate a development cycle of four to five years then that means that this "Elder Scrolls Online" might release around the time that Star Wars: The Old Republic is slated to be released as well.

Of course, it's all just rumors for now. But could be interesting. Oblivion at least always felt like an MMO you happened to be playing alone anyway.

Monday, 18 January 2010

The Escapist's Five Reasons Why The Old Republic Can't Touch WoW

After last week's Five Reasons Why The Old Republic Is a Threat to WoW The Escapist magazine has come with a follow-up article looking at it from the other side: Five Reasons Why The Old Republic Can’t Touch WoW

And like last week I'll briefly go through their points with my own comments. You can read their entire reasoning on their website; I'll just quote a brief section of each.
#1 - The Black Hole Effect: Everybody knows what a black hole is, right? It's when an object reaches a certain critical mass threshold for its given density and collapses into a singularity from which nothing can escape, not even light - and from there, everything it collects only adds to that mass. MMOGs are like that, too. Because they are extremely social games, you play what your friends are playing. Once a game has gained enough subscribers to reach critical mass, people are likely to play it simply because all of their friends are playing it.
It's hard to argue with this point. This is usually the reason that people say that it's folly to try and "beat WoW". After all, people who are happy playing WoW aren't that likely to stop playing WoW if all their friends are still playing WoW (or in a more general sense, if WoW still offers them what they want). And people who don't play WoW aren't likely to play a game that's trying to lure people from it by being a lot like it.

As such I believe that for SWTOR to be a huge success it needs to focus on people not interested in playing WoW. When it starts gaining a certain critical mass then it might start pulling people away from WoW, but you're not going to get that critical mass out of players who are already entirely sucked into another game.
#2 - Time Is Money, Friend!: Or, to be precise, time and money. The Old Republic may have EA's deep pockets backing it, but do you know who has even bigger pockets? EA's rival Activision, of course, which is in possession of the money-raking Guitar Hero and Call of Duty franchises. Oh, and we can't forget the money from WoW itself. If studio heads had the desire, Blizzard could throw more money at the development of a game than most companies could ever dream of.
I'm not sure I agree with this point as much. At least as far as money goes at some point putting more money into a product is going to be counter-productive. If it takes one person one hundred years to do a job then one might say that it takes one hundred people one year, but that isn't true. Because the more people you have the more overhead in organization you get and at some point you reach a stage where adding more people is only going to negatively impact development. Similarly having too much advertising I think desensitizes people to the product (if you see "WoW" adverts everywhere, are you likely to pay attention to any of it or does it just become wallpaper). As such I'm not convinced that ActiBlizz can really pump more money into WoW to try and offset any 'threat' SWTOR might pose.

Time is a different matter of course. Blizzard can just continue to do what it's doing without much pressure, but BioWare has to really achieve to reach their deadlines and prove themselves; there is a lot riding on them and if they don't pull through... best not to think of that.
#3 - Cataclysm: The Burning Crusade didn't offer much content for low-level players or beginners - two new races with two new starting zones, but otherwise everything else was standard issue - and Wrath of the Lich King offered even less. The third expansion, Cataclysm, on the other hand, is revamping the entire world of Azeroth from the ground up.
I'm not entirely convinced that Cataclysm will truly have that much of an impact on SWTOR. By the time SWTOR releases Cataclysm is likely to be old news; in gaming things tend to fade quickly. It might help boost WoW's numbers a bit when the expansion is released, but does it really make that much of a difference to SWTOR whether WoW has 11 million or 13 million subscribers (just to name a few numbers)?

In fact, one could argue that people fickle enough to jump on board because of an expansion are just as likely to jump ship when the next thing (i.e. SWTOR) comes around and as such Cataclysm might even help SWTOR.
#4 - System Requirements: WoW's graphics are dated, but the game is still one of the best examples in the industry of how stylized art direction and world-building can compensate for low-end technical specs. A game that limits itself to people with the raw power to run it is unnecessarily cutting off its audience, and The Old Republic will need to consider the bottom-end PCs if it wants to come close to duplicating the success of WoW (and lacking the cartoonish Warcraft style makes it more difficult to do that).
System requirements are important, yes. They need to be low enough that just about everyone can play them, yet still allow those with better systems to pull out a graphical glamor. However it seems as if SWTOR is indeed aiming for that. They might not quite get as low as WoW, but conversely WoW is starting to look quite dated.

Even so this is a hard issue for me to judge; not in the least because I detest SWTOR's character design and can't stand WoW's graphical design either. WoW's graphics were a major reason for me not play it, and I fear that trying to reach this goal of low requirements will do the same for SWTOR (making concessions they don't need to in a bid for lower specs; graphical style doesn't have to suffer for low specs the way SWTOR's character models have).
#5 - The Impossible Bar: Back in September, I spoke with Cryptic's Bill Roper about the launch of Champions Online. He admitted that there was a very high bar set for entry into the MMOG market, because new games are invariably compared to titles that have been on the market for years, fair or not. He pointed to the concept of "phasing" zones introduced in Wrath of the Lich King - four years after the release of WoW - and said that he'd heard criticism of his own Champions for not including the feature, even though one game had been out for five years and the other less than a month.
This is a fair point and probably SWTOR's biggest obstacle. They'll have to do everything they can to put as much content into SWTOR as they possibly can, and even then they're likely to fall short. And they haven't made it easy for themselves by making it fully voiced; if nothing else it'll make it very hard to add new content so that not only will they be running catching with WoW, they'll also be running much slower. People need to feel that they can be in the game forever and still not have seen everything and WoW has had many years to build that up.

Of course, the flipside of this is that they can learn from some of WoW's mistakes and do things right from the start. WoW is still, I'm sure, suffering with its legacy of being five years old. But the trick is recognizing what those are and not repeating them.

Either way though, I must admit that I haven't played WoW (beyond a month many years ago) despite some family members continuing to try and cajole me into playing it with them. My personal view on the matter would be that SWTOR needs to forget about comparing itself to WoW in any way, shape or form. Sure, things can be learned from it as from any other game (MMO or not). But SWTOR needs to establish itself on its own terms and not on WoW's terms, regardless of whether it will be bigger, a smaller success, or a failure.

[link] to article at The Escapist.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Fan Friday & Threat of Peace

This Friday sees both the next three pages of the threat Threat of Peace comic as well as a Fan Friday update. The latter they decided to spruce up a bit, but more on that in a moment. First we've got the comic; here's the official news:
The twenty-fourth issue of Threat of Peace™ drops us right back into the action as Jedi Knight Satele Shan and Master Dar’Nala press their attack against Lord Baras. Satele is given pause, however, when Baras reveals the truth—that Master Dar’Nala was responsible for the recent violent attempts to undermine the peace treaty. As Satele considers the implications, Baras makes the bold attempt he’s been planning—now that Satele sees the true weakness of the Jedi, Baras urges her to join the Sith…

Check out the latest issue of Threat of Peace now.
The second update is a Fan Friday update, which includes a number of nice community-made images (and I'm sure that the artists will get even more swamped with art requests). There's some stuff by JediBattleMaster, some stuff by varima, work-in-progress stuff by Theladril, some stuff by Kentoh, and fan fiction by spacedude.

But more interesting perhaps is that the developers have decided to make these Fan Fridays a bit more interesting by showing some early work-in-progress stuff by the developers themselves in a new "Developer Corner". I guess you could see the developers as fans as well (just that their stuff actually gets added to the game).

This they have a short work-in-progress video showing Balmorra's Imperial Shield. As they put it:
This week, we’d like to share an environmental visual effect from the planet of Balmorra. This animation shows the inner base in Sobrikill Valley where the townspeople work in the military base under the watchful eyes of Imperial troopers. The Empire added the shield below to protect themselves from Republic bombardment.

They also have a first view at character customization by showing some scars and burns that players can choose while customizing their character's face.

And finally they added a couple of new forum avatars as well:


And that's it. You can read the entire Fan Friday update on the official site.

[UPDATE] Seems that the video embed for the Balmorra video isn't quite working as it should (as in: not at all). And since I can't otherwise link to it, you'll have to look at it on the official website instead.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Target Launch Spring 2011 Confirmed

I just got an email from Sean Dahlberg, Star Wars: The Old Republic Community Manager, with the following text:
While we have not announced a specific date, we can confirm that we are targeting a spring 2011 release for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. We’ve got a lot of exciting updates and reveals planned throughout 2010, including the first-ever hands-on testing for the game. It’s not too late to sign up to be a game tester, so go to and sign up today. We can’t wait to share more about the game with you as we progress through the year, so make sure you stay tuned to the official website for details.
You can also read the update on the official forums. Thanks Sean.

Note that this is a target; they might miss their target it if they run into problems or such. This isn't an official release date announcement.

[link] to post at SWTOR forums.

Rumor: The Old Republic Coming Spring 2011?

The news has been making the rounds across gaming news sites. Yesterday during EA's fiscal year 2010 update conference call CEO John Riccitiello apparently made a statement that could be interpreted as indicating Star Wars: The Old Republic's potential release date. When asked about EA's upcoming plans for next year he said the following:
"On the digital side, while we've got a great number of incredible initiatives, one key driver is going to be the launch date of our major MMO," Riccitiello said.

"As it stands today, the game is making great progress towards a spring 2011 launch. But given the volatility of this particular sector, and the fact that we haven't yet provided a specific launch date, we will be excluding the revenue from our fiscal 2011 guidance plans."
No specific mention of Star Wars: The Old Republic, but people are reading "our major MMO" as meaning that game. Other candidates could be APB or Need for Speed: World Online, both scheduled for a 2010 release, or some major MMO that they haven't announced yet.

Another thing that isn't clear from the quote is whether he's referring to calender year or fiscal year when saying 2011; it looks like calender, but seeing as their fiscal year 2011 runs from April 2010 through March 2011 I'm not sure how Spring 2011 would start producing revenue for their fiscal year 2011 anyway.

So there's a lot of question marks. BioWare has refused to comment or confirm that he was talking about SWTOR. It seems unlikely though that SWTOR will release this spring; next spring seems more likely target (if later than the late 2010 that people were hoping for). And also note that he just says that they're on target; that doesn't mean at all that the game won't be delayed some (perhaps for the holiday season of 2011).

As it is it seems best to anticipate that Star Wars: The Old Republic won't be released before Spring 2011.

[link] to rumor at Darth Hater.
[link] to rumor at Kotaku.
[link] to rumor at IGN.
[link] to rumor at Eurogamer.

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Escapist's Five Reasons Why The Old Republic Is a Threat to WoW

Over at the Escapist they've published an article titled "Five Reasons Why The Old Republic Is a Threat to WoW". It, surprisingly, gives five reasons for why SWTOR might be a threat to WoW. As the article put it though not in the sense that it's going to be a "WoW Killer", but in that it might take a sizable chunk out of WoW's subscriptions and comfortably settle at No. 2.

Let me briefly list each point (you can read their full explanation by following the link) and five my own quick thoughts.
#1 - Fans: Now, when I say fans, I don't mean fans of Star Wars. Everybody loves Star Wars, sure, but if a massive pre-existing fanbase were all that an MMOG needed to achieve superstardom, we'd probably be writing about what games could possibly challenge the unquestioned rule of Star Wars Galaxies and Lord of the Rings Online. No, I mean BioWare fans - specifically, fans of Knights of the Old Republic.
I have to agree with this point. After all; that's why I'm still here. There are a number of things that I've seen so far that I'm not at all happy about, but I'm a BioWare fan (if not specifically KotOR) and thus I have to see this game, I have to play it. I knew that I would buy this game since I heard the first rumors that BioWare was making an MMO. That's not to say that I'll stick around for a long time, that completely depends on how the game itself actually plays and how much the negatives I perceive truly affect the experience, but I will play it.

And already I hear a number of friends and acquaintances say that they intend to play it as well; not directly because they're so interested in Star Wars or in BioWare, but because it seems that so many are looking to play this. This is something that I haven't seen in WAR, where the enthusiasm was largely confined to the community. So I can definitely see this point as being true.
#2 - Funds: BioWare is, as we all know, owned by Electronic Arts. Yes, the very same EA that is the second largest videogame publisher in the world, beaten only by rival Activision. EA's pockets are very, very deep, and there is more money being pumped into the development of The Old Republic than you or I could ever know. The voice acting alone is surely costing a very pretty penny, and that's just one part of the overall budget.
This point is a bit more tricky because, as the author states, money doesn't equal quality. Oftentimes it feels that the bigger the company and the more money is involved with a product, the less willing it is to take risks. Which is ironic because I fervently believe that to make it big you have to take risks.

Even so though, if one can believe that BioWare knows what it is doing then the money certainly doesn't hurt and likely will help a lot in making this a finely polished product with a high production value. After all, how many MMOs have crumbled because it was released in an unpolished state before it was ready?
#3 - It's Not WoW Lite: It's true that the IP of Lord of the Rings and Warhammer both predate Warcraft, but the problem with those games was that they follow the WoW formula - or rather, the EverQuest formula that WoW refined and polished.
I'm not entirely sure what to think of this point. On the one hand I agree because I've seen that very problem with WAR; people seemed to come in expecting WoW2 and then left when they found out it wasn't, while at the same time people looking for something different found it too similar to WoW.

But on the other hand I've not actually seen anything that makes me believe that it sets itself apart from WoW. Sure, it is a different setting, but I'm not convinced that's enough. Isn't it too thin a veneer? I've played a lot of MMOs in a lot of different settings, but in the end all too often it just felt like it was doing what every other MMO is doing.

Even so the author is probably right in that just having a fresh setting can go a long way for a lot of people.
#4 - It Could Be Something New: This is very much related to point #3, but while TOR is strongly based on "not being just like WoW," it also earns points on "doing something fairly different in the MMOG space."
This point I do agree with. The one point that SWTOR has that no other MMO has (to the same level) is its story focus. And I agree that unlike what most MMOs offer as unique feature it's something that should be immediately apparent from the start, drawing people in from the beginning. This was clear from playing Age of Conan where the first twenty levels were just like that (only I'm sure SWTOR will do it a lot better; in AoC it was almost coincidence since they originally intended those levels to be a single-player experience).

So it's understandable that they've been pushing that above all else; it's the one thing that truly makes it stand out in a way that no other MMO has done. It's a risky strategy as they'll have to make absolutely certain to provide such a massive amount of content that people feel like they'll never be able to run out. But the money and dedication being thrown at the game should hopefully achieve just that. And if they succeed in that then the rest of the game only really needs to be solid without needing to do anything truly new (much as I hate to admit that).
#5 - Lightsabers: Fwp-shhhhsssss... wronnnn, worrrarrang. Wrorr-K-SHH! K-SHHkrilkrklkkrlk, wrooonn, wroaonng.

I think that point speaks for itself.
I'll be honest and say that the Star Wars universe doesn't really interest me all that much; at least not any more than a number of other great settings (and less than some close to my heart). It is in many ways fairly generic sci-fi with spaceships, lots of weird alien races, far away planets (with exactly one type of climate), etc. The Jedi stand out as something different, but even there without their lightsabers they're just sorcerers in space. It's certainly not unique (the Mass Effect setting has all those things and does many better). Again I hate to admit it, but four out of the eight classes could exist in pretty much any (sci-fi) setting.

But there's one thing that Star Wars has that no other setting does and that's lightsabers. And I don't know what it is about them, but there's something intrinsically appealing about wielding a "laser sword". No other setting has really managed that as anything close is just copying the lightsaber.

So I have to say that I largely agree with the point, though I'm not entirely convinced that it proves that SWTOR is a threat to WoW. As the article notes many games have gone before making similar claims and I've seen a lot of explanations as to why that game was a "WoW Killer" or anything of the sort. And most of it sounded imminently reasonable at the time as well.

As such I'm interested in seeing The Escapist's second article next week which, in true "we're just covering all our bases" style, is said to list five reasons why WoW has nothing to fear from SWTOR. I'll post it when I come across it.

[link] to article at The Escapist.

Holiday Updates

Having returned from vacation, squarely into the new year, and back to work I've got some three weeks of Friday updates to catch up on. I could list those in chronological order, but instead I'll be contrary and list them from least-to-most interesting.

So we'll start with the next issue of the Threat of Peace comic, number 23. Here's the official news:
The twenty-third issue of Threat of Peace™ brings us beneath the surface of Dantooine where Sith Lords Baras and Angral are waiting in the planet’s ancient crystal caves; they know the Jedi will attack. Sure enough, Master Dar’Nala leads Jedi Knight Fortris Gall and Lieutenant Tavus to the caves to slay the Sith and lay the blame on them for destroying the peace treaty. When Jedi Knight Satele Shan tracks down her friends and realizes her Master yet lives, however, anything can happen…

Check out the latest issue of Threat of Peace now.
Next up is a BioWare Blog entry on the Imperial Agent, titled "Top Secret: Dossier on the Imperial Agent!". Here's an excerpt:
Secrets of the Imperial Agent

That’s enough background and context. Let’s talk specifically about what you’re going to see and do in the Imperial Agent class story.

It all starts on Hutta, where XXX XXXXXX is trying to XXXX the XXXXXXXXXX of XXXXXX the Hutt. After XXX XXXXX XXXXXXX, the Imperial Agent XX XXXX XX XXXXXXXXXXX X XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX on behalf of Darth XXXXX. He’ll work alongside a genetically enhanced XXXXXXX, encounter double-agents and triple-agents, betray XXX XXX XXXXXX or perform atrocities in the name of the Empire. The Imperial Agent will need to determine his own loyalties and the loyalties of those around him, and survive the attentions of XXXXXXX successor, the Sith Lord XXXXX XXXXXXX.

The Republic military, the SIS and the Jedi will all have a part to play as well, and that’s just the beginning—enough to give you a taste without spoiling what’s to come.
A couple of days ago BioWare announced another planet, the planet of Dromund Kaas, Imperial Seat of Power. Here's the official news:
Colonized and built upon by the Sith Empire, Dromund Kaas is home to the Emperor and his Dark Council. Almost completely forgotten for over a thousand years, the rediscovery of this world prompted the Sith surprise attacks that plunged the entire galaxy headlong into war. Despite being “off the map” by comparison to more heavily visited planets, such as the training world of Korriban, Dromund Kaas is very much the center of the Empire. Although the Emperor himself seems to have fallen silent recently, his Dark Council may have awakened a dangerous, hidden power within the planet’s jungles and ruins.

Access the HoloNet records to learn more about the mysterious past, and uncertain future of Dromund Kaas. Also, explore Dromund Kaas in this planet flythrough video, and be sure to check out the media section to see the latest wallpapers, screenshots, and concept art!
You can find the entry for Dromund Kaas on Wookieekepida. I can't help though but feel that the name sounds... cheesy (because "kaas" in my native tongue means "cheese"). ;)

Oh, and here's the wallpaper for the new planet; sceenshots and concept art you can find on the planet's HoloNet page.

And last is the Christmas update; a new developer dispatch video titled "Designing the Dark Side". Here is the official news:
Inspired by notorious characters such as Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, the Sith Inquisitor and Sith Warrior take different approaches to their rise to power. The Sith Warrior achieves victory through pure aggression and might while the Sith Inquisitor excels by cunning ambition and Force manipulation.

From storyline, to art style, to combat tactics, each design decision was made to support the dark side themes of power, domination, and destruction.

Watch Developer Dispatch: Designing the Dark Side, and learn how Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ developers created this dominating force.
And that's it for now; will keep updating when I come across more news.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy 2010!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I'm still on my Christmas vacation, should be back sometime late next week, but I wanted to wish you all a happy 2010.