Friday, 23 April 2010

Blood of the Empire

And here I thought that the combat video was awesome enough to carry this Friday on its own. But it seems that next to the video documentary on combat we get not one, not two, but three more updates this Friday. Of course none of them are quite as awesome as the video, but still.

First there is the news that Threat of Peace has gone to print:
Great news for comic book collectors! BioWare, LucasArts, and Dark Horse Comics are gearing up for the release of a three issue comic series of Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ Threat of Peace™. Each issue features 27 vibrant full-color story pages, and will be priced at $2.99.

Experience the passions and convictions driven by a handful of Star Wars™ heroes and villains as they reignite a legendary war between dark and light in this comic series originally published entirely online. The story takes place more than three thousand six hundred years before the rise of Darth Vader, and three hundred years after the fall of Darth Malak. If you haven’t seen Threat of Peace, you can check it out on The Old Republic website.

The first volume is embraced in a beautifully designed cover done by Benjamin CarrĂ©, and has a variant cover illustrated by Kai Li and Sunny Gho with art directed by Stan Zipnka from Attik. This action-packed, character-driven story was written by BioWare’s Rob Chestney, illustrated by Alex Sanchez, colored by Michael Atiyeh, and lettered by Michael Heisler.


The first issue of this three-part series will be released in comic book stores starting July 7, 2010 with two other subsequent issues following monthly thereafter. Find out where you can get your hands on the Threat of Peace by visiting comicshoplocator.com or by calling 1-888-COMIC-BOOK to find the location nearest you!
With Threat of Peace now in print they're starting a new webcomic, named "Blood of the Empire":
The first issue of Blood of the Empire™ takes us to a galaxy engaged in war. The Sith Empire strikes blow after blow against a Republic reeling from the return of its ancient enemies, and the Jedi scramble to defend their holdings. But Imperial victory is far from certain…

Teneb Kel, a fiercely clever young man apprenticed as a Sith, is selected by his masters for a secret mission--a mission concerning the Emperor himself and a threat to the Dark Lord’s thousand-year plan. Doomed if he fails, expendable if he succeeds, Teneb must unravel the schemes at work around him if he is to seize control of his destiny and alter the course of history.

Check out the first issue written by Alexander Freed, illustrated by Dave Ross, inked by Mark McKenna, colored by Michael Atiyeh, and lettered by Michael Heisler!
And finally today is a Fan Friday (with developer corner) as well. Next to a bunch of fan art (which you can find at the link) there's also a video showing some work-in-progress environments. I always felt that the environments in SWTOR looked quite stunning, and these previews are definitely no exception to that. I can't link or embed the video though, so you'll have to find it at the original page.

Then there's also concept art of a taxi:

The description under the image reads: "Need to get to another part of the city to uncover some information? Catch a ride in a taxi, similar to the one in this concept art, to speed to your destination."

This could be a first clue to player vehicles, but honestly I don't think it is. I think it's probably more something similar to the transit system in Mass Effect, where you pretty much click on a vehicle standing in the environment and are teleported to your destination. At best we might get a short cutscene showing the taxi depart and arrive (think landing your ship on a planet in KotOR).

And then they also added a couple of new forum avatars; three for the people in the Biography section and three for the stealthy Sarlacc Enforcer:


And that's everything, which I would say is plenty. Quite a rich Friday update this week indeed.

Combat Developer Diary

So it seems that while I was asleep Friday came early. Or at least Bioware's Friday update did; I think the day itself still came at the regularly scheduled time. Though the official update should be up on the TOR site later today, BioWare has given GameTrailers the exclusive rights to post the video a day early. And this video documentary focuses on combat in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Watch the video over on GameTrailers, or the embedded version below:


Looking quite impressive. As Syp noted it's easy to envision yourself playing the game based on those videos.

Darth Hater have already done their usual breakdown of the video as well. And of course the official forums are abuzz with the new video as well.

Definitely looking great.


[UPDATE]

And the official news is live:
Whether you dream of beating the odds with just your luck and a blaster, or imagine restoring order to the galaxy with Force powers and a Lightsaber, you’ll have your chance in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™.

We’ve talked a lot about how The Old Republic is innovating on storytelling in MMOs, and now we want to share with you how combat in The Old Republic will deliver a new level of excitement for fans. Check out our latest Video Documentary that focuses on Combat to get an inside look at how we’re bringing dynamic Star Wars™ action to life in Star Wars: The Old Republic!

Watch Combat in The Old Republic now!

Should be a high resolution downloadable version up in a while as well I think.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Timeline 7: Peace for the Republic?

Jedi Master Gnost-Dural has another update on the story events leading up to Star Wars: The Old Republic for us. This time he looks at the period before the war with the Sith broke out, a period of peace for the Republic. But things were already brewing secretly beneath the surface. Here's the official update:
The centuries immediately preceding the Great War were thought to be one of the most peaceful eras in Republic history. As he dives deeper into the galaxy’s history, Master Gnost-Dural discovers new evidence that suggests the dark influence of the Sith Empire was seeping into the Republic even then. Gnost-Dural’s latest report isolates one historical incident which suggests there was a Sith Lord pulling strings within the ranks of the Jedi decades before the war even began.

BTC 103 – More than a century before the Sacking of Coruscant, two Jedi scholars embarked on a journey which became one of most inexplicable mysteries of its time. Young Jedi Knight Eison Gynt joined his Master in a mission to investigate the Ancient Sith Temple of Yavin 4. On Yavin, the pair was attacked by the native Massassi and driven into the Tomb of Naga Sadow where a powerful force of darkness emerged. Gynt’s Master returned to Coruscant wounded and half-insane, remorseful that young Eison Gynt had been killed in the chaos. Years later, however, Gynt returned from Yavin on his own and attacked his former Master. Gynt was killed and all assumed that he had been tainted by the darkness on Yavin 4 and returned to Coruscant for revenge. Nonetheless, the truth, as Master Gnost-Dural has discovered, may have been far more sinister.

Watch the latest Timeline holorecord, Peace for the Republic?, narrated by actor Lance Henriksen.


You can also download a high resolution version of this video.
And as per usual let me also include the full text of the Timeline update:
THE CENTURIES PRECEDING THE GREAT WAR WERE A TIME OF PEACE AND GROWTH FOR THE REPUBLIC.

DOZENS OF NEW STAR SYSTEMS JOINED THE GALACTIC SENATE.

FOR THE SITH EMPIRE, HOWEVER, THESE CENTURIES WERE MARKED BY A RAPID ACCELERATION IN THE PREPARATIONS FOR WAR—AN EFFORT IN WHICH THE SITH SHOWED SURPRISING COOPERATION AND SACRIFICE.

I HAVE LONG SUSPECTED THAT DURING THIS EXTENDED PERIOD, THE SITH SPENT GENERATIONS INFILTRATING REPUBLIC POLITICAL CIRCLES AND EVEN THE JEDI ORDER.

REVIEWING HISTORICAL RECORDS, I HAVE UNCOVERED STRONG EVIDENCE OF ONE SUCH CASE.

EISON GYNT WAS A FOURTH GENERATION JEDI, WIDELY CONSIDERED TO BE THE MOST PROMISING PADAWAN IN THE ORDER.

HAVING A SIMILAR HERITAGE, THE VENERATED JEDI SCHOLAR, MASTER BAREL OVAIR, TOOK GYNT AS HIS APPRENTICE.

TOGETHER, OVAIR AND GYNT TRAVELED THE GALAXY, STUDYING THE MYSTERIES OF THE FORCE.

OVER THE YEARS, THE PAIR BECAME MORE AND MORE AMBITIOUS, EVENTUALLY UNDERTAKING A DAUNTING MISSION.

THEY SET OUT TO EXPLORE THE ANCIENT SITH TEMPLES ON YAVIN-FOUR.

THEIR GOAL WAS TO INVESTIGATE THE FINAL RESTING PLACE OF NAGA SADOW—ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL SITH LORDS WHO EVER LIVED.

ARRIVING ON YAVIN-FOUR, OVAIR AND GYNT DISCOVERED THAT NAGA SADOW’S TWISTED MASSASSI WARRIORS HAD SURVIVED THE CENTURIES.

THE MASSASSI ORIGINATED AS A SITH SUB-SPECIES, FORMING THE BACKBONE OF THE EARLIEST SITH ARMIES.

BUT NAGA SADOW SUBJECTED HIS MASSASSI FOLLOWERS TO HEINOUS EXPERIMENTS—TURNING THEM INTO DARK FORCE-WIELDING MONSTERS.

GYNT AND MASTER OVAIR FOUGHT BRAVELY AGAINST THE MASSASSI, BUT THEY WERE DEFEATED AND FORCED TO FLEE DEEP INTO THE TEMPLE.

THERE, THEY ENCOUNTERED THE DARK ENERGIES STILL LINGERING IN NAGA SADOW’S TOMB.

WEEKS LATER, MASTER OVAIR RETURNED TO THE JEDI TEMPLE ON CORUSCANT ALONE, WOUNDED AND HALF INSANE FROM THE TORTURES HE HAD ENDURED.

AFTER A LENGTHY RECOVERY, MASTER OVAIR TOLD A TALE OF THE HORRORS HE FACED, AND OF GYNT’S TRAGIC DEATH.

SEVERAL YEARS PASSED.

THEN ONE DAY, EESON GYNT MYSTERIOUSLY RE-APPEARED ON CORUSCANT, WEARING THE GARB OF THE MASSASSI WARRIORS AND BENT ON KILLING MASTER OVAIR.

POSSESSED BY THE DARK SPIRIT OF NAGA SADOW, GYNT ATTACKED HIS FORMER MASTER IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.

THE BRUTAL BATTLE BETWEEN THE TWO WAS STAGED WITH ALL OF THE REPUBLIC WATCHING.

GYNT’S BORROWED POWERS WERE FORMIDABLE, BUT MASTER OVAIR WON THE DAY.

OVAIR’S TRIUMPH OVER DARKNESS WAS CELEBRATED, AND THE JEDI COUNCIL ASSUMED THAT ALL WAS WELL.

THE QUESTION NO ONE ASKED WAS THIS:

WHY WOULD NAGA SADOW’S SPIRIT SEEK VENGEANCE, SPECIFICALLY AGAINST MASTER OVAIR?

THE ANSWER HAS BECOME CLEAR AFTER A CLOSER LOOK AT OVAIR’S JEDI HERITAGE:

HIS FATHER AND GRANDFATHER ALSO WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY TO VISIT THE TOMBS OF THE ANCIENT SITH LORDS.

THEY WERE A FAMILY OF SITH INFILTRATORS.

OVAIR’S MISSION ON YAVIN-FOUR WAS NOT FOR THE JEDI—IT WAS ON BEHALF OF HIS TRUE MASTER, THE DARK EMPEROR OF THE SITH.

THE EMPEROR KNEW THE SPIRITS OF THE ANCIENT SITH LORDS COULD BE A THREAT TO HIS POWER WHEN HE RETURNED TO THE KNOWN GALAXY A CENTURY LATER…

OVAIR’S TRIP TO YAVIN-FOUR WAS A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE…

TO SEAL NAGA SADOW’S TOMB AND ENSURE THE EMPEROR’S ONLY ENEMIES WHEN HE RETURNED WOULD BE THE JEDI AND THE REPUBLIC.

HOW UNFORTUNATE THAT WE’VE ONLY LEARNED THE TERRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT MASTER OVAIR MORE THAN A CENTURY TOO LATE.

OF COURSE, THIS REVELATION ONLY RAISES FURTHER QUESTIONS…

WHAT OTHER ACTS OF DARK SUBTERFUGE WERE OVAIR AND HIS FAMILY INVOLVED IN?

THIS WILL BE THE STARTING POINT FOR MY NEXT REPORT.
I must say that I enjoyed this timeline more than the previous ones. I guess it helps to have a little bit of unique story in there with its own mystery. And I couldn't help but consider all the possibilities for ingame stories in the full game connected to that. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if some quests (for some classes) look deeper into this whole thing to find what really went on there. And it wouldn't surprise me if Yavin-Four is another included planet; for some reason I always liek the idea of the place.

And it seems clear now that Naga Sadow isn't the Sith Emperor.

Since the Friday update above there have also been a couple of developer posts on the official forums related to the subject. First is one by Rob Chestney, who comments on KotOR2 in relation to SWTOR:
Hey Folks, always nice to see the healthy debate sparked by the Timeline pieces. I love Star Wars history and particularly anything relating to KotOR. Even though KotOR 2 was developed by another developer, lots of folks at BioWare played and enjoyed it, including myself. If you look closely within the game, you will find several references to events or characters from KotOR 2, and we absolutely treat it as canon. I will also say that there have been discussions about the final fate of the Exile, who was indeed a woman according to the canon.

When outlining the Timeline series, though, we skipped over the events of KotOR2 for a few reasons:

(SPOILER ALERT if you haven't played KotOR 2)

Essentially, what happened in KotOR 2 is that a few years after Revan disappeared, a new trinity of Sith Lords materialized and drove the Jedi into hiding. Kreia (aka Darth Traya) sought out the Jedi Exile, and sought to use her as a mechanism for destroying the Force itself. The Exile defeated the Sith Lords, foiled Kreia's plan, and disappeared into deep space searching for Revan. The galaxy was essentially returned to the same state as it was in before the events of KotOR 2.

A few things about this: first, it all happened behind the scenes; the Jedi of the TOR era don't even know what really happened, in fact the only people who ever knew were the Exile and her companions. Second, because the events of KotOR 2 didn't really change the political landscape of the galaxy in any significant way, it's really more of an historical footnote to the Jedi Civil War rather than a major event in its own right.

This is absolutely not to say the story of KotOR 2 wasn't important. Taken in the context of the Timeline series, however, we decided it would be confusing and that the next note in the history of the galaxy should be the Jedi Civil War.

Thanks for all the feedback and interest in the game and in the Timeline videos. You guys remind us of why we're doing all this, so keep it up.

Cheers
I just hope that when he says that the Exile was a woman according to canon he's just talking about canon and not about SWTOR, because otherwise they'll likely also have Revan only as male in the game, and that would ruin the continuity of the story for me. I've long held that in a game they don't have to keep to a single canon and can keep things flexible (much like how in KotOR2 the game asks you what gender Revan was and then represents events as if that also was the truth of it). For me Revan was a woman and it would be extremely disappointing if that changed (and similarly I can see how it would be similar for those for whom the Exile was a man, not that anyone really seems to care much about the Exile anyway).

The other post is by Daniel Erickson who talks about marriage in the Jedi Order:
How rare that I see a question I'm allowed to answer!

Following the decimation of the Jedi Order as revealed in Knights of the Old Republic 2, the Jedi were forced to bend and rethink many of their restrictions in order to rebuild. There is no denying that Force sensitivity can run strongly in particular bloodlines and so for a brief period of history it was allowable to romance, marry and have children much like anyone else. After a series of horrific feuds and padawans lost to the dark side in the following century, however, the Jedi once again tightened their rules. In the time of The Old Republic it is permissible to have children and even to marry within the order but only with direct permission from the Jedi Council. To be granted permission the Jedi must prove a perfect detachment and serenity, basically that he or she does not care more about their prospective spouse or parent of their child than they do about any other Jedi. Permission is very rarely granted but the rule has become something of a release valve, both relaxing the order from the oppression of earlier years and often bringing budding romances to the surface so they can be dealt with by Jedi Masters.
I still have to scratch my head over how much difficulty the Jedi seem to have with the whole concept of love. But then that's always been backwards about the Jedi Order; I simply can't see their 'perfect detachment' of ever coming to anything good (the Sith take the opposite to a whole other extreme though). It doesn't help that the prequel movies which were supposed to show the dangers of romantic attachments (as that's supposedly what led to Anakin's fall) so completely botched the whole thing. I don't think anyone can realistically believe in Anakin's fall the way it's been portrayed. So I maintain that true love remains much more 'good' than the Jedi's detachment. But perhaps that's just me.

Might be interesting to note here that my first idea for a good Sith character was one who draws strength out of positive emotions (instead of the Sith's seemingly pure focus on negative ones). But from BioWare's description of the Sith classes it doesn't seem as if they'll really allow such an approach. But anyway.

Lastly there's an interview over on The Holonet Project with Web Designer Alyssa Gobelle. Here's an excerpt:
I have to say, being a fan of all things Star Wars lore I was extremely surprised, obviously in a good way, to see to what extent the Aurebesh was used within the HoloNet. Whose idea and decision was it to sneak the Aurebesh into the HoloNet?

When they first brought me on, our first major task was to design the HoloNet. We wanted the HoloNet's voice to be as much 'within the lore of the game' as possible so we planned to add some generic Aurebesh to start. But we also wanted to add some hidden teases and notes for you guys to devour and ponder upon and play with. Give some more fuel to the speculation festivities.
And that's it for now.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Secret Mists of Voss

Today BioWare unveils another planet for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I think that it's probably the most intriguing planet to date: Voss. If you've never heard that name then it's because it's a wholly new planet (according to BioWare, according to Wookieepedia it's been mentioned in a few places before... though in fairness that might be in response to BioWare creating the planet). Here's the official news:
We’re thrilled to announce not only the next planet to be featured in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ but also a planet never-before-seen in the Star Wars™ mythos: Voss.

An alien species resides on the mysterious world of Voss and is said to have an incredible aptitude for the Force. These Voss Mystics – rumored to be enigmatic healers as well as seers – struggle to protect their utopian society from annihilation.

Discover the secrets of Voss as you are forced time and again to choose between maintaining the appearance of neutrality so important to your leaders or striking against your enemies while you have the chance.

Access the HoloNet records to learn more about the darkness at the heart of Voss. Encounter the narrow trails and wide rock shelves in this video and visit the media section for never-before-seen screenshots, concept art, and wallpapers depicting the madness and despair creeping through the lands.
Those Voss Mystics sounds very interesting; I particularly love this bit from the description: "The Voss Mystics are Force users of incredible power. Both the Sith and Jedi agree on this one point. The Voss do not." I hope that they'll play this off as a "The Jedi/Sith might think they know everything, but the Voss prove them wrong". Guess I have a think for less (technologically) advanced species having a deeper understanding of the universe then the advanced ones.

Anyway, with the mystics and the the species in conflict with each other it's certain to make for an interesting planet.

Oh, and there's a new wallpaper as well. Not really the most appealing choice for one (I think this would've made a better choice), but either way:


That makes twelve planets so far.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

BioWare Blog: Community: The Third Element

I'm back from vacation, so time to catch up. I already posted about their April Fools joke, though I hadn't noticed at the time that GameSpot also played along by posting another class Q&A for the fake class. As such I've updated my previous post to include the link.

But really the main news is of course last Friday's official update. This time they released another developer blog entry written by Principal Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert and titled "Community: The Third Element". It takes a look at "sandbox" versus "theme park" MMOs (or as he puts it the "world" element versus the "game" element) and poses that both are equally important and that there's a third, even more important, element of "community". Here's an excerpt:
I have had a long history of making MUDs and massively multiplayer games, and in working with and building them. I’ve come to the conclusion that both extremes have serious design problems. Worlds offer great freedom, but that freedom comes at a great price: they tend to be harsh, and offer the new player little in the sense of goals and direction. Many players are overwhelmed by the freedom, or can never find the fun. Often, a world is only as good as the people who have arrived before you – depending on that level of serendipity makes designers nervous.

On the flip side, pure games have their problems too. Freedom is a true part of the magic of MMOs, and artificial constraints and mechanics can undermine the fiction and the sense that you are living in the virtual world – and when you have a brand as rich and textured as Star Wars™, the last thing you want to do is undermine it. Even worse, the depth and visual splendor of Star Wars™: The Old Republic would be completely lost if players couldn’t jump off the rails and just live in the space from time to time.

I’ve long advocated that moderation is the way to go, and I believe on The Old Republic we are successfully travelling a middle path, a centrist path that takes the strengths of both: provide a directed and balanced game experience inside a lush, free-form Star Wars world.
It's an interesting read and I feel that there's a lot of truth in it.

I must say though, as someone who looks at MMOs as worlds to live in, that I don't fully agree with his characterization of "world MMOs". Or rather, I agree that how he characterizes them is how pretty much all of the so-called "sandbox MMOs" are, I just disagree that freedom is favored above all else.

You see, in my view the purpose of a "world MMO" is to create a world to live in. This means that they revolve around a high level of simulation (or "realism" as he put it). The thing is though that one can't simulate everything and thus choices as to what to simulate need to be made. By their very nature how much of a world one can simulate is limited. In this pretty much all sandbox MMOs choose to simulate freedom. This, however, does not create a realistic world because nearly always the consequences of said freedom aren't simulated and, as such, making it a very unrealistic world.

A good example of this is free-for-all PvP. It seems that pretty much all sandbox MMOs tends to value PvP above all else. I think that this stems from the fact that, in the real world, one could technically walk up to anyone and kill them. By simulating this freedom (through free-for-all PvP) one could argue that the level of realism has increased. However, out in the real world (almost) nobody actually acts like that because of the severe consequences to doing so. When such MMOs start also trying to simulate the consequences it often slips into them chasing their own tails, constantly running into the limitations of what they can simulate (executing a mass murderer ingame is meaningless because they'll just respawn or create a new character). On top of that, by going through the effort to simulate that particular freedom (instead of simulating something else) designers send the message that it's an important part of the world, which is ridiculous because in no realistic world would its people freely run around trying to kill each other (not even in the most brutal fantasy settings).

Don't get me wrong, freedom is definitely important. But it seems to me that many sandbox MMOs focus their freedom in places where realistically we'd rarely if ever exercise said freedom. What is the purpose of spending your limited simulation capacity into simulating something that few if any people in the world would realistically make use of? Instead I'd rather see said freedom implemented for things like construction and creativity. Give people the freedom to enrich the world instead of the freedom to destroy it.

I feel that I must note here that, for all its myriad flaws, Star Wars Galaxies had a reasonable approach that balanced this PvP freedom with player gameplay desires (for me PvP is much more a "game" element than a "world" element, and one I don't particularly care for). With its overt/covert factions you kept the freedom (and realism) of being able to interact with people of opposing factions, had the freedom to attack others where it made sense to do so (i.e. if you knew that someone was an enemy) and still balanced it with players' OOC freedom to choose to not participate in certain game elements.

Somehow I doubt that SWTOR will follow the same path, the same balance of "game" and "world". I fully expect them to keep things clearly separate (as games like WoW and WAR have done); keeping factions separate, keeping things class-specific (clothes, weapons, etc), having clearly delineated areas, etc. Community is definitely important, but it's important regardless of where the game lies on the "world" to "game" spectrum.

So despite Damion's encouraging words on how a balance between "game" and "world" is important, I've yet to see how SWTOR is going to be more "world" than the almost pure "game" we've seen so far. His talk of how community is important is irrelevant to that. I remain skeptical.

Anyway, read Damion's full blog entry at the official website.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Ninth Class: Sarlacc Enforcer

Though I'm off on vacation, I'm glad I took a moment to log in today and notice this major reveal. We all thought that there were going to be eight classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but today BioWare announced a ninth class: The Sarlacc Enforcer.

Here is the official news:
Think you’ve seen all the playable classes in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™? Think again! We’ve saved the best for last! Now you can realize your fantasy of playing as a Sarlacc Enforcer in Star Wars: The Old Republic!

For thousands of years, the brave souls who answer to the name Sarlacc have been the ultimate authority on final judgment in the galaxy. A perfect combination of ruthless efficiency and calculated precision, the Sarlacc Enforcers make sure the galaxy’s trash doesn’t have a chance to pile up.

Access the latest HoloNet entry now to see a full profile of the deadly Sarlacc Enforcer, including combat footage of the Sarlaccs in action!
As the news notes they've got the HoloNet page up already as well, showing the ominous image of the Enforcer laying in wait for its prey, something which is sure to give some unique gameplay (though it wouldn't surprise me if the gameplay was inspired by that for making garden gnomes in The Sims Online). The description to the side reads as follows:
Patient, Calculating, & Elusive

The galaxy is filled with every sort of riffraff, refuse and space trash imaginable. For thousands of years the brave souls who answer to the name Sarlacc have made sure it doesn’t pile up. As deadly as they are misunderstood, these determined individuals are the ultimate authorities on final judgment in the galaxy. A new definition of pain is waiting for anyone who would dare cross one.

Contrary to popular belief, a Sarlacc is much more than an extreme omnivore – a misconception the cunning Sarlacc have been exploiting for thousands of years. Frequently, a Sarlacc will act as a mercenary-for-hire, contracting their services – and their tentacles – to underground groups needing extra muscle. Occasionally, one will pose as a trophy pet of an egotistical Hutt gangster, capitalizing on the perfect disguise as they zero in on their targets.

But the Sarlacc aren’t just opportunistic scavengers waiting for a free lunch; they are paragons of patience and planning, always waiting for the right moment to pounce on their quarry – even if it takes one thousand years. A Sarlacc has no trouble keeping their sights on a target that has long since forgotten them. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and no one serves this dish better than a Sarlacc.

Professional Courtesies

Most Sarlacc have learned more about the galaxy than most other professionals could hope to learn in ten human lifetimes. Not only has an average Sarlacc done everything under the double suns, many techniques that are synonymous with other professionals were innovated and perfected by a cunning, resourceful Sarlacc.

Every Smuggler knows that one dropped shipment could lose him respect – and a year’s worth of credits, but only the insane would search for contraband cleverly stashed in the belly of a Sarlacc. Imperial Agents breaking the will of interrogated prisoners rely heavily on techniques handed down to them by the Sarlacc – who are known to telepathically torture information out of their most reticent victims. Jedi Knights train for years to master The Way of the Sarlacc, Shii-Cho Lightsaber form as the foundation of their amazing combat prowess. Consulars of the Jedi Order spend long hours meditating on Sarlacc to develop the dissonant serenity that keeps them calm in the midst of chaos. Bounty Hunters – a Sarlacc delicacy – have perhaps benefitted most from developing contacts in the Sarlacc Underground; it is here that hunting and trapping are brought to new heights and Bounty Hunters learn to become great, or die. No team would have the skills it needs to survive its mission without the practice and invention of a dedicated Sarlacc.
And the text below the screenshots, concept art, and movies showing some decidedly powerful abilities (it seems that the Sarlaxx Enforcer will get a, most likely high-level, ability which turns them into a veritable Death Star... something which might have to be tweaked down a little or else they'll run out of planets for players to play on before too long) it has the following descriptions:
FIELD RECONNAISSANCE

Traditional wisdom dictates that to lessen the chances of a run-in with a Sarlacc you need only avoid remote sandy places with big holes in the ground (e.g. the Great Pit of Carkoon). As the Sarlacc feel the pain and pressure brought by the Great War, many of them are taking more active roles in galactic affairs. In this age a careful observer may notice a Sarlacc doing population control to help maintain the balance of a fragile Outer Rim ecosystem, arbitrating treaty disputes, and lobbying for a dock workers guild in the Galactic Senate. There has been some speculation that Sarlaccs have an innate Force sensitivity, however because of their extreme age, none have been considered trainable by either the Jedi or the Sith. Collectively, they may represent an unallied sect of Force users.

OUTFITTING

The Sarlacc is a testament to nature’s ability to equip warriors with powerful gear that science strives to synthesize. A Sarlacc’s tentacles are not only resistant to most attacks, they also contain a powerful neurotoxin. This venom puts most species into a type of stasis until a reaction with enzymes present in one of the Sarlacc’s invulnerable stomachs awakens the target for torture. Even so, a Sarlacc – especially a young one – doesn’t consider itself above the occasional upgrade. Sarlacci resourcefulness knows no bounds and several of them have learned to put collected vibroblades, ion cannons, and stealth field generators to good use.

COMBAT TACTICS

Whether meditating from a reinforced base in the desert of Tatooine, intimidating the pirates in the alleys of Ord Mantell, or doing some mercenary clean up on the lower levels of Coruscant, a Sarlacc has a trick up each of its countless sleeves. Taking a no-frills approach to hand to hand to hand to hand combat, the Sarlacci have a well-earned place among the galaxy’s most feared warriors.
I might just have found a new class to play. Teir class story is sure to be quite interesting and unique.


In case you still haven't picked up on it, and (as noted by Darth Hater) as written in the Aurebesh on the site, this is obviously an April Fool's joke. Funny, if a bit obvious. Now I should go back to studying The Way of the Sarlacc.


[UPDATE]

Though I didn't notice it last week, it seems that GameSpot has a Q&A for this 'new class' much like they did for the real classes. Here's an excerpt:
GameSpot: We're very excited to be able to take the wraps off the newest character class, the Sarlacc enforcer. Give us an overview of this new profession.

Daniel Erickson: In The Old Republic, we always start with the dream; the iconic role in Star Wars we're trying to let players live. One of those that kept coming up again and again was the "disgusting gaping maw" fantasy. So many of us grew up watching Star Wars and pretending we were the hole [down which] Vader threw the Emperor [or that we were] the endless pits of the Death Star or, of course, [that we were] the Sarlacc, the most amazing maw of all. Nobody gaped like him/it.
And glad to hear that they've got Christopher Walken to voice the Sarlacc Enforcer. <nods>