It was May 25th, 1977: I was 8 years old. Jimmy Carter presided over the U.S. government. You could still buy a Tab. I don’t know how, but I convinced my mom to let me see the movie with my friends and we stood outside for hours! I saw it more than 10 times while it played in the theater that summer. Thanks Mom! According to one source, Fox gave Lucas $11 million to make that film and the whole movie franchise grossed more than $5.5 billion dollars. Rumor has it Bioware and company is pouring north of $100 million into the MMORPG: Star Wars The Old Republic. Man, this game better be some hawt sauce.
Fast forward 33 years and the hype machine still runs in overdrive. The year 2011 seems like an eternity away for those of us who long to get back into the Star Wars universe. The official game announcement hit the press October 21st, 2008. The psychic connection to my youthful imagination finds the hype-masters succeeding in creating an insatiable desire for this yet to be released product. Those hard core fans (me included) who just can’t hold their breath any longer have many options to sate their passions until that ultimate 2011 release.
“Star Wars: The Old Republic will be similar to other MMOs but with several key innovations. Traditionally MMOs are built on three pillars; Exploration, Combat, and Progression. We at BioWare and LucasArts believe there is a fourth pillar: Story. Our mission is to create the best story-driven games in the world. We believe that the compelling, interactive storylines in Star Wars: The Old Republic are a significant innovation to MMOs and will offer an entertainment experience unlike any other.” – SWTOR FAQ
MMORPGs of this type have a depth and emotional resonance for a very diehard-core fan base which really anchors the game in the story. The narrative space becomes the sun around which the game mechanics orbit. I am already in love with this universe, and I am thrilled that they are pushing a mass amount of story content to deepen the enjoyment of the game:
- Official Web Site: The Holonet
- Official Web Comics
- Audio Books
- User Generated Content
Official Web Site
The first trailer, “Deceived Cinematic Trailer” chills the spine as the Sith defeat the Jedi at their temple on Coruscant. It turns out that their primary mission is the destruction of the mainframe computer in the temple. Looks as if they succeed. Subsequent teasers and game play videos equally compel us to engage the web site and hang on for another taste of what’s to come.
The Holonet provides an excellent game and story reference which offers superb and in-depth coverage of:
You can spend a lot of time acclimating yourself to the SWTOR milieu just by perusing the Holonet. There are great videos that get updated frequently, and the information you glean from casual surfing about the site really prepares you for things to come in the game.
So far, I learned that it is likely to contain:
- 14 Planets
- 8 classes (4 Empire, 4 Republic)
- 4 Factions
- 2 Player starships
- Companion characters
I recommend starting your research with the Holonet and the official website. This allows you to look at the web comics, comic books, and books in a different light. I’m really enjoying myself while trying to mentally place character, and mechanics to what I think the developers envision in the final game. That’s after conjoining my knowledge of the public web content and the stories I’m reading in the comics and books.
Official Web Comics
Unfortunately, you can’t read these on an iPad, so you need a Flash enabled laptop for a lean back experience, or you need to park yourself in front of your computer. Even so, these stories really start setting the stage upon which you will be making your heroic, interactive entry. Two comics are on the SWTOR website so far: http://www.swtor.com/media/webcomics
Threat of Peace
“War between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire has gripped the galaxy for decades, but the sacking of Coruscant and a subsequent peace treaty are changing everything. During these chaotic days, the stories of several critical characters interweave as they pursue their passions, stand up for their convictions, and ultimately lead the galaxy back to the brink of a catastrophic conflict.”
This comic has 3 Acts with 9 Issues per Act. You learn how the Sith enjoy a series of military victories over the Republic. A war weary Republic responds to a treaty offered by the Empire. However, nothing can ever go as planned, so you stand witness as to how both sides maneuver to assure the treaty’s success.
Blood of the Empire
“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 after a life of servitude and toil, 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.”
This comic is broken into 4 Acts with 4 Issues per Act. As of August 28, 2010, they are up to Act 3: Burn the Future with two active Issues. You can enjoy all 10 Issues, but the reads are very quick.
I am a couple of hours into Fatal Alliance. I picked this up via Audible/Amazon, and I am enjoying it on my iPad. I can already see how the authors are stitching together the class archetypes and even racial divisions directly into the story. Without revealing too much, I can already get a sense of the representation in the book that will cross over into the game:
- Imperial Agent
- Mandalorian – probably a bounty hunter
- Sith Lord
- Sith Apprentice
- Jedi Master
- Jedi Apprentice
A couple of the characters aren’t clear to me as to how they fit into the game, but the set up is a good quest where the Sith and Jedi, Republic and Empire, Smuggler and Bounty Hunter, all converge upon a single quest objective in Hutta. So far, I’ve been to Hutta and Coruscant and Korriban. It’s a great journey, and the voice acting narrator coupled with appropriately placed Star Wars theme music is great fun.
Just a brief browse of Amazon, led me to these books. I picked up Fatal Alliance on Audible, but it is available now in hard cover. Deceived is still not out until March 22nd, 2011, and it follows long after Fatal Alliance’s July 2010 release. Of course there are many books in the Star Wars Old Republic category, but these are the most salient. The author of Fatal Alliance, is a prolific author. He also wrote Force Unleashed II for Lucas Arts which is due out in hardcover October, 2010. He has 37 credits on his CV, and he really dishes out an interesting tale. It looks like he managed a nice career in intersecting fiction and video games. Check out his author site on Amazon, as he runs a blog there as well that you might find interesting.
- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: LucasBooks; 1 edition (July 20, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345511328
- ISBN-13: 978-0345511324
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: LucasBooks (March 22, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345511387
- ISBN-13: 978-0345511386
Lost Tribe of the Sith
I downloaded these to my Kindle, and they are fast reads but very entertaining. The first one has a Sith employed captain narrowly escaping a Republic attack and crashing on a faraway world. You can really start to see the culture of the Empire in the scenes in and around the time right after the stranding occurs. This is a screeny from my iPad’s Kindle reader. The price is right on these books: FREE!
The SWTOR forums yielded a couple of really good and thoughtful posts.
I quote Koolaider’s post on these important points:
BBY = Events taking place Before the Battle of Yavin (Episode IV)
ABY = Events taking place After the Battle of Yavin
NOVELS - Old Republic Era 5,000 – 1,000 BBY”
I am really out of my depth here, and I haven’t read this yet: Dark Horse Comics’ Threat of Peace. The cover price is $2.99, and the distributor hoisted up a $4.99 shipping charge. Yes, I paid it – sucker – but I really want to take a look. I am heading out to the bookstore later to see if I can wrangle one up locally, but at least I have a backup plan. I know Dark Horse is engaged deeply into the Star Wars universe. They are a force behind the web comics in addition to being the driving force behind much of the Star Wars comics in publication today.
Koolaider’s outstanding post informs us further on the comics.
“Old Galactic Republic Era” 25,000–1,000 BBY
Tales of the Jedi – Dark Horse Comics – 7 Volumes
Knights of the Old Republic – Dark Horse Comics – 50 Issues
Jedi vs. Sith – Dark Horse Comics – 6 Issues
Star Wars: Knight Errant – Dark Horse Comics (Fall 2010)”
User Generated Content
Fan sites, blogs, and user generated videos are but a few examples of user generated content. Easy to use blogging tools and movie makers really make content creation accessible to many people for little or no technical or financial barriers to entry. I just want to focus on a couple of videos, however.
Youtube: Search this venerable video site, and you you’ll find about 3,350 videos as of this writing related to SWTOR. Some are official. Some are user created. Some are great. Some are terribad awful. Regardless, this venue provides more inter-textual experiences to accompany your SWTOR journey.
I discovered this 10 minute masterpiece, “SWTOR EPIC audiovisual REMIX – SWTOR Planets, Combat, Voiced Characters and More,” from a link provided on the SWTOR official web site. It’s actually a mashup, stitched together from some original work, coupled with video clips provided from various sources.
Here is another great example of a composite video produced by Logun24x7 entitled “A Hard look at combat in SWTOR.” Interviews of the developers at various points in time are stitched together with excellent ingame video sequences: