SWTOR pre-orders break 800K in the Americas

VG Chartz have released their latest data on sales of game pre-orders for the Americas for the week ended 5th November.

It shows that Star Wars: The Old Republic has broken the 800 thousand mark for that region alone. Add in the European countries that are part of the initial launch and I’d say it’s a fairly safe assumption to say SWTOR will be going live on 20th December with a million-plus players on board.

Here’s the leaders on the chart currently:

Oceanic release for SWTOR: the state of play 24 hours on

Wow, what a period of 24 hours it’s been. Since the launch of the SWTOR pre-order scheme, with it’s exclusion of Oceanic areas, Asia and South America (as well as parts of Europe), it’s fair to say the reaction has been…animated. The official forums have a rather large thread on the issue, and there’s no shortage of activity on Facebook (including a protest) and Twitter. It’s always difficult to summarise a situation as fluid as this, but here it goes:

1. You can order box copies of SWTOR from online retailers in the US or anywhere willing to sell them. Reports are that the Collector’s edition is sold out across most online retailers.

2. Although Bioware’s Stephen Reid gave some encouragement on the abilility to play the game if you get a copy, he’s put some disclaimers around it in the past 30 minutes:

3. Oceanic retailers who have listed pre-orders appear not to have any basis in fact for assuming deliveries of the game at this stage.

4. There is absolutely no information on when there would be local availability and when full access to the game would occur.

So there you have it – it seems there’ll be no further update until around 24 hours time i.e. after another day of Comic Con is done. We’re devoting tomorrow’s Flash Point podcast to the issue and we’re investigating a live stream so stay tuned.

Oceanic players: no local pre-orders

Well, pre-orders for Star Wars: The Old Republic are now up and running, and unfortunately for any Oceanic players, there’s no local options for us to take part. The pre-orders offer three options:

1. Collector’s Edition

As mentioned yesterday this is a mighty nice piece of gear. A whole bunch of US / UK and European options are given, but none for Asia, South America or Oceanic players.

2. Digital pre-order via EA’s Origin Service

This graphic says it all if you try this route as an Oceanic player:

3. ‘Normal’ boxed edition

See point 1.

Some key points

Aside from the obvious disappointment, there’s some key issues that need to be emphasised:

a. This does not mean we won’t be able to play the game: you can obviously order the game from overseas. I’ve asked Bioware to confirm that such orders are valid i.e. that there’ll be no regional / IP block on regions taking part in playing. The Oceanic server issue seems a little optimistic at this stage to say the least – we’ll let you know of any response on the stance with ordering from overseas.

b. It appears there will be a staggered release: according to the pre-order FAQ:

c. No-one particularly cares but us: there is the reality of being part of a ‘smaller’ region. There’s just no urgency around this for anyone but the people affected. That said, South America and all of Asia are in the same boat.

d. If preordering from overseas: there’s a few glitches in the links to pre-order retailers. Amazon US’ site lists SWTOR as being for Mac and Windows. Amazon UK says it’s not available at all. Find a retailer that suits you and go from there. I’ve done a pre-order but with the full awareness of the (small) risk that I may not be able to play it if there’s some sort of regional block on playing. I still can’t see that happening though. This Tweet from Stephen Reid puts paid to the idea:

As does this follow-up to an Aussie SWTOR player’s question:

e. It’s just a game: I’ve already seen a lot of aggro over this issue expressed on the forums, Twitter and via emails we’ve received already today. It’s understandable but at the end of the day it’s a game. Don’t do anything rash and don’t make threats – that’s a surefire way to alienate people from the get-go.

As I mentioned above we’ve submitted some questions to Bioware on the issue. Given they’re in the middle of San Diego Comic Con I can’t see a prompt response but you never know.

Over to you: what’s your take on the situation?

Update: Stephen Reid has started a new thread on the SWTOR forums with this post:

To all of our fans outside of North America and Europe:

Today we’ve announced the pre-order details for the initial launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and as you may now know, we’ve taken the difficult but necessary decision to limit our initial launch supply for the game. BioWare and LucasArts are completely focused on building an exceptional game and an exceptional game service to go with it. We decided to constrain our launch capacity to ensure we deliver a great experience to every player.

Part of the reason this decision was made was because of the overwhelming demand for The Old Republic, and we’re humbled by that level of excitement and anticipation. We fully intend to deliver to you an amazing game when we expand our service post-launch, but right now we cannot commit to any timeframe for when that may happen. As soon as we have more information about additional launches in more territories, we’ll let you know.

We are committed to delivering Star Wars: The Old Republic to BioWare and Star Wars fans around the world, and to growing a truly global community.

Revan novel on the way

KotOR fans rejoice – as long as you like novels that is. The Friday update this week isn’t a game update or even a developer blog. This week we get info on the third novel set in the Old Republic time line. Titled  Revan, this novel is written by Drew Karpyshyn, Principal Writer at Bioware, and author of the Darth Bane series.  Though Revan is the main protagonist in this novel and will be based off of the Revan who was a Light-sided male Jedi as canon states, it will also reveal who the Sith Emperor is, where he is from, and how he’s held onto power for the length he has. Drew Karpyshyn also does a Q&A over his upcoming novel, I’ll just go through and quote a couple of the more interesting ones.

Q: How does it feel to finally reveal that the title of your latest Star Wars book is Revan?

A: I’d like to start by saying how gratifying it was to work on this book. Knights of the Old Republic™ (KOTOR) was my first creative foray into the Star Wars universe, so writing Revan felt a little bit like I was returning to my roots. I also know a lot of fans have been patiently waiting a long time to find out what happened to Revan after KOTOR — it’s probably the number one question I’m asked on my website. I’m glad the story is finally being told, and I’m ecstatic that I’m the one who gets to tell it.”

Now a lot of people are complaining about not getting game info, but what other game has given us an update every week? No one has. So I’m pretty excited about the book, being a huge Revan fan I’ve always been extremely curious of what happened to the KoTOR hero and this is our chance to learn all about it.

Q: In what ways will readers who have read Revan benefit when playing Star Wars: The Old Republic?

A: I think the novel will give them a much better understanding of the Sith Emperor and the Empire, for one thing. The Old Republic Sith Empire is very different from what people know from the movies, or even from the Great Hyperspace War comics that focus on characters like Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh. The novel will also give them some very direct background and detailed information that ties in directly with key Flashpoints in the game. I can’t say too much, of course, but like any great prequel the books will give you the details of what came before to add an extra layer of depth to the experiences in the game.

If your a total lore hound and have to know all there is to know about the game then this novel might be worth buying, or if you’re just a KotOR fanboy, like myself.

Q: What other characters from Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic II might we expect to see?

A: You can’t tell a story about Revan without also exploring his companions; they were such a key element of the KOTOR experience that it wouldn’t feel right without bringing some of them back. Of course it would be impossible to include all of them in a novel in a way that would make a cohesive and fulfilling story, so I focused on those who felt most directly relevant to what happened to Revan after the KOTOR games. I don’t want to give too much away, but Canderous, T3-M4, the Exile and Bastila Shan all have significant roles to play in the novel (along with some significant characters who appear in Star Wars: The Old Republic).

This one really got me excited just because I’ve always wondered about the opening to KoTOR II why the Ebon Hawk was all banged up, barely still flying only being operated by the small, but determined astromech droid T3-M4.

I can’t wait for this novel. I haven’t read the other two, Deceived and Fatal Alliance, but I just can’t pass up Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan.

Picture courtesy of clarkspark



If it ain’t broke, maintain it!

Men at Work

Maintenance. We all know what it is, right? How many of us have not had to do some kind of minor repairs to something around our houses, our cars, our computers? It is something that a lot of people take for granted, but it shouldn’t be. Speaking from painful, and expensive, personal experience, the car works much better if you keep the oil topped off and changed every 3000 or so miles. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not going to be flying on SouthWest airlines ANYTIME in the near future, if they even stay in business. Something about having holes suddenly appear in the planes in flight really bothers me. But that got me thinking about maintenance in Star Wars.

One thing that I always thought was well done about the original trilogy was that things did not always work as they were supposed to. The Millennium Falcon in particular was one huge mess of problems. Han Solo and Chewbacca were always fixing things. In the Expanded Universe, the descriptions of the Falcon in particular were always somewhat on the hilarious side. It was a constant battle to see who would win, the ship’s multiple brains, the crew or the various and sundry people who wanted the crew dead. Without Han and Chewie’s skill at keeping the ship going, it would have fallen to pieces.

We see Rebel techs maintaining the fighters in the hangar bays before the battles of Yavin and Endor. Ground crews work to fuel, arm and basically get ships ready for battle. Fighter planes today are incredibly complex pieces of equipment. Pilots and ground crew alike have to know what they are doing with each and every part or bad things can happen. And if those bad things happen in flight…

This is the point. Maintenance is needed. Many people who should know better take things for granted. If the car is working, why bother to check the fluids, right? The brake fluid, oil level and radiator fluid level have to be good or a light would be coming on, right? Not necessarily. When the engine in the car I was driving seized up, the first notice I had was when it went ‘clunk’. Not a pleasant feeling, let me tell you, especially on the highway.

So… what does this have to do with Star Wars: The Old Republic? Well, every Wednesday, the website goes down for routine maintenance. This shows that Bioware is not as clueless about some things as a certain 18 year old was. They are also likely going to be taking hints from other publishers of MMOs who shall remain nameless. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t work very well in high tech settings. Ignoring problems when computers are involved is a recipe for disaster. The words ‘cascade failure’ sends shivers up and down the spines of most IT professionals who know them. That is, a small problem happens, and is not corrected quickly. It causes other problems and then those problems cause more problems, and on, and on, and on. It is also called ‘The Snowball Effect’. Roll a snowball down a large hill and it grows as it rolls. Entire networks have been taken offline in the past because one lowly tech decided that some insignificant seeming problem was not worth his time. Bets on how long that tech kept his job?

Bioware is likely not going to be making these mistakes. They have seen, from other publisher’s mistakes, how small, seemingly insignificant issues can cause HUGE problems. Star Wars Galaxies comes to mind, but many MMORPGs have had the same thing happen. Who remembers having a patch come out, and all of the sudden, no one can play the game? A hotfix, or quick patch later and things are almost back to normal. We can hope that Bioware does not have to do rollbacks. There was nothing quite so annoying as logging in and finding that an entire week’s worth of playing was just gone. Well, except logging in and finding out that several YEARS worth of playing was gone with the NGE… but… no ranting today…

Without maintenance, any high tech equipment will fail, given time. Nothing made by man is perfect, especially when things are made by the lowest bidder.  A quote from the Bruce Willis movie Armageddon comes to mind. “Rockhound:  You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder.” Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? We need to maintain what we build, or it will fail, usually at the worst possible time. Bioware knows this. Whether they can keep up with the needs of what will probably be one of the most demanded titles of the twenty-first century is open to debate. We will have to see, but I for one have hope. And I will not get on another plane for quite a while…

Picture from http://burhanchambers.com/

Language localization in SWTOR: the joke’s on you

On April 1st,  you obviously know what that means:  April Fools day.

Last year we got the Sarlacc Enforcer update –  this year we got an update over the localization of Star Wars: The Old Republic into Shyriiwook, the native tongue of the Wookies. This faux update includes three videos of the Shyriiwook version of SWTOR and a new HUD skin that is pretty much a fur ball. Other than this small April Fool’s joke no real content was posted to the site by Bioware, and as usual half the community took the joke and the other half are outraged that the release date wasn’t revealed.

No matter which side of this argument you’re on, be sure to check out the funny videos and HUD skin here on SWTOR’s official site.

I personally like these funny updates, the game will drop when Bioware and Lucas Arts decide it’s ready, so enjoy this update and may the Force be with you.


Bioware on Oceanic servers / guild hosting: we’re listening

One of the most regular points of contention for those looking to play SWTOR in the Oceanic region, is the lack of support to-date for the region – something we’ve discussed on the Flash Point podcast a couple of times. The guild hosting option recently announced only allows for selection of European and US time zones. Over at the SWTOR forums there’s a great discussion thread on Oceanic guilds, and Bioware’s David Bass has responded there on the issue:

For those that find the type too small:

I know we don’t talk about it much on the forums, but we are aware of the worries and concerns of our Oceanic community, and we take any feedback from the community very seriously, no matter how large or small. Of course, a lot of the decisions made fall on the business side of development, which means that there’s not much we can talk about or respond to at this time. We will pass your feedback on to the appropriate people, to ensure that your voice is being heard, but beyond that we can’t promise anything.

It’s a fairly safe statement to make: we understand there’s a concern but we can’t promise anything. That said, at least there’s an acknowledgement of the issue. It’s hard to envision anything substantial happening pre-launch given the guild hosting is well underway, but here’s hoping.

Star Wars: The Old Republic release date – after July 2011

As reported by our friends at Darth Hater, a recent presentation by Electronic Arts CFO Eric Brown has nailed down a little more firmly the potential release date for SWTOR:

So we said it’s going to launch sometime in calendar, but not within Fiscal 11. So that basically pens down between you know, April 1st and December 31st of this calendar year. It’s also reasonable to infer that it’s not in our Q1 guidance. We gave Q1 Fiscal 11, Fiscal 12 non-GAAP revenue guidance, minus 39 minus 44 cents and I think it’s not unreasonable to infer that it’s not included in that 90 day period.

So that rules out a pre-July release date, which is no real surprise given how little of the beta process has been completed, something Brown alludes to further into the presentation:

You need months of different flavors of beta testing to making the product generally available. We’re really focused on providing a great user experience, because not only do we want to retain, kind of the core tier 1 users. We want word of mouth reference ability to bring in tiers 2, 3 and 4.

Given we’re only at closed beta so far, July is probably a pretty optimistic launch month as well. There’s the cohort of observers saying 2012 will be the year for SWTOR. I’m not that pessimistic but it seems a pre-Xmas launch may be about the best to hope for. I am of course very happy to be proven wrong.

Game Tester feedback and waiting for PAX

This week’s update from Bioware is a Developer Blog from Blaine Christine, the Live Producer for Star Wars: The Old Republic. As he puts it: “I work with the development team to ensure that anything released to our fans (read – you!) meets the quality standards that are so important to any BioWare product. That means any time a new build of the game makes it into our Game Testing Program, I need to ensure that any content or features that we specifically want to have tested meet the designers’ needs and don’t contain any major bugs.” He also insures that the design team is getting the proper feedback from Game Testing (real players) to balance and build up the game itself.

Christine also confirms that Game Testing has begun. Blaine’s comment on testing so far is “We have received valuable and actionable feedback from the players that have participated thus far. Much of this feedback has already been incorporated into the game and we’re going to continue testing to validate the changes that have been made.” Rather than give actual bugs and fixes as examples Christine gave more info on what it’s like to play Star Wars: The Old Republic.

BioWare asked its Game Testers to give them some of their thoughts on the game – all Testers names have been changed to meet their NDA requirements) The first opinion I’ll post is from Game Tester JA:

“I’ve been waiting years and years and years for an MMORPG experience like this. The combat is incredible and never gets old. The grind is gone. I am so happy the grind is gone (so, so very happy). The stories are fantastic, well written, well acted, well animated, incredibly immersive, and the inclusion of choice takes it into territory that other MMOs have only dreamed of. Lastly, this game makes you feel like a bad***. The entire time. And I love that.”

Just one more because they’re almost all the same thing in different words – this one is from tester IV:

“This is the Jedi game to end all Jedi games. If you’re a gamer and you don’t throw your hands up in triumph when you get your first lightsaber, you’re not really alive. This game is, bar none, the best interactive Star Wars experience ever.”

Christine is also involved with SWTOR’s launch team, and insuring that BioWare’s customer service for the game will be far above standards. He also confirms that the closer to release they get the more Game Testers they will be needing, so keep your eyes on your emails.

Below the update post from Bioware as always is a long lists of posters from the SWTOR community. Over the last month, 80% of the posts are about how bad the updates have been. I would like to remind everyone that PAX is coming up very soon, so don’t be disappointed if the next couple Fan Friday updates are similar to what they’ve been because I’m sure that most of the stuff you want to know is gonna be released at PAX. Hopefully we get a release date and the Bounty Hunter update the community has been begging for.

The Fansite Conundrum

This story is a difficult one to write, as it has some significant implications for this site more broadly, but it needs to be written. It’s a lengthy story but one well worth reading if you’re interested in the relationship between the media, MMO game developers and those who blog / tweet / discuss those games on forums.

The boundary between ‘media’ and ‘blogs’ has been blurred, if not removed, for years now. This site is essentially a blog, but its founder, and writer of this article, is a freelance writer / journalist of more than ten years standing. Over the past 18 months, Bioware have certainly fed information out to those interested on a regular basis, albeit with an unsurprising bias toward the US market. Over that time the word ‘fansite’ has sprung up repeatedly, used as a catch-all term for any site devoted to covering SWTOR. It’s fair to say I’ve struggled in a big way with the term ‘fansite’, as I for one am not sure I’m a fan of SWTOR – my job is to make that call when it’s released and report both the positive and negative aspects of the game and any wider issues surrounding it. Sure, I’m excited about its release and yes, we have writers even more excited about it – but to categorise broadly our discussions as those of a ‘fansite’ isn’t valid.

It’s in that context that I was a little surprised at an email I received from David Bass, Bioware’s Senior Community Coordinator.

Let me reproduce it in full, as sent to an unknown number of ‘fansites’ – essentially anyone that’s downloaded the fansite kit:

Details of email to fansites removed at request of Bioware

This agreement does contain a bunch of reasonable stuff around intellectual property, trademarks and hate speech etc. There’s no argument there and Bioware, LucasArts and EA absolutely have the right to protect their commercial interests at that level. What has surprised me with the email is the assertion that those who don’t sign the agreement will receive no official promotion from Bioware. They of course don’t have to promote anyone, but what they’re saying here is that even if you write the most glowing review of SWTOR in existence, if that review is on a site with advertising, then it won’t be linked to.

It also ignores the fact that most mainstream gaming sites are commercial interests, so I’m assuming Bioware will not be officially promoting IGN’s review of SWTOR, or a Wired Magazine feature on any impact SWTOR will have on MMO gaming culture. If such promotion does occur, then the so-called ‘fansites’ cop a double-whammy from Bioware. First. they have to agree to not make any money from their site and second, their larger competitors get a free run. Yes, I understand that for most ‘fansites’, trying to take on the big players is not the focus. It certainly isn’t for this site, but it’s probably safe to say most sites want as many people to read their work as possible. A percentage of those may like to at least cover their costs, or like yours truly, raise enough revenue to pay more writers and/or increase the very modest pay of the current writers. That’s my gripe – and the basis for me today shooting some questions off to David Bass at Bioware, with a very prompt response:

TOROZ: Are you requiring mainstream sites such as IGN, Wired etc etc to sign the agreement? If not, why do smaller sites with a journalist on staff such as mine, need to sign an agreement preventing running a game- specific site as a commercial concern? Put another way, aren’t you preventing competition by restraining small sites that rely on word of mouth when compared to the mainstream sites.

David Bass: There’s a big difference between press and fansites. Fansites are those who cover SW:TOR exclusively, as TOROZ does. IGN and Wired are press, and therefore they have a completely different process (and have to go through EA and Lucas in order to get anything). The benefit of being a fansite is that you get a direct line to BioWare (i.e. Me).

TOROZ: Given the requirement of signing the agreement in order for Bioware to link to a story, what mechanisms will be in place to ensure fairness in promotion i.e. isn’t there an inherent risk that sites critical of the game will receive minimal coverage officially anyway and those sites who unquestionably repost Bioware info get all the traffic?

David Bass: There are no “mechanisms” in place to ensure fairness; everyone’s entitled to his/her own opinion, of course. Clearly we’re not going to link to an article that’s four pages of non-stop bashing of SW:TOR. But if an article is detailed, well-written, and fair, there’s no reason why we couldn’t promote it.

TOROZ: Will sites who sign the agreement have preferred access to new information from Bioware i.e. different embargo times, earlier briefings etc?

David Bass: No.


So there you have it. For what it’s worth, it seems I’ve already signed this agreement because I downloaded the Fansite kit. That said, TOROZ definitely doesn’t meet the benchmark for compliance given we run advertising (to pay our writers and cover costs). Therefore, we’ll have to work that little harder to keep up with those who are compliant as we’re not guaranteed the same degree of responsiveness from Bioware. That may not always be a bad thing.

Over to you: do you think Bioware’s fansite terms are reasonable? I’m particularly interested to hear from the already burgeoning SWTOR fansite community, a proportion of which run advertising. What will you be doing in regards to the agreement?

UPDATE: After some robust discussions with the ever-responsive David Bass, I can vouch that there’s a real willingness to look at these issues and in the case of TOROZ we’ve chosen to take the route of being classified as ‘media’. Every site is different obviously. The response overall to the story so far has been mixed, with around half of people saying we should have just negotiated to take the media route initially and that we obviously weren’t careful enough in reading the Fansite Kit terms. The other half agree with our stance and that sometimes the boundaries between the media and consumer aren’t as clear anymore. Either way, these are issues that are best sorted prior to launch so that the ground rules for coverage are clear. In our case, Bioware have now provided that clarity.

Your crew in SWTOR: new details

Bioware in their regular Friday update have released some more info on how your crew will work for you in-game.

Essentially your crew can take part in gathering, crafting and missions on their own. Whether it’s gathering / salvaging alongside you during a fight or solo diplomacy missions, your crew are set up to assist even when you’re not in-game yourself.

Have a look for yourself:

As someone who’s obsessed with fishing and First Aid in WoW, I’ve been waiting for more info on this stuff. Without gushing too much, I think what Bioware have announced with crew skills, crafting and gathering is a major improvement on anything else out there in MMO land at the moment. From the information at hand, they’ve managed to pull off an engaging, well integrated side game that will strengthen the overall playing experience. That’s all you can ask for really.

Cannon Fodder or Making Mulch out of Cannon Fodder?

Here comes trouble...

Companions: cannon and sword fodder, trusted friends or potential backstabbers? The people at Bioware have a history of making really cool games. Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 1 and 2… the list goes on and on. But one of the major themes in every game that has been companions.

I still remember the original Baldur’s Gate. Khalid and Jaheira were two of the best written NPCs in a game I have played. When Khalid died at the beginning of Baldur’s Gate 2, I actually felt sad. Even though he had been a bit of a whiny sort, he had been part of the journey. His sacrifice, while tragic, was needed to further the story. I always tried to romance Jahiera in the game – she was the funniest of all the characters and the hardest to please. So it made it a great thing when you finally did manage to woo her and spend the epilogue of Throne of Bhaal with her. Maybe I just like tough women in video games.

The later examples of companions in Bioware games have been just as epic, or more so. Who can’t like Carth Onasi or Mission Vao as supporting characters? And Bastila… I won’t ruin it for any who haven’t played the game yet, but if you play as a male good guy type, enjoy yourself. All of the supporting characters in KOTOR were solid, well written, and basically good characters. They acted in character and they worked well to support the plot, such as when Mission asked Bastila if the Jedi ever used the Force for fun and then Bastila used the Force to trip Mission up. Or when Carth asked where Bastila’s lightsaber had been when she was captured and she replied that she had ‘UM… I misplaced it’.

Then we get to the newer titles, Mass Effect 1 and 2. The companions in these two titles are incredibly well done. The big guy at the top of the post is my favorite companion of all time. Urdnot Wrex is likely my favorite of all NPC characters I have ever encountered. Big, strong, mean and he doesn’t care. He is the ultimate walking talking tank. The Krogan is an icon to anyone who has played either Mass Effect game. My only complaint is that Wrex is not playable in Mass Effect 2 – we can hope he comes back in Mass Effect 3 as a playable character.

Dragon Age: Origins took companion NPCs to a new level. They added an approval system, you could please them or tick them off and they would react differently. As in real life it is virtually impossible to please them all, every action that you took might please some of them and anger others. Of course some actions are so good (or bad) that they will react overwhelmingly. I won’t ruin the game for anyone who hasn’t played it yet, but it you haven’t you have missed some MAJOR coolness. Epic heroes versus epic villains in a showdown in an epic land. Need I say more?

So… Now we come to Star Wars: The Old Republic and the latest news about companions and the unveiling of one of them. An irreverent, but tough as nails Twi’lek named Vette. If that is the character from the ‘Deceived’ video trailer, you know the one fighting beside Lord Malgus then she is no lightweight or pushover. Even if she isn’t, then she is a similar type of character. And she looks like a fun person to have interactions with. No, not that kind! Get your minds out of the gutter…

Anyways…Where was I? Oh yeah, companions. Bioware has a solid history of creating epic companion NPCs for their single player games. From Baldur’s gate all the way up to Mass Effect 2, their NPCs that travel and fight alongside the protagonist or protagonists have served as comic relief, as cannon and sword fodder and more importantly, as another aspect of the game to explore. Do you keep your companions happy? Do you try and gain their loyalty? Do you try the romance angles when you can?  Or do you not care and just go for the throat of the enemies, whoever they are?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I always try and keep my companions happy. If I do, there is less chance of them backstabbing me. Yoshimo in Baldur’s Gate 2 is probably the only companion I ever had backstab me when I was not expecting it, but since that was part of the plot all along, well… I shed no tears for him when he was cut into chunks after meeting my paladin’s sword head on. I enjoy wooing the females in the games, and gaining the trust of the males. I explore the other options, but maybe I am just a softie, because it just doesn’t feel right to be mean to people, even when they are virtual creations. I managed to play through KOTOR once as dark side, and stopped. It just wasn’t right for me. And in Dragon Age: Origins, I almost always romanced Liliana. What can I say? I like redheads. A redhead bard with um… ‘special’ infiltration skills? Oh HECK YES!!!!

Companions look to be a major part of SWTOR and knowing Bioware, they will be epic as well as fully voiced. So, romances, betrayals and all other assorted plot twists are coming, both for the main character and for his/her companions. Since we know Bioware, we can assume that some of them will be telegraphed beforehand and some will come right out of the blue and this is a good thing. We want to be surprised; we want to be stunned, shocked, scared, sad, whatever… We want an epic story with epic characters, some of whom we can add to our party to wreak as much havoc as we can. We want companions who make our games unique.


Over to you: what do you want in a companion NPC? What do you not want in a companion NPC?