Welcome, Massively readers! You, too, must be itching like a freshly shaved Wookiee for the latest news about the greatest thing to hit the MMO world since Al Gore invented the internet: Star Wars: The Old Republic. This game hopes to be the pinnacle of modern storytelling and gameplay. Of course, you can count on me -- along with the rest of the Massively team -- to be on the lookout for the latest news and producer propaganda. But the Hyperspace Beacon will take you beyond the hype and hoopla and delve deeper into the story behind the story, the people behind the production, and the meaning behind the mechanics. (Is that enough alliteration for you?) So if you're ready, angle the deflector shield while I make the calculations for the jump to lightspeed.
Hyperspace beacons are unmanned outposts in space which freighters and other starships use to traverse the reaches of the known galaxy in Star Wars. Just like one of those buoys in the black, this first installment will guide your Internet-class cruiser past the space debris to what I believe to be some of the best places to find the SWTOR information currently available for your consumption. Okay, Chewie, punch it.
When exploring the SWTOR universe, a good cosmonaut has to know which stations serve the best tiingilar or roast gornt -- just like you need to know which sites are going to feed you the best news and in the most timely fashion. We can't have yesterday's roast gornt because the gravy's all lumpy, and the gornt chunks aren't tender. Here are a couple of the sites I turn to when I need the best gornt -- err, news.
Darth Hater - Besides having a slick site, the guys at Darth Hater have a perpetual information-gathering machine spewing the latest SWTOR propaganda to the interwebs.
Jedi Archive Online - The layout of this site makes a wampa smile. All of the latest information is right there on the front page. No need to scroll down to find what you need.
If you have been living with the mole-men for the last forty years then you probably don't know that the Star Wars Universe is one of the deepest, most inspiring universes in existence. Everyone and his half-Echani sister has written some sort of fan fiction, novel, comicbook, visual guide, website, or game. How do you tell whether something is endorsed by Lucas, and what is Rancor poodoo? As a pretty hardcore roleplayer, I have found a few sites that help me distinguish canon from fanon.
Wookieepedia - If you are a Star Wars fan and have not found this site yet, then stop reading this article and quit pretending. Just walk away. This one site encapsulates nearly everything you could possibly want to know (and not want to know) about our favorite universe. The only dark side of this site is that anyone can edit it, but the wiki team is totally wizard about making sure the nerfs stay herded.
Star Wars Databank - You can't forget about the site that started it all, so to speak. Although you cannot find everything you could possibly wish to know in this database, it is the most accurate to canon. So if something contradicts this site, it's wrong, and you're wrong for thinking the other was right -- and the other guy is wrong for writing it, right?
SWTOR Station - I ran into this site almost by accident one day while looking for more SWTOR information. Holy Sithspit! Someone has actually taken time to gather resources of SWTOR specific species, creatures, and planets, then laid it out so clearly a rakghoul can use it.
Sometimes the news just isn't enough. Sometimes you just need to know: Why did they mention Teräs Käsi in last week's web comic, or how do you pull the ears off a gundark? Sites with strong analysis probe the depths of lore and game mechanics help readers take their first step into a larger world.
Developer Blogs - Sometimes to destroy a space station you have to fly your YT-1300 right to the main reactor. Senior Content Producer Dallas Dickinson, Principal Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert, Senior Environment Artist Alex Thomas, and, of course, Principal Lead Writer Daniel Erickson, have all written in the Developer Blogs. Each has given us exemplary insight into the creation of SWTOR.
Darth Hater - Again, I look at Darth Hater. Besides that perpetual information-gathering machine I mentioned earlier, they also have a team of Star Wars nerds tied up in a closet living off ramen and day-old pizza, giving out their analysis of the latest SWTOR publications.
The internet is full of twitterers. Some of them are good to follow if you need a SWTOR fix right away. Here are a few feeds that bring a twinkle to my eye:
Agobelle - Alyssa Gobelle is the Lead Web Designer for SWTOR.
Ashentemper - Sean Dahlberg is a Community Manager for SWTOR.
_Danicia_ - Donna Prior is a Community Representative for SWTOR.
Deb_shin - Deborah Shin is a Bioware Production Manager.
DrewKarpyshyn - Drew Karpyshyn is a Senior BioWare Writer.
NSSteph - Stephanie Bayer is a Community Manager for SWTOR.
Shaddoe - This is a shameless plug for myself.
Swtor - This is the official Star Wars: The Old Republic feed.
ZenOfDesign - Damion Schubert is the Lead Combat Designer for Bioware.
I could go on and on like a Hutt at an all-you-can-eat buffet, but I think this is a good start. Before I go I want to leave you with one totally sincere thought. Bioware has always been the leader in storytelling RPGs. LucasArts owns the greatest science fiction universe created. In the past, the two in combination have proved to be exciting and ground-breaking. I truly believe that everything Bioware is doing with this game will break the mold of what it means to design an MMORPG, and what we have seen so far is nothing compared to what is yet to come. If you have any questions or future discussions you'd like to see, feel free to shoot me an email at larry AT massively DOT com, or you can do what Sniperct and I are going to do: surf to the future launch site, log in, and paw pathetically at the server list.
May the Force be with you, always.