Hyperspace Beacon: Star Tours [updated]

If you're a regular Massively reader, you're no doubt aware of the recent tour of BioWare Austin given to fan sites. For two fun-filled days, the staff members of Star Wars: The Old Republic fan sites were flown to Texas to play what is hopefully their favorite as-yet-unreleased game. I have to admit my slight jealously because I was not able to participate in this venture (or the similar press event because of scheduling issues). I am left to live vicariously through these very lucky individuals.

The first day saw primarily PvE-related events. The developers let the fans play through about the first 10 levels of SWTOR with either the Bounty Hunter or Imperial Agent class. Most players were able to progress to the Black Talon flashpoint, which is the infamous kill-the-captain/save-the-captain flashpoint. The second day was all about PvP and the Alderaan Warzone.

After the break, I have gathered up an array of videos, articles, and even a couple of songs about this incredible experience. This way, I am not the only one imagining a tour of the BioWare studios; you can dream along with me.


Let's start overseas with SWTOR UK. Mr. Warlock's articles focused on the visual story aesthetics of the game. He played the Bounty Hunter on the first day and was a bit critical of some of the visuals but loved the story. I think he really liked Mako, but that's just my impression. Below are links to his experience.

SWTOR FR is the first of two French-speaking websites invited to the United States. These gentlemen took a very enthusiastic-journalistic approach to the visit. Because there were two fans visiting, one tried out the Bounty Hunter origin world while the other took on the Imperial Agent. However, my personal favorite was the duo's impression of PvPing as a Sith Marauder.
SWTOR Life had what I thought was the best screenshot of all the fansites. The site's writers also penned a live blog for the trip, and Damion Schubert spoke to them extensively. However, the most riveting article from this site was the impressions. Mikro was so passionate about the story and PvP experience that he broke the story up into three different parts.
Fureur is the other French-speaking website to visit Austin. The staff members were pretty standard in their presentation, but their coverage of PvP stood out to me, probably because they played both Jedi classes. They also translated the Q&As to French. I'm sure French and French-Canadian fans were happy about that.

SWTOR.EU is the first German-speaking site mentioned here. In fact, there were three German sites on the SWTOUR. They were lucky enough to speak to native German, Georg Zoeller, yet Georg and the reporter both spoke English. I don't get it. Georg did speak about some number crunching in this interview. He said that there will be no secrets what the numbers of the game are, but he does not want people to feel they have to pay attention to all that to be good at the game.

InGame also kept a diary of events, but these guys got an exclusive screenshot of Tython, which was most impressive. Definitely read this site if you're interested in SWTOUR as a personal event -- oh, and if you read German.
Out of the three fansites that visited BioWare, Gamona was the only one to actually translate the English Q&As to German. These gentlemen were also very thorough when interviewing Daniel Erickson and writing their impressions of the game. This site made me wish I didn't have to use a translator to read the site. I really enjoyed what I saw.

TOR Syndicate is obviously a little bit behind in putting out content, but that didn't stop its staffers from posting all the audio and video for the Q&A sessions, plus they talked to Samm and Musco from TOROCast in the taxi ride to Dave and Busters. This made for a very unique experience on the TOR Syndicate site.
TorWars has unique coverage for sure. Most of its coverage wasn't about stats and number crunching, it just did what it could to give the fan an impression of what it was like to be at BioWare Austin. It wasn't hard-hitting journalism; it was good (clean?) fun.

I apologize to TOR Talk. The website seemed to be missing a few entries when I visited this weekend, so I think I missed a good chunk of the site's coverage. However, the interview with Georg Zoeller was particularly detailed! [Update: With help from Tom of TOR-Talk, I found the other stories from the weekend. Check them out!]

Lethality at Ask a Jedi can write a great review, and his video interviews are very good, too. I really can't pick out the best write-up on this site, because they are all incredible. However, if it means anything, TORWars included the Damion Schubert interview on its site despite the coverage it already had.

Kathy and Carla are two of my favorite people. Their perspective on MMO gaming is truly unique. And if you have time, listen to the interview with Georg! I swear in the speed round questioning he let something slip!

Mos Eisley Radio did what it does best: podcasting. Besides gathering many guesses for the summit podcasts, the folks at MER not only talked about the specifics of the game but analyzed the experience of two days at BioWare.

Min-maxer Musco from TOROcast did the majority of write-ups from this incredible site. This team knew its stuff going into the impressions, Q&A, and especially the interview with Georg Zoeller. My favorites were the PvP overview and the Black Talon Flashpoint impressions.

Darth Hater is the best at getting the granular information the fans are looking for, but I'll admit the other sites are giving the Hater team a run for its money. If you're looking for an easy-to-follow breakdown of items learned that week, Darth Hater is the place to look. Kudos to Dover and Sado for continuing to impress this reporter.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

This article was originally published on Massively.