Hyperspace Beacon: Four reasons in-character reporting is good for SWTOR
A few weeks back, I wrote an article about why I played Star Wars: The Old Republic. I drew on references from my childhood and how much Star Wars influenced my life. Although I did mention the impact of the roleplay community, I didn't talk about the roleplaying side of my MMO gameplay and how that influences my enjoyment of the game.

When the quests dry up and PvP becomes stale, RP and the RP community hold me to this game. Multiple readers of the Hyperspace Beacon and fans of The Republic have asked how they can get involved in the roleplay in SWTOR. I usually point them to one place: SWTOR-RP.com.

I could go on and on about this site and what it has done for the roleplay community, but nothing stands out more than the metagame that it's created with in-character articles. These news reports and editorials have been a launchpad for many in-character conversations. So let me draw you in and show you what I'm talking about.

Hyperspace Beacon: Shot heard 'round the galaxy
Years before the game launched, the administrators of SWTOR-RP started reporting on the news streaming from the BioWare camp, spinning the news as it pertained to players interested in roleplaying. Then about a month after the game launched, they started reporting news in-character as it was happening in the game itself.

The first big story was actually two stories. These reports took the very first Imperial flashpoint, the Black Talon, and created two opposing views of the same incident. Immediately, players began to respond to these incidents in-character, talking about them in game and on the site itself. The best part is that the reports have actually left out most of the spoilers, and they don't tell you which flashpoint or questline these stories come from. They are completely immersive, and if you want to find out where the story comes from, then you will have to investigate it for yourself in game. Here's an excerpt from the Republic version of the Black Talon flashpoint to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:
Earlier today, a Republic warship named Brentaal Star escaped a skirmish in Imperial Space. It is unknown what ignited the space battle, though reports indicate that the Thranta-class starship contained valuable information. Upon leaving Imperial Space, the Brentaal Star was intercepted by another Imperial Vessel, a Gage-class destroyer called the Black Talon. Yet again, another space battle erupted, and we can only conclude that it was in the Empire's interest to either capture or destroy the Republic starship and its valuable contents.
Hyperspace Beacon: Guild tactics
If you have been a part of any roleplay community, you know that events are the glue that holds a community together. Sure, there is individual roleplay that happens nearly every day, but events usually bring roleplay to a critical mass. These events occur on at the guild level or even on a massive community level.

In an article about an Ord Mantell Separatists raid, SWTOR-RP reported:
[The 7th Infantry Unit members have] run a number of combat missions on Ord mantell, and sustained very few casualties as a result of their new training and operational doctrine, accomplishing their objectives while using a fraction of the resources. Should this be the new Republic standard, this Reporter believes that Republic Citizens need only sleep soundly in their beds at night, they're safe.
My favorite event report so far was about a massive event for Imperials on the planet Voss. The guilds and community members had been playing out an intense political struggle to gain the Voss' favor. In a show of superiority, the Empire held a gala for its citizens that turned tragic.
Tonight was supposed to be a display of Imperial wealth and power. A gala event hosted by the Ambassador Kruven Medlem and his staff was to give the locals a taste of life under our glorious Emperor.

Instead it has turned into a night of tragedy! Agents of the Republic Strategic Information Service snuck up to the Ambassador under the guise of merchants and stabbed him. Lord Medlem was rushed to the med center in the Imperial Quarter of Voss-Ka, but no official statement has yet been given on his status.
Hyperspace Beacon: The lighter side of reporting
Of course, not everything is hard-hitting news. Some articles are completely in-character but revolve around special interests or public education. Take, for instance, a series of National Geographic-type reports that focus on the wildlife around the galaxy. This particular one about the salky hound reveals something that even I didn't know.
Recently declassified files from the Republic military's research and development team have exposed that the Salky hound was originally an experiment deemed too high risk and cost to continue. The plan from the scientist's superiors was to destroy every specimen and start from scratch.
Of course, what series of "news" articles would be complete without an advice column? I find it funny and refreshing to read about inter-species relationships and to hear about humans as if we weren't the only species. This is a simple paragraph that really stood out to me because on the surface it could have been taken from a column in our universe, but the way Elza refers to human makes it completely different
What advice I can give you, you have already figured out on your own. The trip to Nar Shaddaa is not simply to spend time together, it's for you to detach yourself fully from your present relationship and focus solely on the new human. Do it and enjoy it. You will not discover new and exciting things in this life if you do not take some risk.
Hyperspace Beacon: Live events
I would be remiss if I skipped the best part of in-character reporting: live events.

We all know about the recent Rakghoul plague live event. SWTOR-RP did its own coverage of the event, all in-character. On top of that, the site posted articles from both the Imperial and Republic perspectives, thus adding flavor as well as giving those who don't play both factions a look through another person's eyes. The Imperial report was particularly flavorful:
Quarantine teams have been dispatched to starports and major transportation hubs to help contain the plague. If you or anyone you know exhibit symptoms of the Rakghoul plague, it is your duty to help contain the outbreak. Report any infected to the nearest Imperial Military Outpost. Failure to comply is treason.
I had a recently converted roleplayer tell me one time, "This is why I started playing MMOs," meaning that roleplaying allows you to not only play the "game" part of an MMO but immerse yourself in the MMO's world. And the team over at SWTOR-RP is doing a great job -- even some of the patch notes can be taken in-character!

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.
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