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Joystiq live from LucasArts/BioWare press conference


4:57PM ET – We're live from the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco! Event should get under way in just minutes.

5:04PM ET – We're still in the holding pen outside the theater. There's a life-size Boba Fett staring at us!

5:18PM ET – Phew! Made it inside. SPOILER: Game's called Star Wars: The Old Republic -- we spotted it on BioWare bosses Greg and Ray's shirts. (Also: No photography allowed -- BOO!)

5:18PM ET – Luke's theme swells over the speakers and we're now watching a retrospective on BioWare's involvement with the Star Wars franchise. Specifically, KOTOR.

5:20PM ET – Footage of KOTOR and KOTOR II is running along with comments from BioWare and Lucas staff. Looks like it might be The Old Republic -- Yes! Star Wars: The Old Republic logo just appeared on screen to tremendous applause!

5:22PM ET – LucasArts' Daniel Rodriguez is speaking now, confirming that the two companies are indeed developing a massively multiplayer game titled Star Wars: The Old Republic. They are partnering with EA for the release. (Damn, EA's got its hand in everything these days, don't it?!)

5:23PM ET – Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk are at the podium. Greg's joking around about ideas for Howard the Duck and THX-1138 MMOs. The Old Republic is being developed by BioWare Austin, and is what he calls a "story-driven MMO." So, why haven't they made KOTOR 3? Internally, they team jokes that The Old Republic is KOTOR 3/4/5 and beyond!

5:25PM ET – Muzyka feels that the story aspect of the game will make players feel even more connected to their characters.

5:26PM ET – Greg Zeschuk is speaking now, giving us an update on where the game's at. He says they're not going to show gameplay, but will demo some things "we will like." BioWare wants to make sure that the game is very pick-up-and-play -- even for someone who's not familiar with the Star Wars universe (are there people like that?). Companion characters will play a big role in the game.

5:28PM ET – Greg says some of the neat things you can do are support your companion characters and also change them. He uses the Dark Side as an example -- this will somehow affect your companions. And with that ... we're seeing a trailer!

5:29PM ET – A starship streaks towards a planet; we see crystals in use; on a desert world a Sith is walking alongside a droid. He takes out several sentries!

5:30PM ET – A female Jedi is now fighting the Sith to "the Duel of The Fates." Very dramatic -- but it's over. It was entirely CGI. The tagline: "The Saga Begins Online."

5:32PM ET – James Ohlen, creative director of BioWare Austin is now at the podium. He was the director and lead writer of KOTOR. He's the main man on The Old Republic. TOR takes place 3,500 years before the films and 300 years after KOTOR II.

5:33PM ET – You'll be able to choose between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, each with multiple sub-classes. Each sub-class will have its own story. Ohlen likens these stories to those of Han, Luke, etc. -- everyone will have a personal story, but be able to adventure together (just like the movies!).

5:35PM ET – Ohlen is most excited by the combination of player choice, specific stories for the sub-classes, and companions.

5:36PM ET – Now its on to Jeff Dobson (no relation), art director of BioWare Austin. He calls TOR the most ambitious game he's ever worked on. He wants to make something that looks unique. He's talking about the realism available on current platforms. Dobson wants to create something with a very distinct look -- where every screenshot will look different.

5:38PM ET – The art team spent a lot of time discussing the look, feel, and technology of the era the game's set in. Concept art is running in a slide-show on-screen. The style of the game looks more saturated than the previous KOTOR games – reminiscent of WoW. Dobson calls it "concept art come to life."

5:39PM ET – Dobson says they've spent a lot of time focusing on making the player characters very iconic -- something people would want to play as. BioWare doesn't want this to be a game that only runs on the top 5% of machines. He says it should look good on a wide range of platforms. Time for some actual in-game footage ...

5:42PM ET – Wow! The visual style looks like vibrant, hand-painted art. They've shown Coruscant, as well as some other worlds -- plains, lava, deserts ... all with lots of lightsaber duels, 'natch.

5:43PM ET – Greg is back at the podium. "When will we get to play it?" They're not saying yet. They're "working hard" on the game and can't wait for us to get our hands on it. We can't wait either. Q&A time now ...

5:45PM ET – The footage we just saw was pre-alpha. Greg says there's still a lot of work to do. Ray doesn't want to say how long they've been working on it -- just that a lot of work has gone into it. Asked what platforms it will appear on, Greg says they're only talking about one today: PC.

5:46PM ET – Will there be a subscription model? "There will be a variety of ways for people to get into the game and we're working to accommodate everyone." The release date is "sometime in the future." Har har!

5:47PM ET – When asked what TOR means for the future of Star Wars Galaxies, LucasArts steps in and says, "We're only talking about The Old Republic today." Point taken.

5:47PM ET – Greg and Ray are now talking about pulling races and occupations from the films -- they want players to be able to do whatever they've seen in the films in the game.

5:48PM ET – They're replaying the gameplay footage and ... that's a wrap!

5:48PM ET – We're headed off to a breakout session. Check the main page for continued updates -- and may the Force be with you! (Wow, did we really just say that?)

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