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Hyperspace Beacon: E3 -- extravagant extraterrestrial exhibition

The Hyperspace Beacon is a weekly guide and discussion by Larry Everett about the yet-to-be-released game Star Wars: The Old Republic.

We have been teased, taunted, and tantalized this week before the Electronic Entertainment Expo, so much so SWTOR fans don't know topsy from turvy. In this Hyperspace Beacon, released just hours before Electronic Arts' press conference at the Expo, I will hopefully give you the lowdown on the latest news and perhaps help you appreciate the magnitude of the startling reveals. On the surface they may seem like hyped-up teases with very little to latch on to, but I believe they have exposed quite a bit.

As Massively reporters packed their bags to head to Los Angeles, Bioware did not stop tossing tidbits at its diligent disciples. First, we were treated with a hands-on walkthrough from Gamespot detailing the beginning quest for most of the starting classes. Twi'leks and chiss were cited as playable species in this revealing report. Also, probed the path behind producing an exciting E3 trailer. Besides touring Blur studios, the interview taunted us with a brief look into this year's animated short story.

Continue on after the break to find more insight into the extravagant extraterrestrial exhibition that is this year's E3.

The lid seems to be sealed tightly regarding which species players will be able to choose when they first start up SWTOR sometime next spring. But with Gamespot's latest dive into SWTOR's gameplay, they were able to play two never-before-announced species. Let's take a quick look into who these species are and where they come from, then see if we can find any other information which will give use clues to other possible species.

Our tasty, tailed troubadours, the twi'leks, hail from the desert-like planet of Ryloth. I would believe the Ryoth's history still holds true in SWTOR's timeline, so the clan-based twi'lek people rely heavily on the spice and slave trade to sustain their existence. Many of their first born daughters are sold as dancers and other types of entertainment slaves to other worlds maintaining the rocky Rylothian economy.

Twi'leks are also one of the most colorful alien species in the galaxy, including the blue-skinned Rutians, green Tukians, red Lethans, and many more. Canon hints and fanon expounds on each skin color representing a different cultural class and role in their religious beliefs. You can see these colors in the twi'leks from the movies, like Aayla Secura, Oola, and Shakka.

Chiss are not seen in the movies, but one chiss plays the title role in Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy of Expanded Universe books. These near-humans hail from the planet Csilla, a planet placed well beyond the Outer Rim of the explored galaxy. Due to their separation from the rest other species, chiss are highly independent and self-reliant, quite the opposite of the twi'leks who are completely dependent on the rest of the galaxy, even for interstellar travel. Grand Admiral Thrawn said of his own species, "We certainly do not submit to domination. By anyone."

It is my hope that species plays a role in how other characters react to you in-game. It would be very interesting to me if there were a few characters automatically assume you are a slave just because you are a twi'lek. Or, perhaps, a merchant or two who do not want to sell items to you or charge you a higher price because you are chiss. Given Bioware's history of telling a wonderfully immersing story, I would not be surprised to see that at all.

I also do not believe we have seen the end of species reveals. In fact, my speculation for E3 is that we will see more species shown as playable. Togruta have been shown, not only in the Threat of Peace webcomic, but also in the very first video for SWTOR. Also we saw a miraluka and a "pure blood" sith in the latest Blood of the Empire webcomic. I do not think it is too much of a stretch to say that we will see togruta and miraluka as playable species, but I will stretch that a bit further and say "pure blood" Sith will also be a playable species. However, I think sith will only be a playable species for the Empire, just I as think there is a yet-to-be-revealed species that is Republic only. Could it be kel dor?

Friday on SpikeTV, GTTV gave us the lowdown on creating the fan-favorite trailer from last year's E3. "Decieved" told the story of the infamous Sacking of Coruscant: the Republic's greatest defeat. Blur says this year the trailer will expound upon the battle on Alderaan, an attack set prior to the Sacking of Coruscant. They revealed, in a series of design clips, Darth Maglus' full face, and hint we will see why he now wears a mask.

As if to add fuel to the fire, the web designers at SWTOR teased us with an E3 image. If you have not visited SWTOR's site in the last week or so, first, stop reading this column, and go look at it now. Second, take a look at the symbol on the E3 countdown animation. When asked what this symbol means, SWTOR's community manager, Sean Dahlberg, teases us by saying, "I fear you'll just have to wait and see..." Well, Mister Dahlberg, I have the answer right here in my greedy little hands. This symbol can be seen on the right-shoulder pauldron of the trooper class, and the three lines in the center of the symbol are the Aurebesh letter "H". Daniel Erickson has mentioned in several videos the player trooper is not just the average soldier but a member of an elite group called Havoc Squad. So there you are, fans. That symbol is the Havoc Squad logo, but what role these troops play in this year's trailer is still speculation.

We do know the arrogant Darth Maglus leads a full-forced attack on Alderaan, as seen by number of troops and ships in the GTTV clip. It appears in the video that Alderaan loses, but I speculate based on the plant's holonet page that this will actually show us a win for the Republic. We know Alderaan survives as an estranged Republic planet, and that our black-eyed Dark Lord has to wear some sort of mask after this battle. I am willing to suspect Malgus' attack is thwarted by Havoc Squad, and he is gravely injured, forcing him to retreat. Alderaan is left wounded, but not defeated.

Now I turn it over to you. What do you think? You only have a few hours to reply. Am I right? Be sure to stay tuned Massively's E3 coverage to find out. And may the Force be with you, always.