“My Ally Is The Force, And A Powerful Ally It Is”

September 17, 2010

Every Friday I look forward to seeing what new updates the Bioware crew will have for us on Star Wars: The Old Republic. Among my favorite kinds of updates are the Developer Dispatch videos or the Developer Diary blogs. Like everyone else, I’m hungering for more on game content like species, combat or mechanics too, but I think delving into the minds of the devs can indirectly reveal information that is no less valuable. You get answers to questions about what goes into creating a game like SWTOR. How does one go about making something feel “Star Wars-y”? Who’s their audience? And a question that I’m also personally interested in — how’s their progress?

The video “Designing the Light Side” released today pretty much embodies everything I love about these Developer Dispatches. Even though I myself have very little interest in playing the Jedi classes, this update was something I had been waiting for for a long time, ever since its predecessor “Designing the Dark Side” featuring the Sith force users was released back on Christmas Day 2009. That’s almost 9 months between these two videos, and it’s amazing to me when I watch them back-to-back to see how much the visuals have improved, like more shadows on the models and more features in the environment.

Also refreshing is how much more detail the devs are willing or able to give. I mean, one minute into the Dark Side video and all we’re seeing are interviews, concept art and some stills. On the other hand, one minute into the Light Side video and people are already flying out a friggin’ airlock.

That’s…too awesome for words.

You’d think making the Jedi feel “Star Wars-y” would be a cake walk, but the fact that the two practically go hand-in-hand itself is a challenge for any developer making a game based on the IP. Only when you’ve convinced your audience that you’ve managed to capture the essence of the Star Wars universe’s most iconic figures can you possibly hope to do it for anything else. As usual, I think Bioware’s got it down to a science, everything from the look-and-feel of the armor to the color of the Jedi auras or abilities.

And okay, while I’m still not quite interested enough in the force-users to clamber up that Jedi bandwagon, I admit this video got me closer than ever.

For the most part, the topics covered mirror those from the Dark Side video. I love the “low-tech” and retro styles of the Jedi light saber hilts (I for one am completely enamored with the one shown at 2:17) and the combat movements and light saber “clashes” look very iconic…except for the effusion of sparks every time a light saber makes contact with another. I’m all for a spark or two for the sake of visual flare, but I’m not sure I’m crazy about the way they are now, showering them like an exploding power transformer. Lets hope they have a decent fire alarm system over at the Jedi temple.

Lots of new things as well; since the announcement of space combat they have included their comments about the Jedi “hot rod” ship and are a little more liberal with revealing in-game footage. Ahh, so much more in-depth than what we got for the Sith back in December, right down to the “Yoda Theme”-like music (hey, hey, Jaramukhti!) playing in the background. It almost makes me wish they would update the old Developer Dispatches it to include this level of detail.

Also of note is the Fan Friday, in which Senior Concept Artist, Ryan Dening, talks about designing the concept art for a Republic Capitol ship in the Developer Corner.

Some damn talented people they have over there.


  1. I was just thinking about how the dev diaries are some of their best updates. I wish the swtor site would compile all the updates, like dev corner, or dev dispatches, into their own page, looking through everything kind of sucks. or maybe i’m blind and can’t figure out their UI.

    • I was looking for a way to sort their trailers too, but there doesn’t appear to be one. Or maybe we’re both blind.

  2. That concept art is way too cool. It may be too good for Star Wars even.

    • That is some pretty nice concept art. Never thought of it that way, but maybe you’re right.
      Some of the designs are better even some I’ve seen for the prequels.

  3. Dear sweet mother of God, that looked like a glimpse into a game I would utterly love. I try not to get too caught up into the hype of something that’s not even in open beta yet (and won’t be for months). But every single bit of gameplay footage just looked awesome. Even the spaceship scene. Like KoTOR with more re-playability.

    • I’m trying hard not to get caught up in the hype too, but it’s so hard when you know this is a game you’ll love. I’ve tried to channel that towards something more realistic but still positive. Feel free to join me in the “optimistically excited” camp! 😀

  4. My first thought was that the guy looks like a younger Mick Jagger.

  5. Excellent as always. Like you, I’m a little reluctant to be Jedi. But I’ll probably end up making an alt, depending on the number of character slots.

    • There better be at least 8! I’m planning on having one of each class!

  6. This update was one of my favorites. First, the misdirection (the Smuggler video revealed on Machinima) was excellent. I don’t know if BioWare did that by design, but it definitely caught me off guard. I thought for sure that class video would have been the Friday update. Then, you have to take into account how well this video was put together. Top to bottom, music, graphics, commentary – it all came together to paint a pretty wicked picture.

    The Yoda-esque theme is just too appropriate for this video. It is a Jedi-focused showcase — what better theme to play than the theme for, arguably, the greatest Jedi ever written. Such a large amount of emotion contained in a theme for such a tiny, little, wizen, pacifistic, green man with such enormous power. I love hearing it in any presentation. (Thanks for the name drop, by the way. To say I was super flattered would be an understatement.lol)

    The artwork by Ryan Dening is just sick. I love seeing new pieces, even if they are just concept art. Also, I may be one of a couple handfuls of people who actually like Fan Fridays. When you get a dev submitted image dripping with awesome, what do you really have to complain about? That image just makes me hope that we will see something like it during a space battle, or hell, even a cinematic journey to a flashpoint or raid instance.

    I really don’t have a clue what to expect anymore in the way of released info. This one completely threw me off. Excellent, but very far from what I had expected (in a sweet way).

    • Having the smuggler video and a dev dispatch was such a treat. And I knew you would take notice of the music to the video. It sounded so familiar to me, and at once I thought it had to be inspired by Yoda’s theme. It made me go and get my Star Wars soundtracks out and listened to them again 😛

      And I admit I used to be a little bit disappointed with fan fridays, I mean, I appreciate the fan creations and avatars and other stuff Bioware gives us, but the developer corner they added really made a difference. It seems random what they decide to put there too, concept art, a short video, a short dev description, so it’s always a nice surprise!

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