FLASHPOINTS: FROM SCRATCH TO CLIMAX

Star Wars: the Old Republic features flashpoints at certain portions of the game. The Esseles, The Black Talon, Taral V, Boarding Party, and Directive 7 are some of the flashpoints already revealed to us by BioWare. The creators of the game had already us a preview of what to expect in these during live presentations in various major gaming events such as E3, Gamescom, and PAX.

But what are flashpoints, exactly? I personally perceive flashpoints as high points in the game – climactic events that occur throughout your adventure. Jesse Sky, a World Designer for the game, used the Death Star battle in Star Wars: A New Hope as a prime example of a flashpoint. In the movie, the battle was arguably one of its biggest highlights – if not the premier highlight. Luke and Obi-Wan availed of Han’s services to aid them in the rescue of Princess Leah. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped; they needed to improvise on the fly in order to survive the mission. And maybe, they didn’t improvise well. I mean, Obi-Wan died. Or he let himself be killed. Whatever the case may be, that wasn’t in the blueprint. Those basically sum up a flashpoint – peril, allies, combat, and choices that can have effects later on.

LAYING IT OUT

Writers try to come up with the most interesting of scenarios for the game’s players. They think of ways on how to pose danger and gratification to players; and how these can contribute to character development. The writers visualize where it would happen and what would go down.  They then brainstorm on the possible conversations, dialogue choices, what enemies to throw at the player, objectives to meet, and decisions that could alter a character’s fate. Plenty of experimentation goes down; but the main goal remains intact – to keep the player moving.

And what they mean by “keep the player moving” doesn’t necessarily involve a linear path. Flashpoints include several sections; these sections may branch off, giving the player the option on how to go about in finishing the scenario. There is no single method to wade through a flashpoint.

PUTTING THE PIECES

The revealed flashpoints are set in very diverse locales – Republic/Imperial vessels, alien prisons, lush regions, barren wastelands, and remote moons, among others. These locations are designed to feel genuine, memorable, and captivating – so, recycled environments are a no-no when it comes to flashpoints.

Flashpoints also pretty much indicate epic boss battles. But that isn’t all, the games designers made sure that the battles before you reach that part would be most action-packed. Enemies won’t be standing around waiting to be attacked – the designers wanted to Flashpoint combat to feel like a battle in a Star Wars movie. Cinematic fights will be a common sight in flashpoints; and there will be plenty of foes that will try to stop you to getting to your objective. Also take note that enemies tend to behave differently in these scenarios when compared to open world mobs. Why? Because they reflect the ongoing events in the particular flashpoint. I like that a lot.

For instance, when defending a Republic ship from being invaded by the Imperials during the Esseles Flashpoint, players will have to deal with hordes of foes crashing through the hull via pods while trying to get to the bridge as soon as possible. The fact that the vessel is also being bombarded with heavy fire doesn’t do any good either. That’s action at its finest. You won’t see anything like that while you’re out gathering materials for a new armor.

ENCOURAGEMENT OF TEAMPLAY

Flashpoints are unpredictable and are laced with hazards at every turn –hence, having someone, or ideally a large party, to back you up is the way to go. During these scenarios, things can go downhill pretty fast. Comrades can aide you in these sticky situations; and watching each other’s behind (try not to stare too long though) is probably the only manner you could get out of the flashpoint without suffering the same fate as Obi Wan did.

REWARDS

Most MMOs feel like a grind to play – there’s no purpose to what you’re doing except to get better items. This MMO isn’t going to do that to you; it’s Star Wars baby, and that label would only be wasted if getting a new lightsaber is the sole reason for your character’s existence. Flashpoints came to be because the designers didn’t want you to feel a lack of purpose; plus, this is going to be the biggest game of its kind to date, so BioWare is pulling out all the stops. Players would have a real sense of progression with regards to their character’s story and personality after the flashpoint. Don’t worry item lovers, you guys would still get rewarded with valuables with the accomplishment of these too.

But the greatest prize in all of this – fun. Yes, a grand time is assured with SWTOR, especially with the climactic sequences that flashpoints bring to the game.

Armstech: The Construction of Firepower

The name clues you in on what it does; but to put into a language us RPG folks would really understand, Armstech is basically the blacksmithing of guns. It is one of the Crew Skills available in the crafting category (as we know, there are three main crew skills categories). Those who possess expertise in this particular skill are able to create a plethora of blaster pistols, blaster rifles, sniper rifles, and assault cannons. Knowledge in Armstech allows players an access to superior weaponry which can be utilized to blast opponents to galactic hell without much difficulty.

Common sense dictates that this skill be a priority for the Trooper, Smuggler, Bounty Hunter, and Imperial Agent classes. That’s essentially half of all the basic classes available in the game; hence, about half of those playing Star Wars: The Old Republic shouldn’t think twice in dabbling in Armstech. One must truly immerse himself in this art though before he can start building the most badass of hardware. It’s not a painless feat, as BioWare wants the player to have a sense of accomplishment once he gains access to the most-skilled Armstech guys by the end-game.

But of course, even revered Armstech masters wouldn’t be able to craft a gun without the proper materials. To cook up these delectable firearms, one must have the necessary ingredients. Some of the required materials can be easily traded for in your local grocers. Some, you’d have to scour the entire galaxy just to locate a piece of it. Other players may have what you need as well; it’s up to you how to go about in dealing for it. Of course, statistically-superior guns require more effort in their creation.

There are three quality levels for blasters, rifles, and cannons. These are Premium, Prototype, and Artifact. Premium arms can be created in as little as a few minutes. Its component s can be effortlessly gathered as they are large in quantity or is purchasable in your favorite alien vendor. With Prototypes, one must work a tad bit harder since it requires rarer materials. Artifacts are the holy grail of arms as these destructive weapons are one-of-a-kind and very scarce in number. You won’t get your hands on artifacts unless you spend hours on the game, be real lucky, or have a pal that is willing to part with it.

Armstech is a valuable ability to have in your team; and I say that even if one doesn’t play as a ranged character. Created weapons via this crew skill can be sold to the market; and if it’s an excellent weapon, it’ll most likely fetch a good price. Therefore, non-players of the Imperial Agent or Smuggler class should still try their hand in Armstech – it may be the perfect way to bulk up your wallets.

So, for those looking into gun-toting classes, if you want a top-of-the-line-arsenal, go for a class that is able to buddy up with an Armstech expert. Life would be that much easier. Casting death to foes also will be, as well.

 

 

Designing the Advanced Class System

Note: This is article is based on the developer blog by Georg Zoeller, Principal Lead Systems Designer for SWTOR. For his blog, check out the official site.

Star Wars: The Old Republic provides the player with the choice of eight basic classes – Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Trooper, Smuggler, Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter, and Imperial Agent. Each of these classes were designed to be as unique as possible; each has their own story, quests, cut scenes, set of companions, and of course, a unique method to battling. The systems design team wanted to make each class have its own role; they wanted to let players feel that each character is an individual creation. Hence, advanced classes came to fruition.

With the advanced classes system, SWTOR essentially has 16 varying types of characters – each one plays a distinct role in combat and employs a skill set exclusive to that particular class. Although there are skills shared among the basic classes, the classes play very differently from one another.

BioWare designed the classes in the traditional mold of MMO characters – healer, tank, ranged, DPS – but, they also created roles that may not fit convention – such as a ranged tank. You must be thinking, why does a ranged character need to tank when he’s far away from all the action? Keep in mind that this isn’t elves, dwarves, and dragons – this is Star Wars. SWTOR isn’t built to be just another MMO – it aims to introduce new gameplay elements that players haven’t experienced in any other game. A ranged tank works particularly well here since blaster rifle fights are a common sight in the Old Republic. The systems design team perfectly melds this “unusualness” with the traditional MMO roles we’ve come to know.

To get a better understanding of the diversity we’re talking about, let’s take the Imperial Agent as an example. The Imperial Agent branches out to the Operative and Sniper advanced classes. Going Operative gives your Imperial Agent access to skills that enhance close-range and healing abilities. Taking the Sniper path, on the other hand, makes you a lethal threat from afar. Although both start out as the basic Imperial Agent (and share the Lethality skill set), your character slowly comes to his own as you gain levels. And don’t think that variety ends once you decide to be an Operative or a Sniper. There are still plenty of ways to go about in building your character due to the limited number of skill points. You can’t have everything in your arsenal (that would be game-breaking and just suck); so allocate your skill points wisely.

This diversity is what makes SWTOR into a solid MMO. You will need to rely on companions or other players to cover your limitations in some departments. It’s kind of hard to focus in healing when you’re swinging a lightsaber all over the battlefield.  So, leave the healing to your allies. Team play is the name of the game, and with the advanced class system, this is more prevalent – and more fun – than ever.

But wait, advanced classes isn’t just about skill sets – available equipment is also contributes to their diversity. Basic classes each have their own set of exclusive equipment; but this is also true for advanced classes. One should consider weapon and armor options before making up your mind on the class to go for.

Designing a game systems is tough work – and rightfully so, since it’s arguably the bread and butter of an MMO. It’s what can make or break the game – what can set it apart. And for these reasons, the game systems would be continually improved before and after the launch of SWTOR. But now that I think about it, I wish BioWare didn’t put much effort into these. Why? Because now, I’m having a difficult time on picking a class that I would want to play.  Most, if not all, of them seem balanced; each has a set of its pros and cons. Some problem I’m having, eh?

 

Star Wars Audio

Note: This is article is based on the developer blog by Orion Kellogg, audio producer for LucasArts. For his blog, check out the official site.

“Sound is 50% of the movie-going experience, and I’ve always believed audiences are moved and excited by what they hear in my movies at least as much as by what they see.” – George Lucas

There are many things that make Darth Vader such an iconic character. His mask. The air of mystery that surrounds him. His black badass armor with a matching cape. His breathing. His ability to choke out others even without the slightest of touch. His blank expression. Plus, he’s the father of the original trilogy’s main protagonist. But what really made Darth Vader epic is his theme – the Imperial March. When you hear the theme, intimidation creeps in. When you it starts playing, you know that something is about to go down – something not quite pleasant. The theme is fit for the supreme Imperial, the lord of the Dark Side. The theme embodies everything Vader is about.

I have always believed in George Lucas’ statement above. Sound is arguably the most important element of any production – may it be a movie, a video game, or otherwise. Sound enhances these media. It brings life and emotion. Sound makes these productions memorable. It’s why most movies and videogames have their very own soundtrack. The experience just falls flat without sound.

In Star Wars: The Old Republic, sound plays a prominent role – just like in the movies. The challenge for the audio team is to create sound and music that is integral to the overall experience; as was the case for the trilogies. This isn’t easy as Star Wars movies have set the bar pretty high. Plus, this game will be HUGE; a huge game that will be fully-voiced (that’s enough challenge right there, and we aren’t even talking about alien languages yet). Also keep in mind the need for background music for many locales and scenes; as well as sound effects for blaster fire, lightsabers clashing against each other, force powers, and the like. The audio team must have had very little sleep for the past few years.

VOICE ACTING

As I’ve stated, this is the first MMO of this scale that will be fully-voiced. That’s pretty ambitious of BioWare, but if anyone can do it – and do it right – it’s them. BioWare has been tried-and-tested in the voice acting department (they did quite a heck of a job with Mass Effect 2, I must say). But this is so much beyond Mass Effect 2. This game of colossal proportions features eight diverse storylines (one for each class), hundreds of characters, thousands of hours of gameplay, and dialogue that can be fit into dozens and dozens of Star Wars novels. This could be the biggest voice-acting project in the history of entertainment. Shauna Perry, BioWare’s Senior Director of Development Operations, said that only an army could pull this off. The audio team had that and a tad bit more.

Fortunately, the writing team was in-charge with coming up with the dialogue. Once it has been reviewed and revised tons of times (to perfect it in terms of character, cinematics, storytelling, and in the proper “Star Wars tone”), it’s now up to the audio team to cast voice actors, book studios for the recording, and to direct the voice acting. Casting voice actors is a task that should never be underestimated – these voice actors will be your allies, adversaries, and other characters that will impact your adventure. These figures need actors that will bring justice to their characters. The audio team combed through hundreds of performers in film, television, and theater to give these characters its own mind and heart. The team also sought the experienced voice actors who have done exceptional work in previous BioWare and Star Wars titles.

Once written, cast, recorded, edited, mastered, creatively processed (think about the electronic voice of C-3PO or Darth Vader), evaluated for quality, implemented, and animated into life, these characters will go through over a dozen desks, several states, a few countries, and meticulous play-testing. That sums up the process for the English dialogue. But as you know, Star Wars ain’t Star Wars without the gibberish alien speak. Let’s move on to Wookie talk.

ALIEN SPEAK

Well, this isn’t really gibberish. Aliens that inhabit the galaxy far, far away don’t just spew randomness (for the most part, at least), we assure you. While it may seem that way, that isn’t so. Will Beckman, LucasArts voice director, and Orion Kellogg worked side-by-side to conceptualize fully-operational alien languages. Now I don’t know if that’s downright tough or just plain cool and fun, but yeah, the aliens in the game are supposed to make sense. There are more than fifty species in the game; and the audio team put effort in making each of these species sound diverse. You won’t be hearing generic grunts, whispering, murmurs, meows or woofs. Everything that they’ll be speaking is legitimately systematic. I for one can’t wait to see this game’s version of the Mos Eisley cantina encounter.

CLASSIC TUNES

Ah, the music. Every classic RPG has its own set of unforgettable tunes. And as we’ve noted above, the Star Wars franchise doesn’t take its music lightly. The audio team composed five hours of music (enough to completely fill another set of a Star Wars trilogy) for this game and recorded this with an 80-piece symphony orchestra at the legendary Skywalker Ranch. That’s the grandest musical assignment that BioWare has accomplished. Each of these tunes reflects the character, world, event, or emotion that it was made for.

BANG, BOOM

I’ve always liked the sound that every swing of a lightsaber makes. This sound obviously finds its way into the game; along, with the “pew-pew” of blasters, “boom-boom” of cannons, and “bang-bang” of rifles, among the many available weapons in the game. Now, I may make it sound generic but that’s not really how it is. With the plethora of weaponry available to the player, the audio team labored to provide almost every weapon in the game a distinct sound – lower-tier weapons sound differently from high-tier ones. They tweaked and tworked (yes, I made up that word/sound) the regular booms and bangs to bestow every weapon that extra spunk. Apart from weapons, force powers and your environment (creatures, objects, etc.) also do not stay quiet. It’s always good to hear the levitating sound when you’ve lifted an opponent into uncontrollable anguish or the responsive noises creatures make when they feel your presence.

SOUND ON

Star Wars: The Old Republic will be far, far away from dull because of the life that is brought about by the game’s sounds. As much as this game will be a visual and role-playing treat, it would also be an audiophile’s dream. Wherever you go in the vast galaxy, audio follows and responds.

Now, hit the music.

 

SWTOR @ Gamescom 2011 Highlights

Last month, Bioware traveled all the way to Cologne, Germany to showcase the  Star Wars: The Old Republic. German fans waited in the long lines of Gamescom 2011 just to experience the much hyped MMO. And boy, they weren’t disappointed. The positivity was overwhelming, as fans were able to play through the game and view live the presentations made on-stage by Bioware (they got to see the Eternity Vault flashpoint, among others).

Bioware thanks the SWTOR community as they went full-blast during the almost a week-long event.

Masters of the Force: The Story of the Jedi Consular

Note: This is article is based on the developer blog by Joanna Berry, one of the writers for SWTOR. For her blog, check out the official site.

The Jedi Consular may come off as all-knowing to some, but that isn’t accurate at all. Sure, they are battle-tested, have seen and heard many things, and are able harness the force masterfully; but still, temptations abound and there are grey areas that they have to deal with. Plus, their story wouldn’t be any good if they were such perfect beings. Hell, we probably wouldn’t have had Vader if Qui Gon Jin and Obi Wan Kenobi were complete Einsteins in the Jedi guidance department (I’m not blaming them though since it really wasn’t their fault, I’m just saying “probably”).

Jedi Consulars have more or less a ton of experience under their belt, but they continue to improve their skills; and their thirst for knowledge is never quenched. This thirst is probably the Consular’s greatest strength; it’s what sets them apart as warriors from others. Jedi Consulars know that the Force is not only used as a weapon, but something far greater and encompassing. It isn’t a tool for battle, but is instead a means to peace. For them, the first defense towards solving a conflict is the use of knowledge, not brute force. The swinging of lightsabers only comes when knowledge is insufficient to become a solution.

In the game, Jedi Consulars begin their journey surrounded by the lush forest life and ancient ruins in Tython. Eventually as a player, you’d be able to leave this world as the Jedi Council will send you to various regions of the galaxy, doing all sorts of missions such as uncovering and training in lost Force techniques, visiting locales that may hold proof of lost cultures, seeking diplomacy with an unfamiliar alien species, and striking enemy bases with the support of the Republic militia, among others. That was just the short list; and yes, they work on Sundays.

When a Jedi Consular’s skill and reputation has grown further, he is entrusted with the more critical and much dangerous missions. Siths will be plotting against you – you’re a target now. But along with the peril, also comes the responsibility of guiding the Jedi youth. You’ll have the chance to impart the new generation of Jedis with the knowledge you have gathered from your own master and from your travels.

As I’ve stated above, a Jedi Consular’s function isn’t easy-peasy even though they’re considered as the best among the best. Temptations linger in every corner; and there are times when a Consular may decide to walk the fine line between the Light and Dark Side of the Force. You may think that because of his superior knowledge, he wouldn’t falter; but what if his crave for knowledge supersedes his duty of doing what’s right? And remember, Jedi Consulars are human (or alien), and there are times when emotion clouds over one’s judgment. They are often faced with difficult decisions, and they may not pick the right choice all the time.

A Jedi Consular is one of the most prominent figures in the Republic; hence, he has the power to change the fate of the Republic. One should remember that whatever a Jedi Consular does, the Republic is affected – thus, carefully weighing all options available at a time is a must. The Jedi Council may not support your decisions; but if you believe it will better the Republic, then go for it by all means. This is your story after all. Will it lead to the Republic’s salvation – or your destruction – is for you to find out.

Patriots to a Tyrannical Nation: The Story of the Imperial Agent

Note: This is article is based on the developer blog by Alexander Freed, a senior writer for SWTOR. For his blog, check out the official site.

So, what does an Imperial Agent do exactly? Very few people know about what they do, as very few people know they even exist.  The few people who know they exist do not know who exactly are the Imperial Agents that are in their midst.  Their identities, their objectives, are concealed to almost everyone else after all – even to the highest of officials in the Empire they work for.

Let’s go back to answer the question. Basically, an Imperial Agent is a patriot – a loyal servant of the Empire. He ensures that those within the Empire continue to be “patriotic” like him. If one rebels or commits treason, it’s up to the Imperial Agent to do something about it. He either puts them back in line or silences them permanently. These guys are extremely vigilant – so those who have designs to rebel or defect to the Republic better watch out. But unfortunately, they don’t even know about these phantoms’ existence. Sucks for them, they don’t even know what they’re going up against.

Imperial Agents act as a source of intelligence for the Empire. Going undercover and reconnaissance are among their chief specialties. They have the ability to gain the trust of Republic, infiltrate it, and take whatever information they need. If they are found out, they have the means to disappear without leaving a single trace. Imperial Agents are sneaky like that.

These operatives also act as sweepers of the mess that Sith Lords create. Some Sith Lords tend to lose focus on the Empire’s agenda and instead exercise their influence to further their selfish ambitions. Imperial Agents act on their mistakes and straighten these out. They keep the Empire from self-destructing, in essence. And with all the shady Imperial creeps in their midst, their work isn’t exactly cakewalk.

You have got to give it up to them; these guys must be the hardest-working men and women in the Empire. I mean, they spy, steal, assassinate, arrest, and fix things while they keep as low a profile as possible. Imperial Agents must have a real love affair with the Empire – despite the fact that it is run by some of the most devious men in the galaxy.

Players of SWTOR may find their secret life appealing – but it’s not for everyone. Imperial Agents don’t bask in the limelight that great victories in the battlefield hold, unlike the Jedis or the Sith Warriors. Instead, they lurk in the shadows and stay unnoticed – this is how they get the job done after all. So whether you break the traditional mold of the Imperial Agent is up to you, the player. You decide which targets to go for, what lies will to fabricate, and where your true loyalty lies. Will you be devoted to certain influential figures or to the Empire’s advancement? Whatever you choose to do, you’ll probably get away with it any way. Imperial Agents always do.

The Champions of Peace: The Story of the Jedi Knight

Note: This is article is based on the developer blog by Drew Karpyshyn, a senior writer for SWTOR. For his blog, check out the official site.

Everyone is well aware that these guys are the headliners of the Star Wars universe. They are the symbols of valor that define the franchise. The original trilogy was pretty much about Luke Skywalker’s arduous journey towards being a Jedi and taking down the Empire. Luke’s story was a narrative that has been etched into our consciousness – it’s a classic tale of good going up against evil. And this game wouldn’t be complete without the Jedi Knight’s story in the forefront.

As you know, Jedis are the champions of peace; they work and put their head on the line to keep this peace. It isn’t an easy job as they had to sacrifice a lot to become Jedis. Individual aspirations such as love and wealth are thrown out the window if one is to follow the Jedi code. Their duty is their sole endeavor, which isn’t really as simple as it sounds.

When one becomes a Jedi, the training doesn’t stop there. They continue to better themselves, perfect themselves even; physically and mentally. The “mental” part is probably the bigger challenge of the two; as this is the aspect that causes most Jedis to fail. Freeing one’s self from temptation and distractions is not an easy feat. Emotions should be completely blocked off in favor of logic and reason, the Jedi code dictates.

But as you know, Jedis aren’t droids programmed to act the same as one another – they’re individuals. Even if the Jedi order strives for a single purpose, each Jedi still has his or her own method on how to go about in achieving just that. And this is where you, the player, come in. What kind of Jedi will you be? Will you strictly adhere to the code? Or will there be times that you will break it for what you think may be for the greater good?

There are situations in the game that will test your judgment as a Jedi Knight. For example, will you slay a surrendering arch nemesis (which goes against the code) in order to keep him from bothering you and the Republic in the future? Will you let him live in exchange for power that you could use to further the Republic’s cause? Doing any of those will go against the Jedi Council’s wishes, but there’s no way for them to know anyway when they’re sitting just oh-so comfortably in the capital, right? And when you come home, away from the frontlines, is it really so wrong to love and be happy during these turbulent times?

It’s up to you if you will be a Jedi through and through or let yourself fall off from your high perch at times – which may not be entirely wrong depending on how you view it; Jedis are still humans, or aliens, after all. Those are the question that you will need to answer as you lay through the Old Republic. And one should be especially careful in answering these, as one wrong answer too many may probably lead you to the dark side.

Doing it With Style: The Story of the Smuggler

Note: This is article is based on the developer blog by Hall Hood, a senior writer for SWTOR. For his blog, check out the official site.

Ah, the Smuggler; debonair and flashy as always. If you’re a teen or in your 20’s, then your mom probably got Han Solo posters on her wall back in the 708’s and 80’s. That could have been the case then since smugglers exude with wit and charm.  Guys like Han Solo know they have these; and they use these to get a hold of what they want – which may be legal or not really. Whether it’s the girl or smuggled arms, they find a way to get it for themselves. There are occasions though wherein their methods may seem questionable to others – but one must remember that they aren’t affiliated with either the Republic or the Empire. Smugglers go for what they want by any means necessary. That’s just how they roll.

Unlike the Jedis who are prohibited to engage in romance, Smugglers get plenty of this in SWTOR. The Smuggler’s tale is filled with conquests of love (or just plain womanizing). They’re the ones who get the girl(s). So if you want your personal Leah, you might as well go for these guys. Since they’re suave like that, smugglers are also the game’s bucket of humor. Witty one-liners abound when you play as a Smuggler; and you may find these even in the direst of situations.

But besides being romancers and comedians, Smugglers are also quite the adventurers. And they’ve got it better than the Jedis or the Troopers since it’s not their duty to go questing –hence, they get paid for it. Although I stated that they are neither a member of the Republic or the Empire, they prefer to work with the Republic since they find Imperials a bit on the creepy side. I mean, who would want to work for weirdos who spend their whole day practicing dark rituals? Plus, when the Republic uses their services, they get paid good.

But since is your story, not every Smuggler needs to be all about the moolah. You can choose to be the hero of the oppressed and be their Robin Hood or something. In this case, having friends will offset the earning of less cash since everyone loves a goody-goody Smuggler. And it’s always nice to have someone watching your back when you’re not looking – like Chewie did for Han Solo.

So whether you choose to become the benevolent icon of the masses or use your skills to get yourself a mansion in the capital, you’re going to have a grand time wreaking havoc in the galaxy with your smuggler. And you’re going to be wreaking havoc in style.

 

The Ascendance: The Story of the Sith Inquisitor

Note: This is article is based on the developer blog by Rebecca Harwick, one of the writers for SWTOR. For her blog, check out the official site.

The Sith Inquisitor, made famous (or infamous) by Emperor Palpatine, is arguably the darkest class in that particular side of the force. As you have seen from the movies (more specifically from Palpatine), they are cunning, manipulative, and downright evil. The Emperor was responsible for turning the republic’s greatest Jedi into its most dangerous adversary. Sith Inquisitors have a way with words, you see; as they not only wield the force, but also a vast pool of knowledge. They dabble in the darkest of arts and employ the use of the most dangerous of artifacts after all. Sith Inquisitors hunger for wisdom more than physical prowess; as they know that this will be the key to achieving their malevolent desires.

The Sith Inquisitor’s story starts out not as how you’d probably expect it to be. Unlike their Sith Warrior counterparts, they start out not in a position of power, but as slaves. They weren’t fortunate enough to have been trained in the Academy in Korriban nor experienced the joy and excitement of waiting for Santa when midnight strikes during Christmas Eve. They’ve had a tough childhood; they were plucked from their shackled existence and made to toil in the harsh Imperial environment. They were forced and groomed to be Siths – its either they be good at that or they die. You see, these guys have a legitimate reason on why they should be mad and why they would want to destroy the Republic; unlike the Sith Warriors who were privileged enough to have three square meals a day and have their own Galactic Rolls Royce by age eighteen.

But most of these slaves see what the opportunity to be a Sith can do for them. They know that when they become one, obscurity will be a thing of the past (besides the fact that they won’t face an early demise). They know that this is their path to salvation. How to wield the power that will eventually be theirs is the choice you would have to make for your Sith Inquisitor. Will you brandish this power to further the Empire’s agenda? Or will you exercise this selfishly for your own? Siths can also choose to use this power to finally step into a place that he’s never been in before – the light.

How it ultimately plays out will be entirely up to you. The choices you make during story quests will determine whether you become one with the Empire, become THE Empire, or have a hand in its demise. So manipulate your way, corrupt your peers, and send tons of bolts of lightning to your enemies as you pave the way for your Sith Inquisitor’s ascendance to power.