Greetings, Starfighters! And Agents and Jedi and Smugglers and Bounty Hunters and… you get the point. It’s the middle of an extended double-XP weekend, and we at TORWars are hoping our American readers are having an excellent Thanksgiving weekend. Last weekend saw the Austin Cantina Tour stop, and I had the good fortune to be able to go. Being that it was in BioWare’s back yard – the venue for the event was literally a half-mile away from the office – of course, I couldn’t resist making the pilgrimage and had to take photos of the neat stuff they had in the public lobby. There was even a piece of Consular art I hadn’t seen before, but alas, the reflection off the windows behind me made it difficult to get a good shot of it.
As expected, there’s nothing you can actually see from the lobby, as they’ve cleverly hidden all sensitive areas behind frost-tinted glass doors and dividers with pretty art on them. However, it was nice to visit for a few minutes since it was nearby. Also in town for the weekend was the Austin Comic Con, where I found former BioWare employee and Imperial Agent lead writer Alexander Freed holding down the fort. I lent him my lightsaber and we had a good natter about the game and about his current freelance career. It might be his fault that I’m spending much of my double XP time this weekend playing my shamefully-neglected Agent.
Escaping downtown – I once described Austin’s roads outside of downtown as someone having poured a big bowl of spaghetti over the city – the venue for the cantina event was a bar and grill in a posh manufactured shopping center that’s intended to look like a small town, and we took over their function space. There, we were greeted by the ever-smiling face of Community Production Specialist Courtney Woods, who handed out thumbdrives, Taun Fawn codes, and copies of The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural, a hardcover book currently going for $19.95 on Amazon and previously available in the Collector’s Edition box set.
Also officially present that evening were Release Manager Ben Irving, Senior Producer Blaine Christine, Lead Writer Charles Boyd, Lead Designer Michael Backus, and of course, our ringleader for the evening, Community Manager Eric Musco. Unofficially, several other BioWare employees were there (for the free alcohol, I’m sure), such as Brooks Guthrie, Brian Audette, Hall Hood, and what seemed like half the Cinematics team.
Not only was BioWare represented, but so was the server that reportedly crashed because it was so awesome (aka The Shadowlands). The very first person I met after Courtney Woods was a lady named Nicole, and of course, our good friend Bam from WOOK and his guildie Taldune were there too. I also got to meet folks from other servers, such as Njessi, aka @HawtRepublic (you really should read her blog).
The Q&A that you can listen to here goes over the official answers that we were given to various questions, with no really huge revelations. However, later on in the evening, I snagged Eric Musco and asked him when we’d get the Festive Tauntaun that TORWars first discovered on the open Public Test Server a couple of weeks ago. I really wanted to ask about the Rakghoul event too, but we can expect BioWare to do official announcements through channels and whatnot when they’re good and ready, so no point in spoiling any more of the surprise there. Eric replied that it was leaning toward ‘maybe never’, adding the usual disclaimer that stuff that appears on the PTS is just testing and may not go live. I can kind of see why, since it’s just about as lore-breaking as the TRK-R Treatment Chamber we got around Halloween, but I did really like that Tauntaun.
In all, the adventure going to Austin (eating lots of tacos and barbecue) and getting to hang out with the devs and fellow players in the game’s hometown made it a touch more special. As much as it would have been nice to have all of the employees formally introduced (if only for article and photo citation purposes), it was a good focused event with old friends, new friends, and of course… SWTOR sack puppets.