SWTOR Loading Screen: Austin Cantina Tour Thoughts

And it's a new Loading Screen, sponsored by the BioWare booze fund!

And it’s a new Loading Screen, sponsored by the BioWare booze fund!

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.

Miralukan Consular Art in the BioWare lobby.

Miralukan Consular Art in the BioWare lobby.

Just a few of the awards seen in the BioWare lobby.

Just a few of the awards seen in the BioWare lobby.

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.

Comic Con shenanigans

Comic Con shenanigans

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.

Three years of autographs, one awesome poster.

Three years of autographs, one awesome poster.

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.

No Festive Tauntaun for you!

No Festive Tauntaun for you!


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.

Creepiest companion and his creator.

Creepiest companion and his creator.


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8 Responses to “SWTOR Loading Screen: Austin Cantina Tour Thoughts”

  1. Xorcist says:

    Give away more Exclusive Collectors Edition stuff why don’t you BioWare? You already gave away the mount, pet, and Exclusive Collectors Edition vendor items. Keep up the bad work.

    • Alex G says:

      Boo hoo. Don’t like it, move on and ignore the game.

      • Xorcist says:

        No. Your Boohoo is noted and rejected. Thanks for coming out though.

        To Alex G, From EA:
        Your loyal and blind subordination is important to us. Please continue to give us all your hard earned money for a chance at re-colored digital items sold in the cash shop at ridiculously high prices. Without you we would actually have to try.

        Thanks again,

  2. Si'lyana says:

    This has been the last entry in about a week. Anything going on over there? Lot’s of happenings in this past week I was looking forward to you guys discussing.

  3. Daak says:

    Just asking, do you guys still play? Used to be.my favorite fan site and I waited anxiously every week for podcasts. I know there is a new baby and how much that takes, but is the site on backburner (good for you family first) or is this site dying :-(

  4. Zavion says:

    Hey Guys, is there anything going on. This is my favorite SWTOR site but lately there just isn’t much going on. This was the creme de la creme as I was concerned when it came to a SWTOR site and podcast. It actually almost saddens me. I miss you guys and I miss going to the site. Used to be a highlight of my day but now when I go there is nothing really new. And the podcasts too, I know you and DD were sick for awhile and what not but you guys run the best podcast I have ever heard but lately there hasn’t been much of anything. Just caantina audio and what not, which is ok, but I do miss the real podcast. Come back guys, I miss you :)

  5. J.W. Hollis says:

    Hehe, we’re still here Zav. We’re experimenting with emphasizing the podcast a bit more (e.g., a newscast) over the written word.

    I do think we’re in transition, though, and no permanent decisions have been made. If you think we should stay with more written articles, or with an emphasis on a newscast style format, let us know. Again, thanks for your warm words of support.

  6. Zavion says:

    Well, that’s good to hear. I’m excited to see what this new podcast will sound like :)

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