On Friday night, I attended the SWTOR Community Cantina at the first annual PAX South in San Antonio! I can imagine what you’re thinking—the community cantina was three days ago, and I am behind on reporting! Actually, I have quite a lot to write about for the blog this week, but I wanted to put this post out first, since I know it’s what many people are waiting for.
Flash Drive Files
First, if you are interested in the contents of the flash drive provided at the cantina, I have them at the very end of this post! However, nothing new or groundbreaking was included in the flash drive but I did like the images that you can use for Facebook covers or Twitter banners. The other images were items that have already been released in existing Cartel Packs, so nothing new. (My guildie Sleeth said he had everything that was pictured already!)
Second, here’s the important information about what was mentioned at the cantina. Honestly though, I didn’t pay as much attention as I usually do, because I was much more interested in having fun and meeting and talking to friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Anyway, here are some of the new things we can expect from BioWare Austin this year for Star Wars: The Old Republic:
- New planet: Ziost
- Outfit Designer
- New playable race: Togruta (this was known about for quite a while, but they are finally “officially” announcing it)
- New stronghold
- Story Arc continuing cliffhanger that ended Shadow of Revan expansion
I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the Q&A (I was probably one or two beers in at this point already, and loudly said “Oh my God,” when someone asked if Pazaak would ever be in the game), but there was one question in particular that I wanted to mention here on the blog. Someone asked about the Contraband Slot Machines and why they were nerfed so hard. Basically, the answer from Community Manager Eric Musco was that players were correct that the cost to reward ratio from using the slot machines was way out of balance and that it would have serious long-term effects on the game economy. They saw that players were simply not running crew skills anymore because using the slot machines was better, and they could not have a huge segment of the game ignored because of this item.
Meeting and Greeting the Attendees
Honestly, I should’ve said something about this on the blog prior to the cantina, but I simply wanted to attend and have fun without “working” so hard on keeping track of the Q&A and asking hard-hitting questions to the BioWare staff. I think I accomplished my goal of doing that, but if you watched my Twitter, you can see I slightly tried to pay attention to what was going on!
I arrived about an hour before the cantina started with my friends from The Republic on Gamebreaker.tv, Larry Everett (Hyperspace Beacon, Massively) and Redna (OotiniCast, Twitch). For some reason as we were walking, I turned around, saw Lead Community Coordinator Courtney Woods with some other BioWare folks, and started a conversation! We spoke with them for a few minutes before heading toward the line, which had lengthened quite a bit while we were chatting.
I met up with my Despair guildie Sleeth, who I had gone out to dinner with along with his wife the day before at Texas de Brazil (and who I’ve written prior blog posts about which you can read about here and here). He had just come from work, but he had enough time to check out the PAX South exhibition floor prior to the cantina.
Also in the line, I immediately spotted Michael (Death & Taxes), who is not only very tall, but was wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat! I’ve also mentioned him before on the blog when I attended the EA Press Event in Redwood City.
Additionally, I met quite a few readers of the blog and Corellian Run Radio listeners and watchers of The Republic! I was so excited to meet people that enjoyed my work, and I’m very thankful and flattered that people recognized me.
At this cantina, Eric Musco and Lead Community Coordinator Courtney Woods were there as usual, like I mentioned earlier, but this time I was able to meet Community Production Coordinator Tait Watson as well! Before the cantina started, Courtney said to keep an eye on him since he tends to sneak away from people. This is absolutely true! After I tracked Tait down and spoke to him for a bit, he snuck away from me as expected. I did feel slightly like a creepy stalker “tracking Tait.” Here’s a picture of us together:Other BioWare employees that were “officially” there were Ben Irving, Matt Pucevich, and Jesse Sky. Later in the evening (and probably three or four beers down), Ben Irving, who I’d met at the Las Vegas Community Cantina, asked for some feedback about the cantina events and which ones I liked the best. I said I liked the Las Vegas cantina the best because there were a lot more tables and chairs to sit at. Also, servers came around to serve hors d’oeuvres in Las Vegas too. There was a noticeable lack of chairs and tables at the San Antonio cantina, which is why you see many people sprawling on the ground in front of the stage.
There were quite a lot of other BioWare employees there, past and present, though I can’t remember everyone’s names! My friends and I ended up at a table in the corner with BioWare Austin General Manager Jeff Hickman, who I saw at EA Redwood City, but I was too nervous to say anything to him!
I met Luther, who worked on the game pre-launch and pointed out to me the man that worked on Ilum (“The PvE part!” he assured me.). I also met Lead Narrative Designer Paul Marino (“I follow you on Twitter!” he said when I introduced myself.), who works on the cinematics of the game! I told him my favorite cinematics in-game were the end of the Imperial Corellia planetary storyline and another one which I cannot remember.
Former Community Coordinator Hillary Nicole AKA Pokket was also there and spoke for quite a while to Michael and me at our table about streaming, gaming, and post-cantina plans! I was able to get a picture with both of them as well:
Throughout all this meeting and greeting, I obtained a lot of free drink tickets and had enough to get enough beer for myself and a few glasses of wine for Redna! I tipped the friendly bartender after a while because I kept going back! I also really liked the Amber I was drinking, which had a Texas logo on it. I don’t remember the name.
Finally, I wanted to mention that Redna got nachos, and I thought the “green stuff” was relish so I didn’t want to eat it. It turns out it was actually salsa verde, or “green salsa” in English, which I am actually extremely familiar with. I’m really not sure why the first thing I thought of was relish. It must’ve been the booze.
I would highly recommend attending a SWTOR Community Cantina if you are a fan of the game, because they are a lot of fun! You have a chance to personally make your voice heard to BioWare staff and meet those who are working on the game you play. I also think that the BioWare staff made a conscious effort to provide more information about upcoming plans for the game at the beginning of the Q&A, and I think in the future they will continue getting better at connecting with players at these in-person events.
Continue reading to see the files from the cantina flash drive!