Star Wars: The Old Republic Developer Blog, Novel Preview, and Media

This week's update to the official Star Wars: The Old Republic includes a new screenshot-laden developer blog covering the design of Coruscant (written by world designer Eric Young), a new Voss wallpaper, more forum avatars and smilies, and the entire first chapter of the Deceived novel that introduces us to the insidious exploits of Darth Malgus. From the blog entry:
The project started with research. We looked at how Coruscant was constructed in the movies, cartoons, comics, and games. Our concept team provided amazing work that gave us a vision of where the planet could go. We studied how large cities had been built in other online games, but we could find nothing so ambitious that had even been attempted, let alone successfully executed. We would be starting largely from scratch, there were numerous technical and artistic concerns to account for, and the schedule did not allow for wasted time. It was without a doubt a daunting task, but being both a lifelong Star Warsâ„¢ fan and an intrepid explorer of online worlds I was determined to capture the grand size and scale of the city that the movies portrayed.

Our initial designs for Coruscant were relatively conservative, and ultimately unsatisfying. We quickly decided that we did not want to settle for a mere facade that only hinted at a metropolis in the background, we wanted to offer players a seamless and immersive experience, so that players could take a transport from the shining towers of the senate district down into the canyons of the market and criminal sectors, and finally beneath the layers of metal and glass into the rusted industrial structures deep below.

The design became more and more ambitious, with art assets grander in scale than anything we had attempted before. Skyscrapers that reached kilometers into the sky, immense metal panels that would cover entire zones from other games, and endless canyons of steel vanishing into the distance. Walkways connected to entrances along the outside of these buildings, leading to a city within a city; each large structure containing a maze of streets and building fronts, with automated factories, abandoned research facilities and criminal headquarters to be explored.

Once we were satisfied with the design we handed it off to the other teams. The Environment Art team took our ambitious design and transformed it from humble grey cubes into a sprawling city of darkness and light, and every passing day makes the planet more impressive. The scripting team forged the writers' stories into fully functional quests that let you interact with the city's people and places, while the spawning team brought the city to life with politicians, droids, and a plethora of nefarious foes.