Star Wars: The Old Republic Q&A and Preview

After visiting LucasArts' headquarters in San Francisco, Ten Ton Hammer is offering up both a Q&A with Star Wars: The Old Republic producer Jake Neri and a preview of the game based on what was learned during the press event. A snip from the Q&A:
Ten Ton Hammer: There has been talk of all classes being able to summon a companion which will be a viable combat pet. Can you expand on that?

Neri: The companions bring another element to the earlier question of group make up, they are more than just classic pets, and they will be able to round groups in different ways. The challenge for us there is that not everyone will want to play with them so we have to make classes successful with and without them. We are really big on the idea of playing the way you want to play and lots of us are frustrated with the scenario of trying to get a 5 player group and (Man, I can't get a healer!) and that scenario becomes really frustrating. So, one of our goals way back in the beginning was to make sure that the barrier to enter into groups is simpler than it is in other games. Let's just make is so the pace is faster and players don't have to rely on the three main parts of the triangle: you don't always have to have a tank, and you don't always have to have a healer. Maybe there will be a situation, and I'm not committing to this, but maybe there will be a situation where you're a pure smuggler group and there will be flashpoint that supports that style of play and you can get in and do that, and that's just you and your buddies and it's really rewarding.

And a little something from the preview:
After seeing a rundown of each class we were treated to a gameplay demonstration of the Imperial Agent. The Agent is described as part of the underbelly of the Empire, a shadowy figure who uses stealth and subterfuge to accomplish his goals. I was impressed by watching the class in action; it gave me my first glimpse into how combat pacing is being envisioned for this game--fast and entertaining. The Imperial Agent had a nice mix of assassin abilities as well as some impressive crowd control. It should make a great addition to groups and will likely be a formidable solo class.

One of the main points that was fleshed out here was that play style customization is important to the game's core design. SW: TOR will afford players the ability to play the same class in several different and unique ways, which in turn will allow BioWare to balance the game from the ground up to adhere to their (bring the player not the class) mantra.