Alyssa Gobelle is the web designer for SWTOR. She has done a beautiful job of constructing a site that is entertaining as well as interesting to look at. Although the busy lettering, Aurebesh, entices the eyes, it also gives away secrets to the game. In April, Gobelle was interviewed by the Holonet Project fan site, where she revealed that the messages are totally intentional: "When they first brought me on, our first major task was to design the HoloNet. We wanted the HoloNet's voice to be as much 'within the lore of the game' as possible so we planned to add some generic Aurebesh to start. But we also wanted to add some hidden teases and notes for you guys to devour and ponder upon and play with. Give some more fuel to the speculation festivities."
Continue after the break to find out what some of these "hidden teases" are. Perhaps you can help me figure out what the rest of them mean.
Although some of the message meanings are more than evident -- like this one from the Korriban page: "The greatest Sith Lords are entombed here," duh -- other messages are a little more mysterious. Thanks to a bit of research and a lot of Wookieepedia, I have been able to decipher the meaning behind some of the not-so deep secrets.
Why not start with one of the more recent reveals: Alderaan? We know from the E3 coverage that Alderaan is an estranged member of the Republic. One of the greatest battles of the Great Galactic War took place on Alderaan. Despite Darth Malgus' winning multiple victories on the planet, ultimately the Alderaani were victorious. Unfortunately, this caused strain between Alderaan and the rest of the Republic.
There are three messages on the Alderaan webpage that held a bit of a mystery: "House Thul," "Imperial backing," and "Will House Organa inherit the throne?" One of the major announcements at E3 was the introduction of War Zones, dedicated PvP zones. Then, at Comic-Con, James Ohlen said that there are two major Houses in contention for planetary leadership. Even before he announced what these Houses were, those who found the hidden messages had figured out that the two houses will be Thul and Organa. As also confirmed by Ohlen, House Thul is backed by the Imperials. Mystery solved? I am sure there is more to it than what can be expressed in this article, but the meaning of the hidden text has been revealed.
Although most of the phrases on the Nar Shaddaa page are obvious as to their meaning -- "Moon of Corruption" and "Entirely Dependent on Illegal Commerce" -- I stumbled over one: vrblthers. V-R-B-L-T-H-E-R-S. I thought I translated something wrong. So I double-checked. Then I went to the SWTOR forum to see whether someone else had translated the way I did, and the first post I found about it didn't even mention "vrblthers." I did a double-take and re-rechecked. I did not make a mistake. Help me, Wookieepedia. You're my only hope. Found it! Turns out vrblthers are biped creatures that live in the depths of the Nar Shaddaa undercity. If I venture a guess here, we will find these creatures in the other secret word buried on the Nar Shaddaa page: Shadow Town.
Let me set up a little bit of the background for the Tatooine hidden messages. Tatooine was the one bases of operation for the Czerka corporation, a notorious arms dealer. The Czerka corporation had mining operations on the desert world, but it eventually closed down because the ore being mined was nearly worthless. All of the sandcrawlers and other mining equipment were left behind and, eventually, pilfered by the Tatooine-native Jawas.
"Czerka lab abandoned beneath the sand" is the large text decoded on the far left of the Tatooine webpage. I admit, a giant grin crossed my face when I read this. Secret bases are extremely intriguing to me: mysteries inside of mysteries. There is another single word hidden behind the yellow text on the page reveals what you will find in the within this base: superweapon. But the real question is, "What does the weapon do, and what are we going to do with it?"
I know some of the questions in the codex will not be answered until after the game has hit store shelves. Three months after launch we will all probably know exactly what these mean by heart, but until then it is fun to speculate on the meaning of these phrases. So, let's have some fun here. I will list the phrases that aren't quite obvious and let you post your speculations in the comments.
- Unknown energies. We know there was a great war on Tython that caused many Jedi to fall to the dark side, but was it because of these unknown energies or did something else cause the fall?
- Tainted. Is the planet tainted? What exactly is tainted?
- Fa'athra seeks the downfall of Nem'ro. We know Nem'ro is the Hutt you work for in bounty hunter and agent beginning quests, but where does this other Hutt, Fa'athra, come into play?
- Chaos comes from a volcano. This phrase is a complete mystery to me. Thoughts?
- Separatists. This phrase intrigues me. Do they relate to the volcano somehow? Maybe it's their base.
- Coordinates. Again, this is perplexing. What is so important about the word "coordinates" that it was listed on the planet's webpage?
- There is a traitor in the ranks. Ranks of whom, or what? Any ideas on what this means?
- Revan's disappearance. Yeah, where did Revan go when he disappeared into the unknown regions?
- Zash's secret. Who is Zash? Is his secret related to Revan?
- Death's Claw Stronghold. Who are the Death's Claws?
- Imprisoned Esh-kha. We know Mandalorians have something to do with planet. Esh-ka sounds like Mando'a -- Yc'ka, maybe?
- The last Gormak must not die. We know that Gormaks are at war with the Voss, but I was under the impression that the Voss were the protagonist for the planet. Why would we not wish for the last Gormak to die?
- The Endless War. Is this the name of the war between the Voss and Gormaks?
- Captain Valon. Does this captain belong to the Empire, Republic, or something else?
- Umbra Encryptor. Umbra means shadow, but what does it encrypt?
- Chiss Secret Base. Yay! Another secret base! But what secrets does this one hold, besides the Umbra Encryptor?
I have only mentioned the planetary pages, but there are Aurebesh Easter eggs all over SWTOR's site. We still have player classes, factions and the timeline pages that I have not mentioned. I will be sure to cover these in future issues of the Hyperspace Beacon.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally here, and the Force is with Massively! We've prepared a Hutt-sized feast of class introductions, gameplay guides, lore roundups, and hands-on previews to help you navigate the launch period and beyond. And don't forget our weekly SWTOR column, the Hyperspace Beacon!