Holonet Project: Alyssa Gobelle Interview

We recently had the privilege to ask Alyssa Gobelle, the Lead Web Designer over at ToR some questions about herself, her work with the ToR website as well as the Aurebesh ( You knew I was going here right? ) found within the Holonet Project. I'd like to extend a special thanks to Sean Dahlberg and Alyssa Gobelle for taking the time to make this possible.

Questions By: Shane “Masamunex” Angle

Answers By: Alyssa Gobelle, Web Designer

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been with BioWare and how long have you been designing websites?

I've been with BioWare for a little over a year now.

My Web Design career dates all the way back to 1996 (maybe a little earlier even) and it was a short time after the web started using graphics more regularly instead of having to jack in an SLIP/PPP emulator onto a telnet account. My first big gig was working as a Story Illustrator and Map Maker in 1997 and launched from there to work between big corporations and design houses till I got here.

The Star Wars: The Old Republic website host's a lot of content, far more than a standard MMO that has already hit the market and it was obviously a huge endeavor. Your title as Lead Website designer implies there is a team, how large is the team and how much time do you put into the website in the run of a week?

I’m the Web Designer, but that’s just one part of our Web Team. The Web Team is comprised of various people with different skills and responsibilities. We all enjoy watching the community’s reaction whenever a new update goes live!

I have to say, being a fan of all things Star Wars lore I was extremely surprised, obviously in a good way, to see to what extent the Aurebesh was used within the HoloNet. Whose idea and decision was it to sneak the Aurebesh into the HoloNet?

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.

When a new item comes up for release on the HoloNet (let’s say a planet), who decides what the Aurebesh will say? Do you pretty much have free rein of where you insert or hide it?

While it is generally done by the writing staff here, everything we do is a team effort and we all have a voice in content. Of course, the lines are always examined and approved by LucasArts.

When the other tabs of the HoloNet get released, can we expect to see some Aurebesh embedded within those entries too?

Most assuredly!

Will the Aurebesh remain strictly found within the HoloNet area of the website or do you think we may see some Aurebesh pop up in other areas in the future?

I feel that the Aurebesh teases will stay primarily in areas where the voice is tied heavily into the Lore. The HoloNet in itself is a window into the Old Republic universe and as such the Aurebesh lends itself to be a part of it.

That aside, no telling what the future may hold and whether we will create another area that will also be a voice from within the universe. Depends what cool things we cook up, yah?

Some of the Aurebesh translations have hinted at possible places we may get to explore within the game or possible Story line Arc's. Was this the intention of adding comments like "Czerka lab abandoned beneath the sand" and "Will house Organa inherit the throne?" to show us these places or stories within the game or is the Aurebesh there strictly for fun with no real relevance to game play?

We think you already know the answer to this question, yes?

The single biggest mystery the community has encountered in regards to the Aurebesh so far is found within the Sith Inquisitor HoloNet entry. Between the words terror and manipulation are two unknown characters. Do these characters have any real meaning and if so would you like to share what that meaning may be?

The font set we use in-house is far more robust than what I've seen out in the wild, a lot of extra symbols for things that haven't been used that aren't in the realm of number or character. Outright telling you will be no fun, methinks - as deciphering is part of the game!

So here is 'one' clue: You've already answered your question, but you keep running past it for other conclusions.

You recently stated you had the HoloNet Project website book marked which got me to thinking. Have you had an opportunity to look through any of the translations we've done and if so have you seen anything we've clearly missed?

The HoloNet Project seems to have found everything so far. I'm currently plotting to hide them better. Maybe tuck things away that only shifting color spectrums can find... hmmm....

There are a lot of community members out there; myself included who have fallen in love with what you've done with the SW: ToR website. You have sparked a ton of discussion and debate which has only made the community as a whole stronger. Is there anything you would like to say to those members before we wrap this up?

Because of you community guys, I LOVE Fridays more than any other day of the week.

We love it - we all do. By "we" I mean EVERYONE here. I know a lot of the game developers and artists await Fridays as much as I do! It's our little slice of 'shine' time, so to speak. We get to open the window just a little larger and let you see what everyone has been striving to do.

So, as the web site evolves you guys are going to see more and more elements of the game peeking through in areas you won't have even expected. Big EPIC moments are on the way. They are rumbling in the distance like a vast imperial fleet coming out of hyperspace all at once.

Oh yes, and we will fire when ready.... muhahaha!


Bye Now!
– Alyssa