Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) based in the Star Wars universe. Developed by BioWare Austin and a supplemental team at BioWare Edmonton, the game was first announced on October 21, 2008, at an invitation-only press event. The video game was released for the Microsoft Windows platform on December 20, 2011 in North America and part of Europe. Players join as members of either of the two main factions – the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. Although each faction is led by a benevolent or malevolent leader, it is emphasized that an individual member may possess a morality at any point along the light/dark spectrum. The project's key focus is to differentiate between the player's faction and morality. For instance, a member with ties to the Galactic Republic may belong to the Darkside while attempting to achieve their own ends, which may be misaligned or dissimilar from the Republic's vision. Player advancement occurs by a combination of mission completion, exploration, and defeating enemies. New skills, unlocked by level, are taught by trainers and can be learned in game at a multitude of locations. Heroic missions exist that require the cooperation of multiple players to complete objectives, and can be repeated normally on a daily basis. While each class in The Old Republic favors a certain play style (ranged/melee damage, healing or support skills, or tanking), customization combined with companion characters allow for a class to be able to tackle many different situations, with or without the support of other player characters, and without requiring specific other classes in order to move forward. A range of playable species are available for the player to choose from, some limited to their factions. Both sides can play Human, Cyborg (human-based), Twi'lek or Zabrak (whose appearances are initially depending on which side the character is from). The Republic-only races are the Miraluka and Mirialan, while the Empire-only races are the Chiss, Rattataki and Sith Pureblood. Humans and Zabrak can pick any class available, while the other species are restricted to limited choices of classes by default. Each faction contains different classes, each with a distinct backstory and a branching storyline affected by players' moral choices. Classes are exclusive to one faction or the other. However, the classes of one faction mirror the classes of the other (for example, Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior). Eight classes exist: the Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, and Sith Inquisitor for the Sith Empire; and the Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight, and Jedi Consular for the Galactic Republic. Although each class has a distinct storyline, they are integrated with the game's overall arc. Once a character earns enough experience, each class may also choose from two advanced classes, resulting in a total of 8 advanced classes per faction. Advanced classes share the same storyline as their base class. Lightsaber and blaster colors are not faction or class restricted, but some are restricted based on level and/or Lightside or Darkside alignment. For example, some light sabers/blasters can only be bought if Light or Darkside aligned, not by color. The game features a passive form of crafting, known as Crew Skills, in which a player's companions carry out gathering and crafting tasks asynchronously to the player's adventures out in the world. Each class gets five companions via their storyline. The player can assign up to five companions to perform up to 3 various skills. Crafting skills allow the player's companions to create items, and the player can reverse engineer many items to possibly learn to make a better version. The item is destroyed in the process, but the player gets some of the materials back. Gathering skills allow the player or their companions to gather resources out in the world. Mission skills allow the player's companions to perform acts on the player's behalf, gaining the player Light or Darkside influence and other rewards, such as medical items or companion gifts.