As a side-bar to this update, Gamespot interviewed Game Director James Ohlen. Included with the interview was a Developer Dispatch video focusing on companions. A dissection of the video is available.
Official DevTracker post follows the jump.
Update: The developer dispatch is now online at the official site. Embed is available after the jump.
Quote from Courtney Woods
William Wallace explains some recent changes to companion characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic.From Minsc and Boo to Urdnot Wrex, companion characters play an integral role in all BioWare stories. The same is true for Star Wars. From Chewie to R2-D2, the heroes in the movies are often accompanied by a trusted partner.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is no different. Each character class unlocks unique companions throughout their storyline; companions that fight alongside players in battle against AI and other players in Open World PvP, aid in crafting and non-combat missions through Crew Skills, and provide commentary on environments and engage in conversations.