1) How has your opinion of using companions in roleplay changed since before launch, if at all?
My opinions were initially entirely negative. I was very disappointed that we all used the same set of companions within a class. Since playing the game, however, I've started to feel more positive towards them. The ability to choose what gear your companions wear, and the customisation kits allow us all to make quite unique looking companions. All you need to do is give them a name, and brief backstory to explain why they have to follow you around, and you've got yourself an IC companion. That said, there are a few limitations - Dashade are nearly extinct, so using Khem Val may be seen as bit of a 'lorelol', for example. Every Bounty Hunter having a Jawa companion, or every Smuggler knowing a Wookiee might get a bit silly, too. There's also the issue that companions cannot actually speak for themselves, and the obstacle of reaching some kind of consensus on how companion speech should be represented.
In short, I now feel that they can be used in RP, but you've got to do it cleverly - always with the lore of the setting, and other roleplayers in mind.
2) How is your server community shaping up? Any highlights or desires you care to share?
The community on The Progenitor is shaping up nicely, a friendly bunch with lots of storylines popping up already, and even if you can't get involved with them, it's nice to walk past somebody and hear snatches of their conversation - getting a glimpse into what they're up to. We've got a good, varied selection of guilds, and a VERY healthy number of actual roleplayers on the server. It's great to see that almost anywhere you go, there are roleplayers there. We've got public chat channels for roleplayers, and they're both great, depending on what you like to chat about.
I have seen a lot of Sith calling themselves Darth, though.
3) Has being able to play the game changed your stance on settling RP conflicts (Dice/Duel/Emote)? Why?
Having roleplayed in other MMOs in the past, my views on settling conflicst in RP have not changed a great deal since playing this game. I was never a fan of the dice rolling to determine success or emote-fighting, since this is a highly visual format for RP, and aside from the text, it's just two people staring at eachother. Duelling's obviously the best option, but it has a number of problems around it anyway. First - there's gear. For the sake of looking as they want to, many roleplayers wear lower-level gear on their characters, rather than the highest tier PvP sets, because maybe they think they look a bit silly. This means you've got characters who might be the same level, but with vastly different equipment, that can create a very real and insurmountable divide between characters in a duel. Then there's level itself. Not all roleplayers believe that level should represent how powerful their character actually is, but in a duel, any gap between the levels of participants will put the lower of the two at a disadvantage.
I think it really just has to be agreed OOC between participants when an IC conflict needs to be resolved.
4) How have you seen public and private RP developing? Have you seen any conflicts over use of public areas?
I've not really seen any such conflicts, the TOR game world is MASSIVE, and we've all got a lot of room to set up bases of our own. A lot of people use their own ships for RP meetings, or little empty rooms out of the way of other players if they need to. I've not seen anybody trying to lay claim to big chunks of questing hubs, or try to make themselves owners of whole fortresses yet. Undoubtedly this will happen on occasion, as you get players who want RP to be a massive power trip, but I think most realise that it's more about playing a character for whom life is a struggle, than a super-powerful dark lord of Hades these days. I have seen a lot of RP going on in cantinas, random political discussions, arguments, and business dealings. I've seen people questing together IC, it's been great. There's a lot going on on our server right now, and it's hopefully going to stay that way for a long time yet.