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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Bioware tells CVG why its Star Wars MMO takes a lightsaber to genre conventions...

Bioware doesn't make MMOs. But if it did, they'd probably be the best MMOs in the world.

What's that? Biowareis creating an MMO? And it's in the Star Wars universe?!

Put down that can of faux-Danish lager and crack open the posh stuff!

Oh wait, what? It's not out until next year? And only on PC?

What's all this about 50 novels'-worth of dialogue? In an MMO?

What's going on?

Best sit down with Bioware lead designer and story writer Daniel Erickson to find out more...

Stories of Star Wars games in general have been frequently disappointing - with a couple of notable exceptions. What does The Old Republic offer that's new?
If you played Knights Of the Old Republic, you'd know it's Bioware's bread and butter and the place we go back to. The big difference to us is not only does it have real story - it's got an amazing cast, it's all VO, it's all cinematic dialogue - it has eight stories.

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Every one of the character classes has their own complete path through there. That allowed us to use stories that usually you dont even get, right? Even when we did Knights Of The Old Republic, we had to run sort of a generic story, because we didn't know whom you were to begin with - where you were coming from.

Now we know, hey, you chose to play a smuggler, so we can tell a story that is fly by the seat of your pants, funny, romantic, everything's always going wrong, you're always in over your head. Choose to play a bounty hunter and you get sort of a Western feel to the story; you're one man with a gun, you answer to nobody, you make your own decisions your trying to show you're a bad-ass in the world.

Obviously the Jedi and the Sith story is very, very different. The imperial agent became this amazingly surprising piece when we decided that we want to put in something that let us see what the 95 per cent of people who live in the Empire that aren't Sith are like.

So he is this interesting sort of Jack Bauer, 24-in-the-SS type, who can actually be a very good guy if he wants to be. He can protect his people and be a patriot.

We obviously thought a lot about the old nobility days, when the nobles had absolutely massive power and could kill you anytime. You take that and put it into a modern context and you have the Sith Empire. And so they're very, very different stories from different perspectives where you get to make real choices that matter and change your story entirely.

And there's no save button: You're going to make that choice and if you decide to kill your companion character, they're dead. Six years later, they're still dead. It's great to see people realise they've been affected by a decision they made 100 hours ago. It's like: "Do you remember me from Tython?" And it's like, "Oh my God, I do! Sorry about that, buddy."

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The MMO is a new area for Bioware to tackle...
Yes, obviously we've made a lot of RPGs. And one thing that seems to be a continual surprise is we have these discussions where people say: 'Why did you think to do these crazy things in an MMO?' But of course, we didn't think to do anything in an MMO. We thought we'd do a massively multiplayer Bioware RPG.

In the early days when they first announced that there were MMOs, like the existence of them, I knew in my head what that meant - because I played Role Playing Games. It was just a giant Role Playing Game. And then you showed up, and it wasn't. It was the rule set to an RPG: There was combat, and there were areas, but that was all. Someone had left out the module.

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