Star Wars: The Old Republic

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

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Mass Effect came out when we were very early into development. I remember walking up to James Ohlen - the lead designer on both Baldur's Gate Games, Knights Of the Old Republic and both Dragon Age games.

We both saw Mass Effect and were like: 'Okay. There is no choice here.'

So we rounded up both sides - us and LucasArts - and despite it being a huge undertaking, we showed them one [version of Old Republic] with VO and one without, and we attached a pricetag to it. We thought they wouldn't go for it. We were like: 'This is a dumb thing to try to do for an MMO.'

It came beck unanimously from both sides - we had to do it. Mass Effect changed the world because you became the hero. You actually became the most interesting thing on screen - you got all the best lines, and to be super cool. We had to go back and rewrite everything. The story telling system is totally inked from Mass Effect.


PC gaming is often decreed as 'in decline'. What's your view?
It's dead. Let's be clear. It's dead. Fantasy is also dead, RPGs are dead... Of course not. There's a great, great piece that I think [Blizzard's] Brian Bardo actually did as a speech. He was talking about the same stuff we heard when we were working on Dragon Age. They got told while working on World Of Warcraft that you couldn't do another fantasy MMO because fantasy had been cannibalised by EverQuest.

All the people that were going to play a fantasy MMO were already playing one. There was [supposedly] no room to grow the market there.

Every two or three years we hear the announcement of fantasy being dead, PC gaming being dead and RPGs being dead. And yet, all of the biggest games that ever come out - that set the records - are nearly always PC games, and a lot of them are fantasy games.

The biggest game in the world is a fantasy, PC, RPG MMO. We all know the drawbacks of PC. We all scream at our boxes and try to make stuff work. But at the same time, the interface is made for games.

The mouse/keyboard interface allows so much less restriction [than console].
There was not a question when we started Old Republic - or any of our games, for that matter - [what the lead format would be]. There's a reason the lead SKU for Dragon age was PC as well. When we're developing an RPG, it's a natural place to be.

Do you have one eye on bringing Old Republic to console, as you did with Knights Of The Old Republic before it. Is it even possible?
I have no idea if it's possible. I'd have to ask our tech director. I can tell you that it's not anything that we've eve discussed.

There is nobody anywhere in Bioware laying the groundwork for that because we have a very large, complicated game to ship first.

Do you have an eye for future expansions, DLC and even sequels for Old Republic?
We definitely know that the great excitement of playing an MMO is the never-ending RPG, but nothing's on the radar because everyone's completely focused on the insane miracle of getting a game this huge done.

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