Interviews

Star Wars: The Old Republic - 'It feels fantastic to finally be out'

BioWare on bringing story to MMO, the future and more...

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Which areas of the game have they given the most feedback on?

That's the hard one. They obviously look at all aspects of the game - and I'm talking purely from a writing perspective. Again, it's sort of watching for that 'Star Wars feel' wherever that may crop up.

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Not that we'd actually try to do this, but if we threw in a Sith Lord who is shooting flames from his fingertips - there's nothing that explicitly says that the Force can't do that, but it's not really like anything we've seen the Force doing.

We try to catch those sort of things as well as we can on our end but that's the sort of thing that they're very good at looking for.

Do you think it's fair to say you've been able to write a more mature Star Wars story than we're used to seeing?

That's certainly not the way that we've looked at it. We've never gone in to it going, 'we want to do Star Wars for adults'. For us the touchstones have always been the films and probably more than any of the films The Empire Strikes Back.

When Star Wars is at its best it appeals to a wide range of age for a wide variety of reasons. It's got very goofy characters - C3PO is not a serious character and he actually fits in just fine with the darker moments of the Star Wars movies. We try to incorporate all of those aspects as best we can and just tell a good story.

And of course like the original KoTOR games, Old Republic gives the player some pretty difficult choices to make...

Yeah. BioWare to a larger degree has made its reputation from having big choices in its games. Those are the sort of things that people talk about when they talk about BioWare games, they ask, 'what did you do in this situation? What was the fallout you saw from it?'

That's what we were dedicated to brining in to The Old Republic from the beginning - having those rewarding and difficult choices throughout. Not every one is going to be world-shattering but they should at least be emotionally engaging - and then some of them should be world shattering.

Each character class in the game has its own unique story and missions. How do they work and interact?

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Every class has its own unique class story which is told from level 1 to level 50... and each class story is built around the sort of fantasy of that class.

So the smuggler story is very much a crime story, it's got whacky, capper elements... if you want to be a sarcastic, Han Solo type then yeah, the Suggler should play that out. You're going to get in to difficult situations, you're going to get in to odd relationships with people...

The Sith Warrior: very, very different. That's the Darth Vader fantasy and even your light side Darth Vader is going to be sweeping aside the minions of his enemies and all of that.

They all tell their own story within the context of the Old Republic. They don't necessarily interact directly, but they certainly have impact on one another. If you're playing the Bounty Hunter and the Smuggler, you're going to see the story of the underworld in the Old Republic.

If you're playing an Imperial Agent, what's happening in the underworld may not be explicitly told, 'well it was the Bounty Hunter who caused this crime lord to rise to power', but you may encounter that crime lord at some point.

So they are part of the same setting and they all influence the setting as well.

How ambitious are your future plans for Old Republic and have you started writing anything for upcoming updates yet?

I can't talk about specifics for post-release content. I can say yes, there are many people working on that content - MMOs live or die based on adding new content, refining old systems, adding new ones - all of that. BioWare understands that - we're not doing a single-player game where we put it out in the market and then just be happy that it's out there.

We need to be continuously refreshing the game and inviting in people who may think that they've seen it all and addressing player concerns. We've got aggressive plans but at the moment I can't reveal details because we just need to get the game.

And unlike other Star Wars games which fit into the movie cannon, this is your own creation. Have you written a story arc for where Old Republic ends up in future additions?

We have certainly had lengthy discussions on the short-term and the long-term future of the storyline of the game. For obvious reasons I'm not going to say what those are and we always try to leave some flexibility there - it's not as if we've got a detailed five or ten-year plan of 'this is what's going to happen at every stage of the story'. But we certainly have ideas of where we want to go.

Finally, have you managed to hide any Easter Eggs in the story that fans should be looking out for?

We try not to do outside references but there are plenty of little moments much like the original Knights of the Old Republic, where you would find an obscure blaster with the name of a character from the original movies on it.

We've certainly got lots of little moments like that, plus references to the original KoTOR games and references to some very obscure novels and comics in the Star Wars universe which I'll be delighted to see if anyone picks up on.

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