Behind the Scenes on The Old Republic

StarWars.com Team | July 24, 2009

At E3 this year, LucasArts and BioWare gave not only their first live demos of The Old Republic  to press, but also released what has quickly become a fan-favorite trailer for the game. The reception has been fantastic. And as more information came out, fans got more excited. It should be no surprise – Knights of the Old Republic is one of the better loved Star Wars videogames, and it came out of this same partnership. Today, Jake Neri from LucasArts moderated a panel to give fans even more insight into exactly what goes into making a game that continually breaks boundaries.

On the panel were some of the senior people from the development team -  Hall Hood (senior writer, BioWare), Alexander Freed (managing editor, BioWare), Dallas Dickinson (senior content producer, BioWare), and Jeff Dobson (art director, BioWare). Jake wasted no time jumping directly into the questions – starting with Dallas who didn’t shy away from a few jokes. “Star Wars: The Old Republic is a Story-Driven Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game – that’s SDMMORPG for those who are Twittering right now. It’s set 3,000 years before the movies and 300 years after the events of the original Knights of the Old Republic.”

“The way we’re making it,” He continued ,“ BioWare as we make RPG’s, looks at 4 things: You need to have combat, you need to have character progress, you need to have exploration, and you need to have story. In the MMO space we feel that the games that have been out there have done a really good job at three of those – but none of them have really taken on story. That’s what we’re trying to deliver to you.” It would seem they are well on their way – this game has more voice-over lines then all their other games put together, and that is no small task.

Alexander continued the thought: “When you look at Knights of the Old Republic, that entire game is a ‘Jedi’ story. We’ve got Bounty Hunter stories, Smuggler stories, and more. And each story must work together, and have a beginning, middle, and end. If you want to know the military world of The Old Republic, we’ve got the Trooper. If you want the underworld we have the Bounty Hunter and the Smuggler.”

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The smuggler is an interesting class. They are not as flashy as the Bounty Hunter or a Jedi, as their only weapon is the blaster. Paul was quite upfront, as he said that the Bounty Hunter isn’t about flash. “Smugglers are not normal people. They are the best shots in the galaxy, and you never see them coming. I mean, Han Solo shot Vader three times on Bespin. Okay, sure, it didn’t do anything, but three times! I like to believe that Vader didn’t kill Han because he understood that Han was awesome. So awesome he had to be preserved in carbonite forever!”

They certainly are a unique class as they don’t get orders from on high – they will fight the Sith, the bounty hunters, and even the Jedi should they so choose. As Jeff describes it, the world of the Smuggler class is not about flash- it’s about being that sneaky figure in the  background who simply gets the job done. After you’ve played through one of the other classes, it’s a drastic change to switch and experience the story of the world from that direction.

After opening it up to Q&A, the audience did not let up. Jumping right into the ‘Light Side/Dark Side’ debate, the team explained that you can actually play the ‘nicest Sith on the block’, which gets you special abilities that only a ‘lighter side Sith’ can obtain. Each class has these levels of choices within their story, and each class can be played through many times.

Downtime is definitely being recognized by the team, as they are all MMO veterans themselves and are still creating the crafting and player economy – they don’t want to get into detail as these are relatively unannounced, but more information will be trickling out at the official website, SWTOR.com. Be watching there for new classes and races as well – definitely don’t want to miss that.

At the end of the panel, Alexander finished with quite a poignant thought: “We know this game is Star Wars, and we have to be very careful. It is certainly not going to be called Alexander Freed’s Star Wars. We’re adding to this world, and it is very challenging. It’s very hard, but we’re doing our best.”

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