A Sith leaps in to attack. Photo courtesy of EA
For a trade show which hosts thousands of square feet in showroom floor, seeing everything in a day is similar to scaling Mount Everest in a weekend, good luck. Yet being a part of the media does offer certain access to the development teams of the games, devices, or services you’re curious to cover.
Though I didn’t get hands-on time playing Stars Wars: The Old Republic™, a joint-effort MMORPG being developed by Bioware™ and LucasArts™ with big brother EA™ providing the resources necessary to make this game a reality, I did get time to speak with David Bass and Daniel Erickson, Senior Community Coordinator with Bioware™ and lead writer for The Old Republic™ respectively.
A Story Driven Experience
For those familiar with Bioware’s resume, the role-playing aspect and aesthetic which they have championed throughout a plethora of timeless RPGs should be reassuring to those eager to test their might in the galactic war brewing within The Old Republic™. Though this will be Bioware’s first swing at an MMO, EA™ has the experience of Mythic Entertainment within their vast resources to aid in Bioware’s transition from single player RPGs to the persistence of an online universe.
A Sith utilizing the force. Photo courtesy of EA
As we’ve come to see with their extensive portrayal of the Forgotten Realms™ through their Dungeons and Dragons® based RPGs, along with The Knights of the Old Republic™ series; Bioware™ has a premium talent for adapting well established intellectual properties into verbose story driven games without tainting those properties. The Old Republic™ has been massaged with that Midas touch, where as Star Wars Galaxies™ felt like an authentic Star Wars sandbox sans sand.
For those wishing to experience an immersed interaction with the NPC’s rather than the Easter egg hunt of Galaxies™, the dialogue will be presented in complete audio with cut-scene interaction (sub-titles optional).
“It’s big, were talking thousands of hours of dialogue per class,” said Bass. “You’ll never see quest text, always conversations.”
Along with the massive amounts of dialogue, awaiting players can expect between 200 and 300 hours of unique game play per class as well.
“If you play a Jedi Knight and then you play a Bounty Hunter, you will never ever see any content that is the same,” added Bass. “Completely separate, you will never get the same quests of any kind.”
A sprawling cityscape showing off the depth of design for the Old Republic. Photo courtesy of EA
As for story continuity, the divide between the persistence of MMOs and the finality with single player RPGs has burrowed deep within the development of The Old Republic™, but the development team values the input of their testers allowing their influence to weigh in on the decision process.
As you may expect with a single player RPG, once you’ve killed Captain Example, he’s no longer interactive. You get whatever loot he may drop, plot thickens, and you continue on. Within a persistent MMORPG, Captain Example would be resurrected.
Daniel Erickson initially wanted Captain Example to be dead and done with for your player. If you kill the Captain he’s dead, if you rescue the Captain he’s back to his own life, if you leave him behind and carry on he remains in the state you left him in.
However, the testers couldn’t accept a finite story within a persistent world. They wanted the whole story and other chances to interact with the Captain to see all the possibilities which come about through your two stories colliding. And you will get just that.
Behold My Golden Chocobo!
For those who played Star Wars Galaxies™ before 2005, a Jedi was to most players what gold was to a chocobo in Final Fantasy® VII. By design more powerful than one could handle and for good reason, you truly had to earn the honor through a grueling unlock process. Since 2005, you can simply start out as a Jedi, which led to pew-pew Lightsaber cacophony the likes of which both humbled and insulted games such as Jedi Knight® II.
Jedi move for no droid. Photo courtesy of EA
For The Old Republic™, the developers realized no Jedi begins as a Master, but every Jedi begins as a Padawan. Class balance has been a concern for Bioware™ especially considering the mystique of those force sensitive.
Simply making a Jedi or Sith won’t grant you the godly abilities of force sensitivity and control, your lowly character must progress before they can wield the force as a Master.
Nor will simply choosing a force sensitive class make you overpowered against those not savvy with the ways of the force. Each class within the game world is considered elite at what they do, which in the end makes them equal to a certain degree. In essence, no smuggler will be on par with Greedo, instead each smuggler will be their own Han Solo in context to their capabilities.