by Cody "Micajah" Bye and Media Group C
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">
by Daniel Erickson, Lead Writer for BioWare Austin
If there's one part of a game that BioWare takes seriously, it's their
stories. Anyone that's played Baldur's Gate I and II, KOTOR I and II,
Jade Empire, Sonic Chronicles and Mass Effect know that when you jump
into a BioWare game, the story will captivate you from start to finish.
Now that BioWare has jumped into the MMO space with href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1422"
target="_blank">Star Wars: The Old
Republic, one of their initial statements href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/starwarstor/"
target="_blank">at the official announcement was
that they were making the
"first story-based MMO." To get some further explanation on this
Ten Ton Hammer's Cody "Micajah" Bye asked a number of questions to
BioWare Austin's lead writer, Daniel Erickson, who captivated the
audience with his thoughts on the SW: TOR story. While you may feel
like in-game storires aren't your thing, we still suggest that you read
interview, as you may soon find that BioWare is more than willing to
try and convert you. Once you're done here, jump over to our href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/47132" target="_blank">exclusive
Design Q&A! Check 'em out!
Tython was the first home of the Jedi Order.
How are you bringing
story to the
elder game in SW: TOR? Progressing a character through story is one
thing, but how are you implementing it when a player reaches the level
understand the desire to know how we're going to do story in that part
of the game, but we can't talk about elder game content at all.
Are these Sith that you
briefly discussed the separate Sith species?
Let's do a little
nerding here. Many, many, many years ago, the planet Tython was home to
the very first Force users that would eventually become the Jedi Order.
There was also a group of people that said, "Man, you guys are really
uptight!" These two groups had a great conflict, the good guys chased
the bad guys off the planet, and the bad guys fled into space - which
happens a lot to the poor Sith - and these Dark Jedi eventually found
the Sith race.
They were a red-skinned group of people that were very highly Force
sensitive. They interbred with them and then the term "Sith" eventually
began to mean the entire culture as the group of people that were
actually a part of the Sith race were actually much smaller than the
group of people who then colonized them.
So what's this about
Typhon? What occurs on this planet?
Tython is actually
where the Jedi will train and start out in the game. The Jedi Order
actually opposed the signing of the treaty with the Sith Empire,
because they thought that it was an obvious trap and something awful
was going to happen.
After the events occurred with the treaty, the Jedi pulled back to
Tython so they could do their own thing.
making another appearance in SWTOR.
Are you looking at
putting some of the
expanded universe characters into the game that weren't really
mentioned in KOTOR I and II? Individuals like Exar Qun, Nomi Sunrider,
and Ulic Qel-Droma?
Absolutely! It's really
one of the areas that's important to us. Outside of the guy at
Lucasfilm that keeps track of the Holocron - the repository of
knowledge that is "true" in Star Wars - we probably have the largest
group of experts on the Star Wars history. We never want you to
have quest where you listen to a librarian for two hours, but
know that it's very important to the people that are familiar with the
IP. Even the things that contradict other things in the expanded
universe, we've tried to iron out.
One of the things you may have noticed in KOTOR is that all of the
tombs are actually from canon. You have the tomb of Marko Ragnos, for
example. We know that people are going to get in and touch our games a
lot. Those are the people that are probably wondering what Revan and
the Exile have been up to. We know that they went out into deep space
to fight an ancient evil, But what happened?
What happened to the different adventurers? What happened to Bastilla?
This isn't stuff that we ever want to shove in somebody's face, because
there will be some guy out there who has only seen - in his twelve year
old life - is Episode I. Or maybe it'll be the guy who hasn't even seen
That's why it's important that we have our players "train" to be a Jedi
and learn what it means to actually "be" a Jedi. The only Jedi you may
know is Luke, who is the only Jedi in the galaxy and doing it poorly!
Yoda spent so much time telling him what to do, and Luke kept saying
"Nope! I'm going to do this anyway!"
We talk about choice a lot, and this is another element that I think is
important. It's really hard to wrap your mind around the fact that
you're playing a BioWare game in an MMO space. Let's say your 60 hours
in to playing the "Sith RPG" (Editor's Note: the Sith class experience
in Star Wars: The Old Republic). You've been trying to play the Light
Side of the Sith Empire. Again Light Side is a very different thing in
our game. People often say "Oh - I'd just switch factions.!" No you
wouldn't. If you read your Star Wars history, the Jedi were trying to
eradicate the Sith from the galaxy! You were born into a world where a
group of people is trying to destroy your entire Empire. Being a good
man does not mean jumping ship and trying to kill your own people.
character class in SWTOR will have its own individual story.
Being a good man means trying to change the world from the inside.
You're trying to make the Empire a better place. One of the things we
had to do is try to humanize the Sith Empire. We have to make sure that
people understood that every evil regime that's ever existed in history
has good people in it. The majority of people were just trying to "do
We always laugh at some of the old Star Wars products where you'd play
the Dark Side and someone says "Dark greetings!" to you. Yay evil!
You couldn't play a game and have a community and have friends if
that's how you saw yourself. People don't want to be a cartoon.
So you're 60 hours in, you're playing Light Side. You suddenly come
upon a huge choice. Not only are you playing a BioWare game, where all
of your choices matter, but you also realize that you don't have a save
button. Whatever choice you make is going to be your choice. Forever.
I'm never going to know what would've happened if I went down that
This is not just a person going through a story; there is actual power
behind making these choices. They are stronger than they have ever been
in ANY BioWare game.
How do you transition this story based gameplay into a game where
thousands of people play together?
Daniel: One of the things we really had to look at is how people play
the game. If you look at studies, you'll find that even though a person
says they're playing a game a particular way, about 40% of people in
MMOs play by themselves. There's another huge chunk of people that
always play in a group, and they always play in the same group. And
then you get the final group of people that really fall into all the
We want to support all of that. A great example of this is to look at
the movies. Luke's got a story going on. Han's got a story going on.
Leia's got a story going on - mainly that her planet blew up....
*laughs* Most of her quest content is gone at this point. Then they're
all getting together and participating in the big story. That's why
we've got the big conflict in the game and how war is on its way
between the Sith and the Republic. That's everybody's story.
When you guys get together, you're interacting with the larger over
story, but even within that story, the things you get to see are
largely dependent on who youre traveling with. If Han had never hooked
up with Luke, he would've never had a perspective on the Force. He
would've never said "May the Force be with you." to anyone. He would've
never thought about Jedi, he would've never thought about any of that.
He would've been a man that lived in a world of smuggling and evil
Hutts and crime and trying to make a buck.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Page.