Public interest in all things Star Wars: The Old
related is at an all time high, as was illustrated in Ten Ton
Hammer’s latest query to our premium
as to which upcoming
MMOG they wanted to hear more about for our next VIP interview. With a
lengthy list of reader-submitted questions in hand, our PAX
ground crew made their way
to the LucasArts Cantina where they had the opportunity to discuss the
game with producer Jake Neri from LucasArts and producer Blaine
Christine from BioWare Austin.
While there are some gameplay elements that couldn’t be
discussed too in-depth as of yet – for example what type of
crafting system the game will have (personally I’m anxious to
find out if we’ll need to craft 20 lightcutlasses before
moving up to lightsabers) – Blaine and Jake did their best to
provide as much detail for our readers as possible.
Ton Hammer: What was your biggest hurdle in making the move to an MMO? (Annache)
: I think really it
comes down to scope. Obviously it’s much, much bigger;
we’ve talked a lot about how each class has their own story
and each of those stories is essentially a full game. It’s
literally 100s of hours of story, questing and all of the secondary
activities. So when you factor that in with 8 different classes
it’s a massive, massive undertaking. And that’s not
just about the voice-over obviously. You’ve also got to think
about all the different styles of play that people have as well.
One of the great things about our studio is that we have a lot of
people with a lot of experience working on other MMO titles, so
that’s invaluable. We have a lot of people that were from
BioWare Edmonton that actually came to Austin and then we have a lot of
people that were pulled from the Austin community as well. And as you
know there’s a lot of MMOs that have been developed there, so
that’s helped out a lot.
I think the other thing
too is that [BioWare] have a really sound process that just makes good
games. So some of those hurdles that some companies might have, I
don’t think that they share because they put a value on
constantly playing the game – everybody in the studio has to
be on it – and that flushes out a lot of things like balance
So I think that when people think about the challenges of going from
single to multiplayer its like, holy crap, what happens when you get
all this new stuff mixing and matching? That makes those things even
more important; the constant play testing, the constant feedback loops.
That in itself has really cut down on a lot of the risk there. There
are obviously challenges, but I think we’ve got good
experience under our belt now since we’ve been doing this for
a while and we’re starting to see those go away.
We’re really at the point of “what’s the
From day one we really focused on why would this be fun? Why would it
be fun for singleplayer, multiplayer, large groups or small groups?
Once we nailed that fun it becomes a matter of just iterating on that.