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Star Wars: The Old Republic VIP Interview from PAX 2009

Updated Mon, Sep 14, 2009 by Sardu

Ord Mantell 01

Public interest in all things Star Wars: The Old Republic related is at an all time high, as was illustrated in Ten Ton Hammer’s latest query to our premium members 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 2009 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.


Ten Ton Hammer: What was your biggest hurdle in making the move to an MMO? (Annache)

Blaine Christine: 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.

Jake Neri: 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 issues.

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 fun?”

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.

GG_25_02

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