style="margin: 2px; width: 210px; float: right;">

href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Ord Mantell 01"

Public interest in all things href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars: The Old
related is at an all time high, as was illustrated in Ten Ton
Hammer’s latest query to our href="" target="_blank">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 href="" target="_blank">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.

Ton Hammer: What was your biggest hurdle in making the move to an MMO? ( style="font-style: italic;">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.

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href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Ord Mantell 02"

Ton Hammer: What is the percentage of instance content for single
player as opposed to multiplayer? ( style="font-style: italic;">OneEyeRed

: I don’t think
we have an official ratio, but what we will say is that we do want the
game to be accessible for any playstyle. So if you want to solo the
game, you can solo the game all the way through. There will be certain
things you couldn’t do because those things are requiring
groups much like any other game, since we want to support grouping as
well. We want you to be able to be social in both a small group and in
a large group.

So there is a nice chunk of instanced content, and a lot of that is
your story. We have to have key moments happen in an instance because
otherwise you’re going to have 50 other people griefing on
top of you.

: I think a lot of
where we do have that type of content is driven by the story. So if it
makes sense in the story because we need a compelling moment like in
the demo that we show where you’re running through an
Imperial ship and that’s a key moment in the story for us as
players, then it’s going to be an instance because
that’s what makes sense. So as Jake said, it’s
driven by the story.

Ton Hammer: The Gamescom video showed two players in a group
dialogue during a Flashpoint. The Sith Warrior decided to kill the
captain of the ship for disobeying a Moth. What if the bounty hunter
did not want to pick that option? Would he be stuck with the decision
of his group leader and all the consequences (Dark Side points,
particular story arc)? ( style="font-style: italic;">Ralsu

: We’re
not really talking about the way the
system itself works, but what we can say is that when you watch the
demo, Jake and Tim are actively making choices. If you see our live
demos you’ll see that there are different responses, so
we’re not just joking, there are actually two completely
different paths since you can either kill the captain or save the

For us, when we play now, it evolves into sort of a mini-game itself
where it’s like, “dude, how are you going to treat
the captain? Are you a light side Sith Warrior so you’re
trying to spare the captain but I’m a badass Bounty
Hunter?” So it becomes a game into itself that’s
really fun and compelling, and is unlike anything I’ve ever
seen in any other game.

: We’re working
on the system actively right now. We
want to put people in groups and have them have the opportunity to make
decisions together or even oppose one another. The thing is everybody
can extrapolate out and imagine it would either be crappy or awesome.
So we are spending a lot of time carefully architecting to make sure
that its fun, you have a reason to do it and that there’s
incentive to do that with a friend. Then if you don’t want to
participate in that you can also do that content without other people.
So it’s a huge, really compelling system and a lot of time is
being spent on figuring out how to do it right.

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href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Bounty Hunter 01"

Ton Hammer: How are guilds going to truly work if the game is
touted as being an online single player game in an MMO type universe?
Also, could you tell us what features, if any, we are going
to have for guilds? ( style="font-style: italic;">RawGutts

: We can’t
talk a lot about details, but
obviously all of us play a lot of the various MMOs out there so we want
to support the types of gameplay that other MMOs have and are popular.
So we want to support different play styles, and we know that guilds
are important, so we definitely want to support that.

: That’s
absolutely right. We have a number of plans
for guilds. That’s actually something we hear a lot which is
interesting – is there a reason you think people may think
we’re not going to support guilds?

Ton Hammer: I think honestly it’s because so much
emphasis has been placed on the personal stories up to this point so
people are interested in hearing more about the multiplayer aspects of
the game.

: Ok, that’s
cool to understand where
that’s coming from. People are playing an MMO and they want
that social experience so we will have ways for you to be in a guild,
to do cool things with your guild and to maybe even participate in
stories with that guild.

Ton Hammer: It’s also nice that you guys obviously got
your message across about the importance of personal stories.

: It’s
funny because that’s almost
like a double-edged sword in a way. We’ve been telling people
that we are doing story unlike any other MMO, but then people start
asking things like, “Are you really doing an MMO?”
And it’s hard to demo that in a live demo where we have 15
minutes to run through stuff. But when you see the outdoor areas in our
demo where we’re running around Ord Mantell as the Smuggler
or we’re running around Hutta outside the cantina,
that’s where the world opens up and it’s not
instanced content. So it is an MMO, there’s going to be other
players out there and you’ll be able to have all the
exploration and combat that you might expect out of an MMO.

Ton Hammer: Rumors persist about microtransactions in The Old
Republic. Are the rumors accurate or not? ( style="font-style: italic;">Ralsu

: The bottom line
with that is that it’s a
total rumor since we haven’t talked about pricing structure
or subscription plans at all. So people don’t need to worry
about anything if that is a worry – we will do whatever makes
sense for the game.

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href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Trooper 01"

Ton Hammer: How many worlds will you be able to visit in this MMO
and how can you visit them? ( style="font-style: italic;">RawGutts

: That’s
another one of those things that
we’re not quite able to talk in depth about, but I think the
best way to put it is that we’ve talked about the fact that
each class has 100s of hours of gameplay and we want to make sure that
it is a unique and diverse experience. So we’ll work hard to
make sure that we have the number of planets to make sure that
it’s interesting for that much gameplay.

Ton Hammer: When you say 100s of hours of gameplay per class, are
you talking about different story branches?

: Basically
that’s inclusive of how the
average user is going to spend X amount of time exploring and how we
think it will play out considering other things like your social
activities. So based on that we think the average player will take 100s
of hours to get through the story.

: And that’s to
complete the story as well as all of
the action that’s associated with that story.

: Exactly. If you
were driving through
‘just’ to complete the story, would it take you
that long? Probably not, but if you’re playing as an average
person who’s playing through more of the content, then yes it
will take that long.

: And this is not 200
hours of you sitting and doing dialogue.
This includes all of the action, the stories and the missions. We get
that a lot where people may think, man am I just going to have to sit
down and watch a story? But actually the story, on a percentage basis,
is a lot smaller than the actions associated with that story. 
We’ve got a ton of gameplay per class and that is something
that is unique for us, is a challenge for us and it’s a key
differentiator and we’re pretty proud of that.

Ton Hammer: How will you travel from planet to planet? ( style="font-style: italic;">Anacche

For example in previous BioWare games we had the Ebon Hawke
and the Normandy that served not only as a means of travel but also had
interactive elements that were vital to the overall story progression.
Will we be seeing something along those lines here?

: We get asked about
space a lot. The only thing we can really
say here is that we know people want to travel in space and see what
that’s like, so we understand where they’re coming

: The only other
thing I’d point out there
is – again going back to the demo –
you’re on an Imperial transport ship and we’re
presumably going between two different locations there. But is that the
limit or extent of space travel? We can’t really say at this

style="margin: 2px; width: 210px; float: right;">

href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Cantina"

Ton Hammer: Will the Sith be able to craft or upgrade their
lightsabers? (Beerkeg) Also, how customizable with lighsabers be in
general? (Annache)

: Earlier today the
question came up about customization, and
I think the best answer here is that we know people want to customize
everything inside of the game world so we’re trying to figure
out the right balance on that. There will be customization, but
specific to lightsabers I don’t think we can really

: We actually got
the question earlier today where
we’ve seen the Sith Warrior has a red lightsaber, so will
they “only” have a red lightsaber? And I responded
that if you watch the demo a bit closer at the end the Sith Warrior
actually has two lightsabers and one of those is purple.

Ton Hammer: What kind of PvP, if any, is in the game? Will it be
factional? Also, will you have open PvP zones or just arenas? ( style="font-style: italic;">Validus

: Since definitely the
game has factions, I think
it’s safe to talk about how the game will have that style of
PvP. We can’t talk specific details beyond that right now,
but we’ve heard desires for everything that exists plus
really fanciful new versions of PvP. I think we’re going to
get the class balance right out of the gate, and that will probably be
where we’ll focus first just to make sure that that works

Ton Hammer: Are Force powers tied to your class rather than your
alignment in the Force? For example, does the Sith Warrior have
specific powers they will receive regardless of whether their actions
point towards the Light or Dark side and vice versa for Jedi? ( style="font-style: italic;">bobfish

: If
you’re playing as a Sith Warrior,
you’ll notice in the demo that you get some light or dark
side points during the conversation when you decide whether to kill the
captain or not. Like previous BioWare games such as Knights of the Old
Republic, you know that those kinds of decisions can influence the
powers that you actually get. So yes, light side / dark side will
impact what sort of powers you get as a Sith Warrior.

Ton Hammer: Will that have any direct impact on how powerful a
given power can get then as your alignment shifts through those

: It will impact the
power of an ability, but I think
it’s about making sure that if you go full light or full dark
there is a benefit there because that’s based on hours of
your decision making. We want people to “play” the
system and not necessarily “game” the system if
that makes sense. In other words we want you to make a decision because
you think that would be a cool decision for your story. We
don’t want you to just hit evil, evil, evil until you can say
“now I’m evil, awesome!”

So really it is a challenge. We’re trying to figure out how
that nets out in terms of power, or like you mentioned, is it going to
make you more powerful or not? I’m not really sure how
that’s going to play out and how we’re specifically
going to balance that. But because story is important to us and we want
people to play the story, we don’t want them to just game it
all the way through for the sake of making the most evil Sith Lord or
that kind of thing. But the bottom line is that it will have an impact
on your powers.

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href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Hutt Palace"

Ton Hammer: Will there be a benefit to staying kind of in the

: That’s the
thing – there’s
going to be a lot of people who want to do that, right? So we have to
account for that sort of player as well. So that’s why I
don’t think at this point we can give you an answer on
exactly what the grade of a power will be because that’s
something that we’re still fleshing out. But I think those
are the cases; you have the guy that wants to go extreme and the guy
who just plays the middle or the guy who wants to go full light side.

: In fact
I’m amazed by the people who play
games like that and go total dark. Every time I try I just
can’t be evil. I’m like, “I’m
gonna kill! But I shouldn’t though… so


Ton Hammer: Will the UI be customizable as in being able to move
windows and panes freely, adjust the gamma of windows, macro setups
etc? (OneEyeRed)

: This is another
area we haven’t released
details on, but obviously we want to support the community in the best
way possible. We do watch what other games do and what people want so
we certainly want to support those players.

Ton Hammer: We saw the Sith Warrior at Gamescom. Could you give us
a quick rundown of what that class is all about?

: We talk a lot
about how we want to make sure that
each of our classes is different. They’re different not only
in story but also in action, so the Sith Warrior is the first class
we’ve shown that has lightsaber combat and pretty clearly he
instantly starts to fulfill that Darth Vader kind of epic feel, and
that’s what his story is going to be sort of similar to which
is having that power and evil side. But again, you can make light side
choices and not kill people, so you can just be kind of a wussy Darth
Vader. So he’s really about that Darth Vader-type character
in our world.

: In terms of combat
he’s definitely a melee class,
so he’s using a saber, he’s up close and personal,
impaling you or bringing big blows over the top. He’s also
got Force Choke which is super fun – that’s
actually my favorite thing to do in the game right now. He’s
very action oriented, and his sword choreography is really, really
impressive. I’m actually amazed at the level of the

: And since it is
the first melee class we’re
revealing it really is the first chance anyone’s gotten to
see how active our combat is. So going back to what Jake said before,
it’s capturing the fun early. What’s fun about all
the amazing lightsaber fights that we’ve seen in the movies?
It’s this incredible, fast paced action and that’s
what you get out of that class when you watch it but also when you play
it. And because it is so fast it’s fun for the player but
it’s also even fun for me to demo and watch.

: One last thing about
the combat that we have shown, is that
we haven’t really shown anything past around level 8, but I
think even the stuff there is pretty exciting and visceral and more
action oriented – and you’re only seeing a level 8
even. So we want you to be having fun and feeling heroic immediately.
That was a goal we set which I think we’re delivering on.

style="margin: 2px; width: 210px; float: right;">

href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Ord Mantell 03"

Hammer: Going back to what you were saying about
“what’s fun in Star Wars”, to me you
captured that really well in the captain scene in the demo where
there’s lots of combat going on in the background or even in
the CG trailer where you see the transport pull up and then seeing all
those lightsabers. Are you going to be seeing those kind of moments in
the actual game where you may have dozens of Sith that you’re
fighting alongside of?

style="font-weight: bold;">

I think
that’s certainly a goal. Someone
earlier mentioned, “I noticed in the Smuggler footage you see
NPCs taking cover.” From there he asked if we’ll
ever see cases where NPCs are fighting each other, and I mentioned how
if you watch the transport scenes you do actually see that. The
Imperial troops are actually helping us out as they’re
blasting away at the Republic troopers as they come in from those pods,
so you have both factions dueling right there as you’re going
in and being the one to finish off the fight.

Ton Hammer: Speaking of the cover system, will other classes be
able to take advantage of that to some degree, or is it more specific
to the mechanics of the Smuggler class?

: I think right now
we’ve just shown the Smuggler
using that. It’s a tenant of that class for sure and we
haven’t really shown other classes using it.


: We get a lot of
questions about, hey why would people
want to be anything other than Sith or Jedi, and we feel like
it’s on us to make sure that the design is such that we as
players feel compelled to play those other classes. For my part I can
honestly say Smuggler is one of the most fun classes because I love
rolling into cover and then using the flashbang and taking enemies out
with a barrage. So it’s just a different gameplay element to
play with.

: It makes the Smuggler
unique. So a goal of ours is to make
sure that each class, while it has a unique story, it also has a unique
style of play and a unique combat system.

Ton Hammer: That’s a weird question to me because I
always want to be Han Solo instead of Luke…

: Well people
can’t imagine, because the Jedi and
the Sith are so powerful and amazing, but it would be silly of us to
just make the one-shot Jedi game, you know?

And then the other
one that comes up is the Trooper.
Why would I want to be a Trooper? If you read up on the Trooper on our
website or when we talk about it, all of our classes are based around
the idea that you truly are heroic or are a hero both in your story but
also in your combat. So using the Trooper as an example, he’s
a member in an elite squad in the Republic, so it’s like
he’s the green beret essentially of the Republic troopers so
he’s not just a generic clone trooper somewhere. So since
they are heroic, if you are the absolute best Trooper in the galaxy
would you be able to take on a Jedi? Maybe, if you’ve got the
right tools.

: Of course you would
Blaine – you’d use a
very specific ability…

Ton Hammer: Well we appreciate the two of you taking the time to
talk with us!

style="font-weight: bold;">

: Absolutely!

: Thanks guys!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Sardu 1
Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.