SW: TOR - Interview @ MMOGamer
An interview with James Ohlen and Daniel Erickson, the Lead Designer and Lead Writer of Star Wars: The Old Republic that can be found at MMOGamer.
The MMO Gamer: Now, I just sat through the demo, and I have to tell you, I was very impressed by it.
I was impressed, primarily, with the storytelling aspects of the game. I’m sure many people would agree that storytelling has been a major neglected factor in the MMO genre over the years; where the story in most games can be boiled down to why Farmer X wants you to go kill ten rats.
Obviously, BioWare is a company steeped in storytelling tradition. But, just for people who are complete novices to your games, could you talk a little about the philosophy with regards to story that’s going into The Old Republic?
Daniel Erickson: Sure. Really, we tried to take the same storytelling traditions we’ve used in the rest of the games. A Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game is exactly what it sounds like. It’s just a role-playing game that you’ve taken, and allowed a lot of people to play in a large social space.
We always talk about the four pillars that create RPGs: You’ve got exploration, you’ve got progression, you’ve got combat, and you’ve got storytelling.
When we said, hey, we’re going to do our first MMO, the obvious one to talk about first, even though none of the pillars can stand without the rest of them, and none of them are more important than the rest of them, we’re talking about story first because story is the delta. It’s the thing we’re doing that other people have not done.
We’re approaching it the same way we’ve always approached storytelling in games, which is that you need to have a heroic, unique experience, with choice that affects what you do.
In fact, the MMO has given us a place to actually be able to do more unique storytelling than we could in an RPG, normally.
Baldur’s Gate is a great example. With Baldur’s Gate you had a huge, epic story, it’s awesome, but guess what? It’s a fairly every-man story. Because you might have rolled a Druid, and somebody else might have rolled a Warrior, and they had the exact same story, right? We had to make it work for everyone.
Because we did all class-specific stories for The Old Republic, we’ve allowed ourselves to basically make, “Knights of the Old Republic: The Smuggler,” its own game. Everything in there, when you’re playing a Smuggler, you feel like a Smuggler.
The adventures are crazy, and madcap, and you’re flying by the seat of your pants, and there’s romantic stuff, and you’re spouting off crazy one-liners, etc., etc.
Then, when you’re playing as a Sith, it’s a completely different game. Everything is from that perspective, you come from a very dark world, you’re on Korriban, you’re dealing with Sith politics, you’re dealing with some very, very dark people who are allowed to do anything they want.
It completely changes the way we do storytelling.