Star Wars: The Old Republic Interview

This year at E3 True_Avery and I got the chance to sit down with LucasArts Executive Producer Tom Nichols to ask your questions about The Old Republic and threw in a few of our own. And we hit solid gold: Jumping is confirmed! Hit the break to read the full interview.

Will there be Jumping? Will you be able to press SpaceBar and hop around?

Tom Nichols: (laughs) Yes, actually. In the Demo, You can press Space Bar and jump up and down. But, as was shown in the demo you can jump straight into the action as a Jedi or Sith which makes the combat really compelling.

Do you have any hints on how Death will work in the game?

TN: We have not really talked about that yet. We’ve got some ideas and a good design, but are not really ready to talk about that yet.

There are 8 Class Slots so far on the main page. After release, will this be expanded upon?

TN: I cannot really say anything on future plans, but I would certainly hope so.

How closely will the Old Republic’s story intertwine with that of the original Knights of the Old Republic games?

TN: There are some connections, and some characters who are decedents of some of the characters who were made famous by the games, but because of the 300 year time difference you won see the exact same characters. We’ve talked about maybe there are some characters that do not age like humans do. Like HK-47.

Seeing as both KotOR I & II were critically and financially successful single-player role-playing games, why did LucasArts decide to produce the massively-multiplayer role-playing game The Old Republic, rather than commission a single-player KotOR III in vein of the previous two KotOR games?

TN: I think that is a great question. There are a lot of reason’s why we put this together: Bioware felt that it was time for them to get into the MMO genre, and they felt they could bring their great story to the genre which has previously been missing. Classic role-plying games are about character progression, exploration, story, and combat. Those are your 4 main pillar for a Role-play game. MMO’s have had great character progression and lot sof combat, but have not delivered on that story pillar. That is why we pulled this project together; LucasArts is known for story telling games like Monkey Island and the Star Wars stuff, and the Star Wars brand is about storytelling and the Bioware brand is about making great stories.

Each class is going to have its own story. Hundreds of gameplay hours that is going to be unique to each class. Regardless of what class or side, we are never going to have the same questions and missions cross over. Like we’ve said, we’re not just making KOTOR 3, but KOTOR 3, 4, 5, and so on all together into one huge project.

We hear about this great story, but something that had been brought up by people is that the MMO setting will have people losing immersion in the world. Is there any comment on how this can be avoided?

TN: Losing what Immersion? I think we are delivering MORE immersion than Kotor did.

Well, what a few of our hardcore Single-Player members have a problem with is someone coming in with a name like “Han Leia Luke Organa” or something similar and having these players ruin both the game and the series for them.

TN: Well, for naming issues we have many name filters in place and stuff like that so you cannot use names like Solo, Han, Leia, and so on. I think the important part of this is that people who play MMOs like WoW and Guild Wars often play by themselves for a large part of the time. That is an interesting dynamic of MMO’s, they still deliver a great single player experience. If you want to reach out and play with other players that experience is there and it is great, but if you don’t do don’t have to. I play a lot of MMO’s myself, and I don’t find anything negative about it. You can turn off your chat, turn off names, ignore players, and so on and the end result is very nice,

Humans have been shown almost exclusively. Will we be able to play any alien races as out avatar?

TN: We’ll have more information on that later.

How does looting work?

TN: Typical MMO, as you will be able to loot anything you kill with items appropriate to the thing you just killed.

Was there ever a KOTOR 3 in development, or even talked about being developed?

TN: No.

What we have seen on forums is that people do not think this game can deliver what the single-player offered. Comments?

TN: I think the message here is that if I was talking to a heavy Kotor fan and i asked him/her what they were expecting, I’d bet you that Old Republic delivers on all those expectations. We’ve put into this game what would have been in a K3, and I hope they are pleased with it.

The story is very cold war era, with shades of gray decisions in an environment that is heavily good vs. evil. Has this made writing difficult for each character?

TN: What we’ve talked about, and shown in the demo, is that you’ll have choices, especially in conversations, in which you can choose a light/dark side choice regardless of what side or class you are on. Characters will react to these decisions based on your allignment based on your class and side, as what you may do may not be the norm for your character. For example, you may do something and a character will point out that the action was not the way of the Jedi at all, yet you are a republic Jedi. We wanted to make the experience personal, which comes with freedom and role play.

Can you say anything about Player Companions?

TN: Players will have companions. We have not announced what they will be, but you will get them early in the game. Like we’ve said, Han always had Chewy and Luke always had R2 and c3po and all that stuff so we wanted to bring this experience to the game. They will fight with you, talk with you, and comment on your decisions. They may be angry with you killing someone, or make a snarky comment at you like “That isn’t what a Jedi does” and things like that. They will help you in combat, which will help early players get used to the combat and so on without being initially overwhelmed and compromising your experience.

Will there be a power resource system, like Mana or Skill Points? Ammunition?

TN: In the demo, we showed there is a mana like system that covers Jedi and Sith. Beyond that we have not talked about ammunition at all. As was seen with the Sith class, we have the concept of Action Points with the combat to pool points and use greater attacks.

The UI is quite impressive. Will that be the release UI?

TN: Yes.

Will the UI be customizable?

TN: Yes.

Some MMO’s have servers based on RP, PVP, and so on. Is there any talk of this server system being used in the Old Republic?

TN: That is something we are looking at. We have not finalized anything, but I think there are some very good reasons why MMO’s like World of Warcraft have done what they have done.

Anything about how people will get from one planet to another? Anything in space?

TN: We have not talked specifically about it, but any good Star Wars game would deliver upon having a compelling space experience. That is our goal.

How much of the game would you say is Single Player capable?

TN: It is hard to put a number of that, and we’re stilling building the game. But, as mentiond before, we think that a large part of the sucess of the MMO genre is allowing Single Player capability and a good game experience. Single player fans shouldn’t worry about it hindering their experience.

How different would you say the base Hero Engine is from the Bioware version?

TN: The Bioware team has a lot of technologies and have customized them to work together and deliver the experience that we’re trying to provide. The HeroEngine is there, and it has been highly customized in order to deliver.

How flexible will the graphics be on computers? Some people are still using older rigs, or laptops.

TN: That is the goal, that we’ve got a system spec that works on computers that have been on the market for a few years while also catering to the people with triple SLI rigs and will be optimized for as many systems as possible.

What can you say about the battle system? We noticed that you could stand still, run, jump, and hide behind cover in the demo.

TN: Yes, the cover system is something new. We felt that in order to make some of the iconic roles in star wars really work (like the smuggler), you have to make ranged combat work. So, we put in a cover system that will help with this class. I think what we’re trying to do is bring a unique combat experience to each class, so that you can see a smuggler/han solo type class and regonize the battle style as something that person would do.

With the gritty realism of Mass Effect and Dragon Age, why the stylized realism?

TN: I think that it gives an experience visually that looks like Star Wars, but creates its own visual identity in the mind of the player. This is important as we want people to recognize this game when seeing a video, or looking at a screenshot and just instantly recognize what that game is. With a lot of Star Wars games on the market, we felt that we needed to seperate ourselves from those games to be unique, as well as to separate ourselves from the Star Wars Galaxies MMO look.

Are there still plans to have SWTOR and Galaxies live alongside each other?

TN: We’ll see how things go. We still have a very dedicated Galaxies base, and we’re still providing updates, content packs, and other such things to the game. So far they seem to be loving it and the response has been positive, so as long as the community is there and as long as it works for us and Sony we’re willing to keep the game alive.

We noticed that the look of the characters in the game are very similar to that of Han Solo, Boba Fett, Clone Troopers, and so on. Any comments on how customizable your look will be?

TN: I think it will be very customizable. In most MMOs you start with a certain look, but once you hit level 10 you look totally differet and so on with every level. We want something that is similar, but different. Its great people are noticing the similarities to Han Solo, but really we want to make the look as customizable as we can. As we start releasing more updates, I think people will see the various looks that will be available. We don’t want everyone running around with the same armor and the same companions and so on right off the get go.

Some people are worried that the look is heading towards the Prequel trilogy, and looking out of time with the similarities to the movies instead of the KOTOR games. Any comments?

TN: To me, the look, particularly the armor sets, have more familiarity to the KOTOR games. But, if people would like to make their own judgements they can on that. We are very aware of the timeframe the game is set and are trying to create a look for that time period in the armor, looks, and so on based on the KOTOR games. You see connections throughout time in Star Wars, but it is also important for people to look at the game and say “That’s Star Wars!” Familiar but different.

We saw the “Kill the Captain” options in the demo. How will these important choices effect the game socially, gameplay wise, and so on?

TN: Each path on the “Kill the Captain” path are completely different, with different gameplay and in other options in the game a choice you make will have effects on NPCs in the game. It effects your dark/light alignment permanently, as you cannot save in an MMO, it effects conversations, gives missions at different points in the game, and changes the immersion and gameplay of the world.

There is mention of multiple teams working on voice acting, story, and so on. With 8 classes, how long would you say each of those class’s stories are?

TN: We do not have an exact number, but we are talking hundreds of hours on each class. Huge experience.

And that was our interview. We asked more questions, but most could not be answered so those were the cream of the crop. Hope you enjoyed the read, and hope it answers some questions.

Thanks so much to Tom Nichols for taking the time to talk with us!

54 comments on “Star Wars: The Old Republic Interview”

Excellent interview! They did answer a lot of things there, if you notice that most core features they are unable to talk about because it is not finalized yet. This means that the game have a long time before getting released. Very long.

Question: Is it illegal to record the demo? If no, why hasn’t anyone done so? Huh?

Sincerely,

Mossa Nova

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Well, I dunno about illegal, but they didn’t let us record, and I was sitting right in the front row. ;)

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This is the best interview to come out of E3. Good work!

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Nice interview, thanks.

I don’t really agree that people are worried what they would lose for it being an MMO rather than single player game. MMOs are inherently deeper games because they are full of other real people. If BioWare manage to add the deep and mature storylines we saw in KOTOR, then this is potentially the richest gaming experience the world has seen so far.

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@Potentate glad to hear you like it!

@Ben I actually agree with you. A lot of people on our forum are still skeptical though, so we wanted to ask questions so they could have direct answers and decide for themselves. :)

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I would have to side with the people on the forums a bit… I myself am a more single player guy but I do love the MMO aspect… with 8 classes and 2 sides to each class and say 50 hours to one side thats 800 hours of gameplay there, just in the single player campaign.. dont u think that would hamper the number of people experiencing the end game content.. i.e more ppl will be questing through the campaigns rather than raiding, crafting, running in game economy… somehow that seems a deterant to the MMO aspect

and do u mind talking a bit about how the UI looks and how the combat system is?

thanks

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@Pace: For UI, look here http://www.lucasforums.com/showpost.php?p=2631923&postcount=12

I think it must be kept in mind that End Game content is a niche group. People who love raiding, grouping, and so on in MMO’s are still only a portion of those that play, which is why in WoW you find people constantly leveling characters just to RP, or simply because they enjoy the experience.

For End Game content, nothing has been confirmed but I would take a guess that it will be available for those who do not wish to do story at all times. For those that wish to do nothing but RP, story, level, and so on there is tons of content. This is unique only to a few MMO’s like SWTOR and Guild Wars, and is a smart developers choice to appease all crowds and not only the hardcore end gamers.

But, as far as crafting and the economy goes, people leveling and people RPing and people end gaming can all contribute to both just like they do in games like World of Warcraft. It is all about finding a balance between many groups of players, and not just those we wish to level up to max in 3 days then do nothing but raid for the rest of the game experience.

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Great interview, I dare to say the best so far!

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Server Types.
An MMO isnt an MMO without at least some type of player vs player interaction. Some games use terms like “hardcore” or “carebear” to refer to server types. I can understand a 100% non pvp server for non pvp fans to explore high end content but one thing I do hope doesnt happen on Old Republic is a PvP server.

As has shown in many MMOs a dedicated PvP server splits server population… some of who don’t feel at home on either open or closed PvP server. An optional way of being flagged for pvp simliar to WoW or the pre-NGE StarWars Galaxies would help keep a community of players together. It also encourages people to help out overmatched players in times of need against a greater force.

KOTOR and KOTORII were both amazing games in their own right. I look forward to the beta/release of Old Republic as I miss the fun I had with my old Pre-NGE Jedi.

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I love it so much i wish that it was true to injoin jedai

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Do u want to made a game for them

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We need a single player game with MP support.
Not everyone has billions of hours available to fully enjoy a MMOPG and further, if this will require monthly pay like other do it’s already to at most half the players that would be normally playing a MMOPG.

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nice interview do you think this will make the jump to consoles look forward to your response

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One thing people are talking about is “End Game Content” (Raiding and the like)… what I’m concerned about is – What *could* the End Game Content be in Star Wars? You’re not about to go kill the Luke’s and Lord Vader’s of the universe (before anyone yells *wrong time peri0d no0b!* just shut up and listen). Think about it, cause I’m having a slightly difficult time imagining in a Star Wars game what raids and such there could be. I’d rather it not be like WoW where we go into a raid and kill off major storyline characters – yeah it feels epic but /shrug, it doesn’t seem very cool after killing him for the hundredth time.

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will a demo be released before the actual game is released so we can get a feel for the combat system ext.?????? if one is going to be released when can we expect to see it???

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I for one feel that this game has a lot of potential. I just highly recommend that they do not turn it into a WoW or SWG game. First and foremost, the endgame in WoW is so repetitive that it just gets old. Also WoW is mostly determined on how Uber your gear is.

Second, please please please bioware do not pull a sony stunt and modify the game so horribly as SOE did with SWG. Pre-CU is what the people screamed for and we still got CU and the NGE. The complexity of Pre-CU SWG is what made it such a great game. Now an emulator of SWG is being made with a higher player base (I think, because SOE will not release exact numbers) than the original game. What will make or break this game for me is if what I want is truly listened to and considered by the company.

Was there any mention of how they would handle player wants and implementing them into actual gameplay?

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well here is a player want i cant download it on my computer so widen your range of gamers and make all your games on the xbox360 cus i love star wars and would buy all of them so thats all thanks

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but make them wher they have Xbox Live

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will we get to use game double blade lightsaber in the game play i only see singal sided blade

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will we use double blade or not

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@Zack the game is going to be PC-only.

@patar no word on that yet as far as we know.

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thanks jeff looking for if theres doubles blades also do we get to choose are color because orange

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I would like to know how the leveling system works I hated WoW because I was restricted by my level.If your friends leveled too far ahead you couldnt play with them anymore..So I quit WoW. I liked the UO skill system because you were not limited by your level.

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once i have registered star wars the old republic how do we play the game?

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I wanna slaughter pvp opponent’z wholesale regardless of level with my pvp comrades regardless of their alignment n if i’m beaten for being weak it will only drive me harder, influencing an armada to shake this new kotar galaxy to the far reaches of it’s dark space is also an expectation. hopefully progammers n rumours of gay twinking and similar severe problems with the pvp combat in wow will not get in our way! …also the hopefully the Sith robes will not be stylelessly weak, like….being able 2 put ur hood up n down is undeniably sweet. …n a few romance plots, again, also sweet..

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Can u be an alien as your avatar or not

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I think the whole MMO thing sucks.

I loved Jedi Academy, I liked walking around choking out Stormtroopers with the force, but in an MMO the Stormtrooper would have to give me permission to choke him out.

Lame.

Kotor 3 > Kotor MMO

Seriously, MMO’s are stupid, stop making them, they defeat their own purpose by their very design.

You can’t have a living breathing world, then put artificial limitations in it, such as, “you can’t kill at random”, it’s stupid.

I get WHY they do it, but my point is, it’s retarded, and shows how artificial it all is, unlike a good SP game where you can really get into your character, and do whatever you want within the games programming.

Not to mention the monthly fee, yeah right, I’m going to pay you x dollars a month to play a game I already bought.

That’s the biggest scam of the modern age, tricking dumb gamers into paying monthly fees for something they already own.

You’re an idiot if you play MMO’s, and you are ruining the gaming industry by revealing this fact, it’s inevitable, all games will be MMO’s and cost money in time, thanks stupids.

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I hope there is a one player when its released on the 360, or the ps3, my pc sucks
and it dont play games properly, not every one can afford monthly fee,s OR get there consoles online for that matter, should have made kotor 3, if this new game fetures to much online gaming and not equal single player fun! Then what is the bloody point in buying it

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We want a single player “privateer/role-playing” game! Many of us grown ups that have to work don’t have the time to commit.

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@EviLNygma:
What they need to do is have pve only zones and pvp zones. Look to DAoC for what I mean by this. Each faction had its pve safe zone..quests, raids, dungeons etc were in this zone and no one from enemy faction could be in your pve zone, then there was a MASSIVE pvp zone, persistant 24/7, apon entering that zone all bets were off and it was kill or be killed and it wasnt some “fishbowl” scenario only timed version. It was all the time. This served both the pvp and pve needs. Pve was in no way interfered with and pvp was a MASSIVE conflict of never ending war, existing side by side but seperate from one another. It was the best way I have ever seen and no one has ever come close since.

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I played PVP for first time on WOW..my nephew introduced me to it ..I loved it… i totally think it would work. if your a Sith then your bad if you play any character towards the dark side consider yourself bad so why not have PVP I do like single games a lot KOTOR was awesome.. but come one you think a sith will be your friend or a Boba fett style bounty hunter will be your friend I dont think so ..so buck up peeps PVP is a huge success to mmorpg’s …If i play a rebel bounty hunter and i have to… “star trek quote here” cross the neutral zone then i expect to get blasted or sliced and diced by a light saber.. oh and i will cross the neutral zone that you have my guarantee on .”snicker”…so if there are going to be any PVP servers I will be there…Light side..? Dark side..? i leave my destiny with the force …..

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is theis singer mode so u play by ur self if so do u have to pay to play the singer player mode????????

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is their singer mode so u play by ur self if so do u have to pay to play the singer player mode????????

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DAoC PVP has set the benchmark for me in MMos and I wonder if there will be a game released in future that will match up

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Will there be a monthly fee for it???
Because if there is, I’m not getting it…. I loved kotor 1 and 2, played them through 5 or 6 times each. I think thier wrecking it going mmo. But maybe it could work, provided there’s no monthly fee. Maybe membership only planets? But if there’s a fee to like log in… No … Just forget it…

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this sounds alot like wow but chucking the name star wars on it :/

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dave,

Every mmo is similar to wow ever since it became a blockbuster.

It’s like wow fathered kilotons of horseshit.

As again, wowlike mmorpgs are indeed fun for PvE oriented people, but not being one myself, I couldn’t enjoy any mmos which play similar to wow. (summary of the last 6 years)

Hopefully swtor will not have too many wowish elements (it’s doomed to have some, to ensure some financial security, I guess. People just love wow, have to admit..)

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