Wednesday, October 22, 2008

LucasArts and BioWare Go MMO with Star Wars: The Old Republic

On October 21, BioWare and LucasArts announced their latest plan for the highly popular Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) video game series. As opposed to a single-player follow-up to 2004’s KotOR: The Sith Lords (developed by Obsidian Entertainment), BioWare has opted for a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) called Star Wars: The Old Republic. The series made a splash on the original Xbox when the first installment hit shelves in 2003, however there appear to be no plans as of this writing to release the title for consoles.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the game is BioWare’s most ambitious title yet, with a writing team that is three to four times larger than that of a normal game. It will follow the same storyline as the previous games in the KotOR series, taking place thousands of years prior to the events of the Star Wars films.

"People have asked us why we're not making Knights of the Old Republic III," BioWare senior content producer Dallas Dickinson told the AP. "Our response is that we're actually making Knights of the Old Republic III through Knights of the Old Republic X — and we're releasing them all at once."

This is all well and good, but it is troubling that a developer like BioWare that has made a name for itself with quality single-player experiences, like KotOR and 2007's Mass Effect, is jumping on the lucrative (and increasingly cramped) MMORPG bandwagon. Also, don’t forget that the Star Wars brand already tried—and failed—to enter this market with the abysmal Star Wars Galaxies in 2003 (my apologies to the tens of people still playing that game). But BioWare assures us that things are different this time around, promising to keep missions varied as players find themselves caught up in a brutal conflict between the Jedi and the Sith.

"In an MMO, you usually do what you're told, whether it's go kill 10 dudes or find this artifact or whatever," said BioWare creative director James Ohlen. "You never get to make meaningful choices that are tough to make. That's something we're going to have in our game because Star Wars is all about the struggle between good and evil, light and dark."

I have faith in BioWare, and have yet to play a game they’ve developed that hasn't blown me away. However, part of me is still wishing that they had just went ahead with another single-player KotOR as most fans of the series were hoping they would. Some of just aren’t into MMORPGs no matter who’s making them. And, since this series found its footing on consoles, not releasing this game for Xbox 360 (and, alright, Playstation 3) would be a slap in the face to those of us who aren’t PC gamers.

No comments: