Star Wars MMO Lead Writer Talks Story Details

By Nick Breckon, Oct 21, 2008 9:46pm PDT BioWare Austin's Star Wars: The Old Republic has enough content to fill the shoes of "KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and beyond," according to BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka at the game's announcement earlier today.

To that end, lead writer Daniel Erickson has headed a team of 12 full-time writers for several years in crafting storylines tailored to each class. Adding to the complexity, BioWare has brought its trademark moral quandaries into the equation, creating another dimension on which to write compelling storylines.

Shacknews talked to Erickson about the considerable writing effort in the long-awaited MMO and learned about a great deal, from moral decisions and Jedi to bunnies and Han Solo.

On the way story will work in The Old Republic:
"We have classes in the game, and every class has a different story. Every class has a story that will take you from the first level of the game to the last level of the game, and none of those stories are the same.

In the same way, faction stuff is split out between the Empire and Republic. So the takeaway note from this is, if you roll a Jedi character and you play them from the first level to the last level, and then you roll a Sith and you play them from the first, you will not see one repeated quest, line of dialogue, or piece of content. It is a 100% different story experience.

That is not to say you won't see the opposite side of the conflict. It is about war. We don't play common people. We play huge heroes in the Star Wars universe, which means the war is important."

On the strength of class-based story:
"You are a Sith. You have a Darth Vader fantasy. You are now playing, for all intents and purposes, a Sith RPG."

On how confusing the story will be for newcomers:
"What happened to Bastilla? This isn't stuff that we would ever shove into someone's face. People will be playing that have never played a KOTOR game, or have even watched a Star Wars movie.

Just like we would for any fantasy game, [as a Jedi starting out] you go to Typhon, you train to be a Jedi, and you learn what it means to be a Jedi."

On the idea of choice-based story in an MMO:
"You're 60 hours into the game on the light side, and you hit this huge choice. You know exactly what you want to do, and you look for the save button, and you realize there is no save button. I'm gonna make this choice, and this choice is going to be my choice forever. It makes not only the individualism of we're actually telling this story, but the power of making these choices stronger than they've ever been in any BioWare game."

On how the story will change depending on your companions:
"The things you get to see are going to be dependent on who you're traveling with. If Han had never hooked up on Luke, he would have never had a perspective on the Force."

On the possibility of more abstract, Han Solo-type classes:
"There are a lot of fantasies in Star Wars, and they're not all Jedi and Sith."

On including quests that don't feel "epic":
"You will never have a stranger ask you to save her cat.

There are no bunnies. There are no rabbits. You are a Jedi. At no point will you be sitting down saying, okay, I have three buttons and a crystal. If I only had some thread, I could make some shoes."

On whether this means there won't be crafting:
"That is not correct. There will be crafting."

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  • Hrm. My everpresent cynic is rising to the fore here. I like what they are saying and the concept of a story-based mmo seems sublime, but the execution might be another beast entirely.

    How are they going to make your choices have lasting reverberations if not downright consequences, not just for you, but for your companions and the quite possibly the world at large? The only way it seems they might be able to implement something like this is through instancing. Contained, small-scale dramas that play out for your character and your companion/s while you’re within it, but once you leave… what then? Will an NPC mention your actions as particularly heroic or dastardly depending on the faction you sided with, and then send you on your merry way to yet another instanced episode? Or will your decision factor in with other players and the choices they made; the end result which is a part of the economy or geography within the game world being altered permanently to reflect the collective’s choice? What happens after you hit the level cap? Does the story just end?

    So many variables at play and so many could go awry, but this is Bioware we’re talking about, so I’m actually looking forward to what they have up their sleeve. I just hope I’m pleasantly surprised as a result.

  • Man alot of people already bitching. I'm all for a new mmo its got to be better then SWG. Sony ruins just about any game. I'm curious as to what they will do with their content they say they have. My first mmo was Asheron's Call so I'm all down for a good and interactive story line which no mmo gets anymore. Hopefully this game will due justice to the Star Wars genre that we have all loved for many years. I wish they would of made in in the New Jedi order series that would of been a great story line. So give them time to produce some more info before you start bitching.