Lore--love it or hate it, you've got to loathe the way writing in video games is damaged by an obsession with trifling and insignificant details. Still, some people love poring over it, a group which happens to overlap quite heavily with Star Wars fans. In light of this, the unveiling of an in-game lore encyclopaedia for Star Wars: The Old Republic is perhaps no great surprise.
The Codex feature is inspired by similar databases in developer BioWare's Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. Entries about worlds, creatures, races, artefacts, and other boring details will unlock as you play the MMORPG. Some will be "free," given to players to explain where they are and what they're doing. Others, however, will be unlocked by killing rare monsters, exploring, completing quests, and the like.
In the unveiling blog post, BioWare explained the need for the Codex:
There are clearly many games that have deep, engaging back stories that designers and writers have worked tirelessly to develop, but in the game, the player only sees what their character sees. Often times, the rich back story is used only for the context of quests, and players never really get the bird's eye view of the narrative. The 'big picture' can become even more confusing and incomplete if the player misses a quest or discovers key plot points out of order. A lot of times, what ends up happening, is that the player just gives up on understanding the overarching storyline, and just focuses on enjoying other parts of the gameplay experience.
Obviously, this was a matter of some concern to us. Star Wars is one of the richest, most engaging fictional settings in all of pop culture. We have an exceptional team of writers working hard to build and expand the Star Wars universe in the Old Republic era. As you may have heard, story is kind of a big deal to BioWare and to The Old Republic, and that story is a lot better if you understand the context for what's going on around you and how your actions fit in.
BioWare estimates that The Old Republic's Codex currently contains over 120,000 words--more than the average Star Wars novel. Don't worry, though, you probably shan't be forced to read a single word.
There'll also be "a sub-set of the codex entries" which grant permanent bonuses to player stats. These "datacrons" will be contained in little boxes scattered around the galaxy in hard-to-reach places. "While some are hidden, many are in plain sight--the trick is often in figuring out how to get to that datacron that you see on a ledge off in the distance," BioWare explained.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is due to be released for PC later this year, having been delayed. It was previously slated to launch this spring.
Publisher EA expects The Old Republic to take subscribers away from small MMOs, rather than tackling World of Warcraft head-on. It'd be "substantially profitable" with 500,000 subscribers, EA has said.