Why The Old Republic doesn't have a release date

By Steve Watts, Aug 03, 2011 10:45am PDT

EA and BioWare have opened up pre-orders for Star Wars: The Old Republic, without a release date in sight. But that hasn't stopped fans from breaking EA pre-order records. Game director James Ohlen says the lack of a release date is a conscious move on BioWare's part, to make sure that they don't set it in stone and find their servers or game code unprepared for an influx of users.

"We don't want to give a specific release date until we're absolutely certain that when we launch the game it'll be a smooth launch and a bug-free experience," Ohlen told Newsarama. "It would be terrible if we released and the servers fell down or there was a bug that detracted from the overall experience. It'd be terrible for the Star Wars fans... and it'd be disappointing for the team members. People like myself, I've been on this project for six years. I want it to live up to the expectations."

This isn't the first time we've seen BioWare trying to stave off launch hitches. When EA and BioWare announced the game's special editions, Dr. Ray Muzyka mentioned limiting supply to assure that the servers would be able to handle the demand. Although server stress seems like a pretty legitimate concern, the possibility of limiting digital supply may not please potential customers come launch day.

The $150 Collector's Edition is the #2 seller on Amazon right now.

Ohlen also explained some of the reasoning behind the customizable companion characters, saying, "It would be a little immersion breaking when a Sith Warrior sees another Sith Warrior with his same companion character." So instead, players can alter the look significantly. Ohlen says there will "still be a little [immersion breaking], and some people will still be bothered by it, but we've been getting very positive feedback on companion characters."

Finally, Ohlen said that the team has actually tweaked the leveling speed to keep the pace flowing evenly. "We had the game, at one point in testing, well beyond our targets, but there were a few points in the game that were way too boring, way too much of doing the same thing," he said. "So we went through and upped the speed at which a player leveled up in those bits. We don't want to artificially inflate the game's length by adding a ton of enemies the player has to kill with no story context."

"We were talking about how we want to reinvent the MMO with story," he added, "and it would be misleading if we suddenly had that grind."

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