BioWare talks Old Republic polish, beta testing

By Steve Watts, Sep 23, 2011 5:45pm PDT

Star Wars: The Old Republic still doesn't have a solid release date, but it must be getting closer to completion. BioWare is talking about the finishing stages, from polish and tutorials to feedback from its closed beta test. In a new interview, project lead James Ohlen shares the studio's focus as the game makes its last lap before the finish line.

"[We're focusing on] polishing game systems, tutorials, and teaching new players how to play the game," Ohlen told Gamasutra. "We're also focusing a lot on making sure our tech's going to be stable, that we have a very stable launch."

He says that they're being cautious to make sure the game can't be hacked, and can withstand the weight of a bulk of new players. BioWare has referenced staggering supply to assure it can withstand the flood of players as well.

"One of the secrets to making a 90 Metacritic game is you really have to continue to polish all the way to the end," he said. "You have to do a targeted launch, because if you go too crazy with feedback and you change major systems, what happens is you don't have time for polishing. You have to choose where you're going to change according to feedback from players, both external and internal."

Part of that polish is coming from test feedback, according to Ohlen, but the closed beta is providing more data on the surrounding online systems than the game mechanics. "The thing about it is, it's important to get people to test your game, but the beta tests are more for finding out if your technology's going to stand up, and finding some small tweaks and changes," he said. "But all the big changes that we've been making were planned from way before, because we've been playing the game ourselves. If we didn't figure this stuff out, we'd be terrible game designers. So, internally we figured out a lot of the problems early on."

While the release date is still pending, BioWare has commented before that it will be largely dependent on beta testing. The company wants to make sure the online aspect is ship-shape, so even as the game seems more-or-less finished, we may not see it hit until next year.

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