Knights Of The Online Republic: KOTOR MMO Is Go

By Alec Meer on July 17th, 2008 at 8:32 pm.

Classes will include Jedi, Jedi, Jedi and Gungan

It’s a big day for Bioware. First, Dragon Age scrubs up very nice indeed, and now EA have only bleedin’ gone and revealed they’re planning Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: The MMO. Yes, with Bioware at the till. [Pauses for internet-wide cheer]. “As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in rapture and were suddenly fanboys…”

It’s been rumoured for ages, but E3 saw EA’s John Riccitiello drop a conclusive bombshell. Quote’n’that under the jump.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’d better be able to play as a Jawa.

“We’ve got two of the most compelling MMOs in the industry in development,” said Riccitiello. The first title, based on the Warhammer property, will launch soon. “And the one that people are dying for us to talk to them about — in partnership with Lucas, coming out of BioWare, which is, I think, quite possibly the most anticipated game, full stop, for the industry at the point when we get closer to telling you about it.”

Does Riccitiello mean the oft rumored Knights of the Old Republic Online? “Yes,” he said.

(From Portfolio via VG247).

“Yes” can be such a magical word.

In a way, the Bioware involvement is in many ways the least important element of this. It’s a certain seal of quality, sure – and crucially it’s the first time they’ve done Massively Multi – but what’s really big here is that it’s a Star Wars MMO. From EA. In a post-WoW climate (which puts it on an entirely different footing to poor Galaxies right from the off). In other words, perhaps the most serious rival World of Warcraft could possibly have.

We’ll be needing to hear your name suggestions now, please.

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207 Comments »

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  1. Schadenfreude says:

    One thing to worry about; Bioware Austin is being run by Gordon Walton and Richard Vogel; both ex – Sony Online Entertainment.

    Basically the guys who made Galaxy are heading up this game too.

  2. Paul S says:

    Ah.

    That is bad news. To understate mildly.

  3. kadayi says:

    The whole MMO space is like TV ratings. There is a large audience for it, but it’s a finite audience, but unlike TV, the shows are on all the time and they demand near religious devotion from their participants to the exclusion of anything else. I can’t see what a KoToR MMO is going to do save leech the bulk of it’s player base off of SWG, if nothing more than for the allure of better graphics and a slicker engine. Also much as I liked KoTor as an RPG game, there didn’t seem a heck of a lot of difference between the galaxy 4000 years before Star wars save the ships were a bit uglier. The lightsabres still zipped, the Blasters still blasted and the Droids still beeped. Different period, same shit.

  4. Paul S says:

    @kadayi:
    No difference? That was the point – the freedom to tell the biggest story and whatever story they liked in a setting that was basically the same. The playa could then be The Hero of the galaxy, and you really felt like you were playing in one of the films. They had Darth Vader, Yoda, stormtroopers and the Death Star analogues, and it worked wonderfully. Will that translate as well to an MMO? No idea, but let’s hope so.

    As for the MMO glut – yeah, too many, too similar. But players will sort the wheat from the chaff, and the crap will die out, and eventually people will realise that they can’t just bash out a game and get Blizzard’s vast mountains of gold, but that massive backbreaking effort is involved. Then the slew will stop, and we’ll see fewer, better MMOs. Like the post-Doom, pre-Quake years when you couldn’t move for crappy Build engine shooters.

    Probably.

  5. Dolphan says:

    Do it right. Do it right. Please, please, please do it right.

    And wouldn’t an e-mail every time someone responded to an RPS post sort of swamp your inbox?

  6. kadayi says:

    @Paul S

    I understand what KoToR did as an SP RPG, but my point is that the contrivance behind it really serves no good purpose when it comes to reinventing another SW game in the MMO space. The one thing that never really made much sense with KoToR was why it needed to be set 4000 years before Star Wars, why not 400 or even 40? Save to make it sound grandiose. There existed no really visible technological, social or economic gulf between either game tbh (in 4000 years on earth we’ve gone from Pyramids to Microchips). If that’s true of the single player, who much difference is there going to be with the MMO compared to SWG. Better engine perhaps, different leveling system but what else?

    Also another problem with the MMO space is that it’s often forgotten by people that much of the fun derives from the experience being a shared one, often to the extent that the game becomes secondary to player interaction. It’s all very well a development team making a killer Sci-fi MMO game that appeals to WoW regular Joe, but unless Joes guild mates have an interest in giving it a go how likely is he to give up on WoW and jump ship past the first month or so? Esp if he’s invested a considerable amount of time already into his WoW character. The inclination if you’ve buried 2 years solidly into something already esp if you’ve a lot of friends in game isn’t to throw it, and them all in for a new love.

  7. Thorkahn says:

    While I would like this to be true, until Lucas Arts comes out with an “official” announcement, this is all just BS and rumor.

  8. Paul S says:

    @kadayi
    The contrivance does serve a purpose. The character cannot be an important hero on the expected scale in SWG because those heroes already exist – Luke et al. 4000 years gives space, distance, and a blank canvas, story wise. The setting doesn’t change, because no-one wants it changed – what would be the point? The setting is the reason for playing, after all. It also sounds grandiose – again, this serves the setting. Star Wars has never been particularly understated. I think you’re mistaking what people want from a Star Wars game.

    Of course, there are a whole raft of other issues – no player can be The Hero in an MMO anyway, etc – but it does give everyone breathing space away from “canon”.

  9. kadayi says:

    @Paul S

    It serves no real purpose in an MMO (my point as stated in the previous post) because as KoToR is simply, Star Wars reinvented without the existing heroes/Villains what’s the actual gain, save the breathing space from canon? The complete lack of real differential (in terms of existing tech etc) between the two periods might of suited the SP RPG in order to satisfy ‘you be the hero’ SW fantasies, but it doesn’t really make the game universe that distinctive from SW, in my view.

  10. oilypenguin says:

    More than likely, this game will not take place after kotor 1&2, it will take place before; during the jedi/sith war so people will have the option to have as many jedi or sith characters as they want.

    In keeping with the spirit of kotor, remember that both of the games were produced on an rpg model adapted from the D20 star wars game. Ergo, the possibility that they might do the same thing for this one is… well, actually I don’t know how strong it is but the possibility is there. If they do that and base it off the newest “saga” edition of the game, Force using characters are actually balanced with the non-force classes, making for much better fights. In the original d20 games, force users were so over-powered it was insane. Bad for a pen and paper rpg (at least for the mundane characters and the gm) but really good for a single player rpg where you’re forced to be a jedi.

    Chances are, this game will follow the character arch-types of the pen and paper game while expanding and slowing character progression so they can charge us $15 a month for at least half a year. I hope that there’s a focus, like in SWG, on characters that can do more than just cut things in twain with a lightsaber but if this game is limited to simply picking a side (jedi/sith) a class (guardian/sentinal/consular) and then a prestige class (master/weapon master/watchman), I’ll still play it and be pretty happy about it.

    Maybe there will be a ton of factions like the Mandolorians, sith, jedi, republic, the exchange, etc. It’s an aweful big galaxy.

    I only hope Bioware isn’t miffed at Riccitiello for letting such a bombshell drop without a big show. True, this is a game that requires no additional hype, but I would have liked to see some kind of official unveiling for it. For the love of palpatine, give me a screenshot or even concept art.

    Also, I’m going to need the option of being a droid and referring to people as “meatbags.” That is all.

  11. Paul S says:

    @kadayi
    Breathing space is the gain, MMO or no. There are other pitfalls waiting, but it gives Bioware space to do what they want in the universe.

    Finally – the game universe is not supposed to be “that distinctive from SW”. That’s the point.

  12. RJ says:

    YES!!!!!!! As much as I would love to hear about KOTOR3, a MMO is just as well. I’m burnt out on WoW, and loved the KOTOR games. They’re pretty much the only reason I still bother with my Xbox.

  13. GeorgeR says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to this if it is done right. And hey not all of us want to be jedi.

    Wookie engineer all the way.

  14. Dr. Bough says:

    They should make it more player controlled, like the leader of Czerka or something is an actual player.

    But this might destroy any chance of a storyline.

  15. Derek K. says:

    Welcome to the internet indeed.

    I think RPS is the only place where the majority of responses range from pessimistic to downright bile filled….

    Also, guys, I hate to break it to you, but this MMO thing is here to stay.

    Also also: How can you *not* be excited about this?

  16. BJ Blazkowicz says:

    Here we go again.

  17. Larington says:

    I think this will probably be worth watching in a “will they try to re-invent the genre” kind of way, if the answer is yes, this should be VERY interesting to watch.

    I am somewhat concerned at the possibility that EA is doing this A) because ActiBlizzard has an MMO so they have to and B) that MMOs supposedly print money. My concern is based on the risk that publisher may force an early release or that the developer will be over/under ambitious, resulting in a game thats either boring to play or incomplete and too buggy to play for a month – AoC has made me very tired of MMOs in the sense that they often get rushed/lazy and cut content.

    On the whole though, this is promising, despite the risks that you’ll get from any games development project, small, medium or MMO.

    Err, in any case, it’s probably going to be a while before its released, there isn’t any clear indication of how long the games been in development, which means we could be looking at not playing this until 2010.

  18. Jochen Scheisse says:

    I think RPS is the only place where the majority of responses range from pessimistic to downright bile filled…

    You…you have been to the internet before?

  19. kadayi says:

    @Derek

    I’m pretty sure we are all aware that MMOs are here to stay. The real question is whether they are ever going to evolve from the grind based, Disneyesque theme parks of looping quests/instances the vast majority presently are (Eve being the most notable exception). In a world without persistence of action, player actions ultimately mean nothing and it’s only through loot drops that any sense of achievement is gained, which is a shame because it means MMOs have devolved into little more than badge collection exercises, compared to SP RPGs. In a single player game you might rescue the princess, or save the village and your only reward might be a better reputation, a loaf of bread or a roll in the hay. The reward isn’t so much the loot drops, as having achieved the goal (the loot is the sweetener, not the motive alone).

    @Paul S

    So why change up if your playing SWG save for a better engine? Why move to a game where you get to fight Not-stormtroopers or Non-rebels instead? If the fundamentals are so radically unaltered I’m not really seeing much incentive. If your ultra powerful in SWG and played it for years, why throw it all away for a game that offers little more, and strips out much of what you love about SW in the first place (the familarity of the films). What’s the market audience for KoToR online? The SP games sold fairly well, but I suspect there are far more SW fans who didn’t play them than did, and only a small percentage of SW fans play SWG. It’s a case of diminishing returns.

  20. Mogs says:

    “Dragon Age scrubs up very nice indeed”

    No.

  21. Real Horrorshow says:

    I haven’t played an MMO I like, but if anyone can do it, it’s Bioware. I have supreme confidence.

  22. Jimbo says:

    I suppose its too much to ask for Jedi Knight II style combat in an MMO setting. Nevertheless I’m super excited about this

  23. Juvenihilist says:

    *agrees with Jimbo* Please give us something new besides the “autotarget and kill stuff””

  24. Paul S says:

    @kadayi
    Because SWG wasn’t Star Wars. It just wasn’t. It got the atmosphere of the films completely wrong. KOTOR got the atmosphere of the films completely right. Also, SWG just wasn’t a good game and it wasn’t fun to play. With KOTOR, they have a chance to do over, in a free space, while keeping the Star Wars atmosphere. Everybody wins!

    Except SOE, natch.

  25. kadayi says:

    Paul

    I hate to break it to you, but unless Bioware are going to attempt to break tradition and try something radical that doesn’t cater to the usual MMO player demands then I’m not seeing it, and given they are in cahoots with EA, I’m not seeing the prospect of radical being remotely on the cards. EA seem to have raised their game a bit recently under Riccitiello, but given development costs of an MMO are on the wrong side of frightening ($80 – 100 million by now?) , I’m not expecting KoToRO to be anything but what the highest player demographic wants, so expect near instant in game travel between locations (so you can easily get to your buddies), interstellar chat (so you can talk to your buddies) and the endless ever resetting instances always near by for you and your buddies to traipse though. Different dress, same girl.

  26. Chris says:

    Here’s hoping that it isn’t a WoW clone where nothing you do has any real meaning and grinding for XP is more important than player interaction…

    Perhaps make force sensitivity a random trait which might pop up at some random point in the game, making Jedi reasonable rare but not impossible to find (similar to how SWG started out), give a genuine penalty for death, such as loss of equipment, and make it so anyone can attack anyone anywhere, but in high security zones doing so incurs the wrath of law enforcement, while in low security zones it’s always a possibility.

    To use Eve Online as an example, there’s nothing quite as good at getting the heart pumping as trying to get a shipment of goods through (PC, not NPC) pirate-infested space. Especially when you know that if you get blown up, you’ve lost your ship, your equipment and your cargo. I’ve yet to see any other games in which going through dangerous areas is actually dangerous, either because the only danger is higher level mobs or because death holds no meaning in the game.

  27. Paul S says:

    Kadayi.
    We should stop. I think we accidentally stopped talking about the same thing a while ago. Suffice to say, I really wasn’t talking about SWG until the last post, but I think it’ll be easier for both of us if we let this one lie.
    You raise perfectly reasonable points though. I’m not even sure I disagree with that last post. It wasn’t really what I was talking about though…

  28. Kadayi says:

    Kadayi: Considering EA already have their hands on one of the biggest in-development MMO’s coming along at the moment (Warhammer: Age of Reckoning), and their method for that was letting the development studio do what they thought was best, because after all they were the ones with an already-succesful MMO, I think there is promise for Bioware’s MMO as long as EA take the same stance as they seem to have with WAR.

    “so expect near instant in game travel between locations (so you can easily get to your buddies), interstellar chat (so you can talk to your buddies) and the endless ever resetting instances always near by for you and your buddies to traipse though.”

    Although those are absolutely brilliant innovations of modern MMO’s compared to the old ones which made you wait 30 minutes while your boat crossed the ocean, where you had to find your friends to talk to them and where you had to wait up to 12 hours for a monster to respawn so you could do what you wanted. You could have picked out far worse things, such as the standard quest model of MMO’s “go out, kill X things, come back”, “go out, get item, come back” or the shockingly innovative “go out, kill X things and get an item, then go to my friend over here”.

    Unfortunately the main reason we aren’t moving on in MMO’s and getting more story-based gameplay with good plots and shinyness, is that the MMO model needs people to keep playing, and there is a huge number of people in the world who like the feeling of “ooh look I’ve got stronger and got a more shiny sword and bigger armour”, and it is incredibly easy to keep these players hooked on a game by the simple process of adding more levels, more items and making them spend a longer time to get them the more into and hooked onto the game they are. It would be a massive risk to make an MMO which didn’t focus on these things and instead focused on story, plot and general joy, and while it may work wonderfully, considering MMO’s are the most expensive type of game to create and need are so easy to get wrong anyway, it would take a very, very brave company to do it.

  29. kadayi says:

    Kadayi? Shurely shome mishtake in the name selection, dear chap? Let’s not confuse people (I’m the one with Teddy Bear Avatar.)

    WAR is an unproven entity, it could all go decidedly tits up, and the recent round of feature cutting is hardly inspiring reading.

    Persistence in MMOs is entirely possible (consider EVE), so I wouldn’t say the WoW carousel cookie cutter model is the only route to go. But you have to think beyond the present economic model to envisage what might be. I mean is it absolutely necessary to still have a few thousand players populate each of your game servers these days? Why not instead have servers but with much lower player populations? (50 -100 players) Wouldn’t it be great to participate in a game world, where you recognize your friends or foes by their faces/build and clothing, rather than a name tag above their heads? One where voice chat is built in (like an FPS) rather than you having to rely upon Teamspeak or ventrillo? One where your actions have permanent consequences? You take the first M off of MMPORPG and you suddenly open up a lot more scope in terms of the kind of experiences you can deliver.

  30. sinister agent says:

    So anyway, who is the fox in the picture? She doesn’t have some stupid name like Jup-el-Taar that’d make stifling giggles during conversation too difficult, I hope?

    I can’t be the only one who played KOTOR and wanted to slap all the Jedi in the mouth. Take your force, your self-important gibberish and your poncey lightsabers and shove it. I’m English, damn it; I want to be the underdog.

  31. Mr. Phreeze says:

    i think the title will be Star Wars Galaxies: The Old Republic

  32. kadayi says:

    @sinister agent

    When hating the Jedi, just remember they are all a bunch of meddling holier than thou uptight Virgins at the end of the day. For all his wisdom, Yoda, never got laid in his life ;)

  33. Biscuitry says:

    @zanbowser

    I’d like to see these “reboot[s] of Planetside” of yours. I’ve been waiting for one since… well, since Planetside went down the drain.

  34. sinister agent says:

    They’re celibate? Lawks. That’s a tough call. Super mind powers or super (Polite, dignified chatter – Ed) powers?

    No wonder they all turn evil.

  35. Mr. Phreeze says:

    honestly id like to see a similar way to become jedi like in kotor1 and swg but doesnt take as long maybe around lvl 10/60 lvls or some other unique bioware type way but theyve gotta catch wat SOE dropped tha ball on with having 2 many jedi and no balance with the other chars

  36. Paul S says:

    @Kadayi (the real one)
    I like the cut of your jib. Wouldn’t that mean a prohibitively expensive quantity of servers, though (I admit, I know next to nothing about server bumf – it may not make a difference)? I can’t imagine EA (or anyone else for that matter) would stump up the cash.
    Interesting idea, though. And it would allow everyone to be important, to be the hero.

  37. DavidC says:

    Noooo, please nooooo.

    Just as i left World of Warcraft…. it felt like tearing my own arm… and now this?! Why… why must you bring me back to this?! I left WoW… Kotor will be imposible to leave…

  38. kadayi says:

    @Paul S

    As long as they player base monthly subcriptions comfortably pays the rental charge it shouldn’t be much of an issue tbh. Server costs aren’t that significant compared to what they used to be, and with less players on the server, the computational demand would be significantly less. My former CS clan rents a top notch server for about £800 -1000 a year which sounds like a lot as a lump sum, but split between 25 people works out pretty reasonable and they consecutively run 4 different games on it (CS public, CS Match, TF2, & DoD), on a busy day that servers handling maybe 100 players in different games all running around shooting the crap out of each other, with Physics and voice chat on. Now admittedly it’s a different sort of ballpark than a MMO, but I wouldn’t of thought the demands of a low number MO would be significantly higher overall. However I’m no expert in this field, I just know that that’s the sort of MO space I’d be more interested in playing in.

  39. deek says:

    hope this will be good, if its not i am sticking with star wars gaalaxes

  40. paul says:

    great… so i have to have help from noobs rather thank hk-47… think ill give this a miss

  41. jim says:

    hmmm yay kotor MMo.. better be set before kotor 1 .. for the simple reason most/all the jedi are dead!

  42. Long Live the Sith says:

    they should make it where people can be Sith. Screw the “balance” in the game, isnt that what it should be about? facing stronger players, killing Jedi scum, and having fun? oh yea and Darth Maul is the best.

  43. dsteve3 says:

    Alright, here’s whats needed for a REAL Star Wars MMO:

    1) There’s gotta be 1000’s of planets & systems
    2) There’s gotta be dozens of races
    3) There’s gotta be alot to do that doesn’t have to do with lightsabres

    Eventually someone is going to have to figure out how to create a MMO that has a real history. DEFINITELY no grindin Sandmen for Gadarffi sticks. I want to do stuff that has meaning to the whole game, not grinding the same quests that everyone else is doing.

  44. Aikon says:

    Lets just hope that Jedi isn’t a giveaway class and garbage like SOE turned it into.

  45. timbone says:

    Coruscant is an absolute must as a planet. That was stupid not to include it in SWG.

  46. Ned says:

    looks great, but depending on the time of the old republic this could be dificult to do. people have said about hundreds of jedi walking around, but only if its before KOTOR II, least we forget the civil war. and if it was after II then it would have to be significantly longer after and could conflict with already canon events. space battle would be cool, but in small doses, i wouldnt want huge fleets fighting because what fleets (other than pirates) would there be? has amazing potential, i would love like five or six races to choose from, human, zabrak, twi’lek ect. and color options, like a red twil’ek or blue, and red zabrak like maul, or grey green like bao-dur.
    and dsteve, you really couldnt have thousands of planets because there wasnt hyperspace routes to thousands of planets at the time, or even in the far future. and there couldnt be dozens of races because dozens with an s implies more than one or two dozen meaning more than twenty four, and that would be stupid to have that many races to chose from. and i agree you should have the choice to be jedi or not, and have a good story line as to why you are or are not a jedi, not just like ok im a human, and my class is jedi, you should have to earn jedi, and be able to work your way up to master, or be like a bounty hunter and work to earn respect and renown, or be a gangster like tyber zann, that would be very MMO like.

  47. DarkStalker says:

    “KOTOR X-Wing (EVE style) = WoW Death.”

    It wont kill it but will steal some fans….(like my brother)
    I will however enjoy this if it is as said because im getting very sick of WoW especially with raiding…

    On the other hand i will soo be a Dark Jedi who is of Mandalorian decent mmmm <3 this shall be fun.

    I hope they throw in something like the huge Battle that occured on Ruusan in the Darth Bane books. that would be sweet

  48. scott says:

    i just hope they make it hard to become a jedi…like in swg.you got to lvl up to get force powers…i want it soo you can go to a academy (sith or jedi) and train there with friends like a real jedi or sith… would…where you like have to train in choke for a week to master it or lighting…. or heal…. and start off as a normal person and you can chose to go to a academy and start your training or be a crafter, or bounty hunter, but in swg becomeing a jedi is to easy.
    it shouldnt be easy.. oh and also have a master and padawan system.. at the academy…
    im really hopeing for the best…

  49. Krath1 says:

    I’ve never posted here before but damnit I’ve got B&M a little bit, beacuse I’m 32 years old and I’ve been playing games my whole life. And hands down KOTOR 1&2 are the best I’ve ever played. And here they are going to screw the series up by changing the whole thing. What about the loyal fans that are xbox users and dont have a PC, they are the ones that made the series what it is today. Snd here they are cut out of the loop and here’s another thing how many awards did 1&2 receive? I’m not sure but I know it was a lot
    and there was definitly a game of the year award for both of them. All I’m saying is DON’T FIX IT IF IT AIN’T BROKE!

  50. Marty says:

    This is probably one of the few MMOs I would be willing to play. I loved both KotOR games, and this should be just as good/