That’s No Moon. It’s An MMO: The Old Republic!

By Kieron Gillen on October 21st, 2008 at 11:29 pm.

Exclusive -there will be lightsabre fights
Well, it appears that gaming’s most open secret is finally confirmed proper-like. Bioware KOTOR (+300 years) MMO, The Old Republic, has been announced today. There’s plenty more screens on the site and I’ll lob the press release beneath the cut, but this is really the sort of thing which makes me think creating an RPS code where if we print rumours and use a certain code word (“Tartan”) it means we know this rumour is totally true and you shouldn’t even consider any other possibilities. Less cynically, they’ll be more theorising around it in the next few days – and I suspect more than a little in the comments thread. Until then, examine the press release or devour all the info on their site to feed your own theories.

LUCASARTS AND BIOWARE REVEAL STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC
OCTOBER 21, SAN FRANCISCO – LucasArts and BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), today announced the development of Star Wars®: The Old Republic™, a story-driven massively multiplayer online PC game set in the timeframe of the Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™ franchise. Star Wars: The Old Republic, being developed and published by BioWare and LucasArts, represents an innovative approach to interactive entertainment, featuring immersive storytelling, dynamic combat and intelligent companion characters.

In Star Wars: The Old Republic, players will explore an age thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader when war between the Old Republic and the Sith Empire divides the galaxy. Players can choose to play as Jedi, Sith, or a variety of other classic Star Wars roles, defining their personal story and determining their path down the light or dark side of the Force. Along the way, players will befriend courageous companions who will fight at their side or possibly betray them, based on the players’ actions. Players can also choose to team up with friends to battle enemies and overcome incredible challenges using dynamic Star Wars combat.

“Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the most critically acclaimed Star Wars game in LucasArts history and a preeminent example of our company’s interactive storytelling heritage,” said Darrell Rodriguez, President of LucasArts. “For a long time, we’ve wanted to return to the franchise in a grand way, and we felt that the best setting for it was an online world that would allow millions of people to participate in the experience together. We knew that the developer capable of working with us to deliver an engrossing story with a fully-realized online world was BioWare.”

“Traditionally, massively multiplayer online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and General Manager/CEO of BioWare and General Manager/Vice President of Electronic Arts Inc., “In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we’re fusing BioWare’s heritage of critically-acclaimed storytelling with the amazing pedigree of Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and adding a brand-new fourth pillar to the equation – story. At the same time, we will still deliver all the fun features and activities that fans have come to expect in a triple-A massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, Star Wars: The Old Republic is set in a very exciting, dynamic period in the Star Wars universe.”

Added Dr. Greg Zeschuk, Co-Founder and Vice President Development Operations, BioWare and Vice President, Electronic Arts Inc., “Star Wars: The Old Republic is set roughly 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic, a timeframe that is completely unexplored in the lore. BioWare has been able to add to the Star Wars history in developing the game’s story and has created an overarching narrative that players can enjoy, regardless of their play style. Our goal is to offer players an emotionally rewarding experience that combines the traditional elements of MMO gameplay with innovations in story and character development.”

Additional details on Star Wars: The Old Republic features, gameplay and release date will be announced at a later time. For more information about Star Wars: The Old Republic and to sign up for future product updates, please visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com.

, , .

117 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Dan Harris says:

    Well I for one saw this coming a parsec off.

    Can’t wait.

  2. TooNu says:

    Glad to see a news post about this :) I been waiting all day, checking sites all frikking day. It sounds pretty cool, I am sure it will be better by the time of release and it’s Bioware…have they ever released a bad game? KOTOR, Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dale. Some of my favourite games :)

    Can’t wait.

  3. Dan Harris says:

    But will it be canon? That’s the question. Has to fit into Wookiepedia’s timeline, or the angry internet men will be, well, angry.

  4. BorderlandsGuide says:

    George Lucas, you’re already a billionaire. Why do you keep trying to squeeze every last penny out of your franchises?

    Please do The Old Republic better than The Force Unleashed. The Star Wars name still has a small iota of remaining reputation. Try to live up to it.

  5. jalf says:

    have they ever released a bad game? KOTOR, Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dale. Some of my favourite games :)

    Yes, they have. In fact, I’d say at least 50% of their games have been bad if you don’t belong to the segment of the population for whom the D&D license *automatically* translates into “bestgameevar”

    Anyway, I’m disappointed they haven’t answered the Jedi Question… How the hell are they gonna handle jedi? Oh well, it can’t go any worse than SWG, and SWG was fun. So overall, I’m looking forward to this. :p

  6. AlexW says:

    Didn’t KotOR use a Star Wars RPG system rather than a direct D&D one?

    And clearly they will handle Jedi by making them significantly weaker than everyone else to account for the fact that there will be more Jedi than stars in the Universe.

  7. Noc says:

    I’ll confess, my optimism kind of took a dive after reading the “fourth pillar” bit. It appears that they completely missed the EVE boat (“MMOs are about creating interesting player interactions!”) and decided to go the “shoehorn a single-player campaign-ish experience into a persistent multiplayer world” route. Which has never, ever ever gone well.

    I don’t want to start bashing a game before I know more than the vaguest things about it, but DEVELOPERS:

    Your greatest resource in an MMO is your players! They are important, because they are dynamically creating content for every other player that comes into contact with them. This is why full, busy MMOs keep getting fuller and busier, and empty ones slide off the map.

    Using the players as a resource to make the OTHER players experiences more fun is a cool thing to do! Designing a game to cater to each player individually as if the others aren’t there is squandering that resource! Not only does it make for a worse game, it’s less efficient; if you set up the framework for player interaction, they’ll create your content for you, and will keep creating it indefinitely . . . but if you just provide a series of missions and quests for them to run through, they’ll use up your content quicker than you can make it.

    It is the difference between having two people race, and having two people run on parallel treadmills.

  8. Cold says:

    Ah, I love KOTOR, but this is going to be a disaster. I can see it, I can see it in my mind… killing Revan, looting his Lightsaber of Doom + 9, and then he respawns in 10 minutes ='(

  9. suibhne says:

    @TooNu: Bioware didn’t make any of the Icewind Dale games.

    What strikes me as…interesting?…about this announcement is that they’re focusing on “innovating” the MMO space by focusing on some of the things that Bioware does least well – viz., complex narratives with branching, and story-driven stuff on a smaller level. (They often do okay with the macroscopic “epic” story stuff; where they fail is the smaller-scale stories of individual quests or characters, as RPS pointed out really cannily a month or so back.) Otoh, “Star Wars morality” is probably closer to “Bioware morality” than any other fictional setting save the Bible, so maybe some of Bioware’s narrative/creative weakness will be mitigated.

    Basically, it seems to me that Bioware’s strengths are tailored to single-player experiences and not communal, massive game design. And their weaknesses may end up being far more exposed in an MMO than a single-player RPG.

  10. Devin says:

    Jalf: You’ve played KOTOR, right? They’ve got jedi all over the place, and while they prolly did have an edge over the non-jedi party characters, it wasn’t decisive. I think they can handle the jedi. They’re not stuck with the post-Empire-takeover “no jedi in canon but players want jedi” dilemma that was half (well, 30% maybe) of the problem in the SWG case.

  11. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    I’ll repost my comments from the forum which were based of the 10 minute interview over at Gamespot: ( http://uk.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/starwarstheoldrepublic/video/6199708 )

    They mention story a lot, which is something inevitable for Bioware, however I fear they will hit the same wall of any MMO, that you ultimately can’t change the world. One point that may redeem this though is that they seemed to suggest that a lot of this story was your character’s story, and that changes may have long reaching reprecussions. This could be extrodinarily interesting, if say the chance to backstab someone at level 3, comes back to haunt you as you play.

    They also suggested that dark-side/light-side will be split from the sith/republic factions. This could be especially interesting if it also allows people to change faction. It might also prove interesting if you could turn on other members of your party in the middle of an ‘instance’ (Or however they approach it) although I can also see how this would be annoying.

    Not sure how they’ll cope with having companions, It’ll look silly is everyone is running arround with their own HK-47 and Carth.

  12. Paul B says:

    But will you be able to play as a Jawa – that’s the question. ;)

  13. BrokenSymmetry says:

    @suibhne: I don’t agree that Bioware can not do small-scale stories in RPGs. Jade Empire did not have a great story for its main arc, but it had lots of very well-told side quests. Quests like “The drowned orphans”, or “Aishi the Mournful Blade” in Jade Empire were very poignant short stories. This was precisely why the much less interesting side-quests in Mass Effect were such a disappointment.

  14. Larington says:

    I dunno, there are approaches you can possible take to mitigate the problem. Having different kinds of Jedi and forcing the player to specialise (Diplomatic consular, fighting defender, other style of fighting agressor), then go to great lengths to make the other kinds of character more compelling/interesting.

    Then tweak to adjust for players not knowing what they want.

  15. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    I have just noticed that I seem to like the word interesting a bit too much, especially as I seem to be using it to apply to ideas which probably aren’t interesting at all.

  16. Weylund says:

    Meh. Make Jedi Academy in massive online form – where all you do is duel other players who lead AI armies in dynamic campaigns built around gigantic clashes that end in climactic lightsaber battles.

    Seriously. Please do that, and stop trying to shoehorn people into the Star Wars universe as anything other than uber-powerful Jedi who need a good, physics-based, cinematic battle constantly raging.

    I’d pay $30 a month for something like that.

  17. Dinger says:

    Oh, Tartan? You mean, like cut-n-pasting stuff?

    The opening up of LAN play is particularly welcome, I think you’d agree. I actually think a future true Multiplayer demo would also help the game down the line, but that’s clearly speculation. I kinda think it’d be an idea to push that MP demo later, after the Christmas chaos has calmed down a little, but I’m just theorise.

    About this Bioware thing? We’ll see. Again, narrative may be the biggest cost item on the current money-making MMOs, but that’s not necessarily the way forward.

  18. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Yes, there’s not really a “Jedi Question” in the time of the Very Old Republic. At the very least, there’s still plenty of Jedi to go around back then.

    But still. Whatever happened to finishing the KOTOR main trilogy?

  19. Him says:

    Every Bioware game I’ve played from Neverwinter Nights onwards has left me cold. Having read the press release for Old Republic, I see no end in sight to this trend.

  20. Mo says:

    Not really have an opinion on the game itself, but I really like the art style. Very stylized.

  21. Mo says:

    Err, I meant “Don’t”. As in, “Don’t really have an opinion …”

  22. Sebastian says:

    What frightens me is that the Lucas Arts Exec said “we have experience about what players want in a Star Wars game and bring that to the table”. Hope not.

  23. Ryx says:

    “A MMO”?

    Fix that.

  24. Fumarole says:

    So, clearing Gungans out of a Cantina cellar at level one eh? Count me out.

  25. reaver says:

    If you’re going to base an MMO on story it’s going to have to be a loooong one. Thousands of hours.

  26. Garrett says:

    KotOR doesn’t directly use D&D’s rules, but it is heavily derived from it. KotOR uses the rules of the Star Wars Role Playing Game, which is based on the d20 System, in turn based on Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. According to Wikipedia “Most game mechanics [of the Star Wars RPG] are familiar to players of Dungeons & Dragons and other d20-based games”.

    I certainly expect The Old Republic to be marketed as “the first d20 MMO!” or something along those lines to help draw in the P&P fan base. Wizards has been preparing for such a crossover for a long time now; they will be offering an online multiplayer environment called the D&D Game Table as part of the upcoming 4th Edition. It features text chat, hotkeys, and even has a subscription fee of some sort.

  27. Corbeaubm says:

    I’d be more impressed if their site functioned properly. Give me a basic website that functions over a gimmicky animated pile any day.

  28. Rath says:

    Cameo appearance from Jolee Bindo please.

  29. PaulMorel says:

    Like many others, I got burned soooooo bad by SWG, that I can’t possibly get excited for this.

    Yeah, I love Bioware. Yeah, I loved KOTOR (and didn’t hate the sequel). Yeah, I enjoy Star Wars, like any self-respecting nerd.

    Still, the cynicism that was implanted in me by the massive fail of SWG is impossible to remove. It’s why I didn’t buy a PS3 (SWG = by Sony), and it’s why I will continue to be more excited for Heroes Online than for this.

  30. cyrenic says:

    I’d really like to see someone pull all sorts of innovation out of their backside and do story well in an MMO. Something tells me Bioware isn’t going to be the one to do it though. We’ll see how they do in 2010 (I’m guessing :D).

  31. Colinmarc says:

    Wait, someone help me with my old republic lore here. This would be… before the Mandalorian war and Revan? Fuck, I wanted to play as a Mandalorian merc. More accurately, Canderous.

    Wait, it says 300 years afterwards. After the exile? A second Sith army? Help, I’m confused.

  32. Nick says:

    Wait a second…

    ““Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the most critically acclaimed Star Wars game in LucasArts history and a preeminent example of our company’s interactive storytelling heritage,” said Darrell Rodriguez, President of LucasArts.”

    Our company? They had pretty much fuck all to do with the storytelling in KOTOR (hence it not being shite like every LucastArts game since I don’t know when).

  33. NegativeZero says:

    @Colinmarc:
    There’s a timeline on wookiepedia. Seems to indicate that the actions of the Exile in KotOR II signalled the end of the Sith purge of Jedi. One assumes that she (the canon Exile is female) and her apprentices formed a new Jedi Order, since Revan at that point was tooling around somewhere with Bastila. The timeline has a 450-year gap after the Exile’s entry into the canon before we see an entry about a Jedi being expelled from the order, changing his name to Darth Desolous, and forming a new Sith Empire that slaughters a ton of Jedi. I’d almost guarantee that this is where the MMO is set, because Desolous is a new character that Lucasfarts have made up as the boss in one of the Jedi Temple levels in the Wii version of The Force Unleashed.

    As for the Mandalorians, I see no reason to assume you couldn’t be one. They’re one of the cooler parts of the Old Republic setting, for one thing, and their order survives past the films and into the New Jedi Order canon as well. They’re definitely still around at the beginning of the New Sith War (about 1000-1500 years after the KotOR period) and Canderous’ being titled ‘Mandalore the Preserver’ sort of indicates that his rallying them back together after the defeat of Mandalore the Ultimate by Revan was successful.

    I am such a fucking nerd :(

  34. SwiftRanger says:

    Looks worse than JKII.

  35. Premium User Badge

    zak canard says:

    No Howard the Duck MMO? I’m disappointed.

  36. SPEEDCORE says:

    Sadly the only way this game will be good is if George isn’t involved :(

  37. Marianna says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    *sobs*

  38. kenoxite says:

    See? It wasn’t that hard to say, Bioware. We all knew it already.

  39. Larington says:

    I must admit I share the sentiment that since Baldur’s Gate and the gradual switch to 3D, bioware have been losing something.
    Something important.

    That said the first Knights of the Old Republic seemed like a return to form, but the gameplay mechanics did feel slightly odd for reasons I’m sadly unable to quantify.

  40. Jim Rossignol says:

    @ Noc

    it appears that they completely missed the EVE boat

    They don’t even believe the boat exists. The entire MMO development community is deliberately ignoring Eve. 99% of developers have not played it, and do not understand why it is significant. They have played World Of Warcraft, and their imaginative projects continue onward from there.

  41. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Tartan Lego Watchman

  42. Premium User Badge

    Morph says:

    Does this mean they’re not making Baldur’s Gate 3?

    Awww.

  43. cassus says:

    This is going to be Age of Conan 2.. Singleplayer game with a chatbox. Why not just make KOTOR with a coop mode where you can find other players in a lobby, oh wait, that’s what it’s gonna be, but done badly…

    Would be far more fun if that was what they set out to do. Once they cross the MMO barrier they have to go one further and end up in a wasteland of: mmo..no.. sp rpg, no wait.. mmo.. no.. no open world, so .. what the hell is this game??

    Do not have high hopes for this. And by the way, the kotor games are 95% plot and 5% actual gameplay. How that is going to work out in an MMO setting i have no idea.

    Party hey guys wait up, i still haven’t read all the text. I’m on page 3
    Party Whaaat? You read too slow, gtfo!!11
    You have been removed from party.
    2. Trade Slow readzor LFG!!

    Sorry to be so negative.

    – The voice of reason.

  44. MisterBritish says:

    Think Interplay has the Baldur’s Gate license anyway. ‘Project Jefferson’ was BG3 but it got canned a while back.

    Dunno if I like the character style, but it’s far too early to judge proper.

  45. cassus says:

    Crud.. the lower part of my rant i wrote names in < tags.. the names didn’t show.. hehe.

    Jedi112: hey guys wait up, i still haven’t read all the text. I’m on page 3
    Skywalkrxxoxx: Whaaat? You read too slow, gtfo!!11
    You have been removed from party.
    Jedi112: Slow readzor LFG!!

    There.

  46. Malagate says:

    The most important question regarding any Star Wars based MMO, will I be able to play as a sith wookie?

    If not, then I don’t care for this game.

  47. StalinsGhost says:

    I’m somewhat indifferent towards the announcement. If they actually manage to implement a decent story into the mix which MMOs have failed dramatically to do so far, it might stand a chance. Companions might prove interesting too I guess.

    But so far all I’m left thinking is “where is KOTOR III”, and “where can I find Jolee Bindo in it”?

  48. Lu-Tze says:

    And despite them being awesome in KOTOR, I bet they wont let you play Droids.

    Yes, I want to be something like G0-T0. Or the lovable T3-M4. HK-47 if they demand I be humanoid (yawn).

  49. Bobsy says:

    Hrmph. I’ll say this at the outset: this game needs to break new ground within the MMO genre. It can’t just reskin WoW or Everquest and expect success. By which I mean the standard take-quest-do-quest-level-up system simply won’t cut it. In order to succeed TOR (I think I like the acronym) has to have a bevy of new ideas and… I’m not yet convinced it will.

    Breaks new ground in storytelling? Eve broke new ground in story telling. So did Elite/Frontier. So did Total War. And no-one wrote those stories. They just happened.

  50. Dan says:

    To those saying that you can’t “change the world” in an MMO: play the new WoW addon when it’s released. There’s several questlines where you quite literally change the world, and the effects are permanent. It’s ingenious the way in which Blizzard do this (they’re calling it “phasing” technology) and it’s incredibly effective in making the player feel an important part of the story.

    I love most Bioware games, so I’ll set my hopes to “moderate” that this will turn out well, and await proper previews…