Obsidian Hoping To Work With EA/BioWare On Star Wars

By Nathan Grayson on May 8th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

We now live in a world where The Sims: Star Wars or Need for Speed: Tosche Station could become things. I’m not saying it’s likely (though the former would not shock me in the slightest), but Star Wars is under new management, so who knows? For now, all we can say for sure is that BioWare, DICE, and Visceral are actively adding their own chapters to the space opera, but we won’t see results from those initial efforts until at least mid-2014 – and much later, in all likelihood. You’ll remember, however, that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II developer Obsidian also has a rather ambitious idea floating around, and – last we heard – it was about to lay it before the greatest Sith Lord of them all: Mickey Mouse. So then, what happened there? And where does Obsidian’s new Star Wars RPG end up now that EA’s pulling the strings? I got in touch with Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart to find out.

First up, Disney. Turns out, the developer never actually ventured into the hallowed halls of the House of Mouse. The reason? Things were simply too unstable at the time.

“As for Disney, we didn’t end up talking with them directly, since we were waiting to see what might happen with the license as a whole,” Urquhart explained to RPS.

Now, however, all the pieces have fallen into place, and Urquhart’s ready to see if there’s room for Obsidian in EA’s master plan.

“We are certainly going to try,” he said. “We would love to work on another Star Wars game, and if it was possible for us to hook up with BioWare and EA to do so, that would be pretty amazing.”

No kidding. By most definitions, that’d be an RPG “getting the band back together” tale for the ages – though I don’t think anyone can really deny that Obsidian and BioWare have evolved in very different directions since BioWare and Black Isle’s dynamic duo days. If anything, I imagine they’d stick to their own separate Star Wars projects, given that they’re both fairly large studios. But with EA ultimately calling the shots, I really have no idea what the final product would look like.

Also, EA already put three developers on Star Wars. I know this is EA we’re talking about, but even they have an over-saturation point. I’d love for Obsidian to get a second crack at George Lucas’ revered realm of glowstick battles and elite clone commandos who are functionally blind, but the odds don’t exactly seem stacked in their favor. Does anyone know if The Force has a business division? I know someone who could use it right about now.

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86 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Drayk says:

    I don’t think Bioware can do anything good with Star wars anymore. The old republic fiasco proves it.

    They should really let Obsidian handle the story. KOTOR 2 is the last Star wars game i enjoyed (though i liked some combat parts of the force unleashed).

    • BTAxis says:

      The first force unleashed was decent, I thought. It fit in well with the Star Wars canon and it felt like Star Wars. The second game though… I like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    • Guvornator says:

      Um, they’ve only made 2 Star wars games, so that “anymore” seems a bit harsh. Plus Star Wars: The Old Republic was their first MMORPG ever, so there were bound to be issues.

      Personally I’d like to see a proper Star Wars RPG, with none of this “Old Republic” business. Given that the Luke, Han and Chewie gang could basically be described as Battlemage, Rogue and Fighter it’s sort of weird no-one has ever thought of this…

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        Lacero says:

        It was also made by an entirely different team in a different country.

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        JamesTheNumberless says:

        I agree but I can’t see it happening. The problem with the original Star Wars setting is that there’s a very rigidly defined timeline of major events that you have to fit around. Although games like X-Wing and Tie Fighter and Dark Forces did that brilliantly – in an RPG, people are going to want to play a Jedi, and there just isn’t any room for them unless you rewrite the story of Luke Skywalker. That’s just how it is, largely because of the prequels spamming the screen with lightsabers at every opportunity, the majority of people (and let’s face it, EA/Disney will make games for a mass market!) are going to be disappointed by a Star Wars RPG or action game if it doesn’t let them fight with a lightsaber at some point.

        The Old Republic setting is good because it’s a setting in the Star Wars universe where you can more or less make up whatever you want without conflicting with the established cannon and this is the kind of freedom you need for a high concept space-opera RPG. I can see Obsidian being allowed to do a sequel, or DLC, for a Star Wars RPG – but having to work within constraints established by EA/Bioware.

        • Guvornator says:

          If Yoda can show up in Vodaphone ads, then someone can re-write the Luke Skywalker story. Besides, unless there was a bit in the films where Luke was shooting Jawas in the face whilst jumping from platform to platform, I think we can safely say that videogame-wise the canon is pretty much fucked…

        • Brun says:

          They could just use the New Republic (i.e. post-Return of the Jedi) setting, much like Dark Forces/Jedi Knight did. It still has that Original Trilogy feel but without locking you into that timeline. With it, you avoid the Jedi problems (the order is re-established and training new recruits) without having to rewrite anything.

    • bleeters says:

      I don’t know, the list of things I feel The Old Republic did wrong tends to mostly be mmo features, combat mechanics and the choice of engine. The actual writing and class stories I’ve really enjoyed, for the most part.

      • Rollin says:

        I have to agree, the main problem was that it was an MMO. The second biggest problem was that it was what they described as a “traditional” MMO, otherwise translated as a generic rip off of every preceding MMO with very little innovation.

        Given that EA is the source of all evil, I would guess they were commanded to make a WoW clone because it made commercial sense.

      • Narzhul says:

        I disagree completely. The writing and dialogue was mostly garbage. It was so cheesy, stretched out and exaggerated I couldn’t take the stories seriously at all. The alignment choices didn’t make any sense half the time, and it was always black and white, completely kicking the previous 2 games’ writings in the face.

        The voice acting also underlined the game’s mediocrity. The only decent voice acting in the whole game was Grey Delisle via female Bounty Hunter and Jennifer Hale with Master Shan. The rest was mediocre or just plain bad. Maybe they were just rushing the voice actors through the (terribly written) lines, I don’t know, but that’s how it came off. Dialogue reuse got tiresome reaaaally quickly too.

        The game is so terrible even coop with friends can only take me so far.

        • bleeters says:

          You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe for a moment that you played all eight class stories, and can thus make any comment about the quality of the entirity of the writing.

          • Juan Lebedev says:

            If you have to play through all eight stories in order to find examples of good writing… That’s pretty terrible.

          • Narzhul says:

            Not all 8, obviously, but I’ve seen enough because I follow my group members to their class missions.

        • Voronwer says:

          Jennifer Hale is actually also the female trooper. I found most VA pretty decent, to be honest. No, I haven’t played all the classes, but I do have come in contact with a good chunk of them. Grey Delisle and Jennifer Hale stand out, yes, but they’re not the only good ones. The only real main PC VA that gets annoying is the female inquisitor. Most companions are pretty solid as well. I think they did a good job with their VA. Yes, some of the NPCs might have been better, but that’s a problem in most games.

          While the generic missions everyone gets to do are less interesting, I think overall the stories are pretty well done. I especially like how the stories are tied together if you play more. You get companions from different classes that are linked together. Stories that you get to see the other side of. I think they did a good job with the story writing for such a huge game. Is some of it cheesy and cliché? Yes, but not all and there is some excellent writing going on there.

          • Narzhul says:

            I don’t know, I find it to be a very poor depiction/writing of something from Star Wars. I’m actually pretty lenient on Star Wars extended universe content and writing, I mean hell I even liked all the prequels, or even the animated series. But Swtor is just, ugh. Personal taste I guess? But I really don’t understand when people say Swtor’s story is good.

            And on the voice acting, the player characters other than Delisle and Hale are eh, okay I guess. It’s the NPCs, be they in minor quest or the story quests, that I found to be pretty mediocre or just bad. A lot of games may not have the *best* voices, but I’ve never really seen it this bad all across the game.

            I just feel like they overreached on making the game as large as it is, and so stretching out the content and quality way too much.

    • BwenGun says:

      I don’t get the amount of hate and vitriol TOR gets, sure it wasn’t a great MMO. It followed too closely to the wow formula and didn’t try to do it’s own thing. But at the same time, MMORPG elements aside I quite enjoyed the game. Admittedly I only played the Imperial Agent storyline, which by all accounts was the best of the bunch. But still, it was fun, cool and at times even interesting. Largely because playing James Bond for the bad guys is quite amusing.

      • Flamewalker says:

        Wait. So although you only played the Imperial Agent storyline, you think it is the better than the others? Without having experienced them?

        • Voronwer says:

          That seems to be the general opinion. I’ve yet to finish the IA, but I have seen most of it since I did an entire playthrough with a friend, I can attest that from what I’ve seen, this story is very well done. Much better than say the Jedi Knight where you get a more generic hero story.

        • BwenGun says:

          I should say I only played IA to the end, I did start a Sith and Jedi character, but I got bored rather quickly after the starting planet, largely because I didn’t particularly like the story but also because it was an MMO and aside from the class story missions I was just repeating stuff I’d already done once before but with a more interesting character.

      • aliksy says:

        Every single thing about SWTOR was bad. Every. Single. Thing.
        Old timey mmo combat. Animations out of sync with events.
        Boring, uninspired, indistinct skills.
        Stretched out stories with very few (if any) meaningful decisions. Ooh, I can pick if I’m aggressive or neutral in this conversation! Watch as nothing changes ever as a result!
        Gear treadmill.
        Hit point bloat.

    • HisDivineOrder says:

      After KOTOR2 (buggy and incomplete), Obsidian went on to do Alpha Protocol (buggy, incomplete), Dungeon Siege 3 (buggy), Fallout: New Vegas (buggy, incomplete), and by then Sega gave up on them in the hopes that Gearbox might do better with their Aliens game. And then THEY too gave Sega a buggy and incomplete game.

      Poor Sega.

      The point though is that Obsidian is the very last studio I’d trust with anything important. You can say many things about Mass Effect 3, but buggy and incomplete is not one of them. I’m pretty sure they could make a KOTOR3 that was great as long as they stay away from trying to make the next WoW.

      • wrestledwithgod says:

        KotOR 2 was supposed to have an extra year of development; Sega had no idea what direction they wanted AP to take; FONV was on Gamebryo with only two years of development time. I think Obsidian’s reputation as a terrible developer is somewhat undeserved. We’ll have to see how Project Eternity does, I suppose, seeing as they have full control now.

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          Jonfon says:

          New Vegas was buggy for sure. But I’m not sure where the incomplete is coming from? Plus in fairness any Gamebyro game is buggy, it appears to be some universal law. It wasn’t any worse (for me) than Oblivion and less bugtastic than Skyrim turned out.

          Evidence would suggest that either Gamebyro and/or ZeniMax scheduling has a lot to answer for with regards to bugs in the Elder Scrolls / Fallout line-ups.

          • wrestledwithgod says:

            Freeside and the Strip both had large amounts of content cut due to memory issues, and the game was originally going to contain several Legion settlements. Still a fantastic game, easily comparable to anything Bioware or Bethesda have churned out.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Due to memory issues means Consoles are to blame, not Obsidian

      • Werthead says:

        “KOTOR2 (buggy and incomplete),”

        Because of LucasArts. Obsidian asked LucasArts for an extra six months or so to make the game. LucasArts said yes, but then reneged on the deal and demanded the game in the original timeframe, meaning Obsidian had to drop everything and work like maniacs to put the game out in the state it was (and whilst the game was certainly not polished, it was only incomplete in the sense a few side-stories were left dangling in mid-air; later patches and fixes solved many of these).

        “Obsidian went on to do Alpha Protocol (buggy, incomplete),”

        Agreed on this one. However, this was down to Sega taking Obsidian’s alpha code, refusing to let them do any more work on it, refusing to do any QA on it and then releasing it as-was. Obsidian themselves were rather unhappy about it, but it appears that whoever at Sega commissioned the game left and his successors didn’t give a flying toss about the game and just threw it out there with the minimum of fuss.

        “Dungeon Siege 3 (buggy),”

        DS3 was famously releasted in a non-buggy state. Whilst I’m sure some people had minor issues or incompatibilities, everything I’ve heard about the game (not played it myself, but several of my friends have) is along the lines of, “It’s a game by Obsidian that isn’t buggy! Amazing!”

        “Fallout: New Vegas (buggy, incomplete),”

        Less buggy on release than FALLOUT 3. Actually, less buggy now, as NEW VEGAS works on Windows 7 and FALLOUT 3 doesn’t (at least not very well). And certainly fixed since then. Also, not in the slightest bit incomplete. Where the heck did that come from?

        You also left out, “Fallout: New Vegas (probably the best RPG released in the last ten years and certainly far better than anything Bethesda has released in that time period).”

        “Poor Sega.”

        Poor Sega for poor oversight of Gearbox, yeah. I mean, it’s nice they let their studios get on with it without interference, but somewhere about the game being two to three years later, it may have dawned on them that they needed to find out what the hell was going on.

        “The point though is that Obsidian is the very last studio I’d trust with anything important. You can say many things about Mass Effect 3, but buggy and incomplete is not one of them.”

        Buggy, certainly not. But hundreds of thousands of people did feel the game was incomplete, giving poor to non-existence closure on the story and characters. That’s why there was a ‘minor fuss’ about it a year ago, to the point BioWare had to re-do the whole ending of the game.

      • Jimbot says:

        Poor Obsidian more like it. Publishers always screw them over. Lucasarts cuts down their development time, Sega sits on Alpha Protocol for several months and Bethesda handles Obsidian’s QA on New Vegas.

        For the record, Alpha Protocol wasn’t that buggy. It had some minor glitches and loading off the quick save was crappy but other than that the game was perfectly functional and complete. One of the most reactive games to come out in a long time.

    • Warskull says:

      The ideal KotoR game would be one where Bioware codes it and comes up with the underlying game mechanics, then Obsidian handles all the writing. Problem is this would require a commitment to quality that EA lacks.

  2. Mr. Mister says:

    I could definitively do with another Pod Racer. Too bad it probably wouldn’t get a PC release though.

    • Syt says:

      Second that. It was a fun racer for its time with its insane speeds, and I sunk a godawful lot of hours into it.

  3. SominiTheCommenter says:

    Screw that NFS, we Need for Speed: Podracing

    • Korvus Redmane says:

      Need For Speed: Sandcrawlers

    • Mr. Mister says:

      Need Force Pod.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Need For Speed: Tosche Unleashed, surely?

    • HisDivineOrder says:

      Need for Speed: Now This is Pod Racing, Woooohooooo!

      They could even sell a Collector’s Edition called, Need for Speed: Now This is Pod Racing, Woooohooooo!: Yippie Edition.

  4. N'Al says:

    Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please

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    Anthile says:

    I hope they are forcing this.

  6. SooSiaal says:

    In other news, Avalanche studios devs claimed they almost had a deal with Lucas Arts for making an open world star wars game…If only that happened :(

    • HisDivineOrder says:

      I’ve seen two studios attempt that. Neither worked out. I sincerely doubt that one would have, either.

  7. BTAxis says:

    I just hope someone will make a Star Wars game that isn’t 100% about light saber fights.

  8. Scilantius says:

    Mmm,… Republic Commando 2, anyone?

    I’d jump all over that if it happened – really enjoyed the first one back in the day. And it’s definitely not 100% about light-saber fights, BTAxis!

    • philbot says:

      Oh yes! I LOVED republic commando. It was brilliant. It doesn’t get mentioned enough, but it was a damn fine FPS. It was star wars, but without the lighsabers, and some excellent combat too. arrgh I must play it now!

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Yes. It was a marginally competent blaster elevated by the sublime simplicity and responsiveness of its squad controls. It really was a fine game that made you make tactical choices every time you entered a new room – where do my squad members go? What direction do they need cover from? Do I just let them do their own thing? Do I send a man to demolish that objective, or do I do it myself?

      It also made superb use of your three squadmates who each had strong personalities which left me talking at the screen while I was giving orders. “Okay… Fixer, go hack the terminal. Scorch, Sev, set up overlapping fields of fire and I’ll roam.”

  9. AJLeuer says:

    I think we’re missing a key factor here. Remember just a few weeks ago there was a big story about EA shutting down its EA Partners label? I think the message there is pretty clear: EA won’t be publishing for third party developers any more. Of course there’s no harm in Obsidian asking, but I think the prospects of them ever making another KOTOR are next to nil.

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      Surlywombat says:

      Partners was a specific programmer where they published games they didn’t hold the rights to. They will still be publishing 3rd party games.

  10. SanguineAngel says:

    Need for Speed: Tosche Station is actually a concept I could get behind. Of course if it were to ever come to pass I am sure the execution would be dire

  11. Dariune says:

    Am I the only one who would rather Obsidian didn’t work on a new Starwars?

    IMO any good that might come from Obsidian would be tainted by EA, (And possibly EAWare depending on the deal done)

    I like obsidian. They at least try to make good games (And sometimes succeed) where as EA and Bioware can’t see past the £££ signs covering their eyes.

    If this happens it will not end well. You read it here first (Unless someone else said it before me)

    • Vorphalack says:

      No, you ain’t. The last few Star Wars gaming project have been mostly garbage, and the taint of EA turns good developers and ideas into junk. I would also prefer it if Obsidian didn’t go there.

  12. Dowr says:

    A letter to EA:

    Dear EA, anything with ‘Star Wars’ in the title is going to make a gazillion ton of Earth bucks anyway, so at least put some kind of effort into your Star Wars games. You still worry about your reputation, don’t you?. Forget that; redundant question.

    • Low Life says:

      But that makes no sense. If anything with ‘Star Wars’ in the title is going to make a gazillion ton of Earth bucks anyway, why would they want to put any effort into it?

  13. Jimbo says:

    If not Star Wars, how about an Obsidian flavoured Gladius reboot? Turn-based swords with an added layer of Obsidian conversation. It plays to their strengths and XCOM has made turn-based ok again.

  14. BooleanBob says:

    How about a fortnite clone with playable Jawas?

    Or, an anything with playable Jawas.

    A dating sim with playable Jawas!

  15. PsychoWedge says:

    Hm, besides an Obsidian RPG or a podracer or a Republic Commando 2 or god forbid even a new space combat sim, I’d actually enjoy a SimCity type StarWars game for example. It’s a shame we will only get a Battlefield with different textures called “Battlefront: The R3awakening of the Return” and a Dead Space 3 with different Textures and the “RPG elements” of Mass Effect 3 thrown into the mix called “Star Wars: Resurgence of the Force” with the second undertitle being something like “Battle of the Insurrection”

  16. Premium User Badge

    Revisor says:

    Please quit that Star Wars hype bullshit already. It’s one of the worst scifi series ever. Worse than Power Rangers.

    Work on something original, or cooperate with any of the great scifi authors that have released their books since the 70’s.

    • Premium User Badge

      Surlywombat says:

      I think you will find it is actually better than power rangers.

    • Rollin says:

      wat is this I don’t even…

      • Premium User Badge

        Revisor says:

        I hate Star Wars, it’s total bullshit, defying physics, logic and fun. The embodiment of all this bullshit are their pew pew lasers audible in space and visible by human eye. And of course “laser sabers” that not only stop the light at about 1.5m from the hilt but also deflect physically upon contact.

        • The Godzilla Hunter says:

          How about this: classify Star Wars as Fantasy, not science fiction. It really is closer to fantasy, and only gets lumped in with sci-fi because, space.

          Better?

          If not, try not taking everything so seriously and realize that there is such a wide range of sci-fi/fantasy stories that everyone’s tastes can be catered too – and that this is a good thing.

        • Nick says:

          What’s this, implausable things happening in Science Fiction? Call the authorities, for hard sci fi is the only thing allowed to be called sci fi.

        • karthink says:

          > it’s total bullshit, defying physics, logic and fun.

          I’d take fun out of that sentence.

        • SooSiaal says:

          You must be a really fun guy to watch movies with..

        • Brun says:

          Your mistake was thinking that Star Wars is science fiction.

          Hint: It’s actually fantasy.

  17. Abendlaender says:

    I would love to see that but since Bioware is working on something SW related (and I guess it’s going to be a…an? RPG) I don’t have much hope.

  18. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    How about this for a crazy thought; an Obsidian-made TNG-era Star Trek RPG? It’s a property that’s well suited to talky-fighty-spacey-difficultchoices-RPG trappings.
    The relevance of Star Wars has well and truly withered away from my mind, but Star Trek still means something. Even if that something is sometimes covered in a thick, cheap slice of cheese.

  19. sabasNL says:

    Electronic Arts and studios,

    Please do not fuck this license up.
    Take enough time and make the best people work on a new StarWars game.
    When the quality is decent, profit is assured.

    Sincerely,
    A StarWars fan looking forward to buying a quality game.

    • Rollin says:

      Dear Star Wars Fan,

      We will mostly focus on generic action games for consoles churned out by the hundreds. 50% of these will then have clumsy PC ports released a year later. However, we are not neglecting PC gamers; there will be a Facebook game featuring Jar Jar Binks.

      Kind Regards,

      EA

  20. aliksy says:

    Bioware can go to hell. I’d rather have telltale games make a story-based game in Star Wars than slog through another Bioware “here’s some dialog.. here’s some filler combat..” disappointment.

    • karthink says:

      This. The dialog/cutscenes and combat segregation gets stronger with each successive Bioware game. Their focus on making combat skippable explains that they think of each bit as a chunk you can safely remove without affecting the narrative in any significant way.

      Or that they’re designing the narrative so this is possible, which is the same thing.

  21. Brun says:

    Meh, Obsidian needs to get with Bethesda and work on TES VI.

    EDIT: I take that back. I would want this, but everything they do ends up being half-baked, so they should stay away from the TES series.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jonfon says:

      Not like the smooth launches of Oblivion and Skyrim.

      Although actually I’d personally prefer Obsidian to give me more Fallout and maybe expansions for Elder Scroll games. They might actually have dialog and character then.

      (Note I love Beths games for the sheer scale and explorability of them, but they’re always pretty bland when it comes to the actual quests, storylines and the characters occupying them).

    • Werthead says:

      Obsidian have said they wouldn’t mind doing an ELDER SCROLLS game, a bit like how NEW VEGAS was related to FALLOUT 3 (they’ve also proposed a NEW VEGAS 2 – in essence – to Bethesda, which I think is much more likely about FALLOUT 4 comes out). Obviously they’re fishing for more work, but it’d also be handy for Bethesda to be able to release an ELDER SCROLLS game more than once every five years, so they might consider it.

      That said, whilst I loved NEW VEGAS I’m not sure I’d want Obsidian to become a company best-known for producing glorified (if awesome) expansions for Bethesda products. They’ve already got a bit of a reputation for producing sequels to other people’s franchises, so I’m hoping PROJECT ETERNITY changes that.

      • Brun says:

        No, I’d prefer Bethesda take The Elder Scrolls series slowly, and that they wait until the next-generation consoles are out before working on a new one. Maybe then they’ll actually use a new engine instead of a Gamebyro that they disassembled, cleaned up a bit, and then put back together.

        • Werthead says:

          FO4 is apparently using the ‘Creation’ (i.e. ‘Gamebryo+10% shininess upgrade’) Engine as well, but I imagine they’ll be using a new, next-gen engine after that. Well, ‘hope’, more than imagine. I can see them just upgrading Gamebryo again and claiming it’s a whole new thing.

  22. Zepp says:

    Will there be gay romances then?

  23. SilverDrake says:

    Yes, please. I had a TSL installed recently – again.

    The only thing I hope they won’t be made publishing incomplete game.

  24. Panda Powered says:

    I want a new Yoda Stories please.