Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II was utterly masterful. Sure, it had more rough edges than a Sarlacc Pit who's also a door-to-door woodchipper salesman, but the underlying tale mixed oppressive darkness, moral grays, and an eye for exactly what makes Star Wars tick to stirring effect. Personally, I think it far outstripped KOTOR 1, but to each their own. Naturally, though, I nearly grinned my face in half when Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart told me his Black-Isle-based collective is lobbying heavily to develop a new Star Wars RPG. "I would say it's within the top three pitches we've ever come up with," he told RPS during a recent interview. But wait, what about the EA-shaped Death Star hovering over The Old Republic? Well, Obsidian's new tale is set in a very, very different time period.
“There's a lot of different eras in Star Wars, and that's what we would focus on," Urquhart replied when I pointed out that The Old Republic's relative lack of success could have Disney seeing that license in a less than favorable light.
"We pitched a between-Episode III and Episode IV game [to LucasArts]. Because we think that timeframe is super interesting. It's the fall of the Republic, the extermination of the Jedi, it's Obi-Wan going off and making sure Luke is OK. You have the Sith, but you have the extermination of all Force users except for very, very few. So it was an interesting time to set a game, and you know, Chris Avellone came up with a really cool story.”
"We also latched onto it because it has elements people remember, but not the stories. It can just completely not involve [the movies]. It can tease them, but nothing else."
Of course, then a certain gigantic mouse fee-fi-fo-fummed along, unhinged its gargantuan plague ridden jaw, and swallowed Star Wars whole. So what happens now? Is Obsidian back at square one? Urquhart doesn't think so.
"It's something we're still hoping for, even with the Disney/Lucas stuff going on," he said. "It changes things a lot, but you know, we're gonna push on it. I would say it's within the top three pitches we've ever come up with. We really worked on it hard and distilled it down to these eight or ten pages that really sold the story and characters. Then we sold it off to LucasArts and got a call back later that day. They were like, 'This seems really cool. We want to talk to you guys, like, tomorrow about it.'”
"We haven't [talked with Disney yet]. We're kind of waiting for the smoke to clear. But that's one of my next big things to do. To kind of go over there and [get the ball rolling again]."
Granted, it might be more of an uphill battle than Urquhart anticipates. Disney, after all, opened its Star Wars salvo by saying that it'd rather focus on mobile and social games over console-y triple-A fare. But Urquhart thinks more than a little of the house of mouse's statement was simple posturing. Putting all your chips on console (and, by extension in this case, PC) doesn't sound good right now. But once the veil of silence surrounding new machines finally lifts, that might be a very different story.
So yes, a lot of things are up in the air, but Urquhart's confident. And I'm hoping to high heaven he's right to feel that way. Assuming it all does work out, though, here's hoping Obsidian actually gets to finish its ending this time.
Keep an eye out for the full interview - about the future of RPGs, the PC, and a certain post-apocalyptic series that I guess a few people like - very soon.