'"Companion characters--we want them to be more than pets," said creative designer James Ohlen. "We want them to be virtual friends. We want you to interact with them and become friends with them."
"You're gonna be able to customize your companion character in different ways," Ohlen continued. "Your companion characters are going to be leveling up and getting different equipment."
The designer also explained how players will actually shape the way their companion characters develop. "If you are a Sith, your companion character is going to develop a lot differently than if you leaned more toward the light side."
There will also be plenty of interaction between the player and the companions. "You'll be able to form friendships, romance companion characters, or even to trade them," added Ohlen."
1up.com covers the possiblity of a future console version of TOR:
'"We're definitely looking at the opportunity to bring the MMO experience to console, without question," Gibeau said when speaking to Eurogamer. (Frank Gibeau is president of the EA Games label) "We've got this product, and we've got Warhammer at play. So we're trying to look at the primary research required to understand how would you deploy it, what the client size looks like, how big is the back-end, what the play experience looks like... Once we've got some of those questions answered, we'll be able to decide which is the right play to go after."
When pressed whether he was specifically talking about the potential of console versions for both WAR and TOR (those acronyms fit together nicely, huh?), Gibeau replied, "They're both under consideration," although he also added, "We're not really in a place to commit or announce anything specific with regards to those." But by the sound of it, it sure seems as if there's a high probability we'll be seeing a console version of at least one of these games eventually."
UPDATE #2: More links...
IGN continues their coverage by diving into the story details:
"We kicked off our week of coverage by first looking at the way BioWare hopes to use story to drive the action, both in terms of the individual player narratives and the shared experiences driven by the game's social nature. Today, we're going to spend some time examining the overall history of the galaxy, exploring the two factions and the moral issues that players will face."
MTV Multiplayer talks with BioWare co-founder, Greg Zeschuk, who "Compares ?Star Wars? MMO Combat To ?WoW,? ?Age of Conan? And ?The Force Unleashed?." Excerpt below:
"MTV Multiplayer: Would you consider it action-oriented? More hands-on?
Zeschuk: That?s a tough one. I mean, I think the main goal, the key thing we?re trying to solve, is that?does it look, from the user?s perspective, that it could be cut from the movie? That?s the very first thing, and then how we got there?to certain degrees, it?s yet to be determined. We have a system that works and ?hey, it looks like the movie? but what do you to get there is the key next question. I don?t think we have a good answer for that yet. The way we tend to develop is we hit one goal and then we go, ?okay, let?s start iterating.?"
IGN talks TOR visuals with art director, Jeff Dobson:
"The biggest advantage to working in the Old Republic timeline, according to Jeff, is that the artists can be a bit freer in their artistic approach. This isn't like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings where gamers already have established expectations for the way things look. Still, it's important for the artists to be faithful to the few assets that do exist, and to maintain a consistent style when adding new elements."
According to LucasArts executive Tom Nichols, speaking with Eurogamer, Galaxies support will continue alongside Star Wars: The Old Republic: (via ClubJade.net)
"Nichols was speaking at the recent press event for Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently being developed by BioWare. "We have many other features planned to support Star Wars Galaxies," he told Eurogamer. "We see no reason why the two games can't exist together."'
Speaking of MMO's, Eurogamer lets us know that George Lucas has never played World of Warcraft. (via ClubJade.net)
IGN's final day of coverage on The Old Republic actually focuses on Galaxies via an interview with LucasArts producer Jake Neri and senior director of the online group Tom Nichols:
"IGNPC: What do you think the impact of Star Wars: The Old Republic will be? There's obviously a lot of overlap in terms of the communities of Star Wars fans and MMO players. How do you see the games being differentiated and how do you think the success of The Old Republic will affect Star Wars Galaxies?
Jake Neri: Well, I think there are a lot of differences between the games, from the obvious differences in the timeline and the setting and, as you learned down at BioWare, the focus on story, character and dialogue. Those really are key differentiating features between The Old Republic and Galaxies.
I think there is definitely going to be an impact but I think you'll find that a lot of Star Wars fans will still want to play Galaxies and a lot of them will want to play both games. Time will tell. When we launch the game we'll see exactly what will happen. Nobody has a crystal ball. I think the games are clearly different enough that the market can support both of them together. We've seen that with some of the other MMOs out there such as EQ1 and EQ2. Although similar, both of them have been able to carry on successfully."
MTV Multiplayer examines the lack of conesquences in gaming and how TOR will change things:
?Unlike a regular offline game, there?s no save,? said (BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk). ?When you?re sitting and waiting to make that hard decision, you can?t just save it and retry it. Once you?ve made it, you?re done. You?re going with whatever you did and it can come back to bite you or not. It?s actually a neat concept compared to what typically you see in story-based games where people can explore all the choices. In this one, once you make a choice, you?re done.?
Size matters not? Apparently that's not the case accodring to an article at io9.com: (via ClubJade.net)
"The size of your lightsaber. Promising that sabers will be customizable throughout the game, Dobson said that even though lightsabers (and all weapons in the game, in fact) will start out oversized for visual impact, they'll still be able to grow as you get more experience. "How can we show that my lightsaber is cooler than yours because I've been playing for three months?" he asked, before promising that the lightsaber you start the game with will definitely not be the one you'll have at the end."
"LucasArts passed over a video edit of the entire reveal presentation of BioWare MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic today, held in San Francisco last week. Watch it after the break.
The movie is nearly 20 minutes long, and contains large sections of talk from BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, as well as talk-throughs on art style and level design from senior developers at the studio.
There are several sections in there from LucasArts president Darrell Rodriguez.
And no: there?s no footage of gameplay. Two trailers were shown at the event - one on the history of the KOTOR franchise, and one showing early gameplay - but both have been edited out. Apparently there?s a movie exclusive deal in place with a US broadcaster, so no such luck for you, we?re afraid."
"The creation of new planets for the game started with the basics. "I'd tell [the designers], come up with two colors. What two colors is this planet based around?" Dobson said, admitting that this was as much the fine artist in him as the designer speaking. But keeping the palette simple helped differentiate all the different worlds in the game, and also helped the game be playable on older machines: "I want it to look right, and I want it to run on everyone's machine... It's a driving factor on everything we do that it's going to run on everyone's machine. When you only run on those high-end machines, I think you're shorting people."'
UPDATE #5: Got a couple of links pointed out to us by our friends at EUCantina.net...
Gamasutra interviews BioWare Austin lead writer, Daniel Erickson.
Games Radar lists 6 reasons why "The Old Republic is better than another KOTOR."
UPDATE #6: From a post at GamesIndustry.biz, EA Games president Frank Gibeau assures that Warhammer Online and The Old Republic can coexist:
'"The Warhammer customer base will overlap to a degree with Star Wars, but obviously you're bringing in millions of new customers with the Star Wars universe."
And talking about whether people had the time and money to invest in multiple MMOs, Gibeau was positive. "I think that in Asia you see more participation across more games, in the West traditionally it has been fairly monogamous in terms of you would basically look up one MMO and stay with it," he said."
UPDATE #8: According to a post at VideoGaming247.com, the action in The Old Republic is to be choreographed, in order to provide a more realistic and Star Wars-like action experience:
?Without a doubt,? he (BioWare chief Greg Zeschuk) told VG247 when asked if the game?s combat had been built from the ground up. ?If you recall some very specific things from the gameplay video, it was choreographed.
?One big difference, especially against the MMO space, is that typically everyone swings through each other. That?s the way it?s been done. It doesn?t look great for Star Wars.
?Star Wars is choreographed, it?s elegant; it?s big, powerful moves and lightning bolts flashing, but in a way that makes sense visually and aesthetically. One of the goals we have it to create this choreographed type of combat that looks as though it could be taking place in a Star Wars movie.?
UPDATE #9: Our friends at EUC point us over to the following links:
Bioware's Rob Chestney has updated his blog at SWTOR.com:
"What blew me away more than anything in those first few months was that this whole idea of story coming first? it wasn?t just talk. The storyline and narrative setting were the starting point of every discussion about design and even the conversations about art. Once we settled on Star Wars: The Old Republic, we started fleshing out the time period?we wrote timelines, faction summaries, visions for the planets we?d put in the game. It was a Star Wars: geek?s wildest dream! As we progressed, more writers joined the team, incredibly talented craftsmen, some were screenwriters, some were from pen-and-paper gaming, and some, like me, were really from totally different backgrounds. An amazing creative team formed, and some incredible stories were hashed out? and then rehashed out. The process for creating a narrative of BioWare standards is more thorough than you can possibly imagine. And that was before we even started writing dialogue! Talk about edits! The commitment to quality at BioWare and specifically on the writing team would blow your mind. And that commitment to quality only begins there. Just as the writing team has grown, and more than a dozen writers have now been involved, so have all the teams at BioWare Austin grown, and their passion and their commitment to quality is just as strong as it is on the writing team. When you play this game, you?ll experience the passion, and commitment we all have to making the best story-driven game in the world ? Star Wars: The Old Republic will speak for itself."
One of the World of Warcraft developers sees some potential in TOR here at 1up.com.
UPDATE #10:Allakhazam.com reports that 10 new concept art pieces have shown up on The Old Republic website. Click here to check them out!
?Daunted? I don?t know if I?d use that word,? said Nichols when asked if the task he faced was a nerve-wracking one.
?I?m bullish, I?m optimistic. I think it?s a huge opportunity for us, and for BioWare and EA.
?It is, in a sense, overwhelming sometimes when you think about it, when you think about the amount of work that we have to do, and the amount of content that we?re building, all the things you have to have in place to successfully launch a large-scale MMO: that?s a lot of work, absolutely.
?But we?re all looking forward to the challenge.?
UPDATE #12:Allakhazam.com interviews Bioware Community Manager, Seal Dahlberg:
Tamat: "Let?s start off with some basic information about the games storyline? Can you give us an overview of what?s happening in The Old Republic?"
Sean: "Well, after ending the very war he began - by defeating Darth Malak and destroying the Star Forge- Revan was welcomed back into the Jedi Order. He soon after departed for the Unknown Regions and some believe that he left on a solitary quest to defeat a long-hidden threat to the Republic. What exactly happened to Revan after that is yet a mystery but the Galactic Empire knew relative peace for hundreds of years.
Then without warning, the mighty Sith Empire launched a surprise assault and quickly captured key sections of the galaxy. Where did this Sith Empire come from? During the Great Hyperspace War, the Jedi believed they wiped out the Sith. Unbeknown to them, the last Emperor of the Sith escaped. They licked their wounds, grew in power, and after the next thousand years, learned about the Galactic Republic when two Jedi came upon them.
The Sith Empire returned with a vengeance and after numerous bloody battles, the Sith engaged the Republic in peace talks.
During these talks, the Sith actually sacked the Republic's capital planet Coruscant and held it hostage while the negotiations took place. And thus the Treaty of Coruscant was signed, giving the Sith control to several outlying star systems and leaving the Republic and Empire in a cold war of sorts."