Developer Blogs

07.15.2013

KOTOR – 10 Years Later

I’m James Ohlen, Studio Creative Director at BioWare. You probably know me as the Game Director on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, but I’ve also been the lead designer of older BioWare games such as Baldur’s Gate 1+2, Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age and Star Wars™: Knights of the Old Republic™.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic turns ten years old today. Due to the influence KotOR had on the vision of The Old Republic, we’re celebrating the day in several ways. We’re putting a KotOR related player title up for sale in the Cartel Market for 10 Cartel Coins. In addition, we’re giving away free Cartel Coins on Facebook at 10:00 am today and throughout the day worldwide, but that is not all! For more, make sure to read our announcement here.

I’d like to take the opportunity to discuss the influence Knights of the Old Republic had on SWTOR.

Back in 2006, when we first discussed doing a MMORPG we threw around a lot of different ideas. We wrote up pitches for a number of other very popular intellectual properties. Some pitches never made it past BioWare, while others went a little further.

We eventually decided on a Star Wars MMORPG set in The Old Republic era. Why? It was clear that SWTOR was what our fans wanted and the obvious best choice. Knights of the Old Republic is one of the games that defined what BioWare is to modern fans. It didn’t just influence SWTOR; most of the team that worked on it went on to create the Mass Effect franchise.

There are many reasons why Knights of the Old Republic resonated so much with fans. But a simple one was the fact that the Star Wars IP is a natural fit for RPGs. Since the first movie was released in 1977, fans have wanted to live in that universe. As children, a lot of you probably used action figures to create your own stories in the Star Wars galaxy. RPGs are just a more sophisticated way of immersing yourself in another world. Knights of the Old Republic also drew inspiration from the original trilogy. A lot of fans were looking for a story that evoked the spirit of the original trilogy and Knights of the Old Republic seemed to give them that. And of course there was the famous twist.

How did Knights of The Old Republic influence Star Wars: The Old Republic? We felt it was important to give fans an online world that drew inspiration from KotOR. The parts of KotOR we felt were most important to get integrate included:

  • Epic storytelling in The Old Republic era
  • Cinematic storytelling
  • The internal struggle between good and evil
  • Becoming a Jedi
  • Owning your own Millennium Falcon inspired starship
  • Traveling to many different worlds
  • Adventuring with companion characters that you cared about.

All of these were key elements that we knew we wanted included from the very start of development. The good news is that all of these elements are featured prominently in SWTOR. These features also make SWTOR unique amongst MMORPGs, and helped forge what has become one of the strongest game communities in the history of online RPGs.

Star Wars: The Old Republic has now become the primary representation of The Old Republic era to fans. Millions and millions of people have played it generating millions of hours of game play. Thousands of new fans try out the game every single month. It has provided more content and stories than all of the Star Wars movies and TV series combined. Until the launch of the new Battlefront game (and I’m just as excited as the rest of you about DICE creating a new Battlefront game), SWTOR will be the primary core interactive experiences in the Star Wars universe.

Ten years from its release, I think people will look back on the scope and quality of storytelling in SWTOR and realize its impact on popular culture. Considering how the SWTOR community is thriving right now, I think we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of SWTOR right here on the website!

James Ohlen
Studio Creative Director