E3 2011: Star Wars: The Old Republic - Exclusive Details on Raiding, Tatooine, Mounts and More

At E3 2011, Star Wars: The Old Republic will show off more content than ever before. We have the exclusive first details.

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All eyes are on Star Wars: The Old Republic. The massively multiplayer online game from Dragon Age and Mass Effect developer BioWare will attempt to offer a fully story-driven experience on a massively multiplayer scale, and at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, more details will be revealed than any other previous year. We sat down with writing director Daniel Erickson, lead flashpoint/raids/player-versus-player designer Gabe Amantangelo, and lead systems designer Damion Schubert to discuss what's planned for E3. We also discussed what's planned for after E3, including topics like high-level content, mounts, crafting, in-game economy, differences between player-versus-player and player-versus-environment conflicts, and space gameplay.

GameSpot: Give us an in-depth overview of what's planned for Star Wars: The Old Republic at E3 2011. What new content will be shown?

Daniel Erickson: We have a ton of new content at E3. We will have stations on the show floor for the first time, giving everyone hands-on [time] with Tatooine, a planet we've never shown. We'll have a first look at some boss fights and will be taking the wraps off our end-game content. We are also going to be debuting the grand conclusion to Blur's amazing CG trilogy and will have a few more surprises thrown in as well. It's going to be a big show!

GS: So, Tatooine will be shown at E3. What will this planet have to offer players of either faction?

DE: We're just going to set players in front of the game on Tatooine, give them a speeder, and let them run around and see our take on Star Wars' most iconic world. All stations will be on the Imperial side, with all four classes available--Sith warrior, Sith inquisitor, bounty hunter, and Imperial agent.

GS: We also understand that high-level content is something we'll start to see revealed. Give us an overview of the kinds of things you expect high-level characters will be doing in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

DE: Everything you'd expect in a AAA MMO but all with the BioWare dedication to storytelling, context, and immersion. If you've seen how different our flashpoints are from a typical dungeon or [how different] our war zones are from a normal PVP area, you'll have a good idea of what we're going to bring to the elder game.

GS: One of the most popular activities for high-level players in online games these days is to go on high-end raids in search of powerful loot and other rewards. Tell us about the raiding game in Star Wars: The Old Republic. How will it improve on the kinds of raid gameplay we've seen in other games?

There's nothing wrong with bringing a gun to a light saber fight.

Gabe Amantangelo: What you'd know as raids in other MMOs, we're calling "operations" in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Operations will be epic, multi-group events with settings and immersive gameplay inspired by scenes in the Star Wars movies. For examples, players will have to navigate the environment as a powerful Force wielder brings down the room around them; they'll have to work together to solve a code and fend off enemies while they're cornered, and so on.

Additionally, players will be able to enjoy operations as soon as they hit level 50. There will be varying difficulty modes, much like what is found in other BioWare games. The challenge, mechanics, and rewards will vary with the modes. So both the casual and hardcore player will be able to enjoy epic content alongside multiple groups of friends.

GS: We also understand that the team is ready to talk about personal mounts. What kind of mounts will players be able to commission? Any iconic Star Wars animal mounts, such as tauntauns or banthas? Any iconic vehicles like the speeder bikes we've already seen used for fast travel? Give us some specific examples. What purpose will mounts serve other than looking cool and helping players travel more quickly? Will some mounts have combat applications or provide specific bonuses, for instance?

Damion Schubert: Initially, we're just going with vehicles instead of animal mounts, although we definitely hope to get to the animals post-launch. We felt that, given a choice between the two, being on a vehicle felt more like Star Wars. The vehicles tend to be reminiscent of vehicles you've seen in the films, although it's a balancing act. As a designer, you want to be sure that the vehicles graduate in speed but also that the vehicles look appropriate for the speed at which they're travelling.

GS: BioWare has already experimented with "world arcs" in games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, where the events that took place in one story affect the situation in the next. How will world arc stories come into play in Star Wars: The Old Republic? How will the game let players change the situations of key characters or worlds while still remaining a massively multiplayer game in which other players may choose differently? Will instancing play a significant role here, for instance, generating one version of the universe for a player who chooses to spare Alderaan and another version for a player who chooses to destroy it? Give us a specific example.

This cannon is great for taking out ships; ground troops not so much.

DE: World arc events and choices will absolutely be reflected in later stories as the player goes forward, and instancing helps us achieve those classic role-playing game moments. That said, it's important to us that we never disconnect the players from each other. So you'll never have a point where you're standing in the same place as your friend but can't see each other or discover you're seeing the world two radically different ways.

GS: More specifically, how will the changing world of Star Wars: The Old Republic accommodate players from both factions who just happen to end up in the same area? How will the game treat areas that are currently inhabited by players of both factions? Will players of the opposing faction get some sort of alert? Will they be prompted to initiate an optional player-versus-player battle? How will players of different factions otherwise interact with each other?

GA: Players of opposing factions can almost always fight each other out in the open world, so long as they toggle their PVP flag. This flag will automatically be toggled "on" in designated PVP areas on a PVE server and in most areas on a PVP server. Players of opposing factions can also always queue up and find each other inside of matched team-versus-team war zones.

GS: We've seen a glimpse of the game's crafting in action in our most recent play-through and have even had a chance to send companions off on low-level crafting missions. But we're even more interested in the longer-term impact of crafting on the game and its economy. It just so happens that many players of a certain other Star Wars-themed MMO game who enjoyed that game's original economy are also highly curious. How is crafting planned to affect the economy in the game? Will it primarily serve as a money sink to curb inflation? How will crafted armor, weapons, and consumable items compare with those that players purchase from vendors or find as loot from either player-versus-environment encounters or ranked items from battlegrounds? Is the plan to have the best items in the game be crafted?

Robots plus fire is a winning combination.

DS: There are two ways to think about crafting: One is the delivery mechanism of the crafting system, and the second is the reward schedule. That is, how you do it, what you get from it, and for what cost. Much has been written about how you do it: Our crew skills system makes our companions the focal point of the crafting system--an area that we feel is pretty fun and unique. However, being sure that the rewards schedule is right is much more important to ensuring that crafting is a useful and important part of the economy.

Looking at this, we approached crafting as serving two audiences. One audience is the casual crafter--the guy who crafts for himself and who doesn't want to devote a lot of time or energy to crafting. This guy is going to find that for expending a reasonable amount of time and resources on doing so, he can generally get gear that is above par for his level. He can't make full sets of gear that are better--that would make every other way to get gear in the game obsolete--but he definitely has some "best in slot" gear throughout the leveling-up process and should be pleased by the results.

We wanted to give the dedicated crafter more than that. We have a lot of people who worked on crafting-centric MMO games and feel that dedicated crafters add a lot to the community as a whole. When looking at the problem, a good economy is about supply and demand, and therefore, for a dedicated crafter to have strong demand, he has to be able to supply schematics that are both rare and comparable or better in power than those provided by other item sources. We do this with a research system, where crafters can input a lot of time, energy, and resources in hopes of filling a hole in the market that they can service. In theory, it will drain a fair chunk of resources from the economy as a whole, but skilled social crafters should be able to turn a profit if they can generate that demand and set prices appropriately.

GS: While we know that space gameplay is currently planned to be a simple minigame at launch, we know that players will treat their individual ships as long-term housing and will likely be willing to sink large numbers of credits into sprucing up the insides (or outsides) of their ships. How much high-end customization of their ships will players be able to do? What kind of spaceship and space-related gameplay is planned for high-level characters?

DS: We have plans for ship customization, but we're not prepared to talk about it at this time.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about Star Wars: The Old Republic at E3 or about the game in general?

Not the most romantic first date, but certainly the most exciting.

DE: We're not just stuck behind closed doors; we're on the show floor for the first time at E3, so come by and play Tatooine! We'll also be releasing new videos each day of the show and will be doing a live demo on GameSpot on Tuesday, so stay tuned!

GS: Thank you for your time.

Discussion

211 comments
memi69
memi69

( Bioware + LucasArts ) * MMO = EPICNESS

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

@BornGamer We shall see, they might add it. They changed more things cause people complained about it. Time will tell.

BornGamer
BornGamer

@dutchgamer83 Yes, you will be able to skip dialog, but you can't choose which parts you skip. If you skip at a certain point you will miss everything that's said until your next "dialog wheel" choice. And the point still stands that the quest will be read to you at their pace, not your pace. I do believe though that full voiceovers could work well in an MMO, just not the way Bioware is implementing them.

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

@BornGamer Im pretty sure you can skip the reading/listening part just like you could in any other Bioware game. Like pressing spacebar or mousebutton. @Udzija Totally agree

Udzija
Udzija

It's real shame that players think about comparing games, game overall success and how will other people like it instead of just thinking if the game have what they need or not. Don't care if it will be better than WoW because it's all about FUN. Stop comparing and ask yourself will i have fun playing this game or not. If yes then go get it when it's out and if not then why bother looking at it

BornGamer
BornGamer

@dutchgamer83 "Just because you skip the reading doesn't mean everyone does" I didn't say everyone does. I said most people do. And you make a good point that some people do like to read WoW's quest text, at their own pace, and skimming bits that don't interest them at their leisure. A stark contrast to what SW:TOR will offer: Sit there and wait until the questgiver is done going "blah blah blah blah blah" at THEIR own pace or skip the whole thing. The voiceover/cutscene overload is little more than a gimmick that won't work well in an MMO but will definitely appeal to a niche audience. Again, I'm not saying it will be a bad game. I'm just saying it won't be very successful. If you like it, great.

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

@BornGamer talk for yourself please. Me and my friends enjoy reading stuff in MMO's. Sure not everything is great or make much sense. But you had some great story lines to read in WoW. Beside if you read the forums a bit of WoW you seen how many people actually care for the lore and all in that game. When they anounced the Dreanei and adjusted the lore for that allot of gamers where angry at blizzard. Just because you skip the reading doesn't mean everyone does, allot enjoy the stories and take the time to absorb the entire game instead. I don't know if SW will be a succes, but people need to stop comparing every freaking MMORPG with WoW. Not one MMORPG has came close to the ammount of players WoW has and to be as succesfull you have to have the same amount of players after as many years as WoW. SW focuses on another audience anyway and it has the SW and Bioware fanbase who probally will have a look what it is all about. Time will tell if its gonna be a succes. I will have a look, im intrested in the whole story driven part of it. But the gameplay will make or break the game.

chyng85
chyng85

It's great, but not for me~

artic1982
artic1982

@Anatomimesteren And i certainly hope so sir. Would be a total waste if this game fails.

0ld_sch00l
0ld_sch00l

The conversation below is a representation of the immense stupidity that is the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

BornGamer
BornGamer

@WelBluVid Comparing the text of your post to mine, you have a lot of nerve to call me illiterate. LOL. I love story and voiceovers in single player RPGs. MMOs are a different kettle of fish altogether. Most MMO players don't want to sit staring blankly at their monitor while an NPC explains why it's so important that you go and kill twelve whomp rats to save Yoda's farm, or gaze motionless while NPCs dance around their screen acting out a cutscene. They want to get out there, kick ass, level their chars and get the next cool gear upgrade. Besides the voiceovers and cutscenes, this game doesn't do enough different to WoW to ever be a real success.

WelBluVid
WelBluVid

& I don't agree at all w/BornGamer down below I think everyone will agree that you need a new gamer tag cuz I've played MMO's & got so sick of illiterate noobs like you that skip the voice over/bubble over the NPC's head that clearing tells you hey! The item you need is the trinket in your bag asking me over & over again HELP! HOW! WHAT! LOL

WelBluVid
WelBluVid

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

setuwa
setuwa

@borngamer "I'm sure it will have a strong core audience like Star Wars Galaxies... I'm just saying that after a year or two, that audience won't be very big." thank you for stating the obvious, thats what happens to most mmorpg's. They made the game with low computer specs so most computers are able to play on it. which will gain a higher audience

BornGamer
BornGamer

Storytelling is nothing new. Yes, there's never been a fully voiced MMO before, but that's because most people skip through the questgiving section anyway so it would be a waste of resources (as it is here). Story is very important in single player RPGs, and only vaguely important in MMOs. Certainly not important enough to warrant blowing a big chunk of the dev budget on full (very average-sounding) voice acting.... Money that could have gone into making this game look like it wasn't made five years ago. As I said, I'm not saying it will be a bad game at all. I'm sure it will have a strong core audience like Star Wars Galaxies... I'm just saying that after a year or two, that audience won't be very big. I understand that a lot of people are experiencing the usual irrational hysteria that goes hand in hand with the release of a new AAA MMO, but sorry guys... This is just gonna be the same old same old with a few gimmicky bells and whistles that might stave off boredom for a few weeks, but this one clearly won't have strong subscriber retention.

BornGamer
BornGamer

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Meluckycharms12
Meluckycharms12

@BornGamer I don't think you have followed this game at all. Did you by chance notice how Bioware is inputting their signature story telling / dialogue sequences into an MMO. I don't think i've seen a good RPG that can be played like an MMO in the market before.

BornGamer
BornGamer

This will have less than 200K subs after a year and less than 50K after two years. Eventually it will go Free2Play with an item shop. I'm not saying it'll be a bad game. I'm saying it does nothing new or interesting and won't appeal to a wide audience. It should have released five years ago to have a reasonable shot at success. EA and MMOs don't mix.

chechak7
chechak7

graphic look crap and when some one shooting there is square in the middle

ecobacon
ecobacon

Looks way better than that Kinect crap.

grim0187
grim0187

Game is looking better and better.

SywynGhost
SywynGhost

Release it, release it, release it!!! Can't freaking wait, it has been years waiting for it now....

relilimex
relilimex

this game is gonna rock becouse i liek WoW but the story was nothing that i cared for expect when lich king did his speach, so i can say the TOR will be an epic MMO game. the one thing i want to know the most is when teh game is coming out and when the beta is gonna start. but the CGI traile is gonna be sick as always.

Anatomimesteren
Anatomimesteren

@artic1982 One thing is for sure; this ain't gonna be a WoW clone with lasers..

phoenixboyz
phoenixboyz

Where are the Timeline trailers update Bioware? There aren't any updates since March right?

Udzija
Udzija

I really hope they don't use ''free to play'' model (which i know they won't). With that you usually have micro-transactions that enable people who have more money to buy stuff lot better then those playing ''free'' can get thus making them better no matter what skill they have. In ''pay to play'' all have same chance of gettin good and you won't have any rich people killing you in PvP just couse they can buy better gear

artic1982
artic1982

I'd like to try a trial version first, the story and mechanics looks interesting but i don't wanna pay for another wow clone with lasers

shawdad
shawdad

Hope they use the so called "free to play" business model. I wont pay another mandatory monthly fee.

Kratos_Kills
Kratos_Kills

graphics dont look dated but you cannot expect a fps graphics here. there are many many moving objects in a mmorpg, its impossible to make so detailed graphics or the game will be slideshow... this one looks fine but just like someone said, I hope its something original not WoW clone.

SkylerX
SkylerX

They are trying to make the combat look as good as possible, but I'm not yet convinced. How many times can/should you shoot someone with a blaster or chop them with a lightsaber before they are utterly demolished? I've seen the videos, I understand balance, I even played both kotor games, but here's hoping they make combat truly dynamic, not press 1,1,1,3,3,2,5,4 repeat, but like I said, I doubt it, it is, after all, just another MMO, and I'm just about worn out on them.

smosleh
smosleh

lol @ the part where he says" mmos early on make u feel lost and weak, if you're wandering around trying to figure out why you're getting your butt kicked by a snake." lol so true!!! stopped playing MMOs for nonsense like that, hope SWOR MMO will be different! Oh and i LOVE story, so will be checking out this MMO for that reason alone. If its anything like the original SWKOR by bioware ill defintely be buying it. But i gotta agree, the graphics are kinda weak, what's up w/ that? THis game is being released in 2012 and graphics look like something from 2009.:p

Ohmek
Ohmek

The graphics aren't dated just because they aren't to your liking.

ProSmeg
ProSmeg

don't care about the graphics. I just DON'T want a WoW clone. ill have to play a trail first.

Nodashi
Nodashi

@sTyLnK Well, to be honest the classes are all here. We have tanks, healers, melee and ranged DPS. Heavy melee has charge, nimble melee has stealth, ranged DPS can also spec as healers, etc. But yeah, I'm also very tired of medieval MMOs. I really hope they can make this game feel different enought. I'm really not into medieval fantasy for another 6 years, but I need a good game with a solid fanbase to start anew and not miss the old habits.

THE_YOUNG_FLAME
THE_YOUNG_FLAME

@Aymanstile. Dude, stop whining about graphics. A great game is a great game. Sheesh, I still play some of the old 80's games and I still enjoy them. Also, if the graphics aren't suicidally top-notch, it means that PC's made before last year will be able to run it. You see, better graphics, means expensive hardware. However, good graphics with great gameplay means everyone can play and have fun. However, great graphics with a sucky game (I cite CoD Black Ops, and the last three Halo games) So, Whine about the game sucking, not the graphics, which are ireelevant.

MoreThot
MoreThot

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

aymanstile
aymanstile

Sorry but this looks that it should only be released on smartphones, like the android market or something like that lol. sorry i had to say it. Visuals look really dated. Is that the case with all mmorpgs?

Goldrock
Goldrock

Ive been waitin a good 5 years so everyone else so if this game doesnt have a release date soon ima say screw it and play something diffrent the hype started way to damn early imo.

sTyLnK
sTyLnK

All I'm happy about is no fantasy style MMO. Every single MMO that does come out seems to be fantasy and has the same classes and races. At least with TOR the classes are different and it's sci fi. A breath of fresh air.

the-real-dawn
the-real-dawn

i really credit the interviewer in this article, he asks really good questions, i'm mainly scared about the way that BioWare doesn't answer the full questions and says things like "you'll never have a point where you're standing in the same place as your friend but can't see each other or discover you're seeing the world two radically different ways," but doesn't explain how that will work at all, which was really the question. I'm really excited for this but it just sounds too good to be true; I've never understood how BioWare can make the game decision based but keep it a continous world. I see that instances would work to an extent but what if someone directly in your party made a different decision? To me this seems like the one critical issue with combining a BioWare game and an MMO, and all BioWare has said is "Trust us, it will work," when frankly, i'd rather know how, and dont see why they can't explain, except for what i fear might be the answer, which is that really there is no good solution.

adc89
adc89

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Punizher
Punizher

this will never make 2011