Star Wars MMO Director Reveals His Regret About The Game

The ambitious Star Wars MMO's director says he wishes the game didn't follow WoW's formula so closely.

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Now Playing: Star Wars MMO Director Reveals His Regret About The Game - GS News Update

BioWare veteran James Ohlen had been with the RPG studio since the beginning before leaving last month after 22 years. He's now given an exit interview of sorts to Game Informer that covers a lot of ground and is absolutely well worth a read. Go read it here.

One particularly interesting segment in the interview is about Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare's ambitious and expensive Star Wars MMO. Ohlen served as the game's director, and he shared one of his regrets about the project. He said he wished the game had more of its own sensibilities instead of following the genre-defining and enduringly popular World of Warcraft's path and formula so closely.

"With Star Wars: The Old Republic I wish that I pushed a little bit more toward making it kind of Knights of The Republic online rather than 'Star Wars World of Warcraft,'" he said. "A lot of the feedback that we got when Star Wars: The Old Republic got when it came out was, 'Hey, we wanted Knights of the Old Republic Online,' something that was more similar to that than a game that was more traditional in the World of Warcraft sense."

Ohlen directed Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) with Casey Hudson, so it's exciting to think about what he could have done with a KOTOR Online-type game. Whatever the case, Ohlen said understands that feedback, but remains proud of The Old Republic.

It's understandable that BioWare would want to follow World of Warcraft's formula, given that Blizzard's game has remained popular for more than a decade. By comparison, The Old Republic launched with a subscription-based model before adding a free-to-play option just 11 months after release.

Also in the interview, Ohlen said that while he would love to work on another Star Wars game someday, he's proud of KOTOR and The Old Republic.

In his post-BioWare life, Ohlen will collaborate with another former BioWare creative director, Jesse Sky, on the book Odyssey of the Dragonlords. In announcing his departure from BioWare, Ohlen said, "I need to take a break from the industry and work on something a little smaller and more personal."

BioWare's next big game is Anthem, which launches in February 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. All of GameSpot's previous written and video coverage can be found here.

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Avatar image for tenaka30

What is it exactly that could be changed to make it more of a KoToR game rather than a WoW games?

Are they thinking of the turn based combat or is there more to it?

Avatar image for TheBruuz

Wauw, well if it's the case you tried to copy World of Warcraft, you did an exceptionally poor job...

I found SWTOR graphically poor, with repetitive animations (every npc you speak to makes the same hand movements), and unnatural cities and buildings (too much symmetry, often too big), which made immersion unlikely.
They should've chosen a different art style (f.i. the animated series look), put more money into animations and lifelike world building and less into voicing every single quest (just the main story quests are ample).

Of course, lightsabers make a big crowd of fans forget all the flaws...for a while.
It's one of the unfortunate disadvantages of hypes, that as creators in the end you're oblivious to what you're doing wrong.

Avatar image for aaronpr0n

The trouble with TOR was it copied all the worst parts of WoW, like w/e their version of Resilience was called, and none of the cool bits. (If ever a game cried out for phasing, it was TOR)

Then the money stopped coming in and the game went into maintenance mode, while trying to pretend it hadn't. Watching eight class story-lines, (you know, the thing that's supposed to set your game apart) become 'one for Pubs and one for Imps' and then all filter into the one, bad, completely on-rails 'The Outlander' plot was just sad. Could have made a great, single-player Bioware RPG, but nah, we gotta chase that WoW-killer cash.

Avatar image for Brakkyn

SWTOR just became another in a long line of free-to-play games that always left you wanting more than you got. They're always wanting you to buy something, and always reminding you about what you don't have, but could have if you start shelling out the cash. I'd rather pay a subscription.

Avatar image for millionsedge

It was a fun game, but yes, it felt familiar. I got fatigued with it faster than I should have. Maybe it was because it was too much like WoW.

Avatar image for jako998

Never been a fan but thats what theyget for trying to do something similar to WoW.

One MMO game i wish EA would bring back is warhammer online: age of reckoning. That was a good MMO but sadly didnt do to well

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@jako998: Their support for it was absolutely disgraceful. They didn't balance anything in a heavily focused PvP game. Bright Wizards were bugged to do more damage than they should have and Sorcerers were bugged to do less damage than they should have and this persisted for SIX MONTHS. The game was all but dead when they finally admitted the game was broken mess.

This is a good article about EA's abysmal mismanagement of the game:

Avatar image for jako998

@Thanatos2k: True. I just hope in the near future its brought back again

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@jako998: How. They closed Mythic.

Avatar image for jako998

@Thanatos2k: doesn't mean another studio can't take the helm....

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@jako998: And which studio does EA own that can competently run an MMO?

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Another "WoW Killer" MMO that failed to kill WoW because no one in the industry has learned a thing from the trail of dead MMOs who tried to be WoW.

There's a reason we called it the TORtanic. And to think we got this instead of KOTOR 3. Thanks EA! You're the absolute worst.

Avatar image for Barighm

Yep. I was there for the early beta testing and the game WAS less like WoW in the beginning. Similar in many ways, sure, but it still felt more like KotoR. And then all the whiners in the testing forums were all like "Why isn't this more like WoW?" and that was the end of that.

It's a shame they won't make another KotoR, or at least a new game that plays like it. They're the one dev that can.

Avatar image for Mogan

Yeah, I wish it'd be a little less WoW too. I get why they copied WoW, tons of people copied WoW, but SWTOR might not have crashed and burned as a subscription only game if they'd done more of their own thing with the gameplay. And even though BioWare was able to resurrect it, and I got several years of fun out of it, SWTOR now is just a mindlessly casual dress-up simulator. If it didn't need to go F2P, maybe that could have been avoided.

Oh well.

Avatar image for blackshark

Bring back Star Wars Galaxies!!!

Avatar image for PETERAKO

I wish it wasn't an MMO at all.

Avatar image for mari3k

The thing is, why should I play a clone when there is the original...

Also Star Wars is at its dawn, till the Kennedy massaker...

Avatar image for deactivated-5c56012aaa167

Lol. No people wanted Knights Of The Old Republic Offline.

Avatar image for Mogan

@dorog1995: I mean, you say that, but then SWTOR had the best launch of any subscription MMO ever when it came out. People were super pumped about it, but SWTOR's technical issues, lack of endgame (at launch), and similarities to WoW are what hurt it.

Avatar image for WarGreymon77

He's not the only one. I love SWTOR, but I hate that it's such a copycat/clone.

Avatar image for xADx

Maybe the biggest regret would be spending tons of cash on a game engine that was still in the alpha stage. Maybe regretting with the art style, how the game stills play horrible even on the latest tech out there. Even regretting that former senior staff went out and did interviews said that there was tons of content written for post launch, even before the game launched.

Yes there is so many regrets about The Old Republic, but the Bioware fans stood by you and the company.

Avatar image for spaced92

It wasn't a bad game when I tried it out, it just didn't appeal to me as a Star Wars fan or a KOTOR fan. Nothing like WoW ever worked because WoW was more of a phenomenon than an actually great game worth copying so no one ever wanted to jump off it for another WoW like game, it's THE MMORPG and yet funnily enough it also killed MMORPG's at the same time.

Avatar image for Zorlac

If it followed WoW's formula it would have been way better than it is now.

Avatar image for RossRichard

@Zorlac: More like since it followed WoW's formula so closely there was no reason to leave WoW to play it.

Avatar image for Zorlac


As someone who played both games it really wasn't that close to how Wow played or worked. It had some similarities yes, but most mmos have some similarities. The game it's self was not bad. it just had issues to fix that it never did fix.

Avatar image for RossRichard

@Zorlac: I played both too. Extensively, in fact. It was basically WoW with a KOTOR skin. The only things that were different was SWTORs quests were fully voiced, and combat in SWTOR was extremely clunky compared to WoW.

Avatar image for idakooz

For what it's worth, SWTOR was a fun game during its heyday.

Disappointed they never made another KOTOR game. May be he should've pushed harder for that during his time at Bioware.