news\ Oct 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

BioWare: Story "The Big Difference Between The Old Republic and other MMOs"


Star Wars: The Old Republic is easily one of the most anticipated games of the 2011 Holiday season.  But despite it's hype, it has also been the topic of debate.  Numerous comparisons to World of Warcraft have left many wondering if BioWare does enough to differentiate itself as more than just another "WoW clone".  When you think of the longevity and success of World of Warcraft, it's hard to question why a company wouldn't want to be another WoW.  But the comparisons go as far to say that The Old Republic is just a re-skinned World of Warcraft, offering little differences that set it apart from WoW or any other MMO on the market.

Needless to say, BioWare disagrees.  "We have the best features you can expect from MMOs".  When asked in a recent interview with The Gaming Liberty what Star Wars: The Old Republic offers gamers that other MMOs can't, BioWare's co-founder Ray Muzyka was not hesitant to answer.

"We have amazing progression and customization -- so you can really shape your avatar. We also have exploration, but one thing that sets this apart is that it’s set within the Star Wars world -- so that in itself is very cool. We also have combat that’s exciting and tactical, but it also has lightsabers. Coupled with the animations -- it’s quite beautiful to watch really."

From that response, it sounds like BioWare is putting together a cookie-cutter MMO and relying on the Star Wars name to sell itself.  As a Star Wars fan and MMORPG player desperately hoping SWTOR will save a floundering genre, this isn't quite the response I was hoping for.  But then, Muzyka continued.

"Wrapping everything together is the story -- and that’s one of the big difference between The Old Republic and other MMOs. For those familiar with BioWare games, they will be very happy with it. Every player, every character, every NPC has a voice, and although it’s subtle -- the difference that makes is incredibly powerful. This helps to add a greater sense of purpose and depth to it. One of the most common things we’re already hearing is that people seem to find it hard to go back to other MMOs once they play The Old Republic; because there’s a real sense of purpose to everything."

And honestly, that really is what separates SWTOR from other MMOs.  They've spent so much time crafting a story that feels unique to each individual player.  It's not just "Kill 10 boars and return to NPC".  Each mission seems to have a purpose in the grand story.  If BioWare does it right, I should feel like my character choices should have an effect on the overall Star Wars universe.  This is what is going to set Star Wars: The Old Republic apart and make it really unique to play.  It's not going to be advanced customization.  It's not going to be exploration.  It's definitely not going to be the combat system.  Today's MMORPGs already offer these things. BioWare is focusing on one thing, and one thing only: Story.

What made the original Star Wars trilogy iconic?  It sure as hell wasn't the CGI graphics.  We saw how that worked out with the newer films.  It was story.  Particularly the "Hero's Journey".  We cared about the characters.  We liked Luke.  We loved Han.  These were characters we wanted to invest our time in with their story.  Honestly, did anybody really care about Jar-Jar, Padme, or even Anakin for that matter?  So how does BioWare plan on making us want to invest time into our character's story?  How will they make me care about my character, aside from gear and loot?

"Another interesting thing is that we have real choice for the game. There’s a hero journey for each class, there’s things you can share, but you can also join in on someone else’s personal quest -- even if you’re in a different class. But because there’s personal choice, there is always personal consequences -- there’s no going back you know? You can’t simply load up a previous save game and see “what if”.  That’s really exciting from a moral perspective, because it’s personally impactful. We’ve found a way to integrate group combat, with group exploration, group stories and explorations -- yet, there’s still a great sense of a personal story. People couldn’t imagine how you could pull that off in the MMO space -- and we did that."

What sets Star Wars: The Old Republic apart from other MMORPGs is the fact that my character journey will be completely different from my friend's journey.  If done right, we will never experience the same exact path.



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