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[Interview] Star Wars: The Old Republic: James Ohlen on BioWare Storytelling

SBFordSBFord Former Associate EditorMember LegendaryPosts: 33,124

It’s an incredible year for Star Wars fans. Episode VII: The Force Awakens arrives in cinemas later this year. Star Wars: Battlefront hits PCs and consoles in November. And with our own genre, Knights of the Fallen Empire, the latest expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, will open from October 27. Our own Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer caught up with James Ohlen, Game Director on SWTOR, over at Gamescom. to find out more.

Read more of Gareth Harmer's Star Wars: The Old Republic - James Ohlen on Bioware Storytelling.

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Comments

  • heider89heider89 Member UncommonPosts: 159
    so far it looks like its going to be a great expensjon :) 
  • MikeBMikeB Community ManagerAdministrator RarePosts: 6,478
    Super excited! Great interview, Gareth! :)

    Michael "MikeB" Bitton
    Community Manager
    Twitter: @eMikeB

  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,149

    "Both of them really pointed to one thing, which is that story is the central theme and the best part of Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s what all our fans wanted. If we could give them an endless epic Star Wars story, they would be happy campers for the rest of their lives."

     

    This really made me laugh! The only reason the story is the "central" part of the game and what the fans most want is because you drove away all the other player types with shitty design and content! The story is the best part of your game, not because it is good, but because all the other elements are bad. 

     

    I suppose, however, its a good thing that Bioware have recognised that their remaining playerbase is there for the story and so they are catering the content for those loyal fans rather than trying to tack on new features. Better to cater to your existing fans than to risk breaking the game further. 

     

    Maybe in another 10 years someone else will release a Star Wars MMO that will be worth playing......

  • WizardryWizardry Member LegendaryPosts: 16,321

    Excuse me but i didn't even know there was a movie at years end :(

    I watched the very first SW movie at the drive-in many years ago :)

    I had to look it up been so long ...1977 !

     

    I have to add that no the story was not very good,i considered it actually to be very bad because it was one dimensional on BOTH sides "conspiracy theory" at every turn.It was also VERY predictable which would ruin any story.It is like going to watch a great movie and you know the entire plot within the first 5 minutes.

    No it was not story that i signed on for SWTOR,i had HOPED for some epic battles versus foreign races but instead it followed the simplest game design going for the past 10 years>>>linear questing.

    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • eddieg50eddieg50 Member UncommonPosts: 1,807

    still waiting for jump to lightspeed space but thanks for the great stories

     

  • JudgeUKJudgeUK Member RarePosts: 1,485
    Can you please replace that guy's manic staring picture. It's a bit.....intense.
  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441
    Originally posted by cameltosis

    "Both of them really pointed to one thing, which is that story is the central theme and the best part of Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s what all our fans wanted. If we could give them an endless epic Star Wars story, they would be happy campers for the rest of their lives."

    This really made me laugh! The only reason the story is the "central" part of the game and what the fans most want is because you drove away all the other player types with shitty design and content! The story is the best part of your game, not because it is good, but because all the other elements are bad. 

    I suppose, however, its a good thing that Bioware have recognised that their remaining playerbase is there for the story and so they are catering the content for those loyal fans rather than trying to tack on new features. Better to cater to your existing fans than to risk breaking the game further. 

    Maybe in another 10 years someone else will release a Star Wars MMO that will be worth playing......

    Well, the story is good while the rest of the game kinda sucks. So of course is the story the central point, you don't want the PvP as that...

    But I still wonder why they made it into a MMO, I still feel that it would have been better as a single player/lan game.

    I honestly think that IPs like Star wars are almost impossible to make a great MMOs off, the scale is just to big.

    The only way I could think of is to focus on a single planet and really make that one huge and perfect. Otherwise we will just get what we already seen, small patches all over the galaxy with not that much things binding it together. It is far easier with fantasy MMOs that usually just are about a single continent because actually creating an entire galaxy in a good way is impossible unless you can use an AI to make it or have fan created content (which gives you problems with varying quality).

    TOR do what it intended, it brings you along for a story through the galaxy just like KOTOR and the Mass effect games but that isn't ideal for a MMO. It is like a movie or a book, only the parts you pass is worked off and there is little room for exploration.

  • BillMurphyBillMurphy Former Managing EditorMember LegendaryPosts: 4,560
    Originally posted by Loke666

    Well, the story is good while the rest of the game kinda sucks. So of course is the story the central point, you don't want the PvP as that...

    But I still wonder why they made it into a MMO, I still feel that it would have been better as a single player/lan game.

    I honestly think that IPs like Star wars are almost impossible to make a great MMOs off, the scale is just to big.

    The only way I could think of is to focus on a single planet and really make that one huge and perfect. Otherwise we will just get what we already seen, small patches all over the galaxy with not that much things binding it together. It is far easier with fantasy MMOs that usually just are about a single continent because actually creating an entire galaxy in a good way is impossible unless you can use an AI to make it or have fan created content (which gives you problems with varying quality).

    TOR do what it intended, it brings you along for a story through the galaxy just like KOTOR and the Mass effect games but that isn't ideal for a MMO. It is like a movie or a book, only the parts you pass is worked off and there is little room for exploration.

     

    I'd play Tatooine Online... :)

    Try to be excellent to everyone you meet. You never know what someone else has seen or endured.

    My Review Manifesto
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  • JudgeUKJudgeUK Member RarePosts: 1,485

    Ok having read the article I have to ask - isn't this the same Gamescom SWTOR that you panned in your article Star Wars Falls Flat at Gamescom?

     

    http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature/9957/Star-Wars-Falls-Flat-at-Gamescom-2015.html

     

    In which you stated:

     

    The trailer did feature better animations than we’re used to seeing in SWTOR’s cutscenes and much more highly detailed character models and armor. Unfortunately, while the updates here are greatly appreciated, they’re also a bit jarring. When comparing the player character in the trailer to everyone else it’s easy to see how dated he looks.

     

    I’m finding myself a bit more apprehensive about the one-size-fits-all “Outlander” role in the expansion. The trailer featured a Jedi Knight who proclaims that being the “Outlander” is the “only title that matters now”. Really? The Jedi and Sith are dogmatic religions with a ton of tradition and history. Our Jedi Knight character is going to so easily let go of that and simply declare himself an “Outlander”? I’m not sold on that just yet. I feel like the new dynamic will work better for the non-Force user classes than it would for a Jedi Knight, so BioWare’s decision to feature a Jedi Knight PC in the trailer is a bit odd.

     

    So we appear to have turned around completely from falling flat & questioning their decisions to extremely promising  - all that in less than a week.

     

     
  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer Member EpicPosts: 8,736
    Originally posted by Loke666
    Originally posted by cameltosis

    "Both of them really pointed to one thing, which is that story is the central theme and the best part of Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s what all our fans wanted. If we could give them an endless epic Star Wars story, they would be happy campers for the rest of their lives."

    This really made me laugh! The only reason the story is the "central" part of the game and what the fans most want is because you drove away all the other player types with shitty design and content! The story is the best part of your game, not because it is good, but because all the other elements are bad. 

    I suppose, however, its a good thing that Bioware have recognised that their remaining playerbase is there for the story and so they are catering the content for those loyal fans rather than trying to tack on new features. Better to cater to your existing fans than to risk breaking the game further. 

    Maybe in another 10 years someone else will release a Star Wars MMO that will be worth playing......

    Well, the story is good while the rest of the game kinda sucks. So of course is the story the central point, you don't want the PvP as that...

    But I still wonder why they made it into a MMO, I still feel that it would have been better as a single player/lan game.

    I honestly think that IPs like Star wars are almost impossible to make a great MMOs off, the scale is just to big.

    The only way I could think of is to focus on a single planet and really make that one huge and perfect. Otherwise we will just get what we already seen, small patches all over the galaxy with not that much things binding it together. It is far easier with fantasy MMOs that usually just are about a single continent because actually creating an entire galaxy in a good way is impossible unless you can use an AI to make it or have fan created content (which gives you problems with varying quality).

    TOR do what it intended, it brings you along for a story through the galaxy just like KOTOR and the Mass effect games but that isn't ideal for a MMO. It is like a movie or a book, only the parts you pass is worked off and there is little room for exploration.

    Star Wars is almost impossible to make an MMO out of. Jedi are nothing short of super heroes and other characters simply aren't. There is a power difference in the main IP that didn't exist in SWTOR. SWG had it and it was a contributing factor in the ruining of that game. The problem with this IP is that to stay true to the IP, everyone has to be a Jedi, or no one can be a Jedi. Otherwise it doesn't work and you are left with something that resembles the IP but really isn't. Let's not even go to the concept of gear grind force power. Yeah, that's pretty close to the IP......no not really.

    The IP is based around a small band of exceptional individuals accomplishing things that only they can do. MMOs are about the masses and numbers. Unless you do it like the way West End games did their Star Wars Table Top RPG. The main characters in the IP remain just that. They are the big wigs....... You are a minor cog in the grand scheme. No one is a Jedi. You can be force sensitive and have some abilities, but you are not a Jedi. No one is.

     

  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 26,961
    Originally posted by JudgeUK

     

    So we appear to have turned around completely from falling flat & questioning their decisions to extremely promising  - all that in less than a week.

     

     

    I think one is a news bit while the other is a "column" and therefore the personal opinion of one of the staff.




  • neumneum Member UncommonPosts: 143
    Is not  Ohlen one of the dorks who ran the hype train through the roof pre-launch and failed to deliver after launch.

  • GazimoffGazimoff Staff WriterMember UncommonPosts: 225
    Originally posted by JudgeUK

    Ok having read the article I have to ask - isn't this the same Gamescom SWTOR that you panned in your article Star Wars Falls Flat at Gamescom?

     

    What you're seeing are two different opinions by two different writers on the site. MikeB is a little more cynical about what's on offer, mainly because the content shown on the EA livestream was a little sparse. On the other hand, I was at the event, had preview of some of the chapter 3 content, and did the interview with Ohlen above, and I'm a little more optimistic based on that. But diverging opinions are a healthy thing which should be welcomed :)

    Player of games, smither of words, former of opinions, and masher of keys. WildStar Columnist
    Currently playing: WildStar, Guild Wars 2, EVE Online, Vain Glory.
  • JonBonJawaJonBonJawa Member UncommonPosts: 489

    I will resub for the expansion. Took a break and am actually excited to return around October for fresh content.

     

  • AlomarAlomar Member RarePosts: 1,186

    Speaking as a founder who was incredibly disappointed with Swtor at launch, this is probably the best news this game has had. I've always said the only real aspect of this game done relatively right was the story, both classes and companions. I'm a hardcore pvper whose returned to Swtor twice now just to do class storylines with the 12x bonus...

     

    Fortes Fortuna Iuvat

    18 year MMO veteran 
    Retired PvP Raid Leader 
    Lover of The Witcher & CD Projekt Red

  • rojoArcueidrojoArcueid Member EpicPosts: 9,992
    Originally posted by neum
    Is not  Ohlen one of the dorks who ran the hype train through the roof pre-launch and failed to deliver after launch.

    No, he waas the guy who was quoted saying that having a group of players tackling 1 big boss is not very heroic.... then put exactly that in the game.





  • GorweGorwe Member EpicPosts: 6,045

    OH THE MAKER!

    PLEASE DON'T SCREW THIS UP! OR OUR ALLOTMENT WILL BE TO SUFFER...

  • FlintsteenFlintsteen Member UncommonPosts: 282

    step 1.    12x XP for story

    step 2.    Look at metrics,  what do people play

    step 3.    conclude from metrics that people love story,  because that's what people play.

     

    Am I the only one seeing something wrong with this ?  Personly I prefer playing with other players over my stupid AI companion.  I know you sometimes get unlucky with groups,  but I still prefer group-play

    It might end well,  I don't know. Personly I don't feel the hype.  I know we wont get more class stories and I'm ok with that,  but I wish faction stories were still a thing.  Both factions playing the same story and working together to achieve the same goals just feels wrong.

  • MukeMuke Member RarePosts: 2,614
    Originally posted by BillMurphy
    Originally posted by Loke666

    Well, the story is good while the rest of the game kinda sucks. So of course is the story the central point, you don't want the PvP as that...

    But I still wonder why they made it into a MMO, I still feel that it would have been better as a single player/lan game.

    I honestly think that IPs like Star wars are almost impossible to make a great MMOs off, the scale is just to big.

    The only way I could think of is to focus on a single planet and really make that one huge and perfect. Otherwise we will just get what we already seen, small patches all over the galaxy with not that much things binding it together. It is far easier with fantasy MMOs that usually just are about a single continent because actually creating an entire galaxy in a good way is impossible unless you can use an AI to make it or have fan created content (which gives you problems with varying quality).

    TOR do what it intended, it brings you along for a story through the galaxy just like KOTOR and the Mass effect games but that isn't ideal for a MMO. It is like a movie or a book, only the parts you pass is worked off and there is little room for exploration.

     

    I'd play Tatooine Online... :)

    Back in the SWG days it was the planet I played on for like 90% of my time. The only place to give the authentic Star Wars atmosphere.

    "going into arguments with idiots is a lost cause, it requires you to stoop down to their level and you can't win"

  • Acebets70Acebets70 Member UncommonPosts: 268
    meh
  • trancejeremytrancejeremy Member UncommonPosts: 1,222

    I play SWTOR but can't get excited about this because it's the same damn story yet again. The Sith Emperor (if not the Sith Empire itself)  is trying to take over the galaxy and we have to stop him yet again.

     

    Can't we have something new? Then again, the one time they tried something else, the Hutts, it was really lame. (I mean, seriously, Hutts can conquer the galaxy thanks to this one magical unobtanium found on one small planet. Does Bioware grasp how big a galaxy is?)

     

    No new class stories, it's the same. No new companion stuff, we get 5 new ones to replace our old ones, again, all shared, no more class distinction.

     

    I understand EA is unwilling to put the resources into the game to make real expansions, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

     

    R.I.P. City of Heroes and my 17 characters there

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