Monday, 6 July 2009 Interviews BioWare Doctors has an interview with general manager of BioWare Dr Ray Muzyka and creative officer Greg Zeschuk to "discuss the maturing games industry, and how innovations in hardware such as Microsoft's Project Natal can help developers create more emotionally engaging storytelling experiences."

Here's an excerpt:
Q: If you can narrow it down to just one thing you'd like to see happen in this industry soon, what would that be?

Greg Zeschuk: I'd probably have Star Wars: The Old Republic out. That would be the one thing. That's my answer. (laughter)

I mean, I'm sort of facetious about that, but at the same time, I think it's interesting because I think it's really going to surprise people. You play it, and it's interesting because you can really easily solo the game, or you can play in multiplayer. And the solo experience, the character acting, the dialogue flow is like Mass Effect, and you completely forget you're playing an online game. And then your buddy shows up and you're like, oh yeah! Hey, let's do this together now. It's really interesting because it sort of breaks new barriers. For us in many ways it's the next evolution of storytelling, of sharing these stories and having the flexibility of playing together and sharing these stories.
That quote is also pretty much the only thing directly related to Star Wars: The Old Republic, but it is overall an interesting article.

They talk about about controllers and how to further improve story telling in games. But to me the most interesting is how they seem to (finally) see that games don't need combat to be interesting. For years I've been saying (including on the BioWare forums) how there are so much more ways that they could deal with the "gameplay" part of their games. For instance, imagine a game that takes racing instead of combat, but that fueled with BioWare's strong storytelling. Instead of "get some story, fight some monsters, get more story" you'd have "get some story, race your car, get more story". And they could easily interweave story in the game parts just as much as with combat.

Or take other gameplay mechanics. A Sim RPG? Or a platform RPG? A puzzle RPG? A sports RPG? There are so many possibilities that it's absolutely baffling that they keep to just combat for so very long.

And I also believe that story could stand on its own. Maybe in some sort of revival of the adventure genre. But there you'd need either a load of story content to keep people busy for many hours (without just showing them pre-rendered cutscenes or pre-scripted ingame cutscenes) or the question becomes "so what do people do minute-to-minute?" Story telling has, after all, been a fairly passive endeavor and in games people want to be involved.

But I do definitely think that there is a lot of scope for roleplaying games that don't have a focus on combat and killing. And I am very happy that BioWare seems to think that the time is right for that. As such it wouldn't surprise me if the secret project they're working on is something just like that.

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