Tuesday, 15 September 2009

PAX/GamesCom: A Couple of Interviews

I've got two more interviews for you (that were posted around the end of last week and somehow I missed). One from PAX and one from GamesCom.

The GamesCom interview comes from Gamereactor and is a video interview with Rich Vogel, co-studio manager at Bioware Austin. They don't seem to have the option to embed the video, so here's the link instead and the description:
We had a chat with Rich Vogel, co-studio manager at Bioware Austin, about their upcoming first game Star Wars: The Old Republic. A MMORPG set in the old Star Wars universe first created in Bioware's classic Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KoTOR for short).
The second interview is a text interview over at TenTonHammer with producer Jake Neri from LucasArts and producer Blaine Christine from BioWare Austin. Here's an excerpt:
Ten Ton Hammer: What is the percentage of instance content for single player as opposed to multiplayer? (OneEyeRed)

Jake Neri: I don’t think we have an official ratio, but what we will say is that we do want the game to be accessible for any playstyle. So if you want to solo the game, you can solo the game all the way through. There will be certain things you couldn’t do because those things are requiring groups much like any other game, since we want to support grouping as well. We want you to be able to be social in both a small group and in a large group.

So there is a nice chunk of instanced content, and a lot of that is your story. We have to have key moments happen in an instance because otherwise you’re going to have 50 other people griefing on top of you.

Blaine Christine: I think a lot of where we do have that type of content is driven by the story. So if it makes sense in the story because we need a compelling moment like in the demo that we show where you’re running through an Imperial ship and that’s a key moment in the story for us as players, then it’s going to be an instance because that’s what makes sense. So as Jake said, it’s driven by the story.
There's not a whole lot of new information in the interview(s); it's basically a repeat of what they've said before and a "no comment" on everything else. But there's a few bits here and there that I can see.

In the GamesCom video interview Rich seem to confirm that there will be battlegrounds as part of a list of "things that other MMOs have". Interesting thing is that not every MMO has battlegrounds. I think that's partly a problem with them saying "we have things that other MMOs have too", as that list is far from solid. Do they have open world PvP? Not that I'm interested in that, but Champion Online doesn't (for example). Do they have Public Quests? World of Warcraft doesn't and yet I think it's more and more becoming one of those standard things expected of MMOs. Do they base their list of what standard MMOs have on WoW or on other games? Or are they really trying to include anything and everything (which no MMO has done before)? I guess that's why their supposedly reassuring answer of "we have the things that you expect in MMOs" isn't really that helpful until they list what things they feel that includes (such as battlegrounds above; I know I certainly don't consider them 'standard').

In the TenTonHammer interview they reiterate again that they want to appeal to all kinds, from single-player to large groups. They seem to suggest that a lot of the 'single-player' content might be in instances (which is perfectly fine with me). They note that you'll come across faction dueling between NPCs (which isn't really that much of a surprise). And they confirm that they haven't confirmed anything on pricing yet (without saying one way or the other and leaving every possibility open). They also seem to hint that you can likely customize the color of your lightsaber (without coming right out and saying so, but why else talk about different lightsaber colors in a question about crafting and item customization).

It's a bit strange how they're talking about them not wanting people to "game the alignment system", because no matter what you do people will game it. Even just so that they can call themselves "the most evil Sith" or such. And even things such as slight visual differences in powers you get will be enough for people to want to game the system (and when people want to they will; there's nothing developers can do about that). Besides, with the way they're talking about giving unique powers based on alignment they're also making it very desirable for people to game the system, so that kind of contradicts their stated intent.

Personally I think it would be much better to just ignore the possibility that people might or might not game the system and focus on making it enjoyable for those who have no desire to do so. But perhaps that's what they meant.

Their betimes repeated statement of "we've only shown level 8 so far" is also kind of funny, considering that it's an utterly meaningless statement without knowing roughly how many levels there are. If there are only ten levels in total then level 8 is really, really powerful already, while if there are 200 levels then level 8 probably hasn't even left the tutorial yet. As such, it doesn't mean anything without any context of how that compares to the most powerful characters players can become (i.e. max level for argument's sake).

Of course, they have said before that there's a level 40 as well, so that at least gives it a bit more meaning. But even then not that much without knowing whether level 40 is max or whether level 40 is really just the first stepping stone to hundreds of levels.

Either way they're decent interviews, just not a lot of information to get from them.

[link] to Gamereactor's video interview.
[link] to TenTonHammer interview.

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