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How the creators of Star Wars: The Old Republic make story decisions

Sometimes an RPG makes a difficult choice for the player. It can be a moral dilemma or a question of what to sacrifice. Star Wars The Old Republic is an MMO with a strong focus on narrative content, and therefore the game has a lot of tough choices that should make the protagonist sweat. While the politics of the galaxy can change over time, and new enemies emerge or be defeated, the core of the game remains making these difficult decisions.

The old republic Developer BioWare Austin has faithfully updated the game since it was first released in 2011. The next expansion, Legacy of the Sith, introduces new endgame content in which players hunt a renegade Sith Lord to the water planet Manaan. The expansion also includes many important changes in the early game. For example, new character creation options allow players to mix and match their skills, weapons and stories they experience rather than having to drive down one of eight streets with stricter guard rails.

“We’re continuing a storyline that started with our last expansion and even before that,” said Charles Boyd, creative director at Star Wars The Old Republic, in a call with polygon. “There’s a lot going on with [Darth] Malgus, and he’s going to be a little bit renegade. There is also a plot in which a civil war is brewing among the Mandalorians. “

The Sith have always been one of the highlights of The old republic. There is no rule of two, which means there are tons of them and they are all fighting all the time. This conflict, according to Boyd, is great for game design because everywhere the Sith go, conflicts follow: “With Sith, it’s built right in. That is their instinct to bounce off each other as hard as possible. “

While there is a lot new to discover, these old campaigns are still worth going through, especially since the chaff has been cleaned up. Over the years BioWare has politely mitigated the need for players to grind. It’s possible to skip the campaign side quests, filler material, and early expansion content like the Hutt cartels and jump straight into the flesh of intergalactic adventure, evil emperors, and moral choices. Something that makes the MMORPG feel like it is an RPG is that the early campaigns are still very relevant to the endgame story and the choices made by the player are consistently important.

The characters that players encounter in their earliest days can flow back into the mix. “We have so many cool characters, whenever we create a situation we are like Okay, who would make sense for that?“Says Boyd. “We have an abundance of choices that are already established, that people already know and that can be excited to see them again, but it’s also challenging because it’s a huge cast. We always have a limited amount of canvas to paint on. “

In Star Wars: The Old Republic, a squad of knights stands in front of a high wall on Dromund Kaas.

Image: BioWare / Electronic Arts

But if extensions like Legacy of the Sith Come on over, this huge cast can be a blessing. Characters like Lana Beniko are loyal to the player and have their own take on the Sith philosophy. These characters and their influence on the player help set the stage for Darth Malgus and the Sith as antagonists. Different campaigns meet different characters; While my agent knows an assassin well, my smuggler may be completely in the dark.

“Whenever we watch a scene, one of the key elements we look at is how can we change this for a Sith Lord versus a Bounty Hunter versus a Jedi?” Says Boyd. “The story has to go in the same direction for almost everyone, otherwise it would become a mess. But we also want to honor who you are – or were when you started out – and make sure the characters care about you. “

Boyd continues, “We’ll know the general premise, where? [the story is] go and we think OK, well what would be the most interesting moral choice? Sometimes they’re not even dark side or light side; it’s about loyalty. Then we build the story on that and work backwards so that it’s less about morals or your character and more about getting you personally involved as much as possible. “

Star Wars: The Old Republic - four companions of the series pose in an action shot on a sand dune

Image: BioWare / Electronic Arts

Legacy of the Sith‘s new character creation options make going through the campaigns a delightful option again, as you can mix and match weapons and skills of different classes under the Tech or Force umbrella. Many of these ancient stories hold up remarkably well.

Dark Side Inquisitor, for example, is the craziest fun I’ve ever had in an RPG of a genre. I ran across the galaxy like a total girl boss, killing everyone who disagreed with me and treating administrators who were forced to treat me like a toddler with a gun. The Imperial Agent story is another great trail, with some really twisty choices that can turn the player into a double or even triple agent.

Legacy of the Sith is currently published before the end of 2021. It will also start The old republic‘s 10th anniversary, which runs throughout 2022.

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