Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Interview
|Teresa Cotesta, Communications Coordinator at Bioware Corp, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions regarding their upcoming release Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
|05.02.05 - 8:19 pm
XG: What is the story behind Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic?
TC: The story takes place 4000 years before Episode I, and starts off shortly after the Republic has won a war against the Mandalorians. At some point during the war however, something twisted the two powerful young Jedi who led the Republic to victory. When they returned from the Outer Rim worlds, they came not as saviors, but as conquerors at the helm of an unimaginably large Sith fleet. Darth Malak, one of the two conquerors, lost his Master in a battle with the Jedi, but the Republic is unable to resist his overwhelming armada of warships. As the game starts off, you begin in a search for a powerful female Jedi who might represent the Republic's only hope for survival.
XG: Will Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic be developed only for Xbox and how will it take advantage of the Xbox hardware?
TC: BioWare is developing the game for both the Xbox and PC with the Xbox version scheduled to be released first, in the spring of 2003. For both versions of the game, our goal is to create a cinematic experience that makes players feel like they are inside a great Star Wars movie. With the unique power of the Xbox, we're able to use special shaders to create an almost photographic render quality, through the use of environment mapping, bump-mapping and per-pixel flares. Dynamic lighting and stencil buffer dynamic character shadows further enhance the visuals and provide players an unprecedented sense of immersion. You'll see starships and birds flying in the skies, dust swirling around your feet on Tatooine, and grass blowing in the wind on the plains of Dantooine. We've really worked hard to ensure players feel like they're in a Star Wars movie and the power of the Xbox was critical in helping us achieve that goal.
XG: What is the estimated release date for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic?
TC: The Xbox version is scheduled for release in the spring of 2003. The PC version follows soon thereafter in the fall of 2003.
XG: What will make this game stand out from other Star Wars games and be unique among other RPG's?
TC: BioWare will be drawing from our experience developing award winning RPGs, such as the Baldur's Gate series and Neverwinter Nights, to develop a very special Star Wars roleplaying experience. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the first Star Wars RPG released for the Xbox. We're hoping to really fill that almost universal demand for a classic Star Wars story, epic in scope with great new characters to reveal, while retaining the visual and audio feel of Star Wars. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a very immersive game that we hope will evoke the emotional responses that provide a memorable role-playing experience. Rich character development allows advancement through skills, feats, weapons and items. As characters advance, player choices from the over 50 force powers, skills and feats available will result in a personal combat style reflective of those decisions. Character actions further affect the world and the player's status in it. Role play with an evil flair, and you'll see your character slowly develop visual signs of his or her trip down the dark path. Additional game variety will be provided through several mini-games woven into the storyline, as well as the opportunity to role-play different character classes and races. Players can select from a crew of up to 9 NPCs to fill party slots available throughout the adventure. Development of this game has been a massive effort and it's loaded with amazing environments, rich sound effects, fully voice-acted dialog, galaxy shaking battles and memorable villains that will deliver a rewarding role playing experience in a fresh but familiar Star Wars galaxy.
XG: To what extent, if any, will this game be integrated with Xbox Live?
TC: Nothing is confirmed as of yet, but we are exploring the option of Xbox Live. It's certainly something we're interested in.
XG: What character classes / races can you play?
TC: The main player character will be human and can be played as one of three classes: soldier, scout or scoundrel. Throughout the course of the game the player will have the opportunity to become a Jedi, making available Jedi specific dual classes such as the Jedi Guardian, Jedi Consular and Jedi Sentinel. Additional races can be played by assuming control of NPCs that have joined your party. Ever wanted to experience the raw power and rage of a Wookiee? Here's your chance! In addition to playing as a variety of human classes the party system allows the player to play as a Wookiee, Twi'lek, Cathar or even a deadly assassin droid. As you can imagine, players have a wide variety of options for gameplay, but can always choose to focus on the player created character and leave the rest of the party to the game AI.
XG: What weapons and force powers do you have?
TC: There are over 50 force powers separated into offensive, defensive and enhancement Force powers. Some of the aggressive Force powers are Choke, Lightning and Whirlwind. Some of the defensive powers include Force shield, Energy resistance and Heal. Enhancement powers include Burst of Speed and Master focus. Whenever a Jedi gains a level a new Force power can be selected. The more powerful Force powers have prerequisites and level limitations. For example, Force Storm requires that the Jedi already know how to use Shock and Lighting as well as being 15th level.
There are many different kinds of weapons in the game, but of course light sabers are very popular. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that light sabers not only look amazing but also come in a variety of different forms. For example, players will see the double bladed light saber made popular by Darth Maul in Episode I. In a unique twist, the player's light saber is not simply a found item in the game, but rather is constructed from items and crystals discovered in game play. The player will be further able to customize his or her light saber in the Ebon Hawk's machine shop by changing out crystals found throughout the game. Each light saber can have three different crystals: one crystal determines the color of the saber, while the other two crystals modify the energy output. Some crystals enhance the light saber's ability to cut through steel and thus do more damage against droids. Some crystals widen the beam of the saber making it easier to deflect blaster bolts, while other crystals simply improve the energy output all around, making for a more powerful weapon. In addition to light sabers, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic contains numerous other weapons including a variety of blasters, pistols, bladed weapons, rifles, grenades, disruptors, bow casters and many, many more that also come in dual wield and two handed forms. Combat is clearly an important part of the game and one that we want to make as personal to the player as possible!
XG: What locations does the game cover?
TC: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic will have seven planets to travel to, plus a variety of other unique locations. Some of the more familiar ones that you will recognize from the movies or extended universe are Tatooine, Kashyyyk and Dantooine. The new planets created are ones like the decaying city world of Taris, and the water world of Manaan, which is a world occupied by the Selkath. This is a new creature created by our designers, and has quite a unique look and characteristics. All the new planets have the Star Wars look and feel while at the same time providing players new areas to explore in the Star Wars universe.
XG: Will this be a linear or non-linear RPG?
TC: We are shooting for an experience that blends a compelling and interesting storyline with the feeling of being able to really control your destiny. There is a distinct storyline that provides the framework for the game; however, players can advance the storyline in a manner and pace that they find most personally rewarding. For example, players can freely travel between many of the planets, and once on a planet, will find an enormous world to explore.