A short web documentary about Star Wars: The Old Republic contains not just early-production in-game footage and concept art, but also Ray Muzyka’s proclamation that the game will be the “best thing that BioWare’s ever done.”
Now that Warhammer Online and Wrath of the Lich King are out, the biggest MMO lurking in the distant darkness of the future is BioWare’s first foray into massive space, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Naturally, both BioWare and LucasArts are aware of the title’s potential clout, and so over this last weekend released a web documentary starring some of the major players in the project atop concept art and some actual in-game footage.
For the most part, it’s a pretty standard “Hey look at us, aren’t we going to be awesome?” spiel, and the in-game footage isn’t exactly breathtaking – I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here and chalk that up to it being early in development, though. On the positive side, if the concept art and footage are any indication, they’ve nailed the KotOR aesthetic (as one would have hoped, given that they made it) in both design and the general feel of combat.
The main thing that they keep bringing up is how integral story will be to the TOR experience. Sure, BioWare’s had plenty of experience crafting an engaging single-player story and weaving it with the gameplay, but a MMO is a wholly different beast. Persistent worlds and storytelling aren’t the most comfortable of bedfellows, and while having a story-driven MMO isn’t exactly a new concept, nobody’s really hit the ball out of the park yet … at best, they’re stranded on second base with two outs.
It’s one thing to have the player save Zaalbar the Wookiee, who consequently pledges a life-debt to your character. It’s another thing entirely to have a hundred thousand Zaalbars all pledging lifedebts to every single player character who did the quest to save him in the first place.
Maybe this is just needless pessimism, because BioWare certainly has the credentials to potentially pull it off, and there are more blind wild guesses than concrete details at this point. If they can work magic with the concept, I’ll be as thrilled as anybody, and I’m definitely looking forward to TOR. But it’s certainly no easy task.