Star Wars: The Old Republic Interview

After admitting the team's lack of experience and love for the MMO genre, Metro offer us an interview with BioWare's associate lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi, the main subject being obviously Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here's a rather generous excerpt:
GC: We must say we don't understand the art style, because that does seem reminiscent of Warcraft. It certainly doesn't seem reminiscent of Star Wars and it's completely different in style to the photorealistic pre-rendered cinematics and trailers.

EL: Okay, so the art style. We do that on purpose because a realistic looking game will look great the first year, will look okay the second year, and look terrible three years later when people make fun of it. While a more abstract style has more longevity. More polygons, better technology, would add nothing to the style we've chosen.

We want people to be able to play this game forever, literally. Part of the attraction is to have this alternate universe you can go to whenever you like and if it looks bad after two years you're going to feel cheated. So we wanted something that would have a lot of legs and we picked an art style that we have not seen anywhere else, which we wanted the game to look exactly like the concept art. And we take great pride in taking a vista that a concept artist has done and rendering it in-game and then put them side-by-side and see if we've hit the same notes and style.

So we picked an art style and we had a lot of people thinking that it was terrible in principle. But when you play the game, because the game look so different when it moves compared to a screenshot, I don't think I remember anyone who after they played it for weeks, or even days, complaining about it.

They would say oh, maybe that animation, but they will say, 'Oh we love the vista of the planets, the characters'. So hopefully we've succeeded, but it's a communication issue and you can't please everyone.

GC: Okay, that's fair enough. That does actually make some sense. But here comes a Star Wars-y question: one of the infinite number of problems with the prequels is that they turned the Jedi into these weird, sexless, joyless, repressed monk type characters. But how does that work with BioWare's usual romance options? By the prequels' logic falling in love would send you to the Dark Side, if it's realistic to those movies...

EL: It is and we explore exactly this issue because they are interesting. One of the first things that happen as a young padwan, on the starting planet, is that you meet these two other padwan that have a romantic involvement. And you've been asked to find out the truth about whether they are really involved. And the range of decisions you can do, whether you're going to turn them in or whether you're going to let them be - what is the Dark Side and what is the Light Side?
br> It's confusing even to the player, because attachment is the Dark Side, even if it doesn't feel evil. And so at one point you say, 'Really? I got a Dark Side point? Oh, right, that's what they were warning me against.' But these are little trifling Dark Side points.

GC: So if you start off as a Jedi can you become a Sith? Or do you just become a Jedi that has Dark Side points?

EL: So, the universe is at war. The Republic and the Empire are mortal enemies, they are in a kind of cold war. And we didn't think it would make any sense for you to kind of leave one side and go and work for the other. If you don't like what your government is doing typically you don't go and join the enemy, you try to change your government. And so that's what we've explored.

So if you're born in the Sith Empire you're not necessarily evil, that's just where you're born and because there's a war going on you care about your people and you don't want them hurt. So you will fight the Republic who are trying to bomb you into oblivion. But you will also fight the government and all the decisions that they are taking that are terrible and very aggressive.

But as a Republic person you will have Light Side and Dark Side choices. You can be a terrible, and I mean terrible, person working for the Republic. A lot like if you think of Knights Of The Old Republic, you were on the Republic's side at that time although you could be really evil.