Star Wars: The Old Republic Companion Blog, Part One

Senior game designer William Wallace tries his hand at the first in a pair of blog entries meant to give us a better perspective on how companion characters will be integrated into Star Wars: The Old Republic. New artwork and short video clips are included:
As you advance your story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, you build relationships with your companion characters based on the decisions you make throughout the game. How you treat each companion and how you act when they are in your presence determines how your relationship with them evolves. The writing team has done a fantastic job of bringing these companions to life with compelling stories and backgrounds. They add an emotional layer to the experience in the same way that such memorable characters as Bastila Shan and HK-47 did in Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic®.

From a combat and systems perspective, though, which is what my team is tasked with, bringing BioWare-style companion characters into a massively multiplayer setting is a daunting task with many hurdles:

'¢ How do you make each player's companions unique in a world where other people are experiencing the same story with the same companions?
'¢ How do you make companions a critical part of the player's combat without stepping on the usefulness of other players?
'¢ How can you make a companion character that is easy to control for players who don't want to micromanage abilities, while also offering complex options for players who enjoy that style of gameplay?

These are just some of the questions that needed to be answered to make the companion feature feel truly integrated with the game. We have been through several rounds of iteration and testing on companions to make sure we deliver the kind of experience you expect in a BioWare game. In making these changes, we believe we have also made the most advanced companions in any MMO to date.