Star Wars: The Old Republic Interview

The folks over at GameSpy have cranked out a four-page Q&A with Star Wars: The Old Republic's Daniel Erickson about the challenges of working on a game with such a massive scope, the advantages and disadvantages of working with an established IP, how he and the rest of the team prepare character dialogue, the methods in which the game presents light/dark side choices, and much more. An excerpt:
GameSpy: You're working with decisions that stick with you, you can't go back and reload like you could in Dragon Age. How does that affect your writing style?

Daniel Erickson: It means you have to put a lot more warnings out there. Sometimes characters have to, let's say, over-explain the results of what might happen from the path you're going down. "You realize, I'm totally gonna be dead if you kill me, all these bad things..." The most complicated one is... For those decisions to be impactful, we need to track them and we need to bring them back. There are things -- I would say the Jedi Knight probably has the most of these -- that come back and bite you hundreds of hours later. Scripters don't like these. And as we go into the future content, we have a legacy of all the stuff that came before, so there are flowcharts and graphs and Excel spreadsheets filled with all the stuff you've gotta remember as a writer that has already happened in chapters one, two, and three. Because, again, much like watching your favorite television show, the continuity people are going to get you. We don't know, you might not start playing the game until two years from now, and maybe the additional content is already out. You're playing it all at once, you're seeing it right after each other, you're going to notice if there's some discrepancy.


GameSpy: For the light/dark choices, particularly on the Sith side, I'm seeing that some of the light side choices aren't necessarily what you would think of as "light side choices." The big one so far: killing the slaves quickly, as opposed to making them suffer.

Daniel Erickson: One of the things we had to do really early was decide where you started. It doesn't make any sense that you got to the Jedi Academy, and you've just became a Jedi, and you're a murderous, rampaging psychopath. At the same point, it does not make sense that you became a Sith and you got through all these sorts of things and you've never gotten your hands dirty. So on the Sith side, what we're starting with is, If you go light, you're starting with redemption stories. On the Jedi side, if you're going dark, you're starting with small temptations. You're telling somebody something that isn't necessarily true. You're sending somebody else down a path that's probably going to take them to a bad place. Then, slowly, as you go further and further down those paths, they get more and more into being those pieces.

So yeah, as a Sith, it is light side to just not torture the guy to begin with. But much later in the Sith story, to be light side you have to actually really be noble and heroic. But if you had gone straight in on both sides, which, interestingly, we do with the bounty hunter and the trooper and the agent, because these are just people... If you play the smuggler, it's kind of what you'd expect from light side and dark side choices. Same with the bounty hunter, the trooper, and the agent. But the Sith and the Jedi classes already have a point of view. So we kind of have to go against it slowly to work you up to it.