The GameAgent Blog managed to track down BioWare's James Ohlen for a brief, albeit much-welcomed interview about one of the studio's greatest RPG achievements, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It's hard to believe that on Monday, July 15th, it will already have been 10 years since the game first made its debut on the original Xbox:
JC: What are you most proud of in the creation of KOTOR?
JO: The story twist. I thought we managed to pull off a twist that almost had the same impact as when Darth Vader revealed to Luke that he was his father. We used the Sixth Sense as a guide for how a good twist was pulled off. One of the lessons from that movie was that you had to leave enough clues that a sizeable percentage of the audience would figure out the twist before you revealed it. If you didn't leave enough clues, then the twist would ring false.
JC: You were the lead designer on both KOTOR and Bioware's most recent Star Wars game, Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). How did your experience with developing KOTOR affect or influence SWTOR later on?
JO: If you look at all the games on which I've been the lead designer, you'll notice that there are certain recurring elements:
'¢ Epic heroic story arcs
'¢ Difficult moral choices that impact the story
'¢ Interesting companion characters
'¢ Classic class based RPG game systems
All of those elements were in KOTOR and the goal was to put all of them into SWTOR. That was a big challenge, since storytelling had never been done in a massively multiplayer online world and at such a large scale before.
JC: KOTOR is a masterpiece of RPG design and execution. Looking back a decade of RPG creation, do you think some of the magic has been lost, or have developers found new ways to innovate?
JO: I don't think the magic has been lost all. Casey Hudson and the rest of his team have done a great job of building the Mass Effect series into a franchise that has innovated in many different ways. The guys over at Bethesda have done some amazing stuff with the Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3. I think it's a golden age for Western RPGs right now.