BioWare Interviews

The new week starts off with yet another pair of interviews that were conducted with BioWare's Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk during the recent Game Developers Conference.

First, we have a Q&A at about Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, and Mass Effect 2: Can you talk about the end game ideas you have for Star Wars: The Old Republic? We are seeing end game become more critical in MMO retention, what plans do you have?

Ray Muzyka: We're trying to do some innovative different things, while also doing some things that are standard expectations for MMO players. We look at the best features for combat, exploration, progression and try to emulate and build on those as well as innovate on those features. We're innovating story, we're also innovating some things around end game with re-playability trying to encourage players to continue to play, all those things.

Greg Zeschuk: With a strong story and great characters in a game it gives you new options for end game. WoW and other MMOs have taught us that there are very clear things you can do with end game. Obviously we'll have those covered on some level, but then doing something else that is different is also really important to us.

We still want to have, like we added the character story, we want to have another dimension to give players a really good reason to play for a long time. We want players to invest the time and progress to create a lasting legacy. If it is done in the right way, we certainly have all the pillars in place that define an MMO and RPG for that matter, they are very similar pillars. We look at narrative, story, combat, conflict, exploration, progression, customization, all of these have aspects that transcend the main game and have a place in the end game. We have plans for all of these in the end game. Unfortunately, we cannot be more specific than that.

What is nice though is that we will reveal things a little bit over time. We knew it was going to be a long cycle going into development. Plus, MMO players like details so we have tried to be in depth on things. We have a great model in Star Wars to do so many great analogs for what you expect to see in things like progression in the MMO, the end game of the MMO, elements of the movies. The biggest clues are in the time line. Looking at the kinds of characters in the movies and the progression of the characters and what they get to do in the movies. That is our inspiration, so that is what we are trying to bring to life throughout the experience of Star Wars: The Old Republic. I think we're doing it.

And then Kotaku briefly chats with them about "emotionally engaging" players:
Emotional engagement, he said, is what great role-playing games can create between the games and their players. "These experiences just pull you in... The features of classic RPGs help do that, they facilitate that. The journey of an explorer gives you the sense of awe and mystery as you enter new places. You feel like you're the first person to see it.

"The tension of combat and feeling like you're going to get your ass handed to by some gigantic creature or some kind of space monster or something like that. Or a villain in a contemporary setting...

"[There can also be a] sense of pride in your progression of a character.