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Monday, July 21, 2008

KotOR MMO Fun

I've been playing a little game lately. When reading a mainstream article about a new MMO, I count how many sentences it takes before the author mentions WoW. For example, in this post, I linked to an article in which the author held off until paragraph four. Well, the article that is the basis of this post only makes it to sentence one.

The article in question is this piece on Portfolio.com. In it, we get EA's chief exec, John Ricitello discussing the two MMO's EA has in development. And he drops some Star Wars upon us:

"And the one that people are dying for us to talk to them about -- in partnership with Lucas, coming out of BioWare, which is, I think, quite possibly the most anticipated game, full stop, for the industry at the point when we get closer to telling you about it.

"Does Riccitiello mean the oft rumored Knights of the Old Republic Online? "Yes," he said.

Well, this KotOR MMO certainly has been oft rumored to say the least. But we've never had any official word on it until now. There is a lot of discussion in the comments on whether this is a good or bad concept for a game, but what interests me most is the way this was handled.

Was that the proper venue or manner to announce something of this magnitude? And does it even count as an announcement?

I headed over to this (21 page and growing) thread on the BioWare forums. In response to a forum post that the KOTOR MMO has now been confirmed, Chris Priestly, Community Communications Coordinator (those are a lot of C's in that title), states:

"I will post this again in the new thread. There have recently been rumors about the BioWare MMO. Once again, these are just rumors and we do not comment on rumors."

But isn't a statement by EA's chief exec more than a rumor? Priestly adds (on page 5):

"BioWare is working on an MMO. That is not a rumor. BioWare is not working on KotOR 3. That is not a rumor (we are also not working on Baldur's Gate 3, Neverwinter Nights 3, Barbie Dream Home 3, etc). We are making an MMO, but the subject of what that MMO will be is rumors. We do not comment on rumors. Sorry for your confusion."

I had high hopes for Barbie Dream Home 3 but I guess I'll have to be content with my three-story Barbie dream house.

The "sorry for your confusion" came off a bit passive-agressive. But okay, so maybe KotOR MMO does not equal KotOR 3. And it's absolutely fine that BioWare wants to hold off on commenting until they can release the news in their own way. But I just wonder how they feel about a suit from EA dropping these comments?

In response to the tight lips at BioWare, the forum posters play internet detective and pull up these trademark links.

Over on Joystiq, Christopher Grant tracked down the writer of the Portfolio.com story who told him:

"...when asked specifically if this game was "KotOR Online", Riccitiello responded unequivocally, "Yes."

Well, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

In terms of the fan base, you have some people excited that there is a new Star Wars MMO in the works because it is still a powerful IP to many. But then you have some KotOR fans who don't like the idea of their beloved franchise departing from the single-player format.

I've always thought that the reputation of a company does factor in, on some level, to the initial success of a game. For example, Blizzard's fantastic record definitely didn't hurt when WoW was released, and some people are so down on SOE that they need convincing when it comes to a new SOE MMO.

But what's intriguing in this case is the varied reputation of the entities involved. Most people definitely don't have a lot of respect for EA and I don't blame them. And although they are not actually developing the game, they are essentially in charge. There's always the concern (unfounded or not) that they could really screw with the product. Since LucasArts is in on this as well, you have to look at their rep. I'd say it was quite good in the old days but I'm pretty sure things have gone downhill in terms of overall perception. So that's one big negative and one neutral/negative factor. But then you have BioWare, a company that is absolutely highly respected by the vast majority of players. So how will it all pan out? Will BioWare's rep be strong enough to counteract the others?

Of course, there is much concern in the community over how the mechanics of the game should, could, and will work. A popular debate on the forums is the whole "everyone wants to be a Jedi" can of worms. Massively suggests a solution is to make other classes (Wookies, Mandalorians, Droids) super compelling. I like the ideas in the article and I think that could surely help, but I don't think it will ever completely override the draw of the force.

Personally, I would just give into the whole Jedi thing and let people play one right out of the starting gate if they wanted to. Just because there are a lot of Jedi doesn't mean they all have to be the same. There could be sub-classes of Jedi (healers, warriors, etc.) or people could go down different paths in the Jedi skill tree that would focus on different aspects of the Jedi powers. Of course, there is always the issue that so many Jedi breaks with the canon of the Star Wars universe. But there were plenty of Jedi during the time period the game will cover. I will be very interested to see BioWare's solution and wouldn't be surprised if they had a better one.

And in case you forgot, there actually is a Stars Wars MMO out there already. What was it called again? Oh, that's right, Star Wars Galaxies. In this interview on Massively, Smed reminds us that the live team is still very active and promises a ton of content ("vehicles in battles on Hoth") of expansion quality will be released for free.

29 Comments:

Blogger Anskiere said...

I was mixed myself when I heard. On one hand, I love the KotOR games, and still want a KotOR 3. If this takes the place of KotOR 3, I'd be upset. If it doesn't, and it is just an MMO within the KotOR times, I think it could be really good. Either way, I will probably be checking it out when it finally does come around.

Of course, having a bunch of Jedi running around in that era of Star Wars makes *much* more sense than having Jedi in Galaxies. There were tons of Force users of all alignment. Sith, Jedi, Grey Jedi.

Actually the more I think about it the more interested I am in it...

10:22 AM  
Blogger Pani said...

Interesting thoughts there and thanks for all the links.

I've just started a blog myself specifically for KOTOR MMO with the hopes/feeling that despite the "no comments" we keep getting, it is indeed a KOTOR MMO.

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Blogger Dr Chewbacca said...

That's an interesting article that sums up the situation at this point in time.

For people interested in clues, rumors and facts about this upcoming Bioware Star Wars KOTOR MMO, there's a blog over there trying to collect what's being written on the topic on various sites.

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Blogger Meili said...

I agree that Jedi should be a class, I mean that's what most players will want. It just makes no sense not to let players play as Jedi unless the game devs don't want to make money. :P

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