The show floor at this year's E3 was littered with online role playing games. You couldn't walk more than a few feet without stumbling across an MMORPG booth. Of all these games, however, two stood head and shoulders above the rest. One was Final Fantasy XIV, and the other was Star Wars: The Old Republic. After checking out the game behind closed doors, we managed to steal a few words from LucasArts senior producer, Jake Neri.
Q: Due to the power of the Star Wars brand, a lot of people are going to be coming to the game without having ever played an MMO before. How does The Old Republic accommodate for those types of players?
Jake Neri: I think at the core of our design is a host of features that will resonate with the casual gamer who's never picked up an MMO, but also the hardest of the hardcore. We've carefully created a lot of our game to support that casual player, in the sense that a casual player's attention span is going to be a lot less than that of a core player. So, right away we're trying to push the idea of being a hero in the Star Wars galaxy early. We've got our players from level 1 to feel heroic, to take out multiple enemies, make tough decisions, use tactics and strategies. So things that more casual players might have a hard time with on the surface, but once they get in and get their hands on the game, I think what they'll find is it's exciting, it's interesting, they're having fun, they're doing something that they haven't done before, but they're successful at it, and therefore hopefully they're going to continue.
At the same time, our story – one of the primary benefits of having an interesting story is that people who are not familiar with MMOs have something that they can come in at right away, and they can succeed with it. And it also works well with our hardcore players. So I think the question is will we support the casual players? Will we support hardcore players? We're building our game to capture multiple players. I think we have our finger pointed in the right direction, so far. And we'll continue to make sure we have the most accessible game we possibly can.
Q: The game is incredibly narrative driven. If a player comes to the game not knowing much about the Star Wars universe, will they still have fun with the game?
JN: I think so yeah. I think each of the individual class stories are really very interesting and a lot of fun. You don't have to have a tonne of pre-history with Star Wars; this game is set thousands of years before the Darth Vader era that most people will think of as Star Wars. So you don't need any kind of pre existing information to come in and succeed.
Q: So it's quite self contained in that respect?
JN: In that respect, yeah. That's part of the benefit of being in the era that we are, we have this brand new territory to create within. It's a big part of what we're doing for sure.
Q: The recent EA conference revealed the Hope trailer, and we learned that the player would be able to pilot their own Star ship. Will each player have their very own star ship?
JN: Yeah, they do.
Q: And do you get that from the start or is it something you have to earn?
JN: You know, you think of the ships as something you have to earn. It's a tent pole moment; a key moment of achievement inside each class. That's really what we're going for. We want the ships to be aspirational. I don't know if you saw them today – but they're big. They're very cool looking; something we know people will want to have, and own, and take into their travels.