Of the entire video video games in Star Wars historical past, Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel could be the most memorable. In the rarified air of Star Wars storytelling, the place generations of writers and artists raised on the flicks vie for the possibility to place their very own creative spin on George Lucas’s universe, the final word purpose is to create work that followers will bear in mind and love for a very long time. And few video games have reached the storytelling heights of this BioWare RPG, which captures each the sensation of sitting down and watching a Star Wars film for the primary time whereas additionally giving followers a very completely different and sudden tackle the galaxy.
Set 1000’s of years earlier than the Skywalker Saga, Knights of the Old Republic tells the story of a ragtag group of heroes who should cease a Sith invasion power from taking up the galaxy. Along the best way, the heroes journey to seedy prison underworlds and historic Sith temples, undergo the Jedi trials, and carve their very own identify in Star Wars historical past. There’s by no means fairly been such a whole Star Wars online game expertise since.
Pop tradition author Alex Kane explores the concepts behind the KotOR saga within the e-book Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, out now from Boss Fight Books. Kane’s e-book is an interesting look into the event of the sport that made a deep mark on each BioWare and Star Wars. It additionally comes at a very fascinating time for BioWare, whose most up-to-date launch, the loot shooter Anthem, departs from the story- and relationship-driven RPG gameplay the studio is finest identified for. Kane’s look again on the manufacturing of KotOR is a wonderful blast from the previous for followers of the studio.
Here are 5 necessary issues we realized in regards to the sport from Kane’s e-book…
Disclosure: I obtained a free copy of the e-book for overview, and Alex Kane and I’ve each written, individually, for StarWars.com.
Knights of the Old Republic’s Big Twist
Knights of the Old Republic’s large twist — that the participant character is definitely a strong Sith Lord named Darth Revan who had his reminiscence erased by the Jedi — was important to the sport from the very starting. With The Empire Strikes Back’s iconic twist in thoughts, BioWare wanted one thing comparable so as to seize that Star Wars magic. James Ohlen, lead designer on the sport, additionally knew he wished to have an epic house battle on the finish just like the Rebel vs. Imperial fracas in Return of the Jedi.
Ohlen was impressed by films like The Sixth Sense and Fight Club when it got here time for the reveal. He knew that clues wanted to be positioned all through the sport. The twist shouldn’t be apparent however ought to stem from moments seeded into the story. ”Ten % of the viewers wants to determine your twist earlier than it occurs” to ensure that it to really feel pure, he mentioned within the e-book.
Why LucasArts Hired BioWare
LucasArts was engaged on many Star Wars video games within the early 2000s and wished to associate with a third-party developer to create a “sweeping” Star Wars story. Some LucasArts builders had been large followers of BioWare, which had made the isometric fantasy RPG Baldur’s Gate.
Further Reading: How Knights of the Old Republic 2 Became Gaming’s Great Unfinished Symphony
Simon Jeffrey, LucasArts president on the time, approached BioWare’s Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk about making a Star Wars RPG within the BioWare mildew. The three of them had been liable for sketching out the core concepts of the sport.
Yes, Knights of the Old Republic Demanded Crunch
It’s tough — possibly unimaginable, possibly irresponsible — to have a look at the sections about BioWare tradition in mild of Kotaku’s April 2019 investigative piece in regards to the many issues on the studio in the present day. The article, which covers the event of Bioware’s Anthem, kicked off a dialog about how overworked sport builders burn out. In Alex Kane’s interviews, BioWare’s luminaries bear in mind a largely joyful expertise of crunch:
“I pretty much had no life outside of work,” Mike Gallo, former LucasArts producer, instructed Kane. “I remember my friends getting mad at me because I had to constantly cancel on them, or just not even accept plans. I’m just like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. We’re makin’ a game!’ And back in those days, I didn’t even care—I could work twelve or sixteen hours every day and not even think about it.”
Gallo went into element of simply how lengthy the hours had been: “Towards the top of the PC model, we had been working a number of all-nighters. I used to be in a gathering with all of our ops individuals at LucasArts, and at one level one of many guys whispered to me: ‘Mike. You had been speaking, however you’d fade out for 5 or ten seconds after which decide up once more.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I haven’t slept in forty- eight hours.’ He’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ I mentioned, ‘Well, you know, that’s what we do.’” After work, the group would exit consuming and dancing collectively, unified by the undertaking. There had been some conflicts, Kane says, however extra a give attention to making the work one of the best it might be.
Voiceover director Darragh O’Farrell and voice coordinator Jennifer Sloan would additionally work 16-hour days throughout crunch time, six months earlier than the deadline.
The Origins of the Characters
Some of the sport’s core characters — Carth, Bastila, Zaalbar, and Mission — had been loosely primarily based on characters Ohlen created for a tabletop Star Wars RPG he ran along with his buddies: “I’d accomplished that with the Baldur’s Gate sequence, too, as a result of it takes a very long time to create characters generally.”
One character, specifically, developed throughout improvement. HK-47’s voice was at first a lot grimmer. Actor Kristoffer Tabori didn’t really feel he had discovered the voice and went for a extra comedic tone than meant within the script, which displeased many within the studio. But O’Farrell believed in it. Eventually, the remainder of the group got here round.
Further Reading: Lucasfilm Teases New Knights of the Old Republic Project
The identification of Revan was constructed into the sport from the beginning. Kane factors out that having a personality with no reminiscence or historical past is commonly “a narrative demand of the form,” so giving Revan a hidden historical past he’d been compelled to overlook was key. Having Revan be a Jedi was a core a part of the sport’s fantasy, meant to offer a really completely different expertise from Star Wars Galaxies, an MMORPG wherein Jedi had been uncommon.
The look of Revan’s armor was designed comparatively rapidly and was impressed by Mandalorian armor. The leather-based parts, not typically seen in Star Wars, made it look historic.
Knights of the Old Republic’s Missing Planet
The sport’s planets may be visited in any order (with some exceptions the place main plot factors have to be skilled so as). The number of places is one in all KotOR‘s many strengths, and planets like Taris and Manaan have change into memorable elements of the Star Wars universe.
Unfortunately, not all of BioWare’s concepts for planets ended up within the ultimate product. One planet was lower from the sport because of the impending ship date. This planet, named Sleheyron, would have targeted on gladiator fight and been managed by the Hutts. “But that was too much to do in the time we had,” Ohlen mentioned.
BioWare would return to the gladiatorial fight thought for his or her fantasy RPG Jade Empire, which was launched in 2005 and in addition used Knights of the Old Republic‘s Odyssey Engine. The capital metropolis in Jade Empire, Phoenix Gate, hosts a preventing enviornment the place masters of the sport’s martial artwork types can work their means up the ranks and observe some story threads. While it is unclear if this part of Jade Empire was impressed by BioWare’s concepts for Sleheyron, it does show that the studio was in a position to make its gladiator thought playable a couple of years later.
BioWare’s Ideas for A Sequel
There by no means actually was a BioWare KotOR II. In an interview with Mike Gallo, Kane reveals the BioWare group did not wish to rush by a sequel and felt it could be tough to observe up on the nice sport they’d already produced. But Ohlen talked about an thought they did have.
In order to out-twist KotOR, he and his group developed an thought the place the participant could be mentored by a personality of Yoda’s species. That mentor would transform the villain, with the shock coming, Ohlen mentioned, from “‘Holy crap—Yoda’s evil?’” That twist is now locked away within the giant vault of unused Star Wars concepts.
Megan Crouse writes about Star Wars and popular culture for StarWars.com, Star Wars Insider, and Den of Geek. Read extra of her work right here. Find her on Twitter @blogfullofwords.