BioWare feels MMO comparisons to WoW are “inevitable” with SWTOR

By Stephany Nunneley, Thursday, 19 May 2011 21:58 GMT

BioWare’s Greg Zeschuk has said it’s “inevitable,” for a new large-scale MMO coming out to be compared to World of Warcraft, and Star Wars: The Old Republic is no exception. However, the co-founder of the RPG studio believes that since its MMO is “using the biggest license in the world,” SWTOR is a different kettle of fish.

Zeschuk, speaking with Gamasutra, said that while the comparisons were inevitable, the key focus for the team is to innovate and make the player feel special through their hero instead of just one of a million others.

“The key thing for us is to also innovate in that new stuff,” he said. “I try to use the word “carefully” in touchstone in that. You can go too far. … WoW in particular, one thing is, it has set consumer expectations. It also set a set of conventions of gameplay that have been experienced by millions of people. So, you know, you pay attention to those things, but while you’re paying attention, you’re doing your own thing.

“I think that’s actually one thing I’m excited about, particularly, with TOR. It is a very different experience. I think that anybody who plays it for any length of time, it’s pretty remarkable, because they actually come away [impressed]… I think it’s the strong, individualized heroic element is so powerful in the game.

“It’s obviously a BioWare game. Then you think of that in an MMO space, people have trouble conceiving it until they actually play it, and they go, “‘Oh, now this makes sense.’ It’s very, very compelling. I think it’s different. I think WoW and all the other MMOs, they have the same sort of challenge… there are thousands and thousands of heroes. You don’t really feel special. It’s an amazing experience, and it’s really rewarding and fun, but you just don’t feel special. That’s what we’re trying to do.

Ray Muzyka, also part of the interview, said that the common reaction BioWare gets from fans when they play it, is that “frankly once you’ve tried it, you just can’t go back,” he said.

“You don’t want to try other MMOs anymore. I think that’s what imbuing the game with a sense of heroic purpose and identity achieves. We’ve got the best-of-breed features from other MMOs, progression, exploration, customization, combat, and trying to use the conventions that make sense to players for accessibility wherever possible.

“We’ve layered on an amazing Star Wars story that’s set thousands of years before the movies, so there are a lot of opportunitie — [you can] have like Sith and Jedi, galactic conflict and all kinds of cool shit. It’s a really exciting time to be in the Star Wars universe. And then we’ve imbued it with that sense of heroic purpose. Once you’ve tried it, there’s no looking back. You really want to keep playing that new approach to MMOs, I think that is really refreshing.”

The full interview is through the link, and it’s worth the read, especially if you are interested in The Old Republic.

SWTOR is expected to release before year’s end, with the “outside chance” it could slip into January 2012.

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