Ohlen: Saying SWTOR lacks innovation is an “unfair characterization”

By Stephany Nunneley, Thursday, 12 January 2012 22:15 GMT

Star Wars: The Old Republic’s director, James Ohlen, has said he disagrees with the “unfair” assessment that the MMO is an adequate effort, but one lacking in innovation.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Ohlen said if you look at other genres, such as shooters and strategy titles, the same mechanics used today are the same ones implemented 20-years ago.

“If you look at a Battlefield or a Call of Duty or a Gears of War or even a Half-Life – those games use the same tried and true interface and the same tried and true game mechanics of the first-person shooter genre that’s been around for 20 years,” he said.

“If you look at real-time strategy games, they kept the same tried and true interface and the same tried and true mechanics that existed for 20 years. Same with adventure games, same with platformers, same with fighting games, sports games.”

Ohlen said he doesn’t understand while other games can be considered genres, while MMORPG’s usually aren’t. He attributes this presupposition to the fact World of Warcraft has “dominated for so long that people just think of it as just a single game genre.”

“But it is a genre, and we wanted to appeal to fans of that genre – we don’t want to turn them away by making something that’s radically different,” he said. “And we wanted to take the lessons that have been developed in that genre over years and years and years and basically refine them, much like other companies do with other genres.

“So, I don’t know, it’s just the way it is, but I don’t see us as not being innovative. We’re actually a lot more innovative within the MMO space than comparable games in other spaces like the first-person genre, the action genre – games like that.”

Despite some of the comments to the contrary, the game has been doing well since it launched in December, and as Ohlen noted, maybe even “a little bit better” in the US than in Europe.

“Star Wars [the brand] is a little bit stronger in North America than in Europe,” Ohlen said. “The expectations on what the game was going to be for a lot of people was kind of different to what we were building. We were building essentially a classic MMO with BioWare storytelling set in the Star Wars universe. And there were a lot of people out there who wanted us to reinvent the universe and come up with a game system that had never been done before.

“And that was something we weren’t doing, so it was going to be disappointing for those people.”

What Boware did succeed with, offered Ohlen, was “creating a game that’s very fun and addictive,” which in the end, is “what’s going to make this successful.”


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