Bioware associate lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi, said the developer decided against giving Star Wars: The Old Republic a more realistic look because the firm didn't think the art style would prove to be fresh a few years out.
Speaking in an interview with Metro, Lusinchi said in order for the game to continue looking great, it needed to look more abstract
"We do that on purpose because a realistic looking game will look great the first year, will look okay the second year, and look terrible three years later when people make fun of it," he explained. "While a more abstract style has more longevity. More polygons, better technology, would add nothing to the style we've chosen.
"We want people to be able to play this game forever, literally. Part of the attraction is to have this alternate universe you can go to whenever you like and if it looks bad after two years you're going to feel cheated. So we wanted something that would have a lot of legs and we picked an art style that we have not seen anywhere else, which we wanted the game to look exactly like the concept art. And we take great pride in taking a vista that a concept artist has done and rendering it in-game and then put them side-by-side and see if we've hit the same notes and style.
"So we picked an art style and we had a lot of people thinking that it was terrible in principle. But when you play the game, because the game look so different when it moves compared to a screenshot, I don't think I remember anyone who after they played it for weeks, or even days, complaining about it."
Lusinchi also explained Light and Dark points in the game, using play choice as an example of how one ends up leaning more one way or the other - no matter if choosing Republic or Empire.
"The universe is at war, the Republic and the Empire are mortal enemies, they are in a kind of cold war," he said. "And we didn't think it would make any sense for you to kind of leave one side and go and work for the other. If you don't like what your government is doing typically you don't go and join the enemy, you try to change your government. And so that's what we've explored. So if you're born in the Sith Empire you're not necessarily evil, that's just where you're born and because there's a war going on you care about your people and you don't want them hurt. So you will fight the Republic who are trying to bomb you into oblivion. But you will also fight the government and all the decisions that they are taking that are terrible and very aggressive.
"But as a Republic person you will have Light Side and Dark Side choices. You can be a terrible, and I mean terrible, person working for the Republic. A lot like if you think of Knights Of The Old Republic, you were on the Republic's side at that time although you could be really evil.
"That's the great thing about BioWare games that I liked even before I joined BioWare. I tend to play evil at the beginning because it's fun, but then I can't do it. There comes a point in the story where the consequences of my actions shock me and I have to switch. But when I play a good guy there's always a time when I think, 'I just want to punch this guy, he's insufferable.' So I think we do a good job of tempting you one way or another and showing you the consequences."
You can read the full interview through the link.