BioWare reminisces as KOTOR turns 10

"I remember one moment very clearly..."

KOTOR is a bit cheaper on Steam at the moment and costs £4.68.

"Knights of the Old Republic is the best Star Wars game since X-Wing and/or Tie Fighter, if not ever," wrote Kieron Gillen for Eurogamer in 2003, reviewing BioWare's foray into the land of Lightsabers.

"It's a true classic," wrote our Dan Whitehead 10 years later when he reviewed the iPad version of the game. "Not only one of the best games ever to carry the Star Wars brand but one of the best RPGs of all time."

Now BioWare has celebrated the RPG that put it on the console map exactly a decade after it was first released on the original Xbox in North America.

A commemorative wallpaper.

"I remember one moment very clearly," recalled Lukas Kristjanson, now senior writer for Dragon Age: Inquisition (DA3). "It was the day we secured the license, for certain, 100 per cent, the papers are signed and it's a go.

"We gathered in a local theatre for a company meeting, and up on the screen came the BioWare logo and the Star Wars logo. Pause. And then, it started. Of course it started, you couldn't stop it. A room full of suddenly-children all humming the Imperial March."

Kristjanson would go on to write all of Tatooine and Kashyyk and said it blew his mind. "There I was, writing the early history of a setting I had grown up with. I went deep on all the lore I could find, seeding everything with as many hints forward as I could. That was the challenge, trying to create a history that could lead to the setting I had come to love."

(I spoke to the lead writer of Knights of the Old Republic, Drew Karpyshyn, in the autumn of 2012.)

Derek Watts, art director of Mass Effect - a series KOTOR directly influenced, rather obviously - remembered having similar butterflies in his stomach.

"I couldn't believe it," he said of being appointed art director of KOTOR by producer Casey Hudson. "I accepted, and then couldn't sleep for two weeks stressing about how the hell I was going to do the job."

James Ohlen, game director of The Old Republic (the MMO), went a step further and discussed the influences that iconic RPG had on his colossal project.

"Star Wars: The Old Republic has now become the primary representation of The Old Republic era to fans."

James Ohlen

"There are many reasons why Knights of the Old Republic resonated so much with fans. But a simple one was the fact that the Star Wars IP is a natural fit for RPGs," he wrote. "Since the first movie was released in 1977, fans have wanted to live in that universe. As children, a lot of you probably used action figures to create your own stories in the Star Wars galaxy. RPGs are just a more sophisticated way of immersing yourself in another world.

"Knights of the Old Republic also drew inspiration from the original trilogy. A lot of fans were looking for a story that evoked the spirit of the original trilogy and Knights of the Old Republic seemed to give them that. And of course there was the famous twist."

BioWare would back story MMO SWTOR as being not just the continuation of the KOTOR series that fans were rabid for, but also containing enough story as to be KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Continued Ohlen: "Star Wars: The Old Republic has now become the primary representation of The Old Republic era to fans. Millions and millions of people have played it generating millions of hours of game play. Thousands of new fans try out the game every single month.

"It has provided more content and stories than all of the Star Wars movies and TV series combined. Until the launch of the new Battlefront game (and I'm just as excited as the rest of you about DICE creating a new Battlefront game), SWTOR will be the primary core [of] interactive experiences in the Star Wars universe."

Nevertheless, when EA signed a new Star Wars deal with Disney earlier this year, it also noted that new games based on the licence would be made by DICE, Visceral and BioWare - one we know about, the others we don't.

BioWare currently has its hands full making Dragon Age: Inquisition (autumn 2014) and Mass Effect 4, or whatever it ends up being called.

There was talk of BioWare working on what sounded like a new IP in late 2012, shortly after figureheads Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk departed. Yesterday BioWare's Casey Hudson tweeted an update, using the hashtag KOTOR10:

"Most of our core team that worked on SWKOTOR has been together throughout the Mass Effect series, and now our new IP project."

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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