How do you follow a game like Knights of the Old Republic, the most famous original Star Wars tale a video game has ever told? Forget about Obsidian's sequel for a moment and imagine it was BioWare staring at a piece of paper wondering how to follow a twist like Revan's. Because once upon a time BioWare was - and it came up with an idea.
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In September we asked you to share your favourite moments from an Obsidian game and we, on behalf of Paradox, dangled prizes in front of you in return: consoles for the two winners, PC Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny keys for the 10 runners-up. And you answered in your droves.
Over the years, I've come to know what to expect from Obsidian, or so I thought. Obsidian makes RPGs, beautiful, intriguing, sometimes slightly shonky RPGs with great writing and vivid characters and just a lingering trace of thriftiness. They make games where the concepts, where the soul, trumps the budget.
Everyone has a drawer they can't close because it's stuffed too full of things. Mine has a whisk which always stops the bloody drawer from closing, and it's really annoying, but Obsidian Entertainment's drawer has around 100 game proposals in it. Game outlines in various states, from two-page snacks to 60-page feasts. "There's tons of them," Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker tells me. And for Obsidian there was never a time of greater need of an idea than summer 2012, after Microsoft cancelled Xbox One launch game Stormlands, and when South Park: The Stick of Truth was onboard THQ's sinking ship. It spurred a period now referred to in Obsidian history as the Summer of Proposals.
Last week a wonderful Star Wars animation captured the imaginations of gaming audiences and beyond. It told the story of a mother trying to rescue her young daughter from the Dark Side of the Force. Innocence versus corruption. It was emotional, cinematic and had an impressive fight scene. Such production values wouldn't have looked out of place in a cinema. But this animation wasn't building excitement for the big screen. It was building excitement for a game. But could a game ever live up to it?
What the animation tapped into was a longing for a cinematic Star Wars game with a story. Perhaps Star Wars: Battlefront 2 will have a story in 2017. Amy Hennig's Star Wars action adventure, due out in 2018, definitely will. But will they be deep and winding and emotional enough? Let's cut to the chase: what the trailer tapped into was a longing for Knights of the Old Republic 3.
Imagine the fantastical sights and sounds of Star Wars brought to life with the razzmatazz of the Mass Effect series (which in a way I suppose was BioWare's KOTOR 3 - one it could creatively fully control). Imagine an emotional BioWare tale of Light and Dark, with all the characters and romances and betrayals the studio is famed for. The battles! The Lightsabers thrumming and clashing like cymbals, Force powers crackling and raging. I would like no game more! But I can't have it.
Artists at Pillars of Eternity developer Obsidian have, in their spare time, made some quite stunning Star Wars environments.
Looking for a Rey to spend your money? Ren look no further for it is Star Wars Day! M'az Kanata believe it!
There are promotions on Steam, GOG, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and the App Store. Google Play doesn't seem to be doing anything significant. There are a handful of promotions surrounding Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Wars Battlefront, including a PS4 and Origin discount to the game - and 50 per cent off on Xbox Live if you're a Gold member.
On Xbox Live the promotion is a bit naff: earn £3 promotional credit when you buy the film Force Awakens and play Star Wars Battlefront.
A possible link between Kylo Ren's Lightsaber in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the decade-old Knights of the Old Republic video games, has been found. If the link holds true it would seem to cement those games in Star Wars film canon.
What a lot of tempting deals there in Steam's 2015 Thanksgiving sale, the Exploration Sale. It's like having a bowl of cold roast potatoes in front of you at 11pm: you know you shouldn't but oh go on maybe just one.
Knights Of The Old Republic 2 is a game I'd love to see the pitch for. Did Obsidian actually say that the plan was to systematically tear down, subvert and scornfully rip great chunks of flesh out of the Star Wars universe and George Lucas' shallow sense of morality and storytelling? or was it more on the lines of "So, we're thinking three bladed lightsabres this time," with Chris Avellone accidentally left locked in the car?
UPDATE 16TH OCTOBER: Praise the Midi-chlorians! Aspyr has released another Knights of the Old Republic 2 patch on Steam. Its contents aren't as noteworthy as in the last patch but they're to be celebrated with Ewoks nonetheless.
Added 20 user-generated achievements (see pinned thread for details)
UPDATE #2: In a short email response, Obsidian boss Feargus Urquhart acknowledged the news.
UPDATE 22/01/2015 11.19pm: The latest batch of Star Wars game has arrived on GOG. It includes:
That "multi-year" Star Wars game deal EA signed with Disney in fact lasts a decade, EA has revealed.
Please note that there are spoilers about Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 in this article, although I try to keep them to a minimum.
There's definitely something big in the works at Obsidian beyond South Park and Project Eternity, and "it is already looking great", studio CEO Feargus Urquhart told me in an email overnight.
Obsidian Entertainment, developer of Knights of the Old Republic 2, "would love to" pitch a new Star Wars game to Disney.
Knights of the Old Republic 2 developer Obsidian wants to pitch a new Star Wars game to new Star Wars owner Disney.
The number four has become a number three - it was a countdown rather than a number symbolic of the new Project X RPG that Obsidian has been teasing.
Obsidian role-playing game Knights of the Old Republic 2 has launched on Steam - over seven years after it launched in UK shops.
Drew Karpyshyn not only resembles Commander Shepard facially - he created him. Drew Karpyshyn was one of BioWare's greatest ever writers. He was lead writer of cherished Star Wars role-playing game Knights of the Old Republic, and he was lead writer of Mass Effect 1, 2, and all the books in-between (not Deception). Along the way, Karpyshyn also influenced Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire and massive storied MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic - a job that meant he couldn't be a part of Mass Effect 3.
Knights of the Old Republic 2 lead designer Chris Avellone has praised, to Eurogamer, the efforts of voluntary The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod (TSLRCM) team.
A new Knights of the Old Republic collection containing the first two games in the series is allegedly coming soon to PC.
I think it's fair to say videogames are fundamentally selfish exercises. And I mean that in a broad, all-encompassing sense: whether you're watching your gnocchi-shaped Mii squat its way into bikini season or conquering some remote alien backwater in the guise of a faceless space-bobby, the focus is on you, the player, and how absolutely amazing and sexy and important you are.
The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords Restored Content project has entered open beta after years of development.
BioWare has banned users of the Star Wars: The Old Republic forum from discussing the subject of homosexuality.
(Update: EA has since rubbished this nonsense and we've killed everyone involved.)
Xbox (also available on PC)