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Video: The Old Republic's design foundations Exclusive

[Note: To access chapter selection, click the fullscreen button or check out the video on the GDC Vault website]
October 23, 2012 | By Staff

October 23, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Design, Exclusive, Video

In the online space, few games have been as ambitious as BioWare Austin's Star Wars: The Old Republic. In a market dominated by free-to-play games and incumbent MMOs, this big-budget title set out to prove that a new subscription game could thrive among the industry's biggest juggernauts.

Of course, things have changed quite a bit since the game's launch in late 2011, but despite losing some key staff and adopting a brand new business model, the ambitious design philosophies behind The Old Republic are still very much intact.

The game's executive producer Rich Vogel left BioWare Austin and joined Bethesda's Battlecry studios just a few weeks ago, but at GDC 2012 in March, he and production director Dallas Dickinson took a moment to address The Old Republic's core design concepts, detailing the major tenets that power this complex MMO.

"One of the things we wanted to do was differentiate ourselves," Vogel explained as he looked back on the game's development. "We didn't want to be like every other clone after World of Warcraft came out, because we realized that if we did that, we wouldn't be able to reach or keep the players we wanted to keep when we initially launched this game."

With The Old Republic, BioWare Austin knew it had to find a way to innovate, but without completely reinventing the wheel. The game's target audience was in large part already familiar with existing MMOs, so the studio needed to find a way to create something that was fresh and exciting, but also inviting to those MMO veterans.

Vogel said that throughout development, the team had to focus almost exclusively on attracting those dedicated core players. "They are our influencers, they are our viral connection to the community. It's very important that we aim carefully at our target audience so we can get them into the game early, establish the economy, establish the base, and establish the life and heartbeat of our game."

Vogel said this "core first" mentality helped give the game a solid following right out of the gate, and he believes that foundation will persist throughout the game's lifespan, and will go a long way toward helping the MMO in the years ahead.

During the rest of the presentation, Vogel and Dickinson offered even more insight into the driving forces behind The Old Republic's development, and you can check out the full presentation in the above GDC Vault video.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC and GDC Europe already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription Beta via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can send an email to Gillian Crowley. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC Online, GDC China, and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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Michael Joseph
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It's completely understandable why these two would express so much delight in having completed an enormous and complex project such as this and for doing so at such an impressively high quality.

Undoubtedly without first class project management this project could have ended up like Curt Schilling's 38 Studios whos assets were auctioned off today.

So congratulations on your ACHIEVEMENT! You get 5 gold stars for project management for completing this project! Ok ok... we'll make it 500,000 gold stars.

But what was the point? It feels kinda like having successfully built the Burj Khalifa.
It's bigger than those that came before it but... in most ways it's still just another skypeni... errr skyscraper. People involved in game production can appreciate the level of personal achievement but the player cannot.

So hopefully what they've learned here can go towards making games that are more meaningful in the future.

Michael Joseph
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We have enough Skyscraper games.

anecdotal info
The Skyscraper Index is a concept put forward in January 1999[1] by Andrew Lawrence, research director at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein,[2] which showed that the world's tallest buildings have risen on the eve of economic downturns

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John Trauger
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I'm back at:
All this wonderful project management, and the game lost half its subscriber base in 6 months. And they even SAY that retention is cheaper than scrounging up new players.

What did this massive structure miss?

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