"In order for a company to be successful and control its own destiny you need to own your own IP, and we didn't own Dungeons & Dragons or Star Wars. Mass Effect was something we decided we had to do instead of another Star Wars game."
- BioWare's James Ohlen shares why KotOR 2 plans gave way to the creation of the Mass Effect series
Eurogamer has shared an insightful story on BioWare and the making of its Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game. Through an interview with BioWare Austin creative director James Ohlen, the story traces Knights of the Old Republic's history back from its initial concept to its eventual 2005 launch.
There are a lot of interesting game development tidbits to be found in the full interview, but one particularly interesting point brought up by Ohlen involves the moment when BioWare moved on from Knights of the Old Republic to Mass Effect.
Though the studio is now working with both original and licensed intellectual properties, BioWare made the call to leave brands like Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons behind following the release of Knights of the Old Republic. Though the company did draft up a concept for their own Knights of the Old Republic 2, BioWare heads eventually decided to create an original game instead.
Looking back, Olgen notes that "it was a very smart decision on their part." Instead of creating a new Knights of the Old Republic game, BioWare and the KotOR team started work on Mass Effect. Meanwhile, the itch to dive back into the Baldur's Gate world eventually led to the Dragon Age series.
Some features from Knights of the Old Republic would go on to inspire things in BioWare's later games. Ohlen explains that the Millennium Falcon-like Ebon Hawk that transported the party from one planet to another in KotOR would later inspire the design of the Normandy in Mass Effect and the campsite hub in Dragon Age: Origins.
"We wanted to have the Ebon Hawk be your own Millennium Falcon, we wanted it to be a core of the game. It was, essentially, your home base," Ohlen tells Eurogamer. "It worked out really well for us. It was a good place for you to roleplay with your companions and to make the world feel bigger than it actually was."
The full Eurogamer piece is well worth a read as well and offers a sizable amount of history on the development of that pivotal Star Wars game.