San Diego Comic Con 2011 – Star Wars: The Old Republic Panel

If there is still one Bioware game everyone is looking forward to it is The Old Republic, the new Star Wars Massive Mutliplayer Online Role Playing Game. This game is moving forward smoothly, as we have the closed beta happening right now. They did make a nice crack telling everyone in the Audience to remember their Non Disclosure Agreement. While this means a lot remains under wraps, we at least know there is something in the works and it is doing very well. While no solid date was given, we were told that they are aiming for a Holiday release this year.

At the panel were a number of people, Stephen Reid, James Ohlen, Rick Vogel, Holly Fields, Richard Vocel and Catherine Tabar. The first thing they started talking about were the planets, in a vague since, as well as how you will be getting around on them. For planet to planet travel you will hve your own dedicated ship. These will be reflective of your class. This can also lead to combat inside your space-ship. On the planet side of things you will be looking at a small variety of vehicles. You will start with something basic like a hoverbike but over time you will be flying around in a Landspeeder and other vehicles.

As your Character progresses, you will find a number of things that can be personalized. You have choices of hundreds of powers that you can use. You have even more weapons and armor to choose from. At the higher levels you can even look like the iconic characters of the Star Wars Galaxy.

One thing they talked about here was the need for combat to be evocative of the movies themselves. While it did have many traditional MMO elements, it still did look to be fairly unique in what you'd be able to do. They also announced the inclusion of Companions, in fine Bioware tradition.

Ohlene took the floor next and began talking some about the Companions. They have improved with feedback they have received from the players. One is to have multiple options, more akin to the . They wanted to change many things about their characters like their skin color and hair style.

After this, they began talking with the voice actors and about the amount of effort that went behind it. Catherine and Holly were both voice actors for the game and came to speak some about their characters. Stephen told us that the voice cast already had over 900 people in it. At present they have recorded over 2 years of voice content already. With much more to go yet. Stephen outright told us they had the script written in 2006 and began recording in 2007.

Beyond that, James began to talk about how the story would progress for your individual characters. Everyone has a different story overall. Within that, you can still join in with your friends, the decision is rolled and one of the outcomes will be chosen for the group to witness. While you will witness one you will also receive the appropriate points for what choice you have made. After that he talked about the armor design. Much will be drawn from the Knights of the Old Republic world. He did mention that Star Wars is more Fantasy than Sci-Fi so less will change.

James told us something next about the planets. There are going to be 19 major worlds in the game itself with countless minor worlds. They clearly alluded to adding more of the minor worlds as time went on in addition to more major worlds over time. There will be lots of solo, End Game and Multiplayer content. These will be called Warzones for the End Game and Operations for the multiplayer. He told us there will be a world specifically for end game content. He also talked some about the quick travel system that is going to be in place for the game. While they considered having things happen in spurts, they felt it would be a bit much for five minute hyperspace jumps to having something faster for your planetary travel.

Next was Rich who told us some about the worlds itself. They were done by assigning “Pods” for the different worlds. Inside each were programmers, artists and play-testers to oversee the world. All this was done to ensure the quality that one would expect from a Bioware game with a rich and deep story.

In the end somethings were definitely worth attending the panel for. A lot of information was given out along with some nice t-shirts. As mentioned earlier, they said they have the closed beta. Still, they also announced there will be a public beta in the near future, though no solid dates were given aside from September. They encouraged people to head to their website to register as one of the only ways to get into the forth coming beta. This is one game that merits a lot of attention for sure!