After months of speculation, the MMO often dubbed the 'worst kept secret' in games development and self-described by LucasArts as "the game that's been rumoured for years" has finally been unveiled: BioWare's latest Star Wars-based online title.
The two companies - one, George Lucas' privately-owned games publisher/developer, the other a team acquired by EA a year ago - today unveiled the game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, almost twelve months after they officially announced a vague partnership for a 'ground-breaking interactive entertainment product'.
The Old Republic has been described by reports coming out of the unveiling press event in San Francisco as a project of massive scale, with lots of story-based content. The game is being developed by BioWare's Austin satellite studio, founded in March 2006 to make the new game.
The development team is staffed by former leads of the Knights of the Old Republic series - the RPG created by BioWare for LucasArts which has inspired the MMO - and also staff from LucasArts' other MMO, Star Wars Galaxies.
The title is expected to arrive next year on PC, with console versions potentially following.
In an official announcement of the game, Darrell Rodriguez, president of LucasArts commented: "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the most critically acclaimed Star Wars game in LucasArts history and a preeminent example of our company’s interactive storytelling heritage.
"For a long time, we’ve wanted to return to the franchise in a grand way, and we felt that the best setting for it was an online world that would allow millions of people to participate in the experience together. We knew that the developer capable of working with us to deliver an engrossing story with a fully-realized online world was BioWare."
“Traditionally, massively multiplayer online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars - combat, exploration and character progression,” added Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder and GM/CEO of BioWare and GM/VP of Electronic Arts Inc., “In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we’re fusing BioWare’s heritage of critically-acclaimed storytelling with the amazing pedigree of Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and adding a brand-new fourth pillar to the equation – story. At the same time, we will still deliver all the fun features and activities that fans have come to expect in a triple-A massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, Star Wars: The Old Republic is set in a very exciting, dynamic period in the Star Wars universe.”
Dr. Greg Zeschuk, co-founder and VP development operations, BioWare and EA VP added: “Star Wars: The Old Republic is set roughly 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic, a timeframe that is completely unexplored in the lore. BioWare has been able to add to the Star Wars history in developing the game’s story and has created an overarching narrative that players can enjoy, regardless of their play style. Our goal is to offer players an emotionally rewarding experience that combines the traditional elements of MMO gameplay with innovations in story and character development.”