I'm trying to not waste my time going to all the links and articles that have been posted time and time again on MMORPG.com "confirming" or "confirming rumors" or whatever they've been doing. It's hard and so far I've failed. I'm excited!
But, to sum it up, it's been known for a while that BioWare, the company behind the amazing X-Box RPG Knights of the Old Republic as well as other great RPG titles, has been working on a MMO. It has been rumored for a long time that the MMO they have been working on is a Knights of the Old Republic game. Recently, some articles have surfaced claiming to "confirm" the rumor that BioWare's secret MMO project is indeed a KOTOR game.
This is very, very intriguing to me. So, instead of writing responses on the 18,975 threads on the MMORPG.com forums, I'm just going to write a blog post. Enjoy.
What made Knights of the Old Republic so good?
To me, it was the great story and great characters. The story was full of intrigue and wonder, secrecy and heart pounding action, and probably featured the BEST twist in any RPG story I've ever seen. The characters were dynamic and varied, but most importantly, very influenced by the decisions you'd make.
Their alignment system was incredible. Not only did your companions follow more closely down the path you had chosen for yourself (light or dark side) but they closer you grew to them, the more they'd reveal to you about their past and their motives. It was absolute genius.
But would it work in a MMO? I'm positive if BioWare is doing a KOTOR MMO they'll use an alignment and reputation system like they did in KOTOR 1. In a MMO you won't have a party of NPC companions, unless of course they try for the Gods and Heroes model (which I really hope they don't.) So the alignment system will be just for your personal good/evil focus, however obviously it should affect your standing with people/NPCs of the opposite alignment. The reputation can be used like that which we see in any 'traditional' WoW-esque MMO, however hopefully much, much deeper and more personalized then simply grinding faction for additional unlocks.
UXO (Ultima Ten: Odyssey) was planning to have a system where you'd be given choices during their quests to solve the problem and complete the quest in different ways, each effecting your standing with the different Virtues. This seems like the perfect type of set up BioWare could use for a KOTOR MMO. Of course, you'd have clear black and white good vs. evil options, but also a lot of gray ones that you weren't sure what the effect would be. KOTOR excelled at giving you dialogue options that were rarely 100% clear, and even if they were you'd never know exactly how your comrades would react. If they did this for a MMORPG, wow.... just wow. Best-game-ever material.
The big question to me is what KOTOR era time period? I'd say it'd either have to be:
A) During the events leading directly up to KOTOR 1. Post-Revan and Malik turning to the dark side and waging war on the Republic, but before the events of KOTOR 1. Have Republic and Sith for good/evil and PVP. Plenty of PVE options too.
B) During the Mandalorian Wars before the events of KOTOR 1. This would make it more difficult for faction type PVP, as there were very few Sith before Revan/Malik began their crusade. Unless of course you could be a Mandalorian character.
So for character races, it's Star Wars, so you have about a billion options.
I'd REALLY love to see the option to not JUST be Jedi, but also Mandalorians and Droids. Obviously, the Mandalorians are powerful enough to wage war with the Republic (Jedi) and do OK, and droids can use the fact that they are robots to be as fast/powerful etc. as a Jedi. This way, NO alpha-class, competition between Jedi and non-Jedi, and a LOT more interesting then only having Jedi.
If the game is just Jedi of either Light or Dark side alignment, all with lightsabers, it's going to be boring.
Throw in Mandalorians and Droids, tons of guns and explosives etc. and use the fact that their technology allows them to compete with the Jedi, and you got yourself a great game. We saw from KOTOR 1 that all characters were capable of becoming evil or good, without having to be Jedi to do so, so the alignment system will still work having non-Jedi players.
I'd also say don't even attempt to throw in space or vehicle combat. Not at first anyway. Concentrate on the ground game.
Only thing that worries me is the combat system and advancement system. The combat system in KOTOR was boring and not all too entertaining in my opinion. Mass Effect looks to have the same type of system in place. A MMO will not be able to have the "stop time" feature that ME and KOTOR have, so they'll have to adjust the combat system in a big way. I'd be 100% ok with a WoW like skill bar and abilities etc. system, but throw in the stances from KOTOR 1/2. Different saber art forms for different situations and different "stances" for different group roles available to all characters. Throw in different strengths and weakness for one saber vs. dual sabers vs. double bladed saber and you have even more options.
The advancement system in KOTOR was pretty lack-luster too. Choose a Jedi class, put points into skills you'd never really use (demolition/security on the main character? wtf. I'd only ever put points in persuasion and healing, I'm a Jedi not a hacker, I have a party of characters for that.) So they'd have to modify that a bit. Putting points into force powers as you level? It'd work, but you'd have to expand on it for non-Jedi players.
There could be a lot of class/skill options though. Jedi could specialize in being offensive with powers (ranged) or offensive with saber (melee.) Defensive with powers/melee. Or a more support class of Jedi. Of course, throw in fact that they are either Light or Dark and with those alone you have 10 classes for Jedi.
Add different melee/ranged/support/hacker/demolitions/etc. for Mandalorian and Droid characters and boom, you have LOTS of options.
So much potential... I think BioWare will put together an incredible MMORPG. If it's the Star Wars universe and KOTOR, I will be extremely happy. Even if it's not KOTOR, it will be a good MMORPG. BioWare doesn't make bad products. Period.