MMORPG.com: Can you give us a high level overview of Star Wars: Uprising for people hearing about the game for the first time?
Daniel Erickson: Let’s start at the super beginning. Kabam RPG is the fairly new internal RPG studio that we built at Kabam. It started a couple of years ago with, “Hey. Let’s actually build traditional, high quality, AAA RPGs in the mobile space.” The first game we released was Spirit Lords. It was sort of our Daggerfall, our Baldur’s Gate 1, us doing the engine work and getting something to stand up.
While we were still doing that work and before we got Spirit Lords out, we actually started working on Star Wars: Uprising, assuming that all of that work of actually being able to make characters walk, and inventory systems, and gear systems, and multiplayer, and all that stuff was going to come online, we started building everything else. Even though Spirit Lords was the first out the gate and we’re still going to do a bunch of stuff with Spirit Lords, the first place you’re going to start seeing the epic RPG in the mobile space come out is Uprising.
So, Star Wars: Uprising takes place just after the events of Return of the Jedi, which is super exciting. It’s the first time we get to actually be right in that premium canon space. It’s between Return of the Jedi and The force Awakens. We’re in the Anoat Sector, which is where Hoth is, where Cloud City is, and a bunch of new planets we’re going to explore. What has happened is that as soon as the emperor’s death happened and the alerts went out, the governor of the sector shut the sector down entirely. No communication, nobody goes in, nobody goes out. He put up something called the Iron Blockade, and we basically have an isolated, almost sort of North Korea state happening. In there, because of the Battle of Hoth, the Rebels don’t really have a lot of presence; they fled the sector a long time ago. It’s an interesting place where the underworld and criminal elements [are:] the smugglers, the bounty hunters, the rest of those folk who have gotten together and are fighting The Empire back.
What this means from a practical standpoint is that we have an incredibly epic traditional RPG, mixed with a fully evolving, socially driven playspace. So, you’re going to be able to play a beautiful story, done by Alexander Freed. You may know Alex from being BioWare lead writer, Dark Horse comics veteran, who just has his first Star Wars novel coming out. You’re going to be playing your own beautiful personal story, and then you’re going to be getting together for these huge sector battles, where you’re going to try and push The Empire off of different planets to open up new content. So, instead of taking players and locking them into an elder game where they’re separated out from everybody else, elder game players are pushing forward to knock down the walls and open up more of the story content.
MMORPG.com: Can you talk about what it means to you and your team to be telling a fully canon story that takes place between Episode VI and VII?
Daniel Erickson: It’s a really exciting place to be. It is new canon, which means it’s heavily under all sorts of interesting discussions and events that we get to have with all of the other parts that are moving in the Lucasfilm world. So, it’s super exciting to be able to play with the top toys, and there’s going to be exciting stuff for Star Wars fans that want to know what happened after Return of the Jedi, but we can’t talk about anything specific right now.
MMORPG.com: From what I understand, players will be able to create their own characters along the lines of a number of Star Wars fantasy archetypes, such as Bounty Hunter or Smuggler. But it also seems that players will be able to create something uniquely their own. Can you talk about how this customization and progression works in Star Wars: Uprising?
Daniel Erickson: Absolutely! So, probably one of the biggest separations was, when we sat down and we started talking about this, we’re like, “OK. We want this to be in the same breath of say, Knights of the Old Republic.” When you’re talking about great Star Wars RPGs in general, that was the target for Uprising. So, we really pulled apart all the things about Star Wars RPGs, everywhere from the pen-and-paper, to the videogame ones, that we thought worked and the ones we didn’t, and one of the things that we really did not think worked was the kind of Dungeons & Dragons-esque class system, because they do not capture most of our heroes.
Trying to give a class to Leia is extremely hard. In fact, when games made those classes, they almost made those classes just literally the characters from the screen. They somehow have all the abilities they have, but Leia was a diplomat, and she was a guerrilla fighter, and she was a spy, and when you think of Empire Strikes Back and that line-up of bounty hunters, there’s no way those guys have the same build. So, when we decided to go ahead and build Uprising, we built it as a fully open class system. There are no classes. What there are, are what we call archetypes, which are the trainers who have particular skills and have particular gear associated with them.
If you’re really obsessed with being a bounty hunter, you can go and spend a lot of time learning all the bounty hunter skills, getting all the bounty hunter gear, figuring out what your bounty hunter looks like. But if you decide that if you want your bounty hunter to be more of a melee guy, you could go over to the Hutt enforcer and you can start working on Hutt enforcer stuff and bring that melee stuff back over.
It is a no-risk system. You have a particular number of slots that are attached to your gestures, that you go into each group with. In fact, you can build ability sets and switch between them. But it is a, “What do I want to be learning today?” system instead of a, “How do I want to pigeonhole myself in?” and players are already, the very early people touching it, sort of the internal playtests, are mixing and matching and arguing about the best builds, and trying to make specific characters and what they would look like.