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Ask Massively: I feel a disturbance in the Force

Kevin Stallard

We are optimists here at Ask Massively. We went to go see Episode 3 despite the fact that Lucas managed to turn the Greatest Movie Villain of All Time into a whiny emo teenager. We choose to remember, fondly, the days of the Zahn Trilogy and Star Wars Mud and not the fiasco that was N.G.E.

You can imagine that I have been dreading this question ever since I heard that BioWare is planning on creating an MMO set in the Star Wars universe called Star Wars: Old Republic.

Dear Obi-Wan Massive,

Is BioWare going to fall to the Curse of Lucas and release yet another crappy Star Wars video game? They beat the curse once with Knights of the Old Republic, but can they evade Lucas and his creative death touch forever?

- Laura T.

Well Ms. T, I have some good news and some bad news for you.

If anyone can deflect the curse of George F. Lucas (his actual middle name is "Walton") it is BioWare. BioWare has managed to make D&D games that don't suck, and a Star Wars game that doesn't suck. Given the history of these two franchises and the multitude of terrible games released in their name, that is no mean accomplishment.

That said, MMO's face a unique challenge. Lore matters. Lore is what drives continued game development. Lore is the engine that drives a game and gives players a reason to play. While Star Wars has a rich vein of lore to mine from, Lucas and Friends have an annoying tendency to exercise rigid (and harmful) creative control over outside projects that result in games like Rebel Assault or Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds. Or, to put it more bluntly, LucasArts tends to do to their games what LucasFilm has done to their movie franchises over the last decade or so.

There are only so many times that you can give someone a(nother) second chance. If anyone can beat the odds and make a good Star Wars MMO, it is BioWare. However, if Sony has problems dealing with the Lucas "creative team", I can't imagine it will be any easier for BioWare. At Dragon*Con several years ago, a "very senior member of Sony's team" flatly stated that Star Wars Galaxies was "Lucas's problem, not ours". It is hard enough to create a good MMO without having your creative teams shackled by intellectual property owners who don't know and don't care to know how to make a decent role playing game.

I want to believe that Old Republic will be a good game, but experience dictates that I remain skeptical until I see the results for myself.

If you have a question for us at Ask Massively, feel free to stop by our tip line or send us a note at ask AT massively DOT com.

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