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The Old Republic Unveiled: Leveling, Sidekicking, and Questing

Michael Zenke

Moving on up by knocking stuff down - it's the standard MMO trope. We know that Star Wars: The Old Republic will feature a fairly standard leveling mechanic. But what do you to do level up? What sorts of stories will we be engaging in, how will we get to max level? BioWare is looking to up the ante by providing that 'heroic' experience from level one on. Join us to talk about the importance of decision-making, the company's view on mentoring and multi-level parties, and the dangers of the 20 foot tall k'lor'slug!

Gallery: Star Wars: The Old Republic Concept Art | 75 Photos

What kind of level cap are you looking at?

Rich Vogel, Co-GM BioWare Austin: We are going to have a level-based system, and we are going to have a level cap. We can't share what that number is just yet.

Gordon Walton, Co-GM BioWare Austin: Because it might change. So, a lot of the things we're not talking about we're not talking about because we're teases. We're not talking about them because they're not settled. One of the things about the way BioWare makes games: we do a lot of iteration before we settle on "good". Is it good enough, is it right? Is it going to compel people?

We'd rather come to you with real information than blow smoke up your kimono and get you all excited about something that turns out to be untrue. If we share something, it means it's been played enough in the game that we're confident it will be in the final game. It's good enough to ship almost. We're not being teases, we're just really committed to not overhyping the game.

Rich: Again, BioWare knows that with the Star Wars license overhyping can very easily be done. We want to make sure we exceed expectations with this game. The only way to do that is to only talk about systems that we understand thoroughly.

Isn't the problem with levels in a story-based MMO the fact that there isn't a last level in an MMO?

Daniel Erickson, Lead Writer BioWare Austin: I use the term "last level" pretty freely since we've got a sort of ixnay on talking about elder game stuff. But yes, obviously in the MMO space it becomes sort of a different beast.

Can you talk about the leveling system? Will there be innovations beyond just 'kill more monsters'?

Rich: Our leveling system ... it is a leveling system. There are experience points. There are some innovations we're doing, but we can't really get into them. Companion characters are going to be a big element, you can customize your companion characters in a number of different ways. Your companion characters can get their own equipment, that'll be an easy way to differentiate yourself and your companion character.

The Dark Side and the Light Side are also important to the experience. You're going to be making decisions that will affect the story, bringing you more to one side or the other. You can also try to go for more of a grey path like Qui-Gon Jin, a more balanced path. All those paths are acceptable, that will give you a different route for how you level up your character. Your character will develop along a different path depending on what choices you make. That is something that's different and I don't think has been done in an MMO.

"The k'lor'slug is 20 feet tall, and horrible, and can eat your face ... and that's what you fight at level one as a Sith. The first thing you ever fight in the game is that thing."

Will quests be more than just the usual 'kill 10 rats' style of quest'?

Daniel: The k'lor'slug is 20 feet tall, and horrible, and can eat your face ... and that's what you fight at level one as a Sith. The first thing you ever fight in the game is that thing. And you never do anything less heroic than that. There are no bunnies, no rabbits, no snakes ...

Are there plans for a mentoring system? To allow players of different levels to play together?

Rich: Yes. We have a plan for that. There are a few different ways to implement that? You can do it as a sidekick, or a downsizing system ... we can't say which way ours will be we can definitely say that we will have that.
James: That's part of the social engineering in the game, as we call it.

We want to make sure people can play with others, make it as easy as possible. Versus capping them, so they can't? To me that's a social restraint, you want to play with your friends no matter what level they are. That to me is very important. We want to make sure we have the engineering to allow that to happen.

Star Wars: The Old Republic BioWare has finally unveiled Star Wars: The Old Republic, their new MMO! Massively's got you covered on all the details -- from liveblogging the announcement to screenshot galleries and more. Join us in the Galaxy far, far away!

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