Aug 18, 2010

Posted by in News | 2 Comments

Drew Karpyshyn Interview – Star Wars Celebration

Our cavalcade of Star Wars Celebration V interviews with the BioWare developer team continues today with none other than Drew Karpyshyn. For many of you, Drew needs to introduction. For everyone else, Drew is nothing less than a journeyman writer who has created not only some of the best video game stories and characters in history, he’s also penned what some consider the best Star Wars expanded universe novels in the Darth Bane series.

We sat down with Drew at Star Wars Celebration to talk about everything from the Jedi Knight to multiplayer story continuity. Once again we were joined by AAJ team member Professor Walsh who helped tackle the tougher Jedi-oriented questions, and Drew handled it all with grace (under pressure!)

This video is quite a bit longer than yesterday’s with Hall Hood, but also a bit more rough. We wanted to post it though because sometimes it’s better to hear the conversation as it was spoken rather than reading the transcribed words. Enjoy!

Ask A Jedi: In the narrative back story of TOR we see the Republic, more or less, dominated by the Sith. Are we going to see this scenario as a consistent theme in TOR or will we get the chance to see the roles reversed where the Republic is dominating the Sith on a Sith controlled planet and the Sith are “just barely holding on” while the Republic is the aggressor with the upper hand?

Drew Karpyshyn: So, what I can say is you can’t confuse marketing with the entire content of the game. It’s funny because to sort of take this and run with it, there’s been a lot of talk about the Jedi Knight class. The thing about the Jedi Knight is that it’s probably the most iconic character in Star Wars. The story has been told in various forms a lot of times and we were trying to find a fresh angle on it. So it was the hardest one to write. So one of the reasons you don’t see any of the Jedi updates is honestly because we were still working on it. Hall and I, both Senior writers, were both hammering on this thing trying to make it awesome.

The thing you have to remember is before the Empire showed up, before the Sith showed up, the Republic was the only game in town. They were just “it.” So anything that changes the status quo for them is going to be stunning and shocking.They’re gonna feel like “wow, we’re getting our asses kicked,” even if it’s basically even. I think you’re getting a little bit of that perspective too. The people who had nothing have more than they had, the people who had everything have less than they had. Even if it’s “even” now, they feel like they’re behind. Once the game comes out, you’re going to see both sides of the equation.

AAJ: James Ohlen made a comment about how the status quo had to be upheld in regards to planets changing hands/control. But if that’s the case, how will we ever see that transition?

DK: What James was saying is you can’t change it because other players coming in won’t get to experience the arc. But what we do have is the overall arc of the game. For example, you might go somewhere in a situation, and when you go back later, that situation might be different. In the fiction it’s the same world, but mechanically it wouldn’t be the same.

AAJ: So, are we looking at something like staged instances?

DK: Not exactly. I can’t say a whole lot here, but there are things we can do behind the scenes and things like that. For example, instances specific to characters, but that’s not something you want to do on a planet wide scale. But there are things we can do.

AAJ: So we will be able to see the war effort advance?

DK: Yes, definitely. Both the Imperial and Republic story arcs have a very steady progression of the war. Well, it’s technically not a war when it starts but there’s a progression of this galactic struggle for want of a better term that definitely does progress in ways that make an actual difference in what’s going on as you progress the story. Now it’s not going to change the world for someone who is at a different point in the story because they haven’t played the story. Now, not every world is like this… some worlds are more static than others.

Drew with Darth Bane

Drew with Darth Bane (Drew is on the right ;)

AAJ: In the January issue of PC Gamer there was a quote that said the Sith Inquisitor was the “most dark” while the Bounty Hunter was the “least dark” class on the Sith side. This indicated that there were kind of relative benchmarks, meaning that a Bounty Hunter won’t ever be as Dark as an Inquisitor but an Inquisitor won’t be as Light as a Bounty Hunter (or a Jedi Knight) could be.

DK: I wouldn’t put the characters on a spectrum of light and dark in that regard. If you choose to play an Imperial faction, you are always going to be a part of that faction, you can’t change factions… we’re not allowing that. If you are, for example a Sith, your goal is to advance to a more powerful position. How you go about doing that is where the light side/dark side comes in. It doesn’t mean that if you play a light side Sith, you get to redeem yourself and go join the Jedi. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about thinking you have a better chance of advancing yourself through maybe instead of killing someone who is weaker than you, realizing that they can be an ally down the road.

AAJ: So, even though you might go as light side as you can, you still believe in the Sith philosophy.

DK: Yes, because the thing is that’s what you’re getting into when you’re playing that class. There’s always going to be certain core things that apply to your class. We want people to have a sense of what these are before they play the class. Yes, the Sith are about power and advancing themselves and doing it through various means that other people don’t always approve of. You’re pretty much always going to be in that role as a Sith.

AAJ: That’s one of the big debates, people we’re wondering that if they’re a light Sith, you could be light as a pure stark Jedi Knight.

DK: Yeah, the situations you’re in don’t even allow for that.

AAJ: If you like, can you simply go out into the world and “grind” your character from level 1 to max level without any quests/missions/story?

DK: Yes… if for some reason you want to skip the quests and the story you can go out and earn experience and level your character.

AAJ: Does your class story content scale? For example, if you went off to help some friends and came back to your class story a few levels higher, would your class story scale to match your new power, or simply be a little easier because you’re a high level?

DK: The various planets are all designed to be done within certain levels. There isn’t necessarily scaling in that sense. If you go off to level somewhere then when you come back to your class story, it may be a little less challenging because you’ll be a higher level.

AAJ: Are the planets designed for a specific level range? In other words, will there be reasons to go back to Tatooine after you’ve completed the planet missions/quests?
DK: As mentioned the planets are generally designed for a specific level range for the class stories, but there will be content and reasons you will want to go back to visit them later, perhaps at a higher level.

AAJ: When 2 players of the same class are in a party together, how is it decided whose continuity is used inside of a class story flashpoint?

DK: I can’t say too much about this, but there are mechanics in place to ensure each player gets a chance to play it their own way. Whichever player owns the flashpoint will be the continuity that the players see.

AAJ: Thanks for your time and all the hard work you guys are putting into the game, we can’t wait to play it.

DK: No problem guys, any time!


  1. nice and re-assuring about the class quests and being teamed. I will be teamed up with someone from the start so I was hoping that we would not accidentally bugger up each other’s stories.

  2. I think that was Karpyshyn was saying the entire time is: “this is a story, watch and see how it progresses”. This spiel of people nerd raging over the fact that the Republic got a booboo is just irritating, and despite the disclaimer that “I was a writer so I understand how the story has to progress” it seems people are more interested in being validated as “good guys that always win” rather than playing the game.

    It’s Paladin-syndrome all over again.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Star Wars: The Old Republic - Page 173 - Fires of Heaven Guild Message Board - [...] seems likely... plus some Smuggler stuff. http://www.askajedi.com/2010/08/17/h...s-celebration/ Drew Karpyshyn Interview – Star Wars Celebration | Ask …
  2. Thru August | Drew Karpyshyn - [...] are a few interviews and updates posted from the trip. First, a video interview with me on Ask a Jedi. …

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