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Video: The Old Republic's design foundations
In this GDC 2012 presentation, The Old Republic developers Rich Vogel and Dallas Dickinson discuss the core design philosophies behind BioWare Austin's ambitious Star Wars MMO.
In the online space, few games have been as ambitious as BioWare Austin's Star Wars: The Old Republic. In a market dominated by free-to-play games and incumbent MMOs, this big-budget title set out to prove that a new subscription game could thrive among the industry's biggest juggernauts. Of course, things have changed quite a bit since the game's launch in late 2011, but despite losing some key staff and adopting a brand new business model, the ambitious design philosophies behind The Old Republic are still very much intact. The game's executive producer Rich Vogel left BioWare Austin and joined Bethesda's Battlecry studios just a few weeks ago, but at GDC 2012 in March, he and production director Dallas Dickinson took a moment to address The Old Republic's core design concepts, detailing the major tenets that power this complex MMO. "One of the things we wanted to do was differentiate ourselves," Vogel explained as he looked back on the game's development. "We didn't want to be like every other clone after World of Warcraft came out, because we realized that if we did that, we wouldn't be able to reach or keep the players we wanted to keep when we initially launched this game." With The Old Republic, BioWare Austin knew it had to find a way to innovate, but without completely reinventing the wheel. The game's target audience was in large part already familiar with existing MMOs, so the studio needed to find a way to create something that was fresh and exciting, but also inviting to those MMO veterans. Vogel said that throughout development, the team had to focus almost exclusively on attracting those dedicated core players. "They are our influencers, they are our viral connection to the community. It's very important that we aim carefully at our target audience so we can get them into the game early, establish the economy, establish the base, and establish the life and heartbeat of our game." Vogel said this "core first" mentality helped give the game a solid following right out of the gate, and he believes that foundation will persist throughout the game's lifespan, and will go a long way toward helping the MMO in the years ahead. During the rest of the presentation, Vogel and Dickinson offered even more insight into the driving forces behind The Old Republic's development, and you can check out the full presentation in the above GDC Vault video.