Daniel Erickson, Lead Writer for BioWare on Star Wars: The Old Republic, was kind enough to grace us with a moment of his time for an interview. Along with stunning us with his striking personal appearance customization, the man of action gave us heaps details on writing for PvP, challenges when creating content around established characters, designing around story variables, and more.
Story telling in computer games seems to have a number of possibilities that more traditional story telling doesn’t, like letting the player dictate the action. What new constraints does it have, if any?Daniel Erickson: There are some constraints in an MMO specifically that we do not have in a single player RPG. The number one thing is I can’t trap you. You might be off to play Hutt Ball or wanting to do the space game or whatever. I can’t say, “Oh and now the evil Sith stuck you in prison, and until you figure out this puzzle, you can’t go out.” So you’re like, “Oh yeah? Quick travel! Goodbye! Broke your game.” So it actually challenges us a lot as writers to make sure that the content is appealing and players want to be going after it. And it makes us have to avoid some of the cheap outs we would use.
Is it hard not having those outs?
Sometimes when you’re doing the sheer amount of content that we do. We had to do more Star Wars stories than basically all other BioWare stories put together. Sometimes, yeah, you’d like to just stick somebody in a jail cell. But no can do.