Bioware’s forthcoming MMORPG, widely tipped to be Star Wars-based, is on everyone’s mind at present. I can’t mention it here, or on my personal blog, without a flurry of responses. People are crazy for it. People want to think about it. People want to talk about it.
So in the timeless words of C-3PO, “Here we go again.”
You see, I recently pulled out issue zero-and-a-half (yes, I just said zero-and-a-half), of the Star Wars Legacy comic book. I hadn’t looked at it for a little while and, as I turned the pages with increasing pace, it quickly dawned on me that here, in my slightly-shaking hands, was actually the perfect basis of a fantastic MMORPG.
Actually, scratch that… not just a fantastic MMORPG, but actually the MMORPG I seriously hope Bioware is making.
Issue zero-and-a-half is a backgrounder on the Star Wars Legacy era (and, for the record, so was the special 25-cent issue zero of the comic, but it was only half the length so wasn’t as in-depth a reference). Basically the action is set 125 years after Return of the Jedi, which means the universe feels familiar to us – with Imperials, the Alliance, Jedi, Sith, Hutts, Bounty Hunters, etc, all having a slice of the storyline – yet is also far enough away from the movies, that not only are the likes of Han Solo, Princess Leia, etc, long gone, even characters we have come to know through the EU novels, like Jacen and Jaina Solo, Ben Skywalker, etc, have passed away as well. Besides the occasional (drug induced) appearance of a “blue glowie” Luke Skywalker, the Legacy era is at the same time familiar, yet also a gorgeous blank slate in many ways. It’s the future, after all.
Now, just being “the future” isn’t the only reason I think this era would make a great MMORPG setting. When you look at the factions involved in the storyline, and the characters inside those factions, you can imagine all sorts of cool possibilities. Allow me to elaboarate:
The Sith Empire: Totally bad-ass guys. Not only are there multiple Darth’s running around (as the Sith in this era have ditched the whole “Rule of Two” concept), they have armies, fleets… and all the Imperial Moffs working for them. I can see this faction really appealing to a lot of people because they are the ultimate bad guys.
The “true” Empire: Then, of course, you have what the comics describe as the “true” Empire, led by Emperor Fel as a thorn in the Sith Empire’s side. This is another cool faction, with a notable class of characters called the Imperial Knights who are neither dark or light Jedi… but more grey. I’ve included a picture of some Imperial Knights at the start of this entry. Another majorly appealing faction.
The Galactic Alliance: A faction for the underdog-friendly gamers as the Galactic Alliance has been totally smashed by the Sith Empire. It would take gamers back to the whole concept of being a group of “good guys” fighting “bad guys” – but in a whole new context. Jedi and also Yuuzhan Vong would be part of this faction.
The Underworld: A fourth faction for the crime- or Bounty Hunter-oriented gamers out there. This is another cool faction which has enough appeal to be a viable force. Nothing like building your own crime syndicate and watching the credits start rolling in!
I mean, can you imagine it? The four factions all have something extremely neat to offer and, I think, the game would be a lot more rounded than a game that revolved around “Sith and Jedi” in the Old Republic. In actual fact, this would be the perfect antidote to everyone wanting to be a Jedi or Sith in such a game. Here, you have Force-using, lightsaber-wielding classes spanning across three factions, not to mention a whole host of other cool characters that we haven’t been able to play before. How much fun would it be to play a Yuuzhan Vong warrior, for example, tossing thud bugs at your enemies, before engaging with an amphistaff? Or a Yuuzhan Vong shaper, using biotechnology to either heal or destroy?
The more cool classes a game has, the more the users would spread themselves out, rather than clustering around, say, Jedi and Dark Jedi, as I fear they will naturally do in an Old Republic MMORPG – and the whole basis for my left-of-centre suggestion that Jedi shouldn’t be a playable class in an Old Republic MMORPG.
And what if the storylines in the comics gave an ongoing background to the changing face of the game world? You could read about a big space battle in the comic, log into the game, and be sent on missions relating to that battle! Heck, you could become PART of the battle you just read about in the comic! That would be amazing!
The Legacy comic series is so much more alive than the Old Republic stories and, in my opinion, has a more “Wild West” feel, which is also what made the original Star Wars movies so popular as well; especially A New Hope. Firefly fans might also appreciate the look and feel of some of the technology, with Cade Skywalker using some decidedly Wild West-looking blasters at times, not a million miles away from the kind of weapons Mal Reynolds uses in that TV series.
So… Bioware… you probably can’t change the path you’re on at this time… but if you are actually working on a Star Wars Legacy MMORPG, instead of the KotOR-based game that everyone thinks you’re working on, you might have just hit the jackpot on the freshest and coolest Star Wars era to be making a game about.
My fingers, and toes, are crossed. I want to be an Imperial Knight!