The biggest selling point of Star Wars: The Old Republic
seems to be its focus on storytelling. Interactive stories have always been BioWare
's particular claim to fame, so we're not surprised at the focus, but we will admit to being a little surprised at just how hardcore they are about it. In an interview with Gamasutra
Austin lead writer Daniel Erickson described the company's process for hiring and managing the writing staff, which includes more than a dozen people who went through a three-month training program, and who have now been working on the game for several years.
What's interesting to us about the interview (most of it focuses on professional questions, not on gameplay -- check out the info from our own encounter with Erickson
for more on that) is that unlike with other MMOs, the development process began with writing. The stories created by the writers are the foundation of the game design and experience to come -- at least according to Erickson.
There's also a bit in there about the challenges of innovation in the MMO industry, and the need to make individual game features -- such as combat or story -- as solid as they are in single-player titles.