MMORPG Interview with James Ohlen

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in interview, James Ohlen | 0 comments

It has been an amazing year for Star Wars fans. With the new movie release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens arriving late this year and the new Star Wars: Battlefront game launching around the same time, it couldn’t get any better. Also, the latest expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic Knights of the Fallen Empire, will open on October 27th. Once the expansion launches, players will have nine new chapters of new episodic content to dig their teeth into and even more updates are planned after the holiday season. Gareth Harmer from mmorpg.com, caught up with James Ohlen, the Game Director on SWTOR over on Gamescom, to talk about more information on the new expansion. But, before we dig into that information, let’s talk about what has already been discovered. During the event in Cologne, he was shown content from Chapter 3, and this includes the Carbonite defrosting scene on planet Zakuul. The first question that he asked was how the transition would be handled? “I don’t want to do spoilers, but I can say that the defeat of the Empire and Republic don’t come instantaneously – it takes a period of time for it to occur.” Ohlen went on to explain that he liked to look at the current game in a similar way to Episode I, II and III of the films, with IV, V and VI being similar the phase they’re entering now. “So you had the wars and everything that happened before, and then some time has passed, and then this is a new era, with new heroes and new villains. But the player is that figure that bridges both gaps. He’s almost like an Obi Wan, except he’s an Obi Wan that doesn’t die! [laughs] It’s that kind of feel.” Ohlen’s team is good about supplying new content, with nine chapters being released when the expansion launches. After a short break for the holiday season, the studio is planning on following it up with continuous updates and it could be as often as every month.  “We want to have a game that’s very similar to a TV series. Not a weekly TV series because we just don’t have the ability to produce a new episode every week, but we would love to do a monthly cadence. Now I can’t really promise that because I’ll be killed, but that’s where our goal is. Whenever we’ve had a cadence that’s regular and expected and that fans can trust in, that’s been very successful for us and so that’s what we want to do. We want fans to know that, no matter what, their next episode is going to land on this date. And then it’s going to continue to have the same cadence throughout the year.” From what he saw at Gamescom, he could tell that the cutscene quality in KOTFE has improved dramatically. According to Ohlen, this is something that the team has been working on for quite some time.  “We’ve been focusing a lot on improving the tools and processes for our cinematic designers, and we have been putting a lot of effort in our cinematic tools, and making sure that the team and the tools and the pipelines are going to be able to produce high quality cinematic content on a regular basis.” “One of the first steps towards that was Shadow of Revan from last year, but we feel we’re there now. So yes, the cinematics that you’re going to see are probably the best we’ve ever done in the game, and you’re going to see a lot of them. And that has to do with the tools, but it also has a lot to do with the team focusing on making sure we can do the best BioWare storytelling possible.” Also, the signature storytelling is not always about quality cinematics, but it’s also about the player having meaningful choices with consequences that actually matter.  “We hear the complaints, we know that players feel that you had choices in the original campaigns, but they didn’t have as much of an impact as we would have liked. So we’re making sure that we put more of an emphasis on that. […] We also heard from fans that they don’t want artificial, filler content in their game, so that’s something else we’re really focusing on.” “What if you had an epic Bioware story, a ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ you could say, like in the Old Republic universe, where it was just focused on telling an epic story where the player was the hero, and you got great choices, and everything you love about choices and cinematic storytelling was there.” Ohlen also agreed that it will probably improve the re-playability.  “Yes, for sure. If you have multiple characters, I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to play through Knights of the Fallen Empire multiple times, just to see how it all rolls out depending on your choice.” The same as with other famous BioWare titles, like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, a hero’s companions will change with every sequel. Some people say that other would drift away or turn into NPC’s and the new ones would take their place. This same approach has been taken with KOTFE, as Ohlen explained.  “Maybe at the beginning they’ll be a little bit apprehensive, but I think once they see how good the story is, and the fact that we haven’t pulled an Alien 3 and just killed off the favourite characters – they’re still around and we’re going to make use of them. We know that they’re characters that people are very much attached to. But make use of them in different ways.” “One of the lessons we learned from Star Wars: The Old Republic is that I think we were too conservative with our companions. We let gameplay decide, we didn’t want players to not have access to certain characters for gameplay purposes because we felt that would be bad in a massively multiplayer...

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SWTOR Climbing Since Going Free to Play

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in James Ohlen, News, SWTOR | 0 comments

So has changing their game model to free to play had any impact on SWTOR for BioWare? , creative director on Star Wars: The Old Republic says yes at GDC. He revealed that the number of players has now increased to 4.5 million, up from 2 million, which makes it a rate of 10,000 new players each day. This switch to F2P has been a real game-changer for SWTOR, that was losing its player base. Ohlen goes on to explain how SWTOR had more problems on launch than just its subscription model (ya, think?) He explains that the lack of a group finder was a major downside to the game and also the poor implementation of the Public Test Realm (PTS). No group finder meant it was hard to players to get together to experience much of the content in the game and the poor PTS meant there were a lot of bugs in the first few patches of the game (we remember that clearly). Then there was also that little problem of the players blowing through content much more quickly that the developers predicted. It’s a good problem to have but what do you do when the fans like your game so much, they play through everything you’ve spent years creating and then demand more before you are prepared to give it to them? Ohlen says that while they thought they had created enough content for the average play to enjoy for 4 to 5 months, in actuality they were going through this content in 4 to 5 weeks. Players hit the endgame, grew bored and just quit. There was less to do at max level and little reason for players to stick around. Many of my friends who were super pumped for the game hit max in a few weeks and did just that- got bored and quit. So BioWare looked at their problems and created solutions. In addition to the free to play model, they also had teams working hard on the bugs, more endgame content and other features and additions to the game. Now, they are seeing a decrease in subscribers leaving and an increase in numbers. SWTOR is on the climb again and this could be very good news for BioWare and SWTOR fans. As long as they are on the rise and getting new players, they will continue to add to the game with new, fresh content. That is true music to the ears for fans of SWTOR! Source: PC Games...

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Game Update 1.4: Terror from Beyond developer blog and launch trailer

Posted by on Sep 27, 2012 in Developer Blog, James Ohlen, patch 1.4 | 0 comments

With all the excitement around game update 1.4 , we forgot to update you about a new Developer Blog by James Ohlen and a new laucnhed trailer for  Terror From Beyond just released. In the Developer Blog James Ohlen writesabout the release schedule for new content going forward for Star Wars: The Old Republic. This Game Update is also the start of a new release cadence. Our strategy so far has been to release big updates every few months. But this leaves long periods of time where you, our fans, don’t have anything new. So we’re moving to a model where we release Game Updates on a much more regular cadence. Our initial aim is for something as close to every six weeks as we can get. I’d promise an exact schedule, but in a live game we need some flexibility as the stability of the service trumps the release of an update on a particular date. This year has been exciting so far with three Game Updates. But before the end of the year, it’s our intention to have released another three Game Updates, starting with Terror From Beyond. This is in addition to moving to Free to Play. But I can say in all honesty, that our plans for 2013 are even bigger. Our team’s experience, improving tools and better production processes are allowing us to move faster in development than we ever have before. More exciting news to come! As mentioned, a  new launch trailer for the Operation Terror From Beyond is now also available for download and stream or you can watch it below: If you havent red the patch notes for game update 1.4 yet, you can check the out...

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James Ohlen want’s your Feedback on story

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in James Ohlen | 0 comments

It’s been a while since James Ohlen been active on twitter, but today he asks  Star Wars: The old republic players  for feedback regarding the story elements the game. Here is the question: So I took a break from Twitter, but now I’m back with more questions. What is your favorite type of storytelling in #SWTOR? Flash points, class stories or world story arcs (i.e. Revanite story on Dromund Kaas). Interesting question really. Also remember to let us know in the comments below if you are plan on answering. YOu can Check out James Twitter profile...

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E3: James Ohlen Interview b y TorWars

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in e3, interview, James Ohlen | 0 comments

  I guess I was wrong when I wrote we were nearing the tales end of E3 interviews. Our friends over at TorWars got to interview James Ohlen about all the upcoming stuff we have discussed the last week. The interview is in two parts and you can read what TorWars had to say about it here and here and you can also check it out below. Good stuff...

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