One of the best games in the Star Wars universe, which gave players dozens of hours of exciting gameplay, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, is 20 years old today. One of the reasons for the success of the project is the successful implementation of many conceived ideas. Back in April 2003, project director Casey Hudson stated that the game was almost exactly what the developers envisioned it in 2000.
In July 2000 bioware announced that they are working with LucasArts to create a role-playing video game in the Star Wars universe for PC and next generation consoles. CEO bioware Greg Zeschuk commented that “The opportunity to create a richly detailed new chapter in the Star Wars universe is incredibly exciting for us. We are honored to work with the extremely talented people from Lucas Artsdeveloping a role-playing game based on one of the most high-profile licenses in the world”. The project was officially presented as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, at E3 2001. At that time, the game had been in development for about six months. “Pre-production started in 2000, but discussions started as early as 1999,” said Mike Gallo of LucasArts. “The first real emails were sent in October or November of ’99. That’s when we first started talking to bioware. But some really serious work finally started in early 2000.”
The decision to make the game four thousand years before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was one of the first known details about the project. LucasArts provided bioware the ability to select settings for the game. “LucasArts approached us and said that we could make a game based on the second episode,” said the CEO bioware Raymond Music. “Or LucasArts said we could go back 4,000 years, which is a period that hasn’t been covered much before.” bioware decided to set the game four thousand years before the movies, as it gave them more creative freedom. They aimed to create content similar to movie content but different enough to be a definite precursor. Concept work had to be sent to the “ranch” for approval for use. Muzyka noted that very little of their content was rejected: “It was more like ‘Could you just make his head like this and not like that.’ the game is better, so we were happy to do it. It was a really good process and I think we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to work with LucasArts.” Zeschuk said that “Overall, we were really happy with the results. We felt like we had enough freedom to really create something great.”
Gallo said that bioware And LucasArts sought to ensure that the duration of the gameplay was about sixty hours: “In Baldur’s Gate had 100 hours of gameplay or more. Travel time Baldur’s Gate 2 was 200 hours … We are talking about a shorter period [для Knights of the Old Republic], much less, but even if it is 60 percent less, it is still 100 hours. So, our target for playing time is 60 hours. We have so many areas that we create – worlds, spaceships, things like that to explore – so we have a lot of gameplay.”
Project director Casey Hudson said that one of the greatest accomplishments and one of the greatest risks was the combat system. “We wanted to create something that combined the strategic aspects of our series Baldur’s Gate And Neverwinter Nightsbut present it in a fast-paced, cinematic 3D action game,” said Hudson. “It required us to create something that hadn’t really been done before.” were difficult to visualize, and the developers intended to make the gameplay more open.Gallo compared some situations with Deus Ex: “You have several ways to get through the area, and for this you may need a character with a certain skill.”
While the main game, graphics engine and story were developed bioware, LucasArts worked on the soundtrack of the project. Knights of the Old Republic contains three hundred different characters and fifteen thousand lines of speech. “One complete copy of the script for Knights of the Old Republic spans 10 5-inch bindings,” said Darra O’Farrell, voice manager. A cast of approximately one hundred voice actors was assembled, including Ed Asner, Raphael Sbarge, Ethan Phillips, Jennifer Hale, and Phil LaMarr. “Fortunately, in a game of this magnitude, it’s easy to have an actor play several different characters and spread those roles around the game so you never really notice it’s the same actor you’ve heard before,” O’Farrell said.
Voice acting began six months before the release of the beta version of the game. The voice acting team was given a 90% ready script to work with. “A few changes were made during recording, but most of the remaining 10 percent will be taken up in our recording session,” O’Farrell said. “A recording session is held at the very end of a project where we fix performance issues, tutorial lines, verbal cues and anything else we may have overlooked.” Recording a game the size of Knights of the Old Republic usually took seven weeks; two weeks of recording all day and all night meant that LucasArts was able to record all the voices in five weeks. The actors were recorded one at a time, as the non-linear nature of the game meant that it was too difficult and expensive to record more than one actor at the same time.
Most of the recorded dialogue was spoken in Galactic Basic (presented in English); however, about a tenth of the script was written in Huttian. Mike Gallo used Ben Burtt’s Star Wars: A Galactic Phrasebook and Travel Guide to translate English into Hutt. “The key to recording dialogue with aliens is to find the right actor for the part,” said O’Farrell. (when the actor copied my performance) 150+ Hutt lines to make it work.”
An example of a musical composition:
Award-winning composer Jeremy Soule was signed to create the game’s score. “It’s going to be a Star Wars score, but it’s all going to be original, and probably what’s left is Force themes and stuff like that,” Gallo said. Soul was unable to write a complete orchestral score for Knights of the Old Republic due to technical limitations: “At that time we only had an 8 megabits per second MIDI system. It was state of the art… I had to trick people into thinking they were hearing a full orchestra. I wrote woodwinds and drums, or woodwinds, horns and drums, or strings, drums and brass instruments. I couldn’t lead the whole orchestra at once, it was impossible.”