Gamespot recently sat down with James Ohlen, Game Director for Star Wars: The Old Republic, to talk a bit about companions in their upcoming MMO.
Companions are computer-controlled NPCs that players will have along with them throughout the game. They will craft for you, fight with you, provide insight on various situations, and if you have the smooth moves of a jungle cat, you’ll be able to do the “tango” with them.
Talking with Gamespot, James highlighted that through feedback they added a lot of features for companions. Players will be able to customize their appearance, hair, skin color, and facial features. Another way players will be able to customize their companion is by item choice, players will have the option of selecting what their companion wears, what weapons they use; they even level with you throughout the game.
We wanted players to have more freedom than in any previous Bioware RPG when it came to companion customization.
Akin to the Dragon Age series, companions will have their own class and unique skills. Players will also be able to configure what skills their companions use in battle. James, admits that they were a bit hesitant to really flesh out companions at first because in a single-player RPG, players had the time to manage their team, but in a MMO, everything is done in real time and the task of micromanaging would overwhelm the players in intense encounters. The A.I they developed turned out to exceed expectations and they felt comfortable gives players that complex control.
Companion characters are going to be a significant innovation to MMORPGs. All of the testing feedback we’ve received so far on these characters has been extremely positive.
To supplement the interview Gamespot also released a new Developer Dispatch solely dedicated to companions. Be sure to give it a look.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is currently in Closed Beta and commenced beta weekends to ramp up the level of testing. Bioware and EA are still looking to release the game before year’s end.