STAR WARS™ - Knights of the Old Republic™

How do you follow a game like Knights of the Old Republic, the most famous original Star Wars tale a video game has ever told? Forget about Obsidian's sequel for a moment and imagine it was BioWare staring at a piece of paper wondering how to follow a twist like Revan's. Because once upon a time BioWare was - and it came up with an idea.

Yoda. Not the actual Yoda, because canonically he's untouchable, but someone a bit like him; we know so little about Yoda's almost nonexistent species even someone in his likeness would have the same effect: trust. "We felt like Yoda was the ultimate - everyone trusts Yoda," James Ohlen tells me, lead designer of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

James Ohlen was also lead designer of Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age: Origins, and director of Star Wars: The Old Republic, the online game. These days he's creative director of BioWare Austin, and he's working on Anthem. He's BioWare through and through.

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Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect 1, has retired from BioWare and video games.

The parting was "completely amicable and 100 per cent my decision", wrote Karpyshyn on his website. (His website post didn't mention his retirement from video games as a whole, but his post on Twitter did.)

He retired to focus on writing books, "screenplays and other projects". He wants to finish the first book in his own original fantasy series, Children of Fire.

Karpyshyn has a decorated career. He co-lead wrote Mass Effect 2 and, for the last three years, has been instrumental in writing Star Wars: The Old Republic.

He also helped write Jade Empire; Neverwinter Nights and expansion Hordes of the Underdark; and Baldur's Gate 2 and expansion Throne of Bhaal - his first "significant contribution" to a BioWare project.

On top of that, Karpyshyn wrote the three not-rubbish Mass Effect novels - Revelation, Ascension and Retribution; he wrote a book about KOTOR character Revan and KOTOR 2 character the Exile; he wrote a Throne of Bhaal book; and he's writing a Star Wars: The Old Republic book.

He's also written three Star Wars novels about Darth Bane, and a standalone fantasy tale called Temple Hill.

"As of last week, I have officially retired from BioWare," announced Karpyshyn.

"The story and dialogue in any BioWare game is the result of an entire team of writers working together, and I often felt I received an excessive amount of the credit for the games we created."

Drew Karpyshyn, former star BioWare writer

"I know going forward that BioWare will continue to live up to its well deserved reputation for making the best story-driven games in the industry. The story and dialogue in any BioWare game is the result of an entire team of writers working together, and I often felt I received an excessive amount of the credit for the games we created.

"The Dragon Age games and the continued success of the Mass Effect series after my departure make it pretty clear that BioWare can get along just fine without me, and I'm looking forward to experiencing the games as a fan rather than from the other side of the fence."

"I realise some of you may be shocked by this announcement. Maybe even disappointed. My identity has been closely tied with BioWare ever since I crawled into the public eye, and I know it's a risk to move away from my comfort zone.

"However," he added, "I feel that [it's] an essential step for every creative artist to take at some point. It keeps us fresh, it keeps us energised."

Karpyshyn closed by saying he has a "great appreciation" for - and "fond memories" of - his time at BioWare.


Incidentally, BioWare's lead Dragon Age writer is David Gaider, and Mass Effect 3's lead writer was Mac Walters.

Mike Laidlaw co-wrote Jade Empire with Lukas Kristjanson, who both still work at BioWare. Just saying.


BioWare's iconic role-playing game Knights of the Old Republic will be half-price, £3.50, on Steam this weekend.

It's part of a weekend-long Steam Star Wars deal timed to coincide with the Blu-ray release of the Star Wars Saga.

Other discounted Star Wars games on Steam include Battlefront II, Republic Commando and Empire at War.

Knights of the Old Republic reinvigorated the Star Wars licence for gamers. It's set thousands of years before the Star Wars films. You are a mysterious stranger with no memory of your past. You escape an attack on your rescuer's ship, and your subsequent mission to rescue a Jedi marks the beginning of an epic tale.

Eurogamer called Knights of the Old Republic as "the best Star Wars game since X-Wing and/or Tie Fighter, if not ever". Kieron Gillen's Knights of the Old Republic review for Eurogamer awarded a delicious 9/10.

The success of Knights of the Old Republic lead to a sequel (developed by Obsidian) and to BioWare's biggest ever project, MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. The success of KOTOR also helped bring about the Mass Effect series of games, which share many similarities.


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