View Full Version : What Raph Koster has to say about SWG from E3

05-22-2001, 12:53 AM
Its a pretty good read, and may give you an idea of what to exepect from this awesome looking game. This is what they showed as far as a demo at E3.

BTW, SWG was nominated 'Best of the Show'.

"Hey everybody! I’m still recovering from E3, but I thought that I could try to give you guys (as best I could) a recap of the E3 demo we did. Since we did it well over ten times (!) I’ve got it pretty well down pat by now, so here we go, the next best thing to being there…Plus, it should answer some of the questions and clear up some of the confusion over some issues.
Opening crawl. It’s the same one as in the Flash movie on the front page of this site. We pretty carefully timed everything so that it matches the movie’s timing exactly. We pan down to a planet turning slowly at the bottom of the screen, and up comes a login interface.

Over this come the introductions. Rich does a little overview where he talks about the fact that we are making several worlds, and how each world is larger than UO or EQ. He also talks about the fact that this is a massively multiplayer online world.

After that, you get a screen where you can select among the eight species. You can rotate the figures and zoom in to check out the faces. Over this, we talk about how players will be able to choose from the eight, male or female, and can morph parts of the faces and the body to make characters look unique.

Then we get to the scene selection screen. I explain that we decided to do Naboo as our first planet because it has a very wide range of different environments, and also has a ton of good source material available. That way it serves to challenge us to tackle the toughest problems first. The grasslands is one part of Naboo which we decided to show. Haden mentions that, although we're showing Naboo, the game is firmly grounded in the "Classic" trilogy; however, we will still be drawing on all five films, including episode II, for inspiration and content.

Then the grasslands comes up. The grass is waving in the wind, and we mention that when the weather changes, so will the force of the wind blowing the grass. We also mention that the trees sway too. There’s a couple of catlike creatures skulking through the grass. Haden tells everyone that these are tusk cats, a never-before-seen species on Naboo that has been mentioned in continuity but that we have gotten the opportunity to bring to life on the screen.

We turn around and see out across a large green valley. We say that there’s a 1km view distance there, and that the particular environment we’re in is 4km x 4km. I also mention that because of our terrain technology the footprint for this area is only around 20K, and it’s deformable terrain (as you guys on the boards know). A whole planet (minus art assets) fits in less than 200K.

Then we turn back around and walk over the crest of a hill. The first thing we see is a gaping spider, which rears back when it sees us and scuttles away. That’s where we talk about the fact that even though we planted the spider there, the game will have dynamic spawns rather than static ones.

Past the spider we see two AT-ATs. One of them is standing still and the other is walking. We run down the hill and stand under the AT-AT and look up so that everyone can get a sense of the scale. Andy also demonstrates the game camera. We informally call it the “swoop cam” around here—basically, you start in 1st person and can zoom out. As you zoom out you go to chase cam, and then the further you go, the more the camera tilts up until you end up in an angled overhead perspective at 45 degrees. At this point, though, the camera is locked to the back of your head, so that as you turn, the world turns around you, and you always see the back of your head. But when you hit another key, it unlocks, and then you turn in the center and the world stays put, just like a classic isometric game, Baldur’s Gate, Diablo, or UO.

We then ran to the other AT-AT while Haden talked about the fact that players can participate in the Galactic Civil War. Andy played a game of trying to avoid getting stepped on—he did great until the very last demo on the last day, when he got stomped, to much laughter from everyone in the room.

Then we exited the grasslands, chose a new character, and went to the swamps of Naboo. When we opened, we were looking at some chuba swimming in a small pool of water. I mentioned that here we were using some of the effects possible on the GeForce3 to get bump-mapping on the terrain and nice water effects.

We walk away from the chuba and to a pair of kaadu drinking from another pool of water. As we get close, they startle and run away and we chase one of them. We talk a bit about how we’re trying to get realistic-behaving AI in the game. As we follow one of them, we see a peko peko fly overhead with its ten-foot wingspan, and then come across some nunas waddling around in front of one of those giant stone heads.

That’s when we see another player waving to us through the fog, over by another giant statue. So we go over there. That would be Chris Mayer, playing Becky. J We talk about the fact that we’re looking at having around 80 emotes, plus facial animations for many of them. The interface for smiling is simple—if you include a smiley in your chat, your figure automatically smiles; most people will do it without even knowing how. We use that as an example of how straightforward we’re trying to make all the game’s interfaces. Becky makes some crack about whether we have any shrimp sauce (we’re playing a Mon Calamari) and we go off to try to find some more kaadu.

BTW, you can see the radar in the bottom corner. It’s very straightforward, shows you the elevation info for the terrain in the vicinity, is zoomable, and there’s a compass on the rim that spins around as you do, so you can stay oriented. Currently, there’s tiny dots for other players and creatures, but those are likely going to be gated by skills.

So we walk through some dense ferns and then almost step on some chuba hopping on the ground. Then we find some orange spotted Kaadu. We mention that we will support different textures for creatures, different colors, and different sizes—like the falumpaset pic that is with the screenshots. We also mention that different creatures, even of the same species, may have slightly different AI—these Kaadu aren’t scared of us, and honk at us when we get too close.

Then we run off into the water—and under it. As we maneuver under there, we say we’ll support underwater environments such as the city of Otoh Gunga. We surface near the first kaadu we saw, then jump back into the pool where the first chuba were. Haden talks about the fact that different species may have special abilities, such as the Mon Calamari being able to remain underwater for longer periods of time, but that all species have equal access to different professions, including Jedi. I chime in mentioning that the professions are very diverse—but you guys know that already.

Then comes Tatooine. I mention that this environment is closer to the visual bar that we are shooting for for high-end video cards. We come in and a Jawa walks up to us, jabbers a bit, and walks off. We turn around and see the town laid out before us as I point out the real-time shadows and the bump-mapped sand. There’s also a landspeeder next to us, and we talk about the fact that players can own vehicles and customize them.

Then we walk towards town. Haden stresses that we’re striving to capture the feel of the films, but have added a few touches (such as the windmills) of our own. We don’t try catching up to the Jawa, but instead head towards a building with a dewback beside it. That’s when Andy starts the day-night cycle going so everyone can see the shadows creep across the building and over the dewback. When we get close to the dewback, we talk about the fact that it is a mount, and that players can tame, train, and in some cases breed animals as pets. (Dewbacks excepted, because they don’t breed in captivity!).

Then we walk towards Jabba the Hutt and a Jawa who are conversing. Haden discusses the fact that we will have many NPCs including familiar ones from the films.

Then we turn and see the droids. I mention that you can build, own and program droids, and they’ll act as party members, or you can set them to do things for you while you are not there, such as guard places. Artoo starts to follow us around at this point. Haden mentions that we will have many kinds of droids, such as protocol droids.

We then turn under the shadow of the sandcrawler and reiterate the point that everything is built to scale. As we walk past the edge of town I talk about the fact that a town like this could be built by players, and they could elect a mayor and set the local laws. They can also build walls, turrets, minefields, etc. We then turn around to see Artoo following us over the sand.

Lastly, we turn the corner around the sandcrawler to see the krayt dragon. The camera shakes when he puts his feet down. I think this was where we talked about how we are trying to make combat as cinematic as possible, including acrobatic Jedi moves and exciting blaster battles.

Lastly, we launched space. We don’t say very much during this, except to mention that players can cooperatively operate large ships. We also point out that Andy is flying with a mouse and that we’re trying very hard to make the game as accessible as possible to everyone. We fly over the giant star destroyer, avoid some asteroids, and dogfight with some TIE fighters. Then we start up Q&A.

A few tidbits that tended to come out over and over again during the Q&A sessions:

- the game generates missions for you. But players can also generate missions for one another, and these can be used as enforceable contracts. The example given was what happened to Han Solo—he agreed to ship spice for Jabba by a given date, but lost the spice (when boarded) and his failing to fulfill the contract led to a bounty hunter contract being taken out on him. This whole scenario is possible with players in every role.

- we talked about skill trees, and we also talked about how we’re trying to keep the hours per session down, stuff you already know about but which was new to most of the press there.

Anyway, that’s the not-so-quickie version of the demo talk!

Some side things--

I dunno where the change in time period rumor came from, but we haven't changed anything.

Somewhere in there we mentioned that we were supporting chat over the head and chat in the text box, but I think you guys knew that already too.

All in all, I have to say that I am very blown away by the reception that we got. Really caught us all by surprise, and it's very flattering. Special shout out to the several folks from Bioware who so amazingly helpful as we tried to share a cramped space and not much time so we could all do our respective demos; and to the incredibly helpful staff at the LucasArts booth, who did an awesome job of making everything run" smoothly.

-Raph Koster
Creative Director

I wonder if anyone read all that? :P I did http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

Come to the Dark Side... We have cookies...

05-22-2001, 12:55 AM
Oh, and on a side note, incase you don't read all that, each world will be over 16km x 16km. thats larger then EQ!

Boba Rhett
05-22-2001, 01:52 AM
That's HUGE!!!!!

I love Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and the JKII Forums.
I calculated the odds that this would work versus the odds that I was doing something incredibly stupid...and I went ahead anyway.

05-22-2001, 04:23 AM
Boba Rhett, are you refering to the post's size or the game's size? :p

BTW, the whole game will be over 200km x 200km, maybe more. Thats pretty big :).

I still can't find that edit feature.... :eek:

[ May 22, 2001: Message edited by: Silent_Thunder ]

05-22-2001, 03:03 PM
Try the http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/edit_ubb6.gif icon, to the right, on your post.