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The Doctors Will See You Now

Muzyka and Zeschuk on growth, Star Wars and all things BioWare

Bioware certainly made its mark on the Eurogamer Expo this year, using its developer session to announce the release date of upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic - but it's also making its mark on the games industry as a whole.

Founded in 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk and Augustine Yip, the company was acquired by EA in 2007 after finding success with Baldur's Gate, Jade Empire and Shattered Steel, among others. It now has studios popping up everywhere from Los Angeles to Ireland and a list of new and massively successful IPs including Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and of course Star Wars. At last week's Eurogamer Expo, GamesIndustry.biz spoke to Muzyka and Zeschuk about the challenges of releasing an MMO in a changing market, how Bioware stays agile, and the Bio Pad.

GamesIndustry.bizYou're limiting sales of Star Wars:The Old Republic on release, which is an unusual move in a time of week one sales figures...
Ray Muzyka

It comes from a desire to have a high quality service for our fans, really stable and scalable and accessible and really fun, and make sure it's performing well. You have to build the infrastructure to support a certain size launch and we're also thinking really long term at Bioware EA for this, there's going to many many consumers coming to the game over time and we're going to be expanding it out. We want to make sure that the service is really high quality, that's the commitment we have to the launch of The Old Republic.

Greg Zeschuk

It's a little bit different to a regular game, like a regular console release, where you're connecting periodically, maybe there's a multiplayer match, but the only way to play SW:TOR is full time connected to the internet, connected to our servers, so we want to just ensure that we've got a nice smooth, reliable game, everyone can get in when they want. It really boils down to, like Ray said, the quality of the service so for the ones that get it it's really slick and really enjoyable. And we'll increase it over time, our anticipation of course is to keep selling after that.

Ray Muzyka

And you know that demand is high too. It's the fastest pre-ordered in EA's history.

GamesIndustry.bizI saw analysts were predicting 3 million sales.
Ray Muzyka

It's encouraging, and we're delighted to hear that kind of demand. And we're definitely planning for that too, we're anticipating a very high demand for the game, we just want to make sure that consumers who get it have a fantastic experience and at all points of the journey, because they're going to be with us for years and years.

It really boils down to the quality of the service so for the ones that get it it's really slick and really enjoyable.

Greg Zeschuk, BioWare

GamesIndustry.bizIs that decision not to rush and to take your time a company rule?
Ray Muzyka

Yeah, very much. It's one of our core values and in the time we've been at EA we've been very supported in that as well. The great thing is we have a strong culture and a strong vision and values as Bioware and we're part of a larger whole that has that strong vision and culture as well.

GamesIndustry.bizHave there been any surprises in the beta tests?
Greg Zeschuk

I don't think there's really been any surprises, but you learn stuff. Certainly the way people play can surprise us. One thing that's really funny is that people find interesting exploits, you hear about some tricks that people have found and just "wow, that's ingenious!"

One of the favourites when we opened the early test was that when the two factions were first in the same place we had these taxi guys right on the edge of this cliff. And so one guy got bored, he'd finished all the content and he just sat there waiting for people to arrive and then Force Pushed them off the cliff. He did that for like an hour. Everyone that showed up.

Ray Muzyka

Or actually in the earlier builds you could take out the taxis' riders. The players would come back, they're waiting for their vendor and there's no taxi vendor.

Greg Zeschuk

Someone actually had to pop in and say stop...

Ray Muzyka

We fixed it too.

Greg Zeschuk

Yeah and that's a good lesson. So as long as you're aware and cognisant and watching all these things you can make rules, make the taxi vendors unkillable, don't put things on the edge of a cliff, like all these little funny things.

Ray Muzyka

And analytics and telemetry and the volume of content, to make sure that players actually have a lot of things to do for a very long time and to really accommodate all the different styles of play in a massively multiplayer online game, player versus players, player versus environment and small versions and big versions of that and crafting, the story, the innovations we bring to bear in the MMO, there's just so much to test and so much to do. But it's coming along very well, we're very pleased with it.

Author
Rachel Weber avatar

Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.

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