Industry Interview: Cory Butler of Bioware Austin

Star Wars: The Old Republic” has been getting a lot of traffic over the past months since its release. Three major content updates, a fully voiced-over script as well as an immersive Star Wars experience has really sent the gaming world buzzing. At San Diego Comic Con, the Vault was able to chat with Cory Butler, a Senior Producer at the game’s developer, Bioware Austin, and ask some questions concerning the new contender in the massively-multiplayer-online gaming ring.

After one of the most successful MMO launches in recent history, “SW:TOR” has announced that it will be free to play up to level 15 for those who aren’t already subscribed to the vast, interactive space-opera.
Bioware isn’t the first company to tackle the free-to-play market, with Blizzard doing so with “World of Warcraft’s” beginning levels as well as dark horse Paragon Studios with their almost decade-old title “City of Heroes.” Even “DC Universe Online” went free to play in almost record time – nearly half a year after launch.
Anyone can be a scruffy-looking nerf herder in “Star Wars: The Old Republic.”
Butler explained that for their part, Bioware wanted to give a longer free trial to people who may not have wanted to make the commitment right away. It is a common fear of many gamers when looking at an MMO that they won’t be able to support that game for very long and won’t get their money’s worth. The first 15 levels of the game (having played all the classes at this point personally) takes the player through a good portion of the beginning of each character’s story and introduces a variety of different non-player characters integral to the overall story.
“Our philosophy is, ‘Come test drive the game. We feel that you’re going to like it enough that you’re going to invest time in it,'” Butler said.
While the game’s introduction levels are going free to play, this doesn’t mean that Bioware hasn’t been working tirelessly to provide content since launch for players. Rise of the Rakghouls came out as well as the Legacy Expansion, which both added some technical patches, content and flashpoint missions. The Allies patch added a more streamlined group finder and adaptive gear for players.
Many players have expressed the feeling that the game itself is made to be played socially. While it is entirely possible to completely level a character through solo work, it is often encouraged to join with others and play through the stories together.
“SW:TOR” has a unique system in this regard as player choices during conversations change the outcome of certain missions, which could potentially change the Light and Dark Side ramifications for those involved. It makes the teaming experience unique each time, and often more fun if you work with a dedicated team.
“It’s one of the reasons we wanted to get the Group Finder in as soon as we could. That’s why with [update] 1.3 we didn’t focus on the content because that was the main feature we wanted to get out their to allow people to get in those groups,” said Butler.
For those interested in dipping their toes in “SW:TOR” and trying out all of these features and stories, go to their site and sign up for the 15 level free trial.