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Roundtable #1

Welcome to our newest addition to TFNGames. Here we will be discussing at length the biggest issues of the Star Wars gaming scene with some of our Jedi Council Forum members. To begin with, we will be discussing another interesting controversy revolving around a well known LucasArts brand name:

KOTOR II: The Incompletion Controversy

There's no arguing the fact that Knight of the Old Republic has been like a breath of fresh air for Star Wars on the video game scene. Not only did Bioware create a solid and entertaining role playing game, but they built around an original and exciting new era of our beloved franchise, something that up until now we had only been able to read. With its success came the obvious decision to create a sequel, and the task was handed to fellow RPG developers Obsidian.

KOTOR is a franchise that has gained respect for LucasArts, especially on their decision to hand over development reigns to outside companies (Pandemic Stuios and Raven have also shown their best with similar projects, Battlefront and Jedi Outcast). However, despite the best intentions of Obsidian, a strict due date was placed on KOTOR II: The Sith Lords. So therefore, the controversy began.

What we have here is a brilliant game, continuing the adventure standard set by Bioware, that ends with un-expected bugs, system crashes and sudden 'the end' scenarios for PC gamers. The simple fact is, the company just wasn't given enough time to fully see out the game the way it was originally planned. Now I for one respect the decision by LucasArts to have the game ready for the very important Christmas season. But as anyone here will tell you, it's more important to have a game using the full potential of the idea then a game that is rushed out for the makings of profit.

For the record, KOTOR II is still a well developed title, despite the problems nearer the end of certain story arcs. Obsidian should be rewarded for their efforts of following on from such a well respected and award winning title, by a company that has since gone on to create what could possibly be something even better then KOTOR itself (and I speak, of course, of Jade Empire). If anything, it's a sign that Obsidian and Bioware have the opportunity now to carry this franchise on even further. They both deserve the chance to do the original even more justice, and I for one am hopefully LucasArts will see to it that KOTOR III, if announced, will have more then enough time to be created and released for next year.

Errant_Venture:
I don't think anyone in the gaming industry or LFL truly realized just how big of an impact Knights of the Old Republic was going to make when it came out. It was literally in so many ways, one of the biggest and most comprehensive single player RPGs ever. Of course LucasArts was going to produce a sequel to this smash hit, how could they not after the first one made them googles of money? Unfortunately for KOTOR II: The Sith Lords, she was given a hype by the fans that she couldn't live up to.

I love KOTOR II even with all the errors and missing items and horrible ending, and I don't fault Obsidion for what happened, it wasn't their fault. LA forced the rush and the gamers paid for it. I'm also not one to jump on the LA/Obsidion hate bandwagon as like I said, I love the game just the way it is. I bought the game knowing that it was going to be this way, and its not my place to moan and complain about it. I can't stand how people moan and complain about the game, its childish. Starting a petition to get an expansion pack or a downloadable patch for all the missing content? Childish!

The way I see it, KOTOR II is the 2nd game in a trilogy. We'll probably see all that missing storyline in the next game and it probably will be rushed as well, but hopefully not to the extent that KOTOR II was. All it is a game, its not like having all that cut information will save your life or anything. If you don't like the game, fine, thats cool. But don't moan and complain for months on end about it. You bought the game and if you're not satisfied don't buy anything else from LucasArts ever again. Its that plain and bloody simple.

Jon (Aragorn327):
My thoughts on the KotOR 2 incompletion situation in short—it’s a shame, but things like this are bound to happen more and more as time goes on.

Gaming is becoming more mainstream. The more popular gaming becomes, craftsmanship will be thrown aside and the developers and producers will focus more on getting money.

This has occurred before, and will certainly continue as time goes on. An example from the past? The X-Wing series. Star Wars gamers loved those games. The last of them, X-Wing Alliance, was rushed because The Phantom Menace was going to be released, and they wanted it on the shelves to make money from the hype. Money over quality. For the entire game, the Azameen family story was building up, and then it just suddenly ends when you finally found out who’d been betraying the main character. Thanks to the cut content, Totally Games ended up never producing a sequel with LucasArts or even an expansion pack to wrap up the unfinished product…all because they wanted the game out by a certain point.

KotOR 2 was rushed because the producers figured “They’ll buy it anyway.” Quite often, this is true. Star Wars fans will buy Star Wars games because it says Star Wars on it. As long as there’s hype, and the game is decent, mainstream games will buy it.

As more people buy the games, the quality will suffer, simply because the producers can get away with it and make money. It’s horrible, but short of a large boycott, nothing can be done about it. Hopefully, LucasArts won’t turn into another EA. We’ll have to wait and see.

Mat (The_Chim):
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: Sith Lords should have been what any Star Wars sequel has been in the past. Ok maybe not any but at least ESB, and maybe even an Attack of the Clones. But is that too much to ask of LucasArts as of late?

It is a shame to see such a quality game (60+ RPG) to have to be crippled by such silly problems. I can understand time constraints but for this game to be 'completed' in the short time period it was, and have it be as good as it is, I am still impressed. Though still skeptical. But the fact that I am impressed isn't good enough, I wanted the same feeling I got from KOTOR I. But for developers to be force to completion, well that is just ridiculous. It really does pain me to see a another Star Wars game to have to be forced to completion just because LucasArts needed the game out for the big holiday season, then have the PC port follow shortly after. It should be 'completion date’, not 'release date'. A game is released when it is completed, no sooner. If you put stipulations on it, then you get what KOTOR II was, instead of what it could have and should have been.

I don't mean to make the game sound all-bad. It is quite the opposite actually. But you do get the feeling of it being a little 'un-finished' around the edges. Some levels textures are not complete, but yet the game specs require you to sell small organs in order to be able to update your PC in order to play it. Graphics didn't seem all the far from the original KOTOR's, though system specs are still too steep for most gamers to be able to fully enjoy the game (with graphics and effects at their zenith of tasty) Again I do not mean to be so critical of the game, it is just that is what a critic does, they critique.

Imagine your anger when you have to work for hours to get the money to buy this game only to then try for hours to get it to work on your computer? Welcome to my world. Multiple bugs were obvious within a few hours of game play. You can attribute this, once again, to the game being rushed to completion so it could be on store shelves in time. Though most annoying of all the bugs (at least for PC gamers and more specifically ATI graphics card users) was the lack of support the ATI graphics cards got from the game. It was almost as if said cards and the game were completely incompatibility. So many problems presented themselves within just that problem.

At least KOTOR II kept up with the same Light Side against Dark Side driven undertone that its predecessor strongly established. Choosing to change your path as you play your way through the massive game, given options at almost every instance (more so in what you say and the affect you have on the environments than anything else) in the game to follow the light or dark path.

But KOTOR II has a large footprint to fill in order to live up to its big brother. And don't even get me started on all the missing content and ending. Hey, at least they are taking steps to fix some of the bugs in the game play itself now with the release of the patch. Let us hope for the best.

Despite NOT being 'finished' per say, the game is still very good. I enjoyed and still do enjoy it a lot. But I just wish that it would have had enough time to have actually been able to complete it, and then I would have been able to enjoy it even more.

Caity (Connemara):

Basically I think Lucasarts did KotOR and Obsidian a bad disservice by forcing the production to be finished by Christmas. For that matter they did themselves a big disservice. Everyone is familiar with the holiday rush by businesses to get their product out before Christmas in order to make more money off it. It's a tiresome tradition, and had Lucasarts broken from it in the effort to make the game *better* instead of simply sell games faster, they would have risen very high in my respect at least.

Because to me, quality is essential in a game. If it's not well written, well edited, well executed, it's a waste of time and money. KotOR II had the chance to be all that and more, and in many ways it was in fact an exemplary game, but the end was all but ruined thanks to Lucasarts' rush. The final scenes did not mesh, plotlines simply dead-ended without explanation, and the whole thing was conveniently tied together with the standard run of the mill Boss battle scene followed by the defeated Kreia prophesying the future before keeling over.

No game I've ever played can compare with the rest of the game however, and had Obsidian been allowed to finish the game, we could have truly had a diamond among the stones.

Rich (SoloCommand):
It’s funny. Some truly awful, terrible games have come out of the video games industry over the last few years. No-one can deny how utterly awful some titles (like, for instance, Obi Wan or Jedi Power Battles), however, despite having read utterly terrible reviews, an unmitigated public (drawn by licenses, or otherwise) will run to the shops, queuing up if need be, just to buy this one game, only to be sadly disappointed when they realise that “the magazines” were right. Surely no-one can complain, they were warned about how utterly abysmal the game was before they went out and bought it.

Knights of the Old Republic 2 was quite a different matter altogether. Pretty much all the reviews ran along the lines of “Despite a number of obvious bugs, KOTOR 2 is a very worthy addition to the series” giving the masses the go-ahead to run wildly in the direction of their nearest Electronics Boutique demanding their copy for X-Box or later on, for the PC. And generally, for the first few months, people weren’t all that disappointed, granted, the ending was shallow and haphazard, but all credit to Obsidian, it was otherwise a good, fun game with a plot that only the likes of Chris Avellone (Otherwise responsible for the excellent cult classic “Planescape Torment”) could create.

Then the PC version came out, and the Star Wars Gaming/Obsidian community quite simply convulsed.

First off, the PC port was short of some important ATI support, meaning that All the Radeon owners had trouble getting the game to load properly. Secondly, the graphical advancements made on the first games engine meant that if your shiny, yet old graphics card that could run KOTOR without hitches, then the new graphical demands might render it obsolete. And if that wasn’t enough to bitch about, a quick search through the voice files on the PC version found a bucket load of unused dialogue and material. Suddenly, there were demands that this dialogue all be used to “complete” the game, along with the inclusion of a sequence (the Droid Planet mentioned by HK47 when he asks about your translation implant) that was reported cut from the game due to lack of time. But OH NOES!!! By this point, Obsidian had already started work on Neverwinter Nights 2 for Bioware.

Let’s look at this frankly, Obsidian managed to sculpt a rich, multi-structured, and otherwise excellent RPG in little over a year. Due to the imposing demands that LucasArts have a big selling Christmas title out, the game had to be released when it did, meaning that Obsidian just had to cut out all the bits that they’d planned, and do their best to polish the game up for its release. And to be fair on them, they did. The Ending, though poorly designed, managed to tie up the loose ends for each character (even if they weren’t there in person, at the time). Granted, this has meant for more plot holes than originally intended, but can’t we appreciate the game for what it is? And for all the unanswered questions, don’t we all have imaginations?

Regardless, based on the sales figures of the original two games alone, surely by 2008 we can expect to see some, if not all of our questions answered, plot points closed, and a shiny new adventure (no-doubt, with a shiny new graphics engine) carrying the title “Knights of the Old Republic III”.

---

For more on the KOTOR II Controversy, be sure to visit the thread on the JC Games Forum. And while you are there, drop by the Roundtable Discussion thread and mention a topic you would like to see us discuss.

Next, we take a look at the issue everyone is talking about ... Star Wars Galaxies and the Combat Upgrade.
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