From Minsc and Boo to Urdnot Wrex, companion characters play an integral role in all BioWare stories. The same is true for Star Wars™. From Chewie to R2-D2, the heroes in the movies are often accompanied by a trusted partner.
Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is no different. Each character class unlocks unique companions throughout their storyline; companions that fight alongside players in battle against AI and other players in Open World PvP, aid in crafting and non-combat missions through Crew Skills, and provide commentary on environments and engage in conversations.
As you advance your story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, you build relationships with your companion characters based on the decisions you make throughout the game. How you treat each companion and how you act when they are in your presence determines how your relationship with them evolves. The writing team has done a fantastic job of bringing these companions to life with compelling stories and backgrounds. They add an emotional layer to the experience in the same way that such memorable characters as Bastila Shan and HK-47 did inStar Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic®.
From a combat and systems perspective, though, which is what my team is tasked with, bringing BioWare-style companion characters into a massively multiplayer setting is a daunting task with many hurdles:
How do you make each player’s companions unique in a world where other people are experiencing the same story with the same companions?
How do you make companions a critical part of the player’s combat without stepping on the usefulness of other players?
How can you make a companion character that is easy to control for players who don’t want to micromanage abilities, while also offering complex options for players who enjoy that style of gameplay?