John Walker's Electronic House

Bastard Of The Old Republic

by on Apr.26, 2009, under The Rest

Over the last three months I’ve been writing a project of Eurogamer, where I’ve replayed Knights of the Old Republic by making only the most evil choices available. Whenever I’ve played role-playing games that have offered ethical choices, I’ve always tried hard to make the decisions I believe I would make were I in that situation. Clearly I’ve always flattered myself, as I always become glowingly virtuous in all of them – a feat I don’t always quite manage in real life. As I play such games, I see those awful options, those terrible choices, and very occasionally out of intrigue I’ll pick them to find out what happens, immediately reloading to undo it all. Of course, playing like that breaks the already tenuous frame, so it’s something I mostly avoid doing. I wanted to find out what would happen if I played a favourite RPG completely against character and instinct, both as an excuse to replay the game after five or so years, and because I thought it would make for an interesting article.

I pitched it to Eurogamer as a single piece for their Retro Sunday slot, and lovely editor Tom Bramwell agreed to it. I realised there was going to be a problem after I’d finished the opening sequences on Taris, realised I’d been playing for many hours, and had already done enough terrible things to fill two articles. Tom rather generously agreed to let me break it into two parts. And then I wrote an article nearly three times as long as the standard for the first part anyway.

So playing and writing part two, I realised there were still problems. Buzzing around two planets, I’d gone through quite a transformation, and had started to thoroughly enjoy my evil ways. But I was still a long way from the end. Once again I went grovelling to Tom, explaining that I needed just one more part, oh please, go on. He agreed again, and I wrote another triple length piece for part two.

I really did finish it for part three. Although I really could have broken it in half (not least because the final piece is about 3,200 words long), instead skipping huge chunks of the game to keep it within some sensible size. This is testament to the scale of Knights of the Old Republic, just how much could be said. In the end I wrote about 9,000 words, and could likely have found another 9,000. (Although getting paid three times for this worked out pretty well.)

It’s been a fun experiment, and something I’ve had some really nice feedback from. So part one is here, then part two, and finally today’s part three. Cheers to Tom for letting me take as much time and space as he did – I cannot think of any other publication (beyond RPS) that would have let me do that.

3 Comments for this entry

  • The_B

    Hurray for Bramwell! and Hurray for KOTOR! and for being a bastard in a gaming context! and for pieces about being a bastard in a gaming context! Hurray!

  • Andy Krouwel

    Excellent idea and article, John.

    I have the same character flaw when playing RPGs, in that I seem perversely incapable of making inconsiderate choices; I always wondered what would happen if you did. It also neatly knocks over the criticism of KOTOR that you couldn’t really be evil, just obnoxious.

    I do prefer the newer Mass Effect approach though, with points for diplomacy and authority, which aren’t mutually incompatible. It did still revert to good/evil in places, though.

  • Tom Bramwell

    My pleasure John – and not least because I knew it would be a pleasure for anyone who read it.