Today, I give in the cult.
Today is the day for KOTOR.
Kotor ? well…. yes, you know what Kotor means.
In every universe, there are codes that nobody talks about but that all the insiders know.
In the video game world, Kotor is like a major code. Fundamental.
You either know it, or you don’t.
It makes your ears perk up – and you’re a member of the circle. Or not, and you’re a nice noob.
There are a few terms that have become almost magical – and we’ll laugh 25 years in a row at the person who didn’t know what it meant: MMO RPG and said it: meuporg – it was in France, the guy is supposed to be so good in the field.
MMO – RPG : massively multiplayer online role playing game.
Well, sorry, maybe you don’t know what Kotor means :
KOTOR is the acronym for Knight Of The Old Republic – this is a game based on the Star Wars expanded universe, developed by BioWare and published by LucasArts in 2003.
So, Kotor is a pure video game must-have
KOTOR is simply the game that had to exist.
It revolutionized everything (no, I never exaggerate – you know me now, don’t you? ).
It brought video games into the adult age, with an absolutely unforgettable storyline – an equally unforgettable gameplay – and I’m not even talking about the music – it’s the only game of its kind.
You won’t find Lord Vader in Kotor, nor the iconic characters from the movies – since the story is set 4 millennia before the establishment of the famous Galactic Empire.
At the beginning your character suffers from amnesia – that’s curious, amnesia, oblivion – ah yes, it’s a major theme between the games and the shows.
And here you are, fresh and innocent, in the eternal fight between the dark and the light forces.
The Siths, under the orders of Darth Malan, former apprentice of the very, very famous Darth Revan, have launched a terrible offensive – in orbit around the planet Taris, the Republic ship, the Endar Spire, is the victim of a lightning attack.
So far, if you’re in love with Star Wars and its expanded universes – you’re in good territory – if you’re just a curious bystander, you might think this is another Star Wars game.
I’m not telling you the story, that’s not my point here.
However, not talking about KOTOR when you want to play with video games would be pretty close to a major mistake (I see you – I’ve talked about it before).
What I think will fundamentally differentiate KOTOR from other games is the dialogue
No, KOTOR is not a game about bullies killing everyone.
You have to interact with the characters that you meet.
You can even choose how you’re going to talk to them – and depending on what you choose, how you choose to talk, the characters will have a different reaction: in fact, your gameplay is going to depend on your choices in how you interact with the characters.
Basically, you can play KOTOR over and over again and never have the same adventure – because you won’t have made the same choices.
As a result, your Charisma level will become quite fundamental in order to access all the subtleties of the game.
And of course, you’ll be able to choose which side to fight on: the Jedi side or the Sith side – neither choice will prevent you from regaining your memory, by the way, and neither will penalize you – the video game is not the new catechism.
But that wasn’t enough and in 2005, KOTOR 2 – The Sith Lords was released.
And then there…. there too, we’ll talk about a phenomenal success – and especially about an almost traumatic title.
Because in addition to the system of constant interactions with other players, the developers added the character of KREIA.
She’s a very, very complex character – maybe a little too complex – basically she’s going to serve as your character’s ‘strange mentor’. She will interrogate you – she will provoke you – she will – very rarely – lie to you – and then it’s up to you to know what’s true and what’s false – she will also lie by omission – or to influence the actions of others.
She is attached to your footsteps in an amazing way – and as long as you think Kreia is some kind of blind old fool with a mind of her own, you will not be able to anticipate what is going on.
This character has taken this video game from a game to a huge & great, great, book – she talks a lot – what she has to say is always important and every time you skip, you lose game.
That’s why Kotor is major for me – for Altair – because it’s a game (they are games) based on very constructed characters – who have goals and who interact with you – you who, by and large, are the innocent village boy who doesn’t quite know what his goals are. –
Star Wars is about the clash of good and evil – which is evolving in the understanding of what is good and what is evil – and it seems that the evolution of the movie series is also somewhat indebted to the narrative and epic treasures written by the fan community that created the expanded universe.
Kotor is also about that: leave it to your audience and see what they can do, when you give them a hand. Well, it makes for something extraordinary – and very, very supported by a huge community.
– that was the “communication lesson” of the day.
What does this beautiful play have to do with my even more beautiful theatre?
There are so many that I could write a thesis and in 3000 years we would still be here, you reading me and me writing, and I still wouldn’t have finished.
I’ll just highlight one small, somewhat hidden aspect: Kotor was an iconoclastic game.
Iconoclastic because it is a game of words more than of fights.
Because Kotor 2 can almost be called a game for intellectuals – and it is a game and it is Star Wars, yes yes.
Because nobody can anymore, without having the bad faith of the century, tell you that video games are activities for morons who only think about punching in all directions (which would deserve my nice not imaginary fist in the nose of those who claim that).
Kotor 2 is more complex and more intellectual than most of the things called books that come out in the last few years.
That’s how Kotor signals the coming of age of video games – you can play and think – amazing.
Did you see? I’m gone, I can make it through the night – well in French for the night, okay.
Okay, okay, you’ve got other things to do, and you get it.
I’m just finishing up: what do I, Altair, know when I know that Kotor is a game that is a work of art?
I know that, because of all the people who came up with the extended Star Wars universe, because of all the people who literally racked their brains to come up with a story that will then see the canonical summary and alternative summaries flourish, because of all the possible paths you can take in this game, because of all the people who put money into making this totally amazing game happen – I know that the “video game” side of things really needs to get out of the “teenager’s little thing” sphere.
And because of that, I know for sure that video games will find it interesting to work with Altair artists. That’s the next step.
It’s been written since a bunch of crazy people started to invent Kotor.
The music ? no, I’ll talk about it separately.
Featured Image : the iconic image of KOTOR – LucasArts