When BioWare first began planning Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, the original pitch had a very different idea for the game’s story. For instance, BioWare originally planned to create a Yoda-like villain that the player would face off against in the main storyline, according to a feature story from Eurogamer.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’s lead designer James Ohlen explained that his team wanted the game to use a character from Yoda’s species. That’s because Yoda is a pretty trustworthy character, so very few people would assume that a Yoda-esque teacher would become a force for evil.
“The initial twist in the first two-page concept we had for Knights of the Old Republic 2 was you were going to be trained by a Yoda-like figure,” Ohlen explained to Eurogamer. “Someone from the Yoda race. That character was going to train you in the first part of the game but then you were going to discover this Yoda figure was actually not the good Yoda you expected.”
In turn, the game would slowly reveal that the player’s teacher was actually turning the player into a Dark Lord, which he could in turn use to conquer the universe through the Force. And while Ohlen liked the idea, BioWare’s founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk turned it down. That’s because BioWare didn’t own the license to Star Wars, and thus the franchise’s stories were subject to Lucasfilm’s approval. And turning a major series hero into a villain wouldn’t go over well.
“In order for a company to be successful and control its own destiny you need to own your own IP, and we didn’t own Dungeons & Dragons or Star Wars,” Ohlen said, agreeing that Muzyka and Zeschuk made the right move. “Mass Effect was something we decided we had to do instead of another Star Wars game.”
Interestingly enough, BioWare flirted with creating games for other franchises before ultimately going with Knights of the Old Republic. The studio was even open to the idea of making a Game of Thrones video game.
Well, sort of. Muzyka and Ohlen originally began brainstorming a license for a BioWare title by looking through books for popular franchises and figuring out which one to adapt into an RPG. One such book included A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin’s first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.
“That never went anywhere,” Ohlen admitted. “But that’s how I started reading it—after the first book I was like ‘holy s***!’ and ran downstairs to the bookshop.”
It’s strange to think that BioWare considered making a Game of Thrones video game or developing a villainous Yoda for Knights of the Old Republic 2. But when it comes to game development, anything can happen.