BioWare to Use HeroEngine for Old Republic

This morning developer BioWare announced that it has officially chosen Simutronics' HeroEngine to power the upcoming MMOG, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The news comes as a surprise, as BioWare's own Aurora Engine is just over two years old, and currently in use by CD Projekt's hit PC RPG game, The Witcher. But according to Simutronics, its HeroEngine will allow BioWare to develop the highly-anticipated MMOG in real-time rather than forcing designers to wait for builds to compile; teams located in different locations can build and play the virtual world live on the server simultaneously. Any updates or changes take effect immediately without the need for those pesky "nightly builds and code crunching" as the official PR states. In effect, the HeroEngine should cut down development time, putting a few (much needed) Ben Franklins back into George Lucas' pocket.

“Our goal was to partner with a platform developer that knows online gaming and virtual world development, and the team at Simutronics has an excellent track record in that respect, ” said Gordon Walton, Co-Studio Director at BioWare. “Their HeroEngine was specifically created for building MMOGs and it allows for a great amount of flexibility in the way our entire team collaborates. ”

While winning various awards for its innovation and ability to update in real-time, Simutronics currently has no final products utilizing this particular engine. Hero's Journey, the company's original MMORPG for which the engine was initially built for, currently does not have a projected release date. Four other developers - including Stray Bullet Games and Colony Studios - have licensed the engine but have yet to produce a final product either. Although the HeroEngine's capabilities seem like a "dream come true" for MMOG developers, it's interesting that a developer such as BioWare has chosen software that has not performed in the general public.

But Simutronics seems confident that its engine is theanswer for The Old Republic. “The team at BioWare is creating an incredible experience, and we’re honored that they’ve selected our tool to help them build this epic world, ” said David Whatley, Simutronics’ Chief Executive Office andHeroEngine Chief Designer. “We’ve invested years of experience and our passion for virtual world entertainment into developing HeroEngine, and we’re confident that fans and online gaming enthusiasts alike will be happy with the finished product. ”

Simutronics formed in 1987, founded by David Whatley, TomZelinski and Susan Zelinski. Its flagship title was the text-based multiplayer fantasy game GemStone IV, made popular by online services such as AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy; it has become the longest-running commercial MUD in the world. News of BioWare's use of its 3D engine has been widely known for awhile, however both companies have now made the reports official. And, according to BioWare, Simutronics' HeroEngine is "da shizzle."

"At BioWare we selected HeroEngine because it had the most sophisticated and complete development tools available for building an amazing online experience, " said Gordon Walton, co-studio Director of BioWare Austin. "Our team wanted a great rapid prototyping environment and to work with experienced MMO developers. HeroEngine from Simutronics is a perfect fit for BioWare Austin's requirements."

BioWare officially [announced Star Wars: The Old Republic->,news-2806.html] towards the end of October, and already fans are clamoring in anticipation for this hot PC game. The scene takes place three hundred years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic, where the Jedi is forced to relocate to Tython, blamed for the rise of the Sith.

Currently no release date has been set for the upcoming MMOG.

  • Pei-chen
    Stop making RPG into MMO, it'll just be wipeout by WOW. Besides, the story line would have to be simplified to fit MMO test.
  • Tindytim
    Pei-chenStop making RPG into MMO, it'll just be wipeout by WOW. Besides, the story line would have to be simplified to fit MMO test.I was annoyed by this as well. There are certain games that would be perfectly suited to be made into MMO's.

    KotOR isn't on of them. This seems like a money move, as I cannot see the story working well in the MMO enviroment. Hopefully they won't do what Galaxies eventually did, and offer Jedi as a starting class (ruined the game).

    Eitherway, I want to know what happened to Revan, and I don't want to have to pay $15 bucks a month for a year to get little details they want to string along for me, as I play a passive observer(or get treated like I'm special, when everyone is treated that way).
  • everygamer
    I think KoToR is perfect for an MMO. Good MMO's need a vast amount of material to build from and Star Wars has that in spare, and the timeline lets them have freedom to create as they see fit (since 3000 years can wipe out anything that would contradict with the movies).

    The only problem I have with this article is that they even bring up Bioware's Aurora Engine and that they are surprised that it is not being used. Aurora from a development standpoint was never designed to host the data communication requirements nor the rendering of so many dynamic objects (players) as a MMO would require. I think it is a good move on Bioware's part to use an existing MMO code base. They have lots of experience with RPG's and story, but the MMO architecture is completely new to them. This way they get a starting code base that has already been tested and debugged, and they can concentrait on gameplay and story mechanics ... something they are really good at.
  • everygamer
    Correction, HeroEngine is not quite an established system, but knowing Bioware, they will make it work (and most likely along the way help Simutronics improve the product).
  • JonnyDough
    I must be the only one who thinks MMO's are stupid. I prefer a good old 2 person online RPG any day. "Hey buddy, wanna kick some Klingon butt today after school?"
  • curnel_D

    1. the aurora engine is teh engine used on nwn 1 NOT nwn2 the aurora engine is over 9 years old now !
    Wrong. Are you trying to tell me that biowares aurora engine was released in 1999? That would indicate that it was being developed before the RPG series Baldur's Gate, and Baldur's Gate II, which is just not possible. The aurora engine was released late 2001 making it 7 years old.
    2. The egine you mean to talk about is The Electron engine which is closerto 2 and 1/2 years old now and it is the one used in Witcher
    Wrong. The witcher did use the Aurora Engine. The Aurora engine was updated in 2004, 2005 and 2007. The Witcher uses the 2007 update.
    3. Bioware DID NOT make the electron engine Obsidian Entertainment made this engine ,however the upfront rights to it ARE owned by bioware since the Electron engine is based heavily off the aurora engine even though there are vast diferneces between the 2.
    The electron engine is almost exactly the same. The only difference is the graphics system, which is literally just a pasted over add on to the Auroa engine.
    LOL a little more research before you write an article please.
    The information about the age of the aurora engine is slightly skewed in the article, so I dont see a problem with correcting the bad information. But get your own info right, and dont try and overstate what's already wrong. And the moduals you've built is completely irrelivant. I've run two major PW's on both nwn and nwn2, and I'm more than confident you've played on at least one.
  • Tindytim
    everygamerI think KoToR is perfect for an MMO. Good MMO's need a vast amount of material to build from and Star Wars has that in spare, and the timeline lets them have freedom to create as they see fit (since 3000 years can wipe out anything that would contradict with the movies).
    That would be great, if they wrapped up what happened to Revan. If KotOR 3 came out, and wrapped up what they started, I would be fine with an MMO. But I just want some closure I won't have to pay $15 a month for.
  • curnel_D

    There ya go, hotlips. And for good measure, you cant base an engine release date by the time it was being developed. Sorry.
  • amstech
    Pei Chen,
    WoW is coming to its end. Cata is the last big expansion, and many people have turned from it. Its full of new kiddies and rent-a-raiders.
    I have stopped playing and several people I know after 3.3
    That game engine is a fossil and WoW looks terrible compared to some new MMO's.
    I am looking forward to a next-gen MMORPG and am very excited about this title.