As Lucasfilm was planning the future for Star Wars, Poem Games was rebuilding the saga’s past. This company was remaking the best Star Wars video games, Knights of the Old Republic.
The game would put you in the shoes of an anonymous child in the midst of a galactic civil war more than 4,000 years before Star Wars.
Like Luke and Rey, the player would realize that he/she has to have a deep connection to the Force, and then they set down a path that grants them their lightsaber with a custom color and length. The story is deep and the characters rich. The thing is: it was 15 years old, and it was overdue for some update. This is where Poem Games and Taylor Trotter comes in:
“Apparently there are different entities that make up the Force,” Trotter recently told Inverse. “‘Apeiron’ is one of them.”
The Greek word Apeiron means boundless but in the Star Wars extended universe, “aperion” was used for the parts of the Force that unified matter.
Apeiron is rebuilt from the ground up which works in concert with the version of the first game which was on Steam. Work on this project was done on a volunteer basis, and Apeiron is billed as a “total conversion mod” which would be given away for free.
“Meshes, lighting, animations, and all of those organic assets will be replaced,” Trotter had explained.
“All of those have to be made from scratch.” Because it is a “mod,” Trotter does not expect legal trouble.
This version of the game will restore a few cut content:
“Sleheyron was kind of this lava planet that was cut from the original. There’s also Deadeye. In the original game, he was the first opponent you fight in the Taris arena. You meet him again on Manaan, and you have this interaction with him that was also cut.”
Beyond updating the graphics, there is an extent to which the team is expanding the worlds and environments.
“Whenever you left the Jedi Academy,” Trotter explained about Dantooine, “you were in a low area between high-rise cliffs between points A and B. In Apeiron, that’s open, wide open. There are no load screens, and the horizon has been enhanced and expanded. I don’t want to use the term ‘open world’ because that’s overkill, but it’s more open and continuous with no loading screens.”
The idea was to eliminate “invisible walls” which stand between a gamer’ and the feeling of freedom. They wanted to give the players a more naturalistic experience.
“I was living in China on the Mongolian border — as all great stories start out — and playing KotOR (pronounced “koh-tour”) on my laptop,” Trotter had once explained.
“I remember thinking, ‘Someone should continue this legacy.’ The game is so good that I thought somebody should do something with it.”
At this time, a new The Old Republic MMO had been banned in China. After some time, Trotter started thinking that he must do it by himself and it just took some time for him to get himself together to tackle this project.
After six years, Trotter evolved from a designer into a video game developer and creative director. Trotter was banking on avoiding any copyright issues as the game would be free and billed as a total conversion mod.
Because it is Star Wars, there was pressure to “get it right” and Trotter spent up to 12 hours a day building and coding environments.
“Video game creation is oddly addicting,” Trotter had explained, “especially as the game starts shaping up and you get something real on your hands.”
“I worked on it by myself for nine months to a year, working eight-hour days after getting home from work, just refining and learning, reading tech sheets, and immersing myself in this world. That snowballed itself. Now we have a full seven-man team and projection goals — and it’s all going really well.”
According to Trotter, a few images and demos had changed:
“We’ve changed a lot of aesthetics of the design. During the mesh phase we originally had, we took into account the public’s reaction. We weren’t getting the feedback we wanted. People said it was cool, but we don’t want to make just a ‘cool game.’ We want to make the perfect Star Wars game. And because it’s Star Wars, the pressure is that much higher. If we’re just ‘okay,’ nobody is going to take us seriously on our next game. Failure is not an option, but neither is mediocrity.”
That thirst for perfection and nothing less led to sleepless nights:
“We’d pause on a wide pan shot from the movies and work off of that,” he said. “And then It’d be me at my computer at 3 o’clock in the morning thinking ‘Why can’t I make houses look like that on Tatooine?’ or ‘Maybe I should spend the next six hours making dirt?’ Just testing out different kinds of dirt.”
The tedium paid off, albeit at a pretty slow pace. Although Trotter does feel that it is premature to speak publicly about the goals and dates, he had assured the fans that progress had been made. Many visual assets were soon finalized, and they had started the back-end work. Ongoing progress was shown via Apeiron Twitter account:
Although there was no public release date for Apeiron, Trotter was looking beyond the game and had teased a future non-Star Wars, non-sci-fi project on the horizon.