6. Finally, really feeling like a Jedi
Before the release of Jedi Knight, we had played as exactly one Jedi in the 15-year history of Star Wars games. And as much as we love Luke, any Force powers we used of his usually didn't amount to much more than throwing a lightsaber like a boomerang. Plus, they came predefined – we knew what powers Luke had, so that's what we got. Jedi Knight changed that. With Kyle Katarn as our playable avatar, we were finally able to experience the path of becoming a Jedi ourselves – even what it meant to choose the light or dark path.
Former LucasArts Assistant Lead Tester Geoff Jones remembers a critical moment during the game's development that played a key role in how choosing Kyle's path was executed. "During development, as [the portion of the game where player chooses Jan Ors' fate] was implemented, one of the testers pushed to change how this worked," says Jones. "[Going light or dark] shouldn't be a choice given to the player. Instead, the outcome should be determined by the player's Force meter. If you had been going down the dark path, you should succumb to the dark side, and vice-versa. The tester argued that this was true to the Star Wars mythology, a better integration of the game's mechanics, and provided more replay value. With an onscreen choice, the player could simply load a save game right before the decision and make the other choice.
"The developers were understandably concerned that if it was too hard to see the other ending, the player would miss out on a chunk of the game – and they had spent a lot of money to build that chunk! This was the late Nineties, before branching paths were common in games. But the tester argued that the team had built a terrific game and players would be thrilled to replay it to see a different ending. After careful consideration, the developers made the change. One of the great things about LucasArts was that good ideas could come from anywhere."