All Roads Lead to Rodia

Any of you familiar with the movies knows that the empire of Vader’s day isn’t the alien inclusive, warm and fuzzy Sith playground of SWTOR. Aliens are not tolerated in Palpatine’s version – it’s often referred to as a ‘humans only club’ and in some ways SWTOR is just as exclusive to humans.

Wait, did I just say that SWTOR is inclusive but it’s not? Contradictory much?

Let me explain. From the beginning, BioWare have had a pretty clear idea of what they would and would not do. Playable and romanceable races are one of those areas where they think they know best. Some they have relaxed (decisions having real consequences, others they have stuck to (player characters must be as human-like as possible).

While for some games a new playable race meets strong reactions for and against, you know you’re doing something reeeeally wrong when it’s met with a resounding “meh”. Cathars are humans with a re-skin – nothing newsworthy there. I mean, we all loved it when that Cathar character in The Empire Strikes Back grabbed the blaster and…. oh…. wait there weren’t any Cathars. This is a race that exists nowhere except in comic books and as a companion in the original KoTOR. Aside from the fact it’s an easy race to make playable since they’ll fit existing armor, there’s no good reason to add them. Lazy or panicked addition, I can’t really tell. Although their unremarked deletion from the video now playing on swtor.com could be a clue (see before and after), so let’s add ‘confused’ to the list. Now, if it had been Trandoshians, that would be news. Instead this seems more a case of activity trying to look like movement.

I’m not beating up Bioware for their assertion that for a character to be relatable it must closely resemble a human, particularly the face. After all, the less like us things look in the animal kingdom, the more likely it is to have its own classification of phobia. But it’s not a universal truth and it’s a lazy assumption. Personality can be injected into anything either by the creator or observer. For example, the first exercise a prospective animator will often be faced with is the flour sack. Think the flying carpet from Disney’s Aladdin. It’s not a nuanced performance, but you know what it’s thinking. Not convinced? I’ve one word for you. Well, four letters actually: R2D2. Perhaps BioWare have heard of him.

For a tripodic pepper pot, that droid has more personality in his little canister body than Mr Lucas managed to inject in most of the characters in the new trilogy combined. Now I’m not saying there’s much subtlety there either. R2’s vocal expressions are broad and much of what we pickup from him are the generous reactions provided by other cast members, but that’s the point. In an RPG you don’t need your alt to provide much, because you as a player do that. We are very good at anthropomorphising things. We do it all the time with our pets. Projecting real feelings is second nature – some of us even manage to do it with politicians. Most players don’t need the emotional telegraphing. If you are a hard core raider you won’t miss it and if you enjoy RP you don’t need it.

In writing and other creative fields there is the precept of ‘be prepared to murder your darlings’. No, it’s not recommending infanticide, but how you must be prepared to sacrifice cherished notions for the sake of the greater work’s quality. The idea of players not being able to relate to their Trandoshian bounty hunter or Rodian consular is flat out wrong.

If BioWare want to give people an added, meaningful reason to create alts and play other story lines, they need to wake up and smell the blue milk.

Comments

  1. Mrcabbages says:

    There are a few other points you need to think about here, in regards to the non-humanoid characters. From a development standpoint, non-humanoid characters would be a bitch to implement when taking things like equipment, weapons, taxis, speeders, etc, into consideration. They would literally have to redesign EVERYTHING around the use of a non-humanoid character, including everything in the game that already exists. I’m not saying they won’t do it, I’m just saying let’s wait until the first expansion until they take on a big undertaking like that. Perhaps you were just speaking in regards to the faces? In that case, I’m not entirely sure I agree with BioWare’s stance, because I know a million people out there who would love to play a race with a wide-set mouth full of razor sharp teeth… But there is a difference between the “wow” factor you get from talking to a human, whose emotions you can see displayed on their faces, and from talking to, say, a Trandoshan, whose mouth flaps randomly as he speaks.

    And as for the Cathar, I’m not sure WHO you’ve been talking to in regards to the “meh” response from the announcement, or if you’re just putting your own personal feelings into the article and claiming it comes from the masses, but the Cathar were, prior to this announcement, already an incredibly popular race. Agreed that they weren’t in the precious original movies, but they have been featured in other media, other media which people tend to REALLY enjoy. I don’t think I’ve seen a “what races would you guys want to add?” conversation in-game (swtor of course) without someone mentioning Cathar and EVERYONE agreeing with them. I’ve been watching the reactions play out both in-game and on the internet – particularly reddit – where people are positively delighted about the addition of the Cathar.

    The other problem with adding races such as Wookiee and Trandoshan are that these races cannot speak galactic basic. With millions of dollars already pumped into the voice recording for the existing classes, adding support for a race that doesn’t speak basic could potentially cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if you don’t want to be listening to the same generic alien dialogue for ~30 hours of gameplay.

    Besides, BioWare have already specified at least Rodians, Togruta, and Chagrians to be races they want to add in at some point.

    • Horizon113 says:

      Yes personally I am pleased to be able to play the cathar they are a cool looking race also you need to look at the timeframe here. The game has only been out for 7 months and they are already about to employ there second content update. They are implementing character transfers. And they are still able to toss out world special event and iron out all the bugs associated with a mmo in its first year. But your article complains over the fact that you don’t want to play a race that isn’t even put yet. Yes lizards and fur balls would be fun just stop complaining over new stuff that these guys are putting out for everyone’s enjoyment.

  2. jgelling says:

    Yep, it’s a meh decision – no matter how you spin it the Cathar won’t excite people like say, the Wookie, Jawas, Trandoshans, Nautolans or whatever race Yoda is would, e.g.

    You’re still just a different colored species but now you come in cat colors. So the list of playable species has now been increased to red, blue, grey, normal-colored, tattooed people and dudes wearing jewelry… Er, cyborgs.

    You’re either in the Star Wars universe or New York – it’s hard to say which in the game.

    • All of those races are impractical. Youll end up with a wookie or jawa that looks identical to all others as they would never display and of the armour skins. Heck most people complain about twelicks leku as it is. Not being able to display the head armour or it clipping.

      A Yoda, type character would not fit any of the speeders. You would have to skrink the speeders and then they would look ridiculous. Or, they would have to create speeders soley for use by that race.

      Wookies would require a revoice for every single quest available in the game, as would trandoshans.

      • jgelling says:

        It’s impractical to have iconic Star Wars races in Star Wars? Really? No, really? Really?

        I think that attitude is a lot of why this BioWare Star Wars MMO is failing, hard.

  3. And when did TOROZ get invaded by fuckwit short sited articles like this? i thought this was a fan site, not another (insert poor site here) place.

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