On the likelihood of Trandoshan PCs

January 11, 2012

Based on what I read today, I would peg it as ‘low.’ And for a reason that makes sense to me; a writer for Old Republic has the words to express it that I couldn’t think of.

Q: Would you be excited by the possibility of bringing in new playable alien races, as right now you’ve stuck to rather humanoid looking races without touching on the likes of Wookiees or Sullustans?

AF: So, again I can’t speak specifically for future content. You know, the reason for our humanoid range of species, it’s a matter of relatability to a large degree. The further you get from human the more difficult it is for players to get into their mindset, the more difficult it is for all the other characters in the game to relate to them the same way. There are enormous technical obstacles, there is building all the lip synching, all the emotion into the face of the human is incredibly difficult and time consuming, doing that for something like a Wookiee – and we couldn’t half do it, we couldn’t let Wookiees be only a third as expressive as humans. At that point we’re just giving up. We’re building a game designed to do these things, we can’t do it in half measures. Same with customising appearances. Adding one dramatically different alien, we still need as much variety as we would need for humans. Between the relatability aspect and the technical aspect it seems best to focus on what Star Wars has always done best which is people who look like us.

Relatability. Now, I can just hear Dave telling me how he relates to cold-blooded reptiles better than people, and maybe I’d agree, heh. But I can see where it would be a problem writing story and doing animation and expressing enough personality with the resources they have. Could you get into an alien character and do quests where your end of the conversation is a series of Star Warsian gibberish, to the point that you begin to recognize the phrases and can finish sentences?

The writer had some more to add:

AF: Yeah, and there are a lot of people who are really into playing the incredibly alien stuff but I think what a lot of those people are into is the fact that they are strange and different. So if we can’t pull that off in the storytelling. If we can’t make you feel like yes, you are a Wookiee, everyone is going to look at you differently than if you were human, your entire background is going to be very different, that’s going to shape everything you do differently. If you were doing humans with Wookiee masks in the story then I don’t think it’s going to satisfy most of the people who are going to play Wookiee.

It’s not the aesthetic of it, it’s the whole package. It’s being the barbarian from some planet who is stronger and wilder than everyone else and who is only half understood. That’s what people love about Wookiees. We don’t have anything against that storytelling, it’s not a moral opposition to not having inhuman characters but in order to do it right you need to write a story around that character.

So, having done the intro content in SWTOR a few times, would it lend itself to the Trandoshan PC? What classes would they be? Would you feel shortchanged if, say, they couldn’t be Sith because the Empire has an anti-alien bias? Would it feel right to be doing the same series of quests that the more human, more ‘relatable’ races are doing? Could the short list of canned responses at each point of conversation adjust to a truly alien mindset? Would you care about the hapless Coruscant refugee who’s lost his mate to a gang of corrupt merchants?

I mean, I never liked him anyway, but…could be trouble if you go to pick up quests and you think, half of these, my Trandoshan wouldn’t give a damn.

Seems a fair question to me, and perhaps in the future, they could have alien-exclusive starter worlds for new races, kind of like how WoW handled blood elves, draenei, worgen and goblins. But maybe the more alien – as in less relatable – races are better off as NPCs and somewhat  baffling, mysterious companions.


One comment

  1. *grumbles* well they did it easily enough in SWG, effects wise I would say. Besides one doesn’t expect that much in emotional expressiveness in a reptilian race! As far as relatability…heh.

    ah well, Old Republic, I hardly knew ye…and will not, unless I upgrade my video card.

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