For those of you who do not know, I have been a roleplayer for longer than I have played MMOs. Pen and paper games were my start, but that morphed into theater work. I loved the idea of taking on a different personality and exploring the motivations of people different from me. When Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies released, I jumped right into those worlds. It was a dream to explore what it's like to live out a different existence. In fact, in SWG, I was a part of a community that focused specifically on living in the Star Wars universe.
In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we'll get another chance to live in this universe, and we will make choices that will affect the way non-player characters will react to us beyond the simple IFF features most mobs sport. This is unlike anything in previous MMORPGs. I am talking about dialogue choices and instance outcomes based on how we decide to approach our character.
The character creator is first step taken by players in most MMOs, but most of the time character creation is set up backward. Which faction? Which profession? Which race? These questions are often asked before we ask, "What does this guy look like?" I can't tell you how many times I started down one route with a character, started to build his looks, then completely changed every other aspect.
We know so far that classes are species-specific in SWTOR, so unfortunately, we will have to know which species and class we want to play before we get to look at the character. We also know that each class will have a very different story arc throughout the game. I also believe that your story will change slightly depending on the species you choose. Take the Mass Effect games as an example: Although the overarching story of ME didn't change, there were differences in the storyline based on your character's background. I believe the same will hold true for SWTOR, except instead of background, it will be species.
As we can see by the close-up shots and other cinematics used throughout the game and screenshots, BioWare is promising a robust character creator. We can obviously expect a plethora of tattoos, hairstyles, and other facial features to be available for our characters. I suggest that you add a bit of story or personality behind these cosmetic touches as you add them to your avatar. Why does your character have that scar over his right eye? Did he succeeding in tearing the arms off a gundark, but not before it swiped him across the face?
An archetype is a characteristic or set of characteristics that sets a precedent for future characters. In the case of Star Wars, Han Solo is the archetype that set the precedent for rogue characters in future Star Wars stories, characters such as Dash Rendar. You will also find archetypes carried from story to story. The wise wizard found in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf, was dimly mirrored by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Episodes IV through VI.
If you haven't read any of the works of Carl Jung, I suggest keeping it that way. They are quite complicated and boring. However, if he wasn't required reading in college, I suggest reading some of the Wikipedia entries about him and his writing. This psychologist and philosopher studied archetypes. Granted, Jung's archetypes were not from stories but rather from human observation. They can and are often applied to stories. Perhaps his works can help you build a character.
Alternatively, you can use my study of the Muppet Show. Really. I was able to break down the characters of the Muppet Show into five different personality types: the straight man, the idiot, the jerk, the weirdo, and the silent character. The straight man is the character who holds everything together and usually does the right thing. This is found in Muppet Show characters like Kermit and Scooter and then in Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker. The idiot is the one who is always wrong, even if he's right. Thank you, Fozzie Bear and C-3PO. The jerk can be defined in characters who are self-important. You know -- the ones whose opinions mean more to them than everyone else, a la Miss Piggy and Han Solo. The weirdo is not necessarily wacky but can be a person who is out of sync with everyone else. Gonzo is an extreme example, but Obi-Wan fits better for Star Wars. Finally, you have the silent character; he's not always silent, but he is never understood by the audience. Animal or Beaker fill this bill on the Muppet Show, and R2-D2 and Chewbacca are clearly unintelligible in Star Wars. However, this last character would be a bit hard to pull off as a main character in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Thanks for reading this week. Hopefully, this got you thinking -- or at the very least, giggling. When we finally have the game in our hands and are faced with the decision of saving the captain or killing the captain, we can ask, "What would Fozzie do?" Until next time, may the farce be with you.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to email@example.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!