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Cel Cawdro's Commentary on the "Community Desire for Species" Poll Results

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
Cel Cawdro's Commentary on the "Community Desire for Species" Poll Results

CelCawdro's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 02:57 AM | #1
Introduction and Context

Hello again, my fellow forumites. It's been nearly a year since I started my Community Desire for Species poll, and as I promised, now that Cathar have hit the live servers I thought I'd give a little commentary to the results and process of that thread. I may continue to update it, but this commentary concerns its current state only. Also, please forgive the self-important titling - my vision isn't the greatest, so just as I post in a different colour to better pick out posts that are replying to me directly, I've stuck my forum name into the titles of both of these threads so I can pick it out of a list more quickly.

The Criteria

Firstly, I'd like to reiterate the three prerequisite qualities that I was looking for before I dubbed them "plausible." In order for a species to be considered likely for implementation, that species must have:

  1. An Average Humanoid Body Plan: Subsequent species need to be able to utilize the existing body types: at least one (ie. Trandoshans and body type 3), but the more, the better (ie. virtually every species that made the Humanoid category). If the entire aesthetic gear system needs to be rethought for a single species, if new assets need to be created, it is unreasonable to expect that species to be implemented over species that are far less intensive and would require less upkeep.

  2. The Ability of the Entire Species to Speak Basic Fluently: It goes without saying (but I'm going to say it, anyway) that SW:TOR is a story-based, fully voiced MMO. That is the strength of this entry into the genre, that is what sets it apart from its competitors. It is unreasonable to expect BioWare to not play to this strength when considering additional species. Likewise, just because there was that one member of the species that had a speech impediment or a utilized a vocabulator, it doesn't mean that the species speaks Basic as a whole.

  3. A Lack of Contradiction With the Established Rules of the Star Wars Universe: Forthcoming species need to be in agreement with the established rules of the universe - both in-universe and otherwise. For example, if Jawas or Tusken Raiders were introduced into the galaxy-at-large en masse, this would contradict the rules established for the species - they are tied to a specific planet. Although a few individuals may make their way offworld, the players cannot be the exception to the rule - the species selected to be playable need to exemplify the any general example of the species they belong to.

The Results

As I was running the poll, I kept an overall Top Five running of plausible selections. For the purposes of this post, I'll expand that list to a Top Ten and furthermore, a Top Thirty of all votes combined. Overall, votes were cast for 103 species.

Top Ten Plausible Species

  1. Togruta
  2. Nautolan
  3. Kel Dor
  4. Rodian
  5. Mon Calamari
  6. Kaleesh
  7. Zeltron
  8. Bothan
  9. Devaronian
  10. Weequay

Top Thirty Overall

  1. Togruta
  2. Nautolan
  3. Kel Dor
  4. Voss
  5. Wookiee
  6. Jawa
  7. Trandoshan
  8. Rodian
  9. Droid
  10. Mon Calamari
  11. Kaleesh
  12. Zeltron
  13. Bothan
  14. Devaronian
  15. Ithorian
  16. Weequay
  17. Selkath
  18. Echani
  19. Yoda's species
  20. Ewok
  21. Falleen
  22. Chagrian
  23. Gamorrean
  24. Duros
  25. Selonian
  26. Sullustan
  27. Shistavanen
  28. Nikto
  29. Gormak
  30. Gand

The Difficulties

Secondly, I'm going to go through a few of the problems that we've encountered, naming those problems aptly after a species that best exemplifies the issue, followed by a recommendation detailing a possible solution or workaround for these obstacles.

The Togruta

The Issue: This particular species highlights a problem that was mentioned by BioWare a few months ago: clipping. Twi'lek have had pretty negative feedback since their implementation because of this, and it has made BioWare hesitant to include species with "extraneous biology" that may interfere with the existing models for the bodies. Because of this, even with overwhelming popularity, BioWare remains hesitant to implement these types of species because of the inevitable backlash that will stem from the clipping issues.

Recommendation: Well, most obviously, fix the clipping. But since the selection of engine seems to mean that clipping issues aren't going away anytime soon, if ever, I'll offer a secondary response - one that was even endorsed by BioWare on multiple occasions. Go to the community, tell them up front that if these species are implemented there are going to be clipping issues, and ask them if they're willing to deal with those niggling issues if it means that can play as these species. Get the community involved, have them take on the responsibility, and the reaction to clipping issues will be far less negative. There is a demand here, and a fear of backlash shouldn't hold them back.

The Voss

The Issue: Voss exemplify a species that is incredibly popular with players, one that speaks Basic fluently, and could easily utilize existing character creation assets. There's only one problem - if they were to me implemented in the same way that Cathar were, they would violate the lore pretty badly and set up quite a few awkward situations for new players. It doesn't make sense for a Voss to make what is essentially first contact with the Voss, nor does it make sense for that Voss to attempt to bring that species into the greater galaxy when he is already a member of that species that is already participating in the greater galaxy. The demand for them obviously comes from players who have experienced the content involving that species - without that context, however, they would make little sense to new players.

Recommendation: Quite simple, actually - add a Legacy level requirement to the unlock that cannot be subverted with extra Cartel Coins. Maybe even add an achievement requirement, signifying that the player has recruited this species into their Legacy by completing the planetary questlines. Reneging on my requirement three a little, a species that is a little problematic with the lore can be added without issue as long as their addition is contextualized in-game, firstly.

The Wookiee

The Issue: Another hugely popular species, but it violates every single rule for plausibly fitting into the established framework. They would require entirely new character creation assets, they would completely void the fully-voiced nature of the player character, and their status as a freaking Wookiee would be oddly overlooked by those NPCs that the player interacts with. (I would also add the "No more Wookiee Jedi rule, but who knows how that is holding up with Disney's recent acquisition?)

Recommendation: These kinds of species are obviously important to players. Vitas did something I liked here when he recommended that some species are better suited to be companions rather than player characters (although I am generally more uptight and less idealistic when looking at plausibility). My solution would be three-fold: Firstly, keep these species in mind when adding additional companions. Secondly, allow players to use a companion of a different class if they've unlocked that species for their legacy. Once Bowdaar swears to serve my legacy on my Smuggler, and Blizz on my Bounty Hunter, they should be able to be used by my Sith Warrior who is also a part of that legacy. Thirdly, expand the customization options for these species. If we'll never be able to play as them, at least acknowledge our desire by allowing them to follow us around on our adventures, no matter our character.

The Shistavanen

The Issue: There are quite a few species in the Star Wars universe that have been, shall we say, less-than-reliably depicted in a consistent manner. Shistavanen exemplify this - we've seen them depicted as barely-bipedal wolves, as some guy in a bad Wolfman mask, and everything in between. Some of these depictions lend themselves well to a new playable species, some of them don't.

Recommendation: Pull a Cathar and err on the side of "humanoid." If a species has been depicted in a manner that would lend itself well to existing character creation assets, use that depiction and run with it. It's better that we have access to these species at all than to leave them out because people might not like the chosen manifestation. Like The Togruta, this is also something that should be discussed with the community.

The Zeltron

The Issue: They're just pink humans. I've sure everyone has seen the old complaint that has been around since the playable species roster was first made public knowledge: "We just have humans, green humans, red humans, blue humans, blind humans, spiked humans, cybernetic humans, tattooed bald humans and tentacle-hair humans." While many near-humans species are popular, and I know that the following statement is pretty subjective, I believe that to implement a new species as another recoloured human is a wasted opportunity.

Recommendation: Expand the creation options for humans (as many of the "species" being suggested are indeed humans, just of a different culture, such as Echani and Kiffar), and/or create a generalized "near-human" species. The latter would pretty much take all of the existing options that are already present for humans, but add a simple and important slider: "Near-human features." Examples of things included on this slider could include Zeltron pink, Kiffar tattoos, Anzati tentacles and more. Keeping them on the same slider ensures that players are unable to "mix and match" to create their own unique species - every option on that slider could be a different species, present in canon, and since they're so similar to baseline humans, that is the only distinction needed.

The Kel Dor - Bonus

The Issue: This particular response is intended more for the community than it is for BioWare, themselves. The issue being the so-called "romance" issue. Players have often discredited species such as Kel Dor and Rodians because BioWare said that species that you can't imagine in a romance won't be considered. As I've pointed out many times, that particular statement was also discredited the day after it was made. Read here:
The "romance" issue is a problem created by the community, but I admit that BioWare may have to address it as well to put it to rest for good.

Recommendation: As stated above, BioWare should simply revisit this issue to clarify their stance. While not an obstacle to implementing a playable species, it is definitely an obstacle to any discussion on the subject when these kinds of species are mentioned.

The Advice

Lastly, I'd just like to offer my brief opinion on where I think BioWare should go from here. Not dictating terms, but just what I believe would be a logical course of action given my experience with this process.

Examine the Top Species Carefully

It is nothing but good news for BioWare that the top three overall species are also the top three most plausible choices. The desire for these species is obvious, and so is their suitability for SW:TOR. Verify my results independently if you feel the need to, but I feel that the community has spoken very strongly about the next few species that should be occupying this particular facet of development for the near future.

Involve the Community

The community has made it very clear what they want. BioWare needs to be forthcoming with exactly what players are going to get, and ask them about things that the development team might be unsure of. Is clipping unavoidable for Nautolans? Would Kel Dor need to have permanent voice modulation? Should Mon Cal wear have the ability to show their gloves or not? We cannot wait to express our opinions to you, for good or (as you know too well) for ill. Just know that there will always be people that are unsatisfied - going ahead and engaging the community anyway has two benefits: firstly, you can defend your decision as one made by the community itself, and secondly, by not engaging with us, you are punishing many people because of a vocal few. Allow collaboration in this process.

Act Fast

I doubt that there are any players or developers out there that are satisfied with the amount of time it took to get Cathar on to live servers. As it was the first time a species was being added, however, I think the majority of the community is understanding - the kinks in the process needed to be worked out, and the conversion to the free-to-play model was probably more than a little disruptive. However, if the next species has a turnaround time of another year, I'm thinking that the community is going to be far less understanding and far less optimistic regarding the entire process of adding more playable species. But either way, refer back to my first piece of advice - be open with your players. If things are taking longer than anticipated, tell us. The worst way you can tell us about a delay is by letting that delay happen. If you can't be punctual, at least be transparent.

Don't Forget About the Core Game

I alluded to this a little when I was addressing The Voss problem - remember that the Cartel Market isn't the only avenue of progress in SW:TOR. From the Legacy system to PvP level to achievements to crafting, there are dozens of other ways that you can engage the community with this process. Playable species can also be used as a reward for enjoying various facets of the game and a justification for more-offbeat choices, even if they are ultimately unlocked with one's wallet.

Take Risks Eventually

BioWare has already started with a very cautious approach - Cathar are iconic to the era and to BioWare itself, they are a popular species, and they avoided the technical challenges that would have been an issue with species with more "exotic" biology. This was a very good choice. And I encourage BioWare to stick to this formula for a little while, but making sure they test the water in different ways with each passing species. Eventually, though, take the leap with something more unusual - see how people react to a choice that doesn't utilize existing assets, such as Droids or Ithorians. See if people can actually tolerate listening to Huttese during the leveling experience. Test your boundaries. Again, I wouldn't expect to see this kind of experimentation until new species are routine and a well-worn path. But I do hope to see it, at some point. There are a lot of great species out there that don't necessarily fit the mold provided by the game - don't be afraid to break that mold, eventually.

In Conclusion

Firstly, thanks to everyone that made it through the entire post. I realize it's quite long, but I hope I formatted and phrased everything well enough to make the read tolerable. Secondly, thanks to everyone who participated in my poll, whether it be simply casting a vote or participating in discussion and debate until the wee hours of the morning. Every one of you made this an enjoyable process over the past year, and I cannot express my gratitude for the continued support I received enough. The future is looking pretty bright for our area of interest, and I hope that I was able to provide a little direction with my efforts - again, direction that is entirely owing to the feedback I received from the community.

Thanks again to everyone who participated previously, and I hope to see your takes on the results in the following posts. Faces new and old, let's see what you have to say.

chuixupu's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 10:44 AM | #2
Nice work, thanks for all the effort.
Wardens of Fate / Alea Iacta Est
The Tarkus Legacy ~ The Harbinger/Jedi Covenant

CelCawdro's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 12:01 PM | #3
Many thanks. A bout with insomnia last night finally gave me a nice chunk of time to write it out, uninterrupted. If there is anything more you'd like to add, or just feel that I should comment on, feel free to point it out. A bump to one of my mouse buttons saw to it that I lost a good chunk of it, so I know that there's more I could be saying.

DarthDymond's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 12:19 PM | #4
Thanks for this Cel!

Totally agree with your "Near-Human" idea for Zeltron/Kiffar/etc. races. Also, obviously agree with your thoughts on the Voss - maybe it could be tied to the Voss Reputation, but more realistically I think the unlock would just need a big ol' "Warning: Use of this Race while leveling will result in serious storyline inconsistencies."

Of the 10 Plausibles you ended up with, the only one I personally wouldn't jump at the chance to buy it the Weequay. Anecdotally, it seems Cathar are selling well, so hopefully we'll see some of these races in soon!

(Random thought: has there ever been a female Nautolan in the lore?)
One can only match, move by move, the machinations of fate, and thus defy the tyrannous stars. ~Kain

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CelCawdro's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 01:25 PM | #5
I totally skipped on Voss reputation, as well - if not a Cartel Market unlock, the actual species would make for a pretty killer reward for maxing that reputation out. Maybe even just trigger a little quest with a Mystic indicating to your character that some of the younger Voss are looking to follow the now-legendary figure that you are out into the greater galaxy, once the reputation bar is full.

Also, interestingly, the first concept for a Nautolan was a female Sith they were considering for the prequel films. While Kit Fisto was the ultimate result of that, there exists quite a few female Nautolans in canon, including SW:TOR.

Izorii's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 01:29 PM | #6
A very good post. Read the whole thing easy to read and to the point. I really hope they add Kel'dor and other species (even if I suspect I will never see a playable Gran) I really hope that the Dev's and the comunity team read and listen to this. The fact that someone has put this much thought anf time into a post really means the least they should do is acknowledge it has been read.

I would love to see Kel'dor added and I ma sure the two other species above them would be just as loved by fans of those species. The only point I would add as these will be Cartel Market species and while I would be very happy if updare 2.3 had a single line "Added Kel'dor to Cartel market" some people wouldn't dont try to add them as a game update just add them as a Cartel market update or as part of a larger update not as as a game update on there own.

Gaff's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 02:28 PM | #7
Excellent post, OP. You've done a masterful job gathering and conveying the species subject! I hope Bioware takes your thread to heart.
"You hurt me long ago; my wounds bled for years. Now you are back, but I am not the same."

ObsidianVashti's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 03:59 PM | #8
Thank you for this well thought out post! We've all had things that we've disagreed with or disliked in this game, but it's posts such as this that open up the community and promote transparency, and the possibility for positive change in the future. Thanks man!

(Waiting for the Nautolans!)

yoomazir's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 04:17 PM | #9
I'm still waiting for these ones:

Bioware, I woul pay TONS of money to be able to play as one of them.

I want back my Ithorian bounty hunter and their awesome armors :

chuixupu's Avatar

05.18.2013 , 04:46 PM | #10
Like I have said before, if they could find a way to make Nautolan head tentacles into different styles, like hair styles, it would be amazing.
Wardens of Fate / Alea Iacta Est
The Tarkus Legacy ~ The Harbinger/Jedi Covenant