Sep 262011
 
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Just in time for Santa

It’s the release date episode! We each recount our stories of where we were and how we found out, as people do for significant events such as the JFK assassination or the Space Shuttle tragedy. Wildly inappropriate.

More Show Notes and Comments after the jump.

FACT OR FICTION: Can you pick out the confirmed fact from the tall tales?  This week’s host challenge involves guilds, the release date, and the ESRB rating.

FROM THE NEWSNET & BEYOND: Roundup of the most important announcements and news.

Quick Mentions:

On the CRR Site

  • If you missed this, take a look at Noah’s article about the companions, “Children of Ideas.”
  • Irrational Games podcast: Creative Director Ken Levine talks with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk about making video games.

SITH OR JEDI: We find out which path we walk in real life with The Test of the Office Refrigerator.

Thanks from Corellian Run Radio

  • Thanks to Off Day, And Some Others, and Mynos Corva for leaving us positive reviews on iTunes.

  16 Responses to “Episode 33: What Were You Doing When…”

  1. Great show again!

    Just one small comment, I have to say from canon there are only few different human races, at least as we see them in the Star Wars Universe. There are several various humanoids, but humans are considered a race. The only major one is Mandalorian and they also have various different looks, but are still Mandalorians.

    I just think the character kits, is to give the player the choice to customize their characters as they want. I would say if they offer options to a race, like Zabrak and total like bright blue skin color with pink stripes, that would be non-canon.

    Awesome show and look forward to next one 🙂

  2. I think where a lot of the confusion is coming from is Bioware’s misuse of the word “race.” When we use it in the show this week we’re using the commonly accepted definition to highlight the distinctions between things like European, Asian, African, Hispanic, etc…

    The game system that Bioware has termed “races” are actually “species.” Mace Windu and Obi Wan are different races whereas Obi Wan and Jar Jar Binx are different species…
    If there’s a biologist in the house they should totally back me up (Fact: I listened to Tali’s speech in Mass Effect 2 about amino acid chirality and now I believe I am a biologist and subject matter expert >.< )!

    Anyways, the idea of being able to choose Mako’s race is an interesting development choice and I am mostly interested in how this will be perceived by those outside the game, other industry professionals in particular. I think we even talk about this in the show, but I assume that the Star Wars universe is setting itself up to be some sort of post-race environment, like, because Mako runs around in a universe with other sentient species I guess we are to believe that she shares a greater commonality with all other humans…

    The point I’m trying to get to is that no matter how airtight the mythology of the fictional world, where we are told that race is something incidental, race is still incredibly relevant in the context of current day society and it just seems a little odd to be to be so cavalier with such an important character trait.

  3. Actually Jason, Mandalorians are not strictly human. It has been a generally accepted fact that “Mandalorian” is a culture, not a race.
    As a nomadic culture, Mandalorians accept beings from any and all races into their ranks. This is a big part of the “how and why” of the Clones adopting the culture as their own in Karen Travis novels.

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Mandalorian

    Perhaps you were thinking of something closer to the Echani? A near-human species featured prominently in KOTOR 2.

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Echani

    Or perhaps I simply misunderstood your point? In any case, it is certainly true that most of the notable Mandalorian characters we have seen have been human.

  4. I agree I think the term race and species is getting mixed up, but on the site Bioware refers to playable races or even those that might be companions as humanoids. I know Daniel Erickson has made it a point to specify species, like the Sith Pureblood as an actual specie to play. I was only stating that in the universe in which the game is set, Han Solo, Lando Mon Montha, Revan, Bastilla, etc. are all humans. Yes they may inhabit or been born on other planets, but they are still humans. Now there are a few exceptions like what @Flamegear mentions, the Echani. I was thinking of them and not Mandalorians. There are a few others, but generally it is thought of as if you are not an alien you are a human.

    I understand and agree that race is important and relevant, but so is the setting which is a building block of any story. If you throw out the setting of the Star Wars, how could you call it a Star Wars MMO? Not wanting to argue by any means at all. I just know you are a huge proponent for story, that is Bioware’s trademark. I think you have to use the idea that humans are interchangeable in appearance in the Star Wars setting. Han and Lando were both Smugglers, but didn’t refer to themselves as a different race, in fact their differences didn’t matter to the story…they were friends, even if one tried to sell the other one out lol.

  5. @Flamegear Thanks. You are correct. I was totally thinking of another group and Mandalorians entered my brain lol. Thanks for comment and links 🙂

  6. @Jason – No worries, glad I could help you make your point. 😉

    @Roxanne – I agree with your points absolutely, but I think the problem comes up with the context (i.e. Star Wars). If we were talking about another context, like Mass Effect or Gears of War, this would be a big problem, because in those universes we can see that there are still clear racial/cultural identities shaping the characters.
    However in Star Wars, the impression I have always had is that the universe is so entirely removed from our own that they have indeed gone beyond “Earth-borne cultural identities”.

    Han Solo is a great example. All the cultural nuances of the character come from the Planet he was born on (i.e. being a Correlian), rather than what part of that planet (i.e. Coronet city, etc).
    I get the feeling that the Star Wars universe is so cosmopolitan that they have moved beyond topographical culture, into being defined by planetary culture instead. Does that make sense?

  7. Well, it looks like I wasn’t the only person with something to say about the companion customization decision 🙂

    On the first subject of changing the look of the companion. I agree mostly. The artist and the story was designed around the character not only acting a certain way, but looking a certain way as well. As such, I fully intend on not customizing my companion’s appearance if I am interested in their story as I’ll respect the writer’s and the artist’s original version of who that character is. However, if I’m not interested in their story, and I just can’t form any emotional attachment to that character, a bit of customization from a visual perspective might not be such a horrible thing. In addition, who knows if one, two, three, or more years down the line whether or not I’ll want to change their look just for the sake of seeing something different. Even if I really enjoyed the character, the TRUE nature of that character will never change in my mind’s eye. but every once in a while a change might not be such a bad thing.

    As to whether Bioware should make new stories for old companions or new ones while losing some of the old ones/have their stories end, I think they should do a bit of both. I’ll have to disagree in general with Roxanne on this one. The first and most obvious thing to address is this, it’s Star Wars not Mass Effect. It really is made to appeal to a wide audience, not the least of which is kids.

    All the time, I return to the big example. Harrison Ford really felt that from a story point of view, Han Solo should have died after the second movie. Being all grown up now, yes, that would have been a very emotionally significant moment in the movies. However, as a child, I would have HATED if my favorite Star Wars character just died and didn’t live “happily ever after” with Leia. So, from a story perspective, sure, the decision to kill Han Solo would have been impactful, but when we also consider the fact that this game is Star Wars and as such it is for children as well as adults (unlike Mass Effect), sometimes that simply isn’t the best choice for the target audience.

    Sometimes, we just have to stop and remember that for the most part, we’re old curmudgeons now. Our range of experiences is vastly increased over when we were children and also our tastes in stories has expanded as well. So yeah, it would be nice if some of Star Wars kind of grew up with us over time, but there’s that other part of me that wants it to remain relatable and fun for kids of generations to come so that it lives on into the future.

    I fully expect there to be new companions with expansions, but I wouldn’t say that we should expect the companion’s who we have really grown to love over time to ever disappear. Star Wars is a little like cartoons in a way. There are issues, but I wouldn’t expect any of the character’s to die unless a contract ends.

  8. I love this discussion.

    I like customization of companions from an MMO perspective, definitely. It didn’t really occur to me to question the idea of giving an array of racial choices, but listening to Roxanne, I agree there’s something odd about it.

    At the same time, an argument could be made that part of what BioWare wants to do with their MMO experience is make the players “own” the story. They want you to own your character and they allow you to do certain customizations to your appearance. They are trying to promote this idea that your companions are extensions of your character, so they now allow customization of your companion also. While it may seem odd, it also makes sense in the MMO context (I know, Roxanne hates this idea of concessions to the MMO crowd). That means the companion character is a little weaker because it’s missing a part of what makes him/her unique, yes. Is it going to ruin the companion forever? Even Roxanne would say no.

    I do have to disagree with this idea that in the Star Wars universe, all humans are exactly the same, culturally. Whoa, what? We may not see it up front, but knowing the way writers work, I think they would be the first to say that this isn’t true.

    First, I can’t believe that would even be possible. Obviously, no one would try to argue that all Americans are the same, much less an entire planet’s worth of living beings. But let’s take it down even further. I recently moved from one suburb to the very next door suburb and the demographics of the residents in both towns are dramatically different. Heck, in my previous neighborhood, there was the rich side with the huge houses and the not-so-rich side with the normal-size houses.

    Second, why would that be a good thing? I suppose there are some people that think the whole world should be exactly like themselves, but today most people think that the differences are worth celebrating.

    Are we to believe that Luke and Han Solo grew up listening to the same music and eating the same food? Did Anakin hear the same bedtime stories as Mace Windu? Food, music, folk tales, styles of clothing all come from communities of people who have their own way of doing things. And often, race is a part of who these communities are. These differences can lead to strife, but is the answer really that we make everything the same?

    I doubt that George Lucas would say “yes” to that. And I don’t think that saying there must be cultural differences among humans somewhere is tantamount to throwing out Star Wars canon. Honestly, I don’t think Lucas thought that much about it — let’s face it, he was writing in broad archetypes and just wanted to tell a good story. If he had paid a little more attention to race he might have re-thought characters like Jar Jar Binks and Watto hehe.

  9. @Cornbread Thanks for your comment! I appreciate the point of view about appealing to a wider audience. I would have to put myself in the category of forgetting the age I was when I watched and fell in love with the Star Wars franchise. I do think that Bioware can add some more story elements with the original companions, in future expansions, and maintain the appeal without forcing it just for the sake of new content. Roxanne’s mention of Tali from Mass Effect, as an example of adding new content, it felt really new and added more depth to the character. It did add a romance option, but even without that aspect, I loved the new content, because it created an emotional connect with that companion…a Bioware trademark.

    What elements about the companion characters are you looking forward to? What are some that you have concerns about with companion characters? 🙂

  10. @Kathy Great comment, and I also love this discussion. You just had to bring Jar Jar into the conversation lol 🙂

    I will agree that where people lived and grew had impact and humans are not the same race, but very few actually have listed races in the Star Wars universe. The idea about Mace versus Anakin is different, because Force Sensitive people were sent off to the Jedi Order and would start training very young and Mace would be put into a different class – no matter where he was born. This is just one example of how class/poverty levels impacted the galaxy more so than a given race, as far as humans. Han was a Corellian and most of them were very well off and were a higher social class. He gave that up to join the Imperial Navy, until he was fed up with the Empire’s treatment, or a better word discrimination and slavery, of other species. The class element tends to be one of the main impacting factors on most of the “humans”, as opposed to a given race.

    In fact, I believe Daniel Erickson, and this is just my opinion, will focus on that theme heavily with the Sith Empire and how they treated other species. These other species, unless they proved a value to the Empire, were consider larger beneath the those in the Empire, even to the point of being slaves.

    I do hope the story for each companion, will have the depth to include things like, their birthplace, their social class growing up, family dynamics, etc. Those story elements are what will make the companions more than just “pets” we take out on missions.

    What elements do you value or think are needed in companions or do you care about companions at all? Are there people who think the companion system is a waste and do not plan on spending much time with it? I would love to hear more on this from folks 🙂

  11. Heya ladies!! Great ‘cast as always!! I was able to sneak a bit of time, and I wanted to spent it to comment on a few things, hehe.

    About the dual-spec thing, I’ve kinda gathered a different view from what many seem to have at the moment. Putting together all the pieces along the way:

    Zoeller had stated that changes of AC will be prohibitively expensive, if not impossible, at the max level. Thus making it a “Respec” versus a “Dual spec” option. A corrective action, in other words. Most recent quotes I can find are Here and Here.

    With how much they have spoken about about how important the AC choice is, and stressing that they are flexing about as much as they are willing, I highly doubt the dual spec option is going to allow a change in AC. As such, you will have to make *at least* two toons if you want to cover all roles.

    If that’s the case, it would alleviate many concerns over only having to level one character to do everything in the game. Anyone concerned about killing any reason to experience all the different and interesting storylines of the different classes would be able to rest at ease.

    Now for the positive angle most people haven’t looked at: If you spec as a tank, and your guild is running something where they are over-stocked on tanks….How enjoyable would your gaming experience be, if all you can do is find busy work or sit on the bench. If you were allowed to dual spec and DPS instead, you could fill that role and run the event with your guild. Wewt!!! Bioware wins at the “Fun Factor” yet again!

    Another side that’s kinda neutral (if everything above is assumed true), you won’t be able to spec as both tank AND healer on the same toon. This would mean that you would need to roll a second toon for sure, if you wanted to fill both of the roles with a typically low population. No easy mode to make your one toon “indispensible” to every raid/warzone.

    As for changing the race of your companion, I must say that I love the idea.

    The analogy of “choosing who you hang out with” may not be the best to support your point, though I see where you are coming from. To me, who I hang out with defines me as much as who I physically am. If I choose to be around a certain type of person, I must like that type of person. That defines a bit of my own views, by association. If changing the race of someone can change who they are, then you most certainly would be (even subconciously) choosing what type of person you are hanging out with.

    Now, I agree with Flamegear, here. I think that with a whole galaxy of mingled species at various points of socialization across countless planets, who is to say that the individual races within one species are really *that* different. Assuming they aren’t really that different, then their race wouldn’t change a thing of how they grew up, though their origin planet surely would. Heck, the planet they grew up on would change them a TON more than race.

    Kathy, you actually prove the point Flame and I have….possibly without realizing it. If people can change that much within a few blocks, cities, states, or even countries away…Imagine differences between planets! Ok, now scale it back and imagine if there were an asian, black, and white person from one city. Imagine the same array on a planet half a galaxy away. Who’s going to be the most different; Each group from each other? Or the individual skin colors within each group? Ethnicity is about more than skin tone and what you wear. It’s where you grew up, who raised you, family history, and the person you are when comfortable at home on your own. Ethnicity being your actual background, it *can* include a skin tone. But if it’s not included as a main storyline focus, it shouldn’t be a limiting factor in how that person appears. If it IS a main storyline focus, I doubt they would allow it to be changed.

    No matter which of those views you go by, it would still make perfect sense that people should be able to change the race of their companion. Especially when you factor in romanceable companions….they really should be as attractive as possible, in your specific tastes.

    Then again, there is the actual math behind it all. Yeah….bumping into ONE or TWO of the exact same companion wouldn’t be bad. But think about how many classes (not AC) there are on each faction. 4. Now think of how many companions would realy work out to be truly optimal for running around with on a normal basis. Let’s say 3 (one dps, one tank, one healer). Now imagine how many people you will see in main social hubs, with that sparce selection of varied companions showing. 4 classes x 3 companions = 12 companions. That means 1 out of 12 people will have the same companion as you. If you see 120 people per quick town visit, you’ve just seen the exact person by your side 10 other times. Not one or two. That IS immersion breaking, and I’m not even an RP fan. =)

    lol
    And this is why I try not to stop and comment often. I sit and type probably far too much, hehe. Either way, loved the cast. It was thought-provoking, and I really wanted to jump in and toss out my thoughts.

    P.S. – After taking the most recent Sith/Jedi test, my scores are still a bit more balanced than I’d think. I’m hangin out at -2. Yay Dark Side!!

  12. I’d like to bring the companion discussion back to it’s roots for a second, using the same example as Roxanne. 🙂

    Lets say for argument’s sake that my Mako and your Mako are actually two different people, who happen to have the same name and be from the same planet. Obviously their physical features (drastically) are different.

    In our world currently, this would probably mean they came from different cultures, and thus would need to be written differently.

    However, I would argue that in the Star Wars universe, cultures does not come from continents or countries like in our world, but from your planet. If this is true, then it would actually be okay to say that both our Mako’s were written with the same factors in mind for their background, because the main cultural influence is the same in both cases (i.e. their Homeworld).

    This is vastly different from other Sci-fi universes, such as Mass Effect. In Mass Effect particularly, original Earth culture is still a major influence on the Human race, as not that much time has passed since we, as a race, left Earth for the stars.
    However in Star Wars, there is no real evidence that Earth was ever a part of their universe at all. In fact, so much time has passed that no human even spends any time thinking about the concept that humanity must have originated from a single planet.

    This changes the entire approach of a writer when creating a character. Instead of allowing a character’s hair colour etc form the character’s backstory and personality, it will be the planet they originally came from that provides those key, cultural factors.

    The big one of course is skin colour. In our world you can make a reasonable assumption about where a person may have originated from based on the colour of their skin. There’s a good chance you’ll be wrong about it, but it is possible to do.
    By contrast, someone in Star Wars would not go “oh, you’ve got pasty white skin so you must be from Hoth.” With so many countless worlds that could fit, such a statement would just make the person look silly. As far as I can tell personally, anyone of any skin colour could originate from almost any planet. Which means that narrowing their origins down to a continent on a particular planet would be impossible.

    Does all this mean that physical features are completely inconsequential? Not at all. Many of the Mako pictures show her sporting high tech goggles, a detail which potentially has a major impact on the character’s personality. But maybe, just maybe, in a galaxy far far away, the colour of a human’s skin doesn’t matter quite so much as it does to us today.

  13. @ Cornbread – I’m sure that Bioware will do both, bring in new companions and build upon the stories of the old ones. That approach simply makes sense.

    What I’m really looking forward to myself is seeing how our companions change and develop over time. We’ve only really seen proper companion development, or ageing, in the Mass Effect trilogy, and it’s taking the format of three separate games put together to achieve that in the single player space. An MMO can achieve the same thing, (gradual changes in companions based on the passing of time) in a single game experience. Contrary to popular early beliefs, the MMO space is indeed perfect for companions.

  14. So I had a random thought today, thinking about the Star Wars universe and this issue of race. If the world had advanced to the point of race being a total non-issue, wouldn’t most humans now be of mixed ethnicity? It might actually be rare to see someone who you could point to and say “That person is African American. That person is Caucasian.”

    I don’t have a conclusion to draw from that, I just thought it was an interesting idea. 😀

  15. @ Kathy – It certainly is.

  16. @ Virtek – Ha! I think you managed to say the same as me, only better! Kudos to you good sir!

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