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There Aren’t Enough Scoundrels In My Life

September 24, 2010

Han Solo to Bioware: I think you just can't bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of your sight.

Another Friday, another Star Wars: The Old Republic update. The Smuggler class gets its profile filled out today, receiving new entries under “Specializations”, “Known Associates” and “Starship”. This class was probably still one of the least popular as recent as two months ago, if forum polls are any indication, but I think more eyes are turning to these dashing rogues now that a steady flow of Smuggler information has started to become available.

A thought occurred to me while perusing the new entries. “Gunslinger” and “Scoundrel” for the Advanced Classes, a Wookiee named Bowdaar as one of the choices for your companion, and the very Millennium-Falcon-like XS Stock Light for a starship. Yes, all very iconic. But I can’t help but think they may have gone a little overboard with the Smuggler.

Bowdaar looks like my cousin Nimo.

Don’t get me wrong, I think being iconic is a good thing. Iconic draws fans of an IP to the game. Iconic is familiar and nostalgic. Iconic lets people live out their childhood fantasies of being like the blaster-slinging, smooth-talking, handsome, mischievous and swaggering Han Solo. But here’s the deal, you gotta take Chewie and the Millennium Falcon too. That’s just the way it is.

Ultimately, I’m sure there will be adequate customization options and multiple companions to choose from at launch, but today’s update has made me consider the “No two Smugglers are exactly alike” statement that has presented with the information. Okay, I don’t doubt any would be exactly alike and I know I don’t have to choose the Wookiee companion if I don’t want to, but what I see behind today’s update is Bioware’s intention to make the Smuggler class experience one based on pure imitation.

Starship: XS Stock Light

The truth is, every other class is also based on imitation and is an emulated experience to an extent, so I don’t know why I’m assessing this in the Smuggler specifically, though I suspect it’s because the blatant Han Solo fantasy in which the class is steeped in is so in-your-face that it’s hard to overlook. His influence is in the outfits, the weapons, the ship, and even the attitude and animations.

In this, I really can’t fault Bioware, since and Han Solo is by far one of the most recognizable Star Wars characters in the mainstream population and I’m aware there aren’t too many other prominent Smuggler archetypes in the IP to work with. However, I do hope Bioware can incorporate enough of their own ideas for a Smuggler beyond what we’ve seen in the movies, so that when I make my own Smuggler she can distinguish herself as her own character and not just another “female Han Solo”.

27 comments

  1. Bowdarr looks too much like a Tusken raider with those goggles.


    • Haha, the goggles caught my eye too, though my first thought went to the ones Anakin wore in the pod race, but without the helmet.


      • Chewie used goggles like that when welding.


  2. i’m fine with using the millenium falcon, i mean the xs light stock, as I was mostly expecting something very similar to it and the ebon hawk. its actually more different than i was expecting, its more triangular, and judging from the videos, bigger.

    sticking me with a wookie is just stupid though. Have we not had enough wookie companions? do we need them in every star wars game? You couldn’t even give him a non-standard colour? grey or black or some crap? ugh.


    • I guess they figure if they can’t give them to us to play, at least we get one as a companion. Well, he won’t be the only one for the smuggler to choose from which is good, because I’m with you, if I have to have a Wookiee tag along I’d like it to to look more different than your standard one.


  3. On the subject of the Smuggler baring near-identical similarities with Han Solo (I don’t see how anyone could have missed them, so you aren’t alone), I will share one screenshot that convinced me that I have nothing to worry about when it comes to making my Smuggler look unique, in his own right.

    I have never, ever, ever-ever-ever-ever, seen Han Solo wear something like those threads. That is outside the realm of just Han Solo, and more in the realm of Firefly & Mal Reynolds. Old west meets the future? Awesomeness.

    I imagine the Gunslinger AC will also take you down a completely different path, both in style and in abilities, than you ever thought you would see in a class modeled after Han Solo. I certainly can’t remember the ol’ scruffy nerfherder ever going all John Woo on people with two guns.

    I used to wonder about how similar the classes would be to their archetypes in the game. Over time, I just sort of subscribed to the belief that BioWare is choosing to market the image fans would respond to most. For Smugglers, that is Han Solo; for Jedi, that is Obi-wan & Mace Windu, etc. However, I’ve seen enough gear choices to make me realize that my character could easily end up looking and feeling different from any archetype I’ve seen in the Star Wars universe. The first one that comes to mind as I type is the Sith Warrior/Juggernaut spec that we saw in the PAX Prime group video. That class is supposed to be modeled directly after Darth Vader, but that SW looked like Darth Vader if he attached spikes to his shoulders and swallowed an awesome pill. Both Vader & that SW are awesome — the SW in that video was just awesome in his own distinct fashion, but still within the realm of the archetype he was built to represent.

    As far as companions go, I’m sure people will find their favorite companions to take with them as they go that will be different than just the Wookiee – even if they are playing a Smuggler. After all, Leia was just as important a companion to Han as Chewie, and the romance-seeking players will most likely gravitate toward the companion that best recreates the romance of Han & Leia. There also appeared to be a Jedi companion on-board the ship (which was molasses sweet, btw), so I’m sure you’ll see a few “Hans” rushing off to battle with some “Lukes” tagging along.

    Will there be many Smugglers with “Chewie” companions out in SWTOR? Absolutely. But I doubt that would change if there was a thousand companion options in the game. There are probably going to be millions of people playing. The odds of never seeing a Smuggler with the same companion out would be hard to imagine. Unfortunately, that’s when you just have to suspend disbelief. As an MMO player, I’m sure you know, all too well, how often you’ll run into another player that looks nearly identical to you – even if you went out of your way to look singular and unique, like wearing a special tabard, or different cosmetic pieces.

    But anyway, like I said above, I think the emphasis put on the SWTOR Smuggler’s similarity to Han Solo was by design – mostly for marketing reasons. You need people who glance at this game to immediately think back to why they love Star Wars. For many, that is Han Solo.

    This just basically assures people, the ones who want to be as close to Han Solo as they can possibly get in a game, that they will have the resources necessary to fulfill that wish. They’ll have a fast ship, a Wookiee companion, romance options, a fast talking character with flair, similar clothing to choose from, etc.

    For those who want something different, that picture linked above — and the various other videos and screenshots that have showed more of a western outlaw style to the Smuggler — just assures them that they can go down a different path, if they choose.

    In the end, I think there will be plenty of options that players will have to distinguish themselves from the archetype that the class was built around. That said, I would expect BioWare to continue to showcase clothing styles and aesthetic details that tie in very closely to the archetypes from Star Wars canon that are the foundation for the classes in SWTOR. For those who don’t follow the game as closely as others, they need to see something that evokes the feeling of Star Wars in their bellies. When you think of Han Solo, you think of the Millenium Falcon, and you think of Chewbacca, and most likely you think of shooting people first; so that is what BioWare & LucasArts are going to show off first.

    After the presentation has sold you and you decide to play the game, you can learn about the other side of the coin – the one that deviates a little further away from the original archetype into something distinct, yet still feels as if it belongs.


    • I think that picture is also one of the ones under the “Outfitting” tab. Admittedly some of the concept art I’ve seen does deviate more from the archetypal look, particularly the concepts for the gunslinger. You’re probably correct in that going down this path will be the more un-Han-Solo like path. After all, Han is more of a “scoundrel” than anything. That said, I hope if I go down the scoundrel path, I’ll be offered innovative styles and abilities like that too!

      I do think the class itself should end up being more of a symbol for Han solo than anything though. In other words, I think Bioware could have afforded to make the smuggler less Han Solo and it would have still looked and felt like a smuggler. I shouldn’t necessarily need a wookiee companion or other superficial visual cues to feel like i’m a smuggler; instead, that itself should be inherent in the storyline, which I’m sure BioWare will no doubt excel at. Which makes me ponder even more why they went so overboard with the Solo-ness, even when you account for marketing purposes. It’s like what I think of cologne on a man; just a hint of it is nice, but when there’s too much of it it’s just overpowering. :P

      But maybe it’s just the presentation of this update, and the information they decided to reveal. I think you’ll agree that the emulation was just more blatant for the the smuggler compared to the pages on the other classes, which is less noticeable. I like your theory on the different archetypes though, and hope that is what we’ll see in the game. It would be good to mix some of the “iconic” images with things unique TOR to end up with something fresh. Like you I also saw hints of this in the gear choices etc.


      • Truth be told, it is a slippery slope. Sure, excluding a Wookiee companion would have eliminated one of the more obvious cues that this is a class modeled after Han Solo. That said, do you exclude a Wookiee companion because they aren’t a colorful addition, or because they hearken back to the foundation of the archetype that the class is built upon too closely? This Wookiee (Bowdaar) really doesn’t resemble Chewbacca in personality or history. Really their resemblance comes from the fact that they share a species – which should be a non-factor, since I’m sure there will be more than a few Wookiees running around the SWTOR galaxy that are not going to join your party.

        That is the other side of the coin. I don’t think it could be considered fan service, or just an attempt to add some Han Solo cues into TOR just for the sake of having them, unless the companion has no redeeming/unique qualities of their own that set it apart from just a Chewbacca clone. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Bowdaar (not having his own individual qualities), since Bowdaar’s background is likely to make him much less “jovial” than Chewbacca, who seemed to share Han’s Devil may care attitude toward their chosen profession. Chewbacca was hinted at being a member of a species that rips arms out of sockets when they lose games, yet you never actually see Chewie display that level of brutality; Bowdaar, based on the brief summary of his history, may actually display that legendary Wookiee rugged savagery.

        Once again, it is all a matter of perception. I can certainly see why some would think this is just overboard on BioWare’s part to hammer in the fact that the Smuggler is based on the Han Solo personality. That said, I can also see why a Wookiee companion should not be excluded simply because it would remind people of Han Solo. I think BioWare has struck about as good a balance as could be struck with Bowdaar – acknowledging that he & Chewie, while of the same species, deviate in their personalities. It looks as if they’ve tried to make Bowdaar his own Wookiee.

        As far as style goes, I’m sure you will get a plethora of options to pick through as a Scoundrel, same as if you take the Gunslinger path. I remember seeing a Smuggler piece that looked more like something that Lando Calrissian would wear. It was blue, more formal, with a cape, iirc.

        If BioWare indeed has several football fields worth of armor concepts, I’m sure there will be no shortage of options available to players all along the journey from AC to end game.

        On the topic of the ship, I’m not sure what to say. To be honest, I think the Sith Warrior ship looks more like the Millenium Falcon than the Smuggler one. Well, more like a cross between the Millenium Falcon and a tie fighter. That is the vibe I got from it (the SW ship), anyway.

        I can definitely see the Ebon Hawk comparisons with the Smuggler ship, though.lol


      • I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: you sir need a blog :P

        Perhaps it was the “No Smuggler would be complete without a Wookiee companion” statement in the article that irked me. I was there thinking, “Oh, is that so?” LOL I didn’t like the implication that my smuggler would be “incomplete” without a wookiee in my life, even though he differs from Chewie both in personality or history.

        I’ve been thinking and I think you’re right though, I have faith that there will enough different ways to make my smuggler her own character and not a Solo clone, just how it’ll play out remains to be seen. I’m pretty confident going down the gunslinger path will offer a unique perspective, but the Scoundrel path is where Bioware seems to have laid it on thick, especially with the “shoots first” comment :P

        Maybe it’s marketing like someone else has pointed out. Maybe they should have made it clear there will be a wookiee companion (show it in a trailer like they did in the smuggler video etc) and instead showcased another companion first. I don’t know…I dont’ expect Bioware to be immune to fan service, but it does sort of feel like that.

        I would definitely agree that it’s a matter of perception. I see marketing influences in the other reveals too, but I want to make it clear that it didn’t bother me one bit. It just seemed so much more obvious in the smuggler reveal, however. And like I said, I think in some ways it’s because of the lack of prominent smugglers to draw on. With the Jedi and Sith class, you get a whole slew of SW characters to work with. Even the bounty hunter you can draw on Boba Fett, Aurra Sing, Cad Bane, Bossk, and all these other characters that have been described and depicted visually at one time or another. With the Smuggler, there is another issue. Han Solo is so overwhelmingly popular, he’s pretty much defined the class so there’s no way out of it. :P

        I think with the ship I did have it in mind that it would look more like the Ebon Hawk and so was surprised to see a model that’s less clunky and its flat tear drop shape did immediately bring to mind the Millennium Falcon. I get where you’re coming from when you said the sith ship reminds you of the Falcon too though, I think it was PC gamer where I read the author called it the “love child of the Millennium Falcon and an imperial TIE Interceptor”, it made me LOL!


      • “I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: you sir need a blog”

        Haha… Dear God, no.:P

        I write enough in real life. I don’t think I would have the energy to maintain all the elements necessary to support a daily or weekly blog (finding and uploading screenshots, finding and linking videos, keeping track of any shift in news so I can respond quickly, etc).

        I work better as a responder than as an initiator – at least online. Even on the official forums, I have rarely ever started a thread of my own. About 99% of my experience has been adding some commentary to existing threads. Now, while I do work better as a responder online, I’ve found that you just can’t avoid all of your writing tendencies, whether online or off.

        For me, I have little-to-no grey area when I express an opinion. I either write a one sentence tongue-in-cheek type of response, or an absurdly long-winded one. It isn’t even that I choose to – I CAN’T write any other way. (Believe me, I’ve tried.lol)

        This topic is kind of an interesting one, because unlike some others, this one has no clear “winning side”. People with concerns over being able to deviate from the Han Solo archetype in some way have questions that need solid answering before their fears can be allayed; on the other side, people who have taken the different design concepts to mean that players will have an opportunity to look and feel different from Han Solo are not wrong, either.

        Both sides have valid positions for debate.

        On a personal note, I find this player concern (that the Wookiee character ties too closely to Han Solo) amusing – because I don’t intend to use the Wookiee as my primary companion if that Human female on the ship is a “Leia-type” romantic option character.

        BioWare has done an excellent job with romance characters in their games over the years, and those romances tend to be one of the most fun aspects of a BioWare game. I still remember how hilarious it was teasing Bastila in the original KoTOR. Also, one of my favorite facets of The Empire Strikes Back was the Han & Leia side of the story. If BioWare can combine those two, I’m sure I’ll go down that road well before I explore the history of my Wookiee companion.

        No offense intended to Bowdaar.:)


      • I find myself mostly reading the forums, and I’ve only posted like a handful of times. Ironically, I don’t find them a good place for valuable discussion, too many people and ideas all jumbled together.

        Funny, I’ve never really thought of princess leia as a “companion” to Han Solo, but I guess in this context a character like that could be! :D I can see it now, a rich guy/girl my smuggler has the opportunity to manipulate for their money before falling hopelessly in love with them! ;)


      • “Well, if money is all you care about…” …I can’t remember the rest of that quote :(


  4. GeeCee, you have exactly mirrored my fears about the announcement. If there is anything that I can grasp for, it might be that BioWare has picked the one combination of choices that leads you to a Han Solo clone for marketing purposes. Hopefully there are enough options so that you can diverge from that archetype.

    But yeah, I kinda flipped when I saw the wookie. Talk about be on the nose.


    • I have no doubt marketing has something to do with it, which I really don’t have a problem with as long as the development doesn’t become too tethered to those restrictions. I have to say Bioware has struck a good balance so far, but I guess nothing screams “Han Solo” louder than a wookiee companion :D


  5. I for one will probably gravitate toward the western outlaw look, I think. When I role a smuggler.

    I agree with Jaramukhti, this speaks to the fans of Star Wars who are not following the game development closely. But if you think about it, much of what we’ve seen about the bounty hunter is modeled on Boba Fett and and his espy father Jango. I am sure that there will enough variation in the game. Otherwise, you’ll a lot of initial sales, and then a severe drop-off in subscribers.


    • I love the western outlaw look as well, I hope I get to look something like that even if I choose to play a scoundrel.

      There’s definitely some Boba Fett influence in the bounty hunter class design, but I think it’s less obvious just because there have been numerous other bounty hunters that have actually been depicted in movies, comics, cartoons etc to draw armor, weapon, ability etc. ideas from.


  6. Great post. That’s exactly what I thought when I saw the trailer. It looks really cool, but I kind of wanted to play something thematically similar to Han Solo, not Han himself.

    Also, where’s the female smuggler?


    • Heh heh, glad it wasn’t just me. I want to make a female smuggler, someone who might lead a life like Han Solo’s, but yeah, definitely do not want to be Han himself. Emphasizing the similarities does draw fans and make the smuggler instantly recognizable though…so fan service, marketing ploy, or whatever it is, I admit that I understand Bioware’s choice to do what they did. Thanks for reading! :)


  7. I think you should definitely have the option to clone HS if you want to. Obviously you should not be forced to. The old west outfit linked above goes a long way towards alleviating my fears.

    The ship to me evokes the ship you use in KotOR I and II much more strongly than the MF. Yes that ship evoked the MF, but it had a lot to do with the main cockpit being over to the side. It’s in the middle in the ship above. Any generic ship with a round body does not evoke the MF as far as I’m concerned.

    And holy cow, there are like six blog posts in your comments. I guess that means you hit a nerve, good job :-)


    • That Jaramukhti, I keep telling him he needs a blog…a SWTOR blog, evidently from all the star wars discussions we like to have :D

      As for the ship, it definitely can be seen as more of a mash up, though it was the top view there (middle one to the right) that made me think MF: http://www.swtor.com/info/holonet/starships/xs-stock-light


  8. I understand your hestitation about the Smuggler class – I don’t just want to play a *cough* carbonite copy of Han Solo but equally I think BioWare have made the right decision as using him as a template to inspire people.

    This sort of thing does put me off the SW license a little bit because I hate running around games and seeing clear rip-offs of characters. SW:G was pretty bad for HaanSolos and DarthMaals ;) No doubt we’ll see plenty in SW:TOR but here’s hoping BioWare can inspire people enough to create their own identities ;)


    • I lol’d at the carbonite copy comment. Damn, wish I had thought of that one :P


  9. [...] Gamer Chick is worried about the individuality of TOR’s [...]


  10. Mirax Terrik-Horn!


    • For a character that has appeared in so many books and comics, I actually know very little about her.


      • I had to try pretty hard not to fall in love with her. Lol, jk. Mostly.

        I think she’s only really given “air-time” in the X-Wing book series. She’s pretty cool. Daughter of smuggler Booster Terrik, she became a smuggler herself and ended up falling in love with former CorSec (Correlian Security) officer Corran Horn, a Force-sensitive pilot who was at the time a member of Rogue Squadron (and one of their very finest) and later became a full Jedi. They got married and had kids. The End :)

        And then the Yuzhann Vong showed up. And then they started killing off lots of important Star Wars characters and I eventually stopped reading anyways.

        I miss the X-Wing book series.


  11. [...] so hopefully they’re not relying so heavily on Boba Fett for inspiration the same way the Smuggler class appears to be stuck on Han Solo. Erickson’s mention of Dengar and “a very diverse group of companions” available [...]



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