SWTOR: Huttball And Lore?

August 22, 2011

Note: Star Wars nerd talk ahead. Content may not be suitable for all readers, proceed with caution.

Okay, so when BioWare released their Star Wars: The Old Republic video for the PvP Warzone Huttball, I got really excited. I’m not even a fan of PvP, but that trailer had me itching to get right in there and crack some skulls. It’s the first time in a long while that anything to with PvP has gotten me this intrigued, so I guess that was why I was a little…surprised at some of the backlash this particular Warzone has gotten from SWTOR fans.

Not that forumites ever needed a good reason to gripe about a weekly update, but what caught my interest this time was that much of the complaints stemmed from a lore aspect. The video again:

Is the idea and execution a little silly or ridiculous for the Star Wars universe? Well. If you ask me, probably no more than that two-headed announcer during the podrace scene or how about, I don’t know, maybe that entire freakin’ movie in general? But I guess the better question, and what most critics are asking, is: What conceivable reason would my <insert class here> have to want to participate in Huttball?

As a Star Wars geek and an occasional roleplayer, this discussion made me muse. I agree the argument’s a lot easier to make for the non-force using classes, especially Smugglers or Bounty Hunters who answer to no one and like to live on the edge. But on the other hand, would the Jedi or Sith be above killing for sport on a public stage purely for the entertainment of others?

The Sith, perhaps not. You have to admit, someone like, say, Darth Bane is kind of an ass. And don’t even get me started on Sith Inquisitors. Last I checked, Emperor Palpatine was cackling away while zapping Luke Skywalker to a pulp, and Darth Maul tormented Obi-Wan as he was hanging on for dear life by toying with him instead of just finishing him off like, you know, any normal sane person would (I have deep-seated issues with The Phantom Menace, can you tell?) Those that value power and strength would probably have no qualms about cutting down the Republic and enjoy killing those they deem weak in a booby-trapped arena of death and suffering.

But how to explain for the light-sided Jedi? I was mystified by the complaints at first, but now I’m starting to see why hardcore lore hounds and roleplayers would be up in arms, seeing as how Huttball pretty much goes against everything the Jedi Order stands for. It’s a shame when negativity surrounds a great feature like this, but I do admit lore is kinda important especially in a Star Wars game. Are there actually any conceivable reasons why a light-sided Jedi would participate in this bloodsport?

Personally, if I was playing a Jedi, I could come up with a few — to help a dear friend, perhaps. Or more likely, I just wouldn’t care; Huttball looks fun, just get me in so I can play the crap out of it. In all seriousness though, if a player does feel very strongly about it, I suppose there are other Warzones. Other roleplayers, Star Wars lore geeks and Jedi players, I welcome your thoughts.


  1. Perhaps the Jedi are there to thwart the efforts of the Sith? Not just preventing their wanton destruction of things, but playing in a public sports arena could potentially win the Sith public favor and additional support from spectators. Jedi may consider it important to tarnish this public image, or prevent it from taking too strong a root in the public’s perspective.

    • I can see that. I think it’s interesting that it’s been shown in the movies as well as the expanded universe that there are definitely some things or activities Jedi find distasteful and wrong, but they do it anyway for the greater good.

    • ^this.

      A role player that puts some thought into it could really justify anything. An MMO is not going to hand RPers their motivations and justifications — they need to be creative in most games for most of the quests already.

      • Exactly, I was just reading some KIASA posts on rep grinding in LOTRO. From an RP standpoint, they are beyond ridiculous. But most activity in an MMO is not RP oriented.

        How are all those RPers going to justify to themselves the crazy number of other PCs running around rescuing/slsughtering the same NPC they just rescued/slaughtered? At some point, you just have to repeat the MST3K mantra. “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

  2. Aw, come on MMOGC! They made a PvP mode called … huttball. It’s like Quidditch for SW:TOR, meaning it’s silly. Silly things deserve to be made fun of, that’s just life.

    Three-legged dogs, gingers, and huttball – all worthy of some good-natured, mean spirited ribbing :p

    • Hey, I’m with you, I don’t mind a bit of corny humor in my games 🙂 I actually giggled to myself when I first saw the video. It looks like a blast, and either way I’ll be going in there and playing Huttball!

  3. I can’t say anything to the Jedi being involved from a Lore standpoint, but sometimes it’s just about good fun, y’know? And from a broader Lore standpoint, a sport that has repeating games makes a lot more sense than some of the constant repetitious battles–or endgame raids–I have seen in MMOs.

    • That’s the way I see it. Dedicated roleplayers probably wouldn’t like in good fun as a reason though, but I wouldn’t consider myself like that really. I’m definitely not someone who would let being OOC prevent me from participating in any game feature or event I want to do.

  4. I’m a little confused by the idea that a Jedi wouldn’t enter into a contest for money … especially a contest that allowed them to cut down a few Sith and/or their allies. In the ridiculous movie MMOGC mentioned in the post, a Jedi Master endangers the life of a pre-teen boy in a race. A race on which said Jedi Master bet money, and bartered a human life out of slavery. Why? To get money to pay for a hyperdrive? They were on Tatooine. Why not sell the damaged space-ship as is, then walk into any cantina with the money and hire a smuggler to get them off world?

    Point being, bad movie or not, it’s already in the lore that Jedi Masters are more than willing to participate in games of chance that not only endanger the lives of children, but also everyone around them as long as they can think of some greater good involved..

    And yeah, Huttball is silly, but no sillier than Capture the Flag (seriously, how did running a flag back and forth help the elves defend the forests from the orcs).

    For my part, I was jazzed about the game, and to me it seemed perfectly in line with the sorts of things Hutts think up to entertain themselves.

    Don’t think your particular Jedi has a story reason to be there? Do one of the other PvP Warzones. This won’t be the only one.

    • LOL absolutely, and I think that was the example many on the forums brought up. Sure, Anakin wasn’t a Jedi then, but his being in the podrace was totally condoned and approved by wise Jedi master Qui-Gonn who agreed to put a little boy in an extremely dangerous competition in which he could explode and die in a fiery ball of destruction at any moment. Honestly, if Qui-Gonn can rationalize away all his concerns over that doozy of a questionable decision, I don’t see it as that much of a stretch for Jedi to find reasons to participate in Huttball 😛

  5. Of all the reasons to be upset about this game, I’m not sure “having a silly but potentially fun PvP mode that’s a stretch to role play” should even make the list.

    I’m really not all that excited about TOR, but I’m not ever going to bash hutball. It’s at least something different. Plus, these types of PvP games are fun in other genres — to this day, my favorite PvP experience was playing “football” in Snoopy’s Flying Ace on Xbox arcade. I’d still be playing it if I hadn’t redringed.

    • When I first saw the trailer, my first thought was, wow, that looks really different, really exciting, and really fun. Not once did I think, wow, that looks really lore-breaking. As much as I like to roleplay occasionally, I guess that’s how I know that deep down I’m really not into RP. Admittedly, concerns like that would never have hit me on my own in a million years, but I found it a very interesting perspective though.

  6. 1 for Episode I bashing. In regards to Huttball, the old saying “Don’t knock it ’till you try it” comes to mind. I’ll admit that having Republic v Imp Huttball teams is stretching things a bit lorewise, but so is having PvE servers. 😉

    • Right. With all due respect to roleplayers, it’s one thing to criticize something because you’ve realized you dislike the mechanics or gameplay, but I think it’s a little silly not want to participate at all because it doesn’t “fit with lore”. At least give it a shot.

  7. It’s a game and games are meant to be fun. If huttball is fun then in a perfect world there shouldn’t be any complaints. Unfortunately some people can’t just relax and let things slide. Is it a perfect translation of SW lore? Maybe not, but I’m not going to let that ruin my fun.

    • Yeah, I’m sure if someone really tried, they could probably come up with thousands of other instances where SWTOR breaks the lore. Ultimately it really shouldn’t matter, because like you said it’s a game. To tell the truth, if it was approved by LucasArts, then hell, it’s good enough for me.

  8. As a co-founder of an RP guild in SWTOR, I can say the RP nerds can go to hell.

    It doesn’t really fit in with lore, perhaps. But you know what else doesn’t fit in with lore? Attacking Alderaans defensive network over and over, shooting down Imperial/Republic ships time and again, in the Alderaan warzone. Once the warzone is over, nothing has changed, and you can do it all over again.

    Meaning: it’s a video game first and foremost, and you have to let some things go. If you are going to live within the confines of some strict canonical lore for a made up world, you are going to be missing out of a lot of great content, and Huttball IS great content.

    • I think it’s a matter of taking things to the extreme. Like they say, all things in moderation. RP is fun, but not so much when you take it too seriously. Like saucelah mentioned before, a roleplayer who puts some thought into it can justify the situation; if anything, it’s a good fun RP challenge to take on.

  9. I am kind of shocked at the sheer number of people that have come out in support of this phenomenon…

    • To what phenomenon do you refer?

  10. […] it makes less sense would be in how the various classes are involved. Mmogc has a good post on the topic already so I won’t repeat everything here but suffice to say that why a Jedi would participate do […]

  11. People forget that we an be part of our own story in a game. And I think a lot of folks were making big assumptions about the whole “random selection” and balancing part of it, thinking they’d be paired up with Jedi and Sith on the same team. Still, I’d consider it a nice challenge to figure out how that kind of pairing could be justifiable. I can think of several reasons. Too bad it won’t be done that way.

    I’m not into PVP either, but I’m intrigued about this enough to give at least try it out.

    • I think a lot of people were under that impression too when they heard Dallas talk about it. But the trailer shows only one faction on each team. Personally, either way would be a lot of fun to me, and there would definitely be ways to justify it, Hutts being neutral and ambivalent towards faction politics and all.

      • Stephen Reid, as @Rockjaw, confirmed in a tweet that the teammates would be from the same faction. The two teams could be the same faction or opposite.

      • Yep, saw that, which is what gameladyp was probably referring to as well.

  12. When it get’s right down to it, when it’s a choice between fun and rigid adherence to lore, I think it’s better to err on the side of fun in a game. You can certainly go too far an ruin immersion for some players. However players will vary a lot in what constitutes “too far.”

    For example, the Runekeeper in LoTRO absolutely ruined the game for some players, but I’d say the bulk of the player base was able to overlook what a stretch it was because it’s a well designed, fun to play, class that rounded out the roster of classes nicely.

    More on topic, as long as Hutball turns out to be fun, I think the fact that some jedi characters wouldn’t logically be expected to participate (based on lore) won’t really end up putting too many players off. The guys on the TOR forums are probably much bigger Star Wars lore grognards than the bulk of players will be.

    • Well said, Yeebo. Fun first and foremost, try not to sweat anything else…that’s probably the best attitude for any game developer. I have no doubt you’re right about the grognards. Bioware is aiming to attract a wide audience, chances are only the most gungho about the lore will care, and while they’re extremely vocal on the public game forums, the reality is they’re probably a very small minority.

  13. Tch, nerds and interwebbers will unite to bash ANYTHING. “What if i wanna be a jedi, and lightside deeps, BUT, BUT, BUT Luke only used one lightsaber, what if i dont want two!? WHAT IF I DONT WANNA LOOK LIKE ALTAIR!?” “What about this, why’re they doing it this way!?” Shaadaaappppp.

    To me, Huttball looks like something new, somethign fresh, something very random, that may take some skill, but will require a GANG of luck, it seems very complicated though, it’s not my cup of tea because of that, but on the cool, i dont see what’s wrong with it.

    I know Jedi are one part monk, one part peacekeeper, and one part walking unstoppable warrior.But the same institution of the Order is all but reflected in an ultimate, neutral, wanton way with the Hutt Clan, i think when dealing with Hutts, everything is all but cancelled out, between the motives of the Republic and the Empire, so what does it matter?

    • Haha, the first paragraph of your comment made me LOL because it’s so true.

      Anyway, you bring up a cool perspective I never really considered before, that of the Hutts being almost like the “wild card” that throws a wrench into things whenever they show up. It’s like that in the movies and in many of the books and shows and comics. They don’t play by the rules, so neither can anyone else when they deal with them, really.

      • Everyone knows that the only TRUE Indominable, Unstoppable Order in star Wars are the Hutts :p. While Jedi and Sith war and battle over the the universe, peace, and war, the Hutts profit from everday things, like Slavery, Gambling, Murder, Half Naked Twi’lek girls….

        Anybody who has their ire is in deep shit, anybody who befriends them has the routes, secrets, and under the table monopoly of EVERYTHING. I mean, in short, you gotta love the Hutt’s and their obsession with gambling on sports like Huttball and Podracing ^_^.

  14. As a hardcore lorehound — and I mean HARDCORE (I’m the type of person who maps out my character’s motivations, even if no such system exists in a game, like how I created a literal, in my mind, family of alts that I considered siblings of one another in WoW) — I still cannot find a legitimate lore reason for denouncing Huttball. I can’t think of one, for one very big reason: Huttball isn’t a Republic, nor an Imperial, sanctioned event.

    Huttball is run, as the name suggests, principally by the Hutts; that means, if the Hutts deem it be so, the game can include anyone under the sun, regardless of faction. As far as I know, participation in the sport of Huttball is voluntary, so nobody is forced to partake. That explains why Huttball could be considered a legitimate sport in the Star Wars universe, especially when you consider it is run by perhaps the most devious and gluttonous, in all aspects, species in the galaxy.

    As far as motivation to partake is concerned, you covered a great deal of it in your article. Smugglers need no motivation, beyond a cash prize; Bounty Hunters & IA’s could use it as a “legit” means to target and assassinate a mark; Sith Warriors could join in a Huttball match purely to satiate their bloodlust, or else just to show that the Empire, whether on a battlefield or a playing field, is ALWAYS superior to the Republic; SI’s could use the game as a way to show off their superior skills, technical and tactical, to the Hutts if they were planning to do any future business together, etc.

    Granted, that does leave out the Jedi. However, In my own personal opinion, one great motivation for Jedi participation in Huttball would be sort of a “Thunderdome” motivation. For those who haven’t seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (I’m so disappointed in you all), in that film, the Thunderdome served as a bit of a court, if you will. It was a lawless, yet effective, way to settle disputes in a lawless land. “Two man enter, one man leave.” — simple, slightly brutal, but effective, and pretty much the only option in a land without clear rules.

    In Nar Shaddaa, I hardly think the Hutts have police forces. If so, I doubt they are there for anything more than show. In fact, the Hutts would most likely have any law enforcement organizations that existed within the city eating right out of their hands. A bribe here, a bribe there, and *boom* — the Hutts have carte blance to do whatever the hell they see fit.

    It could be Huttball, from the pov of the lawful Jedi, is Nar Shaddaa’s “Thunderdome” — a simple, slightly brutal, but effective “court”, and pretty much the only option to settle things in a [fairly] bloodless, organized manner. If left with no other options, I could see the Jedi preferring this method over a back alley brawl (though we’ve seen that Obi-wan was willing to cut off someone’s hand in Mos Eisley, so Jedi, it would seem, aren’t nearly as pious as other lorehounds would have people believe).

    There are dozens of motivations for each of the classes to participate in an organized sport, even if it was designed by the egomaniacal, sadistic Hutts. In fact, the very fact that it was created by the Hutts as an organized event, in an otherwise lawless world of pleasure, would provide a reason for law-abiding classes to choose this as a more sane option than wanton destruction.

    What I’m going to say here is most likely going to sound horribly conceited, but I feel like anyone who thinks Huttball breaks immersion is guilty of limiting their scope of narrative possibility. I honestly do.

    Narratives in stories aren’t supposed to be black or white. Hell, Star Wars, itself, is built on a constant battle between one’s own inner darkness and self control. Do you hold strong to your Jedi teachings, or do you fall to the seductive embrace of the dark side? Do you allow a war to lead you into bloodlust, or do you try to maintain a level head in a world of chaos?

    There is never a black or white “Jedi would never play Huttball.” or “Sith would never play Huttball.”; both sides have their own motivations for their participation. Not all Jedi are blue boys, always striving to do what’s right — some are downright arrogant, and on their way down a dark path. On that same token, not all Sith are murdering bastards — some are just trying to maintain sanity in a chaotic world.

    In the end, it comes down to your own personal character, and just how far you choose to follow their personality to safeguard your own immersion. Would your Jedi be against Huttball? Then don’t play it. It is as simple as that. But don’t assume that just because it goes against the moral standard of your own Jedi, that it applies to every single one. It doesn’t.

    FFS, I could see a Jedi like Mace Windu absolutely loving a game like Huttball. He was always more aggressive than your average Jedi. I wouldn’t expect Yoda to find it all that much fun, but like I said, Jedi are not cut from the same cloth.

    In my opinion, the term “immersion breaking” needs to be taken out to a metaphorical field and shot in the metaphorical head with a metaphorical bullet.

    • I’ve never watched Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (I know, sigh away), but thanks for bringing up the example because I think it does illustrate it nicely. And also you alluded to a good point — with tensions high and fights liable to break out between the Empire and Republic anytime, if they Jedi had to choose would they prefer random violence, or would they rather have the two sides duke it out in a scheduled, contained and controlled (well, relatively speaking) environment instead? The latter seems the lesser of two evils, if only to spare innocents the suffering that all out war on the streets would cause.

      And I don’t personally think you sound conceited…I’m going to paraphrase saucelah again and agree with them that a role player that puts some thought into a situation could really justify really anything. Refusing to do so, as you say, does seem to me to be limiting the RPer’s own scope and potential. Personally, anyway.

      And LOL when you said “There is never a black or white “Jedi would never play Huttball.” ” I just couldn’t help it — ironically, the first thing that came to my mind was “Only the Sith deal in absolutes”. It actually is a little baffling that some who argue against Jedi in Huttball would apply that to the whole Order, when everyone knows BioWare is allowing everyone to choose either light side or dark side. That’s allowing for a huge spread of player styles and character motivations. In the end, the solution is simple. I said it and you said it: if you really can’t get over the existence of Huttball, then you don’t have to participate. There are other warzones like Alderaan if you want the traditional fight-the-other-side-in-a-war scenario.

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