Star Wars RP Research: Hutt Space!

In the course of some studies this evening, I stumbled across a fascinating little research abstract. It’s about a research study looking at a group of Star Wars RP’ers who use a region in Second Life called Hutt Space. The full research article is still a month or two off publication, but here’s the abstract:

Immersive virtual settings are evolving to become new “spaces of life”. Humans inhabit these different virtual worlds through their avatars, and tend to gather into communities. However, the behavioral factors underlying the cognitive process of immersion in virtual worlds are still far to be understood. We here investigated these factors using the Star Wars Role-Play community of the virtual setting of Second Life as a model. More specifically, our studies focused on the immersion process in the “Hutt Space”, a portion of the Star Wars Galaxy ruled by the alien species of the Hutts, which combines the trademark aspects of Star Warsuniverse. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we identified some of the factors which favor the immersion process. Our results suggest that the different behavioral factors contributing to the immersion process can be organized in three structuring dimensions: commitment, cohesion, and coherence. We also unveil a compensatory mechanism between appearance and behavioral factors in creation and maintenance of social groups in virtual worlds. Finally, we point out some of the behavioral aspects of the evolution from passive media engagement (spectators), to active media engagement (actors), and suggest a theoretical framework to investigate how human inhabit immersive virtual spaces.

My semi-educated guess is that research studies are already underway in relation to SWTOR. Anyone want to suggest what the research topics will be?

You, Robot – Part 1

Love them or hate them, companions are a pivotal part of the SWTOR experience. Our resident companion guru, Simon, will be covering in-depth over three parts, everything you need to know about companions. If you’re looking for the full Companions Chart, here’s where you go, otherwise read on below.

Part 1 – NPCs that need NPCs are the luckiest NPCs in the world.

As I stared at my Twilek slave, pondering the merits of freeing her or bestowing another 20,000 volt love-tap, I noticed an irritating buzz in the back of my head. I should mention that I usually ignore most of the activity in there, but this time was different.

This time I realised what it was, before anyone had to accuse me of being insensitive, ripping the ethernet cable from the PC, storming from the room then skyping her mother for two hours whilst eating all the ice cream. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Where was I? Oh, right -feelings. In this case guilt. And while your frontal lobe may know it doesn’t matter in any real sense how you treat a computer generated, scripted character, deep down in the squishy gray recesses of your brain are neurons that don’t differentiate bad behaviour towards one of your companions or a flesh-and-blood person. For me, that’s where the magic begins.

Bioware’s companion characters have always been deep and contrary with their own agendas. In SWTOR, as you should know by now, this tradition has developed further. With their deft facial animations and sometimes inscrutable likes and dislikes they slowly take on a more real nature then you’d expect. Granted we humans are great at finding patterns where none exist and filling in details that are only suggested. This is why people in Tallahassee occassionally see the image of Elvis on their toast.

But even knowing that, it’s sometimes hard to believe they don’t have a more profound opinion of you than ‘+15 affection’. All of the companions have their own quirks and it’s not always straightforward identifying their likes and dislikes. Having said that, if you’re looking for some insight into your companions or simply want to suck all the fun out of life, you’ll find some useful information in the linked tables accompanying this and the next two articles in this short series.

By now all of you have met several companions and how you feel about them will depend on how you choose to play the game. In some ways it’s easier to ignore them when they start prompting you for a cosy chat everytime you go into a cantina and just use them for the extra firepower, healing, crafting or running off to sell your accumulated junk. But if you do that you’ll miss all the other benefits of getting to know your new imagninary friends. Not only will they add depth through exposition and open up additional side missions, you also have the much discussed opportunity for romance. At this point there’s been little revealed about the depth of this feature, either in the current patch or future ones (barring the same-gender aspect).

There’s always the chance that giving gifts to a companion may be as exciting as giving your toaster the gift of bread – but Bioware isn’t just going to give us toast, as these romantic tangents will offer additional side quests. Even if they don’t ‘love’ you, some companions will offer opportunities for gear if they like you enough. Everyone hates you? No problem, just buy them gifts until they’re borderline co-dependent. Not sure whether they’d prefer ammo or flowers? Just check the table.

All that said – if Bioware adheres to canon, the exploration of love will necessitate flirting with the dangers of passion, although you could remain pure if you only participated in meaningless sex. But that wouldn’t appeal to most players… would it?. I should also mention that not all companions are romanceable, so if you are a smuggler hoping for a little wookie-lurve, you are out of luck. Bioware’s criteria of only having human-like playable races also extends to the races that you can flirt with. If you are curious about your chances for love, you could look up your horoscope or for more reliable information, try the table.

Of course, the best feature of your companion is that, unlike a real person, you can dismiss them when they start to get on your nerves, instead of having to sit smiling through Notting Hill for the hundreth time.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

In the second part of this brief guide we’ll be looking at combat, AI and the all-important ability to pimp your companion’s appearance.


SWTOR Roleplaying: an introduction

If you’re into RP and are thinking of going the whole hog in SWTOR, then read this great overview of RP by SWTOR-RP‘s head honcho, Ganden. He also happens to be an Oceanic player so it’s a double win – enjoy.

There are many types and styles of gameplay out there when it comes to MMORPGs. Players have their own preferences, whether it be a focus on PvP, PvE, or perhaps a mix of both. However, there is another style of gameplay that arguably holds the most passionate and opinionated player base, and that style is roleplay. To define roleplay in a nutshell, it consists of a player immersing him or herself behind a character with a story, a personality, and a way of life. The player then interacts with other players in the game from the perspective of their character, acting as their character would in the given situation. It can go as far as interacting with non-player characters and world objects in-character. In roleplay, there is a realm of possibilities when it comes to roleplaying – even more so when the game is in the setting of one of the largest and most popular fantasy worlds ever created – Star Wars.

The Old Republic is by far the largest Star Wars virtual universe ever created in a game, so you can only imagine the anticipation held by the ever-so-eager roleplayers. Star Wars: Galaxies was fun for roleplayers, but BioWare’s Star Wars virtual reality goes above and beyond anything ever created by Sony Online Entertainment. There are seventeen worlds to explore, eight unique classes to play, and two mega-factions which go head-to-head in a battle to establish their own ideas of peace for the known galaxy. And with a game so large, where does someone who wishes to pursue the idea of roleplay start? There are so many avenues to cover when developing your own character, and in this guide to roleplay, we’re going to hopefully assist you in some of the steps involved in kicking off your roleplaying endeavours, as well as covering some of the etiquette surrounding the controversial style of gameplay.

Before you begin your roleplaying adventures, you need to decide what kind of roleplayer you will be. Despite mixed views about whether there should be classifications of roleplay based on roleplaying intensity, two types of roleplay do exist in this modern age of gaming; light and heavy RP. This very topic could be talked about for hours, but we won’t bore you with all of the details. In short, light RP consists of roleplaying on occasion, with out-of-character (OOC) gameplay being the first priority. On the other hand, if you’re classified as a heavy roleplayer, then most of what you do in a game is done in-character. For a broader insight into these two types of roleplay, be sure to check out the edition of The Darker Side of Life – a weekly column at SWTOR-RP – which tackles this very topic.

Some roleplaying scenarios can leave in awe and wanting more - just like this guy

To roleplay, you must have a character with a background of sorts, but it’s up to you how much detail you want to develop before actually playing. Keep in mind that at some stage in roleplay, questions about your character’s background may come up in dialogue with other players. Unless you’re great at improvising, you may want to put some effort and detail into a back-story. But of course, you must start with the basics. Choosing your species and gender should be the foremost decisions, as your character’s name could be defined by species and gender. For example, a Chiss character’s name is going to be somewhat different than an Iridonian’s name. Once you’ve chosen your species and gender, choose an appropriate name. A little hint for roleplay and name creation: be original. You won’t be making many friends with names like Luke Skyhopper or Ben Solowalker. Do a little research into your chosen race and create a unique name using some of your favourite letters. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to play with your body! Well, not your own body. You get the point.

Physical attributes are just as important as name choice, as the appearance of your character may just influence the way he or she is perceived by other players. Largely built characters are going to come across as dominant, whilst the smaller and more petite ones may give off the impression to an irritating chihuahua. Maybe not quite as dramatic, but again, you get the point. Be sure, however, to consider your character’s base personality traits when creating your physical attributes. Consider age, height, weight, skin colour, eye colour, hair style and colour (if applicable), and facial markings and tattoos. Character creation should flow once you get started. It is always the initial process that hurts the brain, but once you get going, ideas should start popping into your head. For a guide on how character creation and player backgrounds work, take a look at the SWTOR-RP Wiki where you’ll find a diverse abundance of character biographies for The Old Republic.

Keep your private roleplay... private

Roleplay can sometimes bear a bit of baggage when it comes to etiquette. The basic rule of thumb is consent. If you’re about to do or say something that may affect another player in a significant way, make sure you have their consent. You don’t want to be emoting the movement of activating your lightsaber and severing another character’s arm at the shoulder socket if they’re not willing to lose that limb. “Ben Solowalker rushes in with his lightsaber and cuts off your arm!” Don’t do that. That would be most unfortunate. In addition to consent, don’t be playing the impervious and unbeatable character, especially in The Old Republic. BioWare created a story where they’ve made everyone the best of the best. Jedi, Smugglers, Sith, and Bounty Hunters are all going to be top of the class characters, so eventually you’re going to have to take one for the team. You win some and you lose some. This can always be decided with the roll of a die if you cannot decide via private messages as to who should come out as the victor. The die can help decide which character lands a blow in both actual duels in-game, as well as “emote duels.” Emoting a duel consists of using the /emote command and entering a description as to what your character is doing. Most roleplay tends to take the latter approach when it comes to duelling.

If you’re on a roleplay server in The Old Republic, never be afraid to engage in roleplay with an unknown character. You never know what might happen. Whether your dialogue turns into a cantina brawl or you end up making a new ally, there is a world of fun to be had. Roleplaying in The Old Republic takes you a few steps closer to experiencing the vividness that is the Star Wars universe. Almost anything is possible, and you control the action. And who better to control the action than a bunch of rowdy Aussies? That takes the anything is possible clause into a whole new world of madness!

For more of an insight into roleplay, be sure to head over to and check out some of the roleplaying resources we’ve made available to our target audience – roleplayers.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles in roleplay.