Oct 17, 2011

Posted by in Blue Milk & Cereal | 21 Comments

Blue Milk & Cereal: How Should Racial Abilities Behave In TOR?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

As we all know, the Star Wars galaxy has a lot of different inhabitants. Granted, while we may see many of them in Star Wars: The Old Republic, not all of them will be available for players to select from during the character creation process. Even still, there looks like there might be a good dozen or so for players to choose from.

A fairly common feature of MMORPGs is for your character to have a special ability or two associated with its race or species, sometimes called a “racial.” Since the day TOR was announced, players were speculating on wether we would see this staple feature in the game. This weekend at New York Comic Con, we got our answer. Check out what Georg Zoeller revealed in his post:

At this time, we do plan on having “racial” abilities, but they will be cosmetic in nature. Think of them as “social” abilities or actions that your character is able to do based on their species.

So, active “racial” abilities are planned, but they won’t affect your combat gameplay in any way.  

In my opinion, this is probably the best approach if BioWare wants to let players choose their race based on purely on their preference at the same time keeping the game balanced. Obviously this is still work-in-progress, but as BioWare told us “We’ll elaborate more in the future.”

What do you think of this approach?  Should racial abilities be cosmetic or combat-oriented? Let us know below!

How would you prefer racial abilities to work?

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  1. I voted for cosmetic only. MMO players can be fanatical when it comes to squeezing every ounce of DPS, healing, crafting and reputation gains for their toons.

    If racials give a character even the smallest combat advantage, players will base their decisions on that, and will make a big deal out of something that shouldn’t be.

    • This is so true and applies to myself. I voted cosmetic only. They could make them role playing abilities like they have in LotRo.

    • Grinstone says:

      Darkbrew took the words right out of my mouth.

      Little freakin’ jawa kleptomaniacs… *grumble*grumble*

  2. I voted none. That is all. There is no need for racials. That lends itself to cookie cutter characters.

  3. I don’t want something that will define what class someone picks due to the racial abilities.

    Then we have too much of one race/class combo’s running around.

  4. I am alright with them being combat abilities, but I also believe it did make me choose what race I was gonna play by what would max out my toons dps/healing. So with them deciding to make them cosmetic only, we can choose what race we want to be just purely from what we like best. So that alone makes their decision a good one imo.

  5. I think cosmetic racials is pretty much the best solution. I like having species choice matter in some way, though i’m glad it won’t impact my actual combat or gameplay experience. Hopefully they won’t provide crafting bonuses either, as that ends up creating cookie cutter crafters, which isn’t much better.

    Hopefully, the info coming out of NYCC, we’ll be seeing a Friday update soon with the final matrix for race/class combos and info on racial abilities. Some video and info on character creation would also be a huge plus.

  6. I agree that combat-influencing bonuses would drive player choice, but I have no problem with “Social” abilities. In LotRO, each Race had unique dance moves – I could see that as a “Social Ability”, in addition to, perhaps, the Class’ standard dance moves. Is there a Species that have eyes that glow red when they are angry? Then when the player does the /angry emote, have the Character’s eyes glow red for a moment. It’s a nice touch and doesn’t make any difference as to who wins that PvP match.

    Things such as these would add unique social aspects that could be used to reflect the culture of the various Playable Species, without actually affecting anything beyond RP.

  7. I like cosmetic …. but where is out Crafting or Commerce benefits :)

    • @Raz I know it can create some cookie cutter formats, but seems like if done in a broad stroke would be less impact-ful.

      • True. I’m cool with crafting bonuses if done properly. Like in WoW, the bonuses are nice while leveling up, but ultimately don’t matter at endgame.

        Little things could be cool:

        Sith Pureblood paying 10% less for diplomacy missions (your companion represents you and you are a pureblood, so have more sway diplomatically).

        I dunno, just one idea off the top o’ my head.

  8. ScytheNoire says:

    I was kind of shocked that they are actually putting these in. I thought we had learned from history that having racials that modify stats is a bad idea. Tsk, tsk BioWare.

  9. Abner Ford says:

    I’m actually in the minority here in terms of preferring combat-oriented racial/species abilities. If the only differences are dances, then I’d be disappointed. Creating meaningful, yet balanced racials is difficult, but in no means impossible. You just have to avoid things like flat increases to HP or whatever and focus more on abilities that are focus on making interesting choices (instead of right or wrong choices).

    I always vote for good game design over lazy game design.

    • Those are not two mutually exclusive concepts. Good game design is very active and not lazy at all. If your testers and internal feedback show that racial abilities are creating problems within game, you deal with them. One way to do that, is to make racials that do not impact gameplay but still provide “flavor” differences for players.

    • Bielduwyn says:

      The differences aren’t dances at all, instead, certain NPCs will react differently to you depending on your class, race, gender and so on. For example an Imperial Officer that offers a quest might be overtly polite to a Sith, almost feeling embarrassed to ask a Sith for help, but he would pretty much insult and berate an alien Bounty Hunter just for being not human. So you might be doing the same quest, but you get a very different experience out of it.

      • They’re going beyond this, however, and adding “active” racials as well. They are purely cosmetic, however, and won’t impact combat or overall gameplay.

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