The Old Republic Diaries; Day 3.

I thought today I would at least try to get something out of my system that has irked me in TOR like nothing else; the character creator. This is the gateway into which you descend into madness; the entrance to a new world. In any MMO, the character creator is, I think, one of the most important elements to get right – it doesn’t have to be as complicated, or showy, but it does need to get you into the game.

After all, the first thing you do in an MMO is make a character that reflects you, and your personality. You make it pretty, ugly, scarred, bald – whatever you want, because this represents YOU, what you like. And it’s the first character creation tool where I have felt the game intentionally railroads you to making a female character, the first character creator I honestly think is so broken and bad, that it by itself shows a contempt for the playerbase that is so awfully cavalier that I would like to punch the person/s who came up with this.

Let’s take the body types one by one.

MALE BODY TYPES;

Body Type #1; Small person. The head is far too big for the body, it looks like a bobble-head thing. Is very skinny and clearly doesn’t look like anyone the Empire or Republic would want to see in their ranks. Comedic effect? I don’t see the funny side. It’s just really weird.

Body Type #2; The male body type that on first glance looks relatively normal, until you rotate 90 degrees and realise the male body type 2 has a pair of moobs so spectacular that they’d probably require a bra. With long hair and clean shaven, you’d be forgiven for thinking from profile it was a girl!

Body Type #3; The “muscular” build just looks like a massive pair of shoulders on top of really inappropriately slender legs. It looks like a tiny circle on top of a massive triangle going down on a square on top of two toilet rolls for legs. It looks utterly barmy, and not at all appealing.

Body Type #4; The “fat” build. No. Just no BioWare. I’m not even going to go into details of how wrong this is but it is like seeing Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. Wrong on levels we’ve only just discovered, and probably wrong on other levels we have yet to discover and probably never will.

So, the male models all have issues. That EVERY RACE is pooled into the same models makes me balk something rotten. REALLY?! I mean, heck, even World of Warcraft provided variation in model design between races, SEVEN YEARS AGO! FFXI did it ten years ago. Ryzom was doing it a decade ago.

This is short-cut design of the absolute worst kind.

Considering I like to generally play as a guy (because it’s not fun to explain “No, I’m a guy playing as a girl…”) the fact none of the body types are even remotely acceptable for an MMO in this day and age makes me uncontrollably ANGRY. For a game that costs £40, and £8.99 a month thereafter, I happen to have these things called STANDARDS. And this falls so short of them. If an MMO from start to finish is like The London Marathon, this is The Old Republic tripping over its shoelaces on the starting line, hitting it’s face on the floor and knocking itself clean out.

And then we come to the female models.

FEMALE BODY TYPES;

Body Type #1; The “Anorexic” look. A woman with chicken fillets down her top and not a scrap of fat on any inch of her body. Really? Is this an appropriate choice for a body model? I find it incredibly distasteful.

Body Type #2; The “Normal” look. Probably one of the better character models in the game, because it looks… well… normal. Seems to be the one that everyone is taking too. What was that about trying to avoid a clone scenario like in WoW? Oh dear, I think we’ve just hit a snag…

Body Type 3; The “Athletic” look. Very tall, very well built, looks alright but at the same time a little disconcerting. It’s been built to purpose but there’s no real spark to the model that makes you think “Yeah, that’s nice!”. No, I don’t believe that IS asking for the world.

Body Type 4; The “Aerodynamically Curvaceous” look. Okay, so it’s not the criitcally/morbidly obese look of the male model variation, more a Nigella Lawson curvy and voluptuous look, and I quite like it, but at the same time, this is meant to be the “fat” option. And that seems a bit distasteful.

So, yes, the character creator fails on a basic and fundamental level…

The character models are crap.

It rarely gets better though when you go through hairstyles, tattoos, scars et al. There are some interesting variations in there, and some nice looks, but 80% of all the options given are hopeless, pointless or just plain ugly.

Considering The Old Republic is meant to have cost over $100 million, you’d think at least $1 million could have gone to hiring character designers, modellers and texture developers with a little bit of… well… talent, maybe?

When the moment you enter an MMO you do so with a character that feels uncomfortable to look at, you’ve lost the first battle for immersion. Bam! You’re immediately disconnected from the experience, not part of it. For those of us not immersed in the whole Star Wars experience, this is a very big problem. Huge. Monolithic, in fact. A problem bigger than a Death Star (I do at least know what one of those is!).

And even though Leo and Val have both said “It’s meant to be stylised!” I argue back; “So was World of Warcraft, but at least the models looked like someone had spent more than ten bloody minutes on them making nothing more than a basic cliche!”.

It’s an argument they conceded with typically good grace. Or not.

I will be back in-game tomorrow. I just thought if I could get this irking feeling out of my head on this topic alone, I might be more capable of getting past that initial (but incredibly massive) issue and looking at the game in a more reasoned light.

But in all seriousness, the character creator is simply woeful. And I, for one, am not impressed.

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