You Can Go Home Again: Characters, Crew, and Identity.
Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own toon?
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a sentinel. I love the playstyle, I love the whoosh, I love the jumping. I was totally taken in by the badass epic story. But at the same time, I feel a serious disconnect when she opens her mouth and has the personality of a wet napkin. Some bullshit like “serving others is both a duty and an honor” makes me roll my eyes and groan. I know, she kinda has to play it straight, being a super-serious jedi and all.
Granted, a lot of people like their characters to take on lives of their own, but I feel like my character is an extension of me. When some people talk about their characters, they call them by their names. I just use the first person, like “then I whacked the shit out of him with my lightsaber.” And if it causes confusion, “Oh, I was on my knight.” I can’t immerse myself in the game if I’m playing some goody-goody, total shitbag, or boy with whom I can’t identify.1
The Jedi Knight crew… well they just don’t feel like a team either. T7 is a jedi fanboi, which clashes with Kira’s unconventional sass. Kira wants to airlock Doc, I’m sure. Rusk and Scourge basically keep to themselves and don’t play nice with the others. They only show up together in the same room when the holocron rings, and even then, not always. It doesn’t feel like a crew – it feels like a bunch of unrelated people who tolerate each other and I’m the lynchpin. They’re not plotting strategy or playing Pazaak with each other when I leave them on the ship.
Maybe the reason I couldn’t get into being a consular is that she has the personality of a self-righteous wet napkin…
… and the crew is not only distant but annoying. I mean… THARAN! And Qyzen ain’t the best conversationalist. Blah blah Scorekeeper, blah blah honor, blah blah kill da wookiees. What is really non-team-like is that I have never seen Qyzen and Tharan talk to each other. Maybe Zenith would be cool, but I’m not sure I could last that long.2
I feel like my complete discomfort with both my consular toon and her companions makes me ambivalent about the playstyle – which, admittedly, has nothing to do with the story, voice, or crew. If I think about it, sage, has a lot of aspects I like, specifically a resource system that doesn’t penalize you for dropping below 60%. Still, I am seriously struggling to find the will to level.
The trooper crew feels like a team but that’s because they’re a squad. Duh.
Well, except I’m kinda pissed at Elara right now for repeatedly cockblocking me (whatever the girl version of that is – I’m sure if such an expression exists, it’s probably crude to the point of revolting). But also, we do have our “girl power” moments.
Now, I get the warm fuzzies when my bounty hunter hollers into the intercom, “front and center!” And they ALL show up and start cracking jokes at each other.
When I had to complete a storyline quest, I could obviously only bring one companion, but the rest of them were standing outside the door of my spaceship, ready to get my back. It has a feeling of a real crew.
My smuggler feels like “me”. Wisecracking feels natural to me.
Even though Risha is an annoying as hell, I like the rag-tag crew that I manage to accumulate. Hello, misfits, come ride with me!
Smuggler was the opposite of jedi knight for me: hated the scoundrel playstyle, loved the personality. My husband and I were leveling together, which made it rofl-easy and masked my utter incompatibility with the playstyle, but then I switched mains, and from level 38 on he leveled with my knight, leaving the scoundrel to finish up on her own. Quitting before finishing the journey was not an option, even though I didn’t want to heal and didn’t like the dps options available to me. I stealthed half the way, and swore the other half, and made it to 50 through stubbornness. Now that there’s no more snarking off to be done, my scoundrel lives on the fleet and makes fashion.
So I’ve started a gunslinger after my nervous breakdown about melee dps, and so far I’m willing to stick with it. I’m still not sure about the playstyle (cover kinda sucks). The smuggler storyline isn’t so compelling that I must do it again. No, I’m enjoying it because it feels comfortable.
I feel immersed in a way that I don’t with some other characters. I know that whatever option I pick, I won’t hear the words come out of my toon’s mouth and think “oh ew, didn’t mean to say THAT”.
Because every time my toon says something eye-rollingly stupid, or more goody-goody or more evil than intended, it breaks me out of my immersion. If you’ve done a planet quest a million times, but you don’t spacebar through dialogue because you really REALLY want to hear what your toon is going to say, that’s a good thing!
I know none of this matters for the “endgame” – because when you’re raiding, you never see your toon’s face or hear her voice (ok, that IS a little disheartening.) But that’s not when you get attached to your toon as an extension of yourself. You do it while leveling.
How many of you have “stories” from when you were leveling in any game, like the time you almost got ganked, or you took 20 tries to beat this one mob, or you wandered into a high level area when you were low level because you didn’t know better. Everyone, right? Even in a non-story-based game, you still have those stories.
To this day, my husband and I giggle about the time when we were playing on a WoW PvP server and some undead rogue kept ganking us. And then, realizing he was outmatched, he jumped into the water (since undead can stay underwater longer). Welp, as a druid I shapechanged into a seal so as to swim faster and catch up with him. Plus, seals can stay underwater indefinitely. I chased him down and beat him to death with mah flippers (very slowly).
In a story-based game, it’s even more so. Hell, I recount to you these things that I think are memorable, like Issen smacking the crap out of the amorous Torian. That dialogue choice and the hilarity that ensued will forever give me warm fuzzies about that toon and that companion.
These stories shape how I feel about my toon and no amount of raiding time logged will change that foundation.