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Columns: Wearing Your Heart on Your Face

By Michael Bitton on December 15, 2010

Wearing Your Heart on Your Face

A recent thread right here on our Star Wars: The Old Republic forums got me thinking about how I felt about SW:TOR visually reflecting character alignment via the face, which is nothing new for the Knights of the Old Republic series or even many other RPGs such as Fable, as Whilan’s thread notes.


Bioware’s James Ohlen revealed that Star Wars: The Old Republic would follow along the footsteps of the KOTOR series in this regard in issue #121 of the Star Wars Insider magazine, "If you're familiar Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, one of the things that we showed was how the dark side started to corrupt you. Your appearance started to change, your flesh started to age and become more like Palpatine from the movies, and your abilities started to change as well. This also occurs in The Old Republic."

I’ve always been fairly “meh” on this, but mostly because I’m a bit vain about my characters. There’s certainly precedent for characters in the Star Wars films and Expanded Universe to show their Dark Side corruption through their physical features (such as Emperor Palpatine), but I really didn’t find it added anything to the KOTOR series (or even the Fable games), it just made me hate how my character looked.


A true Light Sider in the original KOTOR had a truly angelic glow. At the same time, the super cracked skin of a true Dark Sider was just as annoying. Since I played these games on the PC, I actually went and changed the texture files so that the true Dark and true Light face textures were mostly the same, though I opted for a player created mod for the Dark Side version which really only altered the eyes.

Yes. I am that vain.

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that sort of thing will probably not be possible in an MMO such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and that’s given me cause for concern. I’m generally put off by games controlling my character’s appearance, I enjoy my sense of individuality. This problem of mine typically manifests through most games’ armor systems which often have you look the same as everyone else in your class and level range, but at least my face has been untouched (I turn helmets off too).

Armor progression is one thing, but glowing obnoxiously or looking disfigured as a result of my alignment would definitely be off-putting for me, and in the absence of some sort of option to enable or disable this feature, knowing myself, I’d probably just veer from going too far in any direction on a character.

If the effects were a bit more subdued then it might be less of an issue, however, James Ohlen was pretty specific in saying that characters’ flesh will begin to age and become more like Palpatine. Nasty.

I certainly don’t mind the fact that my character’s abilities will reflect my alignment position, but I’m not sure I want to wear all my cold-blooded murders and betrayals on my face. Maybe this is one game I’ll opt to leave helmets enabled in.

So, is this much ado about nothing? Or do any of you reading this feel the same way? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let us know.

Or you know, lie, and make me feel better so I’m not the only freak in the room!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined as the site's Community Manager.