BioWare's Alexander Freed, who handled some of the writing duties in Star Wars: The Old Republic, recently sat down for an interview in which he gave some fascinating insight into the writing of the game as well as why Wookies don't necessarily have a larger role in it.
On the subject of Wookies, Freed reveals that it has always been a goal at BioWare to have the game focus on humanoid races, that is; races that look and act like we do. Wookies obviously have feelings as acute as a human but their means of expression and their language make focusing a story around them a challenge. As Freed says:
You know, the reason for our humanoid range of species, it's a matter of relatability to a large degree. The further you get from human the more difficult it is for players to get into their mindset, the more difficult it is for all the other characters in the game to relate to them the same way. There are enormous technical obstacles, there is building all the lip synching, all the emotion into the face of the human is incredibly difficult and time consuming, doing that for something like a Wookiee – and we couldn't half do it, we couldn't let Wookiees be only a third as expressive as humans. At that point we're just giving up. We're building a game designed to do these things, we can't do it in half measures. Same with customising appearances. Adding one dramatically different alien, we still need as much variety as we would need for humans. Between the relatability aspect and the technical aspect it seems best to focus on what Star Wars has always done best which is people who look like us.
Freed also expressed his hopes that Star Wars: The Old Republic would be the game that future developers look back on and say, "yes, it is possible to make a narrative driven MMO." While other MMO's feature powerful stories and narratives, BioWare has definitely taken things to an entirely new level with the amount of voice acting, dialogue options and story telling that went into the game.