Desert Oasis: Finding the Shai’s place in our Great Valencian Black Desert

    
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Black Desert is no stranger to controversies. Whether because of the addition-and-removal of its battle royale or its enchantment mechanics, it does a pretty good job of pulling aggro from MMO gamers. I wouldn’t exactly call the Shai’s release as controversial per se; it was more surprising. But it’s sparked some really good discussions both regarding her age and whether or not it was even necessary to add this class.

I initially did not consider playing the Shai beyond her creation event, but I think that’s going to change now. She’s still not going to replace my Tamer, but I can safely say she’s going to be a solid primary alt. For one, she’s an absolutely adorable character, and I totally enjoy seeing her fling her florang to and fro, slicing up enemies in the process. On the other hand, she’s a practical alt pick for me. In node war, she will be your hard healer. And that’s what makes her such a great pick for more casual players. She’s so much easier to gear for when it comes to getting them set up for node wars. And she’ll be a great way to introduce players to the various lifeskills.

Still my favorite pose in this entire game!

Many serious PvP guilds require a gearscore of between 500 and 600. The gearscore is calculated by finding the average between a player’s attack AP (attack power) and their awakening AP. In the simplest terms, attack AP comes from the player’s main weapon and accessories that give any extra AP. The awakening AP comes from the class’ awakening weapon – a weapon obtained at level 56 that changes the playstyle. (It oftentimes completely replaces the other main weapon.)

The average between those two numbers is then added to the player’s DP (Defense power), calculated by the sum total of armor and defensive accessories. So if a player has 250 AP, 250 awakening AP, and 250 DP, then she has a gearscore of 500.

It’s different for Witches, Wizards, and now the Shai. Because of those classes’ support abilities, many guilds don’t mind picking up players with a gearscore of 450; this makes it so much easier for players interested in doing some form of PvP while they build up another character. And that’s what makes Shai such a great addition: She’s flexible in that sense and will make a difference in the battlefield, plus it’s relatively easy to build up to that gearscore.

Right now, there’s not much differentiation between the Shai and the other support spellcasters; however, when Pearl Abyss releases her awakening weapon, the lute, the current speculation is that it will have a focus on buffing, healing, and debuffs more than other classes. Awakening weapons aren’t just stronger versions of the character’s beginner weapon. They come with completely new movesets and oftentimes make drastic changes to the playstyle. For example, the Dark Knight goes from a close range character to a mid-range spellcaster. I’m pretty confident that this’ll be the way PA goes when the awakening weapon comes.

If combat is not your jam, I still recommend rolling one because she already starts out as a professional in both alchemy and gathering. Lifeskills are basically professions from something like WoW. They are the crafting, gathering, and non-combat related roles players pick up. There are 10 total. Players can specialize in one or do all of them. The 10 roles are gathering, fishing, hunting, cooking, alchemy, processing, horse training, trade, farming (the plant-seeds-and-harvest-them kind of farming), and sailing. They all have their own levels, and there’s no max level. After a certain point, it’ll just take a really long time to level up to the next level. There’s also a ranking for it so competitive players can do just that! It’s a great way to make that sweet, sweet, cash. No matter where you fall, Shai will be a pretty good place to start.

Its not about horse armor anymore; it’s the era of the donkey hat.

The Shai didn’t just bring a reliable healer and readily available gathering class to the table; she also carted along a fair share of interesting discussions about her age. It would be an understatement to say that her introduction made many gamers uncomfortable, tilting their heads in confusion. When I first heard of the character, I was surprised too. “Man, they actually went there, huh?” was my knee-jerk reaction. Black Desert already had the lolita character with the Tamer. For many, she was already challenging a decency boundary, but the Shai went a step further. This character straight up looks like a second grader.

Even apart from the obvious memes, BDO players have been discussing this seriously. Did Black Desert just cross a line by the way it portrays a child-like character? A lot of folks believe it’s at least nearing that line and that PA needs to be very careful with her development. It’s nothing new, and plenty of Asian MMOs have inserted similar characters before, but what differentiates Black Desert from those other games is how much bigger this game is both financial viability and visibility.

Pearl Abyss – and Kakao too – have a lot of money to throw around. Thanks to the Xbox port and sponsoring last year’s Twitchcon, PA is part of our western zeitgeist. For many, Black Desert represents a big-time Korean MMO, one of the few that have broken into the top tier of our genre, so its actions will be more scrutinized than lesser-known MMOs imports. It might seem inconsequential and even expected from other such titles, but Black Desert is different. This is a huge game that just released its second lolita-esque class. Of course this is going to set off red flags for some gamers.

As long as they keep the outfits classy like this, it should be fine.

So far, it’s pretty clear that Pearl Abyss is being very careful, and hopefully it stays that course. The company made the right choice by doubling down on how adorable and silly the Shai can be. She has a special emote that lets her sit on her donkey backwards (though you can’t ride it that way), and many of her moves are both funny and cute at the same time. And for now, her clothes are appropriate for her apparent age thanks to the inclusion of pants with her outfits.

Her cash shop items are also tame (so far). For example, one of the cash shop items available for all classes is underwear, but for the Shai? They’re pajamas. This is exactly how Pearl Abyss needs to handle this character. And as long as it keeps up that clear tasteful boundary, I don’t foresee any issues with it. Granted, some players on Reddit have voiced concerns that we might see something called the “kibelius” outfit come for the Shai. It’s a very revealing outfit for the female classes, and people are worried that PA might begin selling something like that, including me. But as long as the studio sticks to its pants-and-pajamas philosophy for its childlike toon, we should be fine.

Overall, she’s a great addition to the roster. As long as Pearl Abyss is careful with the monetization and localization of her portrayal, there shouldn’t bee too much issue. But for me, I’m glad I finally have someone to plant my crops.

The Great Valencian Black Desert is a dangerous place, but thankfully there’s always a chance for respite. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina every other week for just that in Desert Oasis, our Black Desert column! And don’t worry; he promises he won’t PK you. Got questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to send a message!
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RJT30
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RJT30

Here is my issue with how people see shai. Personally, she is more akin to the lalafell of FF14 than she is to a loli. In FF14 they have to attach mustaches or beards on to them just to make them look older or be taken away from being children. The same is said in BDO. Valentine literally just has an overgrown beard attached to him so he can look older. I feel what throws people off is Shai is the only class who is also a race. Had they gave her a proper class name and made her race Shai people probably would have a different frame of thought about it.

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Hikari Kenzaki

This was one of my early complaints as well. No other class is named after their race. The zerker isn’t named Giant. And the Archer, Ranger and Dark Knight certainly aren’t named Elves.
They’ve effectively gender-locked an entire race when we know good and well there are male and female Shai. It doesn’t make much sense.

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Arktouros

Part of the problem people are conflating concerns over what the Shai potentially could end up being rather than what it is.

There’s a lot of good reasons to be concerned. From innumerable other asian game examples to how parts of the community already act towards existing younger characters and much more. Hopefully this just goes down as another case of people being worried over something that never happens.

As for the name, not so sure about that. People referred to Berserker as Giant for a very long time because that’s how the translation came out from KR at first when people were doing their google translates before game launch. I could see people who don’t play the game getting confused however for sure as many games offer race and then class selection where as in BDO you’re more playing existing characters with existing stories/etc.

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mpandu.nky

I was wary of the Shai being a loli class/race. But I admit after seeing it in-game that BDO executed this perfectly. The Shai plays very fluid & unique. I’d say they’re more akin to halflings/gnomes. I’m seeing armies of Shais in Serendia – they’re VERY popular!

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Utakata

…and this comment has even been Gnome approved! <3

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Utakata

1st Point: How old is a Shai? Likely the same age as a Gnome. Which is something you don’t bring up in polite conversations. >.<

2nd Point: If you want kill the controversy (and the trolling associated with it), stop calling her a lolita. Why? Because by definition she is not a lolita. We can see that from the video depictions of the subject. That is, modest yet adorable. That's not a lolita, which usually a teens seducing older potential partners. I fail to see how this is possible with this race outside some creep RP'ing her that way. (And there should be a special place in Hell for those that do, IMO. /bleh)

3rd Point: Now that I have established she can sport pink and pigtails, can she hit hard? Never mind the group healing business…that for folks who are into that. My interests would be if she is effective for soloing first, so I want things to die quickly with the right skills and rotation. And not the character I just rolled. :(

Not sure there are any other points… o.O

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Arktouros

1. We won’t find out her age typically until Awakening. Most characters in BDO have set pasts that you’ve forgotten and “Awakening” is you learning about the character’s past history in little lore/text blurbs through a series of quests.

However her actual age is pretty irrelevant. No one criticizes gnomes/dwarves because they don’t look young. They’re little people who beyond their height look like adults. Actual age is pretty irrelevant, and the whole “it’s okay because she’s hundreds of years old” (Know your Meme) is pretty tread ground.

2. You have a huge misunderstanding if you think people are referencing her as a lolita. In fact a “loli” is more of a short hand reference to lolicon (Know your Meme) and is pretty different but of course has roots with the term lolita. As Carlo pointed out in the article with the Tamer character, who has nothing but a small text blurb mentioning how young she is while having a smaller frame, hasn’t stopped people in the BDO community from sexualizing her. Ignoring the topic absolutely does not work as we’ve seen in that scenario.

3. She does okay in PVE, mostly because of the number of hits on her abilities. Abilities in BDO are actually a series of strikes that hit X amount of times for a % multiplier that total up to damage dealt. Most classes only have abilities that hit x2 or x6 with the previous highs being around x13 or so. Shai has numerous abilities that hit x37 for moderate multipliers so in PvE she does a lot of extra damage. However in PvP her damage has been reduced to roughly 10% of that in PvE so from a PvP perspective her damage is entirely non-existent. She’s okay enough to grind, but complexity wise she’s extremely simple. She has roughly half the abilities other classes have and no chains/combos/etc like other characters get. Leveling the character up was literally just holding down RMB or A/D+LMB and really that’s it. Perfectly solo viable, but you can tell they’re building the character to be a group support one.

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Utakata

1) I think you’re taking that one a bit more seriously then I am. o.O

2) Err…it’s the other way around actually. Lolicon is a reference to lolita. The author used lolita, and I was pointing it out that was likely the wrong use of the term here as I understood it. As well as, those who desires underage females (is. lolicons) are as likely as problematic in WoW as they are here, as they are everywhere else. Also the same with shotacons…

…creeper perverts aside though, being the libertarian as you have claimed to be in past, wouldn’t you have consider that developers here are marketing to a young female audience for the kawaii moment to pad their bottom line here? Because that’s what I am reading into here. And is likely the real reason for introducing this class/race/species in this MMO. Also see: MapleStory 2.

3) Thanks for explaining that! :)

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Arktouros

I’ve never claimed to be a libertarian. I’ve said the closest label you could probably put on me would be libertarian. However the inherent problems with labels is they are a preset of values that people use to attack even if they don’t all apply.

Personally I believe they introduced the class to generate additional sales out of lifeskill players. First she has a skill that automatically increases weight each level and weight is an immense commodity for lifeskills, especially past Lifeskill Mastery where you can’t afford to equip +weight equipment in favor of Lifeskill Mastery equipment. She also starts out at Professional Gatherer/Alchemist which is a huge boost and there’s already updates to her on the test server to give increased rates for gathering/alchemy gains. It’s easy to see them pushing the lifeskill transfer coupons ($20 per skill, and there’s 10 skills) so you transfer all your lifeskills to the character and then buy maximum weight and all the costumes again. People are speculating her awakening could even be lifeskill focused and give her even further edge there as a PvE oriented character. Lifeskillers typically aren’t combat oriented so her basic combat nature makes it very appealing as well.

The devs also stated during the Shai reveal at the Heidel Ball that they knew releasing a character like this will have a lot of strong and polarizing opinions. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, and hopefully our concerns will hopefully continue to be over nothing.

RJT30
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RJT30

Well they wrote out shai’s lore when she was released. She’s 30 and minimum. They talked about how all shai are young looking. Valentine being an example of looking 20 but, being 110 years old.

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Arktouros

The Tamer topic is a big thing that people who don’t actually play the game won’t really get when they make low effort conclusions like “There’s nothing sexual here, why are you upset, you must be upset because you see it as sexual.” Those of us who actually play the game know how the game’s community are. You already know the comments that you’re going to see and the levels people are going to try to take things to for amusement of the shock value. I mean we’re talking about the same company who’s idea of a costume is a pair of see through napkins with some string attached on the side. People are/were worried for fact based reasons here.

Thankfully so far they’ve kept things pretty clean all around. One of the biggest reasons I’ve skipped Korean games in general is because of the lolicon characters and the eventual set of degenerates that come with it (either real or purely done to get a shock out of people). I really liked BDO’s aesthetic all around having a good mix of europeon, middle eastern and asian styles within the game.

All around Shai seems pretty useless at this point, basically being an inferior Wizard/Witch which can at least bring actual damage in between support abilities in PvP settings. We’ll see what her Awakening is but it’s hard to predict really. I can see the buffing thing, but I could easily see them also see them going some other broken direction. Her lifeskill boosts are okay, but nothing that should impress veteran lifeskillers. Maybe if you didn’t have a dedicated lifeskill alt or something already but otherwise some gathering/alchemy boosts aren’t really that compelling considering you’d have to repurchase all the weight/costumes/etc you have likely already done if you’re into lifeskilling already.

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Hikari Kenzaki

One point of order, you can autopath on the donkey while lying down. Found that out the other day.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

I get the context, but saying that PA is being careful when it comes to outfit design is pretty funny. A big part of some of their character design decisions are pandering to the proclivities of people with questionable tastes in age groups they may be attracted to and it’s pretty offensive.

Hiding it behind some lore thing like, “It’s a race, they just look like this” ONLY because it would be illegal to just flat out have them be children is about as gross as it gets.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah, and the coverup for stuff like the Elin in TERA or the character Zoe in League of Legends is, “they’re actually super duper old they just look young because reasons”.

Though LoL doesn’t try to give Zoe tiny skirts and questionable physical proportions, it’s still this bizarre trend of trying to explain, “actually these characters that look young/childlike are way older than normal humans”.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, and because they are “old” they are “legal” and… it’s like the argument is an excuse for the behavior itself. :(

BraillingLogic
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BraillingLogic

They aren’t pandering to Loli lovers for no reason. The fact is Loli enthusiasts are the people who spend the most money and time into the game. People who don’t spend any money or play all day don’t matter to the developer at the end of the day. Most Asian games will make the most bank off of sexy costumes, and if that means sexualizing lolis, they will do it if they have to. Thats the only reason Tera is still making money, and why Elins are still the most played race to this day.

If you don’t like it, don’t play Asian MMOs or become a whale yourself and dictate where most of the money is made.

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Robert Mann

Yep. I mean, there’s certainly the people who just look at it as “Daw, cute!” around… but there’s a lot of very nasty people out there with regard to such things. And, even if the outfits are better, there’s still the element of taking a child rampaging around killing things. I can stand a little murder-hobo, but child murder-hobo is a little across my line of comfort.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Murdering children is disgusting.
But murdering people who LOOK like children is perfectly fine.

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Nemui Byakko

And murdering people that don’t look like children is okay? I see.

RJT30
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RJT30

So let me ask do you look at Lalafells in FF14 the same way? Do you consider them lolis or children? Or do you find if funny to make a short warrior or mage class? I’ll give you another example in FF9 the mage Vivi is created. He’s like less than a year old but, looks 10. Yet, he has no face so you ignore the fact he’s a child fighting. Zidane is like 17, Dagger was 16. and Steiner was like 30. Here you have Shai who is over 30 years old but because she is young looking and carefree she gets associated with being a child. People’s perception changes when you makes characters male or female. Suddenly they are lolis but, no one throws around the idea of shotas when it’s an underage young looking male character.

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Robert Mann

Actually, that does happen (just less commonly). It’s more recent in the… disgustingly popular? category of fetish. I’ll do my best to complain about underaged boys in games and all that is associated with it for you next time we see one! :)

As to the other points, some of them are salient when thought about. I’m pretty much in the 14+ is old enough to comprehend the right and wrong of things mindset, but that depends largely upon the maturity displayed (I’ve thought some far older characters needed to go home and have mamma whoop their butt).

The issue is that the age is a blatant excuse to have characters that appeal to the fetish all too often. It is also something which, looking at faces, I’d constantly feel like they were under that 14 mark by a fair bit… combined with body shape to make a strange uncanny age-sex issue hybrid. It’s the same with boys, generally, although usually not quite so obvious.

As to FF9, well, I lost interest in the FF series well before that tbh. I know, I’m an oddity. The question with that mage, then, given you say ‘created’ is this: Are they a construct or are they human? A construct is excusable for doing as created, a human makes that both a very odd thing and problematic in terms of age/maturity and the content of the game. So that would be a potential “Ew, nope!” moment for me too.

I hope this answered all your concerns here!