With Star Wars: Rogue One, director Gareth Edwards has already said he’s aiming to release a darker, grittier tale in a galaxy far, far away. Not only does that mean a more visceral approach to the violence and action we see onscreen, but how the characters are portrayed, including more realistic-looking aliens.

According to Neal Scanlan, who worked on the creatures for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One, the aliens we see in the spinoff movie will be more emotive, and act as foreground characters rather than simply filling in the background as extras.

“Working with Gareth now on ‘Rogue One,’ he sees these aliens as being much more part of the human [world],” Scanlan said. “They co-habitate, they work together and so it’s pushed us very much to create characters that are more realistic.”

Scanlan adds that these alien characters will be a closer part of the storytelling, playing a part in the main group’s mission to steal the Death Star plans. Scanlan doesn’t directly mention Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s a pretty good example of alien characters being part of the human world. (Or, more accurately, it’s an example of a human (Star-Lord) being part of an alien world.)

In The Force Awakens, there were a few aliens that were emotive, including Unkar Plutt and Maz Kanata, but otherwise the creatures were relegated as background scenery. Expect that to change when Rogue One hits.

We still know very little about Rogue One, but we’re now officially less than a year away from the film’s Dec. 16, 2016 release.