21 March 2009

The problem with Star Wars...

Well, one problem at least. There is no change... actually that's incorrect: in fact there is negative change in the Star Wars universe. The original movies provided the fiction that had a certain style which reflected then-current thoughts on futuristic technology and cuture and the games that these movies inspired, from X-Wing to Jedi Knight, incorporated these design elements and continued them forward.
Then the new movies came along and royally fucked up the franchise - not just by being pretty poor in every respect (turns out Zebedee played the part of Yoda) but also because they re-wrote the styles and technologies of a universe that was set 20 or so years before the original films. Unfortunately this creep of what i want to call 'futurising' (though Futurition is the only word that comes close) has spread to the games as well... Kotor (1&2) and now the Old Republic MMO all feature pretty high-tech stuff.

I suppose that it's more a facet of having a franchise that spans almost 4 four decades than any particularly narrow-sighted vision of the Star Wars universe but i hate it so much. Now, i'm not greatly entrenched in the Star Wars universe but i'm pretty sure there was no galactic equivalent of the Dark Ages so there was no major loss of technology and culture, so why the hell are robots as good 4000 years before as they are in the 'present' of the movies? Unless there's some sort of technological limit that's been reached it makes no sense that there's all this cool stuff even one thousand years before the present let alone 4,000...

What this results in, for me, is an uninteresting universe where little is different at any point in time that the owners are likely to exploit in game, comic or movie form. They are too afraid to try something new in the franchise because then people might not recognise the fact that it's Tatooine or the bounty hunter class etc. I mean, mandalorian armour? Yeah, for the mandalorians that's fine but apparently Boba Fett was wearing pretty ancient armour because the Mandalorians were almost wiped out as a race in the Old Republic.

Just for once i'd like to see some innovation in the setting. For example, off the top of my head
  • Tatooine isn't colonised yet - no Settlements, it's just a desert planet... OR it's actually a lush, jungle planet and its sun is pretty weak but is showing signs that its intensity is increased OR there's an evil plot to throw a huge asteroid around the solar system which makes Tatooine's orbit adjust so that it's closer to the sun(s) and thus results in its desertification.
  • Light Sabres are unreliable (vibroblades are better) and usually only work for a limited time before they overheat or overload or something.... which adds a tactical element to their use by jedi to offset their powerfulness.
  • Ships are more awkward and slower.... they do not have hyperspace yet, or at least not the version of the drives we are familiar with in the 'modern' setting (maybe no streaks of light)
  • Blasters do not exist - there are only projectile weapons.... similarly with energy forcefields (or they have a similar feature to light sabres in that they're unreliable)
  • Droids do not exist in the sense that we know them - they are boxes with tracks or wheels and their appendages are stiff. Their personalities are undeveloped and unhuman-like. Protocol/translator droids are used but there are no complex combat droids and only very simple, possibly mostly remote controlled combat/repair droids.... which could be a character class (i.e. like being a pokemon trainer or whatever anime floats your boat)
That's just me and in the space of 1o minutes... what could a dev house full of dreamers, writers and creators come up with? Oh, that's right... i forgot that the 'house that Lucas built' is committed to running the franchise into an unimaginative grave.

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