Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Life in Fandom: Star Wars, Blur, and the SWTOR We Should've Had

So, there's a new thing for Star Wars: The Old Republic coming, building on Knights of the Fallen Empire: Knights of the Eternal Throne. Of course this means a new Blur trailer to push it, and damn if it does not top the trailer for Fallen Empire. Just watch.

If only the game was as good as the trailers. I'd be all over it if it weren't another hotkey based themepark MMORPG with some rail shooter minigames on the side. But complaining about the game is not what I'm about here.

What I want to call your attention to, again, is just how good Blur is at nailing what Star Wars is about. They get it better than Lucas does, and their trailers for this game are consistently better than the Prequels, the tie-in TV series, and now better than the new films. (Yes, I am already calling these being better than Episode 7 and Rogue One; they do far more, far better, with far less and far greater impact.) In addition to displaying superior comprehension of visual storytelling techniques, they also comprehend something else better than Lucas and his successors: Star Wars is meant to be superversive pulp fiction.

Go watch ALL of the trailers again, especially in narrative order. The first thing that disappears are the characters speaking. After the first one, where the Sith Empire retake Korriban, that's gone. Voiceover takes prominence, and character is instead shown in doing over saying. Villains are evil. Heroes are virtuous. Rogues show their character when pressed, revealing their good or evil natures. With a fraction of the time, budget, and personnel Blur makes better Star Wars than anyone else to date.

And that Star Wars? Not one with Disney Jedi Princesses, flubbed sand analogies, mood-destroying comic relief moments (and characters), out of place diners, extraneous characters, and cowardly businessmen interfering in the process. Blur gets it, and all you folks into the Pulp Revolution and the Superversive Movement would be wise to take note of Blur. You do have fellow travelers out there; find and connect with them.

As for SWTOR, it is an EA thing and so hold no hope for it. But imagine, if you will, a future where someone finally decides that wasting time and money copying WOW (which SWTOR does) is stupid and stops doing it in favor of something else. Hell if I know what that will be, but it won't be another hotkey themepark MMORPG, and what we had before with Star Wars Galaxies ain't coming back.

Imagine, therefore, something entirely different. You're still controlling one character, and you're still in a massively-multiplayer environment, but that's about all I can guarantee will be in place. First person is on the table. VR is on the table. Sandbox is on the table. Procedurally-generated content is on the table. Rogue-like is on the table. You see what I'm on about.

Oh, and it won't be called a MMORPG. WOW owns that mindspace now, so a new term will arise for whatever I'm imagining. Once potato PCs are beefy enough to make stuff like this trailer easily handled as in-game footage on average settings this becomes more than idle wishing and hoping. (Instead, the legal issues will fuck it over.)

But one thing's certain: SWTOR shows us a viable Star Wars where the Jedi/Sith dichotomy is broken, and thus we can talk about the Force with a new and superior degree of nuance that otherwise is not present. (This is also my only hope for the new trilogy, but I have little faith that Disney will allow it.) Star Wars is popular pulp science fiction, and as such deserves better than it gets right now at the hands of incompetents and SJWs.

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