Thursday, January 11, 2018

The War for the Galaxy

I have a confession to make.  Despite seeing every single Star Wars movie in a theater I've never been much of a fan.  That might sound kind of weird and contradictory, but the reason is actually pretty straight forward.  I don't particularly like any of the plotlines or characters in Star Wars, but I really enjoy the production design; speeders, walkers, star destroyers, costumes, locals, alien critters, blasters, name it.  I think they're all incredibly cool looking (and sounding).  As you can probably surmise this also influences my tastes when it comes to Star Wars video games.  Simply put the games that focus on vehicles and gear are what I like the most, the arcade style action movie tie-in games for the Atari 2600 as well as the space flight-sims X-Wing and Tie Fighter.

Obviously, story drive Star Wars games have always held very little appeal to me (sorry...I couldn't care less about Knights of the Old Republic).  I'm also perpetually annoyed that there's never been a game that can emulate the cutting power of the lightsabers as depicted in the the film.  In fact the closest I've ever seen a game get is the totally unrelated Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  When it comes to Jedi themselves, I've always wondered what they do to safeguard peace and justice outside of combat.  Being able to sense the feelings and thoughts of others sounds like it would come in pretty handy during diplomatic negotiations...not to mention mind control.  How about this?

  • A Jedi Detective game in the style of L.A. Noire

Here's a few other ideas I've had recently:

  • A turn-based space combat game like Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock
  • An RTS set on Tatooine akin to Dune II or Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
  • A Coruscant city builder similar to City Skylines or the Anno series
  • A puzzle-platformer wherein you are a baby dianoga hitching rides on starships

None of these pitches are terribly original, but when you look at what EA has done with the license thus far all we've gotten is in 2017 is a bland online multiplayer shooter which feels especially superfluous considering we already have Overwatch, Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.  This is an entire galaxy we're talking about in Star Wars, right?  I doesn't always have to be about the Rebels, the Empire and the Skywalker bloodline.

Sadly, most designers don't really see it that way.  There's this perception that Star Wars will be rejected by fans if it isn't sufficiently similar to the original trilogy (episodes IV, V and VI).  The problem I have with that line of thought is what constitutes a Star Wars experience tends to be an all-to-vague collection of narrative themes, character archetypes and visual setpieces.  I get it, but it's sort of like insisting that all anime must be about cute big-eyed girls and angsty boys that yell a lot.  It doesn't have to be that way...and yet the overwhelming majority of the time it is.  I wish Star Wars video games would be willing to distance themselves creatively rather than being a poor-man's copy of the plots from the films - complete with cameos by all your favorite characters...*sigh*

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