Daily Elysium: Closure - LucasArts Style
Listen, baby. You and me, we had some good times. It was a good run, and you showed me the world. Hell, you showed me several worlds, and baby, they were beautiful, but you know things change. IÃ‚'ve changed, and I donÃ‚'t know maybe youÃ‚'ve changed a little. Yeah, you got curves, baby, and thatÃ‚'ll keep the masses looking at you, touching you, loving you. But, thatÃ‚'s the problem. I mean you float that package out there, and it just screams to be caressed, to be lovingly explored, but, and donÃ‚'t take this the wrong way, itÃ‚'s just window dressing. Know what I mean? YouÃ‚'re all show, and no depth. Baby, itÃ‚'s not you. ItÃ‚'s me. I need something more, something deeper --- more meaningful. LetÃ‚'s just part ways now, nice and clean like, and keep our fond memories of my getting into your pants. And by 'getting into', I mean crafting ...
Oh, so you saw us? Yeah, sure, I was playing a little Knights of the Old Republic. What of it? We never said we were exclusive. You know, I still see Everquest every now and again - you know what they say about your first love - and sure sheÃ‚'s looking a little pointy, but sheÃ‚'s got experience, and when you make her Ding! ... heaven. And, you ... you! YouÃ‚'ve been seeing, what 250,000 other people, so donÃ‚'t rag on me about an innocent tryst with KOTOR. Oh, that? ItÃ‚'s just my little name for her. What? What did I say! Don't be hatin'!Galaxies, wait. DonÃ‚'t be like that. We still have our memories....
... or so it might go if games were sentient, self-aware, and jealous lovers. Which, I hasten to point out, theyÃ‚'re not.
So, my infatuation with Galaxies appears to be waning, which honestly isnÃ‚'t an indictment of the game. ItÃ‚'s a natural cycle for me. I donÃ‚'t usually hang on to games for very long, just donÃ‚'t have the time to put all my gaming eggs in one basket. I guess it works out pretty well. When it comes to people, IÃ‚'m faithful, monogamous (which keeps me from dying a slow, horribly creative death), and reliable. But, when it comes to gaming, IÃ‚'m a slut.
-- I appear to be getting off track. I really wanted to say something about why Knights of the Old Republic is a superior Star Wars game to Galaxies. ThereÃ‚'s no elegant way to segue from a slut self-proclamation to a solid dissertation on the subtle art of storytelling in developing video games, so weÃ‚'re just going to have to do it the hard way. Which is to say in a very contrived way.--
You know who else was a slut? Hester Prynne of Nathaniel HawthorneÃ‚'s The Scarlet Letter. Trampy little harlot with her reverend fetish! And despite that, the Scarlet Letter is considered a triumph of fiction, and why? Because it is about weakness versus strength, temptation, a fall, and redemption. It is, at its core, a narrative of our most basic humanity. (You should think of this segue as a speedbump in the article)
What just floors me about Knights of the Old Republic, one of the things that makes it not only a great Star Wars game, but a fantastic game in its own right, is that it encompasses fundamental struggles of humanity. The kind of stuff thatÃ‚'s been hanging out in literature, theater, and philosophy for pretty much as long as weÃ‚'ve bothered with such things. And it does it through the modern mythological focus, Star Wars.
Now, I donÃ‚'t want to hyper-exaggerate the probably unintentional genius of Star Wars, because when you get right down to it, the films are only a hair's width away from average B-fiction. And yet the franchise lives on because it is, on its deepest - possibly imagined - levels, about the struggle of temptation versus restraint: the struggle of denying our own darkest impulses, even when those impulses manifest in the guise of good. The Jedi is the perfect human, and thus most dramatic and allegorical in his fall. The Jedi are metaphors for the struggles of our own not quite so galactic daily lives, and pose the question: when weÃ‚'ve fallen to the Ã‚"˜dark sideÃ‚', can there be redemption?
What is Star Wars (and by Star Wars I mean only the original trilogy) but the story of Anakin SkywalkerÃ‚'s redemption as explored through a path of temptation?
Again, I only elevate the movies to this level of extrapolation because I want to make a point about gaming, not because I think Star Wars is some pinnacle of storytelling, because - and let me be clear - IÃ‚'m pretty sure that any deeper meaning George Lucas threw in was entirely by accident.
Ever wonder what Star Wars would be without all that accidental depth to hold it together? Well, rush out and buy Galaxies for the answer. The hundredth time you trot through Bestine, Tatooine 44395 looking for someone to train you up to Advanced Landspeeder Waxing, and think maybe IÃ‚'ll pick up a mission, with all the zeal of deciding to purchase a Happy Meal, you realize the reason you loved Star Wars is not because it takes place on a desert planet. It, in fact, has very little to do with the sound a blaster makes when itÃ‚'s fired, or what a Krayt Dragon looks like real close up, or even whether you ever have a force sensitive character. ThatÃ‚'s not to say those arenÃ‚'t fine excuses to keep playing the game, as long as itÃ‚'s keeping you engaged, but that thereÃ‚'s a good reason many people have said Galaxies doesnÃ‚'t Ã‚"˜feel likeÃ‚' Star Wars. The reason is that Star Wars is a dichotomy of parallel levels of good versus evil; that between characters and that within all characters over time, and such simply can not be replicated as a MMORPG.
I suppose I have Knights of the Old Republic to thank for my epiphany. Once I Ã‚"˜feltÃ‚' what it was like to play in that universe within those epic conflicts again, I saw why a Rodian crafting Wookie pants is just not enough on its own to qualify as a Star Wars title, no matter how many times you paste the franchise name on the box, or how many Imperial Stormtroopers walk past.
IÃ‚'ve been on something of a Star Wars kick, lately, and I think itÃ‚'s coming to a close as my time with KOTOR dims to a cool twilight like the last of Tatooine's suns dipping below the dunes. I still have to write my Galaxies review, and IÃ‚'m sure IÃ‚'ll have some final thoughts on KOTOR, but the total soul consumption I sought from Galaxies, was only to be found in Knights instead. Maybe it was perfect timing, a heavy dose of just what I wanted, just when I needed it most, but I canÃ‚'t return to my Rodian tailor with any sense of accomplishment now. Not when I know how vapid the world he lives in is. Until there are fallen heroes striving for redemption, and an epic story of self-exploration, of struggle, and of despair mitigated only by faith in the power of oneÃ‚'s self as this Rodian tailor is called to save the galaxy, then Galaxies just wonÃ‚'t be Star Wars enough for me.
And, as for thickly written opinions on the cultural value of Star Wars ... I think I can move on now.