Category Archives: General Star Wars

A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Four

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Four: Original Art

Before the internet united us all and ruined everything, there was one place nerds like me could gather and share our love for super heroes, starships and space wizards: the comic book convention. As I soon as I had money to burn and means to travel on my own, I started regularly attending local comic shows downtown and soon journeyed to some of the big east coast conventions in New York City, Baltimore and Atlanta. At these conventions, I got to meet and thank many of the creators of my favorite comic books and eventually started purchasing artwork they had for sale.

And then Ebay happened. Collecting original comic art had been a niche within the already niche hobby of comic collecting, and when Ebay enabled dealers and collectors to conveniently sell directly to each other regardless of location, a flood of artwork that was initially perceived to have little value hit the market. While Star Wars art, particularly covers, splash pages or pages from the movie adaptations, was always in higher demand than other comic art, there was still plenty out there for a collector on a budget, a collector like me, to acquire. Eventually I was priced out of the market; this may not come as a surprise to learn, but there are Star Wars fans out there with seriously deep pockets. Yet I remain grateful that I was in the right place at the right time to assemble a modest collection of original comic art and illustrations from several eras of Star Wars comics and books.

Typically, artwork for comics was drawn and inked on large 11″ x 17″ or larger boards, then scaled down for publication. For me, the appeal of collecting originals is being able to appreciate in person the care and details that were lost in the reproduction onto cheap newsprint, to see the traces of rough pencils and corrections, to read notes from the penciller to the inker, comments from the editor, but mainly to thrill at owning an actual piece of a story I very much enjoyed reading in comic book form.

The artwork from my collection that I’ve displayed here is from “Duel with a Dark Lady”, issue 96 of the original Marvel series published in 1985. The issue was written by Mary Jo Duffy, penciled by Cynthia Martin and inked by Bob Wiacek, and is one of my favorite Star Wars stories in any media. These four pages depict Luke Skywalker’s first encounter with and thorough ass-kicking at the hands of Lumiya, who assumed the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith after Darth Vader’s death. Martin’s clean, anime inspired style was unusual to see in mainstream comics in the mid-80s, and Duffy and Martin did a terrific job staging the battle like something from a samurai movie or manga. As the conflict escalates, the tendrils of her crackling whip fill the panels and overwhelm Luke, withdrawing only after his defeat. Also take note of the small detail of Lumiya’s jagged cloak which flies off her at the start of the fight, then is called back to her at the end. I loved it then, I love it now.

And, look, even in this era of lightsabers on pikes, with double-blades, cross-guards and handy bottle-openers, Lumiya’s light-whip is still just freaking cool.

This Thursday: From Quarters to Cartel Coins.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Three

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Three: Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game

In 1987, you would’ve been forgiven if you thought Star Wars was over. It’d been four years since Return of the Jedi came out, and Marvel Comics’ series ended the year before. George Lucas was clearly more interested in continuing the adventures of Indiana Jones than anything in a galaxy far, far away. And, yet, the second great age of Star Wars was about to begin. That year, a small game company called West End Games released a core rulebook and sourcebook for a tabletop roleplaying game set in the Star Wars universe.

Over the next decade, West End put out dozens of sourcebooks, adventures and guides that became not only the connective tissue of what became known as the Expanded Universe, but also Star Wars’ official canon. The background of so much lore that we take for granted came not from George Lucas, but the writers at West End Games who named those tube-headed aliens “Twi’liks”, described the Millennium Falcon as a YT-1300 manufactured by the Corellian Engineering Corporation and introduced the Jedi Code as a core part of the background of the Jedi Knights. Even Aurebesh as we know it now, the official fake space language of this very blog, was a creation of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A few years later, writers Timothy Zahn and Tom Veitch would use WEG’s source material as background for their own Star Wars stories, and with the release of Heir to the Empire and Dark Empire, Star Wars roared back to life for a whole new generation of fans to discover.

And as a game, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is terrific fun. The rules are simple to learn, and the game is quick to play. All you need is a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a handful of regular six-sided dice. The better your character is at something the more dice they roll; the higher they roll, the better the result. And that’s the core rule of the game. Armed with that knowledge, new players can hit the ground running, and experienced players can pull off spectacular feats worthy of heroes from the movies.

This top five list started when a friend asked what my favorite Star Wars stories outside the movies are. As I thought about it, I realized that many of the adventures told around a table by me and my friends would be on that list: the time Thrusty, bloody, beaten and a hair’s breadth from death, absolutely would not give up the fight; the time Ket whacked Tomar upside the head with a baseball bat; the time Darth Vader cut off Aruul’s arm; and countless other dumb, wildly unauthorized, wholly non-canonical and fun stories that are as big a part of our Star Wars experience as anything in any official movie, book or comic. I still love WEG’s Star Wars RPG for being a game that allows some of my favorite people to gather ’round and tell those stories to each other.

After West End Games went out of business, first Wizards of the Coast and now Fantasy Flight Games published more Roleplaying Games based on the Star Wars license. I’ve dabbled in both, but my heart remains with the old West End Games RPG. Over the years, I’ve gotten to interact and occasionally meet some of the people who designed the game, and I’ll always be thankful for their work. Growing up I loved reading comics and throwing action figures at each other, but the Star Wars RPG is something I could play and share with friends. And that simply cannot be beat.

Next week: “Then just say it: You’re a tracer!”

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Two

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Two: Action Figures

Growing up, pretty much every single boy (and some of the girls) I knew played with Star Wars toys, and I was no exception, eventually assembling a small army of dozens of miniature heroes, villains, robots and aliens from the original trilogy. Reinforced with assorted Adventure People, Micronauts and G.I.Joes, I staged many epic battles far beyond anything George Lucas would ever conceive or much less approve of.

My favorite Kenner Star Wars figure was Bespin Luke, but Darth Vader was my first and the character I have the most versions of today. All that remains of that original Vader is his head; it is likely that his body was lost to over-eager play or forgotten by me and consumed by my mother’s vacuum cleaner. A tragic outcome in either event.

Even Vader’s replacement has long since lost his lightsaber and stylish vinyl cape/vest. Both as a child and an adult, I had no interest in preserving my figures for future sale or display. I’m what collectors call an “opener.” I’ve never had a figure that I didn’t eagerly free from their clear plastic and cardboard prison. I always have one or two on my desk at any given time. My current figures see the bulk of their action during loading screens or on patch days.

These days I suspect more Star Wars toys are bought by adults than children, and I still indulge in Star Wars figures from time to time. Currently, the figures I buy are mainly from Hasbro’s Black Series line of six inch figures. Selling for at least $20 each, however, these guys are not cheap, so I try to be judicious in my purchases. However, this can be a tough line to hold whenever a new movie is about to come out.

Aside from the cost, the figures can sometimes be a challenge to even buy. Long gone are the days when I could walk into any toy store and find any Star Wars figure I wanted. Today’s figures are produced in limited numbers, and distribution to even large retailers can be spotty. You’re unlikely to find a popular character like the recently released Mandalorian at your local Target or Walmart, so you’ll need to be prepared to hunt various online sources if you want to pay a reasonable price. On the other hand, other figures derided as “pegwarmers” can easily found even a year or so after their release. To be honest, I’m not always sure which figures will be hard to find and which I’ll see marked down for clearance later.

The latest generation of action figures have far greater articulation and attention to detail than anything I would have dreamed possible back in the day. Within the last year or so, Hasbro has begun using “face printing” in which paint details are applied to a figure digitally. The result is that these toys can often have uncanny likenesses to their real life counterparts. If you’ve ever wanted a miniature Mark Hamill for your desk or shelf, it’s a great time to be alive!

Am I too old to be playing with toys? Yeah, probably. But putting Darth Vader into a menacing pose and setting him up against Han Solo as he draws his blaster has never stopped being a satisfying waste of time.

Next week: Dice not included.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part One

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

As I assembled this list, I quickly realized that there was no way I could keep it to a single post and give everything the space it deserved, so I’ll be presenting a new item from this list each week until the debut of the movie on December 20.

Part One: Comic Books

Back in 1977, my first exposure to Star Wars came not from the movie, but from Marvel Comics’ 6 issue adaptation of the film that concluded before I even got to see it in a theatre. This in no way spoiled the experience for me; from the opening minutes, I was still blown away by what I saw on the screen.

However, in many ways, the comics informed my overall conception of Star Wars. In the movie, the lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi is not terribly exciting, but if there is one thing comics know how to stage, it’s a fight scene. The comics’ version of the confrontation does a superior job conveying the epic duel between the old master and corrupted apprentice. Indeed, the moment of Ben’s death as portrayed in the comic is particularly macabre.

Marvel produced well over a hundred issues of Star Wars comics starting three months before A New Hope was released and continuing three years after Return of the Jedi. They are very much of their time, steeped in the styles and tropes of 1970s and 1980’s comics, but the two or three quarters I spent each month to follow the continuing adventures of the “Star Warriors” absolutely made the wait between movies easier to take. Forgotten heroes like Dani and Kiro and Plif the Hoojib and villains like Valance, Lumiya and the Nagai loom nearly as large in my memories of the early days of a galaxy far, far away as Luke, Leia, Han and Vader.

In the 1990’s, starting with the terrific Dark Empire series, Dark Horse Comics continued the licensed comic line and expanded the universe with a whole host of new stories. Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics were the first to visit the Old Republic setting and touched every era of the saga’s past and future. Currently Marvel, which like Lucasfilm is owned by Disney is again producing diverse line of comics which feature our favorite heroes from the movies but have added popular new characters like Dr. Aphra and also revisited some old and infamous favorites from the early days of Marvel’s original Star Wars series.

Over the years, countless Star Wars stories have been told, but I think the best of the comics, with their emphasis on impossible visuals and larger than life action in bite sized chunks, come the closest to recapturing the magic of watching the films. When I think of Star Wars, I’ll never forget sitting in a dark theater watching movies I love, but I also recall afternoons sprawled out on the rug of my parent’s living room floor, eagerly turning the pages of the latest four color classic.

Next week: Your plastic pals who are fun to be with!

 

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Cracking the Jedi Code

Today, “This Week in Aurebesh” celebrates a somewhat surprising third anniversary! I’d like to sincerely thank anyone who has taken time to stop by and check out this silly little corner of Star Wars fandom.

To celebrate the milestone, I’ve translated some writing from Star Wars: The Old Republic that is not in Aurebesh, but still figures prominently in the latest story arc and exploration area of the ancient runes near Ood Bnar’s datacron on the planet Ossus.

When Ossus was released last year, I took a half-hearted stab at translating the runes on my own. I assumed, correctly as it turned out, that the glowing letters probably referred to keywords from the Jedi Code. However, I was stymied by the fact that the words to which the letters refer are not in the same order as they appear in the code; additionally the lines of the code were also out of order on the wall in the initial release of Ossus, making translation even trickier. Later, when the Galaxy’s Edge theme park was opened at Disney World this summer, a translation key for the runes was discovered in merchandise available to visitors.

With this new information and a game update that restored the inscription to its proper order, I was finally able to easily decipher the runes. The inscription clearly refers to important parts of the Jedi Code, but which Jedi Code?

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.

The version above is the Jedi Code most familiar to Star Wars fans, but according to Star Wars lore, the code’s first version was rather less absolute.

Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.

I believe the Ossus inscription is meant to evoke the earlier version of the code since it does not include the negation of emotion, ignorance, passion, etc. Given the age of the ruins of Ossus, this strikes me as an appropriate choice.

Regarding for the language itself, I am not aware of any official name for this alphabet. As with other constructed languages, including SWTOR’s own Zakuulan, it derives from Norse runes. Furthermore, like so many other iconic images in Star Wars, the specific inspiration for this alphabet comes from the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie who included runic inscriptions on a painting of the interior of the temples on Yavin IV in the 1995 book The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. These glyphs would again appear as inscriptions inside the ancient Jedi ruins on Lothal and in the “World between Worlds” in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels. From there, examples of the writing can also be found in promotional material for the upcoming Jedi: Fallen Order video game and in Disney’s Galaxy Edge theme parks.

Most of examples of this writing seen on Rebels and elsewhere cannot be translated into English, but the Ossus inscriptions can, and they function as clever bits of world building that evoke both the spirit and the history of the Jedi and the ancient world of Ossus. A character’s discovery of these runes is only the first step in a journey across Ossus that I highly recommend that every SWTOR player take!

 

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Dantooine, We’re on Dantooine

Before June closes out, I thought I’d slip in under the wire and share some quick thoughts on this summer’s two in-game events.

Dantooine’s Pirate Incursion is the first new recurring event added to the game in many years, and I’d say it’s a solid addition. Like the other events, it’s light on story, but what it lacks in narrative, it makes up in setting. I write this every time we visit a new planet in SWTOR, but Dantooine is another distinct and beautiful world to explore. Don’t ever take for granted the wonderful work the game’s environmental artists and designers do.

The events quests can be neatly divided in two: regular dailies and heroics. The circuit for the dailies will smoothly lead you around the zone, and there is a decent variety of quests which mix combat with exploration. As someone who likes to stop and admire the view and venture off the path for crafting materials, I can still complete the daily patrol quest in under 30 minutes of casual play. I also really enjoy any quest that has me playing as a mouse droid. I can’t explain it.

If you have some patience, skill and gear, the heroics can be soloed, but, really, why would you? Group up with one or more players and they become much quicker and more fun. They can be combat heavy, so be ready to fight.

The weekly meta quest on Dantooine asks players to complete more quests and heroics than are available in a single day, meaning that if you want to complete the weekly, you must visit Dantooine more than once in a week. This is something we’ve seen on Iokath and Ossus. While I cynically understand this is meant to push player engagement in the game, I don’t mind it so much for regular dailies, but for an event I find it annoying. I often use events as an excuse to dust my alts and get them some action with a bite sized time commitment. Combined with the fact that the event currency, unlike all the other event currencies in the game, is character and not legacy based, I essentially feel compelled to run the event on my main characters.

If I have to run the same quests on the same characters every time the event comes around, I can see the Pirate Incursion growing stale, perhaps faster than other events.

Dantooine also has a variety of achievements, some of which can be more easily completed in peacetime than when the actual event is active. Dantooine’s peacetime state is a neat addition to the game. Unlike the testing area on Ilum which is empty when the Gree event is not active or the tunnels which are not accessible at all outside of the Rakghoul Resurgance, players can visit Dantooine any time they want. There are a pair of simple quests to complete and a few scattered hostile mobs, but for the most part, you’ll just encounter farmers going about their day.

Since the advent of level sync, it’s become less possible to visit a planet in more or less complete safety. Sure, there’s no real need to visit Dantooine outside the event, but if you have time to kill, it might be a pleasant alternative to running laps around fleet or jumping on the furniture in your stronghold. One of my fond memories of World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade expansion was when I would just chill out on one of Nagrand’s floating islands and simply enjoy the view. If you’re wondering where to find me while waiting for an operations team to form or a flashpoint queue to pop, look for me relaxing under a tree on Dantooine.

For many players, the meat of these events is the rewards. In that regards, I’d call the Pirate Incursion a mixed bag. The highlights include Quick Vrik, the Ugnaught companion, the Kath Hound mount and pet and an extensive selection of Dantooine themed decorations, but there is nothing I’d really consider a “must have”. I would generously describe the reputation armor sets as “basic” and might be annoyed that they are Bind on Pickup instead of Bind to Legacy, but I can’t see any reason why I’d ever want to buy them anyway. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t dust off the pirate themed armor from Shadow of Revan’s Rishi questline with some bold colors and fancy effects.

Outside of the Cartel Market, there hasn’t been a new crafted or reputation based dye or color crystal added to the game since Knights of the Eternal Throne’s launch, and I wish the Pirate Incursion had given crafters some new fun stuff to make while we wait for Onslaught.

Lady Luck, Please Let the Dice Stay Hot

The Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event has made its yearly return to the Smuggler’s Moon. I don’t really have anything new to add to my previous review of the event. I’m very happy with the new decorations that can be purchased with Golden Certificates, but I was able to buy all I needed with certificates won last year. I’m indifferent to the new companion and without adding a new armor set or mount to the vendor, there really isn’t anything I feel a burning desire to to save up for, so I may not be spending much time clicking slot machines this year.

I don’t doubt that the reason the Dantooine and Nightlife rewards seem sparse is that Bioware’s focus is on Onslaught in the fall, but right now I wish there were more incentives for me to really care about these events.

I will be back later this week with some more Aurebesh. What can I say? It’s summertime! I get distracted when the weather gets nice.

 

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Let the Wookiee Win

Some years ago, I had a brief encounter with Peter Mayhew at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. While waiting for a table at a restaurant near the convention, I noticed someone very, very tall in front of me but didn’t recognize who it was. As he walked away, I saw a distinctive gait and muttered, “Ha! That guy walks just like Chewbacca.” Mayhew turned and cracked a friendly smile, and I was rather embarrassed when I realized it really was him.

It’d be easy to suggest that he was just a big guy dressed as a shag carpet, but I’m quite certain that had someone other than Peter Mayhew been cast, Chewie wouldn’t not have been as beloved and iconic a character. Maybe it was the way he cocked his head or his soulful blue eyes, but Mayhew did more than just wear a costume, he brought a legend to life.

Artwork by Ron Frenz and Tom Palmer, from Marvel Comics’ Star Wars issue 72, 1983.

 

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Station!

My choice of this sign for recreation was mainly inspired by news that a third Bill and Ted movie would at long last be coming out in the not too distant future. This sign’s only complete word “station” probably indicates a nearby Rocket Tram Station on the planet Corellia and is not a reference to martians with excellently huge butts. Probably.

The sign’s basic design is similar to others in the game, contains one readable word, three seemingly random letter and three seemingly random numbers. But how random are they? If there is one thing I’ve learned working on this blog is that things are often not as simple as they seem.

The top and bottom letters are translated easily, but there is something going on in the middle of the poster. At first glance the large letter in the center seems to be Dorn, the Aurebesh letter for D, but the artist’s choice to slice through the second horizontal bar changes the letter shape into Resh, the Aurebesh R. This suggests to me the intent to combine the two shapes into a single unique glyph. In my recreation I attempted a similar effect by slicing off the lower legs of the R to create a shape that evokes both D and R.

Could the Z, DR (Doctor) and O refer to some of the founders of Bioware? It seems plausible to me. But stare long enough at any random arrangement and patterns will emerge.

Moving on, the numbers 327 on the sign are fairly common throughout Star Wars lore. I’m sure numerologists could have a field day with George Lucas’ recurring use of numbers. 1138 is the most famous of his favorites, but it’s far from the only one. 327 appears in American Graffiti, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back. As for what it means, your guess is as good as mine, but 327 is apparently a “perfect totient number.” Even after researching that term, I still don’t have the slightest clue what it is, but 327 was also the street address of the house I grew up in as a child.

So, Illuminati confirmed.

 

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And We’re in Bloom

And we’re back! I apologize for the longer than usual gap in posts. One thing that has occupied my attention lately has been the pursuit of Conquest points. As a member of a small guild with Republic and Sith sister guilds to feed, Conquest and the guild leveling that comes with it can be something of a time sink.

For characters who have completed the Ossus story, additional Conquest objectives are available related to deploying or destroying probe droids outside Republic and Imperial outposts around the galaxy. While zapping probes near the starport on Corellia, I spotted a sign I had not noticed in all my years of playing. However the bright glow emanating from the text made the sign extremely difficult to read.

There is a quick solution to this particular challenge. Disabling Bloom in the graphic settings makes the game world significantly less vibrant, but the sign much easier to read. After some more exploration I located a second example of the sign and was able to snap a clear screenshot for recreation.

At first glance, there isn’t much going on, but upon examination, there are several things worth noting. First, the sign is like many others on Corellia that refer to manufacturers of starships and podracers. “Ord Pedrovia” is a popular make of racer that first appeared during the Boonta Eve Classic in The Phantom Menace and is not, as I first thought, the name of a planet, which is the usual case when the forename Ord appears in Star Wars lore.

The glyph at the right edge of the graphic looks to my eyes to be a stylized English O and P logo, and I can imagine it splashed on the hood of the Ord Pedrovia’s podracer cockpit.

The letter on the left of the sign is not Aurebesh. I’m certain that it is, in fact, a Futhork “G” which has been disassembled somewhat for the graphic. The result is that translation turns the large word from “Ord” into “Gord.” There are many signs around the galaxy which when translated are seemingly random letters and numbers. I suspect some of these contain in-jokes or use the initials of members of SWTOR’s development team. I’m not in a position to know for sure, but in this case I think I can hazard a guess that this sign pays tribute to Gordon Walton who helped found Bioware Austin. Or perhaps it could be a reference to the late Gord Downie, lead singer of beloved Canadian rock band, the Tragically Hip. Or maybe hockey great Gordie Howe. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence.

Star Wars Celebration Community Cantina

Star Wars Celebration is just weeks away, and I’m sure I’m not alone in eagerly awaiting news of SWTOR’s future. Bioware has been extra coy this year, but we’re all expecting to hear about the game’s next expansion at the Community Cantina event in Chicago.

Sadly, I can’t make it this year, but if you’re in Chicago for Celebration or find yourself in the area, I highly recommend attending the event. I’ve been to a previous Cantina, and it is genuinely fun to meet the people who make the game, the people who play the game, have a drink and score some swag.

Somewhat remarkably, the official Star Wars website even included shout out to SWTOR in the lead-up to Celebration.

I sometimes think SWTOR is the red-headed stepchild of the Star Wars family. People are constantly posting in the r/swtor sub-reddit that they are shocked to learn that not only is SWTOR not dead, it also has a good population of players who truly enjoy the game. Even Bioware’s own Casey Hudson seemed surprised by the enduring popularity of SWTOR.

And yet SWTOR can’t seem to get much cross-promotional love from the Star Wars brand juggernaut. Last year I bought Chronicle Book’s Women of the Galaxy, an absolutely charming book featuring the stories of dozens of female characters from across Star Wars lore. As I read it, however, I was amazed by the inclusion of some rather obscure characters that came off as filler to me. I was disappointed that despite drawing from a wide array of Star Wars media, novels, comics, cartoons and even other video games, no one from SWTOR made the cut. Call me a homer, but I really do believe Lana or Vaylin or Kira or Vette are far more interesting and dynamic and worthy of coverage than some of those non-speaking background characters who barely rated seconds of screen time.

SWTOR had a fair amount of cross promotion at launch, but I do hope EA and Lucasfilm give the game another push with the next expansion. I’m no expert; I don’t know how to convince Marvel to publish a Theron Shan comic, Hasbro to make a Jakarro action figure (with C2-D4 head-butting action!) and Fantasy Flight Games to include the Gravestone in one of their miniatures games. Indeed, it’s fair to ask if any of that even would be viable or profitable endeavors, but a blogger can dream, right?

April can’t come soon enough!

 

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Star Wars: Resistance First Impressions

I really want to like Star Wars: Resistance more than I do. It has a lot going for it. The vehicle designs are terrific, the characters are bright and fun and distinct from most of what we usually see in Star Wars. And it was created by Dave Filoni who, I’d argue, channels George Lucas’ vision of Star Wars better than anyone else. I thought The Clone Wars was uneven, but at its best it was as thrilling as any non-movie take on Star Wars as we’ve seen. And I just loved Rebels for its characters, style and heart.

But after three episodes, Resistance just isn’t doing it for me. Like Filoni’s previous shows, it focuses on a young hero’s journey, which is something we’ve seen before both inside and outside of Star Wars lore. So far, the focus has firmly been on Kazuda, and the characters around him remain one-note cyphers. In the first episode, Kaz is introduced in a fairly tepid scene meant to establish him as heroic and likeable, but ever since we’ve only seen him as an arrogant, lazy, entitled, self-absorbed, clueless twerp. How hard up for help must the Resistance be that Kaz is the guy selected for a secret mission, heck, any mission?

Sure, I get it; this is just the starting point for the character. The Clone Wars and Rebels grew up around their main heroes, and I imagine Resistance will do so as well. But The Clone Wars was as much about Rex and the Clone Troopers’ struggle to find their identities, and Rebels explored a time period largely unseen in Star Wars lore. Ahsoka turned out to be the bright center of The Clone Wars and the point-of-view character the prequel era desperately needed. Rebels’ family unit was immediately engaging, and I cared about every single member of the Ghost’s crew. But while I wait for Kaz to grow up into someone worth rooting for, there has been little else in Resistance to hold my attention.

In addition, the stakes are incredibly low. It’s Star Wars without the wars. The First Order is lurking in the shadows, but for now it feels more like American Graffiti in space; just a bunch of kids cruising around in spaceships and getting into trouble. Yeah, that’s how Luke started off, but ninety minutes into Star Wars, he was well on his heroic journey; three episodes in and Kaz still has to be nagged to do his chores and eat his vegetables.

Mainly I think Resistance is not meant for an old fogey like me. Even more than its predecessors, it’s a kid’s show. That’s fine. I’m pretty sure 10 year old me would love Resistance. The bold colors! The super-cool spaceship races! The Miyazaki-esque aliens! The further adventures of BB-8! Even grown up me can see the appeal. Perhaps I’ll have to wait for Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian for a new Star Wars show to catch my fancy.

One thing the show is not lacking is Aurebesh and I’d be remiss if I did not include a quick translation. While I don’t know much at all the about character, Torra Doza is already a favorite  because I quite like how her flight suit and ship have borrowed the color scheme of Steve McQueen’s Porsche from the 1971 movie Le Mans. This display of her racing stats from the first episode shows that she is a pilot to be reckoned with. Hopefully she’ll become something more than just a background character or a sassy foil for Kaz’s journey to adulthood.

 

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