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Star Wars Writing Fallacies

I recently replayed Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast looking for inspiration in coming up with adventures, and some things struck me about it that I want to make note of for coming up with my own adventures. These are things which are either overdone, or just seem to be assumed without putting any thought into them, which I don't want to do.

  • Being a dark-sider doesn't automatically grant you high rank in the Empire. Jerec in JK was one of Vader's acolytes, so it makes sense that he should have it. But Desann was a failed Jedi, why should he suddenly have Imperial forces at his beck and call? And heck, Tavion was his disgraced apprentice, why should she have a Star Destroyer in Jedi Academy? Best in-game answer I can come up with is the agreement between Desann and Admiral Feyar. Still -- having a bunch of Dark Side Points doesn't inherently make you an Imperial governor.


  • Why is the switch for an ordinary door three levels up in the middle of a forty-foot catwalk over a pool of acid? At least when Obi-Wan was deactivating the Death Star tractor beam, he was using a little-used maintenance panel (and one of seven, at that) so it wouldn't be easy to find the problem and just turn it back on again. It's not so much of a problem in a RPG context, and I realize that it's something of an artifact of the computer game format. It's still something that jumps out at me.


  • Since the switch is three levels up over acid etc., why can't I just cut through the door with my lightsaber? It's a good question. Lightsabers undo Gordian Knots very well. Expect Jedi characters particularly, when confronted with an obstacle, to cut a hole through it and keep going.


  • Power-Ups = No. KOTOR was particularly bad about this, with Adrenal Stims, Biofeedback Enhancer Packages, Random Bonus Geegaw Gloves, and who-knows-what-else occupying body slots like magic items in D&D. Mind you, there is actually precedent in the Star Wars universe for loading yourself up with random gadgetry -- talk to Jango Fett for details -- but it's the schtick of a particular character, not basic survival strategy for everybody.


  • Everybody is there to be killed, except the people you can't kill. What? In the Kyle Katarn games, pretty much everybody is there to be killed except for the droids and the occasional millstone team-mate (e.g. Jan or Lando). This is one area where KOTOR is better generally, as there are NPCs to talk to, random townies, or occasional people who may or may not be important. The traditional Jedi preference for non-violent solutions is a waste of time in these games, because people never surrender, run away, or stay mind-tricked for more than a few seconds.


  • Not every bad thing is the Dark Side of the Force. Of course, that depends on your interpretation of the Force. I read one very interesting essay that asserted that the real Force was "necessity of plot" -- and thus "going along with the plot" made you in accord with it, whether light or dark. ("The plot is strong in this one?") Cleverness aside, if the Force is an energy field that binds the galaxy together, one would assume that it's actually pretty "plot-neutral" and unconcerned with the everyday mechanics of the universe. An earthquake causes a tsunami and threatens a Kamino city? Well yeah, that sucks, but it's not like it's Darth Earthquake. There's plenty of misfortune that can happen without the interference of the current evil wizard.


  • That's the second biggest superweapon I've ever seen! Yeah, some plot elements can be overdone in a hurry. Hutt Noir and Sith Necromancy fall into this category.


I'm interested in more. Got any suggestions to add?

-The Gneech

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
torakiyoshi
Jul. 3rd, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)
The thing that bugged me most wasn't in JK2 but in JA: exactly how many radioactive rancors can they breed?

Have the best

-=TK
the_gneech
Jul. 3rd, 2007 10:56 am (UTC)
I only remember one radioactive rancor. The other one was an ordinary rancor, in as much as there is such a thing as an ordinary rancor.

-The Gneech
sirfox
Jul. 3rd, 2007 12:50 pm (UTC)
i rather liked the bit with the giant mutant rancor, since you didn't have a lot of time to dither about fighting all the sith baddies, as this huge engine of destruction was rampaging about, looking for you.
the_gneech
Jul. 3rd, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC)
Actually, if you find a good hiding place, the mutant rancor will make hash out of the Sith baddies for you, which I thought was a nice touch.

-The Gneech
torakiyoshi
Jul. 3rd, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Ok, but still, that scene where you have to get past five or six of them? Sheesh!

Have the best

-=TK
reynai
Jul. 3rd, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
Myself, I'm still just a fan of the original Dark Forces...Kyle Katarn doesn't need to be a jedi to kick ass!

That's one of the trends that I don't care for myself; in Star Wars, it seems like in order to be kickass/cool, you have to throw the force around.
talmun
Jul. 3rd, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
One convention that I tire of crops up in fiction and RPGs more than the electronic games; anyone who wields a lightsaber has little to nothing to fear from a non-saber/force user. This is probably a corollary to the "Only Jedi are cool" rule
sirfox
Jul. 3rd, 2007 12:48 pm (UTC)
in this one, you're up against boba fett, and he's a rather nasty customer.
rhanlav
Jul. 3rd, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)
Some of the weapons you could pick up in KotOR were nice though. I guess its sort of the standard 'dungeoneering' thing where you want to reward folks for going out of their way to get something thats a bit nicer than what they have. Then again, I won't even go into the monsterously huge plusses I had on my double lightsaber staff at the end of the game.

KotOR II had one thing that bugged me a lot. It was the "I'm a super uber ebil Sith/Force Vaccuum that eats worlds". He wasn't nearly as scary when I whipped the crap out of him... easily. I don't even think he moved around that much when I fought him. Just 2 guys and a girl with lightsabers beating the crap out of a guy in a mask. Seriously, not exactly Episode 3 material. Now /that/ was a fight at the end of the movie.

--Salen
rhanlav
Jul. 3rd, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
Also, I hate the fact that there are some doors you have to go get red or blue or green with yellow polka dots cards around. Seriously annoying. And Jump puzzles. Jump puzzles are some of the most evil things in the universe. You get almost all the way there... and then boom, you fall off with one misstep.

Jedi Outcast had one good moment though. You go into a bar just after Kyle gets the Force Powers restored by the Valley of the Jedi, to track down some info, and the bartender asks you who you if you're a Jedi, and you say "I'm just a guy with a lightsaber." Then you get into the obligitory Fight In A Bar with everyone. Yeah, nice to see I could slaughter a whole bar of folks to get some info from the barkeep.

As a side note, how many times can you go to Hoth, or Bespin, or Tantoinne or the Valley of the Jedis? There are other planets out there. How about the Corellian systems? There are giant space ferrets there. New places are cool. Also, you'd think the Republic would have an OSCA to make sure that all perilous walkways above acid pits had proper railing systems. And those above giant power reactors. Who builds their throne room above a giant pit where they could fall into all the way down to the power reactor for the space station?

--Salen
the_gneech
Jul. 3rd, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
The original Dark Forces was particularly silly about that -- which I guess makes sense 'cause it was basically Doom with a Star Wars skin. But there was one particular area where there were a bunch of stormtroopers hidden in an area behind a gigantic rotating wall (What???) -- that you had to make a very tricky jump to get across to.

Who stations troops in inaccessible and inherently life-threatening locations on a day-to-day basis? I can just hear it now!

Officer: "TK-421, why aren't you at your post?"

Trooper TK-421: "I'm afraid to try the jump, sir!"

-The Gneech
rhanlav
Jul. 3rd, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
Hehe. Yeah. I have that problem with most video games in general when they make architecture with no sense of how a normal individual is supposed to live there. Tomb Raider was real bad about that. Like you go to this monastary (where you'd think monks would live) to fight apes and lions and then have to climb around to get anyplace. Seriously, I can only suspend my disbelief for so long before I just go "no..."

The original DF also had you fighting Boba Fett at one point too. My problem with the game was the lack of a good AI. Mostly Boba Fett would just fly straight at you and shoot you, so you'd shoot him with a missile or two and then he'd go away. Blah.

--Salen
hossblacksilver
Jul. 4th, 2007 06:35 am (UTC)
I always loved that exchange between Kyle and the bartender (Red-Eye Baldarek).

Katarn: "I'm no Jedi, I'm just a man with a lightsaber and some questions."
Red-Eye: "Of course, many peoples have them."
Katarn: "Lightsabers?"
Red-Eye: "Questions."
rhanlav
Jul. 4th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was a really funny cutscene. Its one of the things I really remembered about that game, even though I never finished it, mostly because I hated the jump puzzles.

--Salen
stilghar
Jul. 4th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
Keep in mind that KotOR was developed by the same people that gave us Neverwinter Nights,and NWN (and several of its user-created mods) tended to give out magical gear like party favors. (Oh, crap, another Ring of Resistance? That's the seventh one I've found today!)

I miss one of my old GMs - any time the party found a stash of Really Cool Stuff©, we tended to get very nervous...we were going to need it very soon.
;) D&D, Star Wars (the old D6 system), World of Darkness, it didn't matter. If it was new, shiny, and powerful, we knew something was coming that would make us need it.
hossblacksilver
Jul. 4th, 2007 06:42 am (UTC)
My main lament during the Living Force campaigns was that crafting was shafted as a skill(s), which was annoying for me since my scout Artnor (in my icon) was skilled in four crafts, plus his craft bonus for being Mon Calamari. And in the end it was all for naught since he wasn't allowed to use them in the campaign. *sigh*
hossblacksilver
Jul. 4th, 2007 06:51 am (UTC)
I guess what I'm saying is, perhaps throw something in there for the odd skills that a player might have picked up. Craft: Blasters? Alright, you need a weapon and all you got is a pile a parts you managed to scrounge up, or some unusual language skill, etc.

I'm starting to think that every party member needs to pick up at least Shyriiwook and Binary for the team's mandatory wookiee and R2 unit, but that's for another time. ;)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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