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July 2nd, 2007

Rumpole

Stealing a rare hour to just sit and watch something, laurie_robey and I watched the "lost episode" of Rumpole of the Bailey last night. This was actually an episode of "Play For Today," a BBC drama anthology kinda-sorta equivalent to "Masterpiece Theater" in the U.S., except that it was new stories produced for the show rather than repackaging already-extant programs. The "Rumpole" segment in question was something of a pilot for the Rumpole series that came two years later.

So far, it's a bit slow and kinda talky. Rumpole himself is an engaging enough character, and the courtroom intrigue part was good. But the ancillary story about the "we never really talk" triangle between Rumpole, his son, and his wife, all just sorta fell flat. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, he's hard to know 'cause he's an eccentric and his family really doesn't understand him. I get it already!" about sums up what I was thinking during those segments. I'd like to see more humor and more sticking to cases, myself.

Still, I'll be interested to see how the series progresses and what evolution comes. Columbo was a pretty ordinary blue-collar copper when he showed up almost as a supporting character in "Prescription: Murder" -- the shabby little guy who badgers the killer with "just one more thing" didn't show up 'til later, either. So we'll see!

-The Gneech

Dork Tower = Awesome



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-The Gneech

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

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