Tuesday, June 26, 2012

32 BBY: Galactic Battle Grounds Mission 1: The Battle for Alaris Prime

Galactic Battle Grounds Mission 1 allows gamers to replay the battle for Alaris Prime.
Historically, the battle for Alaris Prime was a small skirmish between the Trade Federation and “The Wookiees” (what do we call their civilization btw?  Are they the “Wookiee Consortium”, “The Wookiee Empire”, “The Wookiee Defence League”? – It doesn’t matter I guess).  As it is, the Wookiees end up defeating the Trade Federation and expelling the Nemodians from the planet.

After I completed the mission I headed over to wookieepedia to read up on what I had just accomplished.  You can find the write-up here, and its summation of events makes more sense than anything I could ever write.  After reading wookieepedia’s excerpt on the battle there was an “Ah Ha” moment for me.  The whole scenario seemed to make a little more sense.  I guess I wasn’t really paying attention when I was playing.
My first comment with regards to this bit of history is that I regret not reading the Chewbacca TBP from 55 BBY which features Attichitcuk.  I think if I had read this it would have given me a little more depth and appreciation for the major players in this battle.

My second comment is a bold assertion: Galactic Battle Grounds Mission 1 in a modern day epic. Yes, that’s right! A MODERN DAY EPIC!

Although it garnered very little attention, in my post on 3032 BBY (The one with the Gungans) I argued that the events in Galactic Battle Grounds Missions 3.1-3.3 can be defined as an epic.  I think my argument holds up (as long as it’s not scrutinized).  Likewise, I think Galactic Battle Grounds Mission 1, with Chewbacca as the hero, is also a modern day epic.  I’ll not list my reasons here, just head on over to the post on 3032 BBY to get a sense of what I’m talking about.
Galactic Battle Grounds is a great game, and I love engaging with it as an historical source to examine because it’s nice to play a video game that doesn’t consume me.

For my next post I’ll be looking at Darth Maul issues 1-4 from the Rise of the Sith Omnibus.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

32 BBY: Tales #7: Single Cell

Nym’s slugthrower. 
It was a carbine my bounty hunter used in Star Wars Galaxies.  It was THE weapon for bounty hunters to use because it dealt kinetic damage, a type of damage that Jedi were vulnerable to.

It was also the first time I came across the name of one of Star Wars’ most famous pirates, who also happens to be the protagonist of this bit of Star Wars lore.

From what I remember from SWG, Nym had a base of operations on the planet Lok.  Lok was by far one of my favorite planets to travel to in the game.  I guess it’s not an accident that Haden Blackman is the writer of this tale, as he was also one of the lead developers for SWG.  I’m not sure if Haden is responsible for the creation of Nym, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was.
Nym’s appearance in SWG always made me wonder about his backstory (he was an NPC in the game and you were awarded the his slugthrower once you completed his string of missions) and I’ve been looking forward to a story with Nym the Pirate since I started this project, and Single Cell did not fail to deliver.

Single Cell is a short tale with only two points of discussion I want to focus on: the neat ending, and Nym’s mention of stygium crystals and cloaking devices.

I really haven’t much to say about the ending except that I thought it was neat.  Nym’s crewman, disguised as Merick and Bavo, the “best torturers in the galaxy”, come to rescue Nym from the Trade Federation’s holding cell (Nym was handed over to the Trade Federation by a former business associate named Vana).  I liked Kole’s words to Nym as he and Jinkins came into his cell “We’re trained professionals” he says, smirking to the pirate. 
The real gem in this story for me was Nym’s mention of a cloaking device:

“Vana’s ‘buyers’ offered a trade – stygium crystals for the stolen weapons.  I figured the crystals would be easier to sell.  Or I could use ‘em if a cloaking device ever fell in my lap” (Tales Volume 2 pg. 116).
As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, when I’m done my project I’m going to try and write some Star Wars short stories.  I don’t think I’m much of a fiction writer but I’m going to give it a try.  One of the characters I want to write about is a pirate, inspired by Nym and all those Johnny Depp movies I guess.  I’d like to work in the element of a cloaking device and hitch it to some staple plot device; pirate gets cloaking device, pirate loses cloaking device, pirate gets cloaking device back, that sort of thing.  But what I loved about this line from Single Cell is that Nym believes in the possibility of a cloaking device falling into his lap.  They’re around, that much we know.  Off the top of my head I can think of two mentions of them at this point in chronology.  One is mentioned in Red Harvest, and belonged to the Whiphid bounty hunter in that story, and the second once I can remember was mentioned in the Jedi Apprentice series, where some random spacer transporting droid parts also had a cloaking device.  I think there is another mention of one in another story I covered, but I can’t remember.  For those of you reading this and keeping track, has there been any other mentions of cloaking devices in what I’ve covered so far?  Refresh my memory.

As it is, I’m glad to be back focusing on my project once again.  For my next post I’m going to look at Galactic Battle Grounds Mission 1.  Now to get loading it onto my computer.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

32 BBY: The Starfighter Trap

Most of the time starting a post is easy for me, but this one has been very difficult.  For the last few months I’ve been experiencing a combination of writers block along with playing too much WOW.  But it’s been mostly me playing too much WOW.
To paraphrase the immortal words of Rick James as proffered by Dave Chappelle: World of Warcraft is a helluva a drug!

That’s where I’ve been, deep in the bowels of Azeroth, and it’s something I’m not proud of.  I quit that game back in ’07 and I thought for sure I had that monkey off my back. But I got sucked in again, and really, it’s kinda TOR’s fault (hey, I have to deflect blame somehow right?).  As I was playing TOR I kept comparing it to WOW, and lamenting the fact that TOR did not have many of the “bells and whistles” WOW had to make gameplay a little more user friendly, like instant ques for dungeon runs with players across servers.  Before long I had WOW reinstalled and my Dwarf Holy-Paladin up to level 85 pursuing some epic armor and weaponry. 

Three weeks ago I was out with a buddy having beers and he asked me how far I had leveled my Dwarf.  I replied with “I hate that game”.  He was a little shocked by my response, and to be honest, so was I.  It came from the heart as an unfiltered thought.  He asked me what I meant.  When I reflected for a moment I told him “I hate what that game turns me into.  I become obsessed with it.  All my spare time is poured into it.  I think about it constantly.  It distracts me from my job, and my marking piles up.  I have to make a concerted effort to get things done at work and around the house.  Any spare moment I have I’m on the auction hall or grinding out some meaningless skill like archeology.  Plus, it’s stolen all my energy for my Chronology Project.  My drive for finishing my project had disappeared, usurped by a red-headed dwarf paladin.  It takes time away from my family.  I hate it.  I quit it back in ’07 for a reason.  I was distracting me from my marriage and my other relationships.”  He slowly nodded his head.  My response felt cathartic.  That night I cancelled my subscription. 
Some people get hooked on drugs, on alcohol, on sex, on work, or gambling.  We all have our vices – things that unbalance us.  Mine is WOW, and was also SWG back before WOW.  I’m glad I didn’t get into TOR.  As excited as I was about that game, I’m glad it disappointed me.

WOW distracts me from the good in my life, and hopefully I’ve finally put it behind me.
Still, after I cancelled my subscription I still had trouble writing.  I must have sat down to write this post about five times, with very little being produced.  I kept starting the post with a reflection on the text, but kept getting nowhere (probably because The Starfighter Trap is a pretty boring story).  I finally resolved to address why I had been away, and talk honestly about my interactions with MMOs.

This too feels cathartic.
As it is, I apologize for my absence.  Also, I’ve tried to make this blog about my personal reflections on Star Wars and not about my lpersonal ife (because my life is boring, which is good.  I like it like that), so I apologize for dragging you into my inner thoughts on my WOW addiction.

Ok, now on to the text.
The Starfighter Trap, like I already said, was boring, but as I write this I’m unable to come up with a good explanation as to why I think it was boring.  I thought the dogfight between the Naboo starfighters and the betrayal experienced by Essara Till was all good and fun storytelling, but for some reason this story didn’t inspire me to keep moving on with the project.  As a matter of fact, I found it to be just another piece of fluff that makes up part of the black hole that is 32 BBY.  Ultimately, what I really think was going on was that The Starfighter Trap represented for me all that is wrong with The Phantom Menace, which in my opinion is itself one of the worst things to have happened to the living history of Star Wars.  I’m heading towards this confrontation with TPM, and I’m really not looking forward to it because I don’t have many positive things to say.

At the end of the day, The Starfighter Trap was a little tale with characters I found difficult to care about.  In Dan Wallace’s The Monster I cared about Panaka and I struggled along with him in his search for justice.  I did not feel the same way about Essara Till.
I think from here I'll simply put The Starfighter Trap behind me, and look forward to the next source I'll engage with, Tales #7: Single Cell, thereby bringing me one step further out of 32 BBY. 

Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.