Every once in awhile, the Star Wars universe produces the strangest plot devices or game items. Some of these concoctions should never see the light of day, but unfortunately, they do. I like to highlight these malformed ideas in a segment of the Hyperspace Beacon called "We hope this never makes it into SWTOR, but, knowing our luck, it probably will" or WHTNMIISWTORBKOLIPW, for short.
This week's column revolves around the prequels. Although there are many, many, many things wrong with the prequels, I would like to take a look at some of the highlights. To help those who may not know what is being discussed, I will give you a brief explanation of what each item is, then explain what is wrong with it, and follow that with a humorous explanation of how BioWare will ruin SWTOR by implementing it in our beloved game. Let's see what creative blunders we have in store this week.
What are these?
The Clone Wars is Lucasfilm's money-maker right now, with good reason. The animated series is a lot of fun to watch. Kids like it for the epic heroics and adults like it for the, um, epic heroics. It seems everything being produced by LucasArts and Lucasfilm has to have its Clone Wars tie-in. You can't go any department store and not see the market saturation. Even the most unexpected retailer has purchasable advertisements: t-shirts, games, backpacks, pajamas, underwear, outerwear, more pajamas, wall decals, and costumes. (I really hope that last one was just for kids.)
Star Wars Galaxies even had its share of cross-pollination. The clone (Katarn) armor quest from the Rage of the Wookiees expansion is perhaps the most popular, but there was also the Jedi Starfighter quest and the ARC quest. Even General Grievous makes an appearance. This continued in the Mustafarian expansion, Trials of Obi-Wan. For about a year or more, SWG lost all sense of timeline because of the number of Clone Wars throw-backs.
Why we don't want these
I like the Clone Wars. The first animated series was awesome. The CGI movie was a bit meh, but the TV series that followed was surprisingly enjoyable. In fact, I am even fond of Clone Wars Adventures. So, it's not that I dislike the Clone Wars, but I have to wonder: Why do the marketing gurus at Lucas' studios think they need to put it everywhere?
If Clone Wars items start making appearances in The Old Republic, they will cheapen the product. Can't this game stand on its own without a tie to the current cash cow? Perhaps it's the other way around. Maybe the Clone Wars isn't as popular as everyone at Lucasfilm believes -- nah!
How these will be implemented
But knowing our luck, BioWare's studio will begin piping Soulja Boy through the intercom system. Then, taking inspiration from the insanely repetitive lyrics, the whole creative team will begin chanting in the rhythm of Gucci Bandana, "Clone, Clone Wars Tie-ins. Clone, Clone Wars Tie-ins." Before you know it, the whole planet of Balmorra will be inhabited by clones of Bongo Fett and riding AT-RTs.
What are these?
Um, well, um. I'm not exactly sure what these are. I think it may have been George Lucas mispronouncing mitochondria. Maybe it was a strange word-scramble that Lucas insisted was the correct combination of letters. OH! I know! Alphabet soup! Lucas spilled his soup, and this was combination of letters that landed on the floor. George took it as a sign that he had to fit this into his movie.
Actually, midi-chlorians are symbiotic, microscopic life-forms who attach themselves to the cells of Force sensitives. How they actually work is still debated, and what Lucas actually had in mind when he created them is also a constant struggle to wrap around one's mind. But the consensus is that they are life's connection to the Force. All life has midi-chlorians -- the greater the number, the stronger the connection to the Force. A person can "hear" the midi-chlorians if she quiets her mind and focuses. With the direct connection to the Force, the midi-chlorians can "tell" her of the future or present or an event that is happening millions of miles away.
Qui-Gon Jinn, in The Phantom Menace, postulated that Anakin Skywalker was spawned by these microbes. Chancellor Palpatine actually concurred with this belief when he seduced Skywalker with the story of Darth Plagueis manipulating midi-chlorians to cheat death. Not every Jedi adhered to the idea of midi-chlorian and Force connection, but practitioners of the Living Force believed you cannot have one without the other.
Why we don't want these
Many great movies and books have attempted to mix the science fiction and fantasy genres. Doctor Who, Dune, and Apprentice Adept come to mind -- all great stories of sci-fantasy. None, however, compared to the incredible juxtaposition which Star Wars created. One of Star Wars' great mysteries lies in explaining how magic and science could co-exist, but from a storytelling perspective, this inquiry should have been left rhetorical. Having a concrete way to measure and manipulate this life-giving energy takes away a lot of the fun of having spirituality.
How these will be implemented
But knowing our luck, Tython's great mystery will be the Mother Midi-chlorian. In the climatic end-battle of your Jedi class quest, you and your new-found companions will discover that the first Great Jedi Schism was actually the separation of the Jedi from a giant, slimy orb that looks oddly like a mitochondria. You soon discover that the Mother Midi-chlorian is releasing spawns all over Tython called Chloroids. Your job is to defeat them or die trying.
What is this?
You know that guy who does that silly voice in junior high? The one that is funny the first time, cute the second time, annoying the third time, and okay-shut-the-@$@#-up-now the fourth time. Multiply that by a racist undertone, and you have Jar Jar Binks.
If you didn't know, Jar Jar belongs a species of sentient beings who live under the massive oceans of their native planet of Naboo. They are incredibly brave warriors with an odd speech pattern that makes them appear dim. Jar Jar is an outcast of this species, but Qui-Gon Jinn finds some sort of merit in him, and eventually Jar Jar becomes a representative of his culture to the Republic Senate as well as counsel to Amidala.
Why we don't want this
When I talk to fans, I find that they don't dislike gungans; they dislike Jar Jar. Even more than that, they don't like what Jar Jar represents. I hope I can say this without offending anyone. Jar Jar seems to embody blackface and other racist stereotypes. The Neimoidians seem to do this, too. I understand representing different cultural archetypes, but there is no need to cross the line into direct allegorical bigotry. One of the best things about fantasy fiction is being able to speak to modern social issues, but I would hope it could be done more subtly.
How this will be implemented
But knowing our luck... who am I kidding? BioWare's writers would never do something this offensive in a game, would they? They have a history of handling social commentary very well. The salarian's implication in the krogan genophage was scripted with class. The Sith's xenophobic nature in KOTOR was carefully woven editorial. But, if they don't use the same discretion in SWTOR, there is always the Stunt Gungan.
What don't you want to see?
Star Wars is riddled with kooky and quirky pinnacles of perpetual facepalming. If you have any ideas for the next WHTNMIISWTORBKOLIPW, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments. You never know -- maybe yours will make it into my next column.