Every once in a while, the Hyperspace Beacon takes a side track and asks about ideas that should end up on the cutting room floor. We all know games have concepts that just don't work. Star Wars: The Old Republic will be no exception. This little humorous segment is called We hope this never makes it into SWTOR, but knowing our luck, it probably will -- or WHTNMIISWTORBKOLIPW, for short.
Follow me after the break to see what "homageneous" ideas should never make it into the release of SWTOR, but knowing our luck, they will anyway.
Portal was a break-out hit from Valve's The Orange Box. The game was, admittedly, incredible. Personally, I loved the game. It was a impressive twist on the classic puzzle game. It was witty, ingenious, and interesting. One of the key figures in the game was a weighted companion cube. The weighted cubes helped the player with different puzzles, mostly by holding down switches. But what really makes the companion cube special is the computer program that runs the puzzles: GLaDOS. This artificial intelligence of Aperture Science research facility not only gave a stunning performance for herself in the game but gave life to the companion cube and encouraged the protagonist by saying there will be cake at the end on the test (which, of course, was a lie).
Portal was so popular even among other game designers that different phrases and objects from the game started popping up in different forms all over the industry. Recently, Fallout: New Vegas references a cake being a lie in a terminal message from Gordan. References to Portal blatantly reared their heads in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, where a quick finger on the pause button could catch the Brotherhood Knight Scroll reading, "If I die today, I die having seen and experienced things no other man can lay claim to, and so I can happily declare that the 'Cake' is not a lie!"
MMOs are not immune either. Our ever-beloved World of Warcraft even has a reference to Portal in its crafting achievements. To acquire the Chef title, a would-be baker must make a Delicious Chocolate Cake. Winning this awards the player The Cake Is Not A Lie badge, an obvious homage to Portal. And who can forget the W. C. Crate from the Valentine's celebration?
Why we don't want it
Portal was awesome, and it set a new standard for fun in 3-D puzzle games. But there is only so much one can take. Sure, it was fun the first time "cake is a lie" popped up in other video games, but I think the line was drawn at the prisoner worshiping the Companion Cube in Fable 3. At that point, the joke was three years old, but it was still cute. But then DragonAge: Origins and Castlevania made references to it, too. A line has been crossed. The writers of each of these games had to be in cahoots. Aperture Science was paying them off, right?
How it will be implemented
But knowing our luck, GLaDOS will have infiltrated the BioWare studios in Austin, seeking a final revenge on the players who have killed her over and over again. That's right! She wants revenge on us. Since Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to be the next WoW-killer, it is her best bet to strike there and take out the largest number of people possible in one blow.
The whole of SWTOR's plot will consist of solving meaningless puzzles over and over. There will be no purpose to these puzzles other than the promise of some great reward at the end, maybe like revealing some great plot hole from a previous game or something. Then, just as we are about to finally find out what happened to this character (if the plot hole happens to be about a character), we will be thrown into a fiery pit -- wait, did anyone else just have deja vu?
As we all know, Star Wars is a product of Lucasfilm. Besides the two most formidable franchises -- Star Wars and Indiana Jones -- Lucasfilm has also made some other very memorable movies. In 1988, Lucasfilm teamed up with Ron Howard to make the first film to use Industrial Light and Magic's digital morphing technology. Prior to that, Lucasfilm teamed up with the puppet-master Jim Henson to create 1986's Labyrinth starring David Bowie and a teen-aged Jennifer Connelly. Either of these movies is worthy of an homage or remake.
Next year will be the 30th anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and in 2012, the 20th anniversary of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles will be looming over us. Lucasfilm, like many filmmakers, has a tradition of celebrating these anniversaries. Star Wars toasted its 20th birthday by being remade with new CGI enhancements, like Han shooting second.
Why we don't want it
If any of you still play Star Wars Galaxies, you will notice this week you received a couple of new decorative items in your inventory: a bull whip and fedora hat on a stand. At the beginning of next year, you will be able to turn these items into wearables. The fedora will, obviously, fit on your character's head, and the whip will adorn your hip, probably taking the belt slot.
The prospect of having new clothing in SWG is pretty exciting. For George's sake, we need new hats and belts, but there are better ways of doing that. Not to mention this little implementation just solidifies the players' feelings that the designers couldn't care less about the lore or canon of the Star Wars universe. It seems to be a cheap attempt to make either more money or promote something completely unrelated to the original intellectual property.
How it will be implemented
But knowing our luck, in 2016, Star Wars Galaxies will be closed down, so Lucasfilm will be looking for a way to promote its latest anniversary celebration. SWTOR will be two years old (2014 release, right?) and looking for a second expansion. The BioWare shtick will be over-played with DragonAge 3: The Reawakening, Mass Effect 3, and the Mass Effect MMORPG, and the writers will be looking for some unexplored territory. Lucasfilm will make them an offer they cannot refuse. Spring 2016 will bring SWTOR a new planet -- a world of anthropomorphic ducks. Don't forget the stogies.
If you are looking to add your insight into homages that should not appear in SWTOR, feel free to comment below. I promise I will read them.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!