Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Perils of “Art”

This is a subject I’ve spoken on several times before when it comes to the Star Wars movies- in response to them being the artistic vision of George Lucas. The concept has been thrust into the center of my personal attention by the recent controversy over the ending of the Mass Effect video game trilogy as well. The arguments floating around for BOTH of these franchises are eerily similar, as are my responses to them.

The course of the Star Wars films (particularly the prequels) and the ending of Mass Effect 3 are being defended primarily on the basis that they are ‘art’. This line of thinking professes that the creative vision of the people who made these things outweighs the opinions of their fans. In essence, the artists are creating what THEY feel is compelling and THAT is what is most important. As I’ve said before. This kind of ‘artistic integrity’ is understandable- even rational- but I feel there are some important caveats to this rule.

I do not consider myself a ‘fine artist’, but I have studied art (got my degree in it) and I work in a creative medium (I am a graphic artist and senior art director for an advertising agency). I therefore have to ponder the interaction of art and outside opinion on an almost daily basis. When I create a layout or design that I think is beautiful I am, of course, very resistant to someone else stepping in and telling me to change it. Afterall, art is a personal and subjective thing, and when someone questions your own tastes and aesthetics, the knee-jerk reaction is to resist.

In commercial art, however, rarely does the creator get the luxury of
maintaining his ‘creative vision’. There is always compromise, whether it is for practical reasons or subjective tastes. Some times this is to the detriment of whatever the art is supposed to achieve. But often times, different viewpoints can improve something an artist already thought ‘perfect’. Mistakes that were not seen from one viewpoint may be found by another. Different and better ways of expressing an idea may come about. In short, collaboration CAN be a very positive thing with art.

Some might argue that film and video-games are not ‘commercial’ art- that they are FINE art, and thus this rule of collaboration should not come into play, at least not outside of the creative team that put them together. Fan opinion should be largely ignored in favor of the artistic vision of that individual (director) or creative team. To this, I say: Fine. Yes. If you view your work as a means to express your own viewpoints above all else then so be it. That’s perfectly cool. Some GREAT things have come out of the personal visions of a few people (The original Star Wars, for instance!) But on the other hand, creators have to realize that if they set out to satisfy their own tastes above all other considerations then people have the right to disagree with and dislike their ‘product’.

In short: Artists, you can make whatever you like. Just don’t expect us to like it, too.

I think this point was well illustrated in a recent interview with George Lucas where he complained that the fans were ‘ruining’ Star Wars. Why? How? Because they didn’t like what he was doing with it. But that’s the thing, what he was doing was MORE of the stuff that Fans had already (quite vocally) complained about him doing. The most notable example of this is the Darth Vader “Nooooo!” scene. This was almost universally reviled (and/or laughed at) by fans when it happened in Revenge of the Sith. So how could George be surprised when fans HATED its inclusion in yet another revamped edition of the Original Trilogy. So Fine, George. Star Wars is your playground. Your creation. Yes. You can do whatever you want to it. Just don’t expect Fans to like it when you keep doing the stuff they have already expressed displeasure at.

The flip-side of this argument is that too much ‘listening to fans’ can water down an idea or take it in a direction the creator never intended and/or is not interested in going. And this is a valid argument. Collaboration is a good thing, up to a point. If things were entirely ‘designed by committee’, however, we would get nothing but bland crap with no real punch (want proof? Just look at quite a few other movies). But I believe there has to be some kind of happy medium. That fans and/or the ‘general public’, should have some say in a final product. Obviously, many film companies feel the same way, otherwise, why would they do ‘test screenings’ of movies. At the very least, if a majority of fans are vehemently against something maybe you should at last consider the reasons why and factor them into your plans for moving forward. And if you go against what fans seem to want? Well, then don’t be surprised or dismayed by getting a hostile reaction. No. You can’t please everyone, but if you aim only to please yourself…well, odds are that will be the ONLY person you please.

This brings me around to Mass Effect. This game trilogy was excellent, in my opinion. In fact, the last in the series was my favorite game of all time- right up until the last ten minutes. I will try not to get into the what’s and whys here. If you are curious about why so many hated the ending, just do an internet search. You will find people a lot more eloquent than I have expressed exactly why. Rather, what I want to talk about is the defense from the creators of the game that the ending was their Artistic expression. This seems to imply that fans should simply ‘accept’ the ending BECAUSE it is ‘art’. They should respect the vision of the creators.

Well, as I said before: Just because something is ‘art’ doesn’t mean we have to like it. And it doesn’t make those who dislike it somehow ‘less’ or ‘stupid’. It doesn’t mean they ‘don’t get it’, or ‘can’t appreciate’ it. It means they do not like it and perhaps have valid reasons for not liking it. And if the creators of the game went with the ‘art’ angle, then they should have been prepared to deal with the fallout from it. From what I have seen, they were not.

This sudden leap to ‘the game is art’, and therefore irreproachable is all the more jarring because Mass Effect was always very good at allowing the player to determine the story- or at least it gave me the illusion that this was so. In fact, I would argue that THIS was the true ‘art’ of this series.

Mass Effect was not about walking the player through the creative vision of one person or team. It was not about expressing the morality or socio-political views of that person or team. It presented the player with issues and allowed THEM to decide what to do. For me, at least, it really made me think about what I valued. About hard decisions that people have had to make in REAL life and how I would possibly handle them if I were ever in that situation. It made me question my ideals. Yes. A video game did that.

The ART of the Mass Effect game was in providing a wonderful framework to tell our OWN story. That is something so unique and beautiful- and only possible in an interactive medium like games. Bioware painted a beautiful canvas, then gave their fans a handful of brushes and paints and said “Add to it”. THAT is art. A darn difficult art to pull off. But they did it.

A popular definition of art is: The use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.

That last part seems especially poignant in relation to Mass Effect. They ‘shared’ their art in a way completely unique- in a way that NOBODY has really done before.

And that is why the ending was all the more bitter (not bittersweet as Bioware claims it to be).

It was as though they suddenly yanked the canvas away and took your paints and brushes along with it. Then, they painted something they liked, hung it on your wall and said. “Wow. Neat, huh?”

No. I didn’t think it was.

The ending COULD have been extraordinary- The first truly NEW expression of ‘Art’ in hundreds of years; A collaboration of artist and audience unprecedented in history. Instead, it returned to the idea of one artist, one artistic vision. So fine, Bioware. The game is yours. Your art. Your final vision. Thanks for all the great things that came out of this game, but claiming something is ‘art’ doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TUESDAY TANGENT: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 1910-20s

Yes, I’m starting to run out of eras with this. So if it annoys you, relief is almost here! If you like this, then prepare for sorrow! Once again, I plumb the depths of nerdiness to come up with a list of who I think would make a good League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the era of the 1910s-1920s. Once again, the ground rules are that the person in question cannot be part of a ‘mainstream’ comic universe (i.e., no Marvel or DC Superheroes). Also, I reserve the right to take a little liberty with the background of said characters in order to fit them into a ‘shared’ (and weird) universe. Also, with the First World War being smack dab in the middle of this Era, I am making the decision to have this particular league set up just AFTER the end of that war. So here we go:

Colonel George S. Patton
Based upon the romanticized version of the historical figure
Portrayed by ??

A truly remarkable person, Colonel Patton is a soldier, horseman, Olympic athelete, master swordsman, theoretical tactician and (according to some accounts) believer in ‘past lives’. He has served in campaigns against Pancho Villa in Mexico and on through World War I, where he was decorated for his actions. He is a gruff, no-nonsense man with supreme confidence in his ability to command and to handle any situation he comes up against. It is for these many reasons that he was chosen to lead this incarnation of the League (though in truth, he is only ‘on loan’ from the U.S. Army- partly as a way to get him ‘out of their hair’ with his constant pressure to adopt new tactics and technology). In the League universe, Patton would have been exposed to many strange goings on during his career, especially during the horror of trench warfare on the Western Front. He also has a unique perspective to bring to the team, sometimes able to use ‘hunches’ and impressions from his past lives (he believed he was the reincarnation of many generations of soldiers from throughout history) to help solve current problems. His only weakness would be his sometimes bullheaded and blunt nature.

Hercule Poirot
Based upon the works of Agatha Christie
Portrayed by Albert Finney (from the 1974 film: Murder on the Orient Express)

Though not a combatant per se, Hercule Poirot is one of the best detectives and analytical thinkers to have ever lived. He began his career as a police officer in his native Belgium. During the great war, he was forced to flee his home. Eventually, he was recruited by British Intelligence to help in their efforts against the Germans. Thus, he became involved in all manner of espionage and counter intelligence operations. With the end of the war, he planned to return home and start his own private investigation agency. Even as he did, however, he was approached by the League and given an invitation to join. Though brilliant, Poirot is not a leader, or even a particularly good ‘team player’, thus he serves as overall advisor to the team and its leader.

Anthony “Buck” Rogers
Based upon the original story presented in Amazing Stories, 1928
Portrayed by Gil Gerard (from the 1980’s TV series)

Buck Rogers flew with the allies during the World War, becoming an ace and decorated hero. On several occasions he was shot down behind enemy lines and had to escape- proving himself to be a versatile and capable combatant on the ground as well. It was for these reasons that he was chosen for special missions during the war, including espionage work. It was during this work that he encountered his friend James “Biggles” Bigglesworth, a British Pilot (and fellow League recruit). Buck is brave, forthright and idealistic- good features, to be sure, but the League felt he lacked the pragmatism (and years of experience) to be made team leader. Instead, he was posted as second in command under Colonel Patton.

James “Biggles” Bigglesworth
Based upon the Biggles series of youth adventure books
Portrayed by Neil Dickson (from the 1986 film: Biggles: Adventures in Time)

James Bigglesworth lied about his age to enter the British Army at the age of 17. He earned fame during the war as a pilot and was decorated several times for bravery. Like his comrade, the American Anthony “Buck” Rogers, “Biggles” (as he came to be known) was shot down several times and had many adventures behind enemy lines. Also like Buck, he was recruited for a variety of special missions during the war- at least one of which had to do with stopping some strange German experimentation with time travel. Though hardened by war, Biggles has lost none of his youthful enthusiasm or idealism. Though he may not have the experience of his fellows, he makes up for this with an indomitable sense of optimism and nobility.

Randolph Carter
Based upon the works of H.P. Lovecraft
Portrayed by ??

Though at first a seemingly odd choice, the bookish (failed) author Randolph Carter is more than he seems. A mysterious event during his youth revealed he had a ‘gift’ of prophecy- a limited foresight into things the could be. He studied antiquities at Miskatonic University in Massachusetts, delving into many strange ancient tales. When the war in Europe broke out, he joined the French Foreign Legion and fought through to the end of the conflict. The horrors he experienced there cause him to rarely speak of this time. Indeed, there are hints that his experiences were more than ‘just’ the simple horrors of war. Rather, he encountered strange forces almost beyond comprehension. Since the end of the war, he has begun to delve even further into these secrets. It was for this occult knowledge and experience that Randolph Carter was recruited to the league. Quiet and introspective, Carter struggles daily with the knowledge he has gained- determined to use it despite the fact it may be driving him mad.

Rin Tin Tin
Based upon the various Rin Tin Tin movies and radio dramas
Portrayed by Himself

A shell-shocked pup rescued from the bombed out trenches of the World War by American servicemen, Rin Tin Tin became mascot to an elite group of ‘special services’ fliers, including Anthony Rogers and James Bigglesworth. The dog proved to be especially clever and brave- even going so far as to rescue several of the squadron and thwart several German schemes. At the end of the War, “Rinny” accompanied Buck Rogers and was subsequently brought along by him to serve with this incarnation of the League.


David Innes
Based upon the Character from the novel “At the Earth’s Core”
Portrayed by Doug McClure

A maverick mining mogul and engineer, David Innes and his partner, the elderly Scientist Abner Perry, developed a machine in 1914 called the “Iron Mole”. They disappeared on their first test ‘flight’. David returned some months later with a wild tale of a subterranean world. Before further questioning could be conducted, however, he had stocked up his (apparently quite functional) Iron Mole with supplies and returned to this world below.

Patrick O’Malley and Eve Tozer
Based upon the Characters from the movie “High Road to China”
Portrayed by Tom Selleck and Bess Armstrong (respectively)

Patrick O’Malley is a decorated World War I flier turned stunt flier. Eve Tozer is the heiress to a business Empire. Together they tracked down her missing father- finding him helping to defend a simple Chinese village against a cruel local warlord. After defeating said warlord, Eve and O’Malley returned to the world to head up her father’s Empire. Though adventurous and capable, the two were ultimately passed over for recruitment in favor of more qualified candidates.

Milo Thatch
Based upon the Character from the animated film “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”
Portrayed by Michael J. Fox

Milo Thatch is a brilliant young linguist and cartographer, working at the Smithsonian and specializing in the lore of ancient Atlantis. He disappeared mysteriously in 1914, evidently part of an expedition to find the fabled ‘lost city’. Several of the crew of this expedition did resurface, however- though they have had nothing to say about what they found- or the whereabouts of Mr. Thatch.

Sergeant Alvin York
Based upon the romanticized verson of the historical character
Portrayed by Gary Cooper

A simple Appalachian farmer and woodsman before the Great War, Alvin York proved himself to be a hero. He was decorated for his extraordinary actions against the Germans in the closing days of the war and became a national hero. He is an expert marksman and incredibly brave, in his own humble way. He is also a religious and conscientious person who wanted nothing more than to settle down into a life of peace. It is for this desire that York was passed over for recruitment into the League.

T.E. Lawrence “Of Arabia”
Based upon the romanticized verson of the historical character
Portrayed by Peter O’Toole

A brilliant, flamboyant but troubled young officer, T.E. Lawrence was responsible for helping unite various Arab factions during the Great War to strike at the forces of the Ottoman Empire. Though clearly a forward thinking tactician and inspiring leader, Lawrence is a troubled person as well- a result of his traumatic experiences during the war as well as his own creative-yet-obsessive mind. The failure of his efforts to help create an Arab state has also left him highly disillusioned. For these reasons he was passed over for inclusion in the league.

“Red” Baron Manfred von Richthofen
Based upon the romanticized verson of the historical character
Portrayed by John Phillip Law

Were it not for the Great War, this talented soldier and pilot could have easily been a recruit for the League. Unfortunately, his death during combat resulted in the loss of a potentially powerful League agent.

Mata Hari
Based upon the romanticized verson of the historical character
Portrayed by Greta Garbo

A dangerous, beautiful and remarkably intelligent woman, Mata Hari (real name Margaretha “Margreet” Zelle) was an exotic dancer who worked throughout Europe and the Middle East during the Great War. It was eventually discovered that she was working as an agent for the German Empire during this time. Capable as she was, she was captured and executed for her crimes of espionage. Had she survived the war, it is likely the League could have ‘forgiven’ her activities in order to secure her talents.

P.S. I know I skipped the 1930-40’s era, I’ll get to it though.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mass Effect 3

Yeah. I know. It isn't Tuesday and it is a non-Star Wars tangent. Oh well. I've been meaning to write something about this for a while, but have been waiting until the shock of playing the game has worn off.

It should come as no surprise to folks who have read my blog that I am a fan of the Mass Effect video game series- or that I am a fan of the producer of that series, Bioware. This is why it pains me to say that the Mass Effect series- which was very fun all the way through (including the third in the series)- ended on such a lame, WTF moment that my entire view of the series has been destroyed. That's right, the last ten minutes of the game were enough to destroy hundreds of hours of fun.

The reasons why this is are many, but essentially boil down to this: The end of the game presents the player with three choices. These choices have little or nothing to do with the decisions you have made throughout the entire series- and no matter what you have done prior to reaching these choices, you will have only these three endings. This game base based upon the idea that it was a players choices that 'made' the game. Each player was given the framework to tell their own story. You could play anything from a paragon of virtue, always doing what is right to a complete pragmatic jerk, willing to kill anything that stood in his way. THAT is what made the game a roleplaying game. Unfortunately, it ended with a scene that took none of that into account.

I could literally write for pages on this, but I will instead point to an article written by someone who used to work at Bioware:

Brent Knowles, who was the lead designer on Dragon Age: Origins, and one of the old guard Bioware developers (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights), and, when he quit Bioware, made the interesting observation that "Bioware is no longer the company I remember". He's talked a little bit about the ME3 situation on his blog, but they're mainly comments to other posts. Check it out at:

One thing he did say, I thought I would share, as it's a sentiment I happen to agree with:

"I read one recent blog post where the writer basically said "the ending was awesome because it was just like a movie" and I think she was missing the point.

It is a game. Not a movie.

And more specifically, its a role-playing game. The players are *part* of the game. Part of the process of building and experiencing the game, much more so than with most other forms of entertainment.

Entitlement is really a right, for the gamer, because they have participated, actively, in the game itself.

Again, I can't speak to the actual ending myself, because I have not played it but in general I'd say a Role-Playing Video Game Trilogy Ending should (try to) do the following:

1. Reward the player's choices throughout the series. The big stuff they did should be noted. They should *feel* like they had a unique impact on the world.

2. End on a positive note. This is really important for video in general is full of s****y stuff happening all the time. When I invest a hundred hours into a game I need to walk away feeling like a hero.

When you waste a couple hours of a person's life with an artsy/depressing movie or short story or even a novel, it is more forgivable because the time spent is less. And presumably the consumer knew what they were going into when they started. Certain directors create certain styles of movie. Certain writers write specific types of fiction.

On the other hand somebody playing an epic role-playing video-game trilogy is going to *expect* to be the hero and save the universe. That's why they are playing the game. When expectations don't match reality, disappointment is created.

It might be an artistic/creative move to go with a different style of ending but I feel its the wrong choice, especially for a videogame *trilogy*. Make your middle game bleak if you want to, but end the series on a high note."

I couldn't agree more with what Mr. Knowles says here- though in truth the 'happy' ending wasn't as important to me as one in which I felt that my actions had an impact.


Anyway, I'm going to just stop now, before I get depressed again.

What an awesome series...until the last ten minutes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Resetting the Universe

In entertinament (literature and movies and video games), the settings for stories typically grow and change along with the characters- sometimes in very radical ways. In most adventure-type stories, this is particularly true. We usually come into such settings when they are in the midst of, or on the cusp of, some great upheaval. Star Wars, for instance, brings us in on the first real victory of the Rebellion and carries us through to the fall of the Emperor. This will bring great change to the Star Wars universe as a setting.

In many role-playing games, however, the setting presented (at least by the gaming companies who publish works for it) is usually relatively static. The World of Greyhawk, for instance, was presented for quite a few years as a ‘static’ setting. This allowed gaming groups to make their own story with their individual campaigns. In the late 80s, this began to change. The first ‘metaplots’ began to emerge- published works that pushed forward the timeline of various settings. This was especially true of the Forgotten Realms game, where events from various novel series were incorporated into the cannon of the setting. The venerable Greyhawk setting also experienced change- with the “Greyhawk Wars” and “From the Ashes” re-writing the map and setting in many cases.

While I generally don't mind metaplots such as these, they can (if mishandled) take away the feeling of ‘ownership’ of a campaign that players should feel. I don’t mind ‘world shaking’ events, but the players should have some ability to interact with them, not just be ‘witnesses’ to changing times. A campaign world should be influenced by the actions of the players in it- in a degree commensurate to their ‘power’ within that world.

Running a Star Wars campaign set during any of the now established ‘eras’ is, by its nature, running within a ‘metaplot’. As a GM, you need to strive to find a balance between following the movies and allowing your campaign to grow organically. It can be tricky, and for some people, too confining.

But whatever the problems with metaplots, for me, the alternative is much worse. And unfortunately, it seems to happen in a lot of ‘official’ settings. Star Wars, for instance. The Expanded Universe of Star Wars seems to be a constant effort to prolong the whole ‘galactic warfare’ thing to ridiculous lengths. I’ve railed against this before, but will do so here again. According to the canon established in the various novels, the Star Wars galaxy is constantly in the throes of galaxy-shaking conflicts. For hundreds of years, it seems. And for me, it all begins to run together. First it's the Ssi’Ruk, then Thrawn, then the Resurrected Emperor, then the Yevethans, then the Vong, then the Killiks, then the Sith Empire of Darth Kraynt, etc., Etc.. Every successive war tries to upstage the one before it. But in the end, it just proves the old adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same. And that, unfortunately, is a problem for me. Star Wars seems to be constantly ‘resetting’ itself. And in the end, for all its upheavals, it just remains ‘static’.

Another great example of this is the BattleTech universe. Initially presented, the setting was ‘static’, with five reasonably well-matched powers vying for control of known space. But as novels came out, things began to change. First with the alliance of two great powers that almost resulted in a reunification of the old Star League. But before this could happen, an invasion took place by forces calling themselves the ‘clans’. This added yet another dynamic and set the stage for some really BIG changes. Instead, as the metaplot progressed, events occurred that essentially broke up what had happened before and set everything back almost to the way it had been, with various, equally matched entities all squaring off once more. The universe just ‘reset’ itself and all the big events seemed to be for naught. From a purely ‘gamist’ point of view, I can understand this. The whole game was based on this premise of continual warfare. So they just set up instances that would allow this to go on and on. But in the end, that really just killed my interest in the setting.

In this latter instance, I would have preferred more source material and less plot material in my gaming supplements. I would have preferred they continue to expound upon the details of a ‘static’ universe and allow gaming groups to shape it as they would. As it stands, they set up a universe where you have NO say whatsoever in what goes on- even to the point of releasing books that detail EVERY battle that happened in a particular war- thus seeming to discourage such things from being fought out by characters or risk stepping on the toes of ‘canon’.

In any case, I’m starting to ramble, so I’ll sum up. Metaplots are fine and well, but shouldn’t be so detailed as to destroy player involvement or influence. In fact, after a point, I would prefer that developers did NOT keep driving changes in the world. I would also warn against the tendency to constantly return things to the way they used to be- to give the illusion of change but really just keep things static.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012


Fair warning, there isn’t a lot of ‘meat’ to this post, just some observations.

I had been curious about Dantooine since the first time I saw Star Wars, back in 1977. Even then, at age six, I wanted to know MORE about this world than what was presented in the movies. Of course, at the time, there wasn’t a lot to be known. The very thought of an ‘expanded universe’ hadn’t crossed anyone’s mind. Dantooine in particular seemed to be doomed to obscurity.

The first mention of the planet outside of the movies was (as I recall) in the Jedi Academy novels (which came out in 1994). There, the planet is described as being inhabited by primitive ‘cavemen-like’ Dantari tribesmen. It was also used as a place to house refugees- who were subsequently killed by Admiral Daala. Other than that, not much was revealed about the planet. It remained kind of ‘generic’, much to my chagrin.

It wasn’t until Knights of the Old Republic (released in 2003) that Dantooine really came into its own. Here we are (in true Star Wars fashion), shown a planet dominated by one over-arching terrain type. Tatooine was a desert world, Endor was a forest world, Yavin a jungle world, etc.. Dantooine, we discover, is a world of endless, rolling plains. This gave it a distinct look- a ‘hook’ I could really buy into. It was no longer generic.

Now, coming from South Dakota as I do, I grew up on the Great Plains. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Dantooine and my own ‘homeworld’. There is something truly remarkable about those plains, a sense of expanse and scale you just don’t get anywhere else. For this (admittedly subjective) reason, Dantooine has become one of my favorite planets in the Star Wars galaxy. I especially love the way it was portrayed in the KotOR video games and even the Clone Wars 2D Animated series- with a scattering of farmsteads and small towns nestled away in the rolling plains.

Though I was never that thrilled with the native Dantari tribesmen as an original concept, I can’t help but draw more parallels between their presence and the presence of ‘Native Americans’ in South Dakota. I grew up on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I could easily see this kind of social situation on Dantooine as well: with the native tribes ‘displaced’ by new colonists centuries (millennia) ago and still struggling to adapt to the new situation. Suddenly, the Dantari have a depth to them (in my mind) that they never had in the way they are ‘officially’ presented.

Dantooine is made even more interesting by the fact that it contains the ruins of several very important places. Many thousands of years ago (according to Knights of the Old Republic), it was part of the Rakatan Infinite Empire. There are still incredibly ancient ruins on the planet, including one in which Darth Revan began his career as a Sith Lord. Though this ruin was explored, there may be others, with their own secrets, still hidden beneath the rolling plains.

Dantooine was also home to a Jedi Enclave. For a time (during the events of Knights of the Old Republic), this was actually the headquarters for the entire order. It was subsequently destroyed by Darth Malak, but the ruins themselves could still exist. In fact, it was retconned that the Rebel Base mentioned in Episode IV was actually built near the ruins of the enclave.

So you've got unique terrain, interesting social dynamics, ancient ruins...but that's not all. Dantooine also has a selection of creatures to threaten and wonder visitors.
Kath Hounds are perhaps the best known- in fact, during the Old Republic, vicious and or tenacious beings were referred to as "Kath Hounds". Then there are the truly alien (but neat), flying manta-like creatures (Brith), seen slowly plying the skies above the plains. There are the vicious laigrek and kinrath (both insectoid types). And though never seen in the games, there are various herd animals as well- the antelope-like Iriaz and the large Thune herd beasts. All in all, a nice cross section of critters to help make the place more unique.

For something that began so ‘generically’, as just a name, I have really enjoyed the way Dantooine has developed over the years, even if a lot of that is only due to my own ‘take’ on the world. Dantooine is the closest Star Wars equivalent of South Dakota, and that gives me all kinds of ideas on how to use it in a game should I ever decide to.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ralph McQuarrie

The death of this Artist is truly a loss. Along with John Wiliams and George Lucas, I'm hard pressed to think of anyone else who had such a huge impression on my imagination and those of many of my generation. A really great blog I visit has an awesome tribute to McQuarrie here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bantha Slippers

Why. Why were these a 'rejected' merchandising concept! I want a pair! I would walk single file, to hide my numbers!

As Fry from Futurama would say: "Shut up and take my money!"