Recommends: Chasing Sheep on Sexism and Undies

So I read this utterly awesome post this week: No, underwear is not the same as swimwear.

Nothing complicated or illogical about it: just like I have no problems being naked in front of my (theoretical) girlfriend, but would have problems being naked in front of a classroom, there are women who have moments where they like showing skin, and others when they don’t.

I love this post for so many reasons, not the least because I regularly go outside in my underwear to fill the bird feeder in the backyard and when Husband objects in shock -- what if the neighbors see you over the 6 foot tall privacy fence? -- I react in puzzlement. Don't they see even MORE of me when I'm outside in a bikini sun-bathing?

I do not actually in fact sun-bathe, but I do feel this is beside the point.

So I loved this post for many reasons including pointing out that WOMEN ARE NOT A MONOLITHIC HIVE-MIND and WOMEN MAKE CONTEXTUAL DECISIONS JUST LIKE MEN. Who would have thought??


Mime_Paradox said...

You know, if I had known getting one's blog posts mentioned elsewhere in a complimentary manner would feel this good, I would have tried to have it happen more often. Have I ever told you just how many times you make my day, Ana? Cause this is the latest.

chris the cynic said...

ETA: As for the post itself, yeah I totally agree with that guy. ^_^

And I totally agree with the first person who commented over there.

Ana Mardoll said...

Haha, thank you!

And, yes, RECOMMENDS are where everyone links to what they've been reading and writing. This makes my Sunday happy and full of good things. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

LOL. That gal who linked to it sure has good taste!

Brin Bellway said...

And I totally agree with the first person who commented over there.

Do you? I suppose it hasn't actually been that long.
I was looking at a Slacktiverse thread from June not long ago. Several times I'd be reading along, automatically mentally composing a response as I tend to do, and then I'd hit the response from past!me and it contained things I hadn't thought of. Creeped me out.

chris the cynic said...

Well, it varies. I don't disagree with what I said there and I sort of ended up reading the post from the bottom up which meant that I reread my response to it before I reread the post itself and that almost certainly colored what I though this time.

That said, I definitely understand where you're coming from. There are times when I'll see my name in current comments or the local equivalent and click over because I have no idea what I said in the thread in question and sometimes feel like there must be a mistake because I'm pretty sure that I didn't say anything there. And then be surprised to learn, "Oh, I said that." Given enough time I'm sure I'd end up having experiences like what you just described, I've probably already had them and just don't remember them at the moment.

JonathanPelikan said...

Sounds like some radical feminist message such as 'women are individuals and people'. Hmph.

My writing has been really strange over the past few months. Most of the time, when I do write, it'll be less than a page, often just adding a few paragraphs at a time. I've been adding block to block to block on my novel and finally reached 130 pages. It's taken so long to get there, and I'm not even close to being done, but it's gratifying.

I would link to something about it but there's really nothing out there yet. One day! I swear it!

A civil war breaks out on a distant world with little contact with the (creatively named) Republic, who ends up deciding to go and stick their nose in it. The President wants to go full-scale invasion, but she only gets authorization from the Assembly to deploy a specialist task-force and a naval escort to assist the rebel movement.

After many decades of formal peace and expansionism, the Republic has allowed its military to slacken and wither, with funding going towards things like education, healthcare, colonization, exploration. The President figures that a little conflict will stir people up and at least prevent another wave of cuts to the military. It has a huge territory to cover, including many new colonies and a frontier stretching tens of thousands of light-years, and they are still surrounded on all sides by unknowns. And there's always criminals and outlaws on the fringes of civilization to deal with.

So she cobbles together special-ops units and, under the command of an old veteran admiral, sends them off. Trouble ensues before they even hit the planet, as the bad guys ambush our viewpoint character and his unit in space, and the fighting never stops when they reach orbit. The planetary empire that had kept everything orderly and peaceful went to pieces after the Emperor's assassination, but it didn't all go away, and it's locked in a struggle to the death with the diverse and often contentious Confederation of factions and former noble houses.

Many groups just want to break off and seek independence or stay out of the fighting, but almost everybody ends up sucked into one side or the other. The fighting is everywhere and the death toll is catastrophic. Things only get worse over time and people start figuring that it's the end times. Topping it all off, the Empire's sizable arsenal of atomic weapons, stored in a fortress complex in the ocean, is controlled by a mysterious military leader who, for the moment, has prevented a nuclear apocalypse, but neither side knows what to make of her or what her agenda is.

The rest of the hero's unit has seen extensive action serving on the frontier against criminal scum and pirates and whatnot, but the viewpoint character is fresh off the presses, a member of an experimental program given immense training and power and commissioned to the frontlines. They have something of a living-weapon reputation, so his comrades are both nervous that he's in a command role without having experience and that he can turn into a killing machine at will.

He's the XO, and the Brigade Colonel in particular is not keen on him. A real brooding and intellectual guy, and not much with people in general, much less fresh meat. The unit commanders are a little more friendly; his older sister's the leader of the sniper group. They've been apart since he went in young for military training, but it's a bond to hold on to out there. The recon leader is rough and honest to a rude degree, but willing to change his opinion, if he's given good reason. The demolitions commander is stoic and professional, but over time, he reminds her of her own past and she talks with him about a great many things, including her long (hundred-plus years) military career.

The hero gets a taste of what it means to go to war, first from a detached perspective, but then going ground-side and seeing everything that's been lost.

Mime_Paradox said...

To the people responding to my posts (which I assume are coming from here): a) Thank you. :) b) Sorry for the "post must first be approved" thing--I'm still not sure how to switch that off, and the fact that it hasn't been an issue until now hasn't given me much incentive to try. I'll try to approve them ASAP.

Amaryllis said...

No, wait, I saw that post already! And liked it!

That's Mime_Paradox? I can't keep anybody's names straight.

(I feel like Mark of MarkReads, tripping over Tolkien's's habit of giving three or four names to every character and place in Middle-Earth.)

(So I guess that answers the question of what I've been reading on-line lately.)

(Off-line, I've been reading The Word Exchange, very Tolkieni-ish in itself.

(Also, I finished Reamde, and if I ever finish processing what I thought of it in light of your recent posts on vigilantism, I'll know what to say about it.)

(I don't know why everything has to be parenthetical.)

Brin Bellway said...

(Because parentheticals are fun? (I've long been fond of them myself. (Probably too fond.)))

depizan said...

There's no hive-mind? I want a refund.

There's also the associated cultural baggage of various clothing - including that underwear is supposed to be, well, under. (Unless one is intentionally using underwear for other purposes.) If I'm allowed to high five people through the internet, that is indeed an awesome post. *high five* Now if only one could beam that post into everyone's minds, the world might be a better place.

As for other open posty stuff, I'm still busy playing SWTOR and writing fanfic. And coming to the distinct conclusion (or re-conclusion) that space adventure is what I love. Which probably means I should be writing it, period, not just when I'm fanficing about my SWTOR characters. In retrospect, I think I stopped writing all the time about the time I stopped writing space adventure. Am I allowed to call myself an idiot?

gyroninja said...

Speaking of Mark Reads, I finished reading all of Mark Reads Twilight for some more perspective on this whole Twilight deconstructing thing. It's pretty amazing how that series only gets worse as it goes on.

(My favorite part was probably the image of William Shakespeare and Kurt Vonnegut getting drunk on Whiskey Sours and taking a shit on Ayn Rand's bed).

Speaking of Kurt Vonnegut, in meatspace I finished reading Mother Night this week, and... yeah, it's amazing, even by Vonnegut's standards. Trigger Warnings for the Holocaust and heavy racism though. It's a pretty heavy read for how short it is, but it's a fantastic exploration of hatred and what makes otherwise good people do evil things.

Ana Mardoll said...

I've been there. I still think some of my best stuff is/was SW fanfic. There's something about the universe that's wholly unlike anything else. One of these days I'm going to try to rework some of it into a Totally Not Star Wars I Swear form, but we'll see how that goes. :)

Patrick Knipe said...

That post was pretty fantastic, no lie. I admit, the writer has a really really good handle on the language needed to get the point across well.

Depizan, you might be onto something there. One of the things I've run into over time with my games is characters changing from setting to setting- that is, using the same character over several unrelated games produces a character who is fundamentally the same, but different in other certain ways.

I'd think, actually, since you probably have a good grasp of those characters from your writing so far, to reuse them perhaps as protagonists in your own space adventure writing? I admit, I think it'd be pretty interesting to read.

depizan said...

Hmm... that isn't a bad idea, actually. I wouldn't be the first person to file the numbers off something. Or the last. I'm not writing about force users and the general ideas simply require either an interstellar conflict or a dystopic setting (or both). We shall see. Perhaps my fanfic will prove to be first draft/background stuff for something more.

depizan said...

Heh. Maybe we really do need a fan fic area here. Or a writers' area. Or both.'ve linked to some writers' thing before, haven't you?

Mime_Paradox said...

I'm not Ana, but her message board for writers is
. And as someone who's benefited quite a lot from it, I totally recommend it.

Patrick Knipe said...

That's a good idea! Ultimately, having characters you can engage with and understand is the first and most crucial step, and lots of fanfic writing and playing will help that a lot.

I'm going to admit something: I really dig dystopic settings.

The reasoning is simple: I feel that, the grimmer and more hopeless the setting, the more heroic, noble and inspiring a person's hope and struggles become. It's easy to lose hope in a hopeless world, but to keep that hope is much more impressive.

depizan said...

Ha, that's almost exactly the reason a friend of mine loves the Warhammer 40k stuff. You've got a mind twin out there.

Probably many, actually. I'm iffy about dystopic settings because far too many writers don't see them that way. A hopeful story in a dystopic setting is one thing, but there are a lot out there that seem to be about sucking the hope out of the reader. Or maybe that's just me.

Will Wildman said...

I started filing off the serial numbers of a Star-Wars-esque universe a few weeks back, around when I outlined a massive rewrite of Episode 1. It's not that difficult, since some of the things that most characterise Star Wars (vast sapient variation far beyond Rubber Forehead Aliens, a galactic government in turmoil) are also fundamentally generic. I think a lot of what brands Star Wars as Star Wars is the Jedi. If one wanted to write a story inspired by Star Wars but not featuring or referencing any Jedi, there's little trouble - if you don't make a point of the galactic capital world being a city-planet or having moon-sized death rays flying through the stars, I think you're good to go. The difficult part, I think, would be creating one's own order of peacekeeper monks that could fit the Jedi's role in the story without being Jedi.

Tragic step 1: Lightsabers are abandoned, no analogue replaces them.

Fun step 2: Develop a new system of monkful powers.

What are Jedi about, really? Peace, 'balance' of some kind, and semipredestination - they strongly believe in prophecy, but they also believe that future events, once observed, are still mutable (the Jedi Council actually straight-up says "Yeah, he's probably the Chosen One, but that doesn't make this a non-terrible idea"). They also believe in destinies, that the Force guides them to places where they are meant to do things. Now, this last bit always seemed a bit weird to me, very conscious - I prefer the instinctive, animist Force that Ben Kenobi describes to Luke in Ep IV, an 'energy field' created by life and permeating everything. From the perspective of the Force, all living things may be considered a single organism, and thus in a way the idea of 'destiny' makes sense: the Force guides Jedi to places where they are needed in the same way a body dispatches white blood cells to places where it is suffering.

I like music as a theme, and chants and mantras are classic monk stuff, so I'd design my new order around the idea that the fundamental forces of existence may be experienced as song - the universe is filled with the vast choir of living things, all trying to sing in their parts but disrupted by evil and suffering, and the goal of this order is to bring about total harmony.*

The order's meditative practices would be focused around five musical expressions - one for the living interconnectedness, and four for the basic physical forces of gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong forces - which they would be introduced to in that order. Expertise with each would allow manipulation of that force, so that, for example, a novice would learn the Chant of Black Earth (gravity) to reduce their gravitic weight (and run/jump at ridiculous speeds and distances) before they could be introduced to the Mantra of Bright Skies (electromagnetism) that would allow them to bend, reflect, and refract light around themselves (thus making them immune to laserfire and, among the greatest masters, possibly invisible).

And... my brain kind of goes on in this direction but I'll stop for the moment because long post may be long enough for now.

*This is suboptimal terminology, since there are cultures where harmony isn't the point of music. The concept I'm trying to get at is 'everyone is complementary to everyone else and every voice is important to the whole of the music'.

depizan said...

And for bonus points, I'm already less annoyed by your Jedi equivalent than I am by the Jedi. If I were going to have something fill in for the Jedi, I'd probably replace magic powers with genetic engineering and technology and, well, power corrupts. (Which might make them appear more like some sort of critique of superheroes, actually. Huh.)

gyroninja said...

if you don't make a point of the galactic capital world being a city-planet

George Lucas already borrowed that from Foundation anyway :P

chris the cynic said...

Do we have to do away with lightsabers? They're the most fun part, a woefully inefficient weapon (though incredibly useful cutting tool) that can only be made useful via the careful application of magic. There ought to be more of them. Lightknives, lightbayonets, lighttridents, light sporks.

The main character can be an inventor whose trade is making ever more absurd light-things.


I'm not a role player, but occasionally I become an RPG reader, I remember one very interesting fan modification for In Nomine, unfortunately now lost to the internet, that presented things as being such that the angels were in a major key, the demons were in a minor key, and the horrors beyond imagination were atonal music.

It had a very neat mix of music theory and metaphysics.

A more traditional approach to In Nomine is that the angels are part of the symphony, each playing their part in the harmony, and the demons are a cacophony of soloists each trying to make their preferred song and version the dominant one.

In either case and argument can be made in favor of the demon way of doing things. Minor keys are not inherently evil, and if you've ever listened to a large band warming up by each playing their own thing you know that there can be a certain amount of beauty in the resulting disjointed noise.

Anyway, those are some things that link metaphysics and music. Either of them could result in some very interesting not-Jedi not-Sith arguments.

Also note that it might be worth digging up something on Pythagorean philosophy since if you're going to do music-magic IN SPACE, you might as well go all the way back to the music of the spheres. Having never studied Pythagoras I have no idea what the space-faring Pythagorean knights would be like, but it could be a source of inspiration


And since my mind refuses to let hope die even when it should*, let me ask you all an impossible question. How would you get 4,000 dollars in three months if you needed to know whether or not you'd actually succeed in seven days?

*There never should have been hope in the first place, but for some reason I can't let it go, which just means that there's a constant sense of disappointment.

JonathanPelikan said...

I agree; lightsabers are just plain cool. I even have knock-offs for my super special hero and his super special military organization thing. They function basically as lightsabers but I'm going to try and explore some of the interesting possibilities that Star Wars never does, such as the weapons working more like whips, different styles of weaponry, their potential for cutting through anything in their way... when it's time to rally the troops and send up a flare, the hero just points skyward and turns up the power setting. Or when he wants to 'shoot' something, just flick a burst of power towards the enemy. All sorts of fun little tricks.

(There will also be downsides to the weapons; you can't really block shots aimed for you, it consumes energy cells, requires maintenance, oh, and there's the real reason why it hasn't been widely implemented among the regular army; the kinda sort of deadly radiation it makes.)

I think it'll help me distinguish from Star Wars in that the people wielding these weapons don't particularly have philosophy at their core, or anything like the Force; they are soldiers, the deadliest of weapons in the Republic's arsenal and completely honest about their purpose.

Complete tangent; I've always wondered why more droids weren't equipped with lightsabers. One of the main reasons muggles can''t do what Jedi do is that they don't have the reflexes and skill to avoid chopping themselves to bits or something. Well, with mechanical precision, surely-

Then I remember the Trade Federation droids in the prequels. Oh.

depizan said...

The odd thing about Muggles not chopping themselves to bits is that the Star Wars universe also includes vibroblades, which should be every bit as likely to lop off bits of an incompetent user, only without the handy cauterizing factor of lightsabers.

I do have to admit that lightsabers are awfully nifty looking.

hidden_urchin said...

Get out of my head, Will Wildman. :) I've been playing around with an almost identical idea. (Seriously, identical.) The biggest differences are 1.) that the musicians in charge of fixing things when they get off key are actually appointed by a personification of the unity (i.e. God) who can't intervene itself due to being completely unfamiliar with the experiences of non-divine beings, 2.) that it's largely instrumental music instead of chant, 3.) the musicians themselves are physically no different from the other non-divine beings and tend to suffer negative physical consequences every time they step in to alter the universe. Thus, they tend to be highly motivated to finding solutions that don't involve their abilities or solutions that will reduce the need for them to use those abilities.

Asha said...

If you want a good example of Star Wars with the serial numbers filed off, look at Mass Effect. Uses a pretty similar universe, but instead of Jedi using the force, you have people able to manipulate dark energy without any kind of moral imperative behind it. Then the story took off.

I've always wondered what was it about Star Wars that has usually made it so much more compelling to me than Star Trek. And then, Babylon 5 was, for me, a much better story using similar themes than Star Trek was. (Though I did not watch DS9 because it lost my interest in the early seasons.) I've tried to figure it out, and it seems more that B5 and Star Wars are epic in scope? Big, overarching story lines? Anyone got any recs for similar sci-fi?

thatlitgirl said...

@Asha – That makes sense: the events of Trek tend to take place on a starship; despite their military trappings and the backdrop of a frontier environment, the confines of the setting actually make them like a cosy domestic drama.

@Will Wildman & @hidden_urchin – Ha! Masters of Chant indeed. I feel a tiny bit guilty that the first thing I thought was ‘The AinulindalĂ«! Now with Bonus Science added!’

Rikalous said...

I come bearing knowledge from the wiki! Apparently the reason lightsabers are harder to use than vibroweapons is that all the weight's in the handle, creating a gyroscope effect. I prefer my old hypothesis that you needed some force ability to keep the blade coherent.

Apparently there are lightwhips, along with the lightsaber equivalents of short swords and claymores, floating around in the expanded universe somewhere.

gyroninja said...

I think I've heard that explanation before, but someone complained that that balance would actually be ideal for a thrusting weapon like a rapier, but it looks way cooler for them to be swung around like a katana.

Rikalous said...

I think it was the Episode II novelization that said that the wide swinging style was developed because it was useful for knocking aside blaster bolts coming from everywhere.

depizan said...

And I have learned something new. Or several somethings new today.

Patrick Knipe said...

That's pretty much why I love 40k as well. Definitely a mind twin.

And yes, sadly (from my perspective), a fair few dystopic stories tend to create this world where the message is predominantly depressing: hope doesn't mean a damned thing and nothing you can do will change it. Some people might like that, but ultimately, I feel the same: it does suck the hope out of a reader, and that's sad.

I guess it -is- a change from a lot of stories, where the endings are all happy and nice. But still...

If I were to write a dystopia, I'd have it be a gloomy, depressing, oppressive place where most of the people -have- given up hope, and the idea of anything getting better- even a little- is a childish fantasy.

The protagonist would be a single person- no one special. They aren't a chosen one or a supreme hero or a lost monarch- they're just someone who has hope in a hopeless world. And through this simple hope, they help others. They might be knocked down, smashed, hurt and punished again and again, but somehow, some part of their actions get through. They help others, even in a little way, and the pebbles start to roll. If, by the end of the story, the world of this person -has- improved, even a little, then something that was once thought impossible has been rendered possible- and this means everything changes.

MEANWHILE: on the topic of Jedi.

I will happily admit that for me, in (say) the KOTOR games, the game really, truly begins the moment you lay a hand on a lightsaber. Everything before that is a prologue.

Also, if you don't mind my asking, Depizan: what about the Jedi annoy you?

depizan said...

I don't mind. However, I'm not sure a night when I decided to have a little rum and Coke is the best night to try to be coherent about the Jedi. I will do my best, however. Chalk up any incoherence to my poor choice of after work drinks.

My annoyance with the Jedi is kind of a progressive thing - that is, the more movies there were, the more annoyed I got. I don't think there's anything in A New Hope that bugged me about them, they were a mostly vanished peacekeeping force with odd powers. But by The Empire Strikes back, we have Yoda lying (about who he is, about why he can't train Luke, about whether Luke can save his friends, about whether the Rebellion is doomed) and being a rather questionable teacher. Yoda telling Luke that saving his friends would doom the Rebellion I have a lot of trouble accepting. He'd admitted the future isn't certain, but when Luke wants to do the human thing and save people he cares about (who, by the way, are important to said Rebellion. Well, Leia is, anyway.) suddenly Yoda knows the future, for certain, and Luke absolutely should let his friends die. WTF?

Still, that could just be Yoda. Maybe he's not typical of the Jedi. Well, except for the lying thing - Obi Wan lied to Luke about who is father was. (Though I can sympathize with that a bit more, and even believe that Obi Wan had half convinced himself that Vader was no longer Anakin.)

Then we get the prequels and, no, Yoda is typical of the Jedi. Qui Gon and Obi Wan don't try to save Anakin's mother from slavery. Why? Because he'd still be taken away from her, I guess. Which is also really freaking creepy. Anakin - who's, what, nine? - is too old to be trained? How freaking young do they usually start!?

Then there's the whole no-romance thing. I could understand that, sort of, if it was to prevent the Jedi from being manipulated (bad guys kidnap your wife/husband/whatever). But it's treated as if just having someone you love somehow compromises you as a Jedi. Again, WTF? It's like the Jedi give up their (for lack of a better word) humanity. This does not seem like a good thing. At all. It also gives rise to the idea that the Jedi must have some sort of...of breeding stock to continue their numbers. After all, it's implied that being strong in the Force is hereditary, so the Jedi would be obligated to breed. Which, when love is forbidden, goes all kinds of bad wrong places.

And, lastly, I have some issues with the idea of people with special inborn ability that sets them above the rest. The witches/wizards of Harry Potter who are (supposedly) so much better than Muggles. Superheroes. Etc. I dislike the whole chosen one/chosen people idea. I like plenty of fiction that has it, including the Star Wars movies, superhero comics (some of them), and even Harry Potter (despite my tearing my hair over what could have been there). I just don't care for what that says about all us Muggles. I mean, who wants to be told by fiction that they're only good for being rescued. (At least Star Wars - the original trilogy - mostly avoids that. Han, Chewie, Lando, Wedge, R2, ewoks, even 3PO, all kinds of non-Jedi do important stuff.)

depizan said...

Holy crap, I wrote a novel. Sorry.

thatlitgirl said...

It was an interesting and well-articulated novel which I rather agree with, so I for one am not complaining!

Patrick Knipe said...

Wow. That's a really cool explanation, and it makes a great deal of sense.

And yeah, it's sort of invisible on the surface how extreme the Jedi Order are. I'm pretty much certain that Anakin, being nine, is too old for one reason:

Once they're past a certain age, perhaps 5-6 or so, they are far less easy to indoctrinate. That's basically it.

Jedi are... Yeah. I mean, in some ways, they're either based and/or have strong parallels to certain real life groups. Some Tibetan monk groups seek out reincarnated members of their order, and typically find them when they're very young- and depending on culture and location, it is entirely possible that one day they're just a normal kid, the next they're... Not.

Imagine how it must feel to one day learn that you're the Dalai Lama, for example.

It's a monk's life. And that, at least, isn't too bad to me. Monks are expected to practice lives of celibacy (mostly) and understanding other meanings of love- for example, agape, which is a type of divine, higher-order love suggested by the Greeks- I suppose it's a sort of pure, super-Platonic love for others. It's a search for enlightenment.

But see, this is where -my- problems come up- not in the meat of the Order, but the context. They're monks- that's obvious, but the problem here is that this worked a lot better when the Force was a vague mystical massive life field. Once you add something scientific to it, it clashes harshly with the... Well, the mystical, monkish roots of the Jedi.

For example: you mentioned breeding stock, as the Force sensitivity is hereditary, or else it's down to plucking out the Special People. If Force sensitivity is 'in the blood', then technically speaking it should be perfectly possible for the Jedi Order to bolster their numbers with blood transfusions and cloning.

And... You're absolutely right about the leaders. The Jedi leaders do some genuinely skeevy things- I've never been able to interpret Yoda's warning in any way that doesn't make me feel weirded out. Was he trying to hide Luke's heritage from him? Maybe, but would it be worth the deaths of Han, Leia, etc.? Luke going to save them obviously doesn't destroy the rebellion, it doesn't stop Luke's training, it... Actually works out fantastically in the long run. It's likely the Rebellion would've failed if Luke hadn't gone.

So was it a test of resolve? By threatening Luke with the 'prescient' knowledge that he could either have his friends, -or- his training/the Rebellion? To see if Luke's heart was in the right place. But even then, that seems... Yeah.

So yeah, the Jedi's actual individual members tend to be jerks.

It doesn't stop with the movies, either. Knights of the Old Republic 2's lead writer, Chris Avellone, is famous for having loooots of dim views on the Jedi. And he has absolutely no qualms about making that clear.

Aha. I, too, have written a novel.

Ana Mardoll said...

I want to hang, like, a glowing neon +1 sign on this comment. :D

GeniusLemur said...

For my money, the biggest disappointment of the Jedi is how lame they are. What can they do in episodes 4-6? Swing a lightsaber real good. What happens against machine guns, tanks, artillery, napalm? They're hosed. But they're usually holding back, old, or half-trained. So finally Episode 1 rolls around and what can a fully-trained Jedi in his prime do? Swing a lightsaber real good. Against utterly pathetic droid troops. And then run from two destroyer droids. Yeah, that was worth the years of waiting. And when you factor in all the bungling they do, it really seems like the only reason the Jedi haven't been overthrown already is just because nobody bothered.

depizan said...

In truth, if I had any faith that Lucas grasped the creepy aspects of the Jedi, I'd mind them less. That could lead to stuff about what one sacrifices to be a force of good, ends/means arguments, and all kinds of other good story telling. Being told that the Jedi are capital G Good while they behave in highly questionable ways is a bit worrisome. Mind, most fans engage in what I wish Lucas did.

And, yes, it would've been far better to stick with the all mystical version of the Jedi. Trying to scientific it was not a good move. All mystical also mostly avoids the bloodline thing, or at least makes it unclear enough that one doesn't instantly imagine Jedi brothels.

Even the whole light side/dark side dichotomy, and what exactly that means, gets rather interesting when people start examining it in more detail. It's pretty clear, for example, that the various writers on Star Wars: The Old Republic had different ideas, since there are quests which have light side/dark side options that make perfect sense to me and ones that don't. (And then there's the question of whether Jedi brothels really are canon. I mean, in the game, the light side does give thumbs up to casual sex in exchange for information. (Granted, it might not do that for Jedi characters...))

GeniusLemur said...

There was a bit in the novelization of A New Hope that I really liked where Obi-Wan is talking to Luke about how Luke's father was a powerful Jedi and a great pilot. He says that piloting (and by extension the Force) is not hereditary, but there are a number of helpful small talents that are. By that interpretation, Luke just has a natural leg up in piloting and Jediing, in the same way that someone might be a talented mathematician or plumber. None of this "high levels of midi-chlorians" crud.

depizan said...

Oh, yes, I vastly prefer that version. I'm even okay with the idea that people vary in how sensitive to the force they naturally are, just as people in real life vary in how good they are at any number of things. But if the Force is really binding everything together, being a Jedi should really be a choice because it ought to be possible for anyone. Just easier for people who are naturally more in touch/sensitive/whatever you want to call it.

Hell, in A New Hope, Obi Wan implies that "luck" is some form of unconscious Force manipulation. At least, I think that's what we're supposed to get from his "no such thing as luck" line.

Will Wildman said...

Hell, in A New Hope, Obi Wan implies that "luck" is some form of unconscious Force manipulation. At least, I think that's what we're supposed to get from his "no such thing as luck" line.

Less 'Force manipulation' and more 'manipulation by the Force', I always thought - he's implying that any of Han's amazing feats that were supposedly Solo Luck were in fact the will of the Force. Which I'm not totally wild about, because as I noted above I like the Force more when it's not presented as a conscious thinking entity. But I do like the idea that people who aren't Jedi can still interact with the Force, they just aren't necessarily aware of it. It's like being numb but otherwise physically able - not having a sense of touch doesn't mean you can't hold.

In terms of storybuilding, I'm okay with the Jedi's screwed-up approach to romantic attachment because I think it's representative of their basic failings - they have a tendency to buy into their own hype and, for example, believe that they actually are above emotion just because they say they should all be above emotion. And so it becomes this kind of taboo thing that they are simultaneously obsessed with and terrified of, thus leading to People Making Terrible Decisions.

(Tangent: I have a hero in a fantasy recon who is in a role that's typically filled by Greatest Swordfighter In The Realm but, for sensible and logical reasons, has almost no martial training. His catchphrase is "I make excellent decisions" and his signature move is getting enemies to, e.g., stand right there while they threaten his life, which will probably be long enough for the candle to burn through the rope that will drop a chandelier on them.)

There was something else that I wanted to say about Jedi that did bother me in the sense of 'this is just badly written' but by the time I wrote the rest of this post, I forgot what it was. Moving along.

So finally Episode 1 rolls around and what can a fully-trained Jedi in his prime do? Swing a lightsaber real good. Against utterly pathetic droid troops. And then run from two destroyer droids.

It's implied that the destroyers were specifically designed to be anti-Jedi, but this is one of the reasons I particularly liked the (original) characterisation of Vergere, who was a bright point in the otherwise awful New Jedi Order series. (Spoilers if anyone cares.) When she finally reveals her whole backstory, she refers to herself as the last Jedi of the Old Republic, and she has some legitimately funky abilities born of a Force philosophy that is simultaneously terrifying and godlike. It takes the white-and-black morality typical to Star Wars and says "No, there are no simple answers. Morality is hard. When you accept that, when you stop thinking of the universe as divided between Us and Them, Self and Other, then you really know what the Force is, and you can do anything."

GeniusLemur said...

Even if destroyers are specifically supposed to be anti-Jedi weapons, there's still a problem. The Jedi have to be born with enough midi-chlorians, found early enough, trained for years, etc. etc. The destroyer is just a droid, with no special/expensive technology mentioned, and the makers can churn them out by the thousand. If a destroyer is a match for a Jedi in a one-on-one (or two-on-two) fight, then having Jedi around is pointless.

I think all the really junk about "have to find them early" and "no love" is just bad writing tailored to Anakin's character arc. Why is he vulnerable? Because he started the training old enough to have felt fear and anger. Why does he turn his back on the Jedi order? Because he loves his wife. It's the same reason Anakin can obsess over what's going to happen to Padme while sitting in a briefing with dozens of other Jedi without any of the other TELEPATHS in the room noticing.

depizan said...

Less 'Force manipulation' and more 'manipulation by the Force', I always thought - he's implying that any of Han's amazing feats that were supposedly Solo Luck were in fact the will of the Force.

That is a far more Jedi attitude, yes. However, I find the idea of mystical energy fields controlling people's destinies to be unbelievably fucking creepy so I'm sticking with my take as the reality. Really, if everything is the will of the Force, what you've got is the problem of evil turned up to eleven with a huge helping of no such thing as free will thrown in for good measure. It turns everyone into Force puppets and takes away all responsibility for evil actions. "The dark side made me do it." Do. Not. Want.

And even the Jedi don't act like they think that's how it works.

I admit I don't draw fine lines between "my objections to the Jedi if they were real" and "my objections to the Jedi as a fictional idea." Mostly, my problem is that Lucas doesn't seem to grasp that there are problems. If he did, then my objections to the Jedi would all fall into the first category. But there seems to be some confusion as to whether the Jedi are right in their disturbing aspects. Which is rather disturbing outside of fiction.

(Tangent: I have a hero in a fantasy recon who is in a role that's typically filled by Greatest Swordfighter In The Realm but, for sensible and logical reasons, has almost no martial training. His catchphrase is "I make excellent decisions" and his signature move is getting enemies to, e.g., stand right there while they threaten his life, which will probably be long enough for the candle to burn through the rope that will drop a chandelier on them.)

That is awesome. :D Do. Want.

Patrick Knipe said...

If you think of the Force as being this benevolent thing then no problem, but if it's just the result of the aggregate beliefs and feelings of the population then a shift in those beliefs can cause a shift in the entire landscape, and if the other side starts recruiting everything could come crashing down.

And then you get the Warp from Warhammer 40,000.


JonathanPelikan said...

I've gotta say, that when I get to That Quest on Tython in The Old Republic, I go with the 'evil' option every single frakking time. The quest basically embodies what folks have said upthread about the flaws in the very concept of the Jedi themselves.

You come across a pair of Jedi Masters who are concerned about their Padawans and want to turn to you, a fellow student, to help them. Although model students in every other respect, the two acolytes, Moracen and Spanios, might be having a romantic relationship. If you know anything about the Jedi and their conflation of chastity with moral purity, then you know why this revelation is so shocking and horrifying.

They need you to help find out if their Padawans really are developing a healthy emotional bond or if they're just being paranoid. So, you accept, and venture forth to ancient ruins where other Jedi are investigating. You find Moracen and Spanios and they're pretty bad at concealing their affections; you catch them in the heinous action of a kiss.

Your choice in this quest basically boils down to this; turn them into their Masters for having an illicit relationship, which scores you Light Side Points, or returning to the Masters and lying. If you choose to lie to the Masters, they will believe you, and, relieved, call off their investigation.

Oh, and the Padawans quickly offer you a bribe to keep things on the DL: a rare lightsaber crystal. Lying to the Masters nets you immediate Dark Side Points, and you must then return to the students in the ruins. Once there, you can either choose to accept your bribe for further Dark Side Points, or refuse it.

Here's where things get bad for me. Up until now, you can still see this as the work of an Order that is flawed, and you can put yourself into your character and take a stand on principles against the Jedi Code. What happens next shows that, fundamentally, the game appears incapable of even conceiving of the idea of you deciding to protect their relationship on anything other can evil grounds. It's what people mentioned upstream, that Lucas doesn't even seem to notice that his Jedi have huge problems with them.

Upon denying the bribe, the two get it into their heads that the reason you didn't rat them out or take the crystal is that you really want to offer them the chance to end their relationship on their own terms. Which, of course, isn't true. Anybody doing this quest would reasonably expect that turning them in would lead to one thing, while lying to protect them would lead to, you know, them being protected.

At this point you have another choice. You can confirm that, yes, that was your plan all along, and gain Light Side Points. If you persist and tell them to keep their relationship, then, of course, you gain further Dark Side Points and that's the end of it. And your character says "Yes, good... follow your passions..." in such an obviously sinister manner that it hurts.

Because, of course, deciding to protect the right of Padawans to emotional love has surely put me on the fast track to becoming Palpatine himself in the future.

If the quest had made allowance for my moral objections here and given me a way to take a stand on principle, I wouldn't have nearly so much of a problem with it. But, as I said, it seems incapable of even conceiving of a Jedi who might object on principle to the stupid parts of the Jedi Code.

This is the same setting of Star Wars that has former Jedi Jolee Bindo, a gray-side character who is morally good but refuses to be shackled by the Order and the bad aspects of it. He was in Knights of the Old Republic I.

Rrrrrrrrgghghgh. I lie to the Masters then refuse the bribe every single time I do that quest. I'll take the Dark Side Points: It was the right thing to do, period.

depizan said...

Hmm. You managed to de-creepy the idea and the creepy it right back up again. (Though I've got to say Han has some awfully bad luck when he is - one would imagine - following the Force. Though one could argue that, in the bigger scope of things, it was for the best that they went to Cloud City, since Lando proved a valuable addition to the rebellion and Luke really needed to find out that Vader was his father. On the personal scope, it was very much not a good thing for Han.)

What if the Force really is dual, as the Jedi and Sith claim? You have the benevolent light side of the Force guiding people to do good, preserve life, care about others, etc, but you also have the malevolent dark side that guides people to seek power for power's sake, harm people, etc. Perhaps the Force does this because the aggregate good of the universe makes the light side more powerful and the aggregate bad of the universe makes the dark side more powerful.

I'm not sure that's really helping with the creepy, though. Or avoiding the questions you pose at the end there.

(Of course, a benevolent Force - or powerful benevolent light side - would explain why my Imperial Agent can get away with the stuff he does. The game has allowed for some mind boggling light side choices. To twelve foot tall alien terrorist who's currently holding several Imperial military officers hostage: "You've lost. Why don't you take your people and go to another planet and live in peace." Alien terrorist's response to the puny little human agent: "Okay." Imperial Military: "You can't do that!" Agent: "I just did." (I'm paraphrasing, since I was too busy gaping at the screen to write down the exact dialogue.) That's some incredible bluff success there, with a follow up of...of I don't even know what. It was awesome, but vastly "How in blazes did that work!?")

Will Wildman said...

Thank you, chris, you said what I was trying to say about Obi-Wan's views on 'luck' much better than I did. I think that there is supposed to be a failsafe keeping the Force as a whole from going evil, namely that it flows from life and therefore always favours benevolence and bounty rather than totalitarian oppression. It might be vulnerable to a mind-enslavement in which there's just one evil consciousness in the galaxy and everyone else is reduced to drones (I think that's actually the villain in the current SW books?) but otherwise the Force is fundamentally predisposed to survival instincts, which would rather be, uh, going forth and multiplying rather than being stuck as a rung in an infinitely tall ladder of fascism.


Up until now, you can still see this as the work of an Order that is flawed, and you can put yourself into your character and take a stand on principles against the Jedi Code. What happens next shows that, fundamentally, the game appears incapable of even conceiving of the idea of you deciding to protect their relationship on anything other can evil grounds.

I charged into the ruins willing to protect their relationship and then found that they were both so irritating that I didn't care about them any more. I think the writers were intentionally forcing a no-middle-ground scenario where the only reason to protect the twerps would be your desire to destabilise the Order. Which is sloppy writing, but I don't think it's a lack of vision - I think it's an attempt to narrow the vision artificially.

My Jedi still lied for them and took their crystal, on the basis that 1) if the MIND-READING Jedi Masters aren't capable of working out whether two of their padawans are tongue-wrestling, it's their own damn fault and they can suffer the consequences, and 2) that crystal was very shiny. I gave it to Kira, though - it's yellow, whereas my Sentinel wields one red lightsaber and one blue. I'm not just neutral, I'm actively contradictory. I like the idea of charging an enemy who is waiting to see whether I'm Light or Dark, seeing both colours come on, and having that panicked moment of realisation that they have no idea what I might decide to do next.

I haven't gotten far enough into the game to really pursue any romance plots, and my Sentinel lady is completely devoted to Kira anyway (put in the same-sex options, Bioware!) but I'm curious as to whether coupling up with someone as a Jedi is automatically considered a Dark option.


In regards to laser-immunity and invisibility:

In terms of 'realism' this should probably be the other way around - redirecting vast amounts of energy would seem 'harder' than a simple lensing effect.

Maybe I'm just not quite up on my laser science, but if someone can maintain a lensing effect that makes them invisible, shouldn't that also make them laserproof, in the sense that the bolts go right 'through' (around) them? I figured that invisibility and laserproofing would be roughly the same skill, but invisibility would have to be full-body and maintained, whereas laserproofing would be just at a single spot and temporary.

chris the cynic said...

I think that there is supposed to be a failsafe keeping the Force as a whole from going evil, namely that it flows from life and therefore always favours benevolence and bounty rather than totalitarian oppression.

I seem to recall Corran Horn saying something like that to a Sith Lord. As I recall it could be badly paraphrased to: "Every time you commit a genocide, you reduce your power source, every time you commit a single murder you reduce your power source. The more people you kill, the weaker you get you stupid asshole."


Regarding laser redirection, I think it should be somewhat easier to do that because it doesn't require finesse. To have the laser not hit you you just need to make the light bend. To make yourself invisible you need to make it bend just right. (It's not enough to not be seen, you have to make it so people don't see a giant visual anomaly where you're standing in place of you.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Bah, this makes me so ragey! (Though I do like Will's solution.)

Can we also talk about how much I hate the new* detail that the Dark Side makes you look... different? I hate that, so so much.

* I say it's new because I never, ever got that from the movies. When we played KOTOR1 on Dark Side, I was really shocked and confused that my character's face seemed to be changing. This upsets me on multiple levels, including the fact that if we ever meet an alien race that NATURALLY looks like that (The Volcano People of Volcanotron) then how are they going to feel? Bad, that's how.

Will Wildman said...

I say it's new because I never, ever got that from the movies. When we played KOTOR1 on Dark Side, I was really shocked and confused that my character's face seemed to be changing. This upsets me on multiple levels, including the fact that if we ever meet an alien race that NATURALLY looks like that (The Volcano People of Volcanotron) then how are they going to feel? Bad, that's how.

The movies are 'interesting' about this. In the 4-6 trilogy, we're introduced to Palpatine as this ghoulish little thing, and we ultimately find out that Darth Vader was badly scarred and disfigured by some unknown incident, and maybe one could conclude that going Dark causes physical decay. But then in 1-3, we find out that Palpatine looked perfectly ordinary until he got LIGHTNING IN HIS FACE, and while Vader seemed to have yellow eyes sometimes after turning evil, all of his other disfiguration was explained by lava convection. So Evil People still become Ugly, but it's incidental to their Evil and could quite plausibly have happened to Good people with the same results. So at most it's some kind of karmic 'if you do bad things the universe will scar you', which is really disturbing in a setting where the universe may or may not have a consciousness.

In the case of the SW games, they're really just following the leader, since it's a longstanding tradition in lots of games with a morality meter (good old Black & White, or Fable) that doing Bad things will also make you scary and/or ugly. Which, again: WTF implications. I am disappointed the TOR is so far behind some of BioWare's other games (I don't think Mass Effect or Dragon Age do either of these things - DA2 doesn't even have an objective morality meter, just the varying inclinations of your allies.)

I am more than a little amused that the Pureblood Sith species in TOR (and they've probably been in other media before this, but I hadn't seen them) basically look like a slightly melted Satan-Devil. I can put up with a certain amount of improbable coincidence, Star Wars, but sooner or later you're getting into self-parody. Or, to quote Penny Arcade: "I'm super-trustworthy," said Darth Nefarious.

Ana Mardoll said...

Which, again: WTF implications.

Precisely. And it doesn't make SENSE. The games have gone over into sheer parody where "quiet manipulation of various pawns in order to control the universe" is less DS points than MURDER DOGGIES FOR FUN. *facepalm*

The Unskippable video for the latest game has Graham saying "Alright, we know he's a Sith, but just to be super-clear, let's have him look EXACTLY LIKE SATAN." Ahahahahaha.

Will Wildman said...

I think a lot of morality-meter games, including TOR, suffer from a tendency to conflate Good with Lawful and kind of throw Chaotic out the window. I meet a politician who double-crossed gangsters in order to get them to fund her campaign so that she could get elected (instead of some corrupt rich person) and support legislation to protect refugees - if I insist that she MUST go public with this information, I get lightside points, because that is lawful; if I agree that it's okay to steal from criminals in order to help the poor I get darkside points and not even a Robin Hood hat. And then my darkside options are inevitably about getting paid better myself, rather than coercing people into doing the right thing - that is the slippery slope to be careful on. Someone who lies to get a bigger paycheck isn't the hero to be afraid of; they're just a thug. The person we need to keep an eye on is the one who would happily hold a politician at saberpoint until they agreed to veto a particular bill that the hero doesn't like. (I want to be that saberholder.)

(Also, I was in a group on a mission to destroy a station. We had the option of creating a distraction in a relatively harmless way, or with a big explosion that killed more people. Choosing the explosion is a darkside option, obviously. However, EITHER WAY, the mission ends with the station blowing up, and there's no indication that we sounded an evacuation alarm, so basically everyone ends up dead either way. But as long as you only mass-murder at the end of the mission and don't divide it up between two points in time, you are apparently untainted. WTF.)

depizan said...

I think a lot of morality-meter games, including TOR, suffer from a tendency to conflate Good with Lawful and kind of throw Chaotic out the window.

This is much more of a problem on the Republic side of TOR. On the Empire side, Lawful much more often correlates to the Evil axis, what with the Empire being the Law and all. Granted, I've no idea what D&D alignment my agent would really fit - Neutral Good, I suppose, with mild Chaotic tendencies. (I personally think something on the order of Heroic Unwise or Reckless Good would be more appropriate. Everytime the game will let me save lives or tell the Sith to take a long walk off a short pier, I go with those options. The latter is occasionally painful.)

I'll have to pay attention next time I take a character through Coruscant, but I thought the politician wasn't actually helping the poor. And the criminals were mad that she hadn't followed through on refugee housing. (Granted, I went through that bit with friends and it is not nearly as easy to follow the story as when I'm gaming alone. But the early Coruscant missions seemed full of WTF light side/dark side choices. Why is it bad to out that a Senator wants to ally with the Empire again?)

On the subject of group missions, I was mildly irritated that the first Empire side flashpoint gave me the options of "capture the defecting general so he can be tortured to death" (light side) and "kill the defecting general." (dark side) It's the only time I've been tempted to take the dark side option on my agent. It's especially annoying because it's light side to kill people who ask you to kill them, so it isn't as if the light side is pro-life whether you like it or not. (But the general doesn't ask you to kill him. if he had, I would have obliged.)

What I really wanted was an option of "fake the general's death and let him defect to the Republic." *sigh* That was one mission that did seem to fall into the Lawful is Good even when it isn't problem.

depizan said...

Can we also talk about how much I hate the new* detail that the Dark Side makes you look... different? I hate that, so so much.

Oh, me too. It's terrible on many, many levels. There's the evil = ugly problem (since dark side corruption is intended to be ugly, however one actually finds it). There's the problem you point out. Then there's the "why in blazes can't people tell that this guys evil" problem. Though, frankly, having the lightsaber/blaster bolts be color coded in TOR has that last problem. "I can tell by your weapon that you're evil/good."

If the game reacted to the dark side corruption (and if there was an equivalent light side effect) I'd call it a visual representation of what the force sensitives feel when your character is near them. But that's clearly not the case, or the Sith would react to my agent before he got arround to mouthing off and the Jedi Order would be taking Dark Jedi aside for de-darksiding or whatever they do.

Loquat said...

Mass Effect 2 does in fact have a touch of Evil Makes You Ugly - after you die and get resurrected at the beginning of the game, you have facial scars from the resurrection process that either fade or deepen as you go farther up the Paragon or Renegade scale. To be sure, if you're willing to spend some time grinding up the minerals, you can buy yourself a scar-free appearance regardless of your alignment, but if you don't do that then going full Renegade leaves you with big glowing red scars all over your face. And IIRC glowing red eyes.

In SWTOR, I was particularly amused that the Darth Maul species is available in 2 flavors - Empire-aligned, with Maul-style red and black faces, and Republic-aligned, with tan/brown faces. Because bright red skin is Evil by definition!

depizan said...

That bugged me, too. Especially since I think the red skinned variety is more interesting looking, simply because it's more striking.

I gave most (3 out of 4) of my non-Force users mild facial scars (granted, of the good guy variety) because I thought it made them look more roguish or more bad ass. And in mild implication that if you're in a dangerous line of work, you might not always get medical attention right away - unless you're a Jedi/Sith, I guess. I don't remember why my smuggler was exempt from that. (I forgot? None looked right with her tattoos? Ran out of scars I liked?)

Ana Mardoll said...

I want to drop into this delightful discussion that today I am wearing this shirt:

This refers to the protagonist of KOTOR1 which, in game, could be male or female but in canon was designated male.

depizan said...

Bah. They could've kept zir identity unclear in canon. Especially as, judging from SW:TOR, zie dressed all Sithy, with a mask and everything. Shame on them.

Will Wildman said...

I gave most (3 out of 4) of my non-Force users mild facial scars (granted, of the good guy variety) because I thought it made them look more roguish or more bad ass.

I've found that the facial models are just right in the Uncanny Valley if they're too pale and featureless. The darker the skin, the more normal they look, so my smuggler (who would be, in Earth terms, African-Asian in his overall appearance) is fine the way he is, but my first knight (blonde-haired blue-eyed white girl) looked like a mannequin until I added scars down the side and across her middle of her face*. I'm not sure why this is; I just know that the unblemished light-skinned faces look creepy to me.

*She's the one where I specifically picked Body Type 4, the 'fat' option, and discovered that while she was certainly more curvaceous than the others, she nevertheless was one situp away from doing laundry on her abs. The double standards are very nearly hilarious, they're so bad.

depizan said...

Interesting. My Uncanny Valley must be set different from yours, since they didn't strike me that way. (Though I lean toward darker complexions on my MMO characters anyway.) On the other hand, I didn't make any light skinned characters with unblemished faces, so... maybe it was just subconscious for me.

The Body Types are something of an annoyance for me, since they aren't really equivalent between the sexes. Three of the female body types are the same height (which, apparently makes them 5 foot*) while none of the male types are the same height. I wish there were a few more body types so that they're actually equivalent - a heroic type for men, equivalent to the female semi-amazon type (3), a superheroic for women, equivalent to the superheroic for men (3), a chubby option for men, equivalent to the "fat" option for women (4), and a trully large option for women, equivalent to the male fat option (4).

Though I made most of my characters option 2, so I'm clearly better at this in the abstract. (I do have one option 4 woman, though.) But I'm not that thrilled with the way the faces look on the other options. *sigh*

*Kaliyo, the agent companion, has her height given as 5' and she appears to be the same height as the female PCs. (Of course, this makes my agent (male, body type 2) somewhere between 5'6 and 5'9, which I find mildly amusing.)

Rikalous said...

In their defense, the protagonist of KOTOR the second is canonically female.

I suspect that they wouldn't have had canon genders if English as spoken by the general population was better about non-gendered pronouns.

Ana Mardoll said...

Gah. That's almost worse. Revan is a strong character defeated in glorious battle and brought over to another point of view (or not). The Exile is a fundamentally damaged character whose very existence represents a threat to the Force, who gathers allies around herself by virtue of her flaw, and her ending is largely that of being acted on instead of her acting on/against the universe.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Exile. But KOTOR2 has issues that makes the Exile very very different from Revan, in my opinion.

'Course this would probably be different if there was actually a proper ending to KOTOR2. :/


depizan said...

Oh dear. Unfortunate implications everywhere.

(I've never played KOTOR or KOTOR2 due to... well, mostly due to my allergy to Jedi. But also due to my general assumption that I lack the skill to play non-MMO games.)

Patrick Knipe said...

Oooh, perhaps something like this is what 'bring balance to the Force' means. Not so much 'keep the light and dark side even', but 'keep the light and dark sides aligned 'appropriately''. It's only 'balance' from a certain point of view, yes, but then again...

I'm not sure what the exact wording was, but I remember reading something along the lines of 'Bringing Balance to the Force is done by purging evil from it', because in this sense, Balance is not a case of balanced good vs. evil, but rather that it is unbalanced simply by the presence of evil in it at -all-; it's less a good-neutral-evil natural sliding scale so much as it is a pure-system-made-corrupt sense of 'balance'. A body doesn't need to be half healthy, half diseased to be balanced, essentially.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Exile. But KOTOR2 has issues that makes the Exile very very different from Revan, in my opinion.

The true crime of KOTOR2's female Exile is that she has to make do with the Disciple. ;_;

Ok, I kid, but I absolutely agree with you on that. Actually, you've vocalised something I've been struggling to understand re: KOTOR1 vs. KOTOR2 for -years-.

In KOTOR1, Revan is almost akin to a force of nature. Although he spends a good deal of the game being played, there comes a point where the shackles fall to the wayside and he takes -control-. This is what we have to do, this is how it has to be done, and this is how I am going to do it. He stops being an RPG hero looking for his roots and becomes an RPG hero changing his universe.

In KOTOR2, the Exile -struggles- the entire game. Struggles against her own past, struggles against the forces being issued against her... Revan is much the same, but the key difference is that, whilst Revan eventually hits the point where the game changes and he goes from reaction to action, the Exile never gets that pay-off. By the time she -should- be ready to make that change- when she has the Jedi Masters reassembled, in my view- the rug gets mercilessly pulled out from under her and once again she has to keep struggling. There's a sense of depressing powerlessness in KOTOR2 that made playing it, for me, a dour experience.

Also, the realisation that the ending we got for KOTOR 2 was... Well, the ending was an utter... I think I literally sat there and stared for 5 minutes in shock and dismay.

On the other hand, KOTOR 2, Depizan, is absolutely perfect for you. If you wanted a game that plays out into an 80-hour long critique of the Jedi Order- criticisms you can drive as part of your character- this is it for you.

One of the most vivid scenes for me from KOTOR 2 was my PC deriding the Jedi Council for being arrogant, ivory-tower nobodies who sit by and use the letter-of-the-law excuses when people are dying and perishing- people whose deaths could be prevented. After that argument, the PC then embedded his lightsaber into the middle of the room and stormed out.

Ana Mardoll said...

KOTOR2 geekery!

Disciple? Who is that? /fan discontinuity.

Atton: totally hot, totally toxic.
Bao Dur: not a love interest. WHY NOT?? :(

I do think KOTOR2 has a great plot in terms of calling out the Jedi. My favorite part is Kreya (sp?) yelling YOU SHALL NOT HARM HER, which is way more powerful with a female Exile than a male one, imho.

I agree so much with the rest of your comment re: agency.

Patrick Knipe said...

Bao Dur: not a love interest. WHY NOT?? :(

I oscillate between liking and being a little put-off by Bao Dur. There are times where he is an amazing pal, and there are times where his personality and his voice combine to creep me out. I really would've liked for him to have more dialogue options, though.

I do think KOTOR2 has a great plot in terms of calling out the Jedi. My favorite part is Kreya (sp?) yelling YOU SHALL NOT HARM HER, which is way more powerful with a female Exile than a male one, imho.

This. It's telling that Kreia is probably -the- standout character for me. She's got a -lot- of criticisms on the Jedi, and a lot of views on life, some of which I don't agree with, but on the other hand can admire for being so fleshed out and cohesive. Also, her dialogue options are staggering in the sheer volume. I played KOTOR2 through twice, and found out later on that I'd seen maybe half, or less, of what she'd said.

depizan said...

After that argument, the PC then embedded his lightsaber into the middle of the room and stormed out.

That is rather awesome.

I think I'll stick to getting my critique of the Jedi Council by playing SW:TOR, though. I may find the story hard to follow on my Jedi characters because I play them with friends, but I don't think I could play hours of Jedi any other way.

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