This is going to be a strange blog entry. A strange one indeed.
You see, Star Wars and I go back a long way, ever since I saw my first Star Wars film, Return Of The Jedi, in the mid 80s. Despite the disappointing prequels, and the strange stories in the novels, and the childishness of the cartoon series, it would remain my favourite franchise for more than 30 years.
There was just something very special about the setting, the characters, and the visual style of it that elevated it above anything else in my opinion.
I've played a lot of games over the years. I've read a lot of books. I've watched a lot of fan films. Some I liked. Some I didn't. Some I thought were sheer fucking brilliance.
But then Disney bought the franchise. And things immediately changed. I wasn't angry per se that they threw the old EU out of the window, as I understood the decision. But I was still definitely disappointed. I also didn't particularly mind The Force Awakens, as while it wasn't a particularly good Star Wars film, it was an alright and somewhat entertaining action film, that mostly still felt like it could fit in the Star Wars universe.
But then came The Last Jedi. What a joke that pile of shit was. I still remember how I felt walking out of the cinema. I wasn't angry, or upset in any way. Maybe I should have been. Instead, I was just empty. Disney had done it. They had done something I didn't think was possible. I no longer liked Star Wars.
See the main problem with The Last Jedi was not the fact that it was a bad Star Wars film, or even the fact that it was not a good action film. Both of those I could have handled. I could have just forgotten about it and moved on, just like I did for Attack Of The Clones for example.
No, it was the fact that it had retroactively changed many things about the old films that was the issue. I mean, it didn't even answer any of the questions or continue any of the threads set up in the previous movie, let alone pay respect to the old films. It felt like the film makers had squatted down over the entire franchise and just took a massive steaming dump all over it.
I stopped watching Rebels, so I've still never seen the last season. I haven't watched the final Clone Wars season that dropped a while back. I never went to watch Solo, or Episode 9. I haven't been watching the Mandalorian.
And I never plan to watch any of these things.
Because the entire franchise is ruined in my opinion. I'm simply no longer a fan.
Still, over the last few years I've dipped in and out of the Star Wars franchise here and there in the form of games. Most of these were old ones, usually ones I had played in the past and wanted to finish. The only "new" Star Wars I've consumed was The Fallen Order, and that was only because it was cheap at the time, and was supposed to be very good. I ended up thinking it was remarkably mediocre.
And now I'm at the point where, with a heavy heart, I realise I just want to wash my hands of the entire franchise, and pretty much forget it even exists.
It's a shame, but things change, and we move on.
Before I can say my final farewells to my once favourite franchise, I thought I could do with addressing several Star Warsy things that were outstanding.
I still have a bunch of games that I've never finished, and several I've never even played. Some of these are old ones that I still have on physical media, and some are games I've bought digitally. Truth be told, I didn't really want to play any of them considering my feelings at the moment, but when I looked down the list there were two that stood out as games I really should do my best to finish.
First up was X-Wing Alliance. I reached the end level of this when I first played it about 20 years ago, but when I flew into the Death Star the game totally spooged out. I don't know if I was clipping through the tunnel walls, or there were some weird graphics bugs, or something else entirely.
Basically I gave up and turned it off, fully intending to go back to it another time. But this is me we're talking about, and so I never did.
Coming back to this was eye-opening. I found some missions very hard, and as early as mission 4 was having to replay over and over in order to complete them. I don't remember it being this hard years ago. It's probably a combination of age slowing down my reactions, and looking back with rose-tinted glasses.
Conversely, on some other missions my wing mates seemed to do all the work before I could even get there, and the level would complete. Such strange difficulty balancing.
The game was also buggy as hell. The worst one I found was the map screen. Very often, whenever I would look at the map and then return to the main game screen, all of my laser energy would be fully drained and I would have to charge it up again. It was so infuriating.
There were also lots of audio glitches, with sounds playing on annoying loops, which would sometimes continue even after the mission had ended, forcing me to quit and re-load.
And the most game-breaking one I had was on a mission where I had to liberate some slaves from some shuttles. I had already played the damn mission several times figuring out the tactics required to complete it. And when I finally managed to do my part right, all of the transports arrived to free the slaves and then promply just froze and would not move.
I sure as hell was not going to go through all that again, and was considering quitting, until I saw there was a skip mission option.
How are these two ships docked in this position?
Pandemonium breaks out
Bugged transports are bugged
Just casually blowing shit up
This is not going to end well
When I finally arrived at the last mission, as soon as I entered the Death Star, I got my first hard crash of my playthrough. I re-loaded, fearing that this game's final mission was cursed, and I would not be able to finish it after all this. But thankfully it didn't happen again.
Still, part of me maybe wishes it had. Because finishing the last mission was an absolute arse, and I must have replayed it 12-15 times trying to figure the damn thing out. Even after I sort-of knew what I was supposed to do, I still had to play it a few more times due to little glitches and bugs that were preventing me from getting through it.
Also, during all these years since I first played it, I was wrongly remembering that you were still playing as the main character Ace Azzameen in the final missions, even though you fly the Millennium Falcon. This playthrough made it clear that it's still Lando and Nien Nunb that are flying it. I really did not appreciate this, as there's no explanation to where Ace went. And I'd have much rather flown the Otana or an X-Wing in the attack on the Death Star.
An X-Wing definitely would have made it easier to fly through those tunnels, as I did not keep Lando's promise to Han while playing this. That poor Falcon got scratched. Reeeaaaal scratched.
But thankfully it's all done. At very long last.
Luke and Dash can't take out this Tie Fighter. Sigh. Better go help.
Intercepting some Bombers
Transport decides to land on its side
Here we are again
The other Star Wars game I decided to have a crack at is Shadows Of The Empire. I had never played it before this, but I'd read the novel several times, and the urge to see Dash's side of the story meant I had more desire to play this than any of the other games.
However, things took an immediate turn for the worse when I started my playthrough and I got a load of the controls. I know this game is old, but come on. What were they thinking? Pushing the mouse forward and back moves your character forward and back, rather than looking up and down, with no way to change it? What kind of backwards world were the developers living in? At least some other weird things like having the space bar be activate and X be jump were rebindable.
The basic control of Dash was also a bit shoddy, in terms of him feeling like he was running on an ice rink. There was a somewhat similar feeling when I played Dark Forces II a while back, but this was even worse. It was especially bad on one level when you have to traverse a train, which needs you to jump from one track to another. And when in the air, I swear Dash just did his own thing. The amount of times I fell off was just nuts.
So I struggled through to the fight against Boba Fett, during which he killed me when in his ship. And rather than put me back to a checkpoint or the start of that stage, it put me all the way back to the start of the level, which was probably about 30-40 minutes of play time. If I was really enjoying the game, I'd have pushed on and done it again. But I was really fed up by the old shitty controls and lack of interest in Star Wars by this point, so decided to just abandon it. I can't imagine I'd have gotten any more enjoyment out of the game even if I'd got passed Slave I, and I want to keep up my decent gaming momentum this year by getting back to games I enjoy.
Shooting up some Imps in the awesome Snowspeeder
Can't catch me, AT-AT
Shooting an AT-ST up the arse
Letting rip with the Outrider's turrets
Yep, fell off the train again
Duking it out with Boba Fett
Over the years, but not for a very long time now, I have tried my hand at writing stories.
Only one of these stories is anywhere near good enough to even allow people to read it. As it is a Star Wars one, it makes sense for it to find a resting place here, in my "Goodbye Star Wars" blog entry.
The story has its roots in the early 2000s, when my friends and I looked at making a Star Wars fan film. Due to technical restraints, mostly from our poor quality MiniDV camcorders, we soon decided the project was beyond us, and I instead began writing some stories, expanding the ideas we had come up with for the film.
I only managed to finish one of the stories, being the one directly translated from the original fan film idea. Some moderate work was done on several of the others that I was planning, which were set both before and after this one in the timeline.
The original story that was finished in 2004 got a big re-write in 2011, which I was much happier with. But though it was always my intention to go back and write the others, I struggled to find the time or motivation. Then in late 2018 I finally admitted defeat and decided to abandon the stories for good. I think this decision was spurred on by Disney wiping out the old continuity, which these stories were set in, and how disappointed I was in the new Star Wars films at the time.
Instead, to put the saga to bed, I scoured through the old notes I made in the mid 2000s and created a basic outline of events that led up to and followed the one completed story. As the outline is based on old ideas, the final stories may have been quite different if I had ever finished writing them.
But now I guess we will never know.
The saga is set in the Star Wars Legends continuity, beginning roughly 15 years after "Return Of The Jedi". It follows the adventures of three young Jedi, from the moment they start their training through to Knighthood and beyond...
Note that all three of the following links go to their own pages.
Before The Dark Side Of Do'Naar (basic outline)
The Dark Side Of Do'Naar (full story)
After The Dark Side Of Do'Naar (basic outline)
After scouring some old hard drives I've been able to find some of the test footage we shot while trying to figure out whether the fan film was within our capabilities. The first two videos were filmed in late 2002, and were edited using a program called Alam DV. There were several other little test action shots filmed on that night, but I can't find any more footage, which has cheesed me off a bit. I thought maybe I just never added effects to them, but then I stumbled across a tiny little picture that I uploaded to Facebook about 12 years ago from one of the other saber duels that we did that night. So where all that other shit went I have no idea.
There was also some pretty cool CGI animations that my brother did of an X-Wing in a dogfight, but I don't have that either.
The last video was filmed by my brother and I at some point in 2003 or 2004. I think by this time we had already decided not to make the fan film, but we went ahead with this anyway. It was rotoscoped using filmstrip files and Photoshop, which took weeks of free time.
A little test duel
One of the lost battles?
Saber duel in a forest
While I was searching my old storage mediums for possible Star Wars fan film content I've also been able to find some very rough sketches of what I was aiming at with the new species called the Garron-Hinn, who were going to be one of the main villainous groups later on in my stories. There's also a very, very bad attempt at a watercolour painting of the Garron-Hinn home world that I did in 2014 when I had my little art spurge. I rightly thought back then that it was not good enough to upload here, and I still think that way now. But I guess I don't care any more.
A concept idea of the Garron-Hinn
Rough concepts of the Garron-Hinn Dark Jedi, the Garsanekra
A very rough idea of the Garron-Hinn planet, Terrinak
While I'm having this big Star Wars clear out, I thought I'd bring back these images from my old site, which were from just the second MMORPG I ever played.
I played on Star Wars: Galaxies for a few months back in 2007 as the awesome Mon Calamari medic Splapdink McWildpants. I didn't really get up to much, mostly spending my time working through the "introductory" quest called the Legacy Quest, which pretty much got me to level 50 out of 90. Outside of that, I mostly did space missions, and spent a few evenings hanging out and getting killed with my work mate Big Dave.
Even though I didn't play on it for long I was a little sad when I heard it was to close in late 2011.
Here are some pictures from those adventures:
The awesome Splapdink McWildpants begins his training as a Rebel Alliance medic
Splapdink does an impression of Lando Calrissian
Short Mon Calamarians really shouldn't stand next to tall Wookiees unless they want to look stupid
Splapdink, having lost his kin, goes fishing in order to try and find them
I didn't realise speeder bikes could travel vertically
No, I don't have a gold bikini, you strange little fish man. Now get out of here before I fetch security, pervert!
Splapdink dons a Clone Trooper outfit in a vague effort to look the slightest bit hard
The narglatch uses the 'hide inside a tree' technique
Splapdink wonders for a moment whether the inside of his helmet has steamed up
Splapdink's yacht tries to do a USS Voyager impression
Some dude levitates without any Force powers. Or the game has messed up again. Hard to tell.
And Splapdink thought he was a short-arse
Now guys, you do realise how totally wrong this dancing is, right?
Splapdink McWildpants. Professional idiot.
Wrrlykam the Wookiee gives Splapdink the best present in the galaxy: a green Bantha named Bruce
Bruce can't get on the shuttle
The brave Rebel pilots argue over who will be the first to attack the very large Star Destroyer
Splapdink gets an unwelcome guest at his beachfront apartment
Splapdink doesn't seem too bothered when informed of all the spiders he is about to meet
Yet another unexplained levitation
I'm gonna need a bigger boat