George Lucas

George Takei intervenes in Star Wars / Star Trek Row

When two galaxies collide only one man can stop the inevitable onslaught. The two most unpredictable members of the cast of Star Wars and Star Trek started to go at each other, like a terrifying game of chicken between the Millenium Falcon and the Starship Enterprise. When William Shatner started to flex his ‘clearly visible’ muscles in calling Star Wars out, Star Wars’ super slugger Carrie Fisher came pounding in to the ring like a rogue asteroid with a love of sun chairs. Things were looking tense as these media giants began to wade in – breaking standard protocol by getting cheeky about weight right out of the Stargate. The fates of both franchises now rested on one man’s tiny shoulders…

‘Douche’ identifier and King of the Jungle, Mr G Takei stood ‘tall’ and took them to account swiftly, revealing the true threat that would’ve gone unnoticed….

Thank God for the Takei…. yet again he’s saved the day!! Further details about Shatner and that bikini were imminent. Send in the two B’s!!

Star Wars: The Star Wars That I Used to Know Music Video

Everybody loves a bit of Gotye’s ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ but here’s an alternative that George Lucas might not want to pay attention to. This great spoof uses a blend of both films and music video and speaks for a good ol’ section of the adult population that remember the first time a Star Destroyer appeared chasing a Frontier Runner in 1977.

Star Wars Goes Cyberpunk

Action figure maven Sillof has given the Galaxy Far, Far Away steampunk and Western treatments. Now, he’s tossed the cast of the original trilogy in the Cyberpunk Nineties.

In this never-was era, Luna and Link Sourcecoder wage an information war against the tentacle-caped Darth Vector with the aid of veteran hackers Hak Slicer, Cyberhacka, and utopian tech guru Zen. Seeing these figures makes me wish he built a Jabba the Hutt as the bloodthirsty CEO of a pizza delivery franchise. Explains Sillof of these groovy custom figurines:

‘This line was actually one of the first redesign idea I had almost 15 years ago, in the 99, when I first started to redesign characters. The line is intended to have a 90s scifi aesthetic. It has some elements of Cyberpunk, The Matrix, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, etc. I envisioned the movie as a struggle by a group of rebel hackers struggling to break free from the oppressive system of control by a mega technological corporation that controlled all aspects of society.’

‘I really hope Rod₂ communicates solely through Crystal Method songs, Chip³ shills Pepsi in his off hours, and the villainous Bolt Volo has a gun powered by Compuserve.

Be sure to check out these gee-whiz sculptures with further detail and back story at Sillof’s site. And for more of his nifty creations, see the Steampunk and Western Star Wars, and the steampunk Legion of Doom and Justice League.’

Star Wars: Crazy Images

It’s fair to say that Star Wars has pretty much conquered the internet and popular culture like an imperial cyber march. So much so that it’s beginning to draw in every other bit of popular culture and chewing on it. Sometimes it’s just self referential using gags that everyone gets. Sometimes it’s so thuggishly funny it has to be included (like the one below). Whatever you think – Star Wars is going nowhere. Avengers photo gags in thirty years? Who knows. It lacks the juicy soap opera of bother and sister having an unsuspecting kiss and gay robots so maybe it will never reach the heady heights that Lucas’ brain child enjoys. Never the less, here’s a selection for you…

The Lost Jedi: Jedi Master Ca De Nas

Ca De Nas (Cristian Cadenas) is a master of arms for the Jedi. One of the foremost trainers of Lightsabre technique in the galaxy, Ca De Nas is based on Coruscant at the time of Order 66. A trainer of Anakin Skywalker in the years prior to the Clone Wars, Ca De Nas tried to impart the wisdom of open hand techniques in battle and introduce mercy, guile and non-fatal attacks. Anakin struggles to fight his teacher for a time, until fury takes hold. Ca De Nas instinctively held back some of the techniques taught to all Padawans at Master Yoda’s request and Obi Wan’s agreement until he had demonstrated greater control of his temper. Ca De Nas’ capacity for guile and adaptability make him a difficult opponent and a respected warrior in the Jedi ranks.

Lost Jedi: Jedi Master Yoda

Master Yoda’s escape from Kashyyk was going to be focussed on in more detail in Lost Jedi as he tries to make his way to the launch point with Chewie. On the far side of the planet, a contingent of Jedi are heading towards the main battle site with the intention of extraction and damage control. Yoda is aware of their presence and does what he can to aid them from his position but to no avail.

The Lost Jedi: Master Govija Kaoli

Jedi Master Govija Kaoli (Jack Gavin) is a whip crack smart tactician who always gets every body killed. Always put at the sharp end because of his calm exterior, Govija Kaoli has only one true Achilles heel. His Padawan Mooba Choobi. Having been assigned an idiot nephew to the successful Hooba Choobi, Govija finds his path immeasurably blocked by the affable buffoon. Govija is a kind hearted warrior with almost immeasurable patience and a wry view of the universe but even he is uncertain whether his strong Jedi intuition and piloting abilities will help him survive alongside such an incredible idiot.

Jack Gavin doing a pose

The complete Star Wars Holiday Special (with authentic 1978 ads)

Few things have gone down in notoriety like the Star Wars Holiday Special. Almost unanimously revered as the worst thing ever brought out of the Star Wars canon it was, I think, a sincere attempt to bring Star Wars to Christmas.

Dodging any religious incorrectness, Wookees celebrate Life Day on Kashyyk. watch Harrison Ford struggle manfully to maintain cheer, hope that Uncle Itchy doesn’t beat little cousin Lumpy in front of the cameras. In between the ludicrous schmaltz there is some decent action sequences and if you like the idea of seeing extra Han Solo / Chewbacca footage, Carrie Fisher singing and some season friendly chop socky against Imperial humbuggers then take a look. There’s even a bit of Jefferson Starship. Through the fact that it’s essentially a day in the life of a Wookee family (including a geriatric Wookee getting his jollies watching dancing girls in a hair dryer). Brilliant!

We here at Beyond the Bunker wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Star Wars Galaxies: An Obituary

Gamers across the world are jointly mourning and celebrating today as Star Wars Galaxies finally closes its servers for good. As the sun sets on today the game which brought the Star Wars Universe to the Massively Multiplayer Online world will stack the chairs on the tables, give the bar one final wipe and switch off the lights on its way into the history books. It may seem odd to write an obituary for a computer game but as a site that frequently covers both games and Star Wars, it seems right to spend a bit of time looking back over the life of a game that has had such a profound impact on both.

Released in 2001, Star Wars Galaxies was a joint venture by LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment that aimed to allow people to live within the world of the Star Wars movies. Set in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the game let players create characters from many of the franchise’s popular races and then set them out into the galaxy to earn a living any way they saw fit. It saw great success early on but a series of unpopular decisions by the development team combined with the monolithic rise of games like World of Warcraft saw the games subscriber numbers gradually dwindle and the decision was finally made earlier this year to pull the plug.

Unlike modern MMOs, SWG was a true sandbox game which in many ways bore more resemblance to Skyrim than something like WoW. Rather than leading players by the hand from quest to quest or insisting on strict class choices, SWG simply allowed players to find their own path. If you wanted your character to be a smuggler, you picked up a pistol, spoke to a guy and started smuggling. If you wanted to be a tradesman and open a shop selling the finest weapons on the galaxy, you could do that too. Heck, you could even be a hairdresser if you wanted to. It was a level of freedom unheard of in today’s world of tanks, dps and healers.

I came to STW not long after launch after a house mate of mine gave me his copy to try and I can honestly say that it was like no gaming experience I’ve had before or since. I rolled a Wookie musician, scraped together the money to buy a flute from another player who was kind enough to discount it for me and started busking on the streets of Coronet City. Before long, passers by started stopping (I’m talking players here, not NPCs) and throwing change in my direction. We’d swap life stories, chat about the galactic civil war, at one point a Jedi even paid me a few extra coins so that I wouldn’t tell any passing Imperials that he’d come by (I sold him out first chance I got). It was a level of immersion and roleplaying that you simply don’t see in today’s world of “LFGs” and “ROFLCOPTERs” but at the same time it didn’t have the kind of scary nerdism that permeates many hardcore RP communities. This was just regular people, playing in the Star Wars universe and totally digging it.

This was all helped by SOE’s relentless focus on pushing community events. Players were encouraged to organise their own in game events and in return the company would advertise those events prominently on the game’s website. If you were stuck for something to do for an evening you could just log onto the SWG site, find that there was a Cantina crawl going down on Tatooine and head on over. Before long I found myself touring the galaxy, performing stand up comedy routines to groups of other players. I even performed at a couple’s in-game wedding (a regrettable incident which ended with me vomiting on the bride after ingesting too much “spice”). I spent days playing SWG.

But it wasn’t all roses. While the community in the game was second to none, the game itself was riddled with flaws from the start. Classes were unbalanced, bugs went unfixed and promised updates were delayed. While this didn’t matter to the roleplaying community, those who craved more action were left wanting. When Blizzard arrived on the scene with its near bug free World of Warcraft, those players began to migrate en-mass. SOE tried to stem the tide with the now infamous “Combat Upgrade” which served only to break the connection between the combat and non-combat classes, effectively splitting the community in half. When that didn’t work the developers went back to the drawing board and rolled out the even more controversial “New Game Experience.” The NGE gutted the sandbox elements from the game and turned it into a straight, class based MMO like WoW. The previously strict barriers to playing a Jedi were dropped and the ability to freely change professions vanished. When the dust settled the number of playable classes had dropped from 33 to a mere 9.

While many gaming communities like to moan about how things were better in the old days, the NGE is a widely recognised example of a cataclysmic failure by a gaming company to recognise what fans loved about their game. By attempting to emulate World of Warcraft, SOE succeeded only in creating a second rate clone. They couldn’t best the newer games on their turf and they had surrendered their own uniqueness in order to wage that war. It is perhaps telling that for a good couple of years post NGE, the phrase “SWG exile” mentioned in any other MMO would almost always reveal one other member of your group to have been a former player.

For the next few years SWG slowly lived out its retirement, sustained by a dwindling cabal of loyal fans. The announcement of Bioware’s  Star Wars: Old Republic in 2008 all but sealed SWG’s fate as LucasArts moved its support away from the old warhorse and on to the new star. When the final announcement came in July this year, fans past and present were expecting it. To SOE’s credit they continued putting out new content right up until the final weeks of the game and the players themselves will doubtlessly give their old playground a hell of a send off. One group of players even got together to create this tribute video to the world they wrote:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK6Zv1U2qhw&w=853&h=480]

SWG will always be thought of with mixed emotions by the people who played it. Yes it was a mess in terms of gameplay and yes it was dogged by terrible management decisions at every level. But for the Rancor hunts on Dathomir, for the time spent sitting in a bar haggling with a shady trader over the price of a new speeder, for being the only game that’s ever let you truly LIVE in George Lucas’s universe, it deserves its place among the great games of our time.

Rest in Peace SWG. Thanks for all the stories.

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