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TGC Owner Jedi Master
I am just two months shy of my 31st birthday, but online I’m something of an old man. I create The Gungan Council in 1999, became a regular online a few years before that, and still recall the first time I ever used the internet all the way back in 6th grade on a classroom computer with an external modem in the mid 90’s when the world wide web was still in its infancy and had only a handful of sites. But here we are in 2013. The web has gone mobile, but I am still most at home anchored to my behemoth antique writing desk, bathed in the glow of my Dell PC monitor. And this is just the way I like it. Home is where the web is for me, and I feel like all those ones and zeroes are somehow more real when they’re locked into place.
That feeling of reality is the hallmark of Star Wars Role-playing at TGC, and the only way it could possibly get more real would be for the game to go offline entirely, back to the old days of table top gaming (which like our own forum based game continues to thrive in its own little niche), or into the realm of live-faction cosplaying to boot. Quite frankly I’ve never had much love for either of those formats. The art of making authentic replica costumes intrigues me, but something strikes me as being a little bit “off” about those who would run around in the woods in full costume after the age of ten. Likewise, tabletop gaming carries its own stigmas; think social outcast with coke-bottle lenses in their mother’s basement rolling dice. Forum based role-playing is different. You can do it from the privacy of your home, but there is less cause to be secretive. When someone asks what do with your online time tell them you write. By its most simple definition that is all that the free form, play-by-post, forum based role-playing at The Gungan Council is. No dice, no game master, nothing to purchase, few rules. Just people with an love of Star Wars creating 1st person interactive fiction. Even among other role-plays of this type, TGC is remarkably simple.
The Gungan Council Role-playing is pure imagination. Like a good book it draws you in, excites you, moves you to tears like no other game can. But unlike a book, at TGC the story never has to end. I’ve been living as “General Ceel” in a galaxy far, far away for 13 years, nearly as long as some of our youngest members have been alive.
Begin your adventure today, for a rich, fulfilling, immersive experience.
Date: Jaunary 19, 2013Word Count: 660 Condition: 1st draft
Boba Fett lives! Han shot first! No Gungans in Return of the JedI! Lucas created Star Wars in 1977 and destroyed it in 1999! The EU isn’t canon!
If you are a Star Wars fan you know these debates.
There are divisions in any large fan community, but in Start Wars fandom they are more numerous and run especially deep. I chalk this up to the dedication of fans of “The Wars.” Nobody was into Star Wars ‘that one summer.” Once you enter the galaxy far, far away you are fan for life. There are no ‘casual fans,’ and so whichever aspects of Star Wars a person has latched on to, they are prepared to rabidly defend against all threats, both inside and outside of the greater Star Wars fan community.
I’m not sure when the first division happened, but I became keenly aware that Star Wars fans were not all of one mind shortly after the 1997 Special Edition re-release which drew a line in the sand between those who approved of Lucas’ alterations and those who stood by the original cuts of the films. Star Wars fans were further divided during the prequel era, beginning with the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999. Since then all hell has broken loose as fans continue to segregate themselves in any number of ways.
Whether justified not or not, its undeniable that fans have laid their frustrations over the prequels and the special editions squarely on George Lucas’ shoulders. The impending release of a sequel trilogy, with George Lucas retired (and mostly out of the picture) and Lucasfilm under new ownership, got me wondering if this next phase for Star Wars would further divide fans, or have the opposite effect and be a unifier.
Almost immediately after Disney announced it had acquired Lucasfilm (October 31) the cracks appeared. Everyone was excited to hear that there would be more Star Wars films and that they would be sequels. But quite a few expressed concern that Disney would exert its influence upon Lucasfilm to sanitize and “kiddy-fy.” Oddly, many had already made the same accusation against Lucas beginning to a degree with the inclusion of Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, but especially on the basis of Gungans, a 9 year old Anakin Skywalker, and poop jokes in Episode I.
Disney has made it clear that it intends to handle Star Wars in much the same way that it has handled Marvel and Pixar. Lucasfilm is reportedly Kathleen Kennedy’s responsibility, and that is an encouraging thought. The recent announcement that J.J Abrams will helm Episode VII adds further weight to Disney’s promise of a ‘hands off’ approach.
But still… part of me thinks that once the first new Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith hits theaters there will be yet another faction among Star Wars fans, a group of fans that says Star Wars without George Lucas is not Star Wars at all, which if you think about it is quite ironic after the beating he's taken from bans since 1999.
But lets hope for the better. A Star Wars film that everyone can get behind. Together
Date: Jaunary 24, 2013Word Count: 535 Condition: 1st draft
May 19th 1999, 12:01 a.m. in theaters everywhere. The lights go down, iconic Fox and Lucasfilm logos flicker on the screen. Blue text follows, “Long ago in a galaxy far, far away.” A sonic blast, John Williams’ familiar music as yellow text scrolls up the screen and vanishes into the star field. Its Star Wars. We’re back. But then a blue green world and a ship….
…but that is no Star Destroyer. Neither is it The Death Star, an X-wing, Tie Fighter or The Millennium Falcon. it’s the Radiant VII carrying two Jedi to Naboo, a planet with architecture unlike any ever seen before in Star Wars. It is glorious…
…but for some reason a lot of Star Wars fans are upset and confused. Where are the massive, cold gray Imperial vessels of their youth? The red striped X-Wings that Luke and his rebel friends maneuvered down the Death Star trench? Where is the rickety old Millennium Falcon they’d been waiting to see again for sixteen years?
Episode One, first of the Star Wars prequels, begins 32 before the battle of Yavin, and a lot had changed, or rather had not yet changed since the days when Luke followed old Obi Wan to Mos Eisley and chartered a flight toward ill fated Alderaan. The world of the prequels is different and more complicated than the era of The Empire in the original trilogy, and it shows in the design. Each culture has its own unique heritage and it is reflected in the architecture, not only of their cities and homes, but of their vessels and weaponry. Noobian ships are sleek and elegant. Battle droids reflect their makers, Geonosians, we’d yet to meet in 2002’s Attack of the Clones. JedI and clone fighters are the grandfathers of X-wings and Tie Fighters. Federation droid control ships hint at The Death Star. The Radiant VII is the distant cousin of the Tantiv IV.
But neither is the world static. If Episode I is the starting point, then Episode’s II and III nudge things forward. Curves become lines. Lines become hard. Colors drain away, ships grow, and weapons become more deadly. War has come to the galaxy to speed the evolution of design along. Where once engineers had the time to design finely crafted works of art, imbibed with the character of their own society, war eliminates such luxuries.
By Episode III, the heritage of Star Wars’(1977) is more clear. Republic Attack Cruisers are clearly the predecessors of the Star Destroyers fans known and love. Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter can be seen in Anakin Skywalker’s blue detailed fighter. Clone fighters in the battle over Coruscant will one day be X-Wings, but they’ll need the twenty some odd years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope to get to Palpatine’s cold, hard, totalitarian (soviet) aesthetic.
And that brings us to the long wanted, and recently promised, Sequel Trilogy. It would be easy to assume that the makers of Episode VII will finally give fans the movie they were looking for in 1999. I must caution, however, that this is a dangerous assumption.
Flash forward another generation. The veil of the dark side is receding. The galaxy is not a prefect place, danger still lies ahead, but it is once again a more complex environment. No longer strangled by the emperor’s singular vision the aesthetics of that galaxy far far away should begin to evolve once again. Rightfully, even if X-Wings and Star Destroyers feature heavily in Episode VII, by Episode IX their dominance should be on the wane. The Millennium Falcon cannot fly forever, and even R2D2 must go the way of the scrap heap.
But perhaps more dangerous than an assumption on the part of fans that Star Wars will forever remain in stasis, where it left off in Return of the Jedi, is the risk that the filmmakers entrusted to carry forward the saga might relent to those ill-advised desire of some Star Wars purists. George Lucas would make the hard choice. The prequel trilogy looked different because the story demanded it, and so too should any sequels. Will these new filmmakers make the right choice or the popular choice?
The evolution of design in Star Wars goes both ways, and if the franchise is to have another forty years it must continue to do so.
Date: Jaunary 25, 2013Word Count: 725 Condition: 1st draft
Abrams involvement with Mission Impossible and Star Trek has proven his ability to work with existing franchises. His success with Star Trek, in particular, has been heralded by many as the salvation of that franchise, a point not lost on the segment of the Star Wars fan base left disillusioned Lucas’ prequel trilogy, as well as his seemingly endless tinkering with the original trilogy since 1997’s re-release.
His work on Star Trek, Lost, Cloverfield and Super 8 give him credibility with Sci-Fi and fantasy fans who are wary of outsiders looking to capitalize on the popularity of the genera (without really understanding them), but receptive of ‘true believers’ who are themselves fans (think Joss Whedon with The Avengers). Abrams himself is said to be a life long Star Wars fan who’s decision to work on Star Trek was partially a reaction to, at the time, being unable to enter the galaxy far, far away as a professional.
Word also has it that Abrams was conflicted about accepting and invitation to direct Star Wars as it would forever alter his point of view as a fan looking from the outside in. This bodes well, as it displays his respect for Star Wars. On the other hand, as a fan, there is the danger that he’ll be susceptible to making the film that a Star Wars fan wants (something that looks and smells like the classic trilogy we already have), as opposed to the film that the Star Wars story needs (something that moves us forward). Critics and fans alike were hard on George Lucas during the prequel years because he told the stories he needed to tell in the way he needed to tell them. Some say this was a result of his position as sole owner of Star Wars, funding the films himself, making his ideas beyond reproach. There is a flaw in that thinking, however, as it was this very same uncompromising, independent spirit, that got the original trilogy made.
While JJ Abrams Star Trek has been almost universally praised and wildly popular, I would argue that it lends credence to argument that Abrams is susceptible to the kind of fan-pandering warned of above. It is said that JJ Abrams ’saved Star Trek,’ and yet that salvation appears to only be financial. Abrams may have updated the look and style of Star Trek, but he went backwards on the clock, returning to its roots, when what Star Trek fans truly needs is a new Enterprise, a new crew, and a new captain on a new TV show that they can get behind (like they did with Picard and TNG after the first series ended) for decades to come. Abrams ‘reboot’ has thus far failed to do that.
Returning to comparisons with Lucas, it has been said that Abrams is an actors’ director (like Spielberg), whereas Lucas strongest point was is ability to work with story on a massive scale, and put it to screen with an unparalleled knack for technical innovation. It has been suggested that these differences might lead to Episode VII being stylistically different (and thus standing out, for good or bad) from the existing six episode saga. While this is true, to some extent, I would remind any harboring such fears, that Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner) and Return of the JedI (Richard Marquand), two thirds of the ‘holy trilogy’ were directed by men previously known for being far more artistically minded than Abrams, who relatively speaking then seems more like Lucas than originally supposed.
The verdict? Short of Lucas’ close friend and working partner, Stephen Spielberg (Indian Jones 1-4), JJ Abrams seems like fair, but not risk-free, match for Star Wars, but perhaps the best currently active director for the job. Working against him is the crushing weight of expectation. Star Wars fans are divided (from Stark Trek fans) and from each other (Special Editions, Prequel Trilogy). A new trilogy set in a time after ROTJ is an opportunity to create a new generation of fans while reuniting long estranged factions of force followers, and perhaps even bring some Trekkies into the fold. The future of our fandom is now in the hands of JJ Abrams (along with Kathleen Kennedy and Disney). Star Wars has changed the way films are made and watched twice. Ten years after Revenge of the Sith, it just might happen again…
Date: Jaunary 27, 2013Word Count: 905 Condition: 1st draft
Lucasfilm / Disny’s decision to nix these re-releases is not only personally disappointing, but in my opinion a bad business decision.
Widely criticized as the least favorite film in the franchise, TPM nevertheless capitalized on a minimal investment to add 102.7M dollars to its world wide gross upon re-release in 2012. Much loved installments of the saga, such as Revenge of The Sith and Empire Strikes Back, boosted by renewed interest in Star Wars generated by the upcoming sequels, would have undoubtedly reaped a significantly greater windfall for the Disney Companies.
These re-releases, furthermore, when placed strategically ahead of the projected summer-2015 release of Episode VII would have served as a means of reacquainting the general public with the saga, while giving younger fans their first chance to see these films in theaters, and most importantly would have generated additional anticipation for the new films.
I am of the opinion that Lucasfilm could have easily bankrolled most of the upcoming Sequel trilogy entirely on 3D re-release profits, and that my friends is perhaps the biggest single reason why this decision is business mistake.
Star Wars belongs in theaters. Let is hope it is the will of the force that the rest of the saga makes it back into theaters again in our lifetime.
Date: Jaunary 28, 2013Word Count: 430 Condition: 1st draft
What in online fan circles is being referred to as “The Maul Arc,” in Season Five of The Clone Wars truly begins all the way back in Season three. Disgraced and abandoned by Count Dooku, Nightsister Asajj Ventress hatches a revenge plot. With the aid of the powerful Witch, Mother Talzin, Dathomirian Zabrak Nightbrother Savage Opress (Clancy Brown) is imbued with terrible power.
Opress, brother of presumed dead Darth Maul (Sam Witwer), is apprenticed to Asajj’s former master, Count Dooku, and in the course of his training proves too strong willed for either to control. After a knock down, drag out light saber brawl, a disillusioned Opress limps his way back to Dathomir where, in Season Four, Mother Talzin gives his life new purpose.
Opress learns that he has a brother, and with the help of an enchanted medallion, he eventually makes his way to Lotho Minor (The Junk World) where he meets a mentally unstable Darth Maul (complete with spider legs) who has apparently survived his encounter with Obi Wan Kenobi more than ten years earlier.
At the conclusion of Season Four, Savage Opress takes Maul back to Dathomir where Mother Talzin outfits him with robotic legs (just two this time) and drives the cloud of madness from his mind.
As Season Five begins, Maul’s motives seem simple: Revenge against Obi Wan. In the premiere episode Maul exerts his dominance over Savage (who presumed to consider himself equal), and as Master and Apprentice they do exactly what we all expect a couple of monsters to do; they create a path of death and destruction designed to draw Obi Wan to them.
Eventually winding up on Florrum, they pit a band of pirates against their leader, Hondo Ohnaka. When Obi Wan arrives, however, the greed of pirates proves an ineffective means of control for Maul. The pirates resume their loyalties to Hondo, and Maul fails to defeat Kenobi. Defeated and injured, Maul and Opress spend most of Season 5 on the edge of death, adrift in an escape capsule.
And that brings us to their long awaited return. In “The Maul Arc,” our two villains are rescued by Death Watch. Quickly exerting influence over the group of Mandalorian militants, Maul hatches a plot to unite all the disparate factions of the underworld, too long overlooked by a republic preoccupied with war, and forge them into a third front in the battle for the fate of the galaxy.
Whew! Did you catch all of that? Good! Let us begin…
Epic light saber battles to rival the films, Expanded Universe fan favorites like Death Watch and Black Sun dealing out death and violence. Darth Maul back in action. What’s not to like? You might say this was the storyline Star Wars fans were waiting for, not just since the start of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but ever since The Phantom Menace failed to live up to the lofty expectations they’d been building up in their imaginations since childhood. You might say “Yes! Finally! Real Star Wars!” But I would advise against it.
Star Wars is many things. As adults playing in a sandbox primarily geared toward children its easy to forget that Star Wars is so much more than just “War.” Meebur Gascon and a half dozen droids stealing separatists Intel is Star Wars. The same goes for Jar Jar Binks fumbling his way through The Phantom Menace, Chewbacca thinking with his stomach in Return of the JedI, and a couple of youngsters expressing their love awkwardly in Revenge of the Sith. The point is, it doesn’t have to be badass to be Star Wars.
That said, from Savage lobbing off Black Sun heads to the Maul v Vizsla fight, “The Maul Arc,” is seriously badass.
Enjoy it in all its badass glory. There is no shame in that. But once the initial shock and awe has passed remember that this is Star Wars; insightful art disguised in a thin eye-candy shell. And in this particular arc there are insights aplenty to be gleaned.
Perhaps most interesting is the revelation that Maul is more than just muscle. In The Phantom Menace we met Darth Maul, enforcer for Darth Sidious. At the end of Season 4 and beginning of Season 5 of the Clone Wars we saw Darth Maul the unhinged. “The Maul Arc,” however, reveals a different Zabrak altogether. This Maul is patient, intelligent, cunning. His plan for Mandalore is his old Master’s plan for The Clone Wars in a microcosm. Step one, start a war on Mandalore. And when the people are afraid and ready to give up their liberties for security enact step two, provide the solution in the form of Death Watch.
Also of note is Maul’s quick transformation from impulsive to calculating. After this defeat at the hands of Obi Wan and Hondo it seemed clear that Maul’s rage and rashness would merely increase. They did not. Maul found composure. He exhibits that composure in his violent duel with the leader of Death Watch. In a scene right out of The Postman, Maul uses Death Watch’s own tribal-esque laws to challenge Vizsla for leadership of the clan. Aware that Death Watch’s sense of justice is framed around the concept of militaristic brotherhood, Maul gives Vizsla something of a “fair fight,” or at least a fight that appears fair to bystanders. Rather than depend on the dark side to “fight dirty,” and end it quickly, he lets the fight progress the old fashioned way, fists and swords, so that none might question his authority. This makes him the true puppet master of a newly other thrown Mandalore, and echoes the control that Sidious himself has over The Trade Federation and other Separatist elements. Let fear keeps your puppets inline.
I’ve yet to watch the final episode in this arc, but if everything I’m hearing is true, it promises to be a watershed moment for a series whose future is increasingly in question, as post-Disney acquisition rumors swirl. Having not seen the episode in question, I think one thing is safe to say. Darth Maul has not shown us all of his cards yet. His accelerated character development will continue until he meets his doom. It is my belief that Obi Wan will be the one to finish the job he failed complete during the Battle of Theed. But this time he will cut Darth Maul into three pieces -- just to be sure.
Date: February 28, 2013Word Count: 1075 Condition: 1st draft
EPI: TPM 20th Anniversary:
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