mellicious: pink manicure (buffy quote - death star)
[personal profile] mellicious
I have just come from the end-of-the-world party (that's what they were calling it) at the SWTOR beta. That's Star Wars: The Old Republic, for those of you who don't follow such things. I played right up til about 20 minutes to go, and then I went to the skill trainer. For no good reason except that I wanted to see what the new skills were, really, but I did. Then I went and joined the party, which was on the Senate Plaza in Coruscant, which is, of course, a completely fictional/virtual place. And that's sort of what I wanted to talk about.

More of you probably know things about Star Wars than know much about MMOs (although with a blog audience, it's hard to be sure about that). It's strange, millions of people play MMOs, and Chuck Norris is currently starring in advertisements for one, but they still seem to be an almost underground thing, for the most part. I talk about it some, to people I talk to in real life, but a lot of people don't seem to get it. Usually I don't talk about "MMO's" to real-life people, I say things like, "I've been playing this Star Wars game online." After all, most people do understand computer games nowadays, to one degree or another, even if it's just something like Farmville.

And of course, most people do get Star Wars, to one degree or another. Or if not, they at least know what it is.

I was 17 when the first Star Wars movie came out. I was only vaguely aware of its existence until I went up to Austin for freshman orientation at UT - you know how they do those corny skits for things like orientations? Well, in 1977 at UT, those skits were All Star Wars, All the Time. They even got hold of (or possibly made) a Darth Vader costume somehow. I suspect that most of the incoming freshmen hadn't seen the movie yet, but I'm sure a lot of them were like me and ran right out to see it when they got home. And I loved it, of course. I'm not sure who I went to see it with - maybe my sister or my friend Amy. I remember going to see it a second time when they re-released it in the fall, though, and then a third and fourth and fifth. It was the first movie I ever went to see over and over like that. I'm sure part of that was the timing - I was finally old enough that I had a driver's license and then shortly after, the freedom of college (although no car there). I could do things like that that my parents would think was slightly odd. (I remember my mother being baffled later on by the way my sister and I could both recite all the lines from the first movie, and my sister is no science fiction fan. I don't think either one of my parents ever got Star Wars. Certainly not my mother, anyway.)

I do know when I saw the 2nd movie - that one was with Amy, and it was at the old Alabama Theater in Houston, and we had to stand in line for a couple of hours. And I saw Return of the Jedi in a very crowded theater in Austin - I have this vivid memory of standing in the concession line with my friends, for that one.

Oh, also, I think the fact that I had the album of the soundtrack is fairly important. I remember blasting it on the stereo in my dorm room often that year. I think I also bought the one for The Empire Strikes back when it came out. I never really got to the degree of fandom that involved buying the series of novels, later, though. I don't know why, but I never got interested in those.

This is all by way of saying that I am a Star Wars fan, going all the way back to the beginning - but not an utterly fanatical one. I know the basic canon. I don't know the names of every single minor character or every planet that's ever been mentioned, like some people do.


Well, the people who came up with this MMO were the fanatics, I'm pretty sure. It was all done in association with LucasArts and it's utterly faithful to canon, as far as I can tell. All the familiar species are there, although I still couldn't tell you the names of most of them. I suspect that if you ask me in a couple of months, I will know. Assuming we keep playing this, and that's a pretty sure bet, it's going to be like a total-immersion course in Star Wars lore.

This is why I said the soundtrack was important: because when you FINALLY get to play the game (after the usual hours of downloading and installing and then waiting in a queue to get in and then creating your character) the first thing that happens is that you see a screen, just like in the movies: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

And then the main theme starts up. And I swear, I get chills every time. That's why I've been thinking so much about this, about my history with Star Wars and maybe I have more of a reaction to them because of that. I did actually watch the original three movies last weekend when they were on. (I wondered if the timing was not an accident, that they were showing them the same weekend as the SWTOR beta weekend.)

I have more to say about this, particularly about the game, but it will have to wait until later. It's past my bedtime.

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