Jedi Fallen Order Part 2: The Legacy of Lucas

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 13, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 136 comments

A point of order:  In my last post I childishly mocked the game for having the absurdly overcomplicated title of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order EA™. While funny, this isn’t actually true. If you look closely at the title you’ll see the game is – and I am not making this up – properly called Star Wars™ Jedi: Fallen Order™ EA™.

I apologize for the confusion.

For the record, I played through this game four-ish times. I mostly played on the “Jedi Knight” difficulty, which is the default. The exception to this was my final but incomplete trip through the game, where I set it on Easy and blasted through quickly to round up a few screenshots and some extra footage. I played on PC using an Xbox controller.

At the start of this series I compared the game to Dark Souls. That’s not really fair or correct, but it’s also not my fault…

Dark Souls is Not a Genre

A bonfire / circle where I can rest / meditate to replenish my estus flasks / stims and respawn all of the monsters / space-monsters.
A bonfire / circle where I can rest / meditate to replenish my estus flasks / stims and respawn all of the monsters / space-monsters.

Dark Souls shouldn’t be a genre, because naming genres after games is always messy and confusing. Sure, both Dark Souls and SWJFO feature deliberately paced melee combat that requires careful use of blocking, dodging, and parry timings. They both have an attrition-based system where you have a limited pool of healing items that can only be replenished by resting at fixed locations, which will cause all enemies to respawn. But the two games are massively different when it comes to tone, setting, traversal, exploration, visual presentation, punishment, leveling systems, pacing, and storytelling. Saying that SWJFO is a “Dark Souls style” game isn’t any more correct than saying Half-Life  is a “Doom clone”. Sure, they both feature shooting crap with guns and one of them is clearly inspired by the other, but the games are more different than they are alike.

The problem is that we have a gap in our nomenclature, and so we’re plugging that gap by inserting the names of games. Lately we’ve fallen to mashing the names of all of the genre members together: SoulsborneoTo encompass Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro..

What we really need is a one-word descriptor that can sum up the idea of “timing-based melee combat with a fixed pool of healing between checkpoints”. Maybe Soulsborneo will stick, but there’s still a lot of ambiguity around that termAre we referring to the combat, the difficulty, or the setting? Would it still be Soulsborneo if it had the same gameplay but a handsome protagonist, a plucky sidedkick, and a happy ending?. We invented the word “Metroidvania” to convey “Open-world game where you gain access to new areas by acquiring new tools through gameplay”, so there’s hope that we can eventually nail something down that can be commonly understood. Then again, we’re still using “roguelike” to describe games with permadeath that force the player to iterate on the game to discover and master its systems.

Until we can settle on a word that conveys this idea, we’re probably doomed to wave the phrase “Dark Souls” around, literally for lack of a better word.

So let’s talk about those difficulty settings…

Difficulty

There's a HUGE jump between Story Mode and Jedi Knight.
There's a HUGE jump between Story Mode and Jedi Knight.

On my first play-through, I really wanted to do it on the easiest difficulty. I’m not proficient at this genre, and I really just wanted to take in the scenery and the story on the first go. If I liked the game and had a good time, then I’d crank up the difficulty and invest the time to master the systems. That’s what I did with Batman.

However, a lot of the SWJFO combat is built around hitting the parry / attack / dodge buttons at the right time. The easier difficulty makes these timing windows significantly larger. My fear was that if I played on Easy and then moved to Normal, then all of my muscle memory would be working against me. Essentially, the game would have taught me to play wrong, and I’d need to re-learn how to play when I graduated to the higher difficulty levels. I really didn’t want that.

This is particularly troublesome in a game built around melee combat like this one, because when we talk about “parry timing” we’re not talking about a fixed interval of time. There are a lot of foes in this game and they all have different proportions, different fighting styles, different animations, and different weapons.

Once I fight a few stormtroopers, I’ll get a feel for the timing. If he’s winding up, it’s too soon. If his weapon has crossed the halfway point between us, then it’s too late. After a little trial-and-error I’ll find the sweet spot between those two. But then I face a trooper wearing a different hatDifferent weapon / costume / combat role / whatever. and he’ll have different animations I’ll need to learn to recognize and react to. And then another set for the Inquisitor. And the Nightbrother. And all of the creatures. And the various bounty hunters.

If I bump up the difficulty and the timings change, then I don’t just need to re-learn some generic “parry timing”, I need to re-discover that sweet spot for every foe in the game. In my experience, overcoming and altering ingrained muscle memory is significantly harder than just learning something new from scratch.

What I Wanted

When you parry an enemy: They stagger, you get a punchy sound, there's a bloom of sparks, and their defense is immediately depleted which leaves them open to attack.
When you parry an enemy: They stagger, you get a punchy sound, there's a bloom of sparks, and their defense is immediately depleted which leaves them open to attack.

I wanted an “easy mode” that would more or less function like the normal gameplay. The timing windows would be the same. The only difference would be how much damage I deal, how much damage I take, and how much health you recover from healing items. I wanted to learn how to play the “real” game, but I wanted to do so in a situation where I wasn’t going to be quickly punished for my mistakes.

On the other hand, there are people who really do have trouble hitting these timing windows. Due to age, experience, or personal ability, they just can’t execute the moves quickly enough to get through. That day is probably coming for me soonI turn 50 next year.. Those people will be looking to the difficulty slider to make the controller inputs easier to physically perform.

Essentially, this single difficulty selector is being used to adjust two different things: How difficult it is to input the correct actions, and how many mistakes you’re allowed to make before you die.

As it was, I played through on Normal difficulty and struggled quite a bit. This game uses Dark Souls style checkpoints. As I’ve explained before, I do not cope well with those kinds of setbacks. I really wanted to engage with the full mechanics, which means I hit a couple of difficulty spikes and wound up getting really pissed off at some points.

In an ideal world, I suppose a game might let you adjust these two things independently.  My ideal choice would be to play on HARD mode in terms of timing windows so that I need to be really precise, but EASY mode in terms of my health bar so I’m not getting sent all the way back to the last bonfireThey’re actually meditation circles in this game. while I practice. I could make the physical inputs as exacting as possible, but make it so that my character was super-tanky and able to survive lots of input blunders unit I “git gud”. Then I’d turn up the difficulty for later playthroughs so the game was no longer using kid gloves.

So that’s why I never messed with the other difficulty modes in my various play-throughs. As a result, I ended up playing on a harder difficulty than I was comfortable with. And despite what masocore fans will insist, the game wasn’t “saving me from myself”. I really would have enjoyed the game more if I didn’t find the combat so stressful, and I would have found it less stressful if I had a way to make it more lenient without messing with the input timings.

I did try easy on my final half-trip through the game, and it was awful. The timing windows are so generous that just about every block becomes a free parry. Enemy aggression was turned down to the point of being patronizing. Some foes would stand still for several seconds and let you hack away at them with impunity. Easy lacked any depth or challenge over the long haul, and Normal was too stressful for the first few hours while I was trying to get the hang of the genre.

Difficulty is a complex and multidimensional problem. The designer can’t hope to make everyone happy. But as luck would have it, this particular game was calibrated so that nothing felt right for me. It didn’t start to feel good until I was a little ways into my second trip through the game and everything started to click, and that’s a long time to wait.

Long, Long Ago…

If your font size is measured in parsecs, then you might be violating certain readability guidelines.
If your font size is measured in parsecs, then you might be violating certain readability guidelines.

In the previous entry I said that this game plays things incredibly safe. However, it does do one thing to break from tradition right at the start, and I really approve: This game doesn’t feature the now-standard Star Wars opening crawl.

So let’s talk about the opening crawl for a minute…

In moviemaking, it’s generally agreed that having the audience read a few paragraphs of text is a pretty big no-no. Most filmmakers will tell you that reading will make the audience bored and restlessI remember frantically asking my Mom to read it to me back in 1977, because I was just six and the text was going too quickly for me to read on my own.. If at all possible, you should show rather than tell. Barring that, put your exposition into dialog and use it to convey someone’s character / viewpoint. But George Lucas has always been great at building complex worlds and bad at conveying those worlds to the audience gracefully. If you read the original script for Star Wars you’ll find agonizingly loquacious passages in the middle of action scenes and characters awkwardly dumping tons of useless information on the audience in the middle of otherwise important exposition. In a lot of ways, the early scripts for Star Wars: A New Hope feels like one of those situations where a movie was adapted from a really long book and the filmmaker didn’t know what was safe to cut.

Hollywood Madman

Dan Aykroyd is a very idiosyncratic individual. Click to experience the full unfiltered idiosyncratic individuality.
Dan Aykroyd is a very idiosyncratic individual. Click to experience the full unfiltered idiosyncratic individuality.

Dan Aykroyd is a similar kind of writer. He’s a man with a gift for coming up with wonderfully inventive worlds. Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, and Spies Like UsSpies Like Us isn’t as well remembered as the other two. I think it’s just as clever as Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters, but the plot revolved around Cold War nuclear fears, and it felt dated the moment the wall came down. In contrast, the other two movies have a sort of timeless quality to them. all came from Aykroyd’s imagination. And like Lucas, he doesn’t seem to know when to quit. According to Hollywood legend, Aykroyd’s original Blues Brothers screenplay was a ludicrous 324 pages long. That would have made for a five and a half hour movie. That’s about the same as watching Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame back-to-back.

Madness!

Luckily for us, John Landis was holding Aykroyd’s leash. Aykroyd would turn in a witty, ingenious, but unfilmable script, and then Landis would hack it down into something that could feasibly be filmed in a universe of finite resources and safely shown to the general public. The result of this perfect duo was a brisk movie that revealed a world that always felt a little bigger and a little stranger than what we were being shown.

Then in 1991, Aykroyd was set free. Without Landis keeping an eye on him, he was able to create whatever he wanted. This led to the surreal and borderline unwatchable Nothing but Trouble, a film that has several points in common with Lucas’ prequel trilogy:

  1. Complete tonal incoherence, with the movie swinging recklessly between different and incompatible moodsNothing but Trouble was horror+slapstick comedy+macabre gross-out camp, while Phantom Menace was high adventure+slapstick comedy+procedural political drama..
  2. Scenes that serve little or no purpose within the story and only exist because they contain elements that amuse the writerExample: The train set in Nothing but Trouble, or the Tribubble bongo scene in Phantom Menace.
  3. Awkward pacing issues that make the film feel ponderous in some spots and rushed in others.

Collaboration

George Lucas on set with Harrison Ford, probably discussing how to deal with the constant clunking sound the dialog was making.
George Lucas on set with Harrison Ford, probably discussing how to deal with the constant clunking sound the dialog was making.

In a lot of ways, I think of Lucas as an eccentric writer in the style of Aykroyd: Brilliant, inventive, and wildly ambitious. His problem is that he never found a John Landis to collaborate with. Or perhaps he had several, but never realized how much he needed them.

Lucas wrote A New Hope, which was heavily rewritten due to the (often blunt / outraged) input from his colleagues and editorsSome of his colleagues included Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma.. Empire Strikes Back was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. Lucas returned as writer for Return of the Jedi, but he was still collaborating with Lawrence Kasdan. It wasn’t until the prequel trilogy in 1999 that we got to see Lucas completely unfiltered.

There’s no other single writer that can take credit for the style and tone of the original trilogy. The only constant on the project was Lucas himself. But when Lucas was allowed to work alone, a lot of the Star Wars magic vanished. The only conclusion I can draw is that the magic of Star Wars arises when George Lucas collaborates with someone who can restrain his worst instincts and bring out his best.

My suspicion is that if you wanted to create something that felt like the original trilogy, then you should have Lucas devise the overarching plot and character concepts, and then have Lawrence Kasdan build a script from that broad outline. Oh, and you’ll need to use a Tardis to go back and get the 1977 version of George Lucas, because modern Lucas doesn’t seem to care for his early work or even remember it particularly well. Older Lucas wants to do things that are tonally and thematically different, which seems to be at odds with old timers like me who want to keep the original movies under glass.

Sadly, the Tardis doesn’t exist in the Star Wars universe. So I guess we’re stuck with what we have.

Back to That Opening Crawl

Instead of a text crawl, all the game gives us is this spectacular vista of ruined ships, the leftover wreckage of the clone wars.
Instead of a text crawl, all the game gives us is this spectacular vista of ruined ships, the leftover wreckage of the clone wars.

So for better or for worse, George gave us the opening crawl. Normally this sort of thing would be an indicator of a weak writer or a merciless editorIf the editor hacks a movie to pieces to get it down to 90 minutes, they often have to resort to text-on-screen to fill in the gaps left by missing scenes., but for Star Wars it’s become something of a calling card.

And fine. It certainly didn’t harm the first movie! It was a good opportunity to let the audience soak in John William’s legendary score, and it transitioned seamlessly into the fantastic opening shot of the movie. Maybe exposition via a literal wall of text is a filmmaking no-no, but the movies managed to make it work.

But then came the video game adaptations, and everyone felt obligated to create their own opening crawl. Like I’ve said before, video games are not movies. In terms of length, they’re closer to a season of a television show or sometimes even a whole book. You’ve got lots of time to deliver exposition. In fact, action games often get monotonous if you don’t give the player the occasional breather between fights. Those quiet moments are a great time for your Radio Buddy to call you up with a bit of “By the way, did I ever tell you about X?” type exposition. AAA games are often a 90 minute movie worth of cutscenes, plus countless in-game dialog exchanges, plus an in-game codex of some sort. In short, video games generally do not need this sort of opening crawl.

Video games have better ways of relaying information. Moreover, they often didn’t have anything pressing that the audience needed to hear. Not only is an opening crawl a poor way to convey information, in the case of games it was often information that the audience could be expected to know or intuit on their own.

So I’m glad the writer of Fallen Order had the courage to skip it. I certainly didn’t miss it.

Okay, enough digressions. Next time we’re going to hit the “New Game” button.

 

Footnotes:

[1] To encompass Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro.

[2] Are we referring to the combat, the difficulty, or the setting? Would it still be Soulsborneo if it had the same gameplay but a handsome protagonist, a plucky sidedkick, and a happy ending?

[3] Different weapon / costume / combat role / whatever.

[4] I turn 50 next year.

[5] They’re actually meditation circles in this game.

[6] I remember frantically asking my Mom to read it to me back in 1977, because I was just six and the text was going too quickly for me to read on my own.

[7] Spies Like Us isn’t as well remembered as the other two. I think it’s just as clever as Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters, but the plot revolved around Cold War nuclear fears, and it felt dated the moment the wall came down. In contrast, the other two movies have a sort of timeless quality to them.

[8] Nothing but Trouble was horror+slapstick comedy+macabre gross-out camp, while Phantom Menace was high adventure+slapstick comedy+procedural political drama.

[9] Example: The train set in Nothing but Trouble, or the Tribubble bongo scene in Phantom Menace.

[10] Some of his colleagues included Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma.

[11] If the editor hacks a movie to pieces to get it down to 90 minutes, they often have to resort to text-on-screen to fill in the gaps left by missing scenes.



From The Archives:
 

136 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 2: The Legacy of Lucas

  1. Joe says:

    The bongo scene actually served a purpose. There’s always a bigger fish. The bigger fish is the senior to the action. Maul has Palpatine. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon have Yoda. The biggest fish actually enables our heroes rather than impede them. I didn’t actually notice that until a year or so ago.

    There’s another weird thing about the opening crawl. It always finishes with four dots. Always four there are. No more, no less. Anyone up with their grammar enough to say if it means anything, or is it just a stylistic choice?

    1. Lino says:

      I just re-watched the crawls for 4-6, and in all of them (especially in 5) it’s done to make the last line look longer. Otherwise the second-last line is going to look like it’s sticking out.

      Of course, it could be some other reason… I guess we’ll never know….

      1. Joe says:

        Yeah, I can see that. Good stuff.

    2. Will says:

      I dunno if this applies to the Star Wars opening crawl, but if you elide the end of a sentence in a quote, you’re supposed to replace it with four dots—the ellipsis, and then the sentence-ending period. (If the sentence ended with some other punctuation, you’d have three dots and then whatever other punctuation mark, e.g. “…!”.)

      Plausibly whoever composed or typeset the opening crawls was following this rule, though as far as I know there aren’t really firm stylistic guidelines around the use of an ellipsis to indicate a pause or trailing off.

      1. etheric42 says:

        This is the correct answer as passed down in my university.

        It was also pointed out to me that this is distinct from the hard break, in that … gets a punctuation after it (Welcome to my ranch, it is the….; How did you create…?; Wow it’s so close, I can…!) but the em dash does not (This dinosaur seems awfully—).

        1. Decius says:

          The ellipsis indicates that the details were not recorded, the hard break indicates that the speaker was interrupted. Using an ellipsis to indicate trailing off is nonstandard.

      2. Philadelphus says:

        Oh, wow. I’ve been ending sentences in bare ellipses for years now. Thanks for explaining that, it makes sense when you think about ending in punctuation other than another period.

    3. THERE…ARE…FOUR…DOTS!

    4. Rariow says:

      The myth I always heard was that in one or the original trilogy films it was put in as a mistake, and it’s stayed that way in all future films as a sort of in joke – even in despecialized re-releases of the originals. There are old VHS’s out there that have Episode IV’s crawl ending in only three dots, I owned one as a kid and remember getting confused why it was the only three dot one.

      I did not know that the four dots are actually correct in some circumstances though, so the only part of that I can corroborate is the existence of three dot pre-Special Edition tapes.

    5. The Puzzler says:

      The bongo scene may be a metaphor, but it’s still a pretty dumb scene and a pretty dumb metaphor.

      Also the Jedi being so blase about the craziness they just witnessed makes them less relatable to me. If I was out in a little boat and got attacked by a great white shark and the shark was eaten by a giant squid that then tried to eat me and then the squid was then eaten by a whale, I would be completely dumbfounded by my miraculous survival.

      1. Appreauntis says:

        But Jedi are supposed to be calm and blase to an extent. They are trained to restrain strong passions and simply trust in the force. Thus upon a succession of bigger fish eating each other and the Jedi escaping alive and well. All Qui-gon has to say is to blithely remark “Theres always a bigger fish.”

        1. Khwarezm says:

          Wow, its almost like they shouldn’t be main characters.

  2. Thomas says:

    I always used to find it hard to read the opening crawl when it got towards the end and the letters were barely fitting on the screen. And I never realised they had important information in them! I always figured it was a stylistic thing, there to look like a Star Wars film and nothing more.

    For years I had big gaps in my head about how the films fitted together, and it only got resolved when I sat down and actually read the darn opening crawls.

  3. Mokap says:

    I think “soulslike” is a fine descriptor, similar to roguelike, and just like roguelike it can be further clarified by people who really care by having something similar to the roguelike/roguelite dichotomy, one for games which are very similar to Rogue (turn based, dungeon crawling, complex systems – stuff like Nethack or Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, roguelikes) and those which just take overarching design ideas (procedural generated worlds, lots of variety in items that synergise together to make unique builds – stuff like The Binding of Isaac or Slay the Spire, roguelites). Like this, you could have Soulslike for things which keep the tone, equipment variety and less-linear world design of the Souls series, and Soulslike for those which just take the basic mechanics (like JFO). I think it’s a better term than Soulsborneo since Sekiro is barely a soulslike in my opinion, the tone is wildly different and there’s no equipment variety which leads to the game being a lot less replayable.

    1. GargamelLeNoir says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking too. Soulslike works nicely.

      1. Groboclown says:

        From what I’ve heard, the opening crawl was a stylistic choice as a callback to the old serials in theaters, where you’d find yourself watching episode 12 of Commander Cody, and the opening text would give you just enough context to get right into the story. This is also why it opened with “episode 4” (A New Hope was added later).

        1. Sardonic says:

          Misconception police: The entire subtitle “Episode 4 — A New Hope” was added later. The film as released was titled simply “Star Wars.” The subtitles didn’t appear in the opening text crawl of the original theatrical release, either.

          1. Erik says:

            Can confirm from having watched it multiple times in theater when it came out.

            The “New Hope” subtitle and the odd numbering were added later, during the work for Empire. In interviews from around the original release time, Lucas hadn’t yet settled the larger story and come up with the idea of a trilogy of trilogies, it was still very handwavey. He appears to have worked out the broader story in order to ground the next story (Empire), and stuck with it from there.

    2. Darker says:

      I suppose you wanted to say “Soulslite”?

      1. Mokap says:

        Oops, yeah. That typo kinda ruins the entire premise of the comment, too. Oh well

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Honestly, I think ‘Soulslike’ works just as well…

    3. Echo Tango says:

      The issue with these terms is that you have to explain the things to any new people. Using terms like “duelist” for all the combat (where timing matters, you’re forced to follow through with attacks, etc), “in-world saving” for the bonfires (or their equivalent), “character leveling” instead of “RPG”[1], or others, would make it completely obvious to everyone what you’re talking about. It also lessens the chances for arguments about what “counts” as being X-like, since it’s more objective. :)

      [1] Good gravy, the games industry has a lot of opaque terms!

    4. konondrum says:

      Over the years I’ve come to really hate these genre names. Metroidvania, Roguelike, Roguelite…. all words I have used in the past, and now I despise them all. Even Microsoft knows they are not real words, all underlined in red as I type this out.
      They are ugly, ungainly words to start with. Instead of clarifying, they mostly serve to start arguments over their definitions.
      And those definitions…. Good god. Is this a Roguelike or a Roguelite? Does this “qualify” as a Metroidvania or Soulslike? These are pretty much the most tedious discussions on the internet.

  4. Bubble181 says:

    I think, sadly, that you’re misinterpreting the difficulty levels.
    You read Story Mode as “easy”, and Jedi Knight as “normal”, making Master and Grandmaster Hard and Very Hard.

    However, Story Mode – as being incorporated into more and more games – is meant as being (almost) literally that – a way for a non-gamer to experience the story without all the gameplay.
    In the mind of the designers, then, it’s
    Story mode
    Easy Mode
    Normal Mode
    Hard Mode

    Now, this doesn’t really matter, except for people who think it’s somehow “wrong” to be a gamer and yet play on “easy” (I usually do). it also informs the way the designers consider the game has to be played. More deaths and returns to bonfires, harder fights, etc etc, mimicking DS. If this game *didn’t* have an easy mode, you (and when I get to play around with it, me, I guess) would’ve bounced off the type of difficulty.

    That aside, I do agree on multiple sliders for difficulty levels. It’s something very few designers include, yet it’s a very nice system for those of us with specific skills or qualities. I can play Total War games with the campaign difficulty all the way to max, but with the tactical difficulty turned all the way down. Obviously they impact each other, but still.

    1. Syal says:

      …oh yeah, you can see it in the screenshot. Knight setting is “for new players who want forgiving combat”.

      But Master is practically synonymous with Hard, or even Very Hard. If it’s supposed to be Medium they named it wrong.

      1. evilmrhenry says:

        Judging from Shamus’ comments on the difficulty, there’s no easy or medium setting. It’s basically Story Mode, Hard, Very Hard, Impossible. Calling Very Hard “Jedi Master” is appropriate, the issue is there’s no Padawan difficulty.

        1. MarsLineman says:

          As someone who usually just leaves the difficulty on the default setting and assumes it’s what the developers intended, for this game it appears that ‘Jedi Master’ is the developer-backed difficulty setting. You can’t tell from Shamus’s screenshot, but the Jedi Master setting is the only one where all 3 bars (Parry Timing, Incoming Damage, and Enemy Aggression) are balanced and equal. Seeing as these bars are an abstraction– they could have chosen to represent their relative lengths however they wanted– the fact that the developers chose to portray them as balanced directly in the center across all 3 categories for the Jedi Master setting would seem to imply that ‘Jedi Master’ is the developer-intended difficulty setting.

          1. Victor McKnight says:

            I second a lot of what was said above. Jedi Master is the default difficulty, but the game’s difficulty curve seems off and would probably benefit from having a Padawan difficulty and tweaking Jedi Master and Jedi Knight so they are more clearly hard and normal respectively.

            From my own experience, I had just come from playing Bloodborne for my first and only time. I have also only played Dark Souls 1 once, years before so I am by no means some hardcore Souls player. Jedi Master felt too easy in parts, but also very hard in others, especially in regard to some of the harder enemies and side bosses. I was probably suffering from Bloodborne Stockholm Syndrome, but neither hard nor normal felt like the right descriptions for Jedi Master difficulty. When I did new game plus and saw there was nowhere to go but Grand Master, I knew the whole thing was off.

            Some of the sliders also make some pretty big jumps when moving between difficulties. A fifth Padawan difficulty setting could have smoothed this all out.

          2. evilmrhenry says:

            My point is that “Jedi Master” is an appropriate name for that difficulty setting, and sets appropriate expectations about the difficulty involved.

    2. Freddo says:

      Story mode is also great for skipping tedious boss fights. I recall the boss fights in Deus Ex Human Revolution as being especially tedious, and after that experience never again hesitated to adjust the difficulty in boss fights to match my entertainment requirements.

    3. Mark says:

      Multiple difficulty sliders can be really great. I started playing Bethesda games (read: Skyrim, Oblivion, and the Fallout games) with “difficulty” mods. In all of them, I would crank up the damage received by a lot, but also crank up damage dealt. Those games tend to be all about damage sponging and I really prefer the faster pace. I don’t know if this is “harder” or “easier,” but it’s definitely a better experience.

    4. Vinsomer says:

      Yeah, that’s something I was thinking. Complaining that story mode makes the combat so easy that it’s trivial kind of misses the point: that is the intention of story modes. I do think that perhaps games could do a better job of saying ‘really, if you want to get any kind of enjoyment or sense of accomplishment at all from combat, then DO NOT pick this option’, but honestly I’m beginning to find the amount of ways players want developers to couch their experiences kind of… not exactly entitled, but certainly beginning to head in that direction. This is the flipside to having more options: some players will inevitably choose options based on misunderstandings and that will negatively affect some of their experiences.

      So, ironically, yes, this is a situation where Shamus would have been saved from himself, though it’s probably more accurately a situation where the developers could have been better explained exactly what each mode entailed.

      This also shows that people’s conception of what counts as ‘easy’ is completely different and dependent on the vagaries of the playerbase. One man’s easy is another’s hard, whereas there are people who can beat even the hardest games with ease.

  5. Lino says:

    Typolice:

    And Like Lucas

    Should be a lower-case “l”

    as clever as Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters

    Either Ghostbusters should be Italic, or Blues Brothers should be normal.

    Regarding the opening crawl, I actually really like seeing it in games. What can I say – I’m an old-fashioned curmudgeon, dead-set in his ways :D

  6. Chris says:

    The first post made me rewatch the original trilogy and man was it a blast. The first time viewing it was when the prequels came out and i wanted to go through them quickly so i could be ready for the new big thing. I remember being disappointed by the fight between darth vader and kenobi in a new hope, since it was nothing like the over the top spectacle the new movies promised. But seeing them now I like them a lot better. Too bad i can never see empire strikes back without knowing the twist. Especially around the prequel releases.

    As for difficulty. I dislike it when they just hike up health and damage on higher difficulties. It makes fights a chore to grind through. And on lower difficulties some bosses might break since you can just tank the damage and rush them down before they kill you, without having to avoid any attacks. I much rather prefer higher difficulties introduce new attacks to existing enemies, introduce new enemies, increase enemy aggression, etc.

    I think the opening crawl was trying to invoke the flash gordon serials which had the same thing (block of text at the start). And even if you cannot read everything (I found the text being angled to be very bad for readability) you generally can pick up on a few lines so you know where things stand.

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      I was wondering if anyone would comment on the serials that inspired Lucas to make Star Wars. I thought everyone knew that until I read this column and the comments above.

  7. Gautsu says:

    Souls-like is the genre at this point. Soulsborneo is basically for the From Soft purists who (usually) don’t appreciate the other offerings in the genre. It’s simplistic and covers a range of possible factors, one or more of which might be present (tone, combat style, exploration, difficulty). Likewise, I get that you are making a joke at the expense of the ridiculous title, but every one I know just calls it Fallen Order, or at the most, Jedi Fallen Order. FO flows better than SWJFO imo. Shamus, have you ever had the opportunity to talk to a developer about your opinions on difficulty, not sure how much exposure you get with actual game creators because of your blog, but I would be interested in hearing how they respond to you, since I believe most of your poibta brought up over many posts, have been insightful.

  8. John says:

    My impression is that back in ye aulde dayes it was fairly common for movies to open with a couple of screens of text. The Errol Flynn Robin Hood is a good example. The opening text in that movie establishes that the film is set in England during the reign of Richard I, that Richard I has been captured and held for ransom on his way back to England, and that his no-good brother John is abusing the Saxon peasants. Then the movie proper kicks in. I don’t think that there’s quite as much text as in your typical Star Wars crawl and the font is bigger and more readable, but the idea is the same. Of course, in ye aulde dayes, audiences were far more used to text at the beginning of films. Movies of that era put the credits–which, mercifully, were much, much shorter than credits are now–at the beginning of the film rather than the end.

  9. MerryWeathers says:

    I think George was finally learning from his mistakes after the release of the prequels and started collaborating with other people to better execute his ideas for him like how he got Dave Filoni to be the showrunner for Clone Wars, the many sci-fi writers that helped developed Star Wars Underwold, and having Micheal Ardnt and Lawrence Kasdan write the script for Ep. VII (Micheal wasn’t involved in the production of ROTJ Shamus, he was still thirteen at the time).

    He’s basically what Kevin Feige is to the MCU only if Kevin directed and wrote all the movies himself.

    1. Shamus says:

      “Micheal wasn’t involved in the production of ROTJ Shamus, he was still thirteen at the time”

      Huh. I wonder was sort of mis-Googling led me to list him as writer. I’ll fix the post.

    2. Hector says:

      On a side note, very creative people, including some absolute geniuses, often need editors to bring them back down to Earth. It’s a rare writer who can do without, and IMHO every director can use a good editor’s eyes, and one of the big causes of the decline in Hollywood was bad editimg.

      Tolkien is perhaps the noteworthy counter-example.

      1. sheer_falacy says:

        Tolkien could absolutely some more editing. I know there are some arguments in favor of Tom Bombadil, but c’mon.

        1. John says:

          Fellowship of the Ring gets off to a very slow start. My daughter liked The Hobbit well enough, but she never even made it to Tom Bombadil when she tried reading Lord of the Rings. I barely made it through that part myself when I last re-read the trilogy.

          1. Hector says:

            Let me address this argument in broad detail: many people dislike the start because it’s not to their taste. That is, however, not a qualitative problem with the story but a deliberate choice on Tolkein’s part. The difference is that he does it with a purpose and a point, and it’s part of the books’ foundation in the epics, but also in that storytelling in his day was slower-paced from the beginning.

            tl;dr it’s meant to be that way

            1. John says:

              I didn’t say it was bad. Still, “it’s meant to be that way” is a weak defense at best.

              1. Shamus says:

                I’ll give it a go…

                Bombadil serves an important purpose within the story by giving us context about the forces of magic in Middle-Earth. If not for Bombadil, then the Elves would be seen as the biggest, most magical beings in the world. But contrasting them with Bombadil makes it clear that they are no such thing. They’re just a big deal when compared to humans. It hints at the layers of the world and the magnitudes of difference between them in terms of power, knowledge, and mysterious-ness.

                Bombadil also gives us a certain historical perspective. The thousands of years between Sauron fights are a big deal to mortals, but not so amazing to Elves. But even the oldest of the old at the Council of Elrond find Bombadil to be ancient beyond their reckoning. This drives home the idea that this seeming cataclysmic war is just another moment of history to the world itself. In turn, this underscores how impossibly small and under-powered our heroes are.

                This also provides a way to illustrate that the powers of The Ring (and thus Sauron) are focused on people, not on nature itself. It holds no power whatsoever over Bombadil, placing the entire conflict in the realm of “hearts and minds of men” rather than “Who is the best at doing war?” Sure, there’s lots of war-fighting, but the real battle is in the heart. Boromir falls, Faramir stumbles but does the right thing, and Frodo and Sam remain faithful to the point of death.

                And finally, Frodo’s “random” encounters with the Elves and with Bombadil suggest that there is perhaps some sort of divine providence to his journey. LOTR is VERY cagey when it comes to The Creator. God is not even named in the books. The most we get is when Gandalf suggests that Frodo was “meant” to have the ring, which introduces the question of “By who?”, and the reader is left to fill in the blanks themselves. But Frodo’s incredible fortune at meeting these two major forces provides a small ray of hope. Maybe evil seems insurmountable, but – as Gandalfs says – There are other forces at work in the world. (That’s a paraphrase. I don’t remember the exact wording. My copy of Fellowship fell apart a few years ago from over-use, and I haven’t replaced it yet.)

                So yes: Bombadil is vital to the story in many subtle ways.

                Having said that: Did his section require so many pages of songs and flowers and food and more songs? Ehhhh.

                1. John says:

                  I can honestly say that I had never considered most of that.

                  All I meant, really, is that intentional does not signify good. In my life I have deliberately and intentionally done a lot of things that, with the benefit I hindsight, I can now say were pretty stupid. I wasn’t making any claims about Tolkien with my last comment. Sorry.

                  1. Shamus says:

                    No need to be sorry! I didn’t take any offense. You just got me thinking about LOTR and I suddenly had a lot to say. :)

                2. Levi says:

                  All right, now I have to ask: who is Tom Bombadil, then?

                  ;)

                  1. Hector says:

                    Hes Tom Bombadil.

                    The real question is WHAT Bombadail is (something akin to a nature spirit) and WHY he is. The answer to the latter is that he doesn’t care what you think, he’s happy living with his wife Goldberry* deep in the forest and he laughs at men, living or dead. Which is actually a minor plot point. But the key takeaway is that BOmbadil doesn’t need a WHY and he certainly doesn’t need your WHY.

                    *Goldberry Goldberry Merry Yellow Berry-O

                    1. Asdasd says:

                      He’s basically an affable Cthulhu.

                3. Michael says:

                  The thousands of years between Sauron fights are a big deal to mortals, but not so amazing to Elves. But even the oldest of the old at the Council of Elrond find Bombadil to be ancient beyond their reckoning. This drives home the idea that this seeming cataclysmic war is just another moment of history to the world itself.

                  Given the outline of the nature of the world in The Silmarillion, this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

                  The Silmarillion begins with the creation of the world. Eru (“god”) creates a piece of music and a chorus of singers to perform it according to his design. But one of the singers, Melkor, has an independent vision and starts singing what he wants to sing instead of his assigned part.

                  Eru stops this, and restarts the music as intended. It happens again. (And this may or may not repeat once more — I’m not going to go check in the book.)

                  Then Eru throws a tantrum, and says he’ll show everyone why Melkor’s actions were inappropriate by bringing them into existence. This is the world — it’s created to reflect what happened in the immortal chorus. Any of the singers who are so inclined are free to go down into the world and experience the recreation of the music firsthand — the ones who do become the Valar, the Maiar, and Morgoth (Melkor).

                  So I see two interpretations of the battle with Sauron:

                  1. The world reflecting the original chorus enjoys some self-determination. In this case, the battle with Sauron is in fact a full-on cataclysm which determines whether the song going forward will be determined by Eru (if Sauron loses) or Melkor (if he wins). It’s not just not insignificant at the level of history — it is the reason the world exists in the first place, the question the world was created to answer.

                  2. The world enjoys no self-determination at all, instead being fully pre-determined by the choral performance it was created from. In this case, from a certain perspective, there are no real stakes — whatever was always going to happen is what will happen. But it’s still a direct reflection at the very highest level of the question the world was created to answer; nothing in the world can be said to have more significance except the earlier cataclysmic battles with Morgoth and Sauron. (Which reflect Eru interrupting the chorus to set things back on track.)

                  1. MelTorefas says:

                    Interesting. It has been a long time since I read the Silmarillion, but I never got the impression the world was created to show why Melkor’s rebellion was incorrect. I thought the world was a reflection of the music that was created, and for his part in corrupting it Melkor (after being defeated) was banished to whatever the world’s equivalent of Outer Darkness was. Then all the stuff that happens thereafter is a result of the corruption in the world and the work of the Maiar who followed Melkor (or were perhaps inspired by his actions regardless of whether they chose to align with him, like Ungoliant). I saw the whole thing as basically Tolkien’s allegory of the Christian stories of the world’s creation.

                    (And then the overarching theme of the book itself is what the title suggests: the story of the Silmarils, from their creation down through the ages and all the trouble they caused due to the greed of imperfect beings.)

                    That said I can see where you are coming from.

                4. MelTorefas says:

                  My first thought when I read this was “Man, it’d be great if Shamus did some sort of retrospective on Lord of the Rings!” …Then I remembered why I started reading this site, all those years ago. (I dunno if DM of the Rings actually constitutes a retrospective, but, whatever.)

                  That said, I really like your explanation. I have always thought the Bombadil parts, while paced somewhat poorly, made sense in the story and belonged there, but I couldn’t really explain why. Though I also agree with others here that the overall pacing of the books is too slow for my taste. About once a decade I get the desire to listen to the audiobooks again, but I doubt I will ever re-read the series. The Hobbit remains my favorite of Tolkiens works by far. (Though I did actually read all of the Silmarillion several times when I was younger, and I think a lot of people really misunderstand what that book is, based on the comments I frequently see about it.)

                  And finally, I totally agree with you RE: Lucas and collaborating with people who keep him in check. That was the conclusion I arrived it when I was young and trying to figure out why the prequels seemed so much worse than the originals.

                5. Vinsomer says:

                  My problem with Tom Bombadil isn’t the implications he has on the world. It’s that I think Tolkien wrote him terribly. Tolkien could have written a character that did all the things that Bombadil did thematically (at least, the parts worth doing) that didn’t destroy the tone and pacing of the story.

                  It also begs the question to why he is neutral when Saruman and his industrialization is clearly a huge threat to nature, and Bombadil is a nature spirit.

                  1. Benjamin Hilton says:

                    I agree about the pacing, although as to the odd neutrality, I always subscribed to the theory that he was actually the God of that world (Eru ?) who just liked to live on his creation. That makes the not getting involved part much more plausible

                    1. Vinsomer says:

                      If you like to live on Eru’s creation, then you should at least oppose Saruman. Saruman comes to the Shire. He’s literally on Bombadil’s doorstep. That’s kind of the way the war of the Ring is framed: Sauron is a threat to everything because he desires domination over everything, and he won’t stop until he controls the world. There is no sitting this one out: you are either with Sauron, against him, or you’re a speedbump he’s going to roll over. The idea of neutrality undercuts the central conflict. It arguably ruins a lot of characters, like Denethor and Saruman.

                      I guess this is part of what annoys me about Bombadil. He just doesn’t fit in the world. He’s a plot cul-de-sac that has some interesting lore-based implications but the positives don’t justify the negatives of ruining the tension and pacing of the story.

                      Sometimes it feels like Tolkien just enjoyed making up lore and inserted it into his story even when it didn’t serve the story. Tolkien the worldbuilder is leagues ahead of Tolkien the novel writer.

                      I would argue that the Ents are both a better example of an avatar of nature and of something which shows how ancient and mysterious Middle Earth really is. So is Radagast and Galadriel to a lesser degree.

                6. evileeyore says:

                  When I read Tolkien, not being even slightly religious, I didn’t pick up on any of that at all (it was years and years later reading various takes and thesis on Tolkien that all that became apparent, it took someone explaining it). So, yes, Tolkien could have used an editor… but it’s unlikely an editor could have helped get any of that across due to the very different way in which the parties think (non-religious and religious).

                  And ZOD yes, someone needed to take a red pen to all the songs and nonsense and cut the prose into something slightly less unwieldy.

    3. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Yeah I was going to bring up the clone wars as well. Lucas’ overall ideas executed by Filoni made for one of the highest rated pieces of star wars.

  10. eldomtom2 says:

    Ditching the opening crawl seems more common now that Disney’s taken over. Rogue One didn’t have it.

    1. Joe says:

      They dropped it for the ‘side’ movies, but they kept it for the numbered ‘saga’ movies.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Solo had a title crawl.

        1. Joe says:

          Yeah, I remember now. But it was done differently than the usual scroll up. I really didn’t like the movie, so it doesn’t stick in the brain very well.

        2. wswordsmen says:

          And it sucked. Really the thing that made the title crawl work is the music, and for ANH specifically the fact it flowed naturally into a really cool shot of Tantive IV vs. Star Destroyer.

    2. sheer_falacy says:

      Rogue One was a very different style of movie, though.

  11. Asdasd says:

    “Then again, we’re still using “roguelike” to describe games with permadeath that force the player to iterate on the game to discover and master its systems.”

    Actually, we (for a given value of ‘we’) now use roguelike to describe games with permadeath that force the player to iterate on the game to brute force the meta-unlocks that will eventually make it beatable. Or any game with procedural generation. Or any 2D platformer with pixel art.

    ;)

    1. DrBones says:

      Actually, we’ve managed to expand the 2d platformer with pixel art genre a bit. If when you die you get a Game Over, it’s a Roguelike. If you respawn at a checkpoint instead, it’s a Metroidvania. Progress!

    2. Michael says:

      Yeah, the term “roguelike”, as commonly used now, appears to be completely unrelated to Rogue or to anything else that might conceivably have been discussed on rec.games.roguelike . Spelunky noted roguelike influence, and that was apparent when you played it. But as far as I can tell, most people who know the term “roguelike” now learned that term without ever having played a roguelike game. So the common meaning came completely unmoored.

  12. Kathryn says:

    >>On the other hand, there are people who really do have trouble hitting these timing windows. Due to age, experience, or personal ability, they just can’t execute the moves quickly enough to get through.

    *raises hand* If it’s any more complicated than press X to attack, it’s not *impossible* for me, but I’m really going to struggle, and I don’t have the time (or, frankly, desire) to “git gud”. (There are occasional exceptions…I actually got pretty good at fishing in FFXV and got all the fish, even the super hard ones that take a lot of life out of your line.)

    The other issue with timing windows is that they often employ audio cues (e.g., the Thunder Plains in FFX – if you wait for the screen to flash, it’s too late), which are basically impossible for me. (Tidus likely had some pretty serious memory issues in my game.)

    I’m not sure there is a difficulty setting for someone like me, whose fundamental problems are (1) lack of the basic skill required for the game and (2) lack of interest in obtaining said skill, that still maintains the game experience. Story mode pretty clearly doesn’t do the latter. (also not sure why I’d pony up $60 instead of just watching the videos on YouTube) If my problem were just the first part, Shamus’s suggestion of keeping the timing requirement but being less punishing seems like it could work. (in a hypothetical scenario where I had more than 4 hours in a week for gaming, that is)

    1. Hector says:

      I have the great dishonor of having completed the Thunder Plains. On the other hand parry windows drive me the wall. The problem is they require a lot of practice to measure per enemy, and you are exposing yourself to deadly attacks each time. Then add in that these games are *wildly* inconsistent about party timing and what can be parried and it’s a recipe for frustration.

      1. Fizban says:

        I think part of the problem with parry timing is that it’s supposed to/should be learnable without actually parrying, but it’s not.

        You’re supposed to use a shield on your first game of Dark Souls. People complained about the lack of tutorial, but it’s literally the only major tutorial you’re given, in glowing orange text on the floor: Get your Shield! L1 to Block!. Once you start blocking attacks you should immediately see that the enemy is vulnerable for a bit after, and now you’ve got the tools.

        What does this have to do with parrying? Well you want to attack as soon as possible after the enemy bounces off your shield. So you should naturally pick up when that moment is. And that moment when the attack hits the shield and plays the noise and changes their animation should be the exact center of the parry, the moment you’re aiming for with the parry button. You shouldn’t be learning to parry by being massively vulnerable and taking hits all the time, you should be able to learn to parry by *blocking* hits, getting the timing from a place of safety.

        But the problem is that this isn’t really how it works. The stagger window after a blocked attack is quite forgiving, so people don’t start anticipating the moment of impact until more difficult enemies later on- and rather than transitioning to a faster shield/attack rhythm which will set them up to try parrying on game 2, they might just face-tank or run past the more difficult enemies, (also a lot of people seem to chicken out of shield-blocking once they meet something that breaks their guard and fail to realize that many “unblockable” hits are in fact blockable, causing them to do nothing but dodge-roll). It’s actually kinda hilarious- people love Bloodborne and it’s apparently all about parrying giant things and has no blocks?, so I don’t even know how you’re supposed to learn that (maybe I would if they’d put it on PC).

        Worse than an imperfect learning environment however, is the fact that there are multiple parry timings based on your shield. Yeah, that problem with the difficulty level teaching you the wrong timing? Dark Souls has that built in and completely un-labeled. Each possible parrying item has different windup frames, effective frames, and wind-down frames. And all of that combined with the fact that the target frames of each enemy attack for parrying are probably *not* actually aligned with the moment of impact means that shit doesn’t even make sense. The most important thing for teaching people a timing based mechanic is *consistency*, so hey let’s have multiple unmarked variables to multiply with all the moderately visible variables. Eye roll.

        As for the Thunder Plains- I was dodging based on the flash, keeping my nerves peeled. Or at least I thought I was, but if there’s an audio cue I was almost certainly picking that up even through the other muddled sound effects and using it without noticing (not that I made more than a dozen or so in a row).

    2. Syal says:

      they often employ audio cues (e.g., the Thunder Plains in FFX)

      I don’t think Thunder Plains has audio cues; I think it really is just the flash.

      1. Retsam says:

        Yeah, I think one of the commonly suggested strategies for Thunder Plains is to turn the audio off, as it helps you to focus on the flashes.

        1. Hector says:

          I did this myself.

  13. Ninety-Three says:

    What’s wrong with treating “Dark Souls” as a genre? Like, if we invented the word “snarfblat” and somehow made everyone in the world aware that it meant “deliberately paced melee combat that requires careful use of blocking, dodging, and parry timings, attrition-based system where you have a limited pool of healing items that can only be replenished by resting at fixed locations, blah blah blah”, would it actually be any better to go around calling SW™JFO™EA™ a snarfblat instead of simply saying it’s like Dark Souls? Technically the latter might cause confusion in people who take it to mean that SW™JFO™EA™ takes Dark Souls’ approach to narrative delivery, or has every NPC end conversations with a creepy laugh, but empirically that kind of confusion doesn’t seem to happen much because people have already figured out that speakers are generally trying to convey genre when they say something is like Dark Souls.

    I understand why the developers don’t like it (it feels undignified to call your game an X clone) but if the better word we are in search of is just going to find and replace the phrase “like Dark Souls” in genre descriptions, then I feel like we already have words for describing this game’s genre and they are “like Dark Souls”.

    1. Christopher says:

      I can live with soulslike as a compromise between not calling something a clone and also acknowledging they had Dark Souls posters on their walls during development. There’s always gonna be arguments about what counts or not, but that goes for anything and everything anyway.

      In this case, I think looking to Souls for the combat was probably the best option. Devil May Cry/Bayonetta-like combat would push it in a very Prequels direction, and wishing not to offend fans of Arkham style combat, I don’t think copying that usually turns out all that well. Out of the three popular styles of combat, going for Souls and ending up making it sword-focused parallell to Sekiro(or in some spiritual sense, the sword & parry-focused Metal Gear Rising) isn’t the worst idea.

  14. MilesDryden says:

    “George Lucas on set with Harrison Ford, probably discussing how to deal with the constant clunking sound the dialog was making.”

    Would you say the dialogue sounded maclunkey?

  15. Syal says:

    So Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark and Wargroove are not my favorite games, but they both have really nice granular difficulty settings. They’ve got the default Easy/Normal/Hard, but that just adjusts the options to set positions. Wargroove lets you separately adjust income, enemy damage and skill charge, and Fell Seal has a swath of options for how strong enemies are, how many there are, how many items they get and how often they’ll use them. Really nice control over the particular things you want to adjust. I hope it’s catching on.

    1. John says:

      I liked the difficulty options in Fell Seal a lot. I never bothered with any of the finer adjustments myself, but they were invaluable for my daughter. She doesn’t have more than twenty years of tactical RPG experience under her belt and they made it possible for her to really get in to the game.

      1. Syal says:

        I also didn’t mess with any of them, but just having them available is a good feeling; stuff like knowing I can turn off the injury mechanics if I want, or give the enemies full items and make them use revives more so they get a fair fight (…a long, sloggy, fair fight).

  16. ccesarano says:

    Personally, we’d have a better descriptor for it than “Metroidvania”, but then again, we’d also have a better descriptor than “video game”. At some point I just allow these things to settle as they do and go with the flow.

    The issue with “Soulsborne” iteration right now, however, is how much it focuses on the superficial elements. I might have linked it before, but when I was falling in love with Bloodborne I realized one of the reasons I was becoming so enamored was due to how much it felt like Resident Evil 4. If you look at mechanics in a superficial manner then the games don’t have a lot in common, but when you start considering how both games feel to play, you realize they have a lot in common. The way a player enters a room, how they might approach new enemies, the hectic panic as they realize they’re in over their head, and the victorious satisfaction of coming out of the scenario alive, it’s not a unique trait to From’s games. The irony here is that Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne all drew from inspirational sources to come up with their own brand of game, and all anyone else can do is imitate the superficial stuff.

    Which is where one of my comparisons to Darksiders 3 comes in. Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order respawns enemies at the meditation circles because that’s what From’s games do. Does it fit with this more action-oriented game style? Does it fit with Star Wars at all? Who cares! From does it, so we’ll do it as well. On the other hand, Darksiders 3 leaves those enemies eliminated until you die, which better fits the Metroidvania style exploration it is going for. What’s that? You want to hunt down for secrets to upgrade your gear? So long as you don’t die, each zone will remain empty, no matter how many times you visit Vulgrim to feed souls and level up. The trade-off is that your Estus Flask equivalent will only refill if you get a health drop from an enemy, though you can equip gear to boost the odds of that happening.

    Dying still carries with it the penalty that enemies respawn, but you no longer have to worry about whether you should level up or not because you’re currently in exploration mode. With Fallen Order, I didn’t bother going for the completion because I just did not feel like bothering with all those respawning enemies. It’s one of many ways I feel this game did itself a disservice by imitating another game without considering how it conflicts with their desires.

    That said, I also played on Jedi Master, which may have been a mistake (though I play on Challenging on Darksiders 3, which is in an equivalent space of difficulty).

    As for the legacy of George, I think one of the things that changed was the firing of Gary Kurtz after Empire. George was often arguing with Kurtz and director Irvin Kershner about the pace of the film, and Gary kept telling George to just trust them. It turned what was supposed to be a less stressful hands-off approach to the film into an incredibly stressful situation for George, who was worried audiences would get bored and there wasn’t enough action. Though the film would go on to be the favorite for years to come, the experience was such that George got rid of Kurtz and began to be more hands-on with Return of the Jedi.

    Combine this with his divorce with Marcia after Return of the Jedi and just about everyone else going their own way, and George was effectively left without any of the original staff that made that trilogy work so well.

    A real shame if you ask me. The more I learn about the aftermath of the original trilogy the more I feel like the success of Star Wars was a curse to the man.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      That Dan Akyroyd video is wonderful. I only made it through ~5 minutes of rambling, and he STILL hadn’t mentioned the vodka that he was there to sell. Amazing.

      The best bit is that I kind of want to buy the vodka, now, despite the fact that he never mentioned it at all and I couldn’t stand the nonsense he was spouting.

      (Oops, wrong place. Was supposed to be its own comment, not a reply. Apologies to ccesarano)

    2. Hector says:

      If you haven’t check it out, SFDebris has a truly amazing series about Star Wars and George Lucas:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-kYQ77kRg0

      1. ccesarano says:

        Thanks for the link! I’m watching the first one, and if he didn’t read A Secret History of Star Wars then he certainly has the same research materials. It’s very familiar so far. However, I look forward to watching it all nonetheless, both as a refresher and in case there’s stuff in there the book missed.

  17. 0451fan0451 says:

    Remember the title crawl wasn’t the only thing. Star Wars games were also seemingly obligated to finish with the same end credits and John Williams music as the movies; which lead really jarring moments like when Kotor 2’s melancholy ending was punctuated by fun space adventure music.

  18. Nixorbo says:

    Radio Buddy

    And now I have a name for my next NPC questgiver in my FFG Star Wars game.

  19. Broc27 says:

    I didn’t like this game at all and a big part of it was difficulty. Even the small time enemies (like rats) were a pain on the Jedi Knight difficulty for me (they were able to dodge my attacks and countered VERY quickly, I felt like the stupidiest Jedi ever) so I switched to Story mode, which became downright insulting: some ennemies need to fire at you from a distance so you can kill them by deflecting their blaster bolts but in this mode, they barely fire at all, making them MORE of a nuisance since you can’t focus on them and get surprised when they decide to finally shoot and you’re in a melee fight with another, closer foe.

    God I hated the combat in this game.

  20. DaveMc says:

    Hey, Shamus, are you sure you’ve given Dark Souls enough of a chance? Maybe if you tried it *one more time* you’d love it? (Kidding, kidding …)

  21. Niriel says:

    I miss games like Daggerfall and Morrowind, in which the player’s reflexes play no role whatsoever. I don’t want to be good at hand-eye coordination, it’s my character that’s supposed to be good. Why am I leveling them up if I’m the one to do all the work? Note that for magic, stealth, charisma, pretty much everything else, player skill has no effect anyway (besides tactic and strategy). I don’t know why fighting needs to be realistic (or even worse with iframes which make zero sense) while all the other mechanics are abstracted. I want my (non-action) RPGs back.

    1. Hector says:

      I sometimes think of what might be if the KoTOR/DA1 style continued, based on your characters fighting automatically but where you (as the playet) control targets, timing and special abilities. Everyone seems to want action in my RPG, and while I love that too, it’s not the *same* thing.

      I love chocolate, but it will annoy me if I can never get vanilla without chocolate and every ice cream shop is furiously competing over how much chocolate they can add to all my orders. Some days I will want that, but other time I might want to enjoy tasty vanilla bean, or maybe try orange-banana, and those flavors could be overwhelmed by the chocolate. Or they add the chocolate and it turns out it’s gone rancid.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        I doubt real time with pause makes a comeback anytime soon. If anything I think RPGs seem to be bifurcating into turn-based and real-time. Even if you look at isometric RPGs, they’re drifting to turn-based; Baldur’s Gate 3 is a sequel to the original Infinity Engine game and it’s going to be turn-based. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is RTWP but plans to incorporate a turn-based mode given the popularity of a fan-mod. Pillars of Eternity was RTWP but PoE 2 was not.

        1. Khizan says:

          Pillars of Eternity 2 was RTwP when it was released. Later on they released a patch that gives you the option to select a turn-based mode, but the RTwP mode is still available and RTwP is arguably still the best way to play it.

          The turn-based mode is an obvious patch job over RTwP mechanics and it has a lot of flaws from trying to handle things like action speed that are important in a real-time game but meaningless in a turn-based environment.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            Pillars 2 on turn-based is ridiculous. A big fight can take an hour, easily, to resolve. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

            1. Chad Miller says:

              Fair enough. I brought up the games I brought not so much as a recommendation but as a description of a trend. For better or worse, this appears to be the way the wind is blowing.

              1. Gautsu says:

                Some fights in Pillars 2 are easier turn based, some are easier RTWP, same in Pathfinder. Wrath of the Righteous will have both modes as well

      2. Niriel says:

        Is RTwP like in Neverwinter Nights? It’s still technically turn-based under the hood because it’s DnD. Select a target and your character is going to hit it until something happens. You pause to micromanage but when fighting weak mooks you just let it run. Again, no player skill besides tactics and strategy. Does PoE work like that?

        1. Chad Miller says:

          It’s still technically turn-based under the hood because it’s DnD.

          The way I (and I suspect most people that don’t like RTWP) think of it is like it’s the world’s most obtuse turn-based interface. In turn-based games you just take turns and the game runs through the results of those turns immediately, while RTWP kinda pretends to be real-time except it’s really turn-based but you have to remember to pause so you can actually take your turns. (I realize there are some counterarguments but this probably isn’t the place for an essay on the subject)

          Anyway, yes, NWN is a valid example; it’s based on an offshoot of the Infinity Engine which was first used for Baldur’s Gate and seems to have been their engine of choice up until, like Mass Effect. Given that they not only used it but also licensed it to the likes of Obsidian and Black Isle means that the Infinity Engine is responsible for a lot of RTWP RPGs. Pillars of Eternity was explicitly designed to play into people’s nostalgia for Infinity Engine games and also uses similar mechanics.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Depends. PoE games have far as I know actual “real time”, with things taking seconds or fractions of seconds and all these timers constantly ticking down, which is probably why the turn based version of 2 is somewhat clunky. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is more like NWN or BG where it’s actually turn based mechanics under the hood, not surprising considering the tabletop origins, hence a turn based mod was achievable and is pretty functional. As a side note they’re also currently (it’s in beta) patching in turn based as an officially supported way to play and the sequel is supposed to start with both modes as playable options.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Hmm, each to their own…I remember trying to make a stealth archer in Morrowind. It was awful.
      I created a character with the best possible starting Marksman and Stealth abilities; I’d sneak up on the enemy, notch an enchanted arrow, aim straight at their back and…
      …WHIFF. Missed. Every time.
      She ended up being a one-handed expert, because without fail the attack would alert the enemy, I’d draw a sword and we’d just stand in place stabbing each other. Quantity of attacks beat quality.

      Though I think the issue is more with Hybrid Systems than stat-based. Morrowind’s crime wasn’t that attacks were based on stats, it was that it let you believe they weren’t and let you move.
      I’ll happily play an old-school Final Fantasy where people stand in rows and take turns, or an XCOM where everything is expressed in % chance of success. But a successful combination of the two systems is pretty rare…

      1. Syal says:

        While I think Morrowind is probably the best Elder Scrolls game, the later ones moving skill to speed and damage output instead of hit chance was a big improvement.

        Miss chance is alright for turn-based, but usually turn-based makes magic an auto-hit, so it’s a tactical choice between the infinite option that can fail or the mp-pool option that can’t. X-Com has grenades for that, I believe. There’s stuff that doesn’t have auto-hit options, like Battle Brothers, and it sucks.

        I’d like to see an RPG make evasion a consumable; an Estus Flask kind of thing where you get ten guaranteed dodges for the dungeon to use at your discretion. Just want to see how that would work in practice.

    3. Bubble181 says:

      Agreed! My super awesome fighter shouldn’t be missing /whiffing attacks because I’m an uncoordinated mess.

  22. Cyranor says:

    I’ve always wondered why more games don’t allow a custom difficulty with sliders to adjust different things like enemy health, damage done or taken, combo window size, etc. The most recent game to feature it that I can recall was Xenoblade Chronicles 2 where you could change all sorts of settings. It seems like that would be perfect in this game for someone like shamus who just wants more tries of practice before he has to restart at the checkpoint. I can relate to this as I also struggled with the Dark Souls games with this.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      Having a huge multitude of options means at best needing to bugtest those options, and at worst needing to do at least some balancing/playtesting on those options. You would think people wouldn’t complain if they chose a weird combination of settings that breaks the game, but I’m sure it happens.

  23. evileeyore says:

    “We invented the word “Metroidvania” to convey “Open-world game where you gain access to new areas by acquiring new tools through gameplay”…”

    I always called that “Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past”… but that might be my age or gameplaying inclinations coming to bear.

    “In an ideal world, I suppose a game might let you adjust these two things independently.”

    Ideally, you need three sliders for this style of game:

    Timing, Toughness, and Regen Capacity.

    Timing is what it sounds like, how long the timing window is open. Toughness is how much damage you dish and how much you can absorb. Regen Capacity is how many healing items (and maybe how well they heal) that you have have replenished at each rest.

    At least for this style of Soulbourne games.

    “So I’m glad the writer of Fallen Order had the courage to skip it. I certainly didn’t miss it.”

    HERESY!

    1. Syal says:

      And every game benefits from an overall speed slider. 0.5x, 0.75x 1.0x, 1.5x, 50.5x

    2. JDMM says:

      I always called that “Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past”… but that might be my age or gameplaying inclinations coming to bear.

      The problem with saying Zelda is there’s something else Zelda is known for (or was if Breath of the Wild children start showing up) and that’s an open-ish world cut into the world and dungeons

      If you tell me a game is like Zelda and I don’t spend half the time in an enclosed area cut off from the rest of the world (with the exceptions being exceptional and something to be played with) I’m going to believe you mislead me or you don’t know what a Zelda game is

      1. Gautsu says:

        Not sure how to quote, but the reason it became called Metroidvania was due to the 2d side scrolling aspect of Metro is/Super Metroid/ Castlevania:Symphony of the Night, rather than Zelda’s isometric view, at the time

      2. Addie says:

        I think the other important criteria of a Zeldalike is that the each dungeon contain an item which allows you to make more progress in some way; even Zelda I had the raft, ladder, candle, and flute which allowed you to open up the overworld in some way after you’d obtained them, although later games generally make you use your new item to defeat the boss, too. I’d generally expect quite a bit of environmental puzzling in the dungeons to complete the mix as well, even if that originally meant ‘find the right brick to push’.

        So:

        Darksiders 1 – mostly stylish action, a DMC-like.
        Darksiders 2 – Zeldalike
        Darksiders 3 – Soulslike

        1. Gautsu says:

          Darksiders 1 was definitely more of a zelda like, with each new ability/item necessary for the dungeon/boss. 2 had some dungeons with no new abilities, but gated off by level or the lack of the ability first time there

  24. wswordsmen says:

    Something that people need to come to grips with is people are really bad at naming things. It isn’t just you, it’s everyone. Roguelike is probably a better known term than the game Rogue, by a large amount. At this point we are much closer to people asking the question “WTF does a Roguelike mean how does it relate to randomly generated world and permadeath?” then we are to the people asking “WTF are you doing calling [insert very different game here] a Roguelike it only has randomly generated world and permadeath in common?” and with Roguelites we are even losing that. There is no reason Soulsborne can’t be a decent name for slow paced melee combat games with limited resources to overcome a specific set of obstetrical.

    That said you are right drawing both examples from the same dev probably leaves too much overlap.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      No matter what side of the various “roguelike” disagreements a person takes, your point about the name just not conveying any meaning by itself is the one I find more relevant nowadays. Steam has tags on games, both from the devs and from players, so you can absolutely search for “random levels”, “random world”, “permadeath”. Those are all self-descriptive, and easy to understand. Also, using individual terms like that allows you to find games which break out of the preconceived notions of what the genre is “””supposed””” to contain. For example, maybe I want a relaxed difficulty instead of permadeath, and it’s a puzzle-platformer.

  25. The Rocketeer says:

    You’ve over-thought the text crawl.

    Fallen Order is aping Rogue One, visually to a considerable extent and tonally to a lesser extent, and nods to its story and tech.

    Rogue One had no text crawl. Thus, Fallen Order has no text crawl.

  26. Hal Drury says:

    About George Lucas never having a good collaborative partner: his first wife, Marcia Lucas, won an oscar for editing A New Hope and then divorced him midway through Return of the Jedi, and his films have never hung together the same way since. I’ve seen it suggested before that she was the collaborator missing since, or her name used as proof that a good film editor is really important.

    I thought I’d never commented here before, but Shamus’ website alreeady knows my name. Spooky

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      He had other collaborators as well – his friends Spielberg and De Palma gave a lot of advice on those. Kasdan was discussing things with George too.

      And he wanted their and others input on Phantom Menace, but they all politely declined with something like “I think it should be YOUR vision, George”. I’ve heard, Pierre Darabount planned to review/rewrite PT script, but decided to work on Shawshank Redemption instead. I don’t think Lucas planned to do prequels practically alone, tbh

      P.S. I’m sure I butchered all the names here

      1. Michael Miller says:

        Frank Darabont is what you were going for :) Although Pierre could be his Canadian cousin.

  27. Lino says:

    Regarding difficulty, I really like the way the Thief remake handled it. It was a bit like the graphics settings – you could have a broad “Easy”, “Medium” and “Hard”, or you could actually tweak the WAY you wanted the game to be hard. It’s one of the most granular difficulty settings I’ve seen outside of strategy games.

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      Good thing they didn’t test it properly.

      So, they had a setting – limited sprint. After short time Not-Garrett stops running and just walks.

      Ok. Its 2014. I see this setting. I can play with that, I told to myself. At least if the game isn’t good, I’ll take something out of it by having fun with difficulty, as with previous games*.

      Now, several levels later, there’s a setpiece chase. Not-Garrett is supposed to run through the roofs from barrages of arrows, dogs and policemen. Buuuuut…. He can’t sprint for a prolong lengths of time. But the setpiece is made with constant sprint in mind. Couple dozens attempts later, I uninstalled the game – I really didn’t enjoy the game prior to this, and this lack of testing just killed my mood. I don’t think I ever uninstalled an unfinished game, because I was mad at it. So its a crowning achievement of kinds

      *This year I replayed Thief 1 and 2, then played a bunch of FMs, also replayed Splinter Cell 1-3. And I noticed, that Garrett can and should move quite fast, compared to Sam Fisher. Fisher have to creep on a very slowest speed to successfully grab / pacify an enemy. Garrett can be quite fast, on most surfaces. He basically flies. I think, that this is a direct result of small/-er levels in Sam Fisher games, while gigantic levels of Thief The Metal Age will require higher speeds. And it makes things more enjoyable, in my eyes. I tried The Dark Mod, and was put off, how slow Alter Garrett have to be, to successfully crawl in this game. Its like first person Splinter Cell. Somewhat, not what I want from a spiritual successor of Thief games

      1. Lino says:

        I was so lucky with that game. Even though I played it very close to release, I don’t remember seeing any major bugs. This is probably why I loved it so much…

        Still, I think the idea of the granular difficulty settings is very admirable. Here’s to hoping the next devs who implement it will have a better QA Department :D

    2. Kyle Haight says:

      Looking Glass was apparently good at that. The original System Shock had distinct difficulty categories for things like Combat, Puzzles and Cyberspace that could be set independently.

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Oh yeah. I’m surprised, Shamus didn’t mentioned it

  28. JDMM says:

    Re:Lucas

    I don’t think an editor would do much good for Lucas because an editor can only work with what they are given, they can rearrange, sharpen up, cut etc but they can’t deal with fundamental story problems (well they can cut until it’s incoherent and hope something remains but noone liked The Snowman). Go watch the RLM reviews of Phantom Menace or the Machete order, the problems with Phantom Menace go deeper than the arrangement of the scenes. Why introduce and characterise Qui-Gon only to kill him and never use him after, why introduce and characterise a comic relief character (Jar-Jar) if eventually he’ll just to need to be cut out (Darth Jar-Jar theory answers that nicely which is why people want it to be true)

    because modern Lucas doesn’t seem to care for his early work or even remember it particularly well.

    There’s probably something to that but I think the problem is a bit more intrinsic, Lucas wanted to make throwbacks to 1930’s SF serials but they went away for a variety of reasons and some of those reasons were legitimate reasons like cheesiness but Lucas never bought that so he wanted to bring back everything including the bad parts regardless of the story (say you don’t care about the implications of a guy like Ming, isn’t it still more interesting to have a bad guy who does stuff for reasons beyond ‘I’m a bad guy’ and calling himself an Evil Emperor). That was always going to be an unstable equilibrium, he’d always want to bring back what didn’t work regardless of why it didn’t work

    Re:Soulslike

    I suppose I can deal with this name because there’s unstated words after it. A Soulslike third-person melee based hack ‘n slash. When people start making Souls-like FPS’s then there’s going to be trouble

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      `Why introduce and characterise Qui-Gon only to kill him and never use him after`
      SFDebris discussed it in his Shadow’s Journey, but basically, Lucas needed Obi-Wan to be the closer age to Anakin when Clone Wars starts (to show that they are friends and such). So Obi-Wan couldn’t be a master by the time of Phantom Menace. The obvious solution? Made Obi-Wan a padavan and create new master character. It wasn’t a perfect solution, and it had similar problems with Padme being an elected Queen/senator, but this is a result of having to work with an already planned events (initially, taking Anakin from Tatooine was a small footnote) during preproduction on time limits (he ran a company, already made an announcement, etc.) combined with limitations he puts to himself (for example – no flashbacks). He knew it weren’t perfect solutions, but didn’t have time to rearrange things properly from start to finish, so he resorted to these shortcuts.

      “why introduce and characterise a comic relief character (Jar-Jar) if eventually he’ll just to need to be cut out”
      He listened to critics of Phantom Menace and adjusted properly

      1. The Puzzler says:

        Did they characterise Qui-Gon?

    2. Addie says:

      Good point with the serials.

      Not an FPS, but Salt and Sanctuary often gets called a Soulslike, despite being a 2D platformer. The criteria which are normally cited are the mood, opaque story revealed through indirection, typically item descriptions; exploration to find shortcuts, learning through death, resting at fires for checkpoints, and the deliberate, weighty combat with less focus on combos and no lag cancel.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        So are Blasphemous, Hollow Knight and Death’s Gambit, to name but a few.

    3. Syal says:

      isn’t it still more interesting to have a bad guy who does stuff for reasons beyond ‘I’m a bad guy’ and calling himself an Evil Emperor

      Going to say no. “I’m powerful enough to do whatever I want” is as compelling a motivation as anything else. Any issues come down to overexposure and poor writing (generic motives are often a symptom of poor writing, but poorly written complexity is just as bad as poorly written simplicity).

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Sure, for simple stories, that works. The Alien in Alien or (any of the sequels) didn’t need a complex backstory, even though there is a decent metaphor attached to it. Since most of the movie is centered on the people being hunted by the Alien, It’s just a predator. Fine.
        (I mean, if someone made a story about how the Xenomorphs were created by some kind of smug android who was making perfect organisms for Reasons out of black goo that a DIFFERENT race of aliens who had also started all life on Earth had made…that’d be pretty unnecessary and convoluted, right?)

        Still, I’m reminded of one of the last entries in Rutskarn’s Overhaulout series here, in which he goes over the ‘VR world’ part of Fallout 3:
        In the game, there’s a bad guy ruling the simulation for kicks because he’s Evil, but Ruts envisions a much more interesting motivation in which he started out benevolent, but got worn down by demands from (and arguments between) the other users. Turned a one-note bad guy into an interesting story about power and human interaction.

        1. Syal says:

          But the heart of the problem with SImulation Guy is that he has no conflicts or struggles. Internal struggles (like struggling to make the moral options work) will fix that, but so will external struggles; an alternate way to make him more interesting would be a history of enemies who have come close to breaking his grip on things, who failed and are now just a testament to his control.

  29. Mephane says:

    I fully agree with all of the points about the difficulty. I was in the same sitution – parry timing , enemy aggression etc felt just right on Jedi Knight difficulty, but damage inflicted on the PC felt too punishing. In particular, that you took damage from failing a parcours sequence, instead of just starting back at the beginning of a set of ropes/slides/etc, the game would take away some of your health for failing here, too. At some point I encountered a sequence of ice slides where it took so many attempts that I ended up resorting to switching to Story Mode difficulty in order to avoid outright dying from that and restarting from a checkpoint further away, and then decided to just keep it that way. Combat felt way too easy now, enemies way too dumb, but at least I could now attempt away at all the climbing sequences without fear of having to repeat and entire unrelated section after a couple of falls to my death.

    This is basically my only gripe with this otherwise fantastic game, and for a sequel I hope they split the difficulty up into four settings that you can change individually:

    * Enemy aggression, e.g. how often they attack, how heavily multiple enemies gang up on you (strictly taking turns with pauses at the lowest level, going all in simultaneously at the highest).

    * Parry and attack timing (at the lowest setting, you should be able to just hold down the parry button and any incoming attacks, gunfire etc is automatically parried).

    * Incoming and outgoing damage (with everything being instant death at the highest setting).

    * Parcours failure penalty, e.g. how much damage you take after falling from a ledge etc. (nothing at the lowest level, instant death at the highest).

    1. Syal says:

      Indivisible had an early boss fight with platforming challenges in between the multiple stages of the fight. I got stuck on the platforming between the second and third phase. I had to restart the fight from phase 1 probably six times because I couldn’t do the wall jumping in that one section.

      Beating that fight was the end of my playthrough of Indivisible.

    2. Wow, I’m SUPER glad I played it on Easy now, although this is one of the *few* games I’ve played where I actually managed to do some of the timed jumps on the first try . . . for the most part the difficulty for me was whether I could actually tell where the heck I was supposed to go or not. If I could, I managed it pretty well. None of them were super-demanding on the twitch, because you were supposed to use your Slow power.

  30. I’m super-glad I played on easy, because I found the combat incredibly fiddly and even late in the game I was having trouble dealing with “dodge” and “jump” being different buttons. They absolutely did NOT need to be different buttons. It took me a long time to even start to get used to it.

    I think the game starts kinda rough–it has Demo-itis like a lot of EA games in that the first 20 minutes or so were CLEARLY designed to be a playable demo and thus do a really crap job at establishing the actual plot, since they were literally created to hide as much in the way of plot information as possible, which made it really hard for me to get into the story.

  31. Decius says:

    The difficulty selection screenshot shows the name FO uses for its genre: Melee Action Games.

    1. That’s . . . not a bad name.

  32. Glazius says:

    An interesting thing would happen in Galactic Civilizations 2 if you played on certain easier difficulties where the AI was less astute. If you, say, massed a fleet just outside a system’s borders, a more difficult AI would realize what was going on, move to a war footing, and send you a diplomatic message about it. On an easier difficulty the AI wouldn’t react to you, except to send a diplomatic message that, hey, I can see what you’re doing and if this were a harder difficulty we’d totally be at war right now. Couched in better language, but that was the idea.

    I have literally no conception of the system underlying the difficulty in SWJFOEA, but I think the idea’s a useful one to have – giving people who play on easier difficulties a chance to measure themselves against the next one up. So if, say, parries that only worked in the “easy” window shot off blue sparks, normal parries shot off orange sparks, and Jedi Master parries shot off red sparks, would that give you enough feedback about your timings to be able to refine them and confident enough you could move up to a higher level?

  33. Gordon says:

    Off the top of my head, I guess I’d name the genre “Method Action?” Action with a focus on technical problems, preparation, and environmental awareness where you’re encouraged by the limited healing and respawning enemies to approach each leg of the game methodically. Hence, the name.

    From an aesthetic perspective I think it’s distinct and serious sounding enough to encompass people’s feelings about the grim deathmarch of From Software’s titles but neutral enough that it can include easier, lighter games, too.

  34. Elethiomel says:

    I know I’m late to the party, but there is another person that the original trilogy had in common, who had input on writing and editing… George Lucas’s wife Marcia Griffin. Uncredited, naturally.

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