Jan 14, 2012

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Off-TORpic: Star Wars: Underworld Live Action Series

Off-TORpic is our occasional peek outside the world of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Sometimes it’ll be Star Wars. Sometimes it’ll be games. Sometimes, something else all together. But all the time it will be Off-TORpic.

If you are as much of a Star Wars junkie as the average member of the AAJ Army, then you might have heard rumblings of a possible Star Wars live action series that George Lucas & friends hope to put together. IGN recently did a video interview with famed producer Rick McCallum where he talks about how many scripts are written (over 50), the timeless quality of them, and searching for the right economic model to make them.

But most interestingly, he may have let slip what the title of the series might be. Star Wars: Underworld. Hmm, I think I like the sound of that.

Of course, I had to ask McCallum about the status of that show today. The would-be series already has 50 scripts written, just sitting on the shelf waiting for an economically sound way to actually be produced. We talked about the challenges of making that happen, and along the way McCallum mentioned the “working title” for the show as well…

The show takes place between Episode III: Revenge of The Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, the time period during which Luke Skywalker is growing up. Though McCallum was quick to point out the series is not about the famed Jedi-to-be. We’ve embedded the video interview below for your convenience, but head over to IGN for more content about the Star Wars live action show.

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Jan 9, 2012

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Off-TORpic: I Find Your Lack Of Cheese Disturbing – Star Wars Burgers

Off-TORpic is our occasional peek outside the world of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Sometimes it’ll be Star Wars. Sometimes it’ll be games. Sometimes, something else all together. But all the time it will be Off-TORpic.

If you’re familiar with the Star Wars franchise at all, you already know that the merchandising that goes along with it knows no bounds. Everything from Dark Side coffee to Taun-Taun Sleeping bags are available to deck out every corner of your home, car or closet. But I think they just took it to a whole new level.

French fast food chain Quick is introducing some new Star Wars themed burgers as a promotion to go along with the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D. And these aren’t just regular burgers. There’s the Jedi Burger featuring Yoda, the Dark Burger featuring Darth Maul and the most amazing one of all – the Darth Vader burger featuring an appetizing black bun!

Mmmm... Darth Bun.

Mmmm... Darth Bun.

The new burgers will be available on March 1st, and to all of our readers within eating distance of one of these Quick restaurants – let us know if you have one, and how they taste! Maybe we should make them the official food of Star Wars: The Old Republic? Nah, Hot Pockets still rule.

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Dec 16, 2011

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Off-TORpic: Farewell, Star Wars Galaxies

Off-TORpic is our occasional peek outside the world of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Sometimes it’ll be Star Wars. Sometimes it’ll be games. Sometimes, something else all together. But all the time it will be Off-TORpic.

As many of you know, yesterday was the final day for the very first MMORPG set in the Star Wars galaxy. Last night at midnight eastern time, Star Wars Galaxies rode off into the sunset and players were treated to the last “Connection to SWG lost!” message they’ll ever see.

The final curtail call.

The final curtail call.

While we now have a shiny, new Star Wars MMO all ready to go in Star Wars: The Old Republic, it’s a bittersweet moment for Star Wars fans and MMORPG fans alike. Say what you will about SWG, it’s my opinion that the design goals Raph Koster and team had were the right ones for players who wanted to immerse themselves in the Star Wars galaxy, not just play a video game. There was something about Galaxies that was incredibly immersive. I always felt like I was just a small part of the larger Star Wars galaxy, and there was something to that feeling.

As a sandbox game where much of the content, economy and fun is generated and driven by the players, it felt like a place you could go and truly escape to. You didn’t have to go out and kill things if you didn’t want to. You could work as a medic or doctor at a med center and heal players who came back from their adventures. You could work as a dancer in a local cantina to revitalize the spirits of wayward smugglers on their way to the next pickup. Heck, you could even make a name for yourself as a merchant of fine, unique goods that you yourself could create. To this day, it’s my opinion SWG had the best crafting system ever in an MMORPG.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but felt I should pay my respects to the game that started it all for me. It was my first MMO, and the experiences I had there can never be duplicated. Or can they?

I’ll leave you with this awesome video, shared by our bud @_Danicia_ who works with SOE. It’s an awesome, inspirational piece that, even if you didn’t play Galaxies, gives a great feel for the world and the possibilities it had. Enjoy The World We Wrote.


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Nov 2, 2011

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Off-TORpic: The State Of The Modern MMO

The folks over at Massively recently posted a Soapbox editorial referencing sci-fi author Neal Stephenson. In a nutshell, Stephenson recently published an essay condemning the current state of the aerospace industry, chastising the field for falling into “innovation starvation”, that is, slipping into a routine of comfortable engineering concepts and being too scared to push out any hot new ideas into the world. More or less, Stephenson says that the aerospace industry is in a rut.

In September, Stephenson went further in an interview with Forbes, touching on a few concepts of the MMO genre and gold farming. Massively expands on the writings of the author and brings it all together in a though-provoking piece. From the article:

Well, like aerospace industry projects, MMOs are expensive endeavors, and as the latter have grown more popular (and more costly to produce), the spark of creative madness that infused early titles has largely been extinguished in favor of safer, more homogenous design.

It’s certainly a polarizing topic, and one sure to create a lot of discussion. So, today we’re going to be trying something new with a Point/Counterpoint article discussing the opinions presented by Jef Reahard in the Massively article. Kray from Fully Operational will take the supporting viewpoint, and Momus of Blasters, Beggars & Credits fame will take the opposing viewpoint.

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Nov 1, 2011

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Off-TORpic: Book Of Sith: Secrets From The Dark Side

Off-TORpic is our occasional peek outside the world of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Sometimes it’ll be Star Wars. Sometimes it’ll be games. Sometimes, something else all together. But all the time it will be Off-TORpic.

This piece might be a little closer to on-TORpic than off, but it didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. And it’s something I suspect at least half of AAJ readers might be interested in… so here it is!

Last year, a book entitled The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force was released to rave reviews from Star Wars fans. It contains an ancient manual, written in the hand of the great Jedi Masters, sealed inside of a vault for safe-keeping. It’s really  must-have if your a fan of the Jedi.

But those that walk on the darker side felt left out. Well, that’s about to change with the upcoming release of The Book Of Sith: Secrets From The Dark Side.

Much like the original Jedi Path, this book comes in packaging and offers a presentation worthy of the subject matter. The actual book is housed inside of a Sith Holocron, which of course is where Sith stored information securely, typically only activated by use of the Dark side of the Force.

The knowledge is contained within...

The knowledge is contained within...

Also similar to the Jedi Path is the journal that has been written and put together by powerful Sith from ancient history. Of particular note, one of the ancient texts Darth Sidious recovered is from none other than Darth Malgus, a character as players of Star Wars: The Old Republic we’re about to become intimately familiar with.

Recovered Dark side texts:

  • A chronicle by Sorzus Syn of her encounters with Sith Purebloods, explorations in alchemy, and the foundations of the Sith Order.
  • A war journal kept by Darth Malgus during the Great Galactic War, describing methods of war and the campaigns of the Sith army.
  • A source book by Darth Bane that details the idea and the philosophy behind the Rule of Two as well as the training required for a Sith.
  • An instructional manual by Mother Talzin exploring the Nightsisters’ use of the dark side and their role as dark side mercenaries in the galaxy.
  • A scientific journal by Darth Plagueis with notes about his experimentation with and manipulation of the Force.
  • Darth Sidious’s manifesto about the philosophy and political manipulation that marked his rise to power and established his Empire.

With this inclusion of Malgus in this definitive chronicle of Sith history, one has to wonder. His in The Old Republic is already large, but perhaps even larger than we think? Ascension to Emperor? Only time will tell!

The Book of Sith: Secrets From the Dark Side won’t be available until February, but you can pre-order it from Amazon right now. And while you’re at it, pick up the Jedi Path to complete your set. I did!



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Sep 12, 2011

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Off-TORpic: Star Wars On Blu-ray This Week!

Off-TORpic is our occasional peek outside the world of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Sometimes it’ll be Star Wars. Sometimes it’ll be games. Sometimes, something else all together. But all the time it will be Off-TORpic.

It’s finally here – the event we’ve all been waiting for!

Oh, no sorry. Not THAT event – The Old Republic has not been secretly released without your notfication. Sorry for the false alarm!

What I AM talking about is the impending release of the entire Star Wars saga – the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy – on glorious 1080P high-definition Blu-ray this Friday, September 16 in the US.

But, as usual, no loyal Star Wars fan will go unpunished.

True to form, George Lucas has yet again decided to “improve” the  films for this Blu-ray release. Scenes that have otherwise have come to be known as classic, milestone moments in the saga are being given the once over. Perhaps the most egregious of these to fans is the addition of the now infamous Darth Vader “Nooooo” to critical scene in Return Of The Jedi. Cry with me as you watch this.

Many fans have already resigned to the fact that Lucas will tamper with these things, and he certainly has the right. But a Blu-ray release would be the perfect spot to include the original theatrical versions as well, right? To the dismay of many fans, the original theatrical versions are not included in the set as alternate versions or bonus material. Nothing.

None the less, countless Star Wars fans with recently acquired large, flat panel HD entertainment systems will no doubt line up for the privilege to pick up this box set, including this writer.

If the cost of the entire 6-film set is too much, or you just can’t stomach the prequel trilogy, there are also trilogy packs for Episodes I-III and Episodes IV-VI respectively.

So, is Star Wars on Blu-ray part of your holiday wish list?


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