One of the most daunting things about hosting a 20-year-old collaborative space saga like OtherSpace is…well, it’s been around for two decades and a lot has happened. We’ve actually got a few participants whose characters have existed from the beginning, which means they’ve seen governments rise and fall, alien invasions, life aboard a Galactica-style colony ship, return to a dystopian nightmare future in the 31st Century, then evacuate the known worlds to live aboard a space whale before finally coming home to the year 2651.
It’s a lot to wrap your brain around. Scary, to some.
That abundance of history is its own barrier to entry that some wonderful roleplayers might never get over. Yet I want to do what I can to encourage more people to dive into this hobby of collaborative storytelling. I had similar plans back in the early 2000s, when we started Star Wars: Reach of the Empire. The idea was to attract folks with a familiar established theme and then, perhaps, they’d give OtherSpace a try.
It was a huge undertaking, really. Starting up a MUSH required space on a server, building grids for people to explore, devising coded systems, and then there was all the work of publicizing the game on sites like MUD Connector and Top MUD Sites.
So here we are, 20 years later, and I haven’t found more free time. In fact, it’s much diminished between job and family obligations. However, the overhead for setting up a Slack site is minimal. It’s possible, to my way of thinking, that a buffet of choices might provide a new generation of storytellers to join us. Why not a bunch of storytelling outlets? Why not ALL the playgrounds?
It’s probably total madness on my part, but again, it costs nothing for me to start a Slack site. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain in the revitalization (I hope) of this community with new blood.
So, as of today, we’ve got the following sites at our disposal (with links to their Launchpass pages so anyone can sign up and help develop the sites as we go):
- OtherSpace: The classic space opera set in the 27th Century.
- Star Wars: Reach of the Empire: Our first spinoff game imagined a Star Wars universe in which Luke Skywalker died on Tatooine in a landspeeder accident. Not so this time, although the story does begin right around the era of A New Hope.
- Necromundus: Another of our original spinoff games, in which characters have died in their realities and end up in the bizarre netherworld of connected realms known as Necromundus.
- Star Trek TOS: It should be no secret that I grew up loving the original series era of Star Trek – I was born the same month and year the pilot aired on TV.
- Game of Thrones: Intrigue, romance, betrayal, and the occasional gruesome death. This one takes place before Ned Stark loses his head.
- Firefly: For those times when we aim to misbehave, in those years before Wash got impaled by the Reavers.
- Tolkien Realms: Grew up reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but I’ve never done much roleplaying in the realms of men or Mordor. Now could be my chance.
- Babylon 5: The last, best hope for peace – back before the Shadow War.
- Transformers: More than meets the eye, but hopefully better than the movies.
- Marvel Heroes and Villains: What’s your superpower?
- DC Heroes and Villains: Mine seems to be setting up Slack sites.
Some of these might go nowhere. More could be added over time. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not much investment of energy to create one of these. Of course, the effort to build, publicize, and maintain even one of these can be draining. So I hope you’ll all pick a pet project and join the saga!
Finally, the prequel I’ve always wanted but didn’t know I needed!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does in two hours what three prequel movies couldn’t do: Provides a riveting, lean, and downright fun adventure that helps expand on the original trilogy story without getting bogged down by dysfunctional families and a deep need to build mythos.
It also single-handedly revitalizes the character of Darth Vader in just a couple of scenes, making it easy to forget the staggering whiner at the end of Revenge of the Sith and find a new appreciation (and context) for that moment when we first see him storm aboard the Tantive IV in the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope, for those who believe in a subtitle for that film).
As a general rule, the acting from the main cast is just OK, with the liveliest performance coming from Alan Tudyk as the CGI robot, K2S0. Donnie Yen really delivers some fantastic martial arts action as a blind devotee of the Jedi philosophy who can trounce a crowd of stormtroopers without breaking a sweat. Felicity Jones does a good job as Jyn Erso, a new addition to the growing roster of strong female characters in the Star Wars universe.
I wasn’t quite as enamored with some of the CGI character choices in the movie. If you’re re-casting Mon Mothma and General Dodonna, I think it’s probably a good idea to go with consistency and re-cast a couple of other classic roles. However, that’s really my only quibble with Rogue One after one viewing.
War really isn’t anything new to this saga – it’s right there in the name, after all – but much of the time we’ve seen it presented as confrontations between good and evil. Now, it’s without doubt that the Galactic Empire is evil in Rogue One. But we discover very early on that freedom fighters aren’t without blood on their hands, either.
Rogue One‘s a great standalone story set in the Star Wars universe that’s about loss, the struggle against oppression, and the sacrifices that are sometimes required to preserve freedom. From one exotic locale to another, we’re swept along to meet new faces (and some not-so-new) in a dangerous quest that carries us right up to the inciting event in that original yellow opening crawl about spies smuggling the Death Star plans to Princess Leia.
Really enjoyed it.
Even though Knee Deep’s a swamp noir adventure in a tacky little Florida town instead of a galaxy far, far away, it owes a lot to the Star Wars movies.
I first watched Star Wars in the cinema at Orlando Fashion Square in 1977. Nearly 40 years later, you’ll hear a little Han Solo snark in the grim quips of private investigator K.C. Gaddis. Monroe? He’s just a four-legged Chewbacca. Gary Buckingham and Eula Dean are the redneck replacements for C-3P0 and R2-D2. And, sure, maybe Remy Dixon’s a faux-Cajun mix of Jar-Jar Binks and Darth Maul.
I’ve loved the (original) movies since long before #MayTheFourthBeWithYou became a thing. So, it shouldn’t come as much surprise that I peppered Knee Deep’s narrative with references – some subtle and some as subtle as a wampa at a tauntaun rodeo. The end of Act 2, for example, puts Jefferson Dean Gallant and Robert Woodstep in the roles of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Gallant laments that Romana Teague was the town’s only hope.
Woodstep responds: “No, Jefferson Dean Gallant. There is another.”
We’ve got moments similar Darth Vader’s first emergence in Revenge of the Sith (without the whining for Padme) and the destruction of Alderaan from A New Hope. Hey, there’s even a chute for our heroes to enter during an action sequence!
But you won’t find any Ewoks in the swamps of Cypress Knee. Just gators and, if you look really closely, maybe a swamp ape.
How about your favorite games? Any Star Wars Easter eggs hiding there?
Wes Platt is the lead writer/designer for Prologue Games. Their first game, an episodic narrative adventure called Knee Deep, launched its final act on Steam in March. Before that, he was a professional journalist for the St. Petersburg Times and Durham’s Herald-Sun. He designed collaborative real-time adventures at OtherSpace, Chiaroscuro, and Necromundus for players at jointhesaga.com. He also worked as a design lead on Fallen Earth, a post-apocalyptic MMORPG, from 2006-2010.