Smile and Nod: My Favorite Villain is Me

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Smile and Nod: My Favorite Villain is Me

Playing as a villain may leave you wondering just how good you really are.

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It's good to see S&N make a return! I, unfortunately missed out on TIE Fighter and almost every other space shooter from back in the heyday of the flight stick. I did play Descent II, though, and digging into my memory bank of that game, I'm surprised how deep the story seems to be in TIE Fighter. I can only hope it may pop up on GOG someday.

Even Maarek Stele (TIE Fighter's protagonist) doesn't escape the misunderstood bad guy treatment in the expanded universe, though.

A game mixing TIE fighter with scenes like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ9yj_BXRp0&feature=related

would be supremely fun.

Yeah it's easy to forget all the racism, genocide and horrible crimes committed by the empire in the name of "order" and so easy to roll over and accept that you were "just following orders"... sound familiar anyone?

Alliance 4 Life! Down with the Emperor!

Though all things considered, Thrawn is an awesome villain and the much more sensible Fel Imperium in the Star Wars Legacy Universe draws a lot more from Thrawn's ideas than those of Palpatine and Tarkin.

I think this dynamic is something that the Star Wars universe does exceedingly well in video games. In the movies, it's kind of hard to really understand how bad the rebels have it, and how strong their convictions are. KOTOR gave me the same inner dilemma when I started to realize that the good/evil spectrum was effectively replacing the difficulty selection, and the darker you played, the easier the game was. It brings significance to Yoda's explanation that the dark side isn't stronger, but "easier, more seductive".

I, too, adore Thrawn, and this game was such a blast to play. You didn't mention my favorite part, however - flying as Darth Vader's wingman.

I remember playing TIE Fighter and loving it utterly and completely. Especially Thrawn. This was as I was just getting into the EU books, and it totally flavored my perception of Star Wars from that point on. Always loved the Empire, even in the films they were my favorite. It just seemed like the rebellion was fucking up a working, ordered galaxy, and the Emperor was just using the dark side as a way to achieve order.

I'm not sure I've even played the rebel campaign in Empire at War. . . *rains Star Destroyers and TIE squadrons on his enemies*

One word. Dexter.

Or House.

Or Jigsaw, Freddy, Leatherface, Hannibal...

Villains, when done right, are much more interesting than Heroes.

But it's the Heroes you can rely upon. If Dr. Gregory House really existed, he'd be struck off in an instant. And probably at your request.

For the Star Wars Universe, match the Whiny Luke versus the Imposing Vader. Which is why the prequels stick in people's craw so much. Darth Maul is so much more than Qui Gon Jinn.

But you still root ( ;) ) for Yoda.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yeah it's easy to forget all the racism, genocide and horrible crimes committed by the empire in the name of "order" and so easy to roll over and accept that you were "just following orders"... sound familiar anyone?

Yeah, when I read his paragraphs summarizing the Empire's side of the story I had to laugh a little, thinking "boy, doesn't that sound familiar..."
Never played Tie Fighter, but I did play X-Wing back in the day. Sadly, I sucked at it. (Played a lot of Dark Forces instead...)

Tie Fighter was an awesome game - in fact, it was the only game that came with me to college when I purged my library of video distractions. That said, I don't remember having any moments of enlightenment while playing. All I remember is the game's excellent mission designs, flight mechanics, and imperial march soundtrack.

Nice blurring of good and evil.

Russ Pitts looks like a bad guy in general... Not surprised to see he enjoys playing one.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yeah it's easy to forget all the racism, genocide and horrible crimes committed by the empire in the name of "order" and so easy to roll over and accept that you were "just following orders"... sound familiar anyone?

All superpowers throughout history have done the same. It's amazing how important the status quo is when you're on top...

I never really got to play Tie Fighter. I bought a copy off a friend of mine many years ago, but it didn't have the manual so I could enter the codes to play the game. I eventually found them online, but for some reason I still didn't get to play it. Maybe I should see if it's available for download anywhere.

TIE Fighter is one of the top ten games of all time. Its approach to storytelling was well ahead of its time.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yeah it's easy to forget all the racism, genocide and horrible crimes committed by the empire in the name of "order" and so easy to roll over and accept that you were "just following orders"... sound familiar anyone?

Yes, most definetly. We've been here before. I understand Thrawn may be sympathetic (probably because he is), but the idea that Emperor - a classic example of fascist inefficency - can be a good guy stretches it a bit too far. Whole "villains get shit done" argument is not without it flaws: yes, they can get shit done in a first few months, but then comes a sobering realization: you can't rule the country, the planet, the galaxy, or what have you by simply shooting everyone who disagrees. You have to actually rule the damn place and make right descisions to stay afloat, not simply scare everybody into submission. Scary.

And then he strays into "white guilt" territory, as if we are to blame for being born in well-off nations/families/what have you. I could go into a long rant on how science is the answer and how the world can be made into a better place by applying just a little bit of idealism and common sense - but i won't, this is for another place and another time.

In short, the idea of letting villains win may seem good at the first glance, but in actuality it's really bloody stupid.

Mr Smith:
All superpowers throughout history have done the same.

Yes, but some have enjoyed it a wee bit too much.

Kollega:

Mr Smith:
All superpowers throughout history have done the same.

Yes, but some have enjoyed it a wee bit too much.

Who wouldn't? ;-)

Sadly, we can never have a space sim like the good old days anymore thanks to mass market bottom lines. All we can do is cherish.

Russ Pitts:
Smile and Nod: My Favorite Villain is Me

You may realize that, as a citizen of the Western world, you've been privileged with the luxury of spending the equivalent of a full working week entertaining yourself with a digital illusion, on a machine that costs as much as it would take to feed a third-world family of four for a year, and that, once that machine becomes "obsolete," and you discard it, its innards will be poisoning the planet long after you're dead. If so, your own faith in who's right and who's wrong may begin to quiver and you may consider that possibility that your place in the universe is not as you assumed it to be.

I spend quite a bit of energy not thinking about this.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yeah it's easy to forget all the racism, genocide and horrible crimes committed by the empire in the name of "order" and so easy to roll over and accept that you were "just following orders"... sound familiar anyone?

The evil deeds that the good men do...

Reaently I've started thinking that the Empire wasn't that bad of an institution. Oh sure, it might build a huge battle station and blow up a planet for the sake of interrogating a hostage, but at least the economy was rising. Peace, safety and prospect. No trade federation to assult planets, no border conflicts between free planets, no time consuming voting within the senate to see what's the next color of space school buses are going to be. The emperor rules and people obey. If the emperor rules wisely, the people will benefit from this. Rebels just seem a bunch of terrorists who miss voting.

Anyone want to know palatines motivation for creating the empire?

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Yuuzhan_Vong_War

Mal:
It's my estimation that... every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sumbitch or another.

The same goes for any person that builds an empire, all empires are built ontop of piles of bodies. I have always supported the Empire and I always will.

I must buy this game now, Thanks for the info!

Rebel Scum

Yes, nice to warp the brain a bit every now and then. I still have no problem coming out on the side of Good, but that line can be blurry sometimes. Unfortunately I didn't get to play this game. There are too many good stories I've missed because I'm really bad at certain types of games. :(

I'm glad this series is getting a mention - I was starting to think they were all forgotten....

Also, I would reiterate the point that using fear and force are indeed good ways of "getting shit done", but no matter whether it gets done or not, it's still shit! You can say as much as you like about how the Rebels are all hippy slackers, but In it's heyday the Republic was doing pretty well, and they managed it without blowing up any planets.

I loved reading about Thrawn. I'm just sorry I missed out on TIE Fighter.

I say old chap:
A game mixing TIE fighter with scenes like this

would be supremely fun.

Haha, that would be hilarious! Someone, please make this game :D

Redlin5:
I loved reading about Thrawn. I'm just sorry I missed out on TIE Fighter.

I say old chap:
A game mixing TIE fighter with scenes like this

would be supremely fun.

Haha, that would be hilarious! Someone, please make this game :D

Cheers Blood.

A great read and an interesting example of how you can tell a compelling narrative without needing to resort to the underdog idea, even in games. We see a lot of stories where characters start with nothing, so I can imagine how refreshing it would be to not feel so cut-off, even if it does mean you're playing for the "bad guys." I've never played the game myself, but it sounds like a blast.

I had a similar, if not as profound experience playing battlefront 2. It may not have caused the same kind of questions to surface, but it really put you in the heads of those clone troopers.

Thrawn is the gentleman's bad guy. He's a lover of art and history. He's an underdog, being the first non-human to attain the highest rank in the Imperial Fleet. And he's a decent guy. He doesn't rule through fear and intimidation, he rules through competence and vision. Yeah, so what if he's the supreme leader of the evil empire's war machine. He gets shit done. He's a boss you can respect and a bad guy you can love.

Getting stuff done in fictional universes is impressive because so many fiction plots are stupid.

The good guys are often stupid because the fictional conflict is contrived and thus smart good guys would finish the story too quickly. Thus the good guys are often idiots, and the bad guys are the only ones who can get anything done ... in fiction.

Getting stuff done in the real world doesn't necessarily require being evil. In fact, being evil might prevent you from getting stuff done in the real world.

It's easy to relish evil as the underdog if you're a fiction addict, because evil frequently is the underdog in fiction.

You may realize that, as a citizen of the Western world, you've been privileged with the luxury of spending the equivalent of a full working week entertaining yourself with a digital illusion, on a machine that costs as much as it would take to feed a third-world family of four for a year, and that, once that machine becomes "obsolete," and you discard it, its innards will be poisoning the planet long after you're dead. If so, your own faith in who's right and who's wrong may begin to quiver and you may consider that possibility that your place in the universe is not as you assumed it to be.

Conversely, you may conclude that you only play videogames because your destiny to be born as a Westerner deprived you of the sexually rich, emotionally full, but monetarily impoverished life that is available in the East. Also, you might work for a metallurgical company that recycles lead and silver from old electronics, so you might not feel any fashionable ecological guilt. But YMMV, your mileage may vary.

Russ Pitts:
Admiral Thrawn is my favorite villain, therefore, not simply because of his badass attributes (which are legion), but because he broke my brain in two, caused me to feel good about being a bad guy, then bad about being a good guy. Like countless charismatic leaders before him, he manipulated my way of thinking until all I could believe in was him, and at that point, I'd have followed him anywhere. Even to the Dark Side.

Beautifully spoken. I've searched my whole life for a better (or better-written) antagonist than the Grand Admiral, and I've come up dry. Thanks for writing this, Russ. :)

TIE Fighter is my favorite PC game of all time, like the writer I had read the Thrawn trilogy before playing it, which made it all the more awesome. One aspect of the enticing evil of the game you didn't really mention but worked very well was the ranking up and eventual induction into a secret elite by the Emperor himself (using Force lightening to give you tatoos!), this worked perfectly with the menu screen which put you inside a Star Destroyer (you could even roll up your sleeve to check your tats, which if you notice this before you get them seems a little random).

I really don't understand why no Star Wars flight sims have been made since Alliance, they would look amazing now. I know you couldn't release it on console, and people would have to buy flightsticks, but its a very technically undemanding genre so it should be comparatively very cheap to develop. Every crappy Rogue Squadron style game they release is like a slap to the face.

I say old chap:
A game mixing TIE fighter with scenes like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ9yj_BXRp0&feature=related

would be supremely fun.

Or perhaps with scenes like this.

Russ Pitts:
You may realize that, as a citizen of the Western world, you've been privileged with the luxury
of spending the equivalent of a full working week entertaining yourself with a digital illusion,
on a machine that costs as much as it would take to feed a third-world family of four for a year, and that, once that machine becomes "obsolete," and you discard it,
its innards will be poisoning the planet long after you're dead.

That was.....deep...

I enjoyed Empire at War. Crushing the rebellion was quite satisfying...

Russ Pitts:
You may realize that, as a citizen of the Western world, you've been privileged with the luxury
of spending the equivalent of a full working week entertaining yourself with a digital illusion,
on a machine that costs as much as it would take to feed a third-world family of four for a year, and that, once that machine becomes "obsolete," and you discard it,
its innards will be poisoning the planet long after you're dead.

I keep all my computer parts. I like keeping stuff.

Also, I've embraced the whole "westerners are evil thing" by stopping caring. No-one's gonna white guilt me.

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