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Poor Design Choices In the Star Wars Universe 832

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the there-are-so-many dept.
Ant writes "John Scalzi's AMC blog shows a short guide to the most epic FAILs in Star Wars design — 'I'll come right out and say it: Star Wars has a badly-designed universe; so poorly-designed, in fact, that one can say that a significant goal of all those Star Wars novels is to rationalize and mitigate the bad design choices of the movies. Need examples? Here's ten ...'"
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Poor Design Choices In the Star Wars Universe

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:31AM (#29133483) Journal

    R2-D2
    Sure, he's cute, but the flaws in his design are obvious the first time he approaches anything but the shallowest of stairs. Also: He has jets, a periscope, a taser and oil canisters to make enforcer droids fall about in slapsticky fashion -- and no voice synthesizer. Imagine that design conversation: "Yes, we can afford slapstick oil and tasers, but we'll never get a 30-cent voice chip past accounting. That's just madness."

    I believe his primary function is a flight droid so they were built to interface with ships. Not a lot else. John Scalzi seems to suffer from the "must have everything" school of thought and doesn't think the future will focus on minimalism and getting one thing right. Thank god he's not writing software and just another hot air blogger. I reject Episodes I, II & III so I don't know what he's talking about with the oil slick and jets.

    C-3PO
    Can't fully extend his arms; has a bunch of exposed wiring in his abs; walks and runs as if he has the droid equivalent of arthritis. And you say, well, he was put together by an eight-year-old. Yes, but a trip to the nearest Radio Shack would fix that. Also, I'm still waiting to hear the rationale for making a protocol droid a shrieking coward, aside from George Lucas rummaging through a box of offensive stereotypes (which he'd later return to while building Jar-Jar Binks) and picking out the "mincing gay man" module.

    Again, you're overlooking his primary function. C-3PO is a protocol droid designed to serve humans, and boasts that he is fluent "in over six million forms of communication." So he's got arthritis, well, you didn't build him to be flexible or fight. You built him to look pretty and translate. Everything else is bells and whistles. I think he was meant to stand in a corner for some rich merchant or politician and translate any language imaginable. Are you going to tell me that my car is flawed because I couldn't afford a $20 toaster to put in the dash?

    Death Star
    An unshielded exhaust port leading directly to the central reactor? Really? And when you rebuild it, your solution to this problem is four paths into the central core so large that you can literally fly a spaceship through them? Brilliant. Note to the Emperor: Someone on your Death Star design staff is in the pay of Rebel forces. Oh, right, you can't get the memo because someone threw you down a huge exposed shaft in your Death Star throne room.

    Uh, the second Death Star was never completed, you idiot. The rebels learned about it and attacked it before it had everything completed so anything like "four paths to the central core" or "exposed shafts" could well have been necessary during its construction. Haven't you seen Clerks or watched Robot Chicken's parody of Palpatine trying to talk to the foreman?

    But Luke's X-34 speeder on Tatooine? The Yugo of speeders, man. One hard stop, and out you go.

    He's a farmer. You should have seen the "vehicles" and ATVs I drove while working on farms. One was a modified bus with huge water tanks on the back and an upside down bucket for a seat. They make a Yugo look like a dream car. Are you going to complain about the blast marks and carbon scoring adorning the rag tag rebel ships next?

    So easy to rip apart. And you know, he doesn't offer anything constructive. Like the asteroid worm. He would have enjoyed it more if space in the Star Wars galaxy was like our space? Dead, uninhabited and void? George Lucas isn't a god but he sure thought up some neat ideas for a universe that John Scalzi will never come close to.

    • by Red4man (1347635) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:34AM (#29133529) Journal
      Hell hath no fury like a fanboi's scorn.
    • by vertinox (846076) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:39AM (#29133619)

      I see you didn't defend the Storm Trooper armor...

      • I see you didn't defend the Storm Trooper armor...

        Oh, well, I'm not stupid. Tons of things in the SW universe make absolutely no sense. The storm trooper uniforms are stupid, kind of remind me of French Legionnaire uniforms [wikipedia.org] that always made me laugh when I saw someone dressed like that in the desert. The red flags on your shoulders make you stick out like a sore thumb regardless of where you are.

        So there's something that actually existed much like the storm trooper armor. Somethings are meant to intimidate rather than camouflage, perhaps the storm trooper armor is there to let you know that you don't stand a chance? To be distinctive? It's a stretch but it's stupid. Looked really badass when I was a kid though.

        A lot of these arguments apply to many sci-fi/fantasy works, not just SW so why waste your time on the critical analysis. Are you bettering society? Congratulations, you just tore apart something that was made over three decades ago.

        He should have stuck to the physical aspects of the universe like noise in space and being able to see laser shots from the side ... oh, that's right, we've been over this before on Slashdot, with our friends, in popular mechanics, everywhere. My grandfather commented on the "wings" of ships that seemed to spend all their time in space.

        • by TWX (665546) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:57AM (#29133907)
          I think that the entire point of the stormtrooper uniform is to emphasize the mechanistic, monolithic nature of stormtroopers. It also makes sense in the context of stormtroopers all being clones.

          If anything, it's masterful in the sense that if you kill them you don't see biological signs of having done so. They come at you like a horde and shooting one down only means that the next one in line is right there.

          Remember, in the Star Wars universe, the people pretty much willingly gave themselves over to Palpatine. After the sham clone wars, the stormtroopers are a reminder of the government, a control, a deterrent. Their effectiveness as one's vanguard is shown to be mixed at best, with officers doing the decision making and fighting (in the mech walking units, on ships, etc), so they exist to remind the populace of the overarching presence of the empire, not to necessarily actually do a good job enforcing it when push comes to shove.

          I have my other problems with the Star Wars universe, mind you, and I'm definitely no rabid fan, but it's an amusing series to watch if you ignore the recent three movies.
          • by AndrewNeo (979708)

            The clone troopers (Ep. 2 and 3) were clones, the storm troopers (Ep. 4, 5, and 6) were not.

          • by bishiraver (707931) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:27PM (#29134377) Homepage

            Reminds me of the Jaffa in SG1.

            In one episode, SG1 is showing some faction the difference between the staff weapons and the assault rifles that SG1 uses. They show a Jaffa trying to hit a target perhaps 20m away - he misses several times, as you can imagine the staff weapon is rather inaccurate. One of the SG1 team then proceeds to shoot the shit out of it with their P90.

            The relevancy is thus:

            They explain that the staff weapon isn't made for battle - it's made for fear and intimidation. The same could probably be said for storm troopers: the blasters are loud, inaccurate, and give away your position like nobody's business. Their armor is for show, to embody intimidation and quell resistance.

            It doesn't make much sense in the SG1 universe, however, as it seems like the different Goa'uld are constantly skirmishing each other. You'd think they'd use the staff weapons to intimidate their slaves, and something a little more efficient for actual battles with other Goa'uld.

            In Atlantis, Ronon has a pistol that seems to shoot the same kind of energy as the staff weapons, with the caveat that it can be set to stun. Because it's a pistol, he's much more accurate than a Jaffa ever would be with his staff weapon. ... but this is only marginally related to the topic at hand, which is: Why was a wookie living on endor?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by eth1 (94901)

            I think that the entire point of the stormtrooper uniform is to emphasize the mechanistic, monolithic nature of stormtroopers. It also makes sense in the context of stormtroopers all being clones.

            I was thinking along the same lines, but in a more practical sense. When the original movies were made, the cheapest and easiest way to make "clones" was probably to cover the actors' faces. No CGI crowds in the 70s. :) Having a fully covered/armored face would look quite odd without body armor, also.

            • by TempeTerra (83076) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:36PM (#29136435)

              At the risk of being out-geeked; in the original trilogy it wasn't stated that the storm troopers were clones, they're just some generic jackbooted thugs with masks so you're not tempted to empathise with them (the contractors on the other hand...).

              IIRC some of the earlier Star Wars novels explained the 'clone wars' as being a failed attempt by the empire to clone bazillions of guys to crew their star destroyers. Turned out the clones didn't have <strike>souls</strike> a presence in the force and went insane or something. So the storm troopers not clones, just some mooks in plastic armour.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I think it's because the first movies came out in the 70's and 80's aimed at the PG-13 market, and we didn't have major release movies showing endless hordes getting mowed down in the style of Tarentino or Rodriguez back then. Heck, the PG-13 didn't even exist at the time, and a R rating would have probably made Star Wars stillborn. As far as I can recall, the first three movies were completely bloodless. Pretty sure all of them were, come to think of it.

            Shooting a stormtrooper was like shooting a robot; th

        • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:06PM (#29134023)

          Are you bettering society? I think so. Kids learn a lot from TV. Why should they not be instructed that you don't need wings in space? You can't hear sound in space? Light goes much faster? Etc.

          On slashdot, of all places, I would have thought debunking scientific fiction that is not at all "scientific" or even "logical"/"good thinking" would be encouraged :)

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:15PM (#29134173) Journal

          >>>why waste your time on the critical analysis. Are you bettering society?

          Yes. Whenever you point-out, "This could never happen," you improve the general education levels. The American public is already woefully-stupid when it comes to science, so any article that tries to improve knowledge is a good thing. For example - No sounds do not exist in space, even though many think it does. I like one of the comments below the article:

          But a "city planet"? Coruscant is the center, capital and most populous planet, we're told. So either there exist vast factories pumping out nitrogen and oxygen, or its life thrives on a hearty stew of carbon dioxide, ozone and heavy metals.

          George Lucas stole that idea from Isaac Asimov who created the center of his Galactic Empire as a citywide planet (circa 1935). As Asmiov explained the planet was originally a farming planet just like any other, but as the 20,000 years of the empire's existence continued, it was paved-over with steel and buildings and bureaucracy.

          In order to survive, the "cityplanet" relied on imports to bring-in food and water, and also exports to remove waste. Much like how our modern New York City survives. After Asimov's Galactic Empire fell, the ~50 billion people who lived on the center planet literally starved to death, and those who survived removed the steel, crushed the bones for fertilizer, and reverted back to subsistence-level farming.

        • by mrdoogee (1179081) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:17PM (#29134203)
          I always thought it was as much an intimidation tool as actual armor. Kind of like a Samurai Mask. A sea of white "monster faced" troops running at you would be pretty intimidating. Well, intimidating until they start shooting and it becomes obvious that there is no marksmanship taught at the Imperial Academy.
      • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:48AM (#29133779) Journal

        I see you didn't defend the Storm Trooper armor...

        The armor is easier to defend than their marksmanship [wikipedia.org] ;)

        Here we have the pride of the Empire. A professional solider who was cloned from stock hand selected to be the most effective killing machine possible. He spends every waking minute either training for battle or fighting in one. There's Han Solo, less than ten meters away. Avowed enemy of the empire. Working with the terrorist Luke Skywalker to try and overthrow the Emperor. He's ours now! The Stormtrooper raises his blaster to his shoulder, aims, fires....... and misses!

        • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:10PM (#29134091) Journal

          TD-0013 does it best:

          http://www.adpov.net/2005/03/09/adpov-001/ [adpov.net]

        • That complaint always bugged me. I know of 4 occasions in Episode IV (I won't get into the other episodes) where the stormtroopers fire at the heroes.

          1. 3P0/R2 wander across the field of fire - Troopers shoot past them to get the actual targets (exactly as you would expect from trained marksmen)
          2. Falcon takes off - Troopers shoot at AND HIT a vehicle moving at high speed away from them
          3. Trash Compactor - Troopers aren't able to hit a group of people taking cover a good distance off down a dark cooridor. Concealment and Camouflage but they're able to get pretty close in the few seconds they have before they escape.
          4. Deathstar Escape Scene - Troopers miss every shot at the group of rebels who are going to lead them to the rebellion base...hmm, could it be they were ordered to miss?

          Every other time we see the stormtroopers fire they hit their targets perfectly.

        • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:42PM (#29134629) Homepage Journal

          Here's something interesting:

          90% of shots fired in gun fights miss, even when the shooter is a cop, and even when they aren't supposed to miss.

          These are guys who are trained, have to qualify at various distances at a pistol range, etc.

          But it turns out that putting your shots on target when
          - the lighting/visibility is poor
          - the target is trying not to get shot
          - you aren't under ideal cover
          - you may be shooting off-handed or without proper time to posture/setup the shots
          - you weren't expecting to shoot anyone today and now you're in a firefight
          - THEY ARE SHOOTING BACK [!!] ... is really difficult in real life.

          So I'm not defending variable-grade shooting in the movie, but in the real world, _good_ marksmen who train constantly often do not make good shots in the heat of the moment.

        • by hey! (33014) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:13PM (#29135143) Homepage Journal

          Well, the storm troopers' battle ineffectiveness is actually one of the few things that ring true about the Star Wars universe.

          Once you've got control of the galaxy, you don't want an effective fighting force. Who are you going to use them against? What you want is an effective *intimidation* force that is unable to fight effectively against your smaller but more capable praetorian guard. You keep your praetorian guard divided and intimidated by the higher ups too. Everybody in the galaxy is afraid of the guys just above him, except of course *you*.

          Look at military dictatorships. Once they settle in, they're guaranteed to have a totally pathetic fighting capability, despite despoiling the land to support their military. Hitler inherited a capable military culture, so why did he build the smaller parallel Waffen-SS? Because if he had won WW2, he'd have let the regular military stagnate, keeping them under the thumb of a smaller force that he'd keep under his personal thumb. The result would look a lot like the Star Wars Imperial forces. At every level people would be intimidated by those just above them. At the bottom would be the people of course, but the "fighting" forces just above them wouldn't be much more capable than them.

          The Death Star confirms this political strategy. Aside from its well known engineering fault, it would be extremely inefficient from a strategic standpoint when compared to a fleet of Star Destroyers of a equivalent displacement. It isn't a weapon designed to achieve strategic superiority, it's designed to keep a relatively small number of individuals in line. In fact, that's exactly how it was used in its one successful engagement. Won't tell us the location of the secret base, princess? Take THAT.

        • by BForrester (946915) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:03PM (#29136009)

          Marksmanship of imperial forces is easily explained by the steamroller principle. If you have a seemingly endless supply of soldiers (and you are not overly concerned with casualties), it is not important to outfit them with anything more than mediocre equipment. The cost savings in ammunition and equipment allows the empire to readily equip new conscripts or "clones", as it were.

          This concept has historically worked adequately enough for China and Russia. It's a small irony that the AK-47, a communist-bloc weapon designed to be the ultimate bargain-basement firearm, was extremely competitive with much more expensive counterparts in the US/NATO arsenal.

      • by Khashishi (775369) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:49AM (#29133811) Journal

        Storm Trooper armor is riot gear. It's for protecting against rocks and small arms while they beat down demonstrators. Most non-smugglers won't have access to a blaster capable of blowing through one. Presumably, a gunpowder rifle wouldn't penetrate the armor, which is why the characters use loud and slow firing blasters.

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:40AM (#29133623) Journal

      Dude, you've got too much time on your hands ;)

      I rather liked the attitude that JMS had about this kind of stuff. One time a fan asked him "How fast do starfuries go?" and his response was "They move at the speed of plot"

      If the plot makes sense and the universe remains consistent about it's own rules then who cares how functional RD2D would be in our universe or how badly designed the weapons of Star Trek are?

      • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:10PM (#29134087)

        Dude, you've got too much time on your hands ;)

        I rather liked the attitude that JMS had about this kind of stuff. One time a fan asked him "How fast do starfuries go?" and his response was "They move at the speed of plot"

        If the plot makes sense and the universe remains consistent about it's own rules then who cares how functional RD2D would be in our universe or how badly designed the weapons of Star Trek are?

        Part of proper world-building is making it make sense. I appreciate it when an artist goes about creating a mythical fantasy beast and puts effort into figuring out the biomechanics. I laugh when I see something like a four-armed giant depicted where he's drawn with a bog-standard human chest and the second set of arms is just shoved in a foot down from the first. No, a four-armed giant would have a chest a whole lot different from ours!

        If you design a fantasy spaceship, figure out what the parts are for! Yes, it's all make-believe, but you end up with a stronger design if you can justify what you're slapping on the model. I had this argument with a designer on a project, he wanted to have all the clips on the guns curving backwards instead of forwards, just to be different. I asked him if he even knew why clips curved forward in the real world. He wasn't sure. I told him it was because bullets are slightly conic and if you stack them they would naturally curve. You don't really see that in handgun cartridges but it makes a difference for the kind you put in assault rifles. He finally conceded to reason there and the weapons looked more sensible as a result.

        So, as for the guy's comments in order:

        R2D2: yeah, it seems like he should have a voice chip, he could speak in text through the X-Wing's computer as we saw in Empire. But everyone seems to understand him just fine, Han understands Chewie just fine, so it's not an issue. R2D2 is like the Lassie of droids.

        C3P0: The reason why he walks like he's got a rod up his ass is because it's a complicated, uncomfortable costume. I promise you he wouldn't walk like that if he were CGI.

        Lightsaber: They're incredible dangerous weapons to begin with and you need to be a Jedi to use them. I don't think the Jedi even need handguards.

        Blasters: it's all part of the scifi schtick. Given the tech level of star wars, a conventional gun would be just as likely to give you away. Today we've got special microphones and radar that can tell the secret service exactly where a gunshot came from. In 20 years, I would not be surprised if this tech was available in helmets and onboard displays could give an augmented reality flag to where the shooter came from. A blaster would be just as subtle.

        Landspeeder: Are you serious? Rednecks drive their pickups without seatbelts all the time. I don't see belts on quadrunners. It would be more appropriate to ask about the lack of five-point restraints at the crewstations on Federation starships and why the consoles all carry safety grenades that explode in combat.

        Death Star: Yeah, the unshielded reactor on the first one was dumb. Lucas wanted to steal the bombing sequence from the Dam Busters and needed a plausible reason to recreate that. This necessitated a starship as big as a moon to provide the landscape, a trench to fly down to be like the first movie and some suitable target at the end that could blow the whole thing up. There was historical precedent for something like this with the Bismarck where obsolete biplanes managed to land a single torpedo at the only point on the ship where they could do damage, the rudder. Didn't sink the Bismarck but rendered it lame and set the stage for the final surface battle which sunk her.

        Stormtrooper outfits: Yeah, poor visibility in the helmets is a problem. Lucas wanted these guys to all be covered up and not visibly human because it removed the human association with violence. The troopers could just as easily have been Cylons in that getup. But you'd think the helmets would have

      • by Chapter80 (926879) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:54PM (#29134851)

        then who cares how functional RD2D would be

        RD2D? Red 2-dimensional thing? hmm..

        or is that pronounced roodie-toodie

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abreu (173023)

      Also, you have to give credit to the fact that a lot of the things that are "obvious" for us were not necesarily so for someone in the seventies.

      Like the fact that Luke drives a fast convertible without any seatbelts or rollbars (unthinkable now, but common then)

      Also, some depictions of minorities are considered offensive now, but were ok in the seventies and eighties (nevertheless, that's no excuse for Jar-Jar)

      In any case, the original article writer needs to repeat MST3K's Mantra [tvtropes.org], until he feels better...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by agentgonzo (1026204)
        I see the Sarlac as something akin to the venus fly trap. In fact, comparing the Sarlac to a venus-fly-trap makes this blog sound laughable: "A monstrous yet immobile plant that lives in an exposed pit ..., waiting for animals to apparently feel suicidal and trek out to throw themselves in? Yeah, not so much. Not every Sarlaac can count on an army of ants to feed it tidbits." And before everyone replies with "well the Venus fly trap has sugary treats or whatever to attract prey", how do we know that the Sa
      • by TheLink (130905) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:01PM (#29133959) Journal
        Yeah and a long long time ago in a galaxy far away they obviously didn't have such stuff like OSHA.

        Or they'd have railings to stop people from falling into pits and other nasties...

        Clearly it's a galaxy where they didn't have warning stickers on lightsabers to tell people "This way to enemy", or "Do not point lightsaber at remaining head".

        But still...
    • It's always been about epic myths and magic, Good versus Evil, Greek Tragedy, etc. Except on different planets, not in a mist-shrouded past of Earth. To criticize it's light saber technology is like criticizing Xena's chakram physics.

    • by eln (21727) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:10PM (#29134097) Homepage

      C-3PO is a protocol droid designed to serve humans, and boasts that he is fluent "in over six million forms of communication."

      3PO is there for comic relief primarily, so his cowardice doesn't bother me. What really bothered me about him is the origin story in Episode 1. I mean seriously, are you trying to tell me that an 8 year old, bored out of his mind on a desert planet, with access to enough parts and knowledge to build a basically sentient robot is going to build a PROTOCOL DROID? I mean, he could have built a mindless killing machine, or a machine capable of fixing his speeder for him, or stealing shit from the marketplace, or raiding moisture farms for water, or SOMETHING. But no, he builds a droid designed to communicate politely in 6 million languages and that's about it. What the hell does a kid whose primary interest is podracing need with a protocol droid that can speak 6,000,000 languages, 5,999,999 of which he can't understand, and 5,999,983 of which he's unlikely to ever need to know? This kid had to be the biggest dork in 3 galaxies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tixxit (1107127)

      C-3PO Can't fully extend his arms; has a bunch of exposed wiring in his abs; walks and runs as if he has the droid equivalent of arthritis. And you say, well, he was put together by an eight-year-old. Yes, but a trip to the nearest Radio Shack would fix that. Also, I'm still waiting to hear the rationale for making a protocol droid a shrieking coward, aside from George Lucas rummaging through a box of offensive stereotypes (which he'd later return to while building Jar-Jar Binks) and picking out the "mincing gay man" module.

      George Lucas based C3PO & R2D2 off of the 2 main characters in The Hidden Fortress [wikipedia.org]. Their opposing and awkward personalities make for an awesome/funny dynamic between them. Star Wars is, first and foremost, a movie made to entertain.

    • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:37PM (#29135561)

      R2-D2
        Sure, he's cute, but the flaws in his design are obvious the first time he approaches anything but the shallowest of stairs. Also: He has jets, a periscope, a taser and oil canisters to make enforcer droids fall about in slapsticky fashion -- and no voice synthesizer. Imagine that design conversation: "Yes, we can afford slapstick oil and tasers, but we'll never get a 30-cent voice chip past accounting. That's just madness."

      I believe his primary function is a flight droid so they were built to interface with ships. Not a lot else. John Scalzi seems to suffer from the "must have everything" school of thought and doesn't think the future will focus on minimalism and getting one thing right. Thank god he's not writing software and just another hot air blogger. I reject Episodes I, II & III so I don't know what he's talking about with the oil slick and jets.

      R2 is a Sith Lord.

      Think about it for a minute.
      1. We know that damaged Sith get a mechanical exoskeleton.
      2. People can understand R2. Canon states that requires The Force.
      3. He's got lightning attacks.
      4. He was present at the very beginning of the series. Used Force Persuade to prevent the shots from being fired. "Hold your fire; there are no life signs aboard."
      5. His jets can't provide enough thrust to lift him. He can fly. We've seen him do it without using his thrusters.
      6. Palpatine hid himself from the Jedi; it's a known trick.
      7. In IV, he was able to stand outside the bar without getting picked up by the Stormtroopers who were looking for him. "I am not the droid you're looking for."

      Watch the scene with the cave on Dagobah again when Yoda and R2 are judging Luke's performance.

      Sith.

  • Oh dear (Score:5, Funny)

    by FTWinston (1332785) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:34AM (#29133535) Homepage

    Let's not even go near the idea of light beams being slow enough to dodge; that's just something you have let go of, or risk insanity.

    I think by the time you're writing an article about design failures in Star Wars ... you're already beyond just the risk of insanity.

  • Re-cutting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@drunksnipe r s .com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:37AM (#29133583) Homepage

    I think giving George Lucas access to the raw footage was a poor design choice.

  • council (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hey (83763) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:39AM (#29133621) Journal

    The council chamber where they debate laws seemed crazy to me. Everyone is floating in their own flying saucer. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Regular tables with chairs make more sense. More compact and you have a chance to interact with the other representatives.

    • Re:council (Score:5, Informative)

      by Abreu (173023) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:49AM (#29133805)

      The whole point, I believe, is that the chamber is gigantic, and that representatives really needed to fly to get to the center and speak.

      If you allowed people to just do a videoconference from their seats, what's the point of meeting in Wash^H^H^H^H Coruscant? Everybody could stay at their home planets and telecommute!

    • Re:council (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GameMaster (148118) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:49AM (#29133807)

      Never underestimate the need to be grandiose just for the hell of it, especially when it comes to government. The US congress could meet in a high-school gym, but they chose to build the massive, ornate, capital rotunda instead. For that matter, the same goes for the open pits in the Emperor's thrown room. Even if you didn't claim that it hadn't been completed yet (since the station was supposed to be incomplete at that point), perhaps he was going for a grandiose, and in this case intimidating, look with huge, bottomless, pits.

  • Here here. (Score:3, Funny)

    by jpellino (202698) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:40AM (#29133629)

    Right on. Bully. And as we all know, poor design portends end-user doom. These pathetic hacks will be lucky if they ever sell more than three tickets to the producer's three kids for this parade of dreck. And forget merchandising - it'll be a brief stopover at Dollar Tree and then to some banana republic orphanage along with the Superbowl-losing ball caps. Yes, what WERE they thinking?

  • Death Star (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pwizard2 (920421) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:41AM (#29133651)

    Death Star
    An unshielded exhaust port leading directly to the central reactor? Really? And when you rebuild it, your solution to this problem is four paths into the central core so large that you can literally fly a spaceship through them? Brilliant. Note to the Emperor: Someone on your Death Star design staff is in the pay of Rebel forces. Oh, right, you can't get the memo because someone threw you down a huge exposed shaft in your Death Star throne room.

    I agree with the critique on the Death Stars. Centralized power was the fatal flaw in both, so it would have made a lot more sense to use distributed power systems throughout the Death Star II. (lots of little reactors instead of one big one) That way, the rebels would have had to destroy the DSII apart piece by piece. Given how much time that would take, the Imperials probably would have won.

    I won't even go into the Endor holocaust in detail. (guess what happens when you detonate a small artificial moon near a planetary atmosphere? You get lots of fallout, resulting in nuclear winter and lots of dead ewoks)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:46AM (#29133757)

      You get lots of fallout, resulting in nuclear winter and lots of dead ewoks.

      I'm not seeing a downside here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SnoopJeDi (859765)

      Distributing a lot of small reactors sounds like a logistical nightmare. Imagine the power draw when the Death Star actually intends to fire. Is it easier to lay the wire and controls necessary to manage that from one reactor, or several?

      Not to mention that by assuming the reactors are nuclear, taking down the Death Star might be even easier. More reactors, less security, I'd think it'd be easier to slip an infiltrator in to sabotage one of them.

      This article is garbage. See below:

      Let's not even go near the idea of light beams being slow enough to dodge; that's just something you have let go of, or risk insanity.

      Ah because slow light [wikipedia.org] i

    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:06PM (#29134017) Journal

      I see where you're going with this! George Lucas should have built the DSII as a cube, with decentralized structure. And Perhaps used artificial augmentations to humanoids to staff this new battle station. YES, we should get right on that! Not only that, they should replace the Emperor with .... a QUEEN!

  • Too easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:46AM (#29133739) Homepage

    Inconsistencies and illogical details in the Star Wars Universe?

    Fish. Barrel. Large bore shotgun.

    Star Wars, like much of the Space Opera and Science Fantasy genre, follows only one well tested design strategy: The Rule of Cool. If something looks cool, and it doesn't get in the way of the story, it's in. Once you can accept that you're good.

    • Re:Too easy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Speare (84249) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:24PM (#29134317) Homepage Journal

      A lot of people bitch and complain at the cheesy dialogue, the goofball proper nouns like the Mon Calimari, the broad-strokes caracatures like Jar Jar, and the massive holes in logic. They rally with things like "geez, just hire a dialogue writer and it'd be so much better." Even Carrie Fisher had a hard time coming to grips with how bad the dialogue was.

      However, these things are bad by design. Lucas wants it that way. Just as today's kids were not in the theaters for 1977 Star Wars, Carrie Fisher and crew were not in the theaters for the real inspiration: saturday matinee serial adventure movies of the 50s. Indiana Jones is cut out of the same cloth. Pump flashy moves and totally cornball bad-writing into the minds of bored kids, and rake in the ticket sales. These are third-rate comic books in celluloid form, with little more than a title and a short beer conversation for pre-production.

      To pay homage and recapture the "magic" of those 1950s serials, Lucas has completely chosen to include a patchwork of nonsensical and patronizing elements. Bad accents equals bad people? Check. Steel-hearted women melt when the hero-boy forces a kiss on them? Check. Layer on a milquetoast political plotline that some people will take to be allegory for current affairs? Check.

      Either that, or Lucas is a dipshit. Rolling in money, but somehow a moron nonetheless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014)

        I think you're on the right track about the appeal, but I'd be a lot more convinced it was *intentional* if you could point to examples of top notch dialog written by Lucas.

        The parallels with the cheesy old serials of yore are more than skin deep. If you look at the original Star Wars movie, its charm comes from its break neck pacing. There was so much wonderful throwaway stuff, like the cantina musicians playing Benny Goodman, but if you'd taken a good look at them they'd have looked cheesy: their faces

  • Seat belts (Score:5, Funny)

    by T-Bone-T (1048702) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:46AM (#29133747)

    I can't wait for the Star Trek one after reading the seat belt gripe. Idea #1: Why aren't there seat belts on the bridge? It seems like almost every episode someone gets thrown from their chair. It happens so often in ST:VOY it should be the first modification they make to the ship.

  • Wrong. (Score:4, Funny)

    by jayme0227 (1558821) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:48AM (#29133781) Journal

    This article is wrong on so many levels, but, of course, is easy to defeat: Everyone knows that the Star Wars universe is perfect. George Lucas had fully anticipated exactly what was going to happen in all 6 movies (and all of the books, comics, cartoons, etc.) while designing the first movie. To question this is heresy, and therefore you, John Scalzi, are a heretic.

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:56AM (#29133891)

    >R2D2's speech

    The original voice of R2D2 died of heat exhaustion while wearing the suit. In his honor they used digital beeps.

    >C3P0 and mincing gay man

    This is because C3P0 is a gay robot. Its a shame Scalzi is such a bigot that he cannot accept homosexual robots. Someday, 3P0, someday you'll be accepted and you can marry that nice medical robot who has been checking you out.

    >Lighsaber guards

    With the guard up all lightsaber fights ended in a stalemate. The jedi council of 4922 banned them for the sake of "sport and honor."

    >Blasters

    In the star wars world, lead bullets are useless against storm trooper armor. So everyone needs to use blasters which are slower and noisier. Blasters also release a mint scent which is an added bonus.

    >Luke's lack of seatbelts

    Luke was originally told his father died asphyxiating from a seatbelt after an accident that flipped his speeder. Luke vowed to never take that chance and removed his.

    >Stormtrooper armor

    In a sophisticated universe, style is very important. "The path to defeat, an unstylish military is. - Yoda"

    >Death star

    The empire has always been a good sport and has left vulnerabilities in all its designs.

    >a huge exposed shaft in your Death Star throne room.

    To be fair, this was put in so the emperor could toss people down it as he pleased. He knew it was a risk someone could toss him down it too, but he was crazy that way.

  • Of John Scalzi (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:57AM (#29133909)

    Love his books to death - especially "the Andriods Dream", but like all authors his own books have more holes than swiss cheese.

    Like computers built into peoples heads that seem to have unlimited bandwidth data links over huge distances - yet there is no power requirements and the enemy can't detect the transmissions

  • by Absolut187 (816431) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:15PM (#29134179) Homepage

    Doug: Uh question for Ms. Bellamy. In episode 2F09, when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a... [the nerds chuckle] a magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

    June: Uh, well, uh...

    Homer: I'll field this one. Let me ask you a question. Why would a man whose shirt says "Genius at Work" spend all of his time watching a children's cartoon show?

    Doug: [embarrassed pause] I withdraw my question. [starts eating a candy bar].

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:17PM (#29134201) Homepage Journal
    Was I the only one bothered by the sad attempt to bridge the gap between EP 3 and EP 4 by simply throwing away all the nice full color displays and elegant controls that we saw in the ships of the first 3 episodes, and in one fell swoop go back to the flashing lights and big on/off switches of the last 3? You know, at the end of EP 3 when Darth takes command of the Empire fleet, only to strut out onto the bridge of a ship that looked like it was designed to control a hydroelectric dam and not fly among the stars...

    Maybe I was the only one.
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:30PM (#29134431)

    R2-D2

    R2 is an astromech droid - he was designed to assist in the operation of small spacecraft. He is well suited for trundling around flight decks - he was not meant to go up and down stairs, and it's a credit to his character that he performed his duty in desert and swamp. He doesn't speak english because he speaks astromech - sentients who fly or work with spacecraft will understand astromech. Speech synthesis is unnecessary to his function... are you unhappy that your perl compiler doesn't speak in plain english?

    C-3PO

    C-3PO is a protocol droid. His form is purely ornamental, as his function is to facilitate communication between sentients, usually in a business setting. He is not required to lift heavy objects or cover rugged terrain at great speed, and the exposed wiring is probably just ornamentation. Droids develop their own personalities as they are learning and self-modifying systems - he made himself a screaming coward.

    Lightsabers

    Japanese blades often did not have a tsuba (hand guard) - relying on a tsuba to protect the hand was folly, as was slashing down a blade to get at the fingers. A quick disengage and riposte would leave you dead.

    Blasters

    I don't think the beams themselves are being dodged, but those dodging are anticipating their aim-point. Happens in most movies with regular guns, too. Blasters are recoiless and require no reloading, which makes them tactically superior to firearms.

    Landspeeders and other flying vehicles

    Unless the repulsor field was designed to keep you in place - or artificial gravity.

    Stormtrooper Uniforms

    Yeah, OK, storm trooper armor is useless.

    Death Star

    The original design flaw was overlooked by the Deathstar's builders - the Rebels analyzed the data and discovered it themselves. The second deathstar wasn't complete, and relied on planet-based shield generators rather than structure to protect it.

    Sarlaac

    Doodle-bugs (antlions) and sea anenomes rely on this same technique, and as the skeleton from ANH illustrates, Tatooine has megafauna prey.

    That Asteroid Worm Thing in Empire Strikes Back

    Not spaceships, cometary debris containing organic compounds, or spacefaring organisms that feed on same.

    Midi-Chlorians

    Lucas is as one dead to me for that midichlorian crap.

    • by zakur (1621823) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:42PM (#29135659)
      Japanese blades often did not have a tsuba (hand guard)

      Nonsense. A tsuba is an integral part of a practical katana. Only decorative or ceremonial long blades occasionally (e.g. shirisaya) lacked them. The tsuba didn't just protect the wielder from an opponent's blade, it also prevented the wielder's hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts. Fighting with a tsuba-less sword would be folly.

    • by prockcore (543967) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:46PM (#29137689)

      are you unhappy that your perl compiler doesn't speak in plain english?

      But it does speak in plain english.


      syntax error at test.pl line 1, at EOF
      Execution of test.pl aborted due to compilation errors.

      I would be upset if instead it said "beep boop beep beep".

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:33PM (#29134463)

    1. Your city is under siege and suddenly this man-made wooden horse appears out of nowhere. Any sane military command would probably blow it up or set fire to it, as opposed to taking it behind his lines and leaving it unguarded.

    2. It's a bit much for foreign leader like Menelaus to go to the trouble of war over his wife leaving him for another man. Especially in an era where women were considered simple commodities.

    3. Odysseus tries to escape from an island with a hot chick who does magic and wants to use him as a love slave back to an existence of responsibility and the possibility of mortal danger. Nuff said.

    4. The cyclops has one eye. A monster with limited depth perception is not too intimidating and wouldn't be a very effective monster.

    • by dwye (1127395) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:36PM (#29135543)

      It's a bit much for foreign leader like Menelaus to go to the trouble of war over his wife leaving him for another man. Especially in an era where women were considered simple commodities.

      Bull. Menelaus needed to go after his "kidnapped" wife because he had the same claim to Sparta as Phillip II of Spain had to being King of England, that he had married the Queen Regnant and was supposed to shut up and get her pregnant; if she wasn't kidnapped, Paris of Troy gets to be King Matrimonial, and Menelaus is once again Agamemnon's little brother with few prospects. Agamemnon supports his brother's Quest because it is a Casus Belli to justify pillaging Troy. If it had been ended by the duel between Menelaus and Paris, the whole war would have been a failure, from the Argive perspective.

      Women were no more simple commodities when they were major heiresses than was Eleanor Of The Aquitaine a simple commodity in the Middle Ages.

  • rebuttals (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:47PM (#29134715) Homepage Journal

    1) hiltless light sabors

    1R) looking back at all the movies, I have NEVER seen anyone slide a light sabor across another. I speculate that there's something about the blade of a sabor that has a very high resistance on another similar blade. Every time they clash, they always have to withdraw to swing again. So in that respect, a hilt is pointless.

    2) poorly designed blasters

    2R) getting back to the unknowns, I think we can safely assume despite the appearance, they're not shooting lasers. Whatever it is, (plasma?) it's probably going as fast as it can as a projectile. And the sound it makes may be a factor of what it is. How silent is winging a blob of plasma? One thing they have going for them is I haven't ever seen anyone with a blaster run out of ammo or sport a bandolier.

    3) unshielded exhaust port leading directly to the central reactor

    3R) considering how icky the stuff coming OUT of a reactor exhaust port probably is, it's not too surprising if it's hard to put a shield around. (you certainly don't want to keep it IN, and most people aren't interested in getting TO it) And they did say it was small. (3M?) Consider the size of the deathstar. That's like a pinhole in a buick. Would a pinhole in your car worry you? And DS2 wasn't even 60% complete, it's no wonder there were some open shafts still in it, to get materials installed. DS2 was also relying on the planet based shield generator to keep it safe from attack.

    4) stormtrooper uniforms

    4R) I was thinking about this, and they do seem to suck for blaster-resistance. But then blasters seem to shoot through just about anything short of walls, so there may not be a point to trying to stop it. And I don't see them as bulletproof, they're more for trauma resistance, against people with bladed or blunt weapons, maybe primatives. (tho they had problems with ewoks...) Luke couldn't see well out of his helmet, but remember "aren't you a little short for a storm tropper?" He was wearing gear for someone a lot taller than him, he was probably looking out the nosehole.

    5) Star Destroyer bridge towers

    5R) that's hard to defend. We'll just give you that one. But then look at say the older aircraft carriers with the brdige up on top? I believe they've moved those to the bowels of the ship, but they didn't used to be there. In that time though they needed to be able to see the battlefield, but with electronics and screens now that's just a bad idea.

    6) R2D2 can't talk

    6R) he talks with luke via the display in his cockpit just fine. He's designed to plug into the back of the xwing and fix things, or move about inside a larger ship and fix things. Why should he need to talk to anyone any other time? His legs are only there as a convenience so they don't have to get out a dolly to move him from one ship to another or around the inside to get where he needs to fix stuff. He's a mechanic, not a conversationalist. Try chatting with a mechanic while he tries to change your alternator, he'll probably tell you to go read a magazine in the lounge and get out of his hair.

  • by GameMaster (148118) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:56PM (#29134867)

    Ok, I'll be the first to admit that Lucas isn't the best designer in the world, and that the prequels sucked, but most of the points brought up are kinda garbage.

    • R2-D2:
      • Stairs aren't a problem when you're original design included jets.
      • The "slapstick" oil could have, simply, been a standard coolant/lubricant drain.
      • The voice is an issue, but we don't really know what species designed that model of robot. Perhaps they can understand the chirps he makes. Since he's a technical component and not a protocol droid he would have no need for a large collection of languages.
    • C3PO:
      • He wasn't just put together by an eight year old, he was put together by an eight year old slave using scrap parts.
      • As has been pointed out by others here, he's intended to be a "protocol droid" which implies that he's meant to, primarily, focus on things like knowing proper etiquette for a situation and language translation. The need for him to have more than basic mobility/flexibility would be non-existent. The fact that Anikan says he built the droid to help his mother do chores could simply mean that he's making do with a sub-optimal helper for his mom because of the limited source of parts he can scavenge.
      • The comments about C3-P0's personality are 100% opinion base and have no real justification. It's not unreasonable to expect that servant robots might be designed with an effeminate personality in order to look more subservient to their wealth masters pair that with the fact that we don't know how much impact the eight year old builder might have had on it and it could, easily, end up being a poor stereotype as seen through the eyes of an eight year old.
    • Lightsaber
      • Since we don't know how to build a real lightsaber, we don't know how they react when they come into contact with each other (other than the fact that they can't pass through each other). For all we know, two lightsabers coming into contact with each other may create a form of electrostatic friction with each other that stops people from sliding the two "blades" along each other. That would make a blade guard unnecessary.
    • Blaster
      • There is nothing about the blaster that, necessarily, implies that it's firing light beams. In fact, the slow speed the author ridicules implies that it might be some form of super-heated plasma ball.
      • As for dodging them, the movies never gave me the impression that they moved all that slow. They seemed, to me, to move no slower than traditional tracer rounds. The only people I saw being show to react fact enough to "dodge" individual rounds were the Jedi characters who are, specifically, supposed to posses super-human reflexes. Plenty of people dodged when they were fired at, but even people in real life respond, ineffectively, when bullets are wizzing past their heads.
    • Landspeeders, etc.
      • As others have pointed out, Luke is supposed to be a poor farmer's adopted child and a crack pilot. Poor farmers, the world over, drive far worse (and less safe) vehicles that a Yugo. The idea that he "hot dogs" it without seat belts isn't so hard to believe in that context.
    • Stormtrooper Armor
      • It may have been designed to protect more against physical attacks more than blasters since, without the armor, the troops might be even more susceptible to injury. This would lead to a situation, like in the Dune novels, where a whole class of weapons would become useless (in this case physical weapons like clubs and bullets) and only the most advanced of enemies have the technology to be any kind of threat (or, in the case of the Dune novels, the skill level/training to use a bladed weapon to get through the personal energy shields).
      • Perhaps the armor protects them more than we see in the movie. Just because they fall down when shot, doesn't mean that they're, necessarily, dead. In real life, the best "bullet-proof" tactical armo
  • by deathpulse (961233) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:19PM (#29135245)
    The Jedi Knights can move objects with their minds.... yet they fight with what is essentially a flashlight on steroids that has an "on/off" switch. Why don't the smart Jedi just "use the force" to switch off their opponents saber? I guess the argument could be made that the other Jedi would just "use the force" to keep the saber switched on... but wouldn't all saber battles melt down into a concentration battle for who could switch their damn weapon on?
  • by oneTheory (1194569) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:51PM (#29135797)

    Death Star
    An unshielded exhaust port leading directly to the central reactor? Really?

    I searched all the comments for this and not one person correctly pointed out that "The shaft is ray shielded, so you'll have to use proton torpedoes."

    Slashdot, you disappoint me.

  • by DrVomact (726065) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:57PM (#29136727) Journal

    I thought the article was really funny. However, it's clear that Scalzi hasn't spent much time fencing. Real fighting with an edged weapon is nothing like theatrical fencing—which is what Scalzi is apparently thinking of.

    In theatrical fencing, the idea is to simulate a real fight without actually risking injury to the actors, who are usually not wearing fencing masks. Thus, there's a great deal of jumping around and clashing of blades. In a real fight (or even a saber fencing bout), there's only two reasons why the combatant's blades would ever come into contact: either they are parrying, or they are trying to beat their opponent's weapon out of line to create an opening. Usually, the contact of blade on blade is only momentary—you want your blade free to move at all times.

    There is one exception to this. Sometimes, a parry or beat will result in a "bind"—a maneuver something like arm-wrestling, the purpose of which is to get the upper hand through main force by pushing your opponent's weapon out of the way. Because you are pushing against his blade, friction and the angle of the forces involved prevent your blade from "sliding" down to his hand. In any case, there are well-known maneuvers for disengaging from an unwanted bind.

    In a light-saber battle, your primary targets would probably be your opponent's hand and wrist, just as it is in epee and saber fencing today. This is not because you "slide down the blade" of your opponent, but for the simple reason that the hand holding the saber is the part of your opponent that is closest to you. It could be argued that hand guards like those found on contemporary epees or sabers would be a good idea for these fictional weapons...but then you might as well go for full body armor.

    If I were going to object to the light-saber battles in Star Wars on grounds of realism, it would be that they last far too long. A real battle with nearly weightless edged weapons that can cut through anything shouldn't last more than 10 seconds.

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