FINALLY… after all these years of speculating, hoping, dreaming, and wishing… the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake sounds like it is really HAPPENING!!! And if the information from last week proves true, this is not just some clumsy port of the original game… no, this is a full-on remake worthy of this classic title. And the icing on the cake? This game is being released by the powerhouse studio that published such massive franchises as Stubbs the Zombie and Morkredd…the studio that was also responsible for crafting ports of some of your favorite franchises like Call of Duty and Civilization to cellphones… ASPYR Media. Wait… WHO??!!! Aspyr? Who even ARE they? I was hoping for Bioware to take back the reigns of their original release, or perhaps for Obsidian to pick up where they left off after their excellent sequel to KOTOR that improved on many facets of the original game… honestly, I would have even accepted EA releasing it since they did a solid job with Jedi Fallen Order. But, Aspyr? Have you even HEARD of them? C’mon man… that’s kind of like bringing out a surprise birthday cake and then telling me the dog made it all by himself. I mean, I appreciate the effort… but I’m not terribly interested in EATING that.
If you have followed us for any amount of time, then you are probably aware that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic carries a VERY special place in my heart… it is not only one of the top five games I have ever played, but until the Mandalorian series came out it was absolutely my favorite Star Wars content that has ever been produced. So with all due respect to the folks at Aspyr… this is not something I want to see messed up. I would rather leave it as the classic title that it is rather than risk seeing some Frankenstein monster version of my beloved KOTOR hit the store’s shelves. But before I pass judgment on the studio that has been tasked with revisiting one of the most critically acclaimed games of a generation, let’s at least perform a little “due diligence” in reviewing their qualifications. So… here is something… they previously released KOTOR before! Well… on the iPhone/iPad platforms in 2015. Wait… they also developed other Star Wars games like Jedi Knight and Jedi Academy, and even worked on another Bioware classic, Jade Empire! Which… were ports onto iOS and Android platforms. Hmmm… I mean, those aren’t TERRIBLE accomplishments, but what makes anyone think that a studio that specializes primarily in porting games to phones and tablets can do justice to my beloved KOTOR? I don’t mean to sell anyone short, but shouldn’t they at least prove they are up to the challenge here by making SOMETHING on a current generation console first?
Let’s be honest… we don’t really know very many game developers by name anymore. Sure, there are a handful of geniuses like Kojima or Miyamoto that we may be familiar with, but if I asked you to name three people who wrote, coded, or directed the game you are playing right now, would you be able to answer? I know I wouldn’t. Tens of thousands of people labor for years to bring these visions to life, and if we are being honest, when their name finally popped up in the end credits we probably weren’t even paying attention. So, why I am so concerned that a bunch of people I have never heard of are working on the next KOTOR game? I suppose it is because even as much as I love indie titles and smaller projects, I still have a hard time trusting someone who lacks the “big” credentials to take on something that truly matters to me. I mean, this isn’t some spin-off project… this is KOTOR. This is the video game equivalent of Citizen Kane or Gone With the Wind. And if I am being honest, I have been burned before by even some of the most credible developers completely butchering something that I was looking forward to for years (Halo 4, Halo 5, looking like Halo Infinite…). I WANT to give Aspyr the benefit of the doubt, but it’s kind of hard when there is so much on the line. Nothing personal, but I would feel more comfortable with a studio with a proven lineage of excellence.
We are all victims of this mentality from time to time… and from both sides of the problem. When it comes to our attempts to fulfill the call of the Lord on our lives, our lack of “qualifications” can be both internally discouraging as well as externally distracting to those we are trying to reach. And unfortunately, when it comes time to “hear” from the Lord we can all be guilty of looking past His chosen messenger because of their familiar or lowly status, and instead put our trust in a so-called “experts” in the field because they have a flashy degree, a gigantic following, a fancy cover on their best-selling book, or an expensive suit. I’ve been guilty of both of these particular offenses, in little things as well as in much larger ones. But whether you are the “unqualified” deliverer of a message from the Lord or a genuine soul who has been looking for guidance in all the wrong places, I have good news on BOTH accounts. Someone has trod this path before us, and his name was Gideon.
In Judges 6-8 we find the story of Gideon, and his story may be one of the most relatable in the entire Bible. Let’s paint the picture… as has happened SO many times in the Old Testament, the people of Israel have fallen into sin and as a result were in bondage to a new enemy, the Midianites. This is well after Israel experienced deliverance from Egypt under the guidance of Moses, and as would become an unfortunate pattern their deliverance from the Canaanites, the Moabites… you know, pretty much any of the “ites” you can name, they are gonna mess up and need delivered from one.
Judges 6:1-6 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.
The Midianites were not only oppressing the people of Israel, they were completely draining them of all of their resources, including food. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Israel reached out to the Lord looking for deliverance… and the Lord had an answer. But this was not going to be another leader like Moses, or Joshua, or Deborah… this one was cut from a VERY different cloth.
Judges 6:11-12 Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
Judges 6:14-15 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Gideon might have been chosen to deliver Israel from their latest foe, but unfortunately Gideon had not received this particular memo. And in case you are missing the irony here, Gideon was in the middle of threshing wheat in a WINEPRESS when he received this particular calling. In case you weren’t aware, typically wine presses were for… you know… making WINE. Why was Gideon processing his wheat in a winepress? Well, it says it right in the verse… to hide it from the Midianites. And in the middle of his covert operation a messenger from God meets him with a greeting that doesn’t exactly match his current status, calling him a “mighty man of valor” rather than the “secret sandwich maker” he currently is. Gideon is quick to explain his complete lack of qualifications for the role… he came from the lowest ranked family from a small tribe, and of his entire family he was dead LAST on the list of the “most likely to succeed in delivering Israel” in his class yearbook.
Israel had some truly triumphant deliverers in their history… and I am sure they were praying for someone of the caliber of Moses to answer the call. But God had other plans… plans that called for not only a “regular Joe” to deliver His people, but the smallest possible army to support this endeavor as well.
Judges 7:2-3 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’ ” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.
The Lord was not looking for a fair fight… His plan called for a completely inexperienced general to lead a malnourished group of untrained soldiers into combat against a trained army that was too numerous to count (Judges 7:12). But even after his army of 32,000 was reduced down to a mere 10,000 troops, the Lord had ONE MORE cut to make.
Judges 7:4-7 But the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.”
From 32,000 (which would have already been less than what was truly needed), to 10,000, to now only 300. Kind of feels like what’s left after my paycheck after taxes… but I digress. Our traditional knowledge would have met might with might, bringing the maximum possible troops with the best possible training and a superior strategy to win this battle. But that is not the way the Lord thinks… His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Just like I would prefer a major studio to develop my KOTOR remake, and just as we often expect that the Lord prefers to use mega-church ministers and famous evangelists to do His work on earth… the truth is this mission didn’t call for a Moses. It wasn’t the time for the epic tag-team of Joshua and Caleb. It was time for the underdog… the unexpected… the name nobody knew… the one who was just trying to make a nice safe bushel of wheat to make some secret pancakes in the morning. But just as Aspyr appears to be the company selected to remake one of the greatest games ever made, GIDEON was the one that was chosen to carry the torch for the people of God and lead them to victory. Not because of his qualifications, his experience, his resume, or his connections… because it was ordained by the One who sees the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Gideon and his meager army of 300 soldiers completely routed the Midianites, broke the chains of slavery for the entire nation, and brought peace back home with them. So let’s cut to the chase and get real for a moment… what is the epic task that the Lord has placed on your heart, and what is standing in your way? Not enough resources? Gideon might have thought his problem was he didn’t have enough troops, but his actual problem was he had too MANY, and the Lord sent almost all of them back home. Lacking name recognition or credibility? Gideon wasn’t even a big deal in his own HOUSE. Possess the heart to do the Lord’s will, but missing the backbone? Well… Gideon was making bread secretly in a cave, so unless you are doing that I believe you are already demonstrating more courage than the guy who was about to change the story for the entire country.
Aspyr wasn’t my first choice, second choice, or quite frankly my LAST choice to remake KOTOR. If I am being honest… before last week, I didn’t even know who they were. But maybe that is why they have been chosen… because they are the right ones for the job. And I am going to give them a puncher’s chance to shock the world, because in order to get the KOTOR game we want we may NEED an underdog studio to take the big risks this title calls for. And now let’s get back to you and me… if you are here, then there is a plan for your life… a calling… a destiny. A God-given reason for existence to do the things that only YOU can do. And when He places that call in your heart, it is CERTAIN that it will be bigger than what you believe you are able to do. As a matter of fact, if you can do it on your own and in your own strength then it ISN’T His big plan for your life. He has ONE way, and it is not by our own might or power. Gideon didn’t deliver the people… the Lord did. Gideon was simply His willing vessel. And that is what the Lord is looking for… underdogs who are ready to step up in the strength that comes from the Lord to do the impossible. So finish making that “secret sandwich” and join us and the other 300 who have come to take on a battle for souls… a war that have been told we are under-qualified, under-funded, and under-prepared for. A war too big for us to win. But that is just fine… because we serve a God who is too big to fail.
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