Some questions about Melek and Jukaga

Hello everyone!

I am a new fan, just bought a lot of WC works from GOG and BAEN. Currently I am interested in the Kilrathi characters Melek and Jukaga. I would like to ask a few questions about them.

1. Melek's appearance in WC4 looks very different from that of WC3. Is this just an adjustment in character design?

2. Melek looks more friendly to Terrans in the WC4 game than he is in the novel. In the game, Melek said "Kilrathi have tried to coexist peacefully with Terrans", "My race no longer presents a threat", while in the novel, he invited Blair to his own ship, and seems interpreted Blair's heroic deeds in Kilrathi traditional belief theory. In the WC4 novel, it seems that unlike Vakka and Jukaga, Melek did not see the essence of the war, and he did not understand or agree with Jukaga. Although this is understandable as Melek is a Kiranka leader, can I hold that Melek in the novel is a bit different from Melek in the game?

3. It seems the Ki'ra clan was mainly responsible for information and technology work in the war, not directly facing Terrans on the front line (Fleet Action, Chaper 5), and Jukaga had not lost comrades to Terrans (Fleet Action, Chaper 12). Is that right?

4. At the end of the Battle of Earth, Jukaga stopped the launch of thermonuclear strontium clad weapons (Fleet Action, Chaper 13). Had this specific situation been seen by others?

5. The book of Kilrah Tugaga Jak-Ta Haganaska duka McAuliffe by Jukaga's son Baron Vakka nar Jukaga is "worthy of serious consideration in spite of its detractors in the realm of academia and postwar Kilrathi apologists" (Foreword, Action Station). Why there are detractors in the realm of academia?

6. Jukaga's son Baron Vakka nar Jukaga... is he named after his grand father Baron Vakka? Is the clan name Ki'ra releated to the word Kilrathi in the literal sense? I would like to know since I am trying to translate some short novel sections, and recommand them to my friends.

Thanks so much!
 
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AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
As far as your first question goes, the novels are often written based on the shooting script for the games. The authors often have no access to the actual FMV or game art to be able to describe the character performances and so on. Because of that, some smaller personality details are opened up for interpretation.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
I actually think Melek looked better in WC3. Which is strange, because IV had a bigger budget - but there are times where it seems the less polished of the two. The Kilrathi in III looked intimidating, alien and natural, Melek in IV looked like, well...a puppet.

To me, he doesn't look organic or lifelike, he literally looks like he's made of synthetic materials. I bought the cats in III much more. Personal opinion, YMMV of course. Anyway I doubt they were trying to make him seem less villainous on purpose :)


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animatronicmelek1.jpg
 
As far as your first question goes, the novels are often written based on the shooting script for the games. The authors often have no access to the actual FMV or game art to be able to describe the character performances and so on. Because of that, some smaller personality details are opened up for interpretation.
Thanks!
I guess it might be interesting to speculate on the possible relationship between Chancellor Melek and Baron Vakka nar Jukaga after 2669, and after 2681.
Baron Vakka nar Jukaga have provided "kind assistance" to a Terran scholar. This seems to be beyond the politically friendly gesture.
 
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I actually think Melek looked better in WC3. Which is strange, because IV had a bigger budget - but there are times where it seems the less polished of the two. The Kilrathi in III looked intimidating, alien and natural, Melek in IV looked like, well...a puppet.

To me, he doesn't look organic or lifelike, he literally looks like he's made of synthetic materials. I bought the cats in III much more. Personal opinion, YMMV of course. Anyway I doubt they were trying to make him seem less villainous on purpose :)
Is Melek the only Kilrathi character in IV FMV?
 

capi3101

Admiral
I chalked up the difference in the way Melek looks between III and IV to the social situation of the Kilrathi - I mean, everything goes to crap for them awful damn fast and after ten years Melek's lucky to still be alive - I imagine his own people would've been pissed off enough to try to kill him more than once, but on top of that he's been having to organize a new, if not pro-Confederation then certainly not antagonistic government (if not an outright Confederation puppet state). In universe the difference can probably be chalked up to raw stress...

IMHO, anyway.
 

Jdawg

Commodore
I know chris roberts was not happy with the way the kilrathi looked in three and hated the one in 4, but since it was the only time we see the kilrathi it was not that big of a deal
 
I imagine his own people would've been pissed off enough to try to kill him more than once, but on top of that he's been having to organize a new, if not pro-Confederation then certainly not antagonistic government (if not an outright Confederation puppet state). In universe the difference can probably be chalked up to raw stress...

IMHO, anyway.
It seems that there was a civil war among some clans after 2669? Melek remains neutral? Then we know Nephilim is coming.
 
I know chris roberts was not happy with the way the kilrathi looked in three and hated the one in 4, but since it was the only time we see the kilrathi it was not that big of a deal
I see... So what about Kilrathi character design in II? Does he like it? And... the Movie?
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I see... So what about Kilrathi character design in II? Does he like it? And... the Movie?

The WC 1 and 2 Kilrathi were too... cartoony for CR I guess. The movie design I think was more towards what Chris wanted to do, but the animatronic house was cheap and there was some production woes that led to the sets being too cramped for them and the suits not being able to move properly that made the end results in the film just kind of bad. The concept art was more samurai than what you see in the games, but they were also aiming for something a little more alien feeling.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
To us, the Kilrathi are space cats; they've always been space cats and we reasonably expect that although their appearance may change as graphics and filmmaking techniques advance that it will always be based loosely on that original idea. On the development side, though, there's always been a little pushback because that WASN'T the original idea. I think the Rosetta stone for understanding the changes to the look of the Kilrathi is the original Squadron proposal. Take a look through the original pitch for the game and you find no mention of cats at all… instead, they are said only to be "vaguely mammalian" and "genetically engineered". There was no strong direction going in and the cat angle came from some concept sketches further in development (note also that there are very, very few visuals of the KIlrathi in the actual first game… there's a single pilot VDU and then postage-stamp appearances in a couple of the 'meanwhile' cutscenes where the art direction is much more about their armor than it is their cat faces.)

So what exactly is going on here? It's complicated, but it has to do with how Wing Commander lurched from being a one-off game to being a franchise. When Wing Commander was first being developed there was no reasonable expectation that it would spawn endless sequels… only one Origin game, Ultima, had done that and almost everything else was a one-off: Omega, Space Rogue, Caverns of Callisto, Times of Lore, Bad Blood, etc. Origin was not in the franchise business and instead they saw Wing Commander's then-expensive development as being of the most value because it would provide an incredible tool for building additional games… in fact, up until the sales numbers came in, the plan was for Chris Roberts to follow it by using the engine to do a new Car Wars game.

Of course Wing Commander WAS a hit and as a result the sort of rough world it posited was sanded down into something that could be taken in any number of directions. One of the problems (and I stress: creatively, not legally) with that was the original game played very, very fast and loose with its inspirations. Every similar work ever builds on what has come before but Wing Commander I was especially blatant about it in some areas. The Rapier is Firefox, the Dralthi is the Cylon Raider, the Raptor is the Gunstar, the missiles are taken from an RPG and so on… it makes a vibrant whole but you can see the lineage of the individual pieces a lot more easily than you should. And of course everyone knew immediately that the Kilrathi had just stepped out of Larry Niven's Known Space...

So it's a bit of a rock and a hard place: on the development side you end up internally with a desire creatively to move away from all that with future iterations (that's why Super Wing Commander insisted on not referencing the original ship designs!) and there's also this sense that the decision to even have space cats in the game wasn't the heart of the original vision… while the audience has already started to consider them an essential part of the game world (and was entirely forgiving of their borrowed origin). So starting from there I think you can see why there's such a push to take them in slight other directions… maintaining the cat idea because it's felt to be essential to the IP but also going in other directions like the ape-like Wing Commander 3 animatronics and the focus on an armored samurai look that keeps popping up in attempts to revisit them.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
(Great thread, by the way! Let me try to comment on some of the original questions.)

1. Melek's appearance in WC4 looks very different from that of WC3. Is this just an adjustment in character design?

Some of what I talked about above applies here but there were some practical considerations as well mostly surrounding the move to 35mm film requiring much more detail in the costume and the fact that Melek specifically had to be shot on the physical Intrepid sets instead of specially lit/designed CG sets that could... well, hide how crummy the costumes were. As with the movie Kilrathi, though, the end result wasn't great and with Wing Commander IV's extremely short schedule there wasn't really time or budget to experiment with other options.

2. Melek looks more friendly to Terrans in the WC4 game than he is in the novel. In the game, Melek said "Kilrathi have tried to coexist peacefully with Terrans", "My race no longer presents a threat", while in the novel, he invited Blair to his own ship, and seems interpreted Blair's heroic deeds in Kilrathi traditional belief theory. In the WC4 novel, it seems that unlike Vakka and Jukaga, Melek did not see the essence of the war, and he did not understand or agree with Jukaga. Although this is understandable as Melek is a Kiranka leader, can I hold that Melek in the novel is a bit different from Melek in the game?

Yes, I'd chalk this one up entirely to the book taking him in a different direction.

3. It seems the Ki'ra clan was mainly responsible for information and technology work in the war, not directly facing Terrans on the front line (Fleet Action, Chaper 5), and Jukaga had not lost comrades to Terrans (Fleet Action, Chaper 12). Is that right?

I think that this is more indicating that *Jukaga* specifically as spymaster is responsible for such things than it his his whole clan. We know the Ki'ra and the Kiranka were the most powerful clans which had fought the last war for control of the empire... which suggests the Ki'ra must have (or at least have had) significant holdings. (Though they were likely older and so located further inward and so weren't as impacted by the actual fighting... though Fawcett's World would be a Ki'ra-owned world that must be located somewhere on the frontier!)

I think just in terms of world building it's always best to avoid falling into the "this race does X" trope. Star Wars is always super guilty of this... entire civilizations that are somehow specifically for spying or bounty hunting or whatever. We do see the Ki'ra a few other places, including this handsome fellow as a combat pilot in the CCG: http://ccg.jetlag.us/Kilrathi/pilot/k-p-skitz.jpg Star*Soldier says they're responsible for building Darket fighters and that observers had expected them to play a bigger role in the Kilrathi civil war than actually happened... and it lists a bunch of other Ki'ra pilots!

4. At the end of the Battle of Earth, Jukaga stopped the launch of thermonuclear strontium clad weapons (Fleet Action, Chaper 13). Had this specific situation been seen by others?

Short answer no, only the audience knows what Jukaga did. We had a good chat about this in Book Club a month or two back about how Admiral Tolwyn ends up with the lion's share of the credit for winning the battle because Jukaga's role stopping the launch is unknown and General Grecko (who's boarding plan actually saved the day) is killed.

5. The book of Kilrah Tugaga Jak-Ta Haganaska duka McAuliffe by Jukaga's son Baron Vakka nar Jukaga is "worthy of serious consideration in spite of its detractors in the realm of academia and postwar Kilrathi apologists" (Foreword, Action Station). Why there are detractors in the realm of academia?

This is a reference to the tendency of historians to review accepted popular history and come to very different conclusions... often generating the kind of conclusions that bother the previous generation of historians. Dr. Forstchen is himself a military historian so he was likely thinking of the various then-controversial reexaminations of World War II that started happening in the mid-90s.

6. Jukaga's son Baron Vakka nar Jukaga... is he named after his grand father Baron Vakka? Is the clan name Ki'ra releated to the word Kilrathi in the literal sense? I would like to know since I am trying to translate some short novel sections, and recommand them to my friends.

I think this one is purely Dr. Forstchen not knowing/following how everyone else had come to use Kilrathi names by this point... as far as we see anywhere else, the son SHOULD be named Vakka nar Ki'ra. (You can see the goal, to quickly tell us that Jukaga has a son who he named after his own father who we're about to meet and learn the importance of... perhaps there's some element of Kilrathi naming we haven't seen elsewhere where the son has dropped his allegiance to the clan and instead taken his father's name... stranger things have happened!)
 
Yes, I'd chalk this one up entirely to the book taking him in a different direction.
Thank you for your detailed reply!

If, just if, we have to combine the character design of the novel with that of the game, is the following explanation reasonable?

In short, Melek choose to appear in front of the Kelathi public as a devout and moderate traditional believer.

Since he is not a close relative of the Emperor, just was a retainer of Prince Thrakhath, it not easy finding a reasonable position as the Chancellor of the Kilrathi Assembly of Clans after 2669. On one hand, he is a weak surrender in the eyes of the hardliners, and in the eyes of the royalists who valued the bloodlines, he was not rich enough. On the other hand, in terms of understanding the Terrans, he is not superior to the royal family of the Ki'ra clan. In this state, appear as a devout traditional believer and make new explanations within the existing framework of beliefs, Melek can at least try to gain the understanding and even support of the religiously devout civilian class.

In the WC III novel, Melek treated Blair with the traditional etiquette of Kilrathi. In a certain sense, it could be shown to the public that, Heart of the Tiger, the human who Melek surrendered to, is actually a hero sent by their god.

So, on a Terran ship, Melek can release more goodwill to human, while in front of Kilrathi people, his hospitality made Blair feel very awkward.

Further, Melek can maintain, at least, a tacit understanding with Baron Vakka nar Jukaga. Chancellor Melek himself sits on the side of traditional beliefs (with reforms) as the leader of Kiranka, while Baron Vakka nar Jukaga holds new ideas, just like his father and grandfather. In this way, Kilrathi people with different opinions can find a clan leader who looks to be able to represent themselves. This may help with the establishment and maintenance of the Kilrathi Assembly of Clans.

Thanks so much!
 
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perhaps there's some element of Kilrathi naming we haven't seen elsewhere where the son has dropped his allegiance to the clan and instead taken his father's name... stranger things have happened!
In Action Station Chapter 5, we see the name of "Jukaga nar Vakka". Perhaps [given name] nar [father’s name] could be understand as a name form that emphasizes family inheritance rather than the clan one belongs to? Maybe "Jukaga nar Vakka" is used in their family life.
 
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Continue to make assumptions...

After 2669, perhaps the Ki'ra clan leads by Baron Vakka nar Jukaga is rehabilitating and preparing to join forces with humans to fight against Nephilim, because:

1. The predictions of the situation Baron Vakka and Master Harga made decades ago almost completely fulfilled.
2. Baron Jukaga's "insult to the Emperor" was "evident". This is well known among the clan leaders. Therefore, Ki'ra clan should stay away from the whirlpool of civil war.
3. Baron Vakka nar Jukaga not only wrote his own book, but also cooperated with the human academic community. It seems that this was not just a politically friendly expression. Just imagine what kind of information was delivered to human by Baron Vakka nar Jukaga through the work of Col. Wilhelm Schwarzmont? It is possible for us, at least Vakka family of Ki'ra clan and Terrans, to be true friends, even before Kilrathi was defeated by human.

Is this reasonable?
 
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