During a panel at PAX West in Seattle over the weekend, former Creative Director from the Uncharted series, Amy Hennig, spoke in depth regarding what she envisions for an authentic Star Wars story with elements of innovation in an already established universe in Visceral’s mysterious IP.
Due to a 10 year exclusivity deal with Disney for the Star Wars franchise, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen detailed that their goal is to, “make future Battlefront games as well as other style games around the Star Wars franchise, both on mobile as well as console and PC.”
The brand new untitled Star Wars IP was first teased at E3 2016 earlier this year during the Electronic Arts Play press conference, however there doesn’t seem to be anything set in stone at the moment.
Brief images showcased in the short clip from E3 highlight Imperial banners with a Star Destroyer in the background. Many have assumed that this might be set sometime before The Force Awakens on the terrain of an occupied Jakku.
Hennig started off the panel with caution as she didn’t want to delve into specifics. She did state that the aim was to create an ‘authentic’ Star Wars experience that involved elements that fans were already familiar with like the iconic AT-ST.
Hennig stated that alongside the more iconic things, she wants to make sure, “the new stuff, the new characters, the new story, the new locations, the new creatures, the new tech, will sit authentically alongside the Star Wars that we’re so familiar with.”
During the panel, she spoke about working closely with the Lucasfilm story group and Doug Chang, Art Director and Senior creative Director who posed the question regarding authenticity based on an original story.
“You need guides, that have done it for a while and are also looking at everything else, because we’re part of the same sort of emerging track of properties that, like obviously seven, eight and nine, is evolving that story further, but films like Rogue One and the Han Solo one that is coming, even shows like Rebels and stuff like that.”
“A lot of projects are in the works, and the question is ‘Is this authentic Star Wars?’ right? And to understand what that is, and to have people there at LucasFilms that have helped us define what that is.”
Speaking more in depth on how they are approaching the development of playable characters and main protagonists, Hennig said that coming from the Uncharted series that primarily focuses on the main protagonist means that there is a change of rules in development where you as the observer in a movie like Indiana Jones or player in a game like Uncharted are following the hero.
“So I thought that some of the rules I had used making Uncharted no longer applied,” she said. “In Uncharted or in Indiana Jones you actually kinda stick with Indie the whole time. There are times you cut away, but it’s always something that informs you on what he is doing, like Marion in the tent. In Star Wars you’re always cutting away to the bad guys, and seeing what they’re doing: ‘Meanwhile, back at the villain ranch…'”
In any Star Wars film, the use of switching from heroes to villains is utilised to flesh out both sides that ultimately gives viewers a more rounded perspective on plot and characters – this is called the ‘privileged observer’ .
“One of the challenges from a game design perspective is that this opens things up to the privileged observer problem. When we watch a film, we’re the privileged observer, right? We’re not the protagonist. Their struggle is illuminated by the things we can see that they don’t, right? Suspense and all that kind of stuff.”
“How do you do that in a game where you’re supposed to identify with the protagonist and cut away the things that they don’t know?”
This Star Wars title is one of the many projects that are on the way from EA as DICE is currently working on Star Wars Battlefront 2 to be released next year.