By now, our UK compatriots have begun to file in and see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Tonight, many of us here at MMORPG will as well. To keep the spirit of the Force going, we reached out to some of gaming's past and present Star Wars maestros to snatch their memories from working on the beloved IP...
GORDON WALTON - ARTCRAFT ENTERTAINMENT - (worked on SWG and SWTOR)
I’ve gotten to work on multiple Star Wars games. Star Wars is really a religion as much or more as it’s an IP that people have affinity for.
What I like the most about Star Wars as an IP is that it’s a world-focused more than character focused IP. The world focus gives us more creative freedom because the world is so rich (only small snippets are fleshed out in the movies, so there is plenty of canvas left to paint figuratively). While it was challenging to hit the LucasArts quality bar, and sometimes to stay within the Star Wars cannon, everyone at LucasArts wanted to make great Star Wars games so our goals were mostly aligned.
High points of working on Star Wars were being able to visit the physical archive of all LucasArts films, meeting George Lucas and lots of visits to Skywalker Ranch.
Personal fan story: I saw Episode IV as an adult In 1977 right after getting out of the military and I vividly remember being completely immersed in the last half of the movie. I was physically startled when the movie ended and the lights came up in the theater. I immediately started thinking about making a game about the Death Star trench run, which I later prototyped on the Commodore PET.
CHRIS AVELLONE - LARIAN STUDIOS - (Worked on KOTOR2)
My Star Wars worship went through highs and lows. It peaked around Empire Strikes Back, then ebbed when I discovered I didn't feel like rushing out to see Return of the Jedi, then a down period around the prequels, then a slow rise with the Clone Wars 5-minute shorts (which I loved, and were heavy influences on a potential KOTOR3, especially the Jedi-Sith duels).
It rose again while playing KOTOR1, which I thought was an amazing game. So amazing, in fact, I became frustrated at the idea of working on the sequel because the first game seemed to have already done everything cool in the Old Republic. I almost threw down my controller when I got to the part of the game when you're walking on the ocean floor of Manaan, and I was like, "[email protected]# this game." Hello, Dark Side. Of myself.
A scene from KOTOR 2
So all the ups and downs of Star Wars inspired me to go off on a detour when we got to do a sequel. The topics introduced in the prequels was the foundation of KOTOR2's narrative conflict (well, the second version of it - there was a terrible first draft that I wadded up and digitally burned after finally getting a chance to play KOTOR1, since true story: we didn't have a chance to play it nor were we given copies before we started work on KOTOR2 and asked to generate content).
The topics I was struggling with were (1) the concept of the Force as predestination, especially when it meant the universe had to burn for it, (2) seeing Obi-Wan go through a questionable series of acts while cloaked as a do-gooder (I always thought Obi-Wan was a big fat liar unwilling to trust others to handle the truth), and (3) the uncomfortable realization the Sith and the Empire had some damn good reasons for giving the galaxy a good smack to wake it up from its arrogance and in-fighting. All these elements became topic fuel for the main antagonist in KOTOR2, and she was the voice I could use to question those subjects. Being able to have a conversation through her with the PC as a sounding board allowed me to dig deeper into what I liked and didn't like about the franchise, and in the end, made me appreciate it all the more, and made me look forward to potentially doing the third installment of the trilogy. Who knows?
KOTOR2 was a story I couldn't have told outside the Star Wars universe - I was grateful for the opportunity, and I'm looking forward to where the next series of films take us and what new stories and characters are on the horizon.