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An Ode to Star Wars from the Devs Who Make the Games

Michael Bitton Posted:
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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...

DANIEL ERICKSON - KabamRPG - (Previously SWTOR, Now Star Wars: Uprising)

I was born and raised in Modesto, California, 32 years after George Lucas started his journey in the same place. When I was young there was not much to do there. It was a great deal of farming and generally a backwater. No moisture vaporators but it was pretty clearly the inspiration for Tatooine and I related to Luke’s journey in a way that went all the way down to the bone. I had never known anyone who’d been to university, much less escaped our little world, but I dreamed that I was destined for greater things and a journey of my own.

Today I am working on creating stories for my second Star Wars game and the magic never wears off. Uprising is my first chance to be a part of the official storyline and, together with our lead writer Alex Freed, we are making childhood fantasies come true every day. Uprising is a game that is about the dirty, every day side of Star Wars. It’s the Han Solo, the Greedo side, the Jabba the Hutt side -- but it’s not a retelling of any of those stories. It’s about a normal couple of kids who are trying to make good the best way they can in a difficult galaxy and without the advantage of any neighbors handing them lightsabers. It’s in many ways a personal story -- though my older sister is not nearly as mean as Riley.

This week the entire team at KabamRPG will be celebrating Star Wars as the giant kids we still are. We have a huge projector running all six of the previous films non-stop in the lounge where people can just pop in and out. We’ve going to throw a Star Wars-themed party and then we’re all headed to the theatre on opening day to experience a historic moment in the greatest western mythology of the modern age. We’re going to be introduced to the new generation of heroes and confirm to ourselves once again that if they can make it in the world, maybe we can too.

Charles Boyd - BioWare Austin - (Star Wars: The Old Republic)

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t in love with Star Wars. I ran our Beta tape copies of the original trilogy ragged as a kid, read non-stop for a week of summer vacation when I discovered the Timothy Zahn books, and showed up on opening day for all three prequels. I’ll be joining my fellow troopers of the 501st Legion on opening night in full armor…then seeing it again on Friday with my BioWare Austin coworkers…and then again on Friday night. So you could say I’m a fan!

Raph Koster - ARTCRAFT ENTERTAINMENT - (worked on SWG)

Having the opportunity to work on a Star Wars™ game and contribute to the universe that I love so much is both amazing and humbling. Star Wars is a place where stories are incredibly epic and deeply personal at the same time. Getting to bring all of these moments to life in Star Wars™: The Old Republic and create this massive saga where you are at the center of all of the awesome battles and cool characters and difficult choices is just incredible. I feel lucky every day to be part of this amazing global community of fans with whom to share the fun and drama that we all love.

I saw Star Wars thirteen times in the theater. I was six. That summer, I'd beg, and my mom would drop me off for the matinee show, and I'd just sit there, watching it until she collected me after two or three showings. It was a small town, in the 70s. Kids could be left there, no big deal. I'd fall asleep, and dream new scenes: Obi-Wan roaming the Death Star and finding a Jawa! He dispatched it with his lightsaber and it caught fire. For years I thought this was an actual deleted scene. I saw Return of the Jedi on a snowy day in New York City. Earlier that day, my uncle had offered to take us to a friend's place, because he had Empire on a videotape (!!!!) and we could watch it as a refresher before the last movie. A bunch of us kids huddled in a cold apartment, on a stranger's bed, watching the tracking go bad and black and white static streak across the top of the screen, while a boring adult party went on outside. After, my uncle didn't like Jedi. The Ewoks were a bridge too far for him. When we were asked if we'd take on what was then called Star Wars Online, we almost didn't do it. The timeline was too tight. The game had to be rebooted. The politics of the situation were complicated. Then we looked at each other and said "But... it's STAR WARS." When we were crunching for months on end, that was what kept us going. In the long run, it kind of burned me out a bit. Once upon a time, I used to buy and read the books. I don't anymore. When I reflect back, I prefer to think of the time before working on the property -- the first time walking into Skywalker Ranch, those marathon sessions at the theater.

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Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB