Visceral’s Star Wars game sounds a lot like Uncharted

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Visceral Star Wars (1)

As much as I love Star Wars, even I can only play through the Battle of Hoth so many times before I feel like retreating into the warm belly of a freshly murdered Tauntaun. For a franchise that has been kicking around for decades now, games set in the Star Wars universe that have original stories attached to them, are few and far between. Of those titles which did get to tell their own tale, there have been quite a few gems along the way: Republic Commando, Shadows of the Empire and the best Star Wars movie that never hit the big screen, The Force Unleashed are a few examples of this.

The Force Unleashed 2 isn’t an example of this, because that game doesn’t exist and is in fact a massive prank orchestrated by the Machiavellian minds at 4Chan, yes it is.

And it’s an idea which is continuing through the efforts of EA and Visceral Games, as Amy Hennig is bringing the skills honed from writing the script for three Uncharted games to a galaxy far, far away. But to do just that, a collaboration needed to be established between EA, Hennig and LucasFilm. “The reason [we’re collaborating with Lucasfilm so closely is] we’re writing an original Star Wars story with new characters, locations, tech, creatures, you name it. All of it has to sit authentically alongside the stuff people know now,” Hennig said at Star Wars Celebration via GameSpot.

Visceral Star Wars (3)

 

 The process that I’ve been using is really similar to what I did with Uncharted, to be honest. If you’re trying to re-create that classic–in [Uncharted’s] case–pulp action adventure experience, you need to deconstruct the films so you know how to reconstruct them in an interactive context as gameplay.

 

The end goal is by the time the player has finished playing they feel like they really did play a Star Wars film. So I’ve done the same thing for Star Wars. What does that mean? It’s getting the structure right. It means you have to understand where the act breaks fall, where all the obstacles and reversals fall, and the set-pieces.

[You need to know] what are all the component parts that make up a Star Wars story.

And it sounds like this Star Wars game is going to have a tone similar to that of the Uncharted games. “It means getting the tone right. It’s what my writing partner Todd [Stashwick] calls breezy urgency. It’s the idea that there’s sort of a swash-buckling charm to the thing. There’s humour and buoyancy but at the same time there’s stakes and jeopardy,” Hennig said.

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Visceral Star Wars (2)

What I was really eager to discover is what distinguished Star Wars films from the others I’d been studying in the action adventure genre. The first thing that jumped out was these are always ensemble stories … People would say there’s other characters in something like Indiana Jones, but they’re side characters. In Star Wars they’re co-protagonists, so if you think about the original trilogy it’s as much Leia’s, Han’s, and Vader’s story as it is Luke’s.

Think about Star Wars Rebels, that tradition continues now. Think about Rogue One, it’s the same thing, and the same thing is true of our game. Part of our deconstruction is to figure out how we enable that in the story and honour it in the gameplay as well. It’s not a lone-wolf story because that’s not Star Wars. Your characters have to be a coordinated ensemble acting in the moment and in parallel. If you think about the film and the Death Star, they only escape because everybody does their part in parallel.

[Characters are] always outnumbered and outgunned, so they have to be smarter than their enemies, more improvisational, and work together. The challenge for us is to figure out how we enable that in gameplay so that the player really feels that experience, so that it’s not just part of the story but also the gameplay. That’s why you deconstruct and reconstruct.

No one knows exactly what kind of a game Visceral is busy crafting, although my local bookie has 5-1 odds on it being a third-person action game, something that plays to the strengths of Visceral. Odds that I’d gladly risk my kneecaps over when I default on the money owed for falling into gambling problems again.

 

Last Updated: July 18, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

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