The best Star Wars films are the classics. That might be my nostalgia talking, but I’m sure many of you know it to be true. The original trilogy transformed Hollywood thanks to a blend of action, mythology and special effects. Thing is, that was decades ago. And there are new Star Wars films on the way that’ll introduce a new generation of kids to Wookies, lightsabers and Sith Lords.
But that doesn’t mean that the classic are out of style. In fact, Rise Against The Empire might just be a more fun way to introduce the best of Star Wars to younger fans.
Rise Against The Empire is spread across the entire classic trilogy of Star Wars films. And that’s a lot of Star Wars to tackle, let alone transform into a playset.
“It was a mixture of elation and immediately becoming quite daunting”, Studio Gobo’s Games Director Tom Williams explained to me.
It felt like a fairly overwhelming responsibility, and when we began to look at the films and try to work out what the key locations and moments were that we felt would work best in the Infinity universe. It was an interesting exercise in evaluating the best approach for a game about exploration, creativity and which you could play as multiple characters.
We felt that it was a big responsibility to try and capture the love that we had for the films and the toys. We tried to take the moments that we had tried to recreate with the toys as kids and build a playset around those.
We were all looking for the playful opportunities to explore and create something new that was more open-ended.
Here’s the thing: Kids today aren’t that familiar with the best Star Wars trilogy. They’ve all grown up on the prequel films and the Clone Wars TV series. So classic characters to us might be seen as completely new heroes and villains to them.
Which is why Rise Against The Empire happens to be in a prime spot to serve as a gateway introduction to the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie.
“Our generation has the original trilogy, and it plays a very sort of core part of our childhood experiences,” Williams said.
And I guess a lot of the guys in the studio, are getting to that age where they have children of their own, and they wanted to find ways of passing on the love that they had to the younger generation.
We were looking at it being a little more universal. Many of the kids today know the classic trilogy through playing with Lego sets. We tried to make it more stylised in hopes that we could pass it on.
The game and its playset was built in conjunction with Avalanceh, the chaps behind Just Cause. Game director at Avalanche, Mike Thompson wanted the game to be something the whole family could enjoy.
That is the great thing about Disney Infinity, we get to make games geared towards families. Rise Against the Empire is a perfect example since we grew up watching this amazing series and are now able to re-tell the Star Wars trilogy and introduce our kids to the story.
Our vehicles and characters are toy-driven in design and functionality but the tech behind them is really impressive. We wanted to make sure the lightsaber combat and melee combat were extremely fluid and accessible but also incredibly rewarding for all ages.
The vehicles were also created with that same philosophy. For example, the AT-AT is an amazing piece of physically driven technology and we allow the player to be serious in the way they interact with it or as they can be as playful as they want. The player has the choice to take it down in traditional fashion, like shooting out the legs, wrapping it up with the tow rope or in a playful way were they can knock off the armor and expose the toy elements. This gives the player the opportunity to climb up the legs and hit the destruct button or eject the driver and control the AT-AT. We also threw in the ability to take over the AT-AT with a remote control.
Our Play Set is designed to be a fun multiplayer experience, creating scenarios where the parents can help their kids with the more difficult puzzles, missions and combat, while the kids are able to ride around on the Bantha’s and Tauntauns, fly the Skyhopper or drive the Landspeeder and Snowspeeder around the game. It creates great cooperation between family members and also offers them the ability to tell their own stories.
And of course, there’s a lot of pressure involved in bringing such a beloved franchise to life outside of its original medium.
Absolutely! We felt the pressure from day one knowing we were going to deliver the classic trilogy for the Disney Infinity platform,” Thomspon says. We knew we had some scoping decisions to make but wanted to make sure we still hit most of the key moments from the films. We also had to balance what was important to the series and what made sense from a gameplay perspective. I really think we hit a great balance for our audience.”
So how does a studio approach the task of creating a world in Disney Infinity? Did Studio Gobo just have to create an environment for figures to inhabit? Or was their task more detailed than that?
“Yes and no,” Williams said.
In Infinity, you have the option to play as a number of different characters and we want that experience to be as rewarding as possible. The world itself is a sandbox that you can choose to play as Chewbacca or Leia and have an equally rewarding time.
However, I think in terms of the individuality of the characters, we tried to do some things with the storytelling to make it feel more personal.
Rise Against the Empire’s maps are larger than what you’d find in the starter playset – as Tattooine, Hoth and the forest moon of Endor were built for more than just exploration. They were also built for racing, as tracks were layered into the design. But those tracks needed to not be too complex, as the playset needed to balance other elements on top of it as well.
“The racing game experience was extremely narrow. You have very few mechanics and that becomes a task of finding the ultimate challenging track layout and you don’t really need to worry about any other interactions,” Williams told me.
“If you look at Disney Infinity, there are so many activities going on in the same space.
You really need to make sure that the tracks work in the larger context and don’t break the platforming metrics around the same space. Richer but less narrow gameplay.”
Here’s the most surprising thing about Rise Against The Empire: It has Jawas in it, who I actually adore. They’re quite cute, and don’t make me want to reach for my blaster.
“Our concept artists, the minute that we knew what we were doing with the classic trilogy, began to draw around 30 different Ewok blockhead models, and also the Jawas and the droids,” Williams said.
You’ve got people on that concept art team that’ll be drawing Ewoks in their own time for the last 30 years or so, the kind of cute elements that come through their conscientiousness, so there was a lot of stuff that was coming out in a chilled space in time.
Last Updated: October 15, 2015