Amy Hennig, writer of the first three Uncharted games and currently creative director on EA and Visceral Games’ Star Wars title, has discussed her process for creating a brand new story set in the beloved sci-fi universe.
Speaking during a panel at Star Wars Celebration, Hennig explained that her process involved deconstructing the movies and understanding how they could be adapted to video games. This, Hennig added, was the same method she used when working on Uncharted while at Naughty Dog.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
She continued: “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.”
Although Hennig didn’t reveal any specific details about the Star Wars game, she hinted at the tone, which sounds to be quite similar to Uncharted.
“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 humor and buoyancy but at the same time there’s stakes and jeopardy.”
The “humor and buoyancy” she refers to is a key characteristic of the Uncharted series and the Indiana Jones movies they draw inspiration from. Of course, it’s also a key part of the Star Wars movies.
Another detail about the game that Hennig alluded to, by way of her analysis of the movies, was that it’d have an ensemble cast. This, she explained, was the essence of the film series and something developer Visceral was focusing on bringing to the game.
“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 honor 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.”
Although many have speculated the Star Wars game from Visceral will be a third-person action game, this has not yet been officially confirmed. Other rumors suggest it will be open-world.
EA is working on multiple Star Wars games, including a sequel to Star Wars Battlefront, which will be developed by DICE and Motive Studios. Along with a Battlefront sequel, a number of other Star Wars titles are coming from internal and external EA studios. Take a look below for a list.
EA Star Wars Games in Development:
- DICE — Collaborating with Motive on new Star Wars Battlefront game, coming in 2017.
- Respawn — Third-person action adventure game (no release date)
- Visceral Games — New action game coming in 2018
- BioWare — Continued development on Star Wars: The Old Republic
- Capital Games — Continued development on Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes
- Motive — A new Star Wars Battlefront game, in collaboration with DICE.
- Criterion — Assisting with development on unspecified Star Wars project