All Articles: Star Wars: Visceral

Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game won’t be “Star Wars Uncharted”

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Amy Hennig has worked in the game industry for nearly three decades, but her name is most familiar to gamers as the co-creator of the Uncharted franchise. Hennig left Naughty Dog during the development of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and eventually landed at EA to work on a brand new (and untitled) Star Wars game with Visceral Games and Jade Raymond’s Motive Studios. And even though it won’t be out until 2018, fans are dying to learn more about the secretive project.

Hennig recently had a chat with Glixel to discuss her career, and her ambitious new Star Wars game, but one thing she made abundantly clear is that players shouldn’t think of her new project as “Star Wars Uncharted”:

While the new Star Wars game will be spiritually similar to Uncharted, Hennig insists it won’t be “Star Wars Uncharted.” It’s an important distinction to make. For example: you’ll never see an Uncharted game cutting away to the point of view of the villain. It may be third person, but we’re always following the hero, as in the Indiana Jones films. Star Wars, however, is different. It’s more of an ensemble adventure with multiple character arcs, which enables everyone to do things in parallel – witness the Death Star escape in A New Hope.

While Hennig is eager to leave her prior work in the past (“If you break up with your spouse and they get remarried, you don’t want to see photos of the happy couple on Facebook, do you?”), she admits that she is very focused on Star Wars‘s past:

What ultimately convinced her to take the Star Wars gig was the promise of a close collaboration with Lucasfilm, specifically with Kiri Hart, the head of the company’s story group, and Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm’s executive creative director. To Hennig’s continued delight, there have been frequent visits to Skywalker Ranch since work began work on the game, at first to photograph and scan props for the game – costumes, masks, original artwork by Ralph McQuarrie – and then simply to soak up the atmosphere. “There’s this giant warehouse full of Home Depot shelves stacked with precious things from your childhood,” Hennig says. “Luke’s Stormtrooper costume, the original Yoda, just kind of saggy and slumped over on this dusty shelf…it’s almost silly, seeing all this precious stuff just sitting there so unceremoniously.”

It might be a long time before we hear anything more about the untitled Star Wars game currently under the direction of Amy Hennig at Visceral, but we did get a look at some concept art from the project during this year’s Star Wars Celebration.

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Amy Hennig to deliver PAX West 2016 Keynote

AmyHeadshotAmy Hennig, the senior creative director at Visceral Games, will be delivering the PAX West 2016 Keynote, and I am trying really hard not to just totally fangirl, but it is really difficult. Hennig – known for the Legacy of Kain series, the Jak and Daxter series, and, you know, just the best parts of the Uncharted series – is currently working on a Star Wars game at Visceral.

Jerry Holkins, co-founder of Penny Arcade, said, “Amy’s revolutionary work on the Uncharted series played an immeasurable role in shaping the modern gaming landscape. We’re thrilled PAX West attendees will have the chance to listen to one of gaming’s leading visionaries.”

I met Hennig once and she was not just one of gaming’s leading visionaries – she was also just so rad. I cannot wait to be in attendance at my first PAX keynote in eight years.

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Amy Hennig talks about Visceral’s Star Wars game at this year’s Star Wars Celebration

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It’s a great weekend to be a Star Wars fan, and it’s not just because this year’s Star Wars Celebration is in full swing. But we’ve learned a lot about what’s coming soon to the beloved franchise, and the organizers even gave Creative Director Amy Hennig a chance to publicly discuss the Star Wars game she has in the works at Visceral.

First, Hennig talked about working closely with Lucasfilm’s Story Group to ensure her team creates an “authentic” Star Wars experience:

“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. And all of it has to sit authentically alongside the stuff people know now.”

Hennig would go on to compare the writing process for her Star Wars project to her previous work on the Uncharted franchise, and it sounds like she’ll bring the same “swashbuckling charm” to the galaxy far, far away:

“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 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 means 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. What are all the component parts that make up a Star Wars story?”

“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 swashbuckling charm to the thing. There’s humor and buoyancy but at the same time there’s stakes and jeopardy.”

The developer finished her talk by hinting at the possibility of multiple playable characters, because no one goes it along in Star Wars:

“It’s not a lone wolf story. That’s not Star Wars. […] They only escape the Death Star because everyone does their part in parallel. […] The challenge for us then is how do we enable that in gameplay.”

Visceral’s Untitled Star Wars Game will be released sometime in 2018. In the meantime, we can all pore over some new concept art that was released as part of yesterday’s panel after the break. (more…)

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EA offers an update on their Star Wars projects, including 2017’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2

EA has a lot of Star Wars projects currently in development, and while none of them will be released this Fall alongside Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this teaser trailer should give fans of the franchise a good feeling for once.

The publisher’s around-the-world tour begins in Sweden with the first details about Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Development duties on the game will be shared by DICE, Motive, and Criterion, and the game should be available sometime in 2017 (probably close to Star Wars Episode VIII‘s theatrical debut). Senior Producer Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir was coy about what shape the sequel could take, but she did say they want to add “more characters, more planets, more environments, [and] more eras” to the experience. The team is also listening to feedback from fans, so maybe we’ll finally get that single-player campaign.

Jumping into 2018, Visceral Games showed a few seconds of footage from their upcoming Star Wars game. Widely expected to star Han Solo, and directed by Naughty Dog alumnus Amy Hennig, the short clip showed a non-descript man in a duster jacket hanging around the Mos Eisley spaceport during the Empire era.

Finally, we got a quick look at a motion-capture session for Respawn Entertainment’s third-person action game. While still very early in development, the two actors were pantomiming an acrobatic Lightsaber fight, so we should expect to take control of a very experienced Jedi when Star Wars: Respawn launches in 2019.

In the more immediate future, EA and DICE will continue to add to Star Wars: Battlefront with the Bespin expansion, which will be available on June 21.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is officially coming in 2017, alongside a new original title from EA

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I think it’s time to dust off your “Evil Empire” jokes, because EA executives delivered an uncanny impression of Emperor Palpatine during their quarterly financial report yesterday. According to CFO Blake Jorgensen, the megapublisher has mapped out their plan for global domination of the video game industry with a massive slate of upcoming titles that’ll take us all the way into 2020.

First, Jorgensen confirmed that Star Wars: Battlefront will be released in 2017, complete with maps based on the new series of films: “Next year we will see Star Wars: Battlefront back with bigger and better worlds, because we now have the new movies to work off of, not just the historical movies that we used before.” He added that EA will also release at least one Star Wars game per year until 2019 or 2020. That includes Visceral’s Star Wars game, which will be released in 2018, and Repawn’s recently announced game, which has no release date but should probably be penciled in for 2019.

The executive then pivoted away from Star Wars to reveal that an internal EA studio is working on an original property for 2017, and the publisher has started development on multiple action games that’ll be released 2018 and 2020:

“We do have a new IP coming next year. We haven’t yet announced it, but it’s something that you’ll see probably coming up soon.”

“We’re making broad investments that fuel the growth of the company well beyond [2017 and 2018]. Really today we’re building an action genre product that’s probably [due in 2019 or 2020]. Most of what we’re investing in that’s incremental now probably comes in [2018 or 2019]. But clearly, some of our investment is to grow out our product base for what we’re going on as well.”

It might be a while before we learn more about some of the more distant games, but there’s a good chance we could hear something about the upcoming original title at this year’s E3 Expo.

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Titanfall developer Respawn is working on a Star Wars game for EA

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Electronic Arts is extremely happy with how well Star Wars: Battlefront has sold, so the megapublisher is doubling down on that galaxy far, far away this Star Wars Day by forming another partnership with Respawn to develop a brand new Star Wars game.

Best known for Titanfall, and its upcoming sequel, Respawn is also home to a second squad of developers lead by God of War III Director Stig Asmussen. His team will work with EA to produce the currently-untitled third-person action-adventure game. Obviously, no release date has been announced, so assume that Star Wars: Respawn is at least a year away.

In addition to Respawn’s new project, EA is also working with their internal studios at Visceral and Motive to produce another Star Wars action-adventure. Widely expected to be a “Young Han Solo” game, EA confirmed we’ll learn more it “soon.”

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EA ships 13 million copies of Star Wars: Battlefront; Visceral’s Star Wars game might be “a few years out”

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Star Wars: Battlefront was an extremely popular present this holiday season. Yesterday, EA revealed exactly how popular it was during their latest quarterly financial report.

Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen announced that EA has shipped more than 13 million copies of Star Wars: Battlefront to stores since it was released in November. And that number includes the more than one million copies of the game that were bundled with a brand new PS4.

Since Battlefront made a boatload of money for the video game megapublisher, it seems reasonable to assume they’d rush another Star Wars game into stores as quickly as possible. But you would be wrong. Near the end of the report, Jorgensen admitted that the company’s next Star Wars game, which is currently in development at Visceral Games and Motive Studios under the supervision of Amy Hennig and Jade Raymond, is likely still a few years away:

[W]e are obviously announcing that we are investing in some action-based SKUs by bringing people like Jade Raymond and Amy Hennig into our organization to help build those. And those are obviously a few years out in our SKU plan.

Very little is known about Visceral and Motive’s Star Wars game, though it’s widely believed to focus on a young Han Solo. Which is quite the coincidence when you think about it, because Disney plans to release a young Han Solo film in 2018. Or, if you prefer, “a few years” from now.

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Visceral’s Star Wars game is “along the same lines” as Star Wars 1313

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Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilms cruelly cut down Star Wars 1313, a mature-themed action-adventure game slated to star Boba Fett, before it had a chance to shine. But its possible the spirit of that game will live on in Visceral’s upcoming Star Wars game.

The man of many voices, Nolan North, attended MetroCon in Tampa, Floria two weeks ago and spilled a few details about the game. One of his panels (which was recorded and uploaded to YouTube) quickly veered into questions about Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and any story changes that may have occurred after Creative Director Amy Hennig left to join Visceral. North couldn’t go into details about that, but he did talk up Hennig’s contribution to her new home:

“If you’re a big fan of Amy Hennig and her style of story, she’s gone to EA and is going to reboot a brand new Star Wars franchise in the style of Uncharted. I happen to know a lot about it and it’s going to be awesome.”

Star Wars 1313 was famously reminiscent of the Uncharted franchise and an audience member even asked, “Is it Star Wars 1313?” North chuckled and replied, “it’s different,” but added, “it’s along the same lines.”

Visceral has yet to officially discuss their Star Wars game, but we know it’ll be an open-world title and will likely star Han Solo. Han Solo may not be a ruthless bounty hunter, but he was a scoundrel and a smuggler in his younger days, and a game starring the character could definitely be considered “along the same lines” as Star Wars 1313.

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