Brett's Production Diary #2

How It All Began

February 22, 2007

Get an Insider's look at the making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed every week from Assistant Producer Brett Rector. Formerly editor-in-chief of Star Wars Insider magazine, Brett's been a collector and fan of Star Wars since 1977.

During the past few weeks there has been a lot of buzz regarding the announcement of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, especially with the big reveal that you will be playing as Darth Vader's secret apprentice. As I eased into this week's installment I had it in mind to relate how the story for the game came to be, but I realized that the initial vision for the game was probably a better place to start.

For those of you not familiar with game development, the first step is usually a concept pitch. When LucasArts began working on its internal Star Wars title, the team developed a number of concepts revolving around various gameplay mechanics coupled with familiar Star Wars archetypes and characters, events, and storylines. After various "greenlight meetings" and meetings with George Lucas, the team honed in on the time period (the era between Episodes III and IV), but still didn't have all the gameplay hooks or a strong central character. A core philosophy at LucasArts is a focus on simulation-based gameplay, especially as it relates to interacting with characters and the environment. The team realized that the Force would be a perfect tool for a wide variety of interactions, but they wanted to also portray the Force in a new way. Through concept art explorations and numerous discussions, the team eventually fleshed out the notion of the "Force Unleashed" -- the Force amped up, over-the-top, and in some cases out of control. To really solidify the vision of the Force Unleashed, Project Lead Haden Blackman and Art Director Matt Omernick met with FX artist Eric Antanavich and animator Patrick Przybyla to plan what was to become our pre-visualization for the game. The "pre-viz" was a one-minute video comprised of many "playblasts" or action sequences that were "stitched" together to illustrate the ways in which the Force could be unleashed in game: violently slamming stormtroopers into walls, shocking a group of troopers senseless, even tossing an enemy into an oncoming TIE fighter.

The pre-viz turned out to be a huge success -- so much so that after LucasArts executives saw it they felt comfortable presenting it to George Lucas himself! And just as with the execs, George was very impressed by what he saw, creating one of the first defining moments for the project when he stated it looked great -- "Go make that game." Now only one question remained, "How were we going to make this game?" How indeed...

- Brett Rector    

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