To create your free account, please enter your email address and password below. Please ensure your email is correct as you will recieve a validation email before you can login.
To log in to your account, please enter your email address and password below:
To reset your password, please enter your email address below and we will send you a link to reset it.
TVG chats to Jonathan Smith, the man responsible for bringing LEGO and Star Wars together with dramatic results...
When you think of any Lego game you instantly gravitate to kiddiesâ?? offerings with plastic characters and nothing to really excite gamers. Even when you add the Star Wars brand excitement is still fairy muted. Strange though it may seem Lego Star Wars has taken the gaming community by storm since some clever people put together some simple, imaginative but really effective ideas. Lego Star Wars presents and runs through Star Wars story I â?“ III with all of the filmâ??s famous characters on view. Now there is a few strange anomalies that must be pointed out, one being the fact the cast donâ??t talk which you wound imagine would make the game pretty basic but this could not be further from the truth. Some of the animation and facial expression along with a myriad of inventive ideas evaluates this game into one that should not be missed â?“ and that is both older and younger audiences. Each of the levels presents different scenes from Episodes I â?“ III, so diversity is assured! The fact you can play any of the great cast is also another plus, but there are many reasons why Lego Star Wars could be a â??must haveâ?? title!
Chris Leyton, eager to find out more, spoke with Jonathan Smith, Development Director at Giant.
TVG: Have you been surprised by the immense amount of coverage, all positive, this game has presented and what do you put this down to?
You know, we always had a huge amount of confidence in the game and the work we were doing â?“ but with something original like this, youâ??re never sure how everyone else is going see it. And to get so much positive feedback as weâ??ve been going along, has been really energising. I think itâ??s down to three things: fresh gameplay ideas, which really work well; a game which youâ??ve been able to *play*, right from the start; and the excitement of a new take on the worldâ??s favourite movie universe.
TVG: Please tell us about Traveller's Tales, how they were selected as the dev team, are they working on all formats and what have they previously worked on?
Travellerâ??s Tales understood so quickly just what we were aiming for here. The team is packed with tremendously talented individuals, working with awesome technology, honed to perfection through their previous work on titles like Finding Nemo, Haven and Toy Story. The companyâ??s history goes back 15 years, including the creation of Sonic 3D for Sega. Theyâ??re working in the UK on the PS2, PC and Xbox versions of the game. Over in Seattle, we have Griptonite Games, part of the Amaze group, just now finishing our GBA LEGO Star Wars game, which weâ??re absolutely delighted with.
TVG: With the style, brand and look of the game, you would expect this to appeal solely to the younger end of the market but this is not the case. Tell us why its appeal seems so broad and can you give us a snippet of the setting/story of the game?
Put simply - Good play is good play, for anyone and everyone. You donâ??t need to be a child to have fun. The LEGO idea has universal appeal, as does the universe of Star Wars.
TVG: There are over 20 playable characters so firstly how do you assume and change characters and what special actions do each offer â?“ how varied are they?
Now, weâ??ve actually got over 30 distinct playable characters; just under 50, if you count subtle variations. Within that main group of 30, though, I think youâ??ll be pretty astonished at the variety, and the way we use that to create gameplay. There are some core abilities shared by various character classes: all Jedi can fight with lightsabers, for example, and use The Force; all astromech droids (but not protocol droids, or power droids) can hack computer panels and hover across gaps â?“ but even then, everyoneâ??s got their own individual combat moves and combos. Yoda, for example, moves completely differently to Obi-Wan, whoâ??s got a different feel to Mace Windu. Youâ??ve got blaster characters with their grappling ascension guns, some high-jumping characters, plus cool enemy and Dark Side characters like Darth Maul, Jango Fett and Count Dooku.
There are two ways in which you get to switch characters. We use a â??taggingâ?? system, which means you can walk up to any friendly character and switch to take control of them, leaving the AI in charge of your previous character. And we also have our unique â??Free Playâ?? mode, where you can take *any* character youâ??ve collected into *any* scene youâ??ve completed; switch dynamically at will between a group of characters, and use their special abilities to access bonus areas and secrets you couldnâ??t reach before. Thatâ??s *really* cool.
TVG: How many levels are there and how varied are game play and objectives for each level? Perhaps you can give us two diverse events â?“ along with their actions?
We have 18 levels across the three movies, plus a special bonus level. And, again, I can promise continual variety here. With such a huge epic canvas to play on, weâ??re able to take you all over the Star Wars universe: the Trade Federation Battle Cruiser at the start of The Phantom Menace; Theed Palace on Naboo; the Pod Race on Tattoine; the Clone Factory on Kamino; the Execution Arena on Geonosisâ?¦ really, *everywhere*.
TVG: Star Wars isnâ??t noted for its humour, however the fusion of the LEGO brand brings a level of charisma not seen in previous licensed games; was bringing together the two brands successfully the hardest aspect in development?
Making a game, *everything* is hard to pull together! Weâ??re reliant at all times on the awesome talents of our animation group, which has honed to a fine art the technique of using expression character action and dramatic timing, coupled with relentless imagination, to create humour.
TVG: Tell us about one puzzle in the game that really shows off the games style and challenge?
Thatâ??s a tough one; itâ??s the *variety* of different challenges youâ??ll encounter, which I think is special to this game. But I do think that our use of The Force in a LEGO world, as a new kind of game power which can transform parts of the environment, is particularly cool. Thereâ??s a bit in the Droid Factory level from Episode II, for example, where you need Amidala to blast a LEGO obstacle into pieces, then have Anakin use The Force on the debris to build a bridge across the molten metal which blocks your path.
TVG: How much playing time â?“ play testing - was spent on actually playing with a real Lego kit?
Everyone in the team has tons of LEGO on their desk, and plays with it pretty constantly. Itâ??s often used to illustrate ideas in design discussions (of course it is!!! â?“ Ed).
TVG: How important has technology been to the game? Are there any features that gamers should look out for in terms of looks, special effects, etc?
The engine Travellerâ??s Tales has developed really is first-rate, able to deal with a fantastic number of on-screen characters at once (as youâ??ll see most particularly in some of our Theed Palace battle scenes, or in the Geonosian Arena). And weâ??ve been working closely with the wizards at nVidia to create and take advantage of new graphical effects and techniques which should really make the game shine: environment mapping, special reflection and shadowing effects, that kind of thing.
TVG: With the imminent success of the game assured do you feel that other similar Lego games could get an airing and do you feel it is the Star Wars theme or the Lego branding/looks that is responsible for its media focus?
Weâ??ve been so immersed and committed to this project for so long now; weâ??ve put so much of ourselves into it, that weâ??ll never take any success for granted, until long after the game has actually been released. But, yes, we do hope that we can make an impact with LEGO Star Wars which we can build on with future LEGO titles.
Thanks for your questions! - Jonathan
Lego Star Wars is one of the those games that defies logic and yes because it is based around Lego you still have to build things and, along with exploration, it offers some really captivating tasks. It is not only the clever manipulation of gameplay but the audio aspects of the game plus some fabulous animation that makes this so appealing!
LEGO Star Wars is scheduled for release at some point in April 2005; weâ??ll have a closer look soon.