Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars interview

by Avinash Saxena

Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars … super troopers

The novelty may have worn off for more hardcore gamers, but the Lego titles are still going strong. Kids love the relatively simple yet well-designed action; adults adore the nostalgia and humour.

There are so many Lego games out now – how do you stop the game becoming a simple reskin of different film or book franchises?
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is on its way, but for now the focus is back on the franchise that started the Lego games off – Star Wars. For LSWIII the action has moved from the flms to the Clone Wars animated TV series. I recently spoke with the game’s producer, Nicolas Ricks from Traveller’s Tales.

Why the Clone Wars?

The story of Star Wars continues to be told with the Clone Wars TV show. There are still new stories, characters and new locations which lend themselves really well to creating an exciting and compelling Lego game experience.

What are the main new features?
The Clone Wars is characterised by the scale of the confrontation between separatists and republic. We’ve been able to re-create these epic battles in Lego form. Players are able to build and control immense armies of Clones, Droids, Walkers and Tanks but in a way that is familiar and intuitive. Additionally, our storytelling, space battles, graphics and many other areas have also seen considerable investment.

Is it easier to design a Lego game based around a cartoon rather than live-action film?
The narratives for the Clone Wars cartoon still encompass the same heroic elements as the theatrical releases – good v evil, etc. As such, we haven’t found any difficulties working with assets from the TV show. Although we have also included encounters from the films as well so that the whole of the Clone Wars story is told.

What sort of audience do you expect for LSWIII?

As with all our Lego games, we’d hope there is a duality of appeal. Principally the game is aimed at 8-12 year-old boys, but we’re confident that parents and teenagers will enjoy the challenges the game presents.

How much freedom do you have when designing a game like LSWIII? Can you deviate from plotlines etc?

We work very closely with LucasArts and this partnership means that we can tailor the game play to our needs when the medium of TV or film doesn’t translate well to video games.

Is it harder to design a game based around a series with hours of different stories rather than a two-hour film?

Adapting the TV episodes has afforded us the ability to weave multiple story strands into the game. For the first time, the player can follow various paths which we’ve tailored to have different kinds of challenges in. For example, the pursuit of Count Dooku requires the player to master the ground battles, whereas confronting General Grevious requires more space combat.

How do you choose what Clone Wars scenes and characters to include in the game?
Certain scenes and characters choose themselves. LucasFilm do a terrific job of creating devious villains like Cad Bane and new heroes like Ahsoka Tano. However, as the TV show is a different medium, there are certain scenes that do not lend themselves to a video game. We pick out the seminal action filled moments so that players can relive these classic encounters. Dialogue and story remains told through our cut scenes, which is where much of the well-loved Lego humour emerges.

How important are the handheld formats – PSP, DS, 3DS – when designing LSWIII?
These platforms are critical – we know many of our fans like to experience our Lego games on the move. Additionally, for our younger audience the DS or PSP may be their principal gaming device. As such, we always strive to bring the same level of quality and immersion to these platforms as with the consoles.

What impact do you expect the 3DS to have?
The 3DS is an incredible opportunity to literally bring a whole new dimension to our storytelling. It is an immensely powerful device, which brings console fidelity graphics and sound to handheld gaming. Additionally, the 3D enables us to increase player immersion as well as highlight key areas of the game in a whole new way.

What criteria do you use when deciding which ‘franchise’ to Lego-fy next?
It is a privilege to work with such renowned and well loved franchises as Star Wars, among others. The worlds are vibrant and filled with incredibly interesting characters – it is these elements that we look for in other universes. Where they dovetail with the creative characteristics that Lego play encourages, we see the best fit.

How important is online to the Lego games?

Co-operative play is at the heart of every Lego game. We feel that given our target audience, this is best served through playing side by side where sharing and dialogue is easiest.

I’ve already mentioned the privilege that we feel about working with world renowned franchises. As such, great effort is made to distill the characteristics of a property and project them through the prism of Lego. To date I feel we’ve managed this very well and will continue to adopt the same approach and attention to detail that has been so successful in the past.

You have done all the films and now the TV series. Is this the end for Star Wars Lego games now?
All of our attention has been focused on making Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars the greatest game that we can and a worthy sequel. As such our plans are to enjoy the positive reception the game will hopefully receive and turn our minds to new horizons shortly


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