Today we learned EA has bought the rights to a franchise truly near and truly dear to hearts of our team. There’s nervous excitement coming from Tim’s desk that DICE may be at the helm of a new Battlefront, Jeremy’s found it difficult to talk about anything other than Knights of the Old Republic 3, and Steve wants Visceral to announce a new Simpsons game.
But those are the obvious games for EA to be working on. These are the ones they should be drafting in their other studios to helm.
Star Wars: Going Solo
The game I’ve always wanted to play is ludicrously ambitious and will obviously never happen. It’s half Mass Effect style RPG and shooter; half Elite style space trading and fighting game. You play as a smuggler, whipping around the galaxy at some point just after Return of the Jedi. The Empire is retreating, but remains a threat, while the New Republic is attempting to build a functional galactic government.
You are a mercenary: pick up missions from both sides and bounty hunters and smugglers and everyone else in-between – running blockades, delivering goods, escorting prisoners in your space-ship, or getting into scrapes on the surface of planets. As the game progresses, you’re never forced to pick a side: the New Republic and the Empire both have need for talented smugglers.
Key to making it work is making it feel like a functional living galaxy: with the chance to roam and trade away from the ongoing storyline
Most importantly, there are no bloody Jedi. This is a chance to explore Star Wars without those telepathic monks sucking all the fun out of the room.
You play a Jawa, wandering the deserts of Tatooine searching for droid parts. It’s a permadeath survival sim in which you must pit your wits against teams of other players, hordes of marauding Tusken Raiders and bands of Stormtroopers. Tatooine and Anchorhead act as safe zones where players are free to trade. The ultimate goal: to form a tribe and own your own sand crawler. Ben Kenobi is a world boss.
Boba Fett’s Big Day Out
My Star Wars game idea is also unlikely to happen, but here we go: I want an Mirror’s Edge style first person parkour game set on the city planet of Coruscant. You play as Boba Fett on a mission to track down and capture Han Solo, who has randomly spawned somewhere on the planet. The entire world would be open to explore and procedurally generated as you traverse the dense urban playground, either on foot, jetpack or by stealing any hovering vehicle of your choice. The problem is that Han Solo is just one of the approximately one trillion NPCs going about their daily life on Coruscant, shopping for droids, drinking out of funnily shaped cups and hanging out in cantinas.
The challenge is further exacerbated by the total lack of clues or objective markers available to you. Instead Boba Fett must identify Han Solo on sight alone, or by walking up to an NPC and asking “are you Han Solo?” or “have you seen Han Solo?” or “if you were a Han Solo where would you be?”. Complicating things even further is the game’s multiplayer aspect, which pits you against thousands of other players all attempting to find the same Han Solo needle in a city planet haystack. Will the Boba Fetts work together to achieve their goal (and split the £50,000 bounty EA has graciously put up), or will they feed one another misinformation in order to secure victory for themselves?
Fighting Fantasy: Anakin Skywalker’s Mum
You want to know what my perfect Star Wars game looks like? Uh oh. Better cover the ears of that limited edition jawa taped haphazardly by his feet to your monitor. Maybe reuse the tape? That’s it. Just tuck him in the drawer there.
Having just paid umpteen pounds and unfathomable pence for a shot at the license, here’s what I think EA should do: give it to somebody who really hates Star Wars.
The last time LucasArts handed the keys to a developer who thoroughly disliked their pet franchise, it paid back dividends. Chris Avellone hated the Force, and anybody who might want to be with it. He hated the predeterminism inherent in Lucas’ concept of spiritual magic, and resolved to make a game about what a Jedi might lose in embracing the Force, and what they might gain from turning their back on it.
The result was Knights of the Old Republic 2 – one of the past decade’s best RPGs, which sometimes played as a fable about the perils of blind do-gooding.
This new anti-Star Wars game doesn’t have to be an RPG. It can be a low fantasy tactical shooter, like Republic Commando. Or a choose-your-own-adventure game starring Anakin’s mother, consisting of a series of dialogue options with which you must persuade her son not to leave Tatooine. Perhaps the birth of Darth Vader can be prevented by a single line, sharper than any lightsaber: “But you have homework to do.”
I don’t know who would make my Star Wars game. Just make sure their skin crawls when the John Williams score kicks in.
Cantina Manager Simulator
Don’t know about you but every time I get a whiff of singed arm stump I can’t help but wish I ran my own cantina. Parley with the patrons, get the jawas drunk, comfort the storm troopers who just can’t find the droids they’re looking for (it’s not easy when you’ve eyesight so poor you couldn’t hit a target with your blaster from 10 feet away), never a dull moment in the cantina manager’s day.
Of course, it’s not all excitement. You have to barter tithe rates with the hutts, make sure your bar is stocked with a steady supply of dry ice for the drinks and step in whenever an argument breaks out about “who shot who first”.
Plus, you’ll have to hire yourself some staff – can’t run the place all by yourself – but good help is hard to find on Tatooine, every other droid is on a “secret mission for so and so” or a deactivated HK-47 unit that could go on an anti-meatbag rampage at any point. Heck, even your average farmhand might drop sticks one day and run off to become the banner for the Rebel Alliance.
Yup, that’s the game for me.
Ewok Drop Kick
Like Angry Birds, but furrier.