“What I came to learn is for them, Jedi is the Holy Grail,” says director Stig Asmussen.
There’s been a remarkable turnaround of form for Star Wars games under EA’s management of late. Star Wars Battlefront 2 has, over time, turned into a significantly better game that it was at launch, while Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – a single player-only narrative-driven title with no microtransactions – has seen enough critical and commercial success to force EA to reconsider their approach to the series.
However, if things had turned out differently, it’s entirely possible that Fallen Order either would have been a very different game from the one it released at, or possibly would not even have existed at all. That’s because, as game director Stig Asmussen points out, Lucasfilm – the owners of the Star Wars property – were initially quite reluctant to let Respawn Entertainment make a game centred around Jedi.
While speaking during the AIAS Game Maker’s podcast, Asmussen revealed that the Lucasfilm view the Jedi as “the Holy Grail”, and that as such they were initially opposed to the idea of letting Respawn make a game where players would play as a Lightsaber-wielding Jedi (transcribed by GameSpot).
“They weren’t super comfortable with the idea,” Asmussen said. “I pitched, ‘Hey what if we do a game about Jedi and Force powers, and they were not super comfortable with that. They threw it back and said, ‘What about blasters and bounty hunters?’ That’s not the background of the team we’ve built; you might as well ask me and us to start building a racing game at this point. I don’t think anybody’s going to be happy with the results of that.”
“What I came to learn is for them, Jedi is the Holy Grail,” he explained. “To make a game about Jedi, you gotta earn it. There was a little bit of a back and forth but they could see where I was coming from.”
Asmussen went on to talk about the constant back and forth Respawn and Lucasfilm had about the game and their creative vision for it throughout the development process, with several of Respawn’s ideas being met with a “hard no” from the holders of the property. He explained that though that was, of course, a source of frustration for him and his team, he ultimately understood that as the owners of such a massive property, their decisions made sense.
It ultimately turned out great, of course- Fallen Order captures the essence of the Jedi, Lightsaber combat, and of Star Wars excellently, and that is clearly being reflected in its reception and sales. In fact, it seems like the studio is already working on a sequel– so it’s fair to say that the trust between Respawn ad Lucasfilm has probably grown.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is out now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.