Interview: Cameron Suey

We talk with The Force Unleashed producer Cameron Suey about the upcoming expansions and The Ultimate Sith Edition. Needless to say, here be spoilers.

NEW_Hoth_031You mentioned working with the original team was an advantage, how much so?

Oh, it’s huge. The more you work with a team – I mean, my first game ever working in production was working on The Force Unleashed, I was a PA on it. And this is years ago, because it was in production for a while. And when you get to know the people you’re working with, you work so much more efficiently; there’s less drama between everyone. The team knowing each other, knowing themselves, the code we’re working with, knowing what DMM could do, knowing what Euphoria could do, knowing what made for the best gameplay setups and what didn’t didn’t work well before was just a huge advantage. We had this base, which is one of the reasons that they’re the best levels that we’ve done.

The Force Unleashed had a novelisation, but do you plan to continue this what-if storyline?

I have never heard of anything like it, but now I’m thinking about it! Not to my knowledge but obviously it’s a story that we loved creating. It’s pretty compelling and Dark Horse has a comic book series called Infinities, and that’s what we were inspired by. We were more inspired by that comic book franchise for these levels, but that’s kind of a fascinating idea. I would love to see a Star Wars Force Unleashed Infinities comic book. Because, of course, there was a comic book adaptation of the original Force Unleashed.

Are there any more expansions or DLCs after this, or is this the definitive release?

There’s nothing we’re talking about for right now, this is it for what we’ve discussed.

How did you approach the story of the game, did you start simply at first?

We kind of did the opposite, we shot for the moon and asked them what we can’t do, to pull us back. Which I think was a huge advantage for The Force Unleashed because thematically it was all about being huge and big, and things that you hadn’t seen before. We actually started with the previsualisation animations of those Force moves. And that was the first thing we did, we made that and showed it to licensing and George [Lucas] and said “Can we do this?” And it’s kind of surprising that they said yes, because it’s so big. But I guess… you’ve seen Clone Wars, the original 2D one? That also has some very big Force powers in it, and we took a lot of inspiration from that, it wasn’t completely unprecedented, but we definitely went as far as we could.

In terms of George Lucas, how much editorial control did he exercise? Were you allowed to do your own thing and run it past him occasionally, or was he hands on?

For the new levels we were actually set wild; it was kind of awesome. But for the original Force Unleashed he had a much closer oversight on the story because it was something in the canon, and something that had some implications in the canon.

During the press conference earlier you spoke about amping up the Force abilities; did you go even further in the DLC?

Yeah, you have all the Force powers from the game, all maxed. If you play through the game I don’t think you can actually max out everything, but we start you out completely maxed out, and present you with situations in which you can use those powers. The original game, of course, you don’t have that so it’s designed around a more limited area, but in these levels you have everything from the get-go.

With this revisit, were you able to tweak the technology behind the game at all?

Yeah definitely, ice was something that we’d never done before, and the ice in Hoth is a huge element, so, specifically DMM… DMM is amazing. There’s not one setting where you go “I want rock”. You actually go “I want the opacity to be this, I want the surface friction to be this, I want its tensile strength to be this…” you actually have to tune it to find what looks like rock, and what looks like wood, so the amount of stuff you can do inside that tool is pretty incredible. We actually had to create a whole bunch of new material types, basically

So it was a matter of fine-tuning and tweaking the tech that you had rather than introducing anything new?

Exactly, yeah. We knew what we wanted to do in the original one, what we did and didn’t do, and we were able to take that tech and push it to its fullest. But it’s the same tech, and we’re a lot more experienced with it. It was brand new when we first got it, we knew how to make 50 foot squares of yellow, but we didn’t know how to make that into a game.

Are you going to be licensing it for other games, or is it purely in-house at the moment?

For the moment I believe only LucasArts is working with Pixelux. We have a very close relationship with them obviously, but I don’t know about exclusivity.

Do you have any favourite parts from the new levels?

Yeah, for me it’s all about that beginning cut-scene in The Empire Strikes Back, where you think “Oh, I know what this is” and then the lightsaber flies out and hits the snowspeeder. I remember sitting with the animators and watching it side by side with the movie and just trying to get it as close as we could to the original movie. Obviously, and this sounds stupid to say because I say it so often, but we’re all Star Wars fans, we’re here because we like this stuff. And really getting into those original moments and still having a unique and ridiculous spin on it, but being inside those moments – I was two when I first saw it – you’re in heaven all day.

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