Star Wars is in a good place again. Or it's about to be over the next few years and beyond. After merchandising every inch of the universe in every possible way - even the little bits we hate about the franchise (read: Jar Jar Binks) - and after guiding what was a film series everyone of all ages could get behind into what became a polarizing prequel trilogy and animated Clone Wars followups, the brand was rescued by Disney.
Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2008 at the best possible time, and now they have one of the world's biggest film franchises, to go along with the associated cross-media merchandise and entertainment. In October, they similarly acquired Lucasfilm and LucasArts with it, for a similar price tag, with the goal of continuing the saga beginning with Star Wars Episode VII in 2015. But what does this all mean for the games?
Some would argue George Lucas and/or other decision-makers behind the Star Wars legacy damaged the reputation of the franchise over the last decade and a half, and part of that is on the games front. Gone are the days of the Triple-A, critically acclaimed Star Wars games like Dark Forces, Knights of the Old Republic, X-Wing Alliance and Rogue Squadron, replaced by disappointing or canceled Force Unleashed sequels, an inexplicably abandoned Battlefront III and very basic LEGO adventure games.
At E3 2012, we saw what looked like a major step in returning LucasArts to its former glory and it was called Star Wars 1313, a game we were told during the demo would be available on the PC. Very few details were offered but with its impressive graphics it seemed a given 1313 would make its way to the next-gen consoles as a late 2013 release. Now, according to three separate sources of Kotaku, that may not be the case.
When Disney acquired everything Star Wars in the fall, their mission statement was to focus ahead on the new trilogy, and rumor has it, development on Star Wars 1313 may have been halted, thus explaining the complete silence surrounding the game since its debut last summer. When asked about the status of the game, the response seemed to indicate development is continuing as planned:
"LucasArts has been working diligently to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that the new Star Wars movies present. Star Wars 1313 continues production."
The sources revealed additional details about the game's development history and origins:
- Began in 2009 as an adult open-world RPG tie-in to the live-action Star Wars series that takes place in between Episodes 3 & 4.
- Was originally titled Underworld due to its planet Coruscant setting we saw gameplay of during E3, a setting that was also a core part of the TV show.
- In 2010, as the Star Wars live-action show failed to materialize, the game's story was changed to fit a lower budget and separate itself from the show.
- In 2011, Underworld became Hive, the Uncharted-style game we saw at E3. This was allegedly part of LucasArts' goal of bringing back popular Star Wars games across multiple genres, including casual and FPS markets.
- LucasArts planned a Star Wars FPS codenamed "Trigger."
- George Lucas saw the game and "loved" it, requesting that it tie-in story arcs from the live-action show. These additional rewrites for Lucas meant the game was still without a complete story come time for E3 2012.
Interestingly, LucasArts was namedropped by Sony on their official "List of Third Party Game Developers and Publishers" supporting the PlayStation 4, butStar Wars 1313 was obviously nowhere to be found during the big event last week in New York. Could it be part of Microsoft's inevitable next-gen Xbox unveiling ceremony? Unlikely, according to this report.
Disney wants all hands on deck for the relaunch of the franchise and with Lucas' super-expensive live-action television show going nowhere fast, tying the mostly-original Star Wars 1313 into it may be a waste. From the LucasArts response to the rumors it sounds to me as if they're re-jigging the game to fit within the plans for the films and that actually makes a lot of sense.
The most intriguing part of Kotaku's scoop is part where their sources said the game would address certain topics from the TV show, specifically:
- "Who is Boba Fett?"
- "Why was Han working for Jabba?"
- "Who were the Bothan spies?"
And wouldn't you know it, that there are not only Star Wars Episodes 7-9 (and maybe 10-12) in the works, but there are two confirmed standalone spinoffs as well. One we know is based on a younger Han Solo and the other, on Boba Fett. And the time period of said films happens to fit very, very well within the timeline (and topics) the game may cover. Coincidence? Star Wars 1313 may actually be a quasi-tie-in game to the standalone films and it could very well be delayed to fit Disney's bigger picture plans.
Much of the focus of the E3 Star Wars 1313 demo was on the multiple Lucas-owned studios behind it, working together to take advantage of their industry-leading experience and technology. That will remain as LucasArts potentially changes the story, perhaps even the characters. Is it possible that we may see a familiar face become one of the protagonists?
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes and let him know if Star Wars 1313 should tie into the in-canon spinoff films or tell its own, entirely separate story a la Knights of the Old Republic!
Image from All That's Epic