Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Interview — Developers Discuss the Series’ Legacy, Episode IX, and Prequel Memes
DualShockers talked to TT Games' James McLoughlin and Arthur Parsons to talk Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and the game's sense of humor.
It may have been easy to overlook the announcement of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga when it was just a press release and a cinematic trailer, but at E3 2019 TT Games earned some buzz with a closed-doors hands-off demo. While the game is still a ways off, it had to be seen to be believed. It was a huge step for the series in terms of gameplay concepts and technology, but in retrospect, this seemed to be the natural evolution and trajectory for the long-running series.
On the last day of E3 2019, I tracked down Game Director James McLoughlin and Head of Design Arthur Parsons for a short interview. I had seen their presentation two days prior, which had answered most of the questions I had wanted to ask, with a few lingering questions that I hoped to clear up.
Chris: I’ve really only played the Lego Star Wars games and missed out on the ones in between, but I very distinctly remember the sense of humor that those games had. It’s been how many years since the first game?
James McLoughlin: Fifteen.
CC: And the fan community has kind of evolved from that, especially with Twitter and Reddit and the sharing of memes. There are very prominent running jokes, let’s say, like the prequel memes, like people quoting Palpatine all the time.
JM: “Do it.”
CC: Yeah, stuff like that. I’m wondering how much has the humor evolved; did you keep those fan cultural phenomenons in mind?
JM: Obviously we are fans ourselves, and that helps. We always put in things in the game because you think it’s funny or because you’re so into the source material. Of course, [Lucasfilm] has been great; they’ve been allowing us to go into places that they normally don’t allow a lot of people go with their license. So it’s a case of just sitting around and talking about what we want to put in, how we think it’s relevant. We don’t want to ruin moments as well, that’s important, because there are many cool pivotal moments that you don’t want to ruin with a guy walking around the background with a bucket on his head. They’re certainly things we look into.
Arthur Parsons: One of the fundamental pillars of Lego games is humor because Lego gives us the ability to have fun and enjoy, but as Jimmy said, as fans of these IPs it has to be authentic humor. It’s all about having fun with the franchise, and obviously, this is the world’s biggest franchise.
CC: At the presentation [I saw during E3] there was a gentleman in the front who was like, “Is there gonna be blue milk?” and it was there, and it was a deep cut, and I appreciated that. Is anyone on the team bummed out to know all of these Episode IX secrets now?
JM: We don’t know them. (laughs) So that’s good.
AP: But obviously, as we get closer and closer to the movie, then obviously we’ll be getting to know bits and pieces about that episode.
JM: We’ve got lots to do. Obviously a lot of content we’ll be cracking on and doing that, and when they’re ready to show us IX they will.
CC: So eventually you will be spoiled?
JM: I hope we’ve seen it first, I’m not gonna lie. It has happened on projects where the script arrives at your door like a year before the film’s out, and you’re like, “Aww, I was looking forward to that.”
CC: Did you replay any of the older Lego Star Wars games, or did you actively avoid doing so to do something different?
JM: We definitely wanted to go new; one of the first things that I do with my designers—obviously we’ve worked on different titles, the designers move around—when they come on a project is if they’ve done the prequels or whatever, is play them. The thing is, it’s one thing to be familiar with the license, you gotta be familiar with the brand. Not necessarily the same ideas, or the puzzles, or anything, but just to familiarize and get yourselves in the zone so of course before we started this, we played all of them and talked for a long time.
AP: It’s about our heritage as well, reminding us where we’ve come from because fifteen years is a long time and we’ve made a lot of games. And it’s great to remind ourselves as well just how much our games have evolved. It’s the birthplace.
JM: When we start a game, we do it every time. No matter the license is, we start a game, we play all the old ones. It’s the first thing we do. Because it’s the thing where you go, “Is that how we used to do that?” Because we forget ourselves.
CC: You called it the new generation, the next generation of Lego games. I’m sure you’re not at liberty to say what other IPs you have, but is this the format going forward?
JM: It’s basically just lots of things we’re trying with this, and of course, how successful it will be will be determined when we release it. We’re definitely looking into completely restructuring how we do things. We obviously add a lot of new things in every title we do. I know we don’t always get credit for doing that, but we do, and there’s always little nuances here and there and everywhere. In this particular one, we’ve essentially built everything from the ground up, and the minute the camera system’s different all the level designs will feel different and it just moves on and on from there.
AP: And it is like a new beginning of everything. You have new technology that allows us to do so much more. Everything we’re doing is going into making this game the best Lego game.
CC: Is there co-op?
CC: Local and online?
JM: We’ve got couch co-op.
CC: I’m wondering how that would look. Would that be split-screen?
JM: It’s split down the middle.
CC: Previous Lego games had a dynamic split-screen—
JM: We used to do dynamic, but the thing is that dynamic doesn’t work with a 3D camera.
CC: What are your thoughts on Google Stadia as a platform?
AP: I actually don’t know anything. (laughs) Well, we’re super excited about Stadia.
JM: It looks cool.
AP: And obviously, from our own perspective, we want our games to be enjoyed and played by the most people possible. If you look at us historically, we try to get our games on all platforms so we’re super excited about Stadia.
After our talk, I presented the team my personal Staff Choice Award for DualShockers’ E3 2019 Awards. I think Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will be one to look out for when it hits PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch sometime in 2020.
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