I was watching a presentation at Star Wars Celebration VI about the new Star Wars game, Star Wars 1313. It was a pretty impressive tech demo. The game is rendering the world in real time, so that, during the demo where the ship is falling towards the lower levels of Coruscant, they could pause the game and zoom in to the freckles on a character’s face in amazing detail. The game renders, at least on the PC hardware they were running it on (which they wouldn’t reveal) at least as good as most CG in movies today.
The presenters also showed a video about how this game came about as a collaboration between ILM and LucasArts — the idea being that movie animators could create a method to render a movie scene in a video game. No complicated animation that needed to be rendered out overnight via a small city of servers. Just create your objects and let the engine (in this case a highly modified version of the Unreal 3 engine) churn out the action.
That’s when it hit me. This is the holy grail, right? This is the economy of scale that George Lucas is looking for to produce the live-action Star Wars series we’ve all been waiting for.
Then, with that clarity you have when all the edge pieces of a puzzle have been filled in, I began to see the similarities to the rumored Underworld TV series. Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: Underworld started to sound astoundingly similar. They even mentioned on the panel that the player character in the demo was a placeholder for the main character who they weren’t ready to reveal yet.
My credits are on this game being some incarnation of the TV series, and the TV series being the same story line.
I was going through some old boxes of computer games the other day, and amongst my various notes on hints and cheats I found a print-out of a secret message that was contained in Star Wars Screen Entertainment — the Star Wars screen saver program that was released in 1994. This was written by George Lucas before he started the prequels.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Good and Evil battled to determine the fate of the Universe. The struggle is chronicled in STAR WARS, nine episodes which depict the reign of the Empire and a small, brave band of rebels who threatened to topple it. The middle third of the story was told in Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. We followed a young farm boy, Luke Skywalker, and his commitment to the Rebel Alliance. We watched as Luke learned about the Force from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, and felt his pain when he discovered that Darth Vader, the most highly regarded commander in the Imperial Navy, was his father. The STAR WARS saga actually begins 40 years before Luke has the pivotal meeting with Obi-Wan that sends him down the path to his destiny. The first three episodes begin with the friendship of a young Ben Kenobi and Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker. When Ben meets Anakin, he sees that the talented pilot is very strong with the Force and decides to train Anakin in the ways of the Jedi. But the Emperor senses Anakin’s growing power, and determined to harness it for the Empire, sways the young Jedi to the Dark Side. Anakin Skywalker ceases to exist, and in his place Darth Vader emerges. The new movies will feature all the action of the first three. Much of the drama, however, will revolve around betrayal — between friends and within the Empire. In this part of the story, things are not always as they seem and you never quite know who the good guys and bad guys are. I plan to start the screenplay for episode one by the end of 1994, and release the prequels by the year 2000.
Pretty interesting look at George’s thought process at that point in time there. I’ve always wanted to have the giant book of drafts and scratch paper for the prequels, to see where some of the ideas in the movies came from. It intrigues me to think about the things not mentioned above, like Qui Gon Jinn or the fact that Anakin is some sort of messiah figure, and wonder why George felt the need to add them into the saga. I mean, does it really matter that Anakin is special? Or could it just be that he’s a pivotal figure, as human, or at least Jedi, as anyone else?
Here’s an awesome sneak peek at Star Wars: The Old Republic, the MMO coming from LucasArts set in the ancient and exciting history of the Star Wars galaxy. Last I heard it was going to be free to play, too, supported by micro-transactions (for example, paying a couple of bucks for something that would help you level up faster.)
Edit: Updating the embedded video to a link to the video, since I can’t seem to figure out how to make their player not autoplay, and I hate videos that start playing as soon as you enter a site.
Went to the first Disney Star Wars Weekends this weekend. Fantastic fun, as usual, with the best guest mix I think you could ask for. Jay Laga’aia, the host this year, welcomed Warwick Davis and Ray Park. In the “And now you know, and knowing is half the battle” category, Ray is playing Snake Eyes in the new G.I. Joe movie, which looks like an absolute feast of adventure and action.
Fabulous Jay Laga’aia is hosting Disney Star Wars Weekends again, trading off with Warwick Davis, who is a guest the first weekend. The weekends each have a star from the new animated series, “The Clone Wars”. Check out the guest list at the Star Wars site.