The Clone Wars Adventures entered into public beta over the weekend and a few lucky Techland readers will be winning the chance to be amongst the first to play. The new virtual worlds is a partnership between LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment who are building off the success of the similar free-to-play virtual world Free Realms. Matt Higby, lead designer on Clone Wars Adventures, answered some questions about crafting entry-level Star Wars exploits.
What does Star Wars mean to you? Aside from a job? How has it inspired you as a piece of fiction?
Star Wars is one of those unique franchises that resonates with so many different people in so many different ways. I myself have found that over time the parts of Star Wars that really stick with me have changed; as a kid I was, of course, interested in the battles and creatures, as I grew older I became more interested in the design of the ships, and eventually the characters and their interactions. As a game developer I find that I’m really inspired by the overall universe crafting in Star Wars, building a cohesive and interesting fictional universe is a pretty impressive feat, and the fact that Star Wars has managed to stay so relevant and find its way into so many avenues of culture for decades is incredibly inspiring to me as a fellow fantasy crafter.
Do you think there’s an essential difference in how kids and adults experience the Star Wars mythos?
Based only on my personal experience, I can say definitely yes. I grew up in the 80s and never saw the original trilogy when they made their first run through theaters, I remember my first time watching Star Wars after I checked them out of the library during a Summer visiting my grandparents and desperately trying to figure out why the library didn’t have the first three parts. As a kid I was far less interested in the “why” behind the events I was watching, there were good guys and bad guys, but as you get older I think a lot of subtlety about the characters and their motivations becomes more apparent and you definitely start to pick up on new aspects of the fiction.
When were you able to share Star Wars with your children? What was their reaction?
I don’t have any kids yet! But I recently shared Star Wars with my fiancé for the first time – I know right? – I had a tough time keeping her interested for the first half hour or so, but after that she dug it.
How have you tailored Clone Wars Adventures to home in on that?
Well, we’ve designed the game around a younger audience from the get go. That means we get players quickly into playing games, and we don’t make them jump through any hoops to try the games they want to play.
Clone Wars is the most visible piece of Star Wars entertainment now. What do you hope the experience will be in your game for the players who come here from watching the show?
One of the things we’ve tried to do with Clone Wars Adventures is to look at every possible fantasy that you could have from watching the series; flying a Star Fighter in a massive space battle, zipping across a frozen landscape in a Speederbike, having an epic Lightsaber battle, or taking on waves of enemy Battle Droids, and turn those moments into interactive games that the fans can experience for themselves. Our goal really is to make games for every type of Clone Wars fan, if you’re more interested in strategic games we have those, action games, we have those too and they’re all tied in a unique way into something that happens in the Clone Wars universe.