EA hired Uncharted director Amy Hennig to work on a new Star Wars title at Dead Space studio Visceral. But, despite all of the enthusiasm, things didn't work out, with Visceral ultimately closing down and Hennig moving on.
The 54-year-old video game director and scriptwriter recalled her time working on Star Wars at EA in a recent interview with VentureBeat and revealed that there were numerous challenges.
Visceral studios was apparently quite expensive to run partly because it was located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Area, while there were other aspects regarding the game's development that made things extremely difficult.
"It's very hard to support compared to studios that cost a third of the price in places where there are tax credits," she explained. "That's a hard sell. That was a constant drumbeat, feeling like you had to justify the existence of a Visceral."
According to Hennig, Visceral's Star Wars was meant to be a third-person "cinematic transversal action game" but using an engine built for first-person shooter games (EA's Frostbite engine) proved challenging.
"But we knew going in that that was the goal," she said. "We were going to put this functionality into Frostbite. A lot of the team was hired to do Battlefield, and so that was a bit of a cultural shift, to make this different kind of game.
"Normally you cache for the project you're making rather than trying to--it's hard to convert the people you have if that's not their type of game."
Hennig also revealed that the game had gone far into development before EA decided to change direction due to market trends and player feedback. The company was aiming to make the title one that players could keep on playing even after beating it, something which implies heavier multiplayer focus.
11) God forbid that $EA ever makes a good Star Wars game. Still disappointed they cancelled Amy Hennig’s SW RPG. Interesting that she attributed part of the cancellation to Frostbite, which was also identified as being a problem for the troubled ME: Andromeda by @jasonschreier— Gavin Baker (@GavinSBaker) February 26, 2019
Hennig acknowledges that games now find more success focusing on multiplayer and microtransactions and she even admits a single-player title like Uncharted would never be approved today. She also understands why EA wanted to move in a different direction.
"It was something we were struggling with the whole time," she added. "Does this make sense? Is this something EA really wants to do? I certainly regret the fact that there's a lot of good game there that I would love to see the light of day. A lot of people would. One never knows what might happen."
The entire project was canceled in January and it's likely that it won't be resurrected. However, EA is understood to be working on a smaller-scale Star Wars title while Apex Legends devs Respawn has confirmed that they're working on third-person action game Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, which should be released this year.