Respawn Entertainment's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order just had a lot of details revealed last week, including a brand new trailer, and given the focus on single-player and a big emphasis from EA that this wouldn't feature microtransactions, people started asking questions about another Star Wars project, the now-cancelled game from Amy Hennig codenamed Ragtag.
Hennig herself spoke in an interview about the reveal of Fallen Order, saying that EA's comments are "coming from the EA Star Wars Twitter handle, so it's certainly part of the plan, but I don't know whether it's implicitly referencing previous comments they made after our project was killed?"
Later on Hennig explains that she believes Fallen Order has benefited from being development before Respawn was acquired, as well as Vince Zampella being able to protect the interests of the studio since he's part of the EA executive team.
"This is all speculation on my part, I don't know why the change of heart happened, because that was very clearly not an acceptable plan when we were working on Ragtag! But you know, things change. [The decision to cancel Ragtag] was made in summer 2017. We found out in October 2017. So that's almost two years ago, and a lot has changed in that time, and there's been a pretty public and vocal backlash against the idea gamers don't want single-player finite games without all these extra modes. Of course they do, of course we do. So maybe this is just a demonstration of a change of strategy for EA."
There has also been a lot of change with regards to management at EA, with Patrick Soderlund and Jade Raymond leaving since Hennig first joined. Laura Miele - former franchise general manager for Star Wars - is now in Soderlund's position as well, and Hennig explains that she's happy about these changes, and optimistic for what Respawn has planned.
Perhaps what's most interesting (or heartbreaking) about the interview, however, are the details we get on the philosophy behind Ragtag, and how it would have played. "I had to take what I'd figured out [for Uncharted] in terms of deconstructing pulp adventure, and say alright, Star Wars is also in that category, but it has certain things that are distinct, or at least distinct from our core inspiration which was of course Indiana Jones. And one of those things, and I've talked about this before, is you stay with Indiana Jones the whole time, the other characters are side characters - they're companions, they're important to the story, but they're not co-protagonists, it's not really an ensemble in the classic sense. When we think about ensembles, we think about heist films, caper films, Where Eagle's Dare, Dirty Dozen, Von Ryan's Express. All of these films are about this ragtag - hence the codename! - group of individuals who have to come together."
"So I realised a couple of things: if we were going to make a Star Wars story, a lot of it would look and feel like Uncharted, because it's in the same genre. But we needed to cut away to the villains, for one thing, which was something I never allowed us to do on Uncharted. If you look at those films, you don't really cut away from what Indy knows. There's a few exceptions but you're more or less with him the whole time. Star Wars, not only do we cut between villains but we also cut between multiple protagonists. So you still go OK, Luke is the hero of the story, but when you look at Han and Leia they're co-protagonists. And then you look at Rogue One, the animated show Rebels, those are ensemble stories. That's the Star Wars DNA, right?
"So I thought OK, not only does that mean that we need really compelling AI for these characters, so that you can work like a well-oiled team, particularly if it's a caper crew. But we were going to need playable characters in parallel sequences, because that's how Star Wars works. You only accomplish your goals by working together or working in parallel or both. We would always point to the Death Star escape as the prime example of that."
Hennig also explains that Ragtag was part of a roadmap that fed into the canon of the series, as well as the future plans for standalone films.
Would you have liked to play Ragtag?