Kinect Star Wars Panel
Lucasfilm knows its target audience well, kicking off one of Comic-Con's first panels with Kinect Star Wars, offering up a live-action trailer showing someone activating their Kinect and sabering up some baddies. Leaping, kicking, sabering, and…Force-ing their way through waves of robot-troopers, podracing, Rancor fighting, X-Wing blasting, and more until finally, this kid is placed CGI-square in the middle of the Star Wars Universe. That's what everyone hopes that's what this title will deliver.
On hand from the development team were Jorg Neumann, Microsoft's executive producer on the project, Craig Derrick, lead producer from Lucasarts, and Seth Hawkins, lead animator from Terminal Reality to talk about the project.
Jorg explained that in late 2008 or early 2009, he encountered some very early tech at Microsoft, which was the earliest version of Project Natal, later to become Kinect. It was a mass of wires and cables back then that "Looked like the Flux Capacitor," and then they showed him someone driving a car without a controller. "That's when I knew that Star Wars had to be a part of Kinect," he said.
Craig Derrick said that it was early 2009 when they had heard about project Natal, and they knew that they wanted to get the Force onto the new device. They saw a tech demo later with someone putting out their hand and force-pushing over a bunch of droids, and that's when they said, "Okay, we're in." He went on to explain that Kinect allows you to pretend like the Force is real, since at some point we've all tried to use the Force to grab the remote control or move something, and now you'll be able to do that, virtually.
You can choose from one of eight characters in the title, and you work your way up from Padawan all the way to Jedi Knight. You'll have adventures on Kashykk, will face the Genoshans, and much more. They wanted to tell new stories and weave them through the events of the films, and to that end, you'll encounter "marquee" characters like Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker, and so on. You'll learn and grow with the characters as they receive their Jedi training. The team was inspired by the concept art of Ralph McQuarrie, which tends to be darker, but since they knew that Kinect was more for families, they wanted to find an art style that was somewhere between the two.
Jorg said that playing games these days is hard. You have all these buttons and different controllers, but with Kinect you just step up and play. And you can also play jump in, jump out style, and you can be joined by a Jedi buddy onscreen. You can have someone swap out, or join you throughout the adventures.
Seth said the team was imagining what the experience would be like, so in designing the animation, they went through several iterations. Initially, you were going to play yourself in the game, holding a lightsaber. But while that was unique, people wanted more of a Star Wars experience from the title, rather than just popping you into the world. They've mapped hero characters and models on top of the Kinect skeletons, so you'll look more heroic and swashbuckling than your avatar or a video representation of yourself.
They showed us a video of how podracing will work in the game, and it looks like your arms will become the pods themselves as you bank, accelerate, brake, and steer. You can jump up, hit other podracers, and even throw stuff at them. So it's sort of like Carmageddon, in Star Wars, and with Kinect. Right? Well, not really, but podracing itself actually looks like a lot of fun. Players might be podraced out at this point, but at least this is a fresh approach to an old horse. An electrically powered, giant engine equipped horse. You'll race through a circuit of different courses, and "Meet some famous people along the way" until you eventually challenge Sebulba himself. Holy Bantha voodoo.
The game interface will have you choosing from a group of Padawans at the outset, and each one of them will have different "destinies" that you travel through. Although with podracing, Anakin is the only character you can choose who can actually pilot a pod. So you'll have different paths through the game depending on who you choose. Of course, there are other things you'll be able to do in the game like fighting with lightsabers, and according to Craig, "If you study the trailer, you'll see other things that we're teasing will be in the game.”
Of course, Lucas and Microsoft aren't ones to miss a possible marketing opportunity, so they've unveiled an R2-D2 themed Xbox 360, complete with a C-3PO themed controller. And that controller even has the "exposed wires" at the bottom of C-3PO. There's a complete bundle for the system that comes with 320 GB of storage space, a completely white Kinect unit, along with Kinect Star Wars. It's available for preorder today, and the whole thing is basically an orgasmatron for Star Wars fans. It's a pretty impressive unit, but it means you're going to need to buy an Xbox all over again. Of course, if you're a Star Wars nut, that might not matter.
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