One of the casualties of the fall of LucasArts was an action-adventure game set in the seedy underworld of Coruscant, Star Wars 1313. The protagonist had been announced publicly as a run-of-the-mill bounty hunter, but unbeknownst to the public, George Lucas had mandated that the bounty hunter be Boba Fett himself.
Lucas made the order to change the bounty hunter to Boba Fett just 8 weeks before the game's debut at E3 2012, which threw the project into chaos since it had been in development for two years. One former employee complained in Kotaku's feature story, "One of the problems of working in a film company—(Lucas) is used to being able to change his mind. He didn’t really have a capacity for understanding how damaging and difficult to deal with these changes were.”
So, when the game debuted at E3 2012, the dev team had to remain quiet about the game starring Boba Fett, since none of the assets were available. They also had to be silent about the fact the game was a next-gen game for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, not Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
However, the game got an amazing reaction from press and fans, so the team was energized by the reception. In addition, what the public didn't know what that using Boba Fett added a verticality to the game that wasn't portrayed in the gameplay videos, what with his jetpack. The developer, buoyed by positive feedback, vowed to make the best damned Boba Fett game they could.
Unfortunately, the hiring and production freeze imposed by LucasArts crippled development, and after Disney had acquired LucasArts, Star Wars 1313 was shelved, never to see the light of day again.
Star Wars 1313 creative director Dominic Robilliard wrote an email to his team about the cancellation of the game:
I had hoped that I could address you all face to face as usual, but it seems that we are already scattered to the winds and the chances of a well attended gong meeting are slim! It’s probably for the best as I’m not sure I could get through what I have to say to you all and keep it together. When I look back on the last couple of years making this game I cannot believe what we achieved under the circumstances we had to deal with. It really is astonishing. Re-directions, interference, unstable management and studio leadership; sometimes I just can’t believe you have stayed with me, and more importantly still deliver such an incredibly high quality of work. I cannot tell you how proud I am of every singer game-maker on this team. I will be in your debt for the rest of my career.
When I look back on the last couple of years making this game I cannot believe what we achieved under the circumstances we had to deal with. It really is astonishing. Re-directions, interference, unstable management and studio leadership; sometimes I just can’t believe you have stayed with me, and more importantly still deliver such an incredibly high quality of work. I cannot tell you how proud I am of every singer game-maker on this team. I will be in your debt for the rest of my career.
So, why did we do it? Because the game is truly fantastic. One of the things I am most sad about is that on a gameplay level all that exists of our game out in the wild is our basic cover combat and platforming. This beautiful and broad systemic play space which the design, animation and engineering team created so diligently over the last year (and that wowed every external person who game in to play the game) won’t see the light of day. We set out to create the ultimate Star Wars Bounty Hunter fantasy, and we achieved it. The jetpack was the final piece of the puzzle and suddenly I think everyone across the team really saw how the liberating combination of bounty hunter gadgets and environmental freedom created something truly unique, and something that doesn’t exist in our genre right now. You should all be so proud of what you created. It is amazing.
The area of development I’ve probably learnt the most in is the visual development of the game. Our spectacular and truly world-class art and rendering team has delivered every day for the entire process. I can’t thank the art department enough for embracing me through this process and helping to educate my eye. There can be no debate (and there wasn’t last year at our announce) that the game looks anything other than stunning. All of the effort and consideration that went into our carefully and lovingly constructed look was so worth it. We wanted to achieve a take on the Star Wars universe that melded with the original trilogy and it was received in exactly that frame of mind. I lost count of how many publications and interviewers at E3 said that Star Wars 1313 was literally the ‘best thing they had ever seen’. I’ve never worked on anything that has drawn that level of praise. The rendering technology and performance capture work developed by this team with Kim at the helm repeatedly left me slack-jawed on a near daily basis. There was a lengthy period leading up to the E3 demo where it is no lie to say I saw something new every day that I hadn’t seen before. I felt so blessed and lucky to be in that position – so again, thank you.
E3 last year was one of the greatest highlights for us all. I’m so glad that we fought tooth and nail to make that debut, and more importantly to make sure that it was real. Real gameplay, real (time) visuals and from a genuine part of our game. Many people doubted that we could do it: pull together all these threads of gameplay, technology, art, cinematics into something so compelling and exciting. Working on the very edge of what was possible, using technology that was being invented as we went through the process (!) was so thrilling, and thankfully was worth every second of effort we put into it. That pressure made a diamond and it became the backbone of our game, as was intended. We proved that a true collaboration between games and film was possible (in a way that never was before) and our cinematic, rendering and performance capture tech truly does live in both worlds which is an amazing feat. I continue to believe in this approach for the future.
As we move on with our lives, please don’t forget the response we got from the world last year: 31 Awards and Nominations! The press was better than we ever expected too. Who would have thought that we could have turned so many LucasArts detractors into believers? It really was so satisfying.
Turning this studio around at a team and game level has always been something that has kept me going, despite any turbulence above us. Making the greatest Star Wars game that has ever been made has been my biggest dream since I was a kid and I truly believe we were on that path. You can tell from the outpouring of support across the internet that other people believed it too. Pete and I always knew that getting momentum with jaded Star Wars gaming fans was going to involve a lot of humility, patience and ultimately hands on proof that we were who we said we were. I talked at a number of points during interviews over the last year that we were ‘on probation’ with gamers – and I meant it. Again I’m just so sad that your integrity and humility in seeing the world that way with me is not going to be paid off with the joy of turning those skeptics into fans, and giving the loyal supporters we have amassed what they deserved: the best Star Wars game ever made.
I have plenty more to say, and so much more gratitude to show you all but right now it’s too hard to articulate it. I genuinely care for everyone on this team and hope desperately that we will work together again someday. I will look forward to that day.
Until then I will dedicate all my time and energy over the coming months to making sure that anyone who is thinking of hiring a Star Wars 1313 team member knows that they will be making an amazing investment and the smartest decision of their career.
You are the greatest team I have ever known and I love you all,