In the second part of our interview with Force Unleashed II exec producer, Haden Blackman, the LucasArts man talks more broadly about his influences, opinions on emerging industry trends and the chances of us seeing Super Star Wars on Xbox 360.
Read part one of our Force Unleashed 2 interview if you haven't already, because to read this one first would just be wrong.
You've had the benefit of fan feedback on the first Force Unleashed. Is there anything in the game that you feel now you have a chance to put right?
Every game is a work in progress. There is tons of stuff I would have done differently in hindsight with TFU that we focus on in TFU 2. AI was one of them; we had over a hundred AI units in TFU and some of them ended up feeling very vanilla, there wasn't enough differentiation between them and there wasn't a lot of tactical differences between them.
That was a big focus for us, we said let's do 20 or 25 units and make them very unique, give them special abilities and make you think about their tactical significance and how you take them out. A lot of the game now is like a tactical puzzle, so you do a scene and think ok there are three snipers there, a bunch of melee guys there and a big trooper there based on how I've ranked up my powers and my personal play style.
We also completely replaced a lot of the audio engine, even though a lot of it worked we thought we could still do it better so we replaced the UI solution so we have no loading times in UI, little things that will have a huge impact. Then we focused heavily on our targeting, and the grip controls so even if you aren't hitting exactly what you wanted something cool is always happening and that came from our consumer tests. People just want to be able to fling Storm Trooper around and have cool shit happen.
How are you handling boss battles in the second game? The first TFU had some dodgy ones...
We had the same kind of philosophy with the bosses as we did with the rest of the enemies, I think we had 10 boss battles in TFU 1 and some of them were more successful than others.
This time we focused on doing fewer but focused on make them longer and having multiple phases that are more polished. one of our mantras for the game is polish; we have a really long polish and bug fixing phase for the game compared to actual production time. That was really our mantra - let's do a handful of bosses but make them feel very different so they are very different experiences.
I think we're headed in the right direction but we still want those spectacle moments, the crashing Star Destroyer is still one of the most striking images from our first game so we definitely have moments in the game that feel as big as that, but we spent a lot more time working on them compared to the last game.
Your DLC policy for Force Unleashed was really generous, but the last bit only came out relatively recently. How successful was that?
We don't give out the sales figures but we were really happy with the creative and commercial success of all the DLC, it was a chance for us to do some new things in terms of telling the infinity storyline.
We got really positive feedback from fans and consumers that bought it, it was commercially successful for us. We kept doing them because they were successful. It was also an experiment for us, our first foray into DLC like that so part of it was just seeing what we could get away with in DLC nine months after the game launched.