Beginning with the release of 2005’s LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, the LEGO Star Wars series has become one of the most popular gaming franchises set in a galaxy far, far away. There are many reasons for this. LEGO Star Wars games combine the creativity of LEGO building with the action and drama of Star Wars, neither outweighing the other. Their controls are intuitive, whether you’re a lightsaber-wielding Jedi or bowcaster-carrying Wookiee. And they’re completely hilarious. (In just one of many, many examples, see LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, in which Artoo initially refuses to accept the Death Star plans from Princess Leia. In response, she just lifts up his dome and angrily throws them in. It’s in-character and really kind of brilliant.) But most importantly, LEGO Star Wars games are really, really fun, plain and simple, exemplifying a true all-ages take on the saga. They’re games for everyone and, finally, the next chapter is here.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, an adaptation of the film that kick-started a new era of Star Wars, continues the series’ tradition of everything mentioned above. Yet it also takes some bold chances. It goes beyond the film with new “Star Wars Adventures” — stories that tell untold tales from the movie, like how Lor San Tekka made his way to Jakku with the map to Luke Skywalker. There are side missions, in which you can play as a wide array of characters in tasks that complement the main game. The building mechanic has been revamped, allowing for more configurations and choices. Blaster shootouts have also received an overhaul with an eye toward How-Are-We-Gonna-Get-Out-Of-This Star Wars intensity and authenticity. It goes without saying, but everything is definitely awesome here — you can even play holochess! — and StarWars.com spoke with director Jamie Eden about the making of the game.
StarWars.com: I was wondering if you could talk about where you begin with a LEGO Star Wars game, because you’ve got to follow the movie, you have to add LEGO humor, you have to come up with builds. And then there’s, of course, level design and gameplay, so there’s a lot to juggle. So where do you start?
Jamie Eden: I think the place we tend to start is, look at the film, look at the set pieces, look at the parts that would make good levels. So, for example, you know, Rey and Finn being chased through Niima, the flight of the Falcon at that point — when they first get control of the Millennium Falcon — that’s perfect for a level. That’s a perfect escape sequence. They take down TIE fighters. Usually, we’ll just break it up into bulk parts of, “This section, this section, this section.” We’ll go through and list all the characters we recognize from the film, memorable characters that people would pick out, cool-looking background characters, and then, after that, it’s a case of deciding what abilities all these characters will have. So, you know, Rey’s got a staff, and that’s key to her character, so we use that as part of her mechanics. BB-8’s a sphere. We play on the fact that he’s a sphere, so his mechanics are, treat him like a pinball, use him like a track pad. Then we just go from there, really.
StarWars.com: I’m really curious about the writing of a LEGO Star Wars game because the humor is so important. Do you write organically, or do you do a kind of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to the movie, where you see if there are openings for humor?
Jamie Eden: There are sort of two ways we do it. We’ll obviously look at the film and then see parts where [we can] make light of things that happen in the film or have a joke in that section. And then, secondly, there’s the pass of the writing that goes on that’s part of the levels. We have a really talented lead writer named Graham [Goring]. He’ll go through the levels and assess the puzzles we have, the set pieces, the characters that are in them, and then write cool dialogue for them. So yeah, some of the best bits in the film are off-the-cuff remarks between say, Finn and Han, and the lines we recorded for the game work really well. He’s added extra lines for Han and Finn. John Boyega and Harrison Ford reprised their roles. [Laughs] Some of it’s great. We have one mission where, jokingly, we have to get Wookiee Cookies for Chewie and, unbelievably, we managed to get Harrison Ford to say “Wookiee Cookies.” [Laughs] That’s still one of the highlights of Graham’s career and mine, that we managed to get Harrison Ford to say that.