Visceral’s now-defunct version of a Star Wars game would have a heist story with a focus on “scoundrels in space,” according to a new report.
Kotaku’s new report on the production and eventual shutdown of both Visceral Games and its untitled Star Wars project, codenamed Ragtag, delves into vision for gameplay and story director Amy Hennig and the studio attempted to create. According to the report, which involved the input of nearly a dozen former Visceral employees, the game would have followed Dodger, a “‘cracked mirror version’ of Han Solo” in a story of crime families, heists, and more.
Dodger would have been joined by a number of other scoundrels in the third-person action title, including a gunslinger named Robie, a mob boss’ daughter named Oona, and Buck, who would have acted like a mentor to this band of misfits. The story, which co-writer Todd Stashwick recently commented on, took place between the original 1978 film and The Empire Strikes Back, with a focus on the impact of Alderaan’s decimation.
According to the report, EA execs wanted the project to be somewhat distinguishable from Hennig’s last franchise, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted, when it came to gameplay. The game reportedly would have let players control several members of this team, with an emphasis on sabotaging environments so that enemies could be distracted in non-lethal ways. An example of the Death Star and its crew of Stormtroopers was used to convey the team’s reported plans.
Reported key art for Visceral’s now-defunct Star Wars project Ragtag, featuring some of its core cast, via Kotaku
“One Stormtrooper was on a command unit, moving boxes around. Some guys would be droids. It was supposed to be set up so it was all real, and it felt like they had jobs to do,” one source told Kotaku. Players would be able to toy with the emotions of a Stormtrooper, instilling fear or confusion in them based on actions in the world.
The report also suggests that EA “demanded” a multiplayer function be incorporated into the project on top of the single player campaign. It reportedly would have featured space combat that pulled inspiration from Yuma, a smaller, canceled project within Visceral that featured Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag-esque pirate gameplay in space.
THennig reportedly had little interest in diving into some of the most recognizable aspects of Star Wars canon, like the Jedi, lightsabers, and the Force. According to the report, EA was unhappy with the lack of recognizable elements and characters in what Visceral was building.
And as for actually implementing those gameplay ideas, progress was reportedly very slow on Ragtag. Kotaku reports that a traversal system had been made for Dodger and his squadmates. The team reportedly put plenty of time into the brief glimpse of the game shown in 2016, down to the precise movements of where Dodger placed his hands, but one source told Kotaku that core gameplay like shooting or actual environments hadn’t yet been determined.
“We don’t have a single environment for Dodger to exist in… How do you build a system if you don’t know what your average area is gonna be,” the source told Kotaku.
The project’s slow progress caused EA to reportedly bring EA Vancouver, the studio now in charge of leading a refocused version of the game, into production in late 2016. And though reportedly progress was made in 2017, and Ragtag demos featuring am AT-ST chase, a Tatooine shootout, and a descent into Jabba’s palace, issues like an overt similarity to Uncharted games and a lack of a key innovation the team could implement reportedly led to the cancellation.
“We will always look at every way we can keep working on the ideas, and we did a lot of that here. We supported the team and their creative process, and we tried a lot of things,” EA executive president Patrick Soderlund told Kotaku. “But at some point, you have to be honest with yourselves, and realize that we’re not going to be able to get to where we want to be.”
Find out more details in Kotaku’s full report and find out what Soderlund had to say about whether the game was canceled because of its single player focus. And for more on the project, read about Soderlund’s original announcement regarding the closing of Visceral and the project’s alterations and check out the Podcast Unlocked crew’s thoughts about the implications of EA’s decision.
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.