The lights are on
[This feature originally appeared in Game Informer issue #253]
Fear. Anger. Hate. Suffering. This is the transformative experience Austin-based developer Red Fly Studio was hoping to deliver when they were commissioned by LucasArts to create a game starring Darth Maul, the popular Sith Lord who debuted in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.
The studio envisioned a dark coming-of-age tale, showing a young Maul forced against his will into the Sith hierarchy. “We wanted people to see him as a kid kidnapped by emperor Palpatine and tortured – physically, mentally, and emotionally – becoming this powerful Sith Lord,” says a developer who worked on the project but wishes to remain anonymous. “You got angry, you got frustrated, and you made the same mistakes he did. No one has ever seen Sith training up close. No one has ever seen how to construct a Sith from kid to adult. We’ve only seen the five-second turn: Anakin Skywalker cries a little bit, and then he’s evil.”
In all six Star Wars films, Palpatine plays the role of a shadowy -puppeteer, manipulating people into strategic positions for his personal gain. Red Fly’s pitch would have given gamers a close look at his dark schemes and the role Maul played in them. As the plot progressed, the relationship between master and apprentice would have eroded to the point of Maul raising his double-sided saber – which you, the player, helped him construct – against Palpatine.
“You want to fight him, and of course that’s what he wants,” recalls the developer. “Our story basically bookended at the end of The Phantom Menace with Maul’s death. We felt [this story] would be a really solid, large game, maybe two games.”
Red Fly was never given the chance to pitch this vision to LucasArts, but their time with the Sith Lord didn’t end there. The project was injected with a new vision, not once but twice – one idea coming from the Clone Wars animated series, and another from George Lucas, who proposed a crazy idea that took everyone by surprise, and would have shattered the temporal fabric of the Star Wars universe had it seen the light of day.
Red Fly’s team was taken on a rocky journey, starting with the hope that their unknown studio could make an impact with one of the world’s most beloved franchises, and ending with LucasArts applying a proverbial Force choke suffered by many hopeful developers who believed they had great Star Wars stories to tell.
Coming Up Next: Red Fly Proves their worth...
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