Proving it’s worth
Before being commission by LucasArts to work on the canceled Darth Maul game, Red Fly Studio had only had three published Wii games under their belt: Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars, Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked, Ghostbusters: The Video Game (a game they also brought to PlayStation 2).
Come early early 2010, Red Fly Studios had be chosen to work on The Force Unleashed II in part because of LucasArts’ discontent with the quality of developer Krome Studios’ port of the Wii version of the initial Force Unleashed video game, despite it selling well (Part of why I love LucasArts I’ll add).
“Not on purpose, we carved out that we were the Wii guys,” says Red Fly CEO Dan Borth as reported in the May 2014 edition of Game Informer. “They wanted [the Wii port of Force Unleashed II] to be better, but didn’t know what to do really. We built a demo in two weeks with little assistance from LucasArts. Neil Garrett, their head of external production, thought we should do it.”
LucasArts was caught off guard with how fast the 50 man development team had been moving with Force Unleashed II to the point of not being able to deliver art assets to Red Fly in a timely manner. So the project was codenamed “Swift.”
“The project moved quickly – way too fast for LucasArts to give us art assets in a timely manner,” says Borth. “So we built almost everything from scratch.”
The rest is history. Red Fly shipped the Wii version of The Force Unleashed II on time and it critically received as the best version of the game, just as the Wii version of The Force Unleashed developed by Krome Studios.
While LucasArts saw The Force Unleashed II as another failure, Red Fly’s involvement was successful enough for them to be tapped by LucasArts president Paul Meegan to work on a brand new intellectual property starring Darth Maulfrom Nintendo and LucasArts for either the Nintendo 3DS, Wii, or, at the time, the upcoming Wii U system.
“They kind of kept us on the hook,” Borth recalls. “They told us Force Unleashed III was coming, and there were some rumors we might actually get the next-gen versions to prove ourselves worthy, but they just kind of dismissed us as, ‘You are just the Wii guys. You can’t do that.’ When publishers look at you, you have to fit into their wheelhouse or you don’t get the job.”
“I got a call from Paul, and he asked me if I would be interested in making a Darth Maul game,” Borth says. “I was like ‘Yes, of course, of course.’ They signed us to a contract that was basically, ‘You guys start working on ideas, start working on demos, start working on mechanics.’ It wasn’t really a game contract; it was more like a work-for-hire, month-to-month thing. We started to flesh out our ideas and content and stuff like that. I think after about three or four months we entered into the game contract. It got intimate pretty quick.”
While Borth never went into specifics, other sources that worked on the game confirmed to GI that it was at this time that the studio had dreamed up the origin story of Maul’s transformation into a Sith Lord.
More on this story soon.