Tech overload had almost killed the crisis-hit project

Blackman recounts Force Unleashed dev nightmare

LucasArts’ departing producer Haden Blackman has taken Develop through the story of how the first Force Unleashed project came close to death.

In a new feature published today, Blackman spoke candidly of the gigantic ambition and task that faced the studio.

“When we pitched [The Force Unleashed] to George Lucas we had a video of all this destruction and lots of interaction going on, and he said he loved it,” Blackman revealed.

“I remember walking out of the meeting thinking ‘oh god how do we make this game’.”

Blackman proceeded to list all the problems that The Force Unleashed had faced – admitting that he wouldn’t have signed on such a project if those risks were identified.

“It was the culmination of everything. We started The Force Unleashed with ten people, so we built a brand new team, the studio was going through a lot of changes and we were building a brand new studio, a brand new engine, a brand new toolset, three different integrated technologies – one which we never worked with before and two others that hadn’t shipped before.

“Oh, and we were building this on new platforms. When we started we didn’t even have a 360 or PS3 dev kit. If we were to sign on an external developer, and they showed three or four of those risks, we would cancel signing them on.”

Blackman said the studio was “insane” to integrate three different external technologies together, in reference to physics tools Molecular Matter, Euphoria and Havok.

“It almost killed the project a couple of times,” he said. “If I was told how much I’d have to do to make it work, I don’t know if I would take up the offer.”

In the full interview, Blackman explains in greater detail how the team also faced huge challenges when building for the PS3 – without even being given a dev kit by Sony.

“I think LucasArts were relieved that we finished the game and survived,” he said.

“Just the fact that we got the game done at all… just a huge success for us. That phrase that a poem is never finished, only abandoned, I think is true to videogames as well.”

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