5 things developers should avoid in new Star Wars games

Star Wars is one of the most expansive and revered science fiction universes ever created. So how has this amazing series fared in the video game industry? In all honesty, not so great. The history of Star Wars video games is a mixed bag of greatness and not-so-greatness. We've had the fortune of playing great Star Wars titles like X-Wing, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, and Empire at War. Unfortunately, for each great game that came out, there was another that was disappointing.

Below is a list of five things that developers need to avoid to prevent disappointing games like Rebel Assault, Masters of Teräs Käsi, and The Force Unleashed from making a return in the next generation.

1. Too much reliance on the Jedi and Sith

All of the galactic powers in the Star Wars universe have their own command structures. So why during all these years, when searching for an antagonist in the Galactic Empire, do game developers always default to a Sith? Has the famous “I find your lack of faith disturbing” scene merely been forgotten? That scene, from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, shows a large table full of high-ranking officers that are just normal people with no Force powers.

There is a lot more to the Star Wars universe than the Jedi and Sith. Within this expansive universe, there is a near infinite amount of character types ranging from bounty hunters to nomadic alien pre-owned-droid dealers. Give us a title that goes deeper than the Force--something with some real emotional impact. Focusing only on the blockbuster frills of the Jedi and Sith, out of all the content in the Star Wars universe, is a disservice to Star Wars fans and the breadth of Star Wars' extended lore. The Force is awesome, but to use it strictly for its flash value and marketability is to take a step toward the dark side of the entertainment industry. The Force is an extension of the characters who wield it; it cannot be a stand-in for character development.

On the Star Wars Wookieepedia--the hairiest of wiki sites--there are currently 103,400 pages (and growing) of information that has been passionately uploaded by thousands of fans around the world. This wiki covers everything you could imagine about Star Wars and it was all done without any form of pay. If game developers approached the Star Wars universe with the same passion and breadth that these fans have, we could all be in for a real treat.

2. The Force being a bit too unleashed

We all know the Force is the greatest power in the Star Wars universe, but in recent years developers have shown the force used in particularly powerful ways. For example, Starkiller, the main character in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, pulled a Star Destroyer down to the ground with the Force. Now this is certainly not an impossible feat with the power of the Force, but is having that much power in a game fun? Well, maybe, but for it to truly work would require some serious gameplay balancing that has yet to be seen.

It is important for gamers to feel a great sense of progression throughout a game. The game's difficulty must always remain balanced with the power of the player (and the Force) to remain entertaining or it just becomes too easy and senseless. Games that take place in the Star Wars universe have done this successfully in the past--Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II is one such game. At the start of Dark Forces II, the protagonist Kyle Katarn has no Force abilities and no lightsaber--just a blaster and a pair of fists. By the end of the game, the player has a lightsaber and a few Force abilities of your choice. This gave players just enough to work with, without making everything too easy.

Developers must exercise a level of restraint with all things in the gaming industry, but especially when tackling something as daunting as the power of the Force.

3. Short, bland story mode

Not many Star Wars games have been successful without a strong narrative. A good ... (continued on next page)

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