Interview with Jonathan Smith (Giant Interactive/TT Games/ LEGO Star Wars)
(Original posting: March 15, 2005)

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LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game takes one of the most successful toy brands ever and lets you play a full length video game using their version of Star Wars characters in Prequel era situations. There are vehicles you can use, puzzles to solve and much fun to be had. Development Director, Jonathan Smith of Giant Interactive (now TT Games Publishing) took some time out to answer a few questions about the game and why it’s fun for all ages. (Original posting: March 15, 2005)

T-bone: Who originally came up with the idea for LEGO Star Wars and how did they pitch it to Lucasfilm?

Jonathan Smith: It was Tom Stone, while we were both working at LEGO, who initially suggested the game to Lucasfilm. We went over to their offices soon afterwards to present the first concept: all the action from Episodes I, II and III, in a new LEGO way. The team there just got behind the idea, straight away. It was very exciting.

T-bone: What was it that got Lucasfilm behind the project?

Jonathan Smith: Well, everyone there knew how cool the idea of LEGO Star Wars already was, based on the huge success of the LEGO Company’s toy range. LEGO have been creating Star Wars characters and models since 1999, with a unique perspective. And the proposal to bring that special universe to life in a video game, just made perfect sense. We had some big ambitions from a design and gameplay point of view, and I suppose everyone was just curious to see what would happen.

T-bone: How does the co-op mode work? Can people just join and drop whenever they want to?

Jonathan Smith: That’s exactly right. The whole game works as a single-player experience if you like, but a second player can join in the action at any time. Equally, either player can “drop out” again if they like, leaving their character under AI control. It’s a completely fluid system, which works really well.

T-bone: Will you get to play as Darth Vader? Palpatine?

Jonathan Smith: But of course. You’ll get to play as *every* character from the first trilogy. We have over 50 different playable characters.

T-bone: How long has this game been in development?

Jonathan Smith: Over two years. We had some big ideas, and set aside the time necessary to get in all the depth and polish we originally dreamed of.

T-bone: How is this game different from other Star Wars video games, besides the obvious?

Jonathan Smith: Well, there’s a long history of very different Star Wars games, from Star Wars Arcade through the early home console titles; the superlative LucasArts space sims, those great Nintendo classic-trilogy games, and the new generation of Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront. We’re different too—but it’s a big universe!

T-bone: Can you tell me anything about the Episode III portions?

Jonathan Smith: We tell the whole story of Episode III, along with Episodes I and II. It’s all in the game.

T-bone: Is there a “Classic Era” game in the works?

Jonathan Smith: Would you like one?

YES!


LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game is rated E for everyone and will be available for PC, Xbox, PS2 and Gameboy Advance.

(Original posting: March 15, 2005)

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