I was lucky enough to play Star Wars Battlefront (opens in new tab) at E3 and it's so Star Wars it hurts. From sound effects to the badly acted pinwheeling arms on Stormtroopers flying back from blaster hits, it nails the essentials. As well as playing it, I also got a chance to chat to senior producer Sigurlína Ingvarsdottir and managed to ask a question that had bugged me the moment I first pulled the trigger on an E-11 blaster rifle:
How do you balance weapons that don't exist?
"That’s the challenge," is Sigurlína's reply. "I think that there’s a lot that’s known about Star Wars. People that we worked with at Lucasfilm have supported other game teams for quite a while so some of the challenges that we are facing, other teams have faced. So we get to share learning with them". And while DICE knows shooters, when it comes to Star Wars? That's Lucasfilms' house. "They have some very specific opinions about how things need to work in order to be consistent with the logic of the Star Wars universe," she explains. (Elsewhere, another DICE person told me the reason you can't shoot through your own shields is because it's inconsistent with the original films.)
Clearing the finer details of a DL-44 blaster pistol's fire rate with Lucasarts isn't a simple job though, according to Sigurlína. "We work with a group called the Production Group. Then there’s the Story Group. They have a set direction for how things work and how things are. We work pretty closely so they tell us 'this works this way, this works that way. We can tweak this, this we can’t change.'"
Sigurlína says the final word lies with Lucasfilm: "what they say doesn’t work is what doesn’t work," but adds, "of course, games are not movies. Things that are obvious from a movie perspective don’t necessarily work in a game. You have to make concessions for the medium and make sure if it looks fantastic. If it isn’t fun as a weapon or as a hero or as a vehicle then nobody benefits. [Lucasfilm] understand that. We go back and forth on issues and usually we solve it. There aren’t many cases of something that we really wanted to do that didn’t make it".