The Visceral Star Wars game, Project Ragtag, Uncharted meets Star Wars. Whatever name you use, it's just as disappointing that we'll never get to play it - and a new US Gamer (opens in new tab) interview with Amy Hennig, the former creative director of the project, makes its absence feel just as keen as the day EA announced the change of direction and developer (opens in new tab). As if millions of voices suddenly cried out, saying "We'd really like another great Star Wars game one of these years."
As far as rose-colored memories of the LucasArts days go, there was a particular appeal to EA's Project Ragtag: a big-budget, cinematic action adventure game following a charismatic hero. And Hennig didn't deny the common comparisons to her work on the first three Uncharted games, noting also how EA's internal development structure wasn't set up to support it.
"I think Visceral was sort of beset with a lot of challenges," Hennig said. "Even so, we were making a game; people have said it was an Uncharted Star Wars. That's sort of reductive, but it's useful because people can kind of visualize something in their head. But what that meant is we obviously had to take the Frostbite Engine, because there was the internal initiative to make sure that everybody was on the same technology, but it was an engine that was made to do first-person shooters not third-person traversal cinematic games.
"[We had to build] all of that third-person platforming and climbing and cover taking and all that stuff into an engine that wasn't made to do that. We did a lot of foundational work that I think the teams are still benefiting from because it's a shared engine, but it's tough when you spend a lot of time doing foundational stuff but then don't get to go ta-da! Here's the game."
Despite all that, Hennig said the project was going along fine before the end. She did mention that the development style she'd grown accustomed to at Naughty Dog, going out on limbs to see what works and occasionally turning around to say "Holy crap, we did it", never quite gelled with EA's approach to "management and control". Another business-driven disconnect later brought about the end of the project.
"I wish people could have seen more of it because it was a lot farther along than people ever got a glimpse of," Hennig said. "And it was good, you know? But it just didn't make sense in EA's business plan, ultimately. Things changed over the course of that time I was there. So you know, what can you do."
Hennig had moved on from EA by the time the team at EA Vancouver took the lead on the rebooted Star Wars project (before it was reportedly canceled (opens in new tab)), but she said "everything I've heard secondhand was the stuff they were making was really cool".
"Very different from what we were doing, obviously being sort of an open-world experience is completely different, but everyone I've ever talked to informally said it was really, really cool. And it's really disappointing. Just like it was disappointing that Ragtag got canceled. So who knows, maybe those ideas will get resurrected. This is not like this stuff's getting erased, all that work is there. I would love to see what they were making just as I'd love to see people see what we were making."
There's still hope for an EA project in a galaxy far, far away: check out everything we know about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (opens in new tab).