Everyone's favorite castle-owning, eyes-focusing CGI character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced to be a character in the Star Wars mobile strategy game Star Wars: Commander at the Star Wars/Marvel Mobile Game panel at Silicon Valley Comic Con. The panel featured Matt Fillbrant from Lucasfilm, and Nathan Etter from Disney Interactive, who spoke about Star Wars: Commander and Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
The panel began by explaining Star Wars: Commander. It's a tactical game set between episodes IV and V, you can choose to play as either the Empire or Rebel Alliance. Since that's a time period that the Marvel comics are currently exploring, synergy between the two was talked about, but sadly no confirmation about the evil 0-0-0 and BT-1 from Kieron Gillen's Darth Vader comic being in the game.
Matt Fillbrant mentioned that there's a team at Lucasfilm up in San Francisco who specifically check interactive media like video games to ensure that they meet the expectations fans have of the Star Wars experience. So that "When they see the Lucasfilm logo, they see the Star Wars logo and hear that music, they will buckle their seatbelts and get a fantastic ride."
Nathan Etter explained that the idea to have two different gameplay styles, one for Rebels where you're a scrappy freedom fighter force versus the overwhelming military might of the Empire was a unique one, because you wanted the game to be similar for all players, but still different enough to make the choice between playing one or the other mean something. "There have been over 5 billion stormtroopers deployed in the game." explained Etter.
"But only one actually hit anything…" quipped Fillbrant.
In December, an update for Star Wars Commander was released which added content from The Force Awakens, using locations and alien races introduced in the film which still logically would have existed in the Star Wars universe during the episode IV and V gap. "Can't use Rey. She isn't born yet!" Etter commented. Mercenaries that either side could hire allowed everyone to get access to the TFA-inspired content. Apparently it worked, as December saw a rush of players joining or returning to the game. They added day and night cycles, based on the time zone the player is currently in as well.
They also pointed out that they have vibrant forum activity. You know who you are. Etter explained that while they love to get input from fans, they can't always implement every suggestion as-is, but that they strive to find ways to take the spirit of that input and incorporate it.
He then spoke about adding Maz Kanata to the game. Her role as being involved in the world of pirates and smuggling, and having been established as a previously existing mover and shaker allowed her to easily be added to Star Wars: Commander.
"Maz will show up in the Cantina with objectives for you. She's heard of your career, of your successes, no matter which side you're playing." explained Etter. Maz will then recruit you for special missions that she wants to see accomplished, which are risky but will offer rewards. Her update will also include mercenaries who are Infiltrators, units that can sneak past enemy defenses and disable shield generators. One is a Kubaz, a race first seen in Episode IV stealthily following Ben and Luke to get to the spaceport, and the other is a Hammerhead. Fillbrant spoke about the effort to make the game feel like Star Wars by incorporating Star Wars characters and themes that the fans will recognize and make it seem authentic. He pointed out that these races are found in the animated shows as well as in the novels, such as Chuck Wendig's novel Aftermath. There's been some cross promotion of material, as characters introduced in the mobile game have appeared in comics.
Fillbrant confirmed that Maz Kanata has a connection to the Force, though the specifics will have to wait for future films, and promoted The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary as being the best resource for Star Wars fans interested in the new movie.
The panel was not open for questions.
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