Here at Ars Technica we think of our own Rogue One-style heist adventure in the near future. In our case, instead of sending Rebel troops to die in search of the Death Star’s plans, we’re thinking about ordering some clumsy nerds to steal the Rolodex and contact list from Kotaku’s Jason Schreier.
I mean, not really, but the Star Wars metaphor is apt today, as the reporter posted a huge story on Friday explaining what went on behind the scenes before EA doubled down on a “close studio and canceled a game” last week. In his report, Schreier cites “nearly a dozen” anonymous sources from the world of EA and its former subsidiary Visceral Games.
The long report continues on Schreier’s own claims last week that Visceral’s shutdown came for reasons not clear in the official EA announcement. Instead, the closing and closing of a game project codenamed ragtag, amounted to a general stench about an expensive and poorly organized production run, not to mention the awkward shoehorning of EA’s Frostbite graphics engine (which EA had forced the studio to use). “Like BioWare on dragon era and Mass effectVisceral found himself trying to make a third-person game on an engine built for first-person shooters,” writes Schreier, and based on AndromedaIt’s not hard to imagine the havoc he said ensued.
Ironically, the project took off when LucasArts closed in 2013 and a team of its former staffers flocked to Visceral with designs for rebooting their canceled Star Wars 1313 project. Schreier explains that Visceral picked those staffers to instead work on internal projects, including an ultimately canceled open-world pirate game, before EA took over the rights to Star Wars video games a month later. That changed everything and put Visceral’s Star Wars plans in motion. It turns out that, according to Schreier, EA had asked Visceral to scrap its existing pirate game and turn it into an open-world “space villain” game.
Schreier tells an unsurprising story of headbutts that eventually came to be between the developers and publishers of Visceral. Among the problems: ragtag would focus on an all-new crew of “rogues and criminals,” with a lofty premise that players would switch between characters to complete wacky missions, and LucasArts had given Visceral the go-ahead to create new non-Jedi characters in the original… trilogy timeline. But EA Brass was concerned about the game’s lack of familiar faces. “Two former Visceral employees recall EA going to… ragtag and ask where Chewbacca was,” Schreier writes.
The report details exactly how the game’s director, Amy Hennig (formerly of the not mapped series), found herself in a far from ideal leadership environment, with sources both criticizing and forgiving her inability to lead the project (which she had steered away from open-world combat and toward a linear, Uncharted-esque one). ragtagThe eventual merger with EA Vancouver didn’t help matters, which came as Visceral staffers saw EA Brass’ confidence in the project waning and started looking for jobs elsewhere. EA Vancouver is now the lead studio working on a project that may be picked up ragtag‘s scraps.
It is seriously doubtful whether Hennig de Star Wars gameplot she had developed to release a book version, for example. It sounds pretty killer: “Set between the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, ragtag would focus on the impact of the destruction of Alderaan and tell a story of criminal families, villains and action-packed robberies,” Schreier writes, reporting that all of his sources “unanimously” described the development and build-up of the plot as “amazing She declined to respond to Schreier’s request for comment, as any comments had to be approved by EA, and it remains unclear what, if any, she will continue to make for EA.
EA issued a statement from director Patrick Söderlund to Kotaku instead of answering Schreier’s many pointed questions. It reads in part: “This really isn’t about the death of single-player games — I love single-player, by the way — or story- and character-driven games. Storytelling has always been part of who we are, and single-player games are of course going to This is also not about needing a game that makes money in a certain way. Those are both important topics, but that’s not what this is. Ultimately, this was a creative decision.”
For more context and reporting, visit Kotaku to read the full story.