New Star Wars Game Creative Director Amy Hennig Using Full Performance Capture

The next new Star Wars game franchise is coming from an all-star team of game developers. Amy Hennig and Todd Stashwick are writing the game, with Hennig, an alum of the Uncharted series, acting as Creative Director. The team also boasts Jade Raymond (producer on the original Assassin's Creed games), and is working closely with Lucasfilm's story group led by Kiri Hart. Even Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm's executive creative director and the man behind so many of the instantly recognizable ship, armor, and character designs, is helping the team build the look and feel of Star Wars into the game. Its story will be adding to the canon of the franchise, and allow fans to explore new characters and eras in the Star Wars history.

If that wasn't enough to get excited about, Hennig recently gave some additional details in an extensive must-read profile interview with Glixel.com. The piece, covering the award-winning game maker's career, highlighted Star Wars first, and her excitement over the project is palpable.

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(Photo: EA Games)

When Hennig first saw Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope at age 12, her reaction was, "Hoooooleeeee sh*t," she said. "There was something about it that felt completely different to what we'd seen before. It was almost like a door had opened in my head." She knew within the year that she wanted to make films, but the video game industry didn't exist as it does today, so she had no idea her storytelling would wind up being of the interactive variety. Now, she's using filmmaking techniques in her game design, something that worked to great effect in the Uncharted series.

"The origin of our medium is engineering, so it's taken us a while to wrap our heads around the fact that we have to use the same skills as a film director when we're making games. The argument is that if we get too hung up on trying to recreate the language of other mediums, we're not going to discover our own... Which sounds poetic – but it's kind of dogmatic," she said.

To that end, instead of simply using motion capture and voice over, or one or the other, Hennig and her team are using full performance capture, akin to what Andy Serkis has done in films like Planet of the Apes or, yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That means the actors are on a soundstage together, with props and limited set pieces (think the boxes and chairs you'd see on an improv stage, not the fully-realized cliffs and vehicles you'd see in a movie), and are recording entire scenes. They act these out in full motion capture suits, with dots on their faces and cameras hovering in front of them to capture every tiny facial tick and eye movement, all allowing for the final product of a fully-realized piece of performance.

"There's no such thing as ensemble recording in games, really," Hennig explained. "And that's dumb, when you think about it, because acting is really reacting, and when you're recording one actor doing a scene, they need to be reacting to something."

It doesn't hurt that her writing partner Stashwick, who also worked on the Uncharted series with her, is an accomplished actor with improv experience. The actor, currently a series regular on Syfy's 12 Monkeys, has not yet been confirmed as playing a roll in the game itself, though eagle-eyed fans notice the back of the main character in footage so far (only his back has been shown) sure seems to look a lot like Stashwick's height, hair, build, and gait.

Despite the two Uncharted alums, she assures fans this game won't simply be "Star Wars: Uncharted," and that it will pull from the films' unique sense of storytelling, even aluding to the possibility of multiple point-of-view characters, giving other members of the main character's crew or even the villains of the story a spotlight at times. As much as she is pulling from her work on Uncharted and other triple-A games, Hennig says she looks to indie titles and even other mediums for inspiration.

"Like so many people, I have favorite books, movies and games that shaped me as a person, and that were a refuge in difficult times," she said. "They inspired me, sparked my imagination, exposed me to ideas, and transported me to worlds that I would otherwise never have experienced. That I, in my career, have the privilege of crafting similar experiences for other people...it's humbling.'

Read the full profile at Glixel, and stay tuned for more news on the next Star Wars games from EA soon.

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