Talking Star Wars: The Force Unleashed mobile (part 2)

On how developing for N-Gage has been an arduous dream

Talking Star Wars: The Force Unleashed mobile (part 2)

In the first part of our interview with Henri Roth (pictured), creative director at Finnish developer Universomo, who's working on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, we focused on the CellWeaver control method.

But with that out of our system, we're switching to some more general questions about the N-Gage and Java version of the Lucasarts' title that's also coming to DS, PSP and other consoles during September.

Pocket Gamer: How does the plot of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed mobile compare into the console versions of the game?

Henri Roth: Think of this as the Reader's Digest version of the authoritative story [smiles]. Basically, we have the same story arch as on the console but under that arch we have been allowed to take some liberties.

There's a hardcore Star Wars fanbase, but also a lot of people who feel saturated by Star Wars culture. How do you think the game will attract them?

I think great production values are a good start; the cinematic quality of the visuals and audio will attract people to the game. After we've got them that far, the hypnotic nature of CellWeaver will make them fall for the game [winks].

In terms of N-Gage version, what was the process of developing the game in comparison to the more traditional Java version?

Arduous [laughs]. Don't get me wrong. The N-Gage platform has been a dream. It is just great to be able to develop in native C++ and not care about Symbian. But, being our first N-Gage game, we had to spend a lot of time and effort in building our engine and tools pretty much from scratch. After that, the biggest difference to a Java game project has been the gargantuan amount of content we had to create and manage for the game.

Can you say anything about how you're using the N-Gage Arena for multiplayer and/or downloads as well as the community aspects?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a story-driven single-player game and doesn't support multiplayer on any level. However, the game supports global rankings and high-score boards when playing Survival Battles, an alternative game mode realised with the same game engine as the Story Mode but having a more arcadey angle on the gameplay. Of course, the game also supports Point Plays, the N-Gage equivalent for achievements. No downloads have been planned.

What do you think has been the most difficult thing to get right?

On the art direction/storytelling frontier it has been difficult to make the places, beings and devices as true to canon as possible. There is so much out there to conform to and, on the other hand, not enough when it comes to the new stuff Lucas is inventing right now as we speak.

On the game design frontier it must have been the controls. Our faith has been tested many times during the process. At first, we had to sell the idea to others. Then we had to develop, test, and redevelop the controls. Then modify them to best support the varied devices that run N-Gage. Then try and come up with gameplay and level design that would make the best of the controls. And, finally, explaining ourselves for doing them in the first place [smiles].

Finally, what are you most proud of?

Well, this has clearly been more of a console game kind of production than a traditional mobile game production. For a mobile game developer like Universomo that is a pretty new experience. I am proud that we as a company got the talent and were able to pull this off. I am proud of the people who made Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

Our thanks to Henri for his time. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is due to be released for N-Gage and mobile during September.
Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.