Skydance Star Wars: Why Amy Hennig's new project is such a big deal
A long time ago.
Another massive project has joined the assortment of upcoming Star Wars games, with Skydance New Media announcing a collaboration with Lucasfilm Games on April 19. Skydance is helmed by Amy Hennig, the award-winning creative director, and writer behind the first three Uncharted games.
Skydance first formed back in 2019, and in 2021 the studio announced it was working on a Marvel video game project with Disney, although we still don’t know exactly what that project is. (And no, it’s not Wolverine — that’s in development at Insomniac, the makers of the Spider-Man and Ratchet and Clank games on PlayStation.) Hennig has been a huge name in gaming for years, but this new Star Wars game is especially interesting due to her history with the Star Wars franchise.
At E3 2016 EA showed a sizzle reel that highlighted a variety of Star Wars projects, one of which was a brand new game from Visceral, the studio behind Dead Space. Dubbed Project Ragtag, Hennig was supposed to serve as the creative director.
EA shut down Visceral Games in 2017 and announced plans to “move” the project to a new developer. (This was back when EA was skeptical about single-player games, a bet which clearly didn’t pay off.) Unfortunately, Project Ragtag saw even more development problems after that and the game was outright canceled in 2019. In the end, the only release game Hennig worked on for EA was Battlefield Hardline, which she was a writer on. EA later got back into the single-player Star Wars bandwagon with 2019’s Jedi: Fallen Order, which has a sequel in the works.
Seeing Hennig return to Star Wars is incredibly exciting, and could represent a kind of rebirth of Project Ragtag, or at the very least ideas for it.
Hennig is clearly passionate about Star Wars, and in today’s press release she says, “I’ve often described how seeing Star Wars in 1977 essentially rewired my 12-year-old brain, shaping my creative life and future indelibly. I’m elated to be working with Lucasfilm Games again to tell interactive stories in this galaxy that I love.”
“We couldn't be more thrilled to be working again with Amy. She and the Skydance New Media team have the talent and ambition to create a unique Star Wars adventure,” said Douglas Reilly, Vice President of Lucasfilm Games. “Their vision for making inviting, cinematic interactive entertainment makes this collaboration very exciting. We’re working hard with their team of experienced and talented developers, and we’re looking forward to sharing more with Star Wars fans when the time is right.”
Even though Project Ragtag was an EA title, Lucasfilm and Disney likely own all rights to the project. It seems like quite a bit of work was done on the game as well.
Inverse previously spoke to Clone Wars and Rebels producer Kevin Kiner, who called his work on Project Ragtag “some of the best Star Wars work he'd ever done.” Kiner recorded nearly an hour's worth of original orchestral music that was never used, and can’t be used for any other Star Wars project. It’s easy to see Lucasfilm wanting to salvage at least some of the work, especially with as prominent a creator as Hennig attached to the project.
Of course, there’s another likely option that Hennig and Skydance could go with, capitalizing on the immense popularity of The Mandalorian. The space-western feel of The Mandalorian is a perfect fit for video games, and Hennig’s experience with Uncharted makes her the perfect person to helm an adaption. Interestingly, another canceled game, Star Wars 1313, seemed to draw direct inspiration from Uncharted for a Boba Fett-centric story. This presents another potential direction Hennig’s new Star Wars could take.
“I’m elated to be working with Lucasfilm Games again.”
There’s another important question this announcement creates, however, and it's something Star Wars games have suffered from for years. Are there simply too many ambitious Star Wars games announced? At the moment we know of Star Wars Eclipse from Quantic Dream, an open-world Ubisoft project, the Knights of the Old Republic remake, a new strategy title from Bit Reactor, a sequel to Jedi: Fallen Order, and a new FPS title from Respawn Entertainment. That’s a ton of different projects, and we know very little about each and every one.
As evidenced by Star Wars 1313 and Project Ragtag, Star Wars games have a grim history of getting canceled before they see the light of day. Skydance’s new game raises questions on if Lucasfilm simply has too many irons in the fire, and if one or more of these projects could also end up on the chopping block. It’s a bit worrisome to see things stretched so thin, especially with so many other Star Wars TV and film projects also in the works. Disney is hammering hard on Star Wars, but that might lead to some serious fatigue.
In the end, though, there aren’t often second chances in the video game industry, and seeing Hennig return to Star Wars is something fans should be excited about.