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Albert Chen - Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II Aimed for "Fantasy Fulfilment"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Would love to see a remake on 3DS

One of the highlights of the GameCube library — a launch title no less — was Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II, a wonderful sequel to the Nintendo 64 original that dazzled with high-end graphics. For fans of the films that wanted to immerse themselves in the action and go all Luke Skywalker, it was an exciting and must-have game.

Factor 5 was the developer — though is now out of business — and one of its former employees has spoken about some of the projects he worked on, including the much-loved GameCube Rogue Squadron titles. This is what Albert Chen told about the design philosophy behind the 'Cube launch title.

I think the number one thing that will make or break your game is whether you have a laser-focus on what game you’re building.

For SW: RS2, we completed development in about 9 months, in time for the Nintendo Gamecube launch. If you look carefully at RS2, the game mechanics were mere refinements over the original. What took the greatest leap was the graphics which really pushed the Gamecube hardware. We also anchored the game’s story and levels to the classic Star Wars trilogy so everyone knew exactly what the game was going to be like. Lastly, our mantra throughout development was “fantasy fulfillment”. If what you were working on didn’t support or make you feel what you felt when you watched the classic trilogy movies, you were working on the wrong thing. All theses elements helped the team focus its efforts on giving fans the truest Star Wars experience in a video game.

Chen also discussed the scripting of levels for both GameCube titles with some tech speak, which is potentially interesting for any budding programmers.

At Factor 5, we used a level editor called L3Dedit which was a proprietary level editor from LucasArts. It evolved over time as we added new functionality to it for each title we worked on. In the original RS, moving objects were stuck on splines which were not rendered in game. That means that all the spacecraft and vehicles were running on tracks and their movement was controlled by adjusting elaborate spline networks.

During RS2, we were able to attach objects onto splines and then script them to leave and use a free-roaming AI. By the time we got to RS3, we were using mostly free-roaming AI and splines were relegated to situations where the designer wanted pinpoint control of a level object’s movement.

For RS2, we used the major movie battles as narrative anchors and graphical set pieces for the main campaign. I worked on the attack on the first Death Star which was the first level in the game and the space portion of the Battle of Endor which came near the end. The Death Star Trench run was my homage to the classic Star Wars vector graphics arcade game. The physical obstacles and the crazy speed in the trench added to the tension and excitement that replicated the feeling you got when you saw that sequence in the theater.

For the Battle of Endor, I really wanted the player to relive the entire sequence so the beginning of that level is fully interactive instead of a cutscene. I used the Millennium Falcon as a visual cue for the player to follow until Admiral Ackbar says “It’s a Trap!”. The Falcon and all the big Rebel capital ships were on splines which had a U-turn. That’s how I was able to get all the Rebel ships turning around in perfect formation. I also threw in the maximum number of spacecraft the game engine could handle because I really wanted the player to feel the epic scope of the battle.

During RS3′s development, we knew that we had to add some new things to the sequel so that’s where the ground vehicle and character combat came in. The character combat borrowed cinematic camera work from the “Devil May Cry” series while the shooting mechanic came from twin joystick arcade shooters such as Robotron and Smash TV. The problem with the character combat was that the mechanic didn’t jive with the Star Wars universe. You never saw Luke mow down a thousand stormtroopers with his blaster. Also, the twin stick shooting controls didn’t really work well with a cinematic camera which frustrated players.

Talking of fantasy fulfilment, the prospects of the GameCube titles appearing on a Wii U Virtual Console were raised, but it was the suggestion of a 3DS remake that particularly appealed to Chen.

Absolutely! I would love to have a whole new generation of gamers play the games that we worked so hard on. I’d love to see a 3D version of RS2 on the 3DS. How cool would that be?!!!!!

Sometimes exclamation marks are over-used, but in this case we think it's fair enough. Did you enjoy the Rogue Squadron titles, and would you like the debut GameCube entry to get the 3DS remake treatment?


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User Comments (39)



Knuckles said:

When Nintendo unveiled the 3DS at E3, I thought how amazing a good Rouge Squadron port would be on the 3DS!



Yasume said:

Is Star Wars still popular today? I'm probably one of the very few gamers who has never seen a Star Wars movie. They seem incredibly dull to me.



Big_Gamer said:

@Yasume seing as both games and books are still being pumped out I'd say yes.
Also, I'd say watch at least one of the classics before deciding if you like them or not



KAHN said:

@Yasume YOU ... ... i'm sorry, i MUUUST post the plinkett reviews... i recommend you only watch the original trilogy (new hope, empire strikes back,return of the jedi) and the reviews below will explain to you exactly why. actually, don't watch the original trilogy at all. George Lucas has altered the movies so much that it's not even fun to watch. i recommend you wait until someone gets permission from LucasArts to re-release the original starwars trilogy.




Samholy said:

never got into the star wars hype. saw the first trilogy when i was a kid. they were kinda cool.then saw the first star wars in a theater and i was bored to death. i couldnt get to like anakin, he got on my nerves quite fast. the jedi that look freshly out of a professional hair stylist, the story halfway thru the second movie until i stopped it, and never cared to watch the turd one.

truly an overhyped thing, there are way better science-fiction movies and ideas around than star wars.

so a star wars game ? i just dont give a damn even if its gorgeously made.



Omega said:

I bought this game as one of my first Gamecube titles paying Euro 70! I only bought it because it was from FACTOR5 the same company that made Turrican on the Amiga. And to be honest, I was pretty disappointed. I think you have to be a fan of the movies or else you'll get bored pretty soon.



moomoo said:

Wow, 9 months. Factor 5 made a launch game for the Gamecube in 9 months that looks better then most Wii games.



Shiryu said:

Every time I think of Factor 5 my heart aches. An integral part of my childhood thanks to "Turrican", "Katakis" and a few more, it truly hurt when they went under. "Rogue Squadron II" is along "F-Zero GX" my most played Game Cube game ever, still finding it's way to the Wii tray every other week. When the Wii U arrives, my Wii will remain hooked up to the TV,because more and more I believe there will never be a better Star Wars game made. Teasing a 3DS outing is outright cruel, everyone knows it would be amazing, even just a Wii compilation of all previous titles would be amazing but here we are in 2012 and it doesn't happen. I have no clue why Lucasarts doesn't actively pursue this goal . RIP Factor 5, thank you for everything.



Shiryu said:

Oh, I just read the comments above that some people don't understand why "Rogue Leader II" is an amazing game. It's all about your age. If you were a kid like me that saw the original trilogy when it first aired and went home to play the Star War games on your ZX Spectrum and you keep on playing them while computer games kept evolving and getting closer and closer the things we imagined as kids, you would immediately understand that "Rogue Leader II" is exactly what we all wanted when we were kids. A game that matched our imagination. The N64 was not able to properly handle Factor 5 ambition, but the Game Cube more then could, and so, we finally got to attack on Star Destroyers whose 3D models were even better then the PC X-Wing /Tie Fighter games!



Whopper744 said:

Used to really love these games, from the original 64 game to the third one. Being able to play Rouge Leader on Co-op when 3 came out was one of my favorite aspects.
Used to love the free-roaming of some levels too.



Spoony_Tech said:

Everything about rouge squadron was awesome. The attention to detail was excellent. The game play was flawless. The cinamatics were perfect. I sure would buy this game at full price on the 3ds. Way better then star fox IMO!



Sabrewing said:

Remember when the Xbox was supposed to get a compilation of all three titles called Rebel X? I wish that game existed.



naut said:

The Rogue Squadron games were all amazing. Such a shame there can really be no sequels or remakes. Kinda feel the same way about X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter.



Rapadash6 said:

That screenshot reminds me of how amazing Rogue Leader looked in its day. Even still, if someone had told me that was a low res shot of a Wii U game, I'd believe them. It's sad to think that Factor 5, who had such a long relationship with Nintendo, went on to make Lair on the PS3, which ultimately led to the developers demise. Even more sad is that thier technical prowess and the level of devotion to understanding the hardware for which they made software was unique among the development community. They did more with the N64 than most thought was possible, and for that, I will always consider them an important part of Nintendo history.



Big_Gamer said:

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK You know, I hate those reviews. I think all the movies are great (EP3 being right behind Empire) and theres honestly only a few small changes that I dont agree with in the OT (like greedo shooting first).
But I do agree that the unaltered versions should be released on Bluray (they do exist on DVD)



KAHN said:

@Big_Gamer how can anyone possibly LIKE the prequals? the reviews are a mix of truth (and mostly truth), opinion, AND humor! Plinkett is by far the greatest critic ever! i mean, you DO know why George Lucas made the prequals, right? he didn't do it for the movies, he did it for the money. Lucas made them because he wanted to make money, and for no other reason. and he did so by shoving in as much crap on the screen as possible, so he could make everything into toys, t-shirts, caps, and other merchandise. he was originally going to call "return of the jedi" "revenge of the jedi" but at the last second he changed the title to "return" so he could save money on ink to put on clothes, t-shirts, caps, etc. i could go on forever about how much i hate Lucas, but i don't want to waste people's time.



Pyotr said:

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK For all his faults and the general crapiness of Episodes 1-3, how can you hate the man who gave us the original New Hope? I remember seeing it at the cinema when it came out. I was about six and it was the first film I ever saw at a cinema. It blew my mind. I could forgive him almost anything for that.
Back on topic, I would love to see Rogue Squadron II on 3DS.



jayo said:

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK Hey, I like the prequels! And NO, Lucas did them for the movies, not for the money! Love them, hate them, they're very important pieces of the SW story line and franchise, so deal with 'em! I could go on forever about why the Prequels are important(or a necessary evil as some would put it), but I also don't want to waste peoples' time as well as my own.

That aside, I'd really like to see a 3DS remake of Rogue Leader, and it should also have the co-op and multiplayer that Rebel Strike had. It should have the old arcade games Rebel Strike had. Most importantly, I would like it to have more unlockable ships from the prequels as well as the Clone Wars series. If there's anything good about the prequels, they did have some cool fighters!



RevolverLink said:

Back when the GCN first came out, I used to walk the 2 miles to my local K-Mart every other weekend just so I could gawk at the Rogue Squadron II demo.



KAHN said:

@Pyotr actually, Lucas had very little to even do with the new hope. and in fact, he had even less to do with the empire strikes back, which is why it's so awesome! if you haven't seen the plinkett reviews, i suggest you watch them. they will completely change your mind about the prequals. they're in my earlier post. also, the characters in the prequals all make no sense at all and have no characteristics at all, whatsoever. don't believe me? i pose to you this simple challenge:
**discribe to me the following StarWars characters WITHOUT saying what they look like, what kind of costume they wore, who acted them, or what their role in the movie was. discribe this character to me like i aint never seen starwars:
-qui-gon jin
-queen amidala
-obi-wan kenobi

-luke skywalker
-han solo
-Darth Vader
when discribing the original trilogy, you can think of things to describe the characters' personality right off the top of your head. but the phantom menace... they don't have a personality.
and Lucas really doesn't care about the films, just money! that's why he's re-releasing the movies in 3D. because really the prequals are aimed towards kids, since nothing would even make sense as an adult. dont believe me? watch the reviews in my earlier post. if Lucas really cared, he wouldn't rush through the first draft, and use that as the script. because that's what he did. it's in the BTS footage. if lucas really cared, he wouldn't be placing movies that make no sense into the theater. to Lucas, Starwars films are only a business. he only makes them because he knows that parents will take their stupid kids to go see that crap.

again, i really advise that you watch the reviews! they will change the way you think of starwars.



accc said:

The 3DS isn't powerful enough to handle Rogue Squadron 2. The game was drawing over 15 million polygons per second, which is more than the theoretical limit of the 3DS's underclocked PICA200 GPU.



sc100 said:

Rogue Squadron 2 is definitely one of my favorite games of all time. I can't even tell you how many times I've played Battle of Endor.



Pyotr said:

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK Okay, I'll watch the reviews! I should point out that I've never tried to defend Episodes 1 - 3. I agree they are a mere shadow of the first three films.



Moonhillwat said:

The Rogue Squadron series are my all-time favorite Star Wars games. I've spent countless hours on the first one (why the hell isn't out on the VC yet?) and remember how completely blown away I was by the second. When kids at school picked on me for choosing the Gamecube because it was "kiddy" and supposedly had worse graphics than PS2/Xbox, I'd point to this game.

A 3DS remake would be awesome, but could the 3DS even handle it? I mean, Factor 5 pushef the Gamecube to its limits with Rogue Leader and Rebel Strike.

@OLD_SKOOL_PUNK, go take your hokey religion somewhere else, please. For one, baaaaaaw. For two, some of us actually like the prequel, so being a missionary with your anti-prequelism is kinda annoying. For three, it's completely unrelated to Rogue Squadron anyways since it has nothing to do with the prequels.



Kirk said:

Still better looking than most current-gen games on Nintendo's various platforms.



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

every time me and my friend would rent out N64 games, Rogue Squadron was always among them. We would alternate driving level to level. I love the series, and own them all (the cooperative rogue leader levels in RS3 are so much fun; much more difficult though).



ajcismo said:

Since the Wii U won't be backwards compatible with the Gamecube, I see this as being a very likely candidate for a GC VC release for the new system. I know, Ninty hasn't said much about the VC on Wii U, but that is only a matter of time. Big N likes making money and there are quite a few 5-star titles on the 'cube that frankly not many people played.
If you haven't seen any of the Star Wars, see them. At the very least see them for their value to cinema and history. These aren't just American Sci-fi movies either, most of the sound stage shooting in all of the movies were done in England, so you good folks across the pond had quite the hand in making these. Start with 4, 5, and 6. Then go 1, 2, 3. This helps soften the blow that is Jar Jar Binks in #1. He might be the worst character in movie history who crushes any chance of making the opening back-story relevant and almost unwatchable, and this is coming from a guy who's seen Ep.4 over 300 times. Empire Strikes Back is the best of the series.



Windy said:

It would be cool to get some ports from the Gamecube such as Rogue Squadron and Phantasy Star Online. They have already ported a PS2 title (tales of the abyss) come on now open the flood gates! These games would be awesome in 3d. Hee hee



alLabouTandroiD said:

I'd also love to see Star Wars games on the Wii U that never made the jump to a Ninty console before. X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Rebel Assault, Jedi Knight if possible, ...



Kisame83 said:

I'd say if you haven't seen them, watch them however you can. Sure, we who grew up on them get tired of Lucas' tinkering. But is a new fan with NO nostalgia going to really care about the half second difference of who shoots first? The Rancor not looking like crap might make up for it haha.

Man, I want these games re-released. But you know what else (unrelated, but a proud spot on my gaming shelf that scratched a similar itch)- Robotech: Battlecry.



BulbasaurusRex said:

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK While it's true that Lucas can't write good dialogue to save his life (others wrote the dialogue in the original trilogy), please don't say that he was in it for the money. This is a guy who nearly went broke making the original movie and then invested his personal fortune from that movie into making Empire Strikes Back. As for Revenge/Return of the Jedi, the reason for the title change is obvious: Jedi don't seek revenge.

As for the prequel trilogy, it certainly isn't as good as the original trilogy, but they're still good movies and complete a truly amazing story when all 6 movies are grouped together. Some people just don't understand that other than possibly A New Hope, none of them are designed to stand alone but to act as parts of a greater whole saga. Yes, Jar Jar is annoying, a lot of the prequel dialogue is terrible, the plot is somewhat hard to follow in Ep. II, and Hayden Christensen can't act his way out of a paper bag, but otherwise it all works. Ep. III in particular is especially well done and would stand up to the original trilogy if it weren't for Hayden Christensen and some of the dialogue.

Anyway, I love the Rogue Squadron games. Rogue Leader is hands down the best launch game for the GameCube. While the land battles did leave something to be desired in Rebel Strike, the game is still excellent, and I couldn't believe that they actually included a co-op version of the entire Rogue Leader campaign.



Joco84 said:

I think I would sh*t my pants if RS2 or Rebel Strike (RS3) came to 3DS. My favourite games in GC era!



NImH said:

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK:Thank you. I completely agree with every point you made. You da man.
Ooh... and I would love to have RS2 on my 3DS! I liked RS3 less for some reason.

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