The man behind the most advanced video game swordplay available today says the time is now right — and the technology is now good enough — for a motion-controlled Star Wars lightsaber video game.
Speaking on Kotaku's live podcast yesterday, Red Steel 2 creative director Jason VandenBerghe said that advances in motion control have removed the technical barriers in the way of a game developer creating the kind of lightsaber Star Wars combat game that many of us assumed would have been released for the Wii as far back as 2006.
"It wasn't really possible before the motion control stuff came out," Vandenberghe said, referring to the advances Nintendo introduced to the Wii remote with last year's Wii MotionPlus, a peripheral required for his own game's swordplay. "Now I understand why. It's stupid and boring and technical, but it really is true that without the motion control information, you just can't do the really satisfying swing and strike mechanics. Now we can. I've got to assume that... Worst case: somebody at Lucas should pick up a copy of Red Steel 2, go play it and then... carry on!"
The Wii MotionPlus improves the sensitivity of the Wii Remote,enabling more advanced detection of the movements a player might make while swinging the Wii Remote through the air. Red Steel 2 uses the peripheral to enable players to accurately swing through a complex variety of attacks and to guard incoming sword strikes from specific angles. Sony's fall-dated Move controller could also be a candidate for the first good lightsaber game. Like a Wii Remote with MotionPlus, it is shaped like the base of a lightsaber and can detect subtle motions.
While LucasArts, the company behind all Star Wars games, has released games for the Wii that support the Wii Remote, all have triggered swings of characters' lightsabers with only very general shakes of the hand. None has portrayed Star Wars action in the manner Red Steel 2 does, through the first-person eyes of a character, sword/lightsaber in hand.
VandenBerghe had expected LucasArts to make such a game already, maybe with you as Darth Vader wielding a red lightsaber — or really, any other kind of lightsaber game. "I was amazed when we got out of Christmas and then through E3 without any announcements about it. It's gotta be coming. Come on."
If technical possibility was a barrier, VandenBerghe may be the best authority to declare that wall breached. He's not just led the design of the most advanced video game sword-fighting mechanics to date, seen in this week's Red Steel 2. He is also a lifelong aficionado of swordplay. He said the fascination began when he was a kid and his parents took him to medieval fairs. From there he took up fencing in high school and, more recently, Kendo and European broadsword. "It's just really fun," he said. "It's a physical experience that requires a great deal of skill. And when you master it, you feel like a badass"
He said he has pitched swordfighting games at every company where he has worked, While his resume includes Activision, EA and, currently, Ubisoft, it never included the house of Star Wars games, Lucasarts.
But from afar, he told Kotaku during our live podcast, he's felt: "Oh god, yes, please. Just do it. Just make a lightsaber game. And if anyone from Lucas is listening, please make a lightsaber game. We all want it. We do."
Lucas, are you listening?