This May the 4th, we are going beyond the spires of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition to learn more about what went into making the hit PlayStation VR2 title! Leading up to the galaxy’s biggest holiday, we’re sharing interviews with key members of the creative team to give you a look beyond the spires at creating the action-packed experience.
Last up before the official day, we’re chatting with John Nguyen (he/him), Experience Design Supervisor, to learn a little more about bringing a First Order facility to VR.
Spoiler Warning! The below interview discusses the ending of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge. If you haven’t finished playing and are concerned about story spoilers, you may want to bookmark this page and return once you’ve completed the story.
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role working on this experience.
My name is John Nguyen and I am the Experience Design Supervisor here at the studio. As a design lead for Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, I worked to help shepherd our team of designers and creators to craft a unique and exciting experience for our fans.
What was it like creating the First Order mission for the experience?
It was both exciting and challenging to conclude the story of our Droid Repair Technician. We wanted to end our experience on a high note and bring together all the friends the player has met along the way, and show the positive impact that our hero — you — left on Batuu. It was a great, collaborative process combining the story elements with fun game design to craft a compelling ending for our experience.
What were some of the inspirations for this part of the experience?
We wanted to incorporate some classic Star Wars predicaments that are always fun to roleplay. For example, you get to don Stormtrooper armor and infiltrate a First Order facility. Of course, things don’t quite go according to plan, so you must think on the fly and still find a way to save the day.
What exciting things fans can look forward to when playing the First Order mission?
Try your best to act Imperial! We would like to encourage you to play the First Order missions how you imagine you would infiltrate through an Imperial Base yourself. Would you sneak around or attack stormtroopers straight on? The choice is yours.
What is your favorite part of this level that fans get to play?
A very fun moment that one of our designers, Jacob Edelen who is the Lead Experience Designer on the Enhanced Edition, came up with was slicing an Imperial BB unit and causing it to distract a group of Stormtroopers so that our hero could sneak past. It ties so well with the identity of the Droid Repair Technician being in the right place at the right time for this job.
What sort of integrations with other parts of the company were done to align on the visuals/aesthetic of the First Order facility?
The Lucasfilm Art Department helped us define what a hidden First Order base would look like on a planet like Batuu. Our story revolves around some secrecy and deception, so it was fun to collaborate with the art department on the layout of our facility to achieve a look where things aren’t as they seem.
Tell us about the different blasters fans are able to use in the First Order facility.
Along with the standard issue F-11D Blasters, you also get to encounter First Order troops wielding a variety of blasters in this facility. When things get out of hand, you may start to see First Order Riot Control Troopers with their F-11ABA Blasters equipped with an energy shield. For the final encounters, First Order Hover Troopers with their G-125 Projectile Launcher stand between you and your final mission.
Finally, can you tell us about your journey getting to the studio?
My journey into becoming a game designer is a bit unusual. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering then started my career as a Quality Assurance tester for a massively multiplayer online game. I worked my way up and was lucky to eventually join the content design team where I was able to tell exciting stories within the world we built. I joined the studio here at a very exciting time in the industry. Virtual reality devices were just starting to make their way into consumer hands and developers were trailblazing new design ideas. I was enthusiastic about getting into the fray.