Whether you’re stepping into Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series or Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition, you’re bound to face off against some seriously sinister villains in the Star Wars galaxy. This Halloween we wanted to dive a little deeper into why these characters work so well in VR, and decided to go straight to the source: the folks here at ILM Immersive who helped bring them to life.
Boggs Triff (Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge)
An Arcona gangster without a redeeming quality to be found, Boggs Triff is the villain of Seezelslak’s Tale “The Bounty of Boggs Triff” and is the bounty of the assassin droid IG-88. He rose in power within the Nar Shaddaa neighborhood and, while we did get to learn some more about the experience itself in an earlier interview, we wanted to learn more about this despicable foe himself.
“Boggs the character and the concept for his tower were conceptualized in tandem with our fantastic writer Ross Beeley,” explained Ian Bowie, Experience Designer of the fast-paced Tale. “Ross crafted this idea of a nefarious career criminal that has succeeded through being ruthless and paranoid. I like to think the kind of force Boggs brazenly utilizes shows the ruthless and maniacal methods that he has used in the past to deal with his opposition.”
Ian also let us know that even the smallest of details in his physical appearance were well thought out. “If you look closely you may notice a vial of Salt around his neck. While this may seem innocuous at first, to Boggs’ species, the Arcona, salt is a very addictive substance that changes the eyes of an Arcona to yellow with prolonged use. Even throughout the tower itself there are some very interesting objects that IG-88 can scan that give insight into the nefarious dealings that Boggs is up to. Definitely look for them!”
Baron Yasto Attsmun (Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge)
A notorious cybernetics dealer who was originally seen briefly in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, bringing Baron Yasto Attsmun into VR was an exciting task for the development team. Since so little was known about him before the experience, they really got to explore who he is and why he is such an unscrupulous character.
“The best part about bringing Baron Attsmun into the experience was making up his backstory and filling out a bit of lore in the Star Wars Galaxy,” said Jose Perez III, Director of the experience. “Now, when I’m rewatching The Last Jedi and see his tiny cameo, I see a much more fleshed out character. I love that villain because he’s so fun. Plus, Mark Rolson’s voice for the Baron is amazing.”
With a wicked backstory and the most sinister of intentions, the team knew that he needed to look the part too. Jose added that “it was all about getting his weird catfish mustache right. That thing had to be extremely twirlable for the Baron to really show off his evil intentions!”
Admiral Gable Karius (Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series)
As Darth Vader’s second-in-command on Mustafar, Admiral Gable Karius is stern, unforgiving, and an imposing mix of machine and man. He is also incredibly intimidating in VR, where you can get up close and personal with the person who makes it his mission to ensure you don’t survive your stay. To truly allow his ruthlessness to shine in the experience, the team made sure that your first impression was a lasting one.
“You wake up in a VR interrogation chamber with harsh fluorescent lighting and this unsettling cyborg imperial officer is standing right there in front of you,” said Kishore Vijay, one of the Animators on the experience. “The audio and effects add to the chills, and his performance is understated and cold. When he advises you ‘do not anger Vader,’ it sends shivers down your spine.”
Kishore also added that this was particularly effective because “here is this guy, standing inches away from you and you can almost feel his presence. VR is a great medium for this kind of visceral thrill and sense of immersion, as these villains are more intimidating when you are right there and can almost reach out and touch them.”
Tara Rashin (Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge)
Guavian Death Gang cell leader Tara Rashin has made a reputation for herself due to her combination of savviness and brutality. She quickly worked her way up the Death Gang ranks and has since developed a lucrative relationship with the First Order. And while we have seen the Death Gang before in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Tara is a brand-new character for Tales.
“Tara was so much fun to bring to life,” said Michael Koperwas, Visual Design Supervisor on the Enhanced Edition. “We imagined what a toll her growing up in the ranks would have taken on her, but that it was also what she loved. For me, the best moment was when Debra Wilson voiced her lines, and then Tara was real!”
Since most Death Gang leaders don’t flaunt their cybernetic augmentations, Michael shared that “her cybernetics were physical manifestations of her demeanor – nothing was going to stand in her way. We imagined that she had stories to go with each change, and all the tuning she went through to get it just how she wanted it. Tara’s rise through the ranks was due so much to her ingenuity, and the augmentations were as much her choice as they were necessities.”
Lieutenant Gauge (Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge)
With an unwavering loyalty, Lieutenant Gauge truly believes that the First Order will last forever and that nothing will get in his way to keep it in power. Now on Batuu, the ambitious Lt. has made it his mission to ensure that new recruits see the Galaxy through his eyes. When introducing him, the team took care to ensure that his entrance was as grand as the legacy that the First Order keeps.
“In Tales, we first meet Lt. Gauge in a First Order Facility interrogation room,” explains Ronman Ng, CG Supervisor on the Enhanced Edition. “We are in a lower gallery area where he appears above us, and we use this framing to make an imposing and formidable first impression. It also reinforces the imbalance in the power dynamic as he interrogates our friend.”
First Order villains are quintessential Star Wars characters that we love to hate. For Ronman, he shared that part of the fun of this love-hate relationship is because they are imperfect. “There is something about being so single-minded that opens them up to flaws. They remind us to step back and see the bigger picture in all circumstances.”
Darth Vader (Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series)
One of the most iconic – if not the most iconic – villains to ever terrorize the galaxy is Darth Vader himself. Beyond his distinguished looks even the way he breathes is instantly recognizable, and in Vader Immortal you have the opportunity to come face-to-face with Lord Vader in a way that is as equally exhilarating as it is terrifying.
Alyssa Finley, Producer on the experience, explained that Darth Vader works so well in VR because “when you’re in VR, you’re all in. There’s nowhere to look away, nowhere to hide. From the first moment you hear that signature breath in the dark distance, to the moment where he approaches and looms over you, your every sense is blaring ‘danger!’ Being in the same room with Vader is a very intense experience.”
John Nguyen, Design Director on the experience, also said that “VR gives us the affordance to be fully immersed into a world and really feel the presence of the characters addressing you. Watching Vader on the silver screen only gives you a glimpse of his impressive size and dominance. When you are in the same room as him while he is looking down on you, no Jedi mind tricks are needed to obey his every command. When Darth Vader intimidates you in VR, it’s menacing!”
“I just think Darth Vader is a terrific villain,” added Alyssa. “He’s powerful, huge, iconic, and unmistakable. And broken, in ways that are pretty unimaginable, but also, tragic. To get to spend time with and around him, to understand a little more of who he was and what motivated him, and to ultimately get to fight him yourself. I can’t think of a more iconic Star Wars fantasy.”
Our team has had a blast bringing these evildoers from the Star Wars galaxy to life in VR and we hope that you also had just as much fun meeting them! We’d love to know which ones are your favorite, so be sure to visit @ILMImmersive and leave a comment on any of our villain photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
If you haven’t already had a chance to step into these exciting stories, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition is available now on PlayStation VR2 here. All three episodes of Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series are available for Meta Quest here and PlayStation VR here.
Happy Halloween from all of us here at ILM Immersive!