Interviews

Peter Hirschmann, LucasArts

We put the LucasArts boss under the interview microscope where he talks, Star Wars, Indy and life with George

This is Peter. Peter's not sure how it happened, but he's got our dream job - vice president of product development at LucasArts. He's the guy who makes and plays the games.

First off, we thought the Digital Molecular Matter demo at E3 where you froze him in carbonite and fired R2-D2s at him, was great...
Yeah, that was pretty cool. We showed that to George (Lucas) a couple of weeks before the show and it got a huge chuckle-laugh from him. We actually built a full-size Jar-Jar in carbonite replica, which is hidden behind the lobby here. It's really creepy in person.

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Are they going to feature him in a future movie? It'd definitely make a good mini-game.
Well, we're done making Star Wars movies, but I have a feeling it was a such a big hit at E3 that we'll find a way to slip it into a Star Wars game.

Apart from 'emergent', the other buzzword right now is 'procedural'. We went to Bioware to see Mass Effect and they were doing everything through randomly generated or procedural animation systems, freeing up their artists to craft the important bits.
That's the future. One thing you hear about next gen is that it's a simulation-based experience. Simulation is a word that has a lot of baggage, giving the impression of a flight sim or something hardcore. Our first pitch to George on the Indiana Jones game was an Indiana Jones simulator. He got it instantly. It's not "Hey, we can cram higher resolutions in there - we've got the horsepower." It's that we want more gameplay per square foot than you got in whole levels of previous games. You know where you find that rare game where you just have fun - just in a room or a little area - where you discover things to do that you think you should be able to do. That's what we want.

Oblivion is obviously the game most like that at the moment, though that's mostly programmed which is a fantastic achievement.
Hell, yeah. It makes for such a great experience - the kind you can lose yourself in. Y'know, I'm looking forward to the day when there's a whole bunch of games out there you just lose yourself in, where you look up at the clock and it's two in the morning, but you just want to keep going.

Yeah, I get that with Oblivion, but that's between my psychiatrist and me. Talking of doctors, is Dr Jones only on Xbox 360 or will he be on last-gen stuff as well?
We've only coyly announced it for next-gen; we'll shortly announce more specific detail. As a consumer I couldn't be happier with how the Xbox 360's launched and the Xbox Live service has just been a great experience.

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Xbox Live - you've been single-player focused recently... Will you be bringing any more multiplayer-focused games to the Xbox 360? Any MMOs? Do you think you'll be doing another Battlefront?
It depends on the game. If there's a really compelling multiplayer experience to be had, we'll go after it full force. There's definitely more room for co-operative gaming. We do have a great history of multiplayer though, going way back to the original Jedi Knight, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter which evolved into X-Wing Alliance, and of course Battlefront. Battlefront 2 was the bestselling Star Wars game of all time, across all platforms. It's a great game - I play it every weekend with my son. I think there's a great future with the Battlefront franchise and I'm sure we'll be talking about that, er, sometime.

Xbox Live Arcade is cheaper games with smaller budgets. Are you thinking of doing any of your enormous back catalogue on it?
I personally love Xbox Live Arcade - it was my favourite thing about the 'box at launch. I think its popularity took Microsoft by surprise. There will always be a home for the retro stuff, but I think you'll see this trend of next-gen-only experiences packaged in those bite-sized, accessible doses so I'm quite bullish on it; as a company, it's definitely something we've got our eye on. I think you're going to see an explosion of really great innovative products that might not have the seen the light of day otherwise.

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