Imagine a Star Wars game that would have come from the minds of the Dead Space franchise creators Visceral Games and featured the cinematic sensibilities of original Uncharted trilogy creator/director Amy Hennig. Well, at a time you wouldn't have had as it was a game that was in development over at EA Games for years, dubbed Project Ragtag. All that ever got released was literally this 10 seconds of game footage to tease the project:
Like the terminated adult-centric game Star Wars 1313 that LucasArts was working on before George Lucas sold his companies to Disney in 2013, Project Ragtag was a hotly anticipated game. That is, until it was cancelled when EA shut down Visceral Games and scrapped that incarnation of the project...with plans to turn it into a larger open world and more of a "game as service" model which EA Vancouver. Although, in talking with MiniMax Show today, producer Zach Mumbach, who worked on the Visceral games title with Hennig, the original game was well into the design phase with several levels and a major set-piece involving an AT-ST chase nearly completed when the plug got pulled:
“We just had a lot of gameplay people never got to see. We had levels, they weren’t done but they were close. We had one set-piece which was basically done – we were putting the final touches on it right when the studio was shut down. [It was] this crazy AT-ST moment which was really cool. You were on foot running from it and it was trying to hunt you down but you were more agile, slipping through these alleyways, barrelling through and crashing and using all the destruction of Frostbite… You would have been like ‘oh that’s like Star Wars Uncharted’.”
Keep in mind, this was around the time the notorious "microtransactions" business strategy began by EA, which they first tried to implement with Dead Space 3 (Affecting the very games' tone to be more action-centric and changing some of the game's very mechanics). That ultimately would lead to Dead Space ending (Despite plans for a fourth game originally being in the world). EA had tried to implement this with their two more recent contributions to the Star Wars: Battlefront game franchise where they tried to push a multiplayer-only concept with Star Wars. However, this led to a massive backlash from gamers with Star Wars: Battlefront II forced to create a single-player narrative in response. But going back to Project Tagtag, opened up a bit about what might have been in that galaxy a long, long time ago:
“I think we would have made the best Star Wars game ever made. The story and the setup and the characters… [were] set up for success but what we had to execute was going to take a while. I think the company saw that – ‘hey you guys are eventually going to make a crazy good game’. At the time, when we got shut down, [EA exec] Patrick Soderlund was even like – what’s the game with ‘Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner’? PUBG? – they even sent out a press release that was like ‘no one cares about single-player any more’. I just wish they’d figured that out two years ago.”
In addition, Mumbach added that the main character's traits would have made him a “well-formed Robin Hood and Star-Lord” mashup roguish type and he went on to praise Henning, commending her clever decision-making around story and characters. He even noted she stayed professional even as EA’s goals drifted from Visceral’s own:
“[EA] were like ‘We need to ship this thing, let’s go, cut this, cut this, cut this’. And I’m thinking, this is effing [Uncharted director] Amy Hennig, we have the chance to make the greatest Star Wars game ever made and a possible Game of the Year contender. This isn’t an Army of Two game.”
While both Battlefront games were developed by EA DICE (With both having additional work by Criterion Games and the second game also featuring work from Motive Studios), perhaps as a response to the negative response, EA had outsourced development on their recent success Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to Respawn Entertainment. That game, which returned the franchise to a strong story-first philosophy and well-crafted single-player gameplay, was met with strong sale and good reviews. Hopefully, the fate of Project Ragtag and Star Wars 1313 will not be repeated in the recent future. Stay tuned!