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Interview with Graham Goring, Lead Story Designer for Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens

A few weeks ago I was invited to  Warner Bros in Amsterdam for the Lego Star Wars Press Tour. There I had the opportunity to interview Graham Goring, the Lead Story Designer for Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Interview with Graham Goring

So, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to Graham Goring, Lead Story Designer for Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For your convenience I have also transcribed the interview :

  • Me: You are the Lead Story Designer for Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I was wondering how does your day at work look like? Do you get to work and thing “Hm … today I will create a conversation between this character and that character?Graham Goring: It depends what part /  stage of the project were are in. In the early stages it’s just writing, it’s reading the design documents and writing dialogs for them. Those have to be passed on to the designers to see if anything has changed. Later on we get to the recording sessions, and so when preparing
    documents for the recording session I might be skyping into a session that is recording in New York or Los Angeles. So, I might be working at different hours. You know, I might be getting down to London to do a recording session there. Then once we got the dialogue it’s a case of getting all that into the game. From there on it gets very different, in this case we might be cooperating with our premium sound engineers, and writing up bugs and documents saying play that part here, or don’t play that part when this line is played. Its quite a creative, but also quite a technical role. Sometimes I’m even writing tools to help with the whole process. So, yeah, I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades really.
  • Me: Does this mean you get information on the story for Star Wars: The Force Awakens before anyone else gets it?Graham Goring: I don’t know if we get the information before anyone else gets it. But it’s obvious that we need to know what the plot is before the movie comes out. And that’s really incredible that they trust us with that information.
  • Me: Yeah probably, because that information is top secret until the movie comes out, isn’t it?Graham Goring: Oh yeah, that is really top secret. The information we get is watermarked with your name on it. So yeah, its a weight of responsibility that we feel. But you know, the thing that is cool is, even though we get access to that information, the first time I’ve seen the actual movie was in the cinema when it came out, which is lovely, because that is the way to see it.
  • Me: I was wondering … how much freedom do you get? Do you have to stick to the story the way Lucas and Disney tell you, or do you have the freedom to do some side stories as well?Graham Goring: Well, of course, with regards to the main story or main plot, we do stick to that. We might cut out little bits due to timing, because we have to make a 60 minute cut-scene story as opposed to a 2 hour movie. So obviously you have to make some edits there. But obviously we have little background jokes happening and stuff like that. But we have a little bit more freedom with that. And of course new adventures that we feed into the game. We have like 6 adventure levels which tell a bit of a back story. We actually came up with those in conjunction with Lucas Arts and we had a little bit more freedom there. But when writing the actual dialogue I have an awful lot of freedom. Of course I know it’s all going to be passed by Lucas Arts, and they will make sure everything is right. But it’s really amazing that I’m working on what is the biggest franchise of the world. And it’s amazing that they trust us, and they know that we love it, and we won’t be doing anything with it that angers them. And so, we do have a surprising amount of freedom there.
  • Me: Did it already happen that you wrote part of a story which should actually appear in the next movie?Graham Goring: Oh, no, no, no. There is nothing like that going on obviously. When it comes to generating new stuff, that’s of course their purview. But we have just written our background stuff with an amazing amount of freedom within that world. And there is of course all the little side missions we have in the free hubs. There is a lot of room in there to write little silly things.
  • Me: We all know that Lego and Star Wars appeal to a broad audience, from children to adults and even some a bit older. How did you translate that into the game?Graham Goring: Obviously the movies has some quite dark scenes, like there is the fateful encounter between Han and his son. That is something we have to deal with in a game which is ostensibly for people of all ages. So, we have to be very careful to find a way to honour that story, to take Han out of the narrative, but do that in a way so it won’t disturb any younger players. And our cut-scene theme has been amazing at that. They did a great job and made sure they always find a way so no one really dies. When in the Jurassic World game, the T-Rex ate Donald Gennaro, the T-Rex opened his mouth and Donald was cleaning his teeth with a toilet brush. So they find a way to juxtapose maybe a sinister scary scene into something funny. That way the kids can really enjoy it without begin scared.
  • Me: That’s one way you kinda put humor into the game as well.Graham Goring: Yeah absolutely, and that is something we are really known for.
  • Me: During gameplay I also noticed you added some features which will also allow smaller children to complete the game as well, like some dialogue which could guide them and other things.Graham Goring: Oh Yeah, whenever the kids, or anyone actually, are playing through the level and they get a bit stuck, sometimes the characters will say something which will point them in the right direction. Or we have those new multi build puzzles, so when you build them in the wrong order they might go like “Oh no, I need to build this first”. Or another character might tell them what they need to do. The other thing is that we have this new blaster battle gameplay. You could actually play that as some traditional third person shooter, ducking out of cover and taking shots … But if you play as a small child when you get out of cover it will pin point your target. That way you can get out of cover, take a few shots and get back behind cover. But yes, we are very mindful that we are making games for people of all ages.
  • Me: Do you already know the next Lego game you will be working on? Will that be Rogue One maybe, or something completely different?Graham Goring: I obviously know what I have to be working on next, but that isn’t something I can discuss.
  • Me: Are you a gamer yourself? And what kind of games do you really enjoy?Graham Goring: Oh yeah, I’m a massive gamer! I’m a massive fan of the Dark Souls series. I love those games, they got their hooks into me. It looks good and it plays amazingly!
  • Me: Well I thin I’ve asked you everything I wanted to aks you, so thank you for the opportunity, and who knows we might see each other next time?Graham Goring: Well, I imagine so …

LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens

LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens will be released on June 28, 2016 and marks the triumphant return of the No. 1 LEGO ® videogame franchise, immersing fans in the new Star Wars™ adventure like never before. Players can relive the epic action from the blockbuster film in a way that only LEGO ® can offer, featuring storylines from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, retold through the clever and witty LEGO ® lens. The game will also feature playable content exploring previously untold adventures set in the time leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The game will be available for PlayStation ® 4, PlayStation ® 3, PlayStation ® Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U™, Nintendo 3DS™ and Steam (Windows PC).

 

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