LucasArts planning Star Wars RTS

LucasArts president Jim Ward reveals that the Command & Conquer veterans at Petroglyph will develop a real-time strategy game set in George Lucas' sci-fi realm.

There's little question about what the top two sci-fi/fantasy film trilogies are--The Lord of the Rings films and the original Star Wars films. And both involve numerous battles on a massive scale, providing ample fodder for real-time strategy games.

So it came as little surprise when Electronic Arts announced The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth, a PC RTS based on Peter Jackson's film threesome. The game--subject of a recent hands-on--is one of the most anticipated PC games of the year, and it has RTS addicts already exercising their mouse fingers in anticipation of the game's December 6 release.

Now it appears that Star Wars fans will be getting an RTS of their own. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter today, LucasArts president Jim Ward was discussing post-Episode III Star Wars properties. Besides talking about "new live-action and animated TV shows" (which will hopefully be better than the Droids and Ewoks series, or the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special), he also discussed LucasArts' future game plans.

Ward said the company's strategy was to create "original Star Wars games like a new real-time strategy PC game that Petroglyph is developing for next year. This game will take the genre in a new direction and will balance gameplay between the hardcore gamers who buy these games and the broader audience that's familiar with the Star Wars brand."

Unfortunately, that's all LucasArts is saying about the as-yet-unnamed Star Wars RTS. Representatives for the publisher declined further comment on the game, saying only that it would be "available next year." However, Ward's comments do reveal that LucasArts is continuing its transformation from a publisher with in-house development to one that farms out games to independent studios.

In the case of the Star Wars RTS, LucasArts has made an interesting choice. The game will be Petroglyph's first, and is most likely the "killer top-secret project" mentioned on its Web site. However, the independent studio has an impressive roster of veteran game designers, including many of the original Command & Conquer team from Westwood Studios.

GameSpot will bring you more on the Star Wars RTS as details emerge.

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