Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption Designer Diary #3 - How to Create a Star Wars Story and Characters

Lead designer Pat Pannullo gives us a more detailed look at the characters and story that will populate the expansion to this year's hit real-time strategy game.

Even though it's almost 30 years old, Star Wars remains as popular as ever thanks to the recent prequel movie trilogy and games such as Star Wars: Empire at War. Released earlier this year, Empire at War is a real-time strategy game that gives you command of the armies and navies of the original trilogy. The upcoming Forces of Corruption expansion pack will add a third playable faction to the existing Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire sides. This time, you'll be able to control the forces of the criminal underworld. Coming up with a story can be challenging, though, because when you play around with something as beloved and popular as Star Wars, there are many rules that you have to obey to make sure everything makes sense. We have lead designer Pat Pannullo to explain. Forces of Corruption is scheduled to ship later this year.

An AT-AT versus a rancor? You'll be able to see which one wins in Forces of Corruption.

Meet Tyber Zann

By Pat Pannullo
Lead Designer, Petroglyph

Don't let anyone tell you differently--creating a story for Star Wars is hard. Not because stringing together words into sentences is hard. No, it's hard because everyone in the universe knows Star Wars. Sure, we have the wonderful guys at LucasArts in our corner, ever ready to tell us how many years Grand Admiral Thrawn was in the Imperial academy or how many turbolaser banks are on a Star Destroyer, but we also have thousands of fans out there in the world who know the very same facts, and those fans are ever ready with the torches and pitchforks to use on a lowly designer such as myself if I happen to get those facts wrong.

So where do you start? We had a time period. For Forces of Corruption, we wanted to set the campaign story in the same time frame as Episodes V and VI, and in fact we touch on events through the entire original trilogy time period (and a little beyond). We knew we wanted to do something different. Everyone knows the story of the Rebellion and its triumphant victory over Emperor Palpatine and the Empire, and revisiting it seemed too easy. So we decided to start with characters. Whose story would we tell? Eventually we came up with the idea to tell the story of the criminals, the smugglers, the bounty hunters, and a crime lord who could control it all. And thus, Tyber Zann was born.

Of course a crime lord needs his retinue; first he needed a loyal follower. After playing around with some concepts, we came up with both a new character and a new alien species: Urai Fen, Tyber's long-lived, distinguished yet brutal bodyguard. Now we needed a female presence, someone powerful and not the loyal follower that Urai was. We also needed a representation of the Force in Tyber's crew. Since Jedi and Sith are rare, we decided to go with the Nightsisters from Dathomir, and Silri took form.

New interior missions will give you certain tasks, like escaping from the spice mines of Kessel.

But of course, how do we add three completely new heroes, new ships, and new weapons to a body of lore already chock-full of stuff? Very carefully. We worked closely with Lucasfilm Licensing to make sure that everything we create and every event that takes place in the story can fit into the history of the Star Wars universe without breaking anything that has gone before. And equally important is making sure that everything feels like Star Wars, right down to the wookiees and lightsabers.

Those of you who played Empire at War's story campaigns will be familiar with how the stories unfold in-game. We've been tinkering with our map editor to create some unique new landscapes for Forces of Corruption, including a few interior missions. Now you can match wits with Darth Vader on a mining platform floating in the Bespin atmosphere, go deep beneath the ground to discover an old destroyer droid factory on Hypori, and dodge the pull of black holes in The Maw.

So what is the story? Forces of Corruption introduces Tyber Zann, a crime lord who was set up for a fall by Jabba the Hutt (though he definitely deserved it). Tyber's story starts at the bottom; thanks to Jabba, he's been cooling his heels in the Kessel spice mines for a few years. But as is the case with most crime lords, Tyber's connections don't end while he's in prison; Tyber is able to orchestrate his own escape and from there reclaim his power.

Like in any good prison tale, Tyber learns of a major score from one of his cellmates, one that would make him rich and powerful if he has the guts and brains to pursue it. It won't be easy, however; to achieve his goal of controlling the galaxy's criminal underworld, Tyber will have to face off against such personalities as Jabba the Hutt, Prince Xizor of the Black Sun, Rebel hero Garm Bel Iblis, and Imperial mastermind Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Yoda, Luke, and other familiar faces appear, as well.

Of course, Tyber has help in his nefarious schemes. Urai Fen is ever present, and he can also call on the powers of the Nightsister Silri, though her motivations for following Tyber are highly suspect. Trust is hard to find in the underworld, but with enough credits, anything is possible. Tyber buys black-market technology, makes deals with underhanded weapons manufacturers, and hires the best bounty hunters to remove enemies in his way.

And then there is the Super Star Destroyer Eclipse. Even though it is incomplete during the time period of our story, it still plays an important part in Tyber's plans, as does a mysterious Sith artifact. How do these things relate to each other or to Tyber's ultimate plans? You will have to play Forces of Corruption to find out.

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Discussion

34 comments
Smrt123
Smrt123

Quite impressive!! This game realy is in my pocket already!It rocks

laxinsax87
laxinsax87

Arguing on the internet is like winning the special olympics; In the end, you're still retarded.

Midnight2004
Midnight2004

Forget the heores, I want the Eclipse. The space battle were always a lot cooler than the land ones, and after reading the comics I can't wait to use the Eclipse against both the empire and rebellion. FOC rules!!!

Nick_Rc
Nick_Rc

havent you people considerd that obiwan fighting the emperor with yoda and luke is a screen shot taken from galatic conquest or even a skirmish mode rather than the campaine

Mr_soda_guy
Mr_soda_guy

No their not making it up. Their pulling it straight from the magical "Creative *** of SW!" (only $19.99) anyways, looks like a great xpac. Can't wait

nteger
nteger

Wait, they're making this faction up? Right, as if there weren't enough random characters in this universe...Also, why are they trying to stick to a certain timeline if they're adding B-wings , which weren't really in production until ROTJ, and usable characters such as Yoda, who is too old to fight? Why not ditch the timeline and just add all the cool **** that already exists? Might be able to balance it better that way...Actually, adding the Old Republic and CIS would be nice. As for the models, though, they should probably get some help from the guys who do the precise scaling mods, so freaking dark troopers aren't the size of an AT-ST. However, I do like how it looks as if combat is going to be quite improved, like heroes actually making a difference on the battlefield. Despite my complaining I respect Petroglyph and Lucas Arts and can't wait to get FOC.

vmfstorm1
vmfstorm1

i would like to point out that all of the most well-known heroes are in this Screen, so stop complaining about it being innaccurate, they are just trying to showcase the fact that all of the old heroes are back, with some new ones being added.

redsavior
redsavior

Hikiera... I don't think that's Old Ben. Luke and Yoda "could" be seen fighting together between 5 & 6. Seems unlikely I know, but there was a decent amount of time between the two movies. Luke could have gone back to Yoda for more training several times and kept leaving. Anyway... they guy yer calling ben is completely bald. I'm 90% sure it's not Ben. Then again... maybe this is a shot from a multiplayer game. If that is the case... sure you could mix and match like that ;)

Hikiera
Hikiera

"DarkJedi8_basic So they make a comment like this: We worked closely with Lucasfilm Licensing to make sure that everything we create and every event that takes place in the story can fit into the history of the Star Wars universe without breaking anything that has gone before. And then I see a screenshot not only of ROTJ Luke AND Yoda taking on the Emperor, but Old Ben Kenobi taking on Darth Vader. God I hope the was a Multiplayer Deathmatch! " I agree. How can you say that and then stuff up a story line like that. Hello! Yoda and Old Ben were too old to fight Darth Vader at the time Luke was around, that's why they needed Luke in the first place! If the could take him on by themselves the story wouldn't have ended up that way!

CNKE
CNKE

Hmm looking forwad to buying the game

Nick_Rc
Nick_Rc

im more excited about Grand Admiral Thrawn being in the game i love those books and cant wait to see what happens

malcolmomega
malcolmomega

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

malcolmomega
malcolmomega

People keep talking about see Luke And Yoda taking on the Emperor, but Old Ben Kenobi taking on Darth Vader, and how this doesn’t match the preferred time-line on how the Galactic Civil War was fought and who fought it. I remind these people that this is a game where you can change the outcome of the war. Therefore creating an alternat way the war was fought. So get over it!!!! The game does look very cool.

New_Roosterman
New_Roosterman

If you had played the campaigns in Empire at War, you would find that Obi Wan is available there in may of them. AS Corruption is an expansion pack, of coures he will still be available.

andrew_storm
andrew_storm

hey i'm looking foward to something like kotor 3 but this will do for now.

nimstone_17
nimstone_17

i wisgh you could make your own jedi sorta combine this and kotor or simply kotor 3

blackleech
blackleech

The last screenshot fits in Star Wars? Some ressurection of Obi or what?

DarkJedi8_basic
DarkJedi8_basic

So they make a comment like this: We worked closely with Lucasfilm Licensing to make sure that everything we create and every event that takes place in the story can fit into the history of the Star Wars universe without breaking anything that has gone before. And then I see a screenshot not only of ROTJ Luke AND Yoda taking on the Emperor, but Old Ben Kenobi taking on Darth Vader. God I hope the was a Multiplayer Deathmatch!

Mulder123
Mulder123

IMO Forces of Corruption is gonna be one hell of a game. Come on people haven't you ever dreamed of pwning Rebel scum with an SSD or see a ISD get blown to pieces by an Eclipse like in the trailer. I don't deny KOTOR 3 is very expected but don't turn down EAW:FoC before it is even released!

BounceDK
BounceDK

I hope you'll see vader & some crappy jedi battle it out this time, since you didn't get to see it in Empire at War (unless you started a skirmish battle).

Shundhit
Shundhit

I would like a strategy game just like this for the WHOLE Star Wars Trilogy that would be very fun ! And I think KOTOR 3 will be the most expected Star Wars game for me ! So bring ye olde KOTOR Lucas Arts :)

KingoftheSobs
KingoftheSobs

Nah i'd prefer Battlefront 3 on PS3 - With better AI, and a better fighting system for the jedi. Hell Yeah!

MrRyano
MrRyano

sounds ok have to see what else they do with it

boo_dat
boo_dat

Screw this...bring on KOTOR 3!!!

ksa8907
ksa8907

So... when are they going to fix the exception error? Im not buying another thing from Petroglyph until this game is fixed.

marmar1234mar12
marmar1234mar12

Okay... the dark troopers are waaaaay too big. They're like as tall as an at-st. That's gotta change..

maddemios
maddemios

New info is good; just they should make another game. In my own opinion this game lacks in a number of things.

Trigun1
Trigun1

yes we have soo much stuff to use in this game from SW history we need to make new things. Can I hit him now?

madman_420
madman_420

New info is always a treat...may the force be with you.