Join Date: May 1999
There will DEFINITELY be an Ep2 game from Lucasarts, but Big Ape won't be involved. It may or may not somewhat resemble TPM.
For TPM, LEC decided that the game needed to be 'friendlier' to those people who don't usually buy games. They wanted people who bought Myst to buy TPM, so they told us to make the game somewhat simplistic in the controls etc., and not too difficult.
Financially speaking, it was in their best interests to try to broaden the market beyond those hardcore gamers who bought Jedi Knight. JK sold maybe 300,000 copies worldwide, which isn't bad, but compare that with Myst, which sold MILLIONS. There is a much larger audience out there, if you find the right game.
However, TPM wasn't that game. It was probably a bit too difficult to control for it to catch on. We sold pretty well on the PC (around 500,000 copies), and we were downloaded from Download.com 850,000 times, but still, that was significantly lower than what LEC had hoped for.
Because of that, Big Ape took a good share of the blame. Not that I'm badmouthing LEC, but they took some of the bad reviews as gospel, even though they were written by the hardcore game reviewers who loved JK. As I said above, LEC made a conscious decision to NOT appease the hardcore gamers, so it should come as no surprise that hardcore gamers thought it was too easy, too simple for their tastes.
TPM was the PERFECT Catch-22. We made it for the masses, but the game reviewers who hold the most sway expect more than a mass-market game. We tried to put a little bit of everything in the game - action, adventure, jumping puzzles etc - but the corollary to that is that there's something to OFFEND just about everyone. If you like action games, you generally don't play adventure games. If you like adventure games, you don't play platform jumping games. TPM made you 'suffer' through all of those kinds of games, which easily explains the poor reviews.
Add on top of that the kludgy controls and spotty collision difficulties we had. Also, the camera position was hated by just about everybody. JPB allowed you to see just about the same distance in front of you, but apparently side-scrollers aren't held up to the same standard. We wanted TPM to be more like the old Zelda games, more of a top-down than a first-person, and LEC agreed all through the development process. I found it really funny when after the reviews came out, LEC basically chastised us for the camera, because they were VERY hands-on in the development. If they had a problem with it, it would have been much more useful to hear from them a bit earlier than before we shipped, eh?
Anyways, I think LEC may have learned their lesson. The Ep2 game will probably be a console-ish game like TPM is. But it will almost definitely be less tuned for the casual gamer and more tuned for the game players. TPM PSX was tuned to be a little more difficult than the PC version was, in large part because LEC realized that mass-market doesn't really work for Playstation. Anyone who owns a Playstation is probably a more dedicated hardcore gamer than the PC user that LEC tried to attract for TPM. For the Ep2 game, I think the focus will be on hardcore action, perhaps with some of the same adventure and puzzle elements that TPM had, but tuned to be a bit more complex. And, it would NOT surprise me if LEC doesn't put out a PC version. If their console Ep2 game is for the Playstation 2, then I can virtually guarantee that there will be no PC version. Big Ape is discovering now how difficult the PS2 is to program for, and it is starting to make sense why Obi-Wan for PC was canned - there are two entirely different development structures involved between the PC and PS2. But, if the Ep2 game is ALSO going to be on Xbox, then there is an EXCELLENT chance that it will also come out for PC. So: PS2 only, or PS2/Xbox/PC.
Disclaimer: These views are my own, and have not been approved/authorized by Big Ape.