Hey Star Wars fans,
My name is Neil Sorens and I’m the creative director at Zen Studios.
With Star Wars Pinball out today, we’re fielding a lot of questions about how and why we chose our table themes. I’d like to answer those and also get the opinion of you dedicated Star Wars fans on what tables we should do next.
When we first sent a proposal to LucasArts, it was admittedly timid: a table for each movie, basically. We were pleasantly surprised to get their response: “No! Be more creative!” They wanted us to explore characters, places, and events both from the films and from the Expanded Universe.
We gladly agreed.
That being said, the first three tables to be released aren’t exactly based on obscure EU trivia: Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
We chose The Empire Strikes Back because it is something of a common denominator for all Star Wars fans. No matter your opinion on any of the myriad Star Wars films, TV episodes, books, comics, and games, it’s hard to be a Star Wars fan if you don’t like Episode V.
We chose The Clone Wars as the theme for the second table because it is a current-day incarnation of the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars and pinball are similar in that they enjoyed massive popularity in the 1980s. However, with the death of the arcade in the 1990s, pinball development slowed to a trickle, and pinball players rarely had anything new to enjoy. That in turn slowly turned pinball into a niche game genre, as you can’t hold people’s interest forever with the “classics.” Plus, you have to keep drawing in new fans from younger generations with content that’s relevant to them. That is what LucasArts has successfully achieved with The Clone Wars, and that is what we hope to achieve with our pinball games as well by creating original designs on modern game platforms.
The third table, Boba Fett, pays tribute to a character whose popularity far exceeds his screen time in the original films. And why not? Bounty hunting, jetpacks, wrist rockets, Mandalorian armor, and a fearsome reputation are a stew of awesomeness that has been rich fodder for the Expanded Universe, from which the table draws heavily.
We’ve got some ideas on what themes we’d like to do next, but we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, too. Dawn of the Jedi? Star Wars Holiday Special? General Grievous? Revan? The Mos Eisley cantina? The possibilities are endless.
After an unproductive childhood spent designing and playing games with his older brother, Neil Sorens has had a productive adulthood spent designing and playing games with his co-workers. He is currently the creative director at Zen Studios. Game credits include KickBeat, CastleStorm, Pinball FX2, Planet Minigolf, Ghostbusters, Zen Pinball, ESPN Major League Baseball and World Series Baseball. Follow him on Twitter and on the Zen Studios Blog.