A long year ago in a galaxy that feels far far removed from 2020, Respawn's single-player title Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order launched, and yesterday the game celebrated its first anniversary. To mark the occasion (and as a late entry to the Blocktober initiative, which encourages designers to share their blockmesh layouts), several Fallen Order designers took to Twitter to share their early work. And yes, that includes a giant space Yoda placeholder.
What does an AT-AT climbing scene look like when it's a prototype? Pretty weird, that's what, as you can see in the clip below. There's also footage of one of Respawn's absolute favourite mechanics - wall running - which similarly gives you an idea of what Fallen Order looks like underneath all its intragalactic trappings.
Another Respawn designer, Nicholas G Cameron, shared further images of some Fallen Order vistas in block form, including the crystal challenge that probably stumped you on Ilum.
And here's a picture of my baby, the crystal puzzle, along with shots of it art-ed in game and the original room from the Clone Wars show.— Nicholas G Cameron (@RamblingCameron) November 12, 2020
I really wanted to make the puzzle only out of pieces that were shown in that episode, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out!
And, of course, there's the infamous Oggdo Bogdo - as provided by design director Jeff Magers. "The initial idea for Bogano was to start with a flat plane for long sightlines across the planet and then dig trenches and caves into it for gameplay," he explained later in the thread. "This led us to add some memorable landmarks like the Vault and the giant Binog creature."
Better late than never! I’ve got a couple of #Blocktober (#Blockvember?? #Blocksgiving??) videos from #JediFallenOrder to share on its one year anniversary, including some insight into one of our easter eggs and an appearance from #OggdoBlockdo. #leveldesign 1/9 pic.twitter.com/97oK5jUaPy— Jeff Magers (@jeffmagers) November 15, 2020
Magers also said that on some occasions, the team had to design levels while knowing they would likely have to revisit them later as part of their collaboration with Lucasfilm. Magers felt it was important to have a memorable moment in the Force push flashback, and so decided to create a giant placeholder Yoda until the story details were finalised. "Here there will be a gameplay sequence where Cal has overcome something from his past," the build text says. "...But for now he just meets giant space Yoda."
However, for internal playtests I felt it was important to have a memorable moment happen to make acquiring Force Push feel special and memorable. Enter Placeholder Giant Space Yoda 7/9 pic.twitter.com/wdlM3C9wMF— Jeff Magers (@jeffmagers) November 15, 2020
You may be wondering why some of the early pitch designs look quite so blocky compared to some pitches you may have seen in the past, and that's because these prototypes were internal pitches for a single level idea, rather than trying to sell the whole concept of a game. "This was one of about 10 different ideas I pitched internally for a Star Wars moment," TheSwoit explained. "External pitches look more like the final thing, art and polish, even in AAA."
It's great that Respawn was willing to share these videos to show what AAA games look like in the early stages. Given the success of Fallen Order and reports that a sequel is in the works, I wouldn't be surprised if they have some blockmeshes for the next game in the series already.