SDCC 2011: Alexander Freed Interview on The Lost Suns
San Diego Comic-Con is officially over but there is plenty of content rolling out over the next week. In one of those pieces that is now available for consumption, we had the pleasure to interview Alexander Freed, Senior Writer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and writer on The Lost Suns. In the interview, Alexander Freed discusses the differences in writing for games versus comics, writing character stories, developing worlds in an established property, where the comics fit in relation to the game's timeline, and more. Hit the jump for the interview in full.
The Dark Horse, BioWare and LucasArts partnership is a great one for fans of Star Wars comics. Can you speak to the relationship and how it evolved over the lifespan of the product?
Alexander Freed: As you guys know, the first comic we did was the web comic Threat of Peace, written by the inimitable Rob Chestney. And that worked out well. We liked it. We liked the reception on the website. Dark Horse liked working with BioWare. BioWare liked working with Dark Horse. Everyone was generally happy, so we moved a little further. And that is when we started Blood of the Empire, which was the second one on the website. It came in little longer chunks, and changed the style up a little. I came in on writer on that one. Again, at the end, we looked at it, we went, "Hey, this worked out well. Maybe it is time to do a real comic of this." At the time, Dark Horse was doing reprints of the web material. They were happy with it so we decided to push it to the next step forward and do The Lost Suns.
Can you explain the timeline of the comics? Specifically, where does The Lost Suns sit in relation to Star Wars: The Old Republic and the other two previous comics?
Blood of the Empire is furthest back in the timeline; that one takes place right around when the war between the Empire and the Republic starts off. Threat of Peace, as the title implies, takes place around the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant, which officially ends the war between the Republic and the Empire. And then we go about 10 years later and that is when the game starts. And essentially right at the same time that the game starts, that is when The Lost Suns starts. We went into The Lost Sunsessentially wanting, "Alright, let's pretend this was a story within our game. And let's just run it alongside everything else, and we'll tie it in the same way we would tie in any class story to any other class story. We'll drop hints at stuff that is going on. We'll have stuff that happens in The Lost Sunsimpact stuff that happens later on in the game. We'll showcase characters and settings that these characters are going to be moving through at that part of the timeline." And that is basically it.
Since you wrote the Imperial Agent story and created Theron Shan, some would say this definitely is your wheel house. Can you describe the process? Is it different or similar to writing on both?
It is pretty different in a lot of ways. Obviously, writing Republic and Empire deals with a lot of different subjects, and a lot of different themes as well. The other thing that was important... Theron Shan, the lead character of The Lost Suns, is a spy for the Republic. So there is a little similarity there between that and the Imperial Agent, but it was also really important that we not just do the Republic spy plot. What we ended up with was, "Alright, it is a cool context to wrap a story in, but it isn't about being the Republic CIA." It is a much more personal story; sort of a more classic Star Wars adventure story than the Imperial Agent which gets into this sort of dark, gritty, secret agent for the oppressive government role. Every now and then I have to make sure, "alright, my mental space is in Imperial Agent now." And then, "No, now my mental space is in Republic world: Theron Shan, Jedi, SIS, crazy Sith as the villains as opposed to the people who are giving me my missions, all that good stuff."
One thing that is apparent for fans following the game, comics and novels is the things the game play elements you allude to. How do you approach writing comics to give fans the idea of the elements in the game?
When it comes to game mechanics, that is something that, really we try not to do anything that just goes radically against what you can do in the game. But you also don't want to be limited by it, like "then this is the scene where this character uses this very specific ability." You don't get good stories that way. You do try to make sure that everything feels internally consistent; if something happens in the comic that doesn't feel like it could happen in the game, then that is not a good thing. There needs to be a feel that this is a consistent world. And then for the non-outright mechanical elements, we provide huge amounts of reference art to Dave Ross, our main artist on The Lost Suns. He looks through it and meticulously replicates in his own style, along with George Freeman, who does finishes on it. (This is) what our game looks like if rendered into a comic, and lot of that stuff that you see -- character design, outfits, creatures, etc. -- that is all from in-game. A lot of settings are reproduced because we want to go to familiar planets and locations, as well as new ones.
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- Interview Part 2