The first day of Star Wars Celebration VI is complete!
The first panel of the day was the StarWars.com & Beyond panel, featuring Steve Sansweet, Katie Cook, Leland Chee and Ashley Eckstein. The website is continuing to go through changes, and the people over at Lucas Online are increasingly listening to fan feedback. Some of the latest updates include:
- A behind-the-scenes web series tie-in with The Clone Wars television show.
- A video diary series with Ashley Eckstein (which has already started).
- The forums will be back! No personal blogs (but really, who cares); however, there will be enhanced social media integration and customization.
- Expect an increased focus on fan films. Lucasfilm is even looking for ways to help facilitate fan film creation.
- New soundboards are on their way!
- New approach to the blog (which has already launched). It was described as “Huffington Post-style,” with multiple contributors both inside and outside Lucasfilm. Content will be more exclusive. Some examples include Ashley’s video diaries, Leland’s posts on obscure Holocron info, exclusive Katie Cook art, collecting news from Steve, etc.
- Lots of new online gaming info! Ewok Village is now in beta. A demo was shown and it looks pretty slick, but I’m not an online gamer, so I’m not rushing online to check it out. Galactic Spy was another game announced. The art is gorgeous and game mechanics are memory-based. Lastly, some concept art for a new game due out next year was revealed – a pretty cool rendering of Boba Fett. It was described as “classic Nintendo, NES-style.” That’s sure to get some people excited!
- Lastly (and most exciting, at least for me): The Droids and Ewoks animated television shows will become available in the online video archives! Expect the episodes to be remastered in their new digital form, as most DVD/VHS copies in existence are pretty terrible. There was even a slight nod (perhaps?) to the appearance of the oft-shunned Star Wars Holiday Special. We’ll just have to wait and see!
LucasArts: Star Wars 1313 panel was next. This new video game is going to be awesome, folks. If you haven’t seen the sizzle reel, check it out. And it was a million times more goose-bump inducing on the big screen. Plus, we got a sneak peek at a live gameplay demo. This is unlike any game out there. It is a fully immersive cinematic experience, seamlessly combining gameplay and cutscenes (which can hardly be called cutscenes since there are no cuts). And, most impressive of all – players have access to 360 degrees of real-time, rendered space. In the middle of a “cutscene” the sequence was paused and the camera was spun around the villainous droid on the screen, zooming into the jaw-dropping detail, down to rust on the metal fingers and scratches on the armor. Mind-blowing.
There were a few revelations (although the trailer and most of the concept art has been available online for weeks): The characters seen in the trailer and demo are “placeholder” characters…the actual characters for the game have not yet been revealed. This seems like a pretty obvious nod to Boba Fett (in addition to the fact that one of Fett’s aliases was CT-1313)…it fits the timing (between Episodes III and IV), so Boba would be a younger bounty hunter, still earning his reputation, and it fits with the whole dark, gritty, underworld, bounty hunter thing it has going for it. Plus, it was revealed that we will see characters from the movies in the game.
I caught the Disney Parks & Star Wars panel. Pretty disappointed with this one. I thought it would talk more about possible park expansion (Star Wars Land anyone?!), but instead, it was pretty much a product plug. Fans of Vinylmation will be pleased, however. Expect to see many limited edition pieces, such as the holographic Leia (which I did pick up on the show floor!) and a 9” Jabba the Hutt with 1.5” Salacious Crumb. In honor of the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, they are also releasing a thermal detonator “hot potato” game which doubles as a role playing prop, as well as a fully poseable, life-size Salacious Crumb doll.
The big news was Disney’s Cars/Star Wars mash-up line. Expect the likes of “Darth Mater” and such. Not a huge Cars fan, so it was lost on me, but this screams cash cow, so golf claps to you, Disney.
The Ian McDiarmid panel, The Phantom Menace (hosted by the massively talented James Arnold Taylor, voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars), was the highlight of the day. Ian couldn’t have been more gracious and easy-going, despite being jet-lagged and a first time Celebration attendee. It must have been overwhelming, but he took it all in stride and seemed genuinely excited to be there and be a part of the Star Wars experience. He was also quite funny. He talked about getting cast as the Emperor in Return of the Jedi because George Lucas said he had a “great nose” (after all, it’d be the only part of his face not under a prosthetic). And he got the role only after another prominent British actor was unable to wear the yellow contact lenses required for the part. He described his inspiration for the role as a “black toad,” and worked that in to the now infamous croaking voice.
He had several other great stories, but what got most attendees excited was his constant reference to the proposed Star Wars live action television series and his desire to be a part of it. The fact that he has been made privy to any information regarding the project is odd (he mentioned the budgetary problems and such) – often, actors are the last to know these things. This reinforces theories that Ian has, in fact, been in contact with George about reprising his imperial role for the show. Fingers crossed!
Lastly, I was able to see the last part of the Timothy Zahn Retrospective, hosted by Pablo Hidalgo. Nothing really new was announced (other than a few behind-the-scenes tidbits about politics at Del Rey, story ideas, etc.) but there was some beautiful new art revealed for several of Zahn’s stories and novels that will appear in Pablo’s Essential Reader’s Companion out in October. It looked great!