Star Wars Ragtag Producer Recalls Struggles of Working With EA
"Who's making this plan? There is no plan, obviously," says former Star Wars Ragtag producer, Zach Mumbach of EA's management.
In an interview with the MinnMaxShow, producer Zach Mumbach reveals new details about Amy Henning’s “Ragtag” Star Wars project and laments the project’s controversial cancellation.
We had this leadership team come in from Vancouver… and not knocking them, they were in the same position I was in Army of Two. They were like ‘we need to ship this thing, let’s go, cut this, cut this, cut this’,” Mumbach says. “And I’m thinking, this is effing Amy Hennig, we have the chance to make the greatest Star Wars game ever made and a possible Game of the Year contender. This isn’t an Army of Two game.”
According to Mumbach, the Ragtag project’s development was strange from the start. Basically, Visceral Games was asked to convert to the Frostbite Engine and make Battlefield Hardline. While the team accepted and completed that task, Mumbach says the transition from making single-player games with an internal engine to making multiplayer games with the Frostbite engine ultimately resulted in Visceral losing quite a few key team members.
“We had a lot of people at the studio who were experts on narrative and single-player games and those people left,” Mumbach recalls. “And that’s fine – some of them went to Crystal Dynamics and worked on the Avengers game. That kind of stuff happens. Then we went and hired a bunch of multiplayer first-person shooter experts to help us with Hardline. Cool. So to ship Hardline and go ‘Hey you guys are now going to make a single-player third-person [game]…’ That’s the thing which is hard for me to get over.”
Mumbach suggests that a big part of the problem with the Ragtag development process was that it just never felt like any of the top EA executives had a plan in place that would afford Visceral the time, resources, and support they needed to complete their project. It ultimately led to EA canceling what Mumbach says could have been “best Star Wars game ever made” for a particularly frustrating reason.
“At the time, when we got shut down, [EA exec] Patrick Soderlund was even like – what’s the game with ‘Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner’? PUBG? – they even sent out a press release that was like ‘no one cares about single-player any more’,” Mumbach says. “I just wish they’d figured that out two years ago.”
So what did we miss out on as a result of Ragtag‘s cancellation? While Mumbach indicates that there was still a lot of work left to do on the game he does describe one sequence which inspires a comparison that we’ve heard in the past.
“[It was] this crazy AT-ST moment which was really cool,” Mumbach says of one of the game’s levels. “You were on foot running from it and it was trying to hunt you down but you were more agile, slipping through these alleyways, barrelling through and crashing and using all the destruction of Frostbite… You would have been like ‘oh that’s like Star Wars Uncharted‘.”
That’s really one of the only times that we’ve heard someone close to the Ragtag project describe the game in any real detail. Even that simply description leaves us dreaming of what the game could have been as we endure a fall from grace for Star Wars games and even some struggles for the Star Wars films.