New concept art reveals cancelled Star Wars: Darth Maul video game from 2011
In August 2012, I started a series of articles entitled, “What Could Have Been…”, which detailed the way some of our favourite films could have played out if different decisions had been made during the production process. Now I’m also turning my attention to cancelled video games that will never see the light of day.
The news of a cancelled Star Wars: Darth Maul video game hit the newsstands in October 2015 via the magazine, Game Informer (Issue #253).
However, the story keeps reappearing now and again with the emergence of new details as time goes by.
Game Informer wrote a full and detailed piece on the game originally. It’s recommended reading for the full story, but for now, here’s a brief summary.
Austin-based game developers, Red Fly Studios, were asked by LucasArts to create the Nintendo Wii port of Star Wars: The Force Unleased II. Although the original sold well, they weren’t happy with the quality of the Wii port of the first game.
Impressed by their tech demo created in just two weeks, Red Fly Studios won the job of the conversion. After completion, LucasArts offered them another title, creating a game based on Darth Maul.
Darth Maul, one of the best villains created for the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately, he was criminally underused in his first appearance in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. He only spoke sixty words of dialogue and was killed at the end!
The character has since been resurrected and has made appearances in Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.
Red Fly Studios jumped at the chance and started development which was to last eight months. In that time the main story behind the game changed twice. One idea came from the LucasFilm Clone Wars team who were resurrecting Maul for their cartoon series.
Then George Lucas himself met with Red Fly Studios and pitched a “buddy cop” style game with two Siths that unfortunately existed 170 years apart in Star Wars lore.
LucasArts did try and help whenever possible but Red Fly Studios never officially had the full details. Red Fly Studios kept on producing artwork, characters and game prototypes which they showed to LucasArts on a regular basis.
LucasArts were happy with Red Fly Studios work in progress and were going to give them the official green light to continue with the full game properly. They even suggested that they should buy out Red Fly Studios and make them a subsidiary studio.
Suddenly, LucasArts stopped talking to Red Fly Studios. Despite repeated requests for information, nothing was coming back. Then two and half weeks later on June 11th, 2011, Red Fly Studio executives received an email from Lucas entitled, “Maul Termination Letter.”
The project was dead. Red Fly Studios don’t blame LucasArts for the demise. It was all part of a larger operation at LucasArts to freeze any games currently in development. This was due to preparation for Disney purchasing LucasFilm.
During a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), Red Fly Studios founder, Dan Borth, said they were still interested in bringing this game to life. They had tried to speak to Electronic Arts, who are the exclusive rights holders for Star Wars console games, but didn’t get anywhere,
“It really feels like [EA] has an exclusive party going on, and they’re just not interested in talking about anyone else joining the party. It’s more like, ‘Nobody outside of EA is going to do stuff, end of story.'”
Game Informer posted some video footage of the game which you can watch here. It was due to be released for Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3, Nintendo WiiU and PC.
Artist Thomas A. Szakolczay, who worked on the cancelled Darth Maul game, recently posted a selection of new images he created for that project on an online portfolio. The portfolio contains the following comments from Thomas,
Back in 2011, I was fortunate enough to work with Lucas Arts and Redfly Studios to help develop the look direction for a new Star Wars IP that centered around Darth Maul. It took place in a future time line sometime after Return of the Jedi and was meant to have a darker, grittier tone. Unfortunately the project was conceived around the same time as the Disney acquisition. it was cancelled after 1 year of development. Definitely dream of getting the opportunity to work on another Star Wars related project, so much fun!
I’ve included a few samples here but check out the link to view more including concept images of characters, storyboards and even in-game holographic advertising.