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Survivor’s Writers on Giving Cal a Scene-Stealing Counterpart

Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi video games are firmly embedded within the years earlier than the unique trilogy, and maintain the concentrate on a core solid of wholly new heroes and villains. It’s what made Star Wars Jedi: Survivor from earlier this yr so glorious: the video games benefit from that relative freedom from the timeline and supply up an attention-grabbing array of unique characters for audiences to like.

One of many latest additions for the sequel was Bode Akuna, a mercenary who exhibits up early in Survivor and turns into one in all Cal Kestis’ key allies. For a lot of the sport, he’s obtained a enjoyable rapport with Cal and is greater than useful in a struggle. He’s the sort of man Star Wars tends to have: an enthralling dude who suits into the Mantis crew pretty properly and serves as one other dependable heavy hitter.

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However not all buddies are pleasant in Star Wars. It’s finally revealed Bode is each an Order 66 survivor like Cal, and in addition a double agent for the ISB. From there, the remainder of the sport turns into about Cal looking down his former good friend and letting himself dip into the Darkish Aspect, as Jedi typically do.

Not too long ago, io9 spoke with Respawn writers Cole Swany and Danny Homan to interrupt down Bode’s conception, his heel flip, and the way he serves as a mirror to Cal.

Justin Carter, io9: Cal and Bode’s relationship is basically constructed up in Survivor’s first half, to the purpose the place Bode “unlocks” Cal’s Blaster Stance. Did you ever fear you had been laying issues on a bit of too thick?

Cole Swany, author: Our two targets had been ensuring it’s not too conspicuous, whereas additionally ensuring it is sensible as soon as you work it out. One of many instruments the narrative crew used to assist with that had been the post-game Power echoes, the place you get to know Bode’s thought course of each step of the way in which. As a participant, you begin to piece collectively his motivations, and for us, we get to inform the story extra piecewise.

Danny Homan, lead author: After we had been creating Bode as a personality, we checked out the kind of particular person Cal wanted in his life, however would additionally trigger among the best self-reflection and battle inside him. The concept of a Jedi working for the ISB and monitoring Cere supplied a very juicy place to begin for a dramatic distinction between Cal and Bode, and the way their lives differed after the Clone Wars.

The nice unknown in writing is toeing a line and making an attempt to not tip the scales an excessive amount of. Some individuals are simply suspicious of newcomers straight away, some noticed Bode’s dreamy eyes and went, “This man would by no means betray me!” I believe from speaking to loads of gamers, we’re proud with how the portrayal landed. On the finish of the day, it’s a enjoyable story level, however what we actually care about is Cal’s perspective and his emotions on the betrayal. As long as Cal feels that, then we really feel like we’re succeeding.

Image for article titled Star Wars Jedi: Survivor's Writers on Giving Cal a Scene-Stealing Counterpart

Picture: Respawn/EA/Lucasfilm

io9: The shared reveal of Bode as a traitor and a Jedi work very well. Had you considered probably spacing them out and having one reveal earlier than the opposite?

Homan: Now that the sport’s been out and gamers have had time to digest that flip, it’s been enjoyable to observe individuals’s reactions. Some say they noticed the betrayal coming, however not him being a Jedi, or it was the opposite manner round. These two moments so shut collectively work very well as a result of they set you off-kilter as an viewers, so to me, they had been all the time meant to be in tandem.

One of many difficult issues about writing a betrayal like that is ensuring gamers don’t see it coming, whereas additionally offering sufficient clues to level in the direction of it in hindsight. There’s dialogue on Jedha the place Greez mentions the Path and tells Bode to maintain it to himself; since Greez is a comedic character, it’s possible you’ll not take him utterly critically versus Merrin saying it. We labored to supply a breadcrumb path, so the one-two punch of “betrayal, then Jedi” works as a result of even for those who noticed one coming, you won’t have predicted the opposite.

Swany: A vital manner Bode challenges and pushes on Cal is along with his daughter, Kata. Throughout manufacturing, our narrative director Aaron Contreras described one in all Cal’s wildest fantasies as with the ability to run away with Merrin to reside an atypical life. Whereas the Jedi part of the reveal is a big a part of issues, we didn’t need it to overshadow the truth that Cal noticed one thing relatable in Bode as a father. Even setting apart their shared previous with the Jedi Order, that was an enormous a part of why they bonded.

io9: It sounds such as you had a reasonably sturdy idea of Bode throughout improvement. How a lot did [Bode’s actor] Noshir Dalal convey to the character?

Homan: Our efficiency seize would characteristic all of the actors, they usually’d speak to one another or us on set. They’re all digging into their characters or speaking via their very own concepts. It’s a fantastic natural course of, and as a author, Noshir is the sort of actor that you just simply dream of working with.

He cares so intently about Bode, and got here to the function with such depth that he must really feel each line because the character. On set, he was all the time pulling us apart to ask questions concerning the script, phrase selection, and line supply. It’s all the time a collaborative effort between writers and actors, however I believe it’s truthful to say that with Noshir, he went above and past as a result of he actually desires to really feel [a character] earlier than he delivers it.

Image for article titled Star Wars Jedi: Survivor's Writers on Giving Cal a Scene-Stealing Counterpart

Picture: Respawn/EA/Lucasfilm

io9: At what level did you determine Survivor would finish with Cal having to kill Bode and Kata becoming a member of the Mantis crew?

Homan: There’s that second the place Cal confronts Bode within the ISB base and calls him a monster, to which Bode says: “I’m a father.” He was a double agent, yeah, however his affection for Cal is real. He’s simply additionally a household man first. On the writing aspect, we actually do come to consider they’re brothers-in-arms, and beneath completely different circumstances, issues would possibly’ve turned out in another way.

Bode’s a genuinely good particular person, however the circumstances of his life led him to the Darkish Aspect. When you go down that path, discovering readability will be so tough to tug your self again from that. We would like that completely happy ending after we take a look at him, however to land this story, we all the time felt like that sacrifice in Cal’s resolution needed to be actually painful for him. On this case, that meant ending the life of somebody he as soon as referred to as “brother.” One of many issues we discover in Survivor is Cal briefly floating with the Darkish Aspect and Merrin having to tug him again. A part of the themes that we’re taking part in with is how the people who encompass you—your loved ones, your folks—will be your best assist mechanisms or ship you down darkish paths themselves.

io9: You’ve got Cal embrace the darkness twice, each instances due to Bode. These moments actually present how a lot that betrayal affected him.

Homan: Precisely. Within the first occasion, Cal meets Kata for the primary time on the ISB base. He’s nonetheless going via the ache of dropping Cere and Cordova, and what unsettles him is being pressured to see Bode’s betrayal as a human interplay. Regardless of how monstrous that’s, I believe there’s a facet of Cal that understands that. Like Bode, he thought preventing the Empire was hopeless, and he’s been misplaced with out his family and friends. He’s had the disaster of conscience earlier than, so he’s capable of step into Bode’s sneakers and discover one thing sort of proper in what’s being mentioned.

Swany: Having Kata concerned within the combine provides an additional layer of messiness and a extra human issue, like Danny mentioned. We now have this philosophical battle of Cal grappling with the Jedi code of selflessness and defending everybody versus Bode defending these closest to him, and Kata deeply complicates Cal’s relationship to that betrayal. It’s extra human than how regular individuals view issues, and I believe Cal’s pressured to grapple with that instantly as he has these darkish snaps.

When he makes the unlucky resolution to finish Bode’s life, it’s as Bode is Power choking Merrin in entrance of him. That feels to Cal like an indication from the galaxy that he might lose his family members. Our hope was that these layered moments would really feel like an uncovered nerve the place Cal needed to take care of these feelings which might be near the center.

Image for article titled Star Wars Jedi: Survivor's Writers on Giving Cal a Scene-Stealing Counterpart

Picture: Respawn/EA/Lucasfilm

io9: A lot of Bode’s character and the sport’s plot is about his daughter Kata, in a roundabout way. What went into creating her, particularly?

Homan: As a result of Kata’s launched so late within the recreation, and since she’s gone via a lot, we wished to provide gamers their acceptable time along with her. After we shot these predominant cutscenes, we hung out determining broaden her character and give Cal and the Mantis crew extra time to work together along with her.

Within the post-game, you’ll be able to work together along with her on the Mantis or on touchdown zones; for those who take her to the cantina, you’ll see her take up gardening with Pili. One of many issues we’re most pleased with is how we dealt with Cal and Kata. The response from gamers confirmed us that even along with her brief period of time, she looks like a whole character and somebody going via a variety of feelings and struggling to know what’s taking place. It’s a difficult factor for any author, particularly with a baby.

Swany: Youngsters are all the time difficult in tales. They often symbolize innocence and hope, however Kata’s life has been outlined by this unimaginable darkness from her father and her secret life. Our narrative director Aaron as soon as mentioned Star Wars has a legacy of individuals being mentored by their father’s killer, and the darkness that comes from that. However we additionally get to see the hopeful angle, the place she’s constructing relationships with the individuals round her. She’s obtained this super resilience past her years, and we’ve been actually completely happy to see that resonate with gamers.

Homan: For me, Clementine from Telltale’s The Strolling Lifeless ended up being a giant affect on Kata. With Clem, she grows up actual quick, and also you see that progress play out throughout that sequence. Like Clem, Kata has a childhood that’s overshadowed by grief, and also you get these moments the place she’s feeling like a daily child or pondering the occasions of her father’s loss of life. Placing all that collectively is what helped us make the character actually sing.

io9: Cal nonetheless has his remaining buddies, however dropping Cere, Cordova, and Bode actually appears to have damaged him. The ending signifies that darkness remains to be lingering in him, do you suppose he’ll get via this?

Homan: One of many issues about Cal that I believe is so endearing is how despite the fact that he’s been via and misplaced a lot, he nonetheless maintains hope. He cares concerning the individuals round him and would do something for them, and in such a darkish time the place there’s little hope to be discovered, he’s stubbornly hopeful.

Swany: A lot of what makes him actually compelling is how he’s a Jedi plucked into the worst time in historical past to be one. He’s obtained all of the idealism and duty that comes with that title, and his journey is so characterised by loss. That loss is throughout him, and he can really feel himself slipping at instances. Once you see his resiliency shine via, regardless of the darkness throughout him, these moments are made all of the extra significant.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is on the market now for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Collection X|S, and PC.

Need extra io9 information? Try when to anticipate the most recent Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on film and TV, and every little thing you must learn about the way forward for Doctor Who.

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