When “Disney Infinity 3.0” launches later this year starring characters from the “Star Wars” universe, it will initially include interactive toys of Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, as well as an adventure called “Twilight of the Republic” set during the events of the Clone Wars. However, it won’t be just Jedi Apprentices and Knights you’ll can slip into the robes of — Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi will also be available, assuming you buy the Obi-Wan toy, of course.
CBR News spoke exclusively with Jeff Bunker, who serves as the game’s VP of Art Development but said “it’s more accurate to say I’m the art director, and make sure the figures have a cohesive art style.” Bunker explained his approach to designing both the in-game and toy versions of Obi-Wan and brought along an exclusive look at an early concept drawing of the Jedi Master.
CBR News: Given that characters in “Disney Infinity” already have a similarly angled art style to characters in the “Clone Wars” cartoon, does that mean you had less work to do when designing characters such as Obi-Wan for the game?
Jeff Bunker: The funny thing is — and this may not be believable, but it really did happen — we didn’t realize our style was close to the “Clone Wars” style until we made the Obi-Wan figure.
When we’re doing a live-action character, the first thing we do is try to make the most appealing caricature of that actor that we can, and then we, as we call it, “Infinitize” the character by giving it chiseled features. But it wasn’t until we “Infinitized” Obi-Wan that we realized it looked really close to the “Clone Wars” Obi-Wan.
The thing is, we didn’t want it to look like “Clone Wars” Obi-Wan, so we made some changes to make it our own.
Can you elaborate on what those changes were?
The most obvious thing is that our version is far chunkier, and the proportions are way less lean and long. We also tried to make it look more like the actor from the films than the “Clone Wars” did.
Okay, so you looked at picture of Ewan McGregor from the movies when designing the character. Did you ever show him what you were going to do?
No. That would’ve been fun, but no, we didn’t.
Did you also look at pictures of Sir Alec Guinness, who played an older Obi-Wan in the original trilogy?
We did. When we first started working on the game, we weren’t sure which Obi-Wan we were going to have in the game. Though it quickly became clear that the younger Obi-Wan was more energetic and thus better for the game.
Given that there’s both a toy and an in-game character, did you also look at previous Obi-Wan action figures for reference?
Only to see what other people had done. One of the things we do to “Infinitize” our characters is we look for the most iconic elements that identify the essence of that character. So a lot of times it’s helpful to see what other people have done, just to make sure we’re considering all of our options.
Going back to how you didn’t realize your art style was so close to that of the “Clone Wars,” was there anyone on your team who, when you made that realization, was like, “Are you kidding me? You’re just realizing that now?!”
[Laughs] Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’ll come clean: I’m a fan of “Star Wars,” but I had never watched the “Clone Wars,” so I didn’t make the connection. But there were people on other parts of the team who made the connection the minute they saw the initial drawings.
Okay, you’re excused. Now, speaking of those initial drawings how far along in the design process was the concept drawing we’re unveiling in this interview made?
This was very early on. At this point, we had decided it was going to be the younger Obi-Wan, but we were still trying to figure out the costume, and we’re trying to decide if it would be what he wore in the movies or in the “Clone Wars” cartoon.
When you’re in the concept drawing phase, do you just concern yourself with how the character will look or do you also work on how the toy will be posed?
Sometimes they come up together, but a lot of times we’re just trying to find the likeness. After we get that, then we try to find the most iconic pose we can for that character. For Obi-Wan, we wanted to find a pose that none of the other Jedis would ever be in, one that would make you say, “Oh, yeah, that’s definitely an Obi-Wan pose.” We do a lot of research. We looked through all of the films, and we looked through all the marketing material that Lucasfilm had put out in the past.
Now, I don’t want to get you in trouble, but during the posing part, do you guys ever make characters do things that wouldn’t fit with Disney’s family-friendly ethos? Because a badly placed lightsaber…
[Laughs] We’ve never done that on purpose, but we’ve done that accidentally. We’ve had times when we’ve posed a character, thought it was a great pose, and then looked at it from another angle and realized it wasn’t going to work.
Finally, if it was up to you, what “Star Wars” character would you add to “Disney Infinity 3.0?”
I have to say, all of my favorite characters are all in the game, though they’re not all toys. I’d love to have a C-3PO toy, but he wouldn’t work as a playable character in the game. I’d also love to make toys for some of the vehicles, like the X-Wing Fighter and the Millennium Falcon. They’re also in the game, but I’d really like a Millennium Falcon to put on my shelf.
“Disney Infinity 3.0” will be available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, WiiU, PC, iOS and Android later this year.
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