Death, Star Wars™, and the LEGO® Pooper Trooper

Before LEGO® Star Wars™: The Video Game crashed onto the scene, raking in millions and redefining what it meant to be a LEGO game, a Star Wars game, and a family-friendly game, it was a mostly overlooked project by Lucasfilm.

While TT Games and the LEGO Group had faith that the title would do well, those at Lucasfilm overseeing the use of the Star Wars property saw the game as a merchandising opportunity at best and a poor fit at worst.

“We were working on all sorts of different games like Secret Weapons Over Normandy, and Armed and Dangerous and the Old Republic games," said Matt Shell, Director, Product Marketing at Lucasfilm. “My boss had come to me and told me that | was going to be working on this new LEGO Star Wars game and, to be honest, | think we all were kind of like, ‘'Huh?' That didn't make a whole lot of sense for us, given the other types of games we're working on, given what our audience looked like, given the direction of the company."

That early relationship was really just about working on the marketing and as a licensing partner, since Eidos was publishing the game, he said. The LEGO Group brought with it a sense of identity - perhaps misplaced - that its products were really just for young children.

“When we were thinking about LEGO games, you were you were talking about little kid games and little builders, it was nothing like the LEGO games that we know today," he said. "Anybody that says we heard about making LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and thought, ‘This is going to be a huge hit.' And, ‘This is makes perfect sense.' —- you know, I'd be the first to tell you they were lying. Because that was not exactly the first thought that any of us had. It took a lot of convincing. There were a lot of a lot of conversations that happened in order to convince us that this is really going to be the match made in heaven it's turned out to be."

As LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game approached its 2005 launch, many inside Lucasfilm were beginning to realize just how much fun the game was. And that successful launch confirmed an evolving take on TT Games' approach to LEGO games.

Because of that, the relationship with Lucasfilm continued to grow, first expanding to include more of the Star Wars movies, and then adding the Indiana Jones titles. The two companies continue to push boundaries and discover new ways to tell the Lucasfilm stories.

Perhaps Shell's favorite bit of marketing magic was the idea he came up with to promote the boss battles in LEGO Star Wars Ill: The Clone Wars. It involved a brick bowel movement.

“We were trying to think of different ways to highlight the boss fights, which we were bringing to the franchise, which we hadn't really had before," he said. "And so it seemed like a natural fit to have one of the troopers go up against a boss and then literally, you know, have a brick bowel movement on screen. "

The group came up with an animated concept and Shell loved it, but then he had to get permission from both Lucasfilm and the LEGO Group.

“We have a beautiful conference room upstairs that has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge," he said. “It's an all-wood room with big leather chairs. It's like when you're a kid, you think of the most magical meeting you could ever have. It takes place in this room.

“I'm in there and Howard Roffman [president of Lucas Licensing] was in there, and our president at the time was in there, and a bunch of execs from the LEGO Group, and | had to present this concept. And | literally presented as the character s----ing a brick, and there was complete silence in the room. | don't think anybody knew how to react because, you know, the LEGO Group was there."

Shell managed to get the approval after a bit of convincing and the rest is a glorious 11- seond piece of award-winning marketing history.

Matt Fillbrandt, Executive Producer in charge of product development at Lucasfilm Games, noted that by the time TT Games was working on LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens™, the game was in production at the same time as the movie.

That game not only featured a pivotal death scene from the movie - which had to be presented in a way that was both lightly humorous, but also didn't disparage the movie's own evocative scene - but the developers weren't given a lot of advance insight into what would be happening until the movie was basically out.

“There was a lot of conversation around how to handle that," Fillbrandt said. “And | think, if | remember correctly, there were even some issues with the LEGO Group side of it where they have specific rules that you're not supposed to penetrate a minifigure."

The death scene was violent, so there were a lot of complicated elements to navigate.

“We would take trips out to the TT Fusion Studio in the UK, and we'd be out to dinner, having a team dinner after a daylong meeting, and I'd be out on the sidewalk talking about this scene specifically and what we could do with it and how we're going to handle it. But ultimately, but we ultimately came up with it."

The relationship between TT Games, the LEGO Group, and Lucasfilm Games helped to create a new entry point into Lucasfilm's many famed properties, specifically designed for a younger audience.

"This is how they're learning the stories, they're learning the characters," said Shell. "This is their Star Wars until they're introduced to the movies and TV shows. "

Fillbrandt added: "I think, for those of us who got to play with LEGO bricks as kids, that even with the adults who might love the movies, there's also that part of remembering what it was like to put together those first sets that you had and use your imagination to play with these things. And then, when you get to play the games, it all comes to life there, and you get to interact with those characters in the stories that they tell in this magical moment."

Explore more...

In order of appearance:

LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game - Wikipedia

TT Games - Official website

SPU Darwin - Inside the LEGO Group's Secretive Strategic Product Unit Darwin

LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventure Official website

LEGO Bits N' Bricks Season 1 Episode 9 —- How Harry Potter and an amazing demo led to LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game

LEGO Pooper Trooper commercial - YouTube

The Han Solo scene from LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens - YouTube

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens -— Official website

Transcript

Bits N' Bricks Season 2 Episode 20: May the 4** Be With You

May 4, 2021 - 1:02:14

Prologue 00:00 (Music)

Ethan Vincent

Welcome back, listeners to the Bits N' Bricks podcast. We wrapped Season 1 awhile ago, but we haven't quite dropped into Season 2 yet. So why are we here, Brian?

Brian Crecente

Vroom, pew, pew, pew, pew pew-

Ethan Vincent

-Brian, Brian what are you doing?

Brian Crecente

I'm providing scene-setting sound effects for your announcement.

Ethan Vincent Great. Yes. Happy May the fourth everyone.

Brian Crecente

Pew, pew, pew, pew.

Ethan Vincent

Yeah, we might as well just get that out of the way. Yes, it's May the fourth, and before Brian tries to do R2-D2's screech, let's hop into this one-off special episode, but make sure you come back later in the month for a full fledged return of Bits N' Bricks Season 2.

Bits N' Bricks: Introduction - 00:50

(Child's voice announcing Bits N' Bricks)

Ethan Vincent Welcome to Bits N' Bricks, a podcast about all things LEGO games. I'm Ethan Vincent.

Brian Crecente

And I'm Brian Crecente. Together, we look back at the rich 25-year history of LEGO games, chat with early developers and seasoned studios, who have all tackled the creation of video games for one of the most popular and respected toy companies in the world: The LEGO Group.

(Bits N' Bricks Season 2 theme music )

Ethan Vincent

Good morning, Brian.

Brian Crecente

Hey, Ethan. How are you? | know you've been doing a lot of globetrotting this month. So how are things?

Ethan Vincent

Oh, man, it's been kind of crazy. I've been, of course, been away from my home on film production doing a little documentary series. And it's been almost seven weeks.

Brian Crecente

Wow.

Ethan Vincent

So I've spent all this time traveling around the US, even to New York, right?

Brian Crecente

Yes. Yeah, that was great. It was, you know, it's funny we finally met and had a lovely dinner. | cannot believe that this month was the first time we have ever met in person in two years of working together.

Ethan Vincent

Yeah, just great to see you, man. And boy, that was a fantastic dinner. A good choice.

Brian Crecente

Yes! The mousse.

Ethan Vincent

Yes. Lava cake. | had the lava cake.

Brian Crecente

It's probably too early though to be talking about delicious, delicious chocolate desserts.

Ethan Vincent

Yes. So what should we be talking about this week, my friend?

Chapter 1: A Brief History of Lucasfilm Games - 02:21

Brian Crecente

Well, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, all of the George Lucas goodness rolled up neatly into a collection of digital LEGO brick wonders.

Ethan Vincent

Yes, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, who does not know those first of all? And second of all, just how amazing and great those films are. You know, I'm pretty aware of George Lucas and Lucasfilm, but what can you tell me about how he got into video games?

Brian Crecente

You know, it's a really interesting history that dates all the way back to 1979 when George Lucas recruited Ed Catmull from the New York Institute of Technology to head the Lucasfilm Computer Division. The division was formed to focus on non-linear film editing, digital sound and graphics. A computer games team was later created within the division in 1982. And then in 1986 the graphics group was sold to Steve Jobs who renamed it, well -

Ethan Vincent

Let me guess...Pixar? Brian Crecente

You got it. Pixar! The folks behind Toy Story, Monsters Incorporated, The Incredibles, and on and on and on.

Ethan Vincent

Oh yeah. | mean the Pixar movies are amazing and well loved, of course. | think about the influence Pixar had on the early strategic product unit Darwin Group. You think about how they looked at these early Pixar movies and said, "Hey, why don't we do that with the LEGO brick? Why don't we do that with LEGO DNA? Why don't we create a little LEGO movie?" You know it of course was a huge influence for them. So one of the things | thought was really cool is, in September of 2009 at the Biennale Venice Film Festival, all the executives John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, you know, Brad Bird, all those guys, they were

granted the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award. And it was granted to them by Lucasfilm founder George Lucas. So it kind of goes full circle here.

Brian Crecente

Yes, so the other half of that group, the Lucas Computer Division became Lucasfilm Games' Group. And they worked with Atari, which helped fund the group. Because of that funding, Atari actually got the license for Star Wars video games. So the Lucasfilm Games Group instead of working on Star Wars properties, mostly focused on creating original titles, and | think frankly the entire world is very happy that happened because it brought us an amazing list of games, including the fantastic Maniac Mansion; Habitat; Labyrinth; The Secret of Monkey Island, and you know, | could just keep naming games.

Ethan Vincent

Yeah, but didn't they also make some early Indiana Jones' games?

Brian Crecente

Yeah, they did actually. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade hit in 1989. And Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was in 1992.

Ethan Vincent

Yeah, you know, this is really interesting, Brian, because you think about the Lucasfilm Games group and they're doing all these great games, but like you said they're not doing Star Wars. When when did that start up again? Were they able to kind of get back to that?

Brian Crecente

Yes, so the first in-house Star Wars game was the excellent space combat simulator, X- Wing, which went on to spawn a beloved series. Then in the mid 90s, they started making first-person shooters with Star Wars: Dark Forces, and then Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. The franchise got a very successful series of role-playing games with Knights of the Old Republic in the 2000s. And they even had a massively multiplayer online game in 2003 with Star Wars Galaxies.

Ethan Vincent

Again, really fascinating history, just video game history, | love it. How does this all come together, Brian?

Brian Crecente

Well, it's interesting. It's all really about the context. So LucasArts is in the midst of this sort of renaissance of Star Wars video games. They're churning out massive hit after massive hit for fans of hardcore gaming. In 2004 alone, the studio released five games, four of them based on Star Wars properties, and in 2005 they released six more games from

Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, to Star Wars Battlefront II. 2005 also happens to be the year that LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game hit.

Ethan Vincent

Aha, there's the connection, and you know, | look back at the episode we did on this and these early beginnings with Giant Interactive. Super fascinating and just an incredible story of also how this game came to be.

Brian Crecente

Right. And this history of these tremendous successes by LucasArts at the time with these sort of very gritty action-oriented games, goes a long way in explaining the early internal reaction to the LEGO Group coming up to LucasArts and saying they want to make a video game based ona Star Wars property.

Ethan Vincent

Yeah, | can only imagine, like here you are making first-person shooters and massively multiplayer online games, and tactical games, right? And all of these titles aimed at adult fans of Star Wars, people who really live and breathe for the franchise, and suddenly along comes the LEGO Group with this game.

Brian Crecente

Yeah, exactly, and now on top of that, you have to look at the LEGO Group's history at the time. Even though the company had been making video games for a decade by the time LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game came out, with a couple of exceptions they were basically very different than that massive hit, the LEGO Star Wars game.

Ethan Vincent

Yeah, yeah. You know, they had obviously done LEGO Loco, LEGO Friends, LEGO Racers, LEGO Bionicle. A lot of these games were viewed, | think on some level, as an extension of the marketing arm of the LEGO Group, maybe not by its gaming merits, you know?

Brian Crecente

Right, and on top of that, they definitely skewed toward a much younger audience. So, you take LucasArts and its tremendous success with teen-friendly, adult-friendly hardcore games, and here comes the LEGO Group with a history of children and family games, and at least internally, to be frank, there was a lot of initial doubt about what would come of it.

Ethan Vincent

To be frank, right? So you aren't Frank normally, Brian?

Brian Crecente

Ah, yeah, so OK -

Ethan Vincent (Laughs)

Brian Crecente

to be blunt (laughs). So to be blunt, internally at LucasArts, the very first TT Game, LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, was sort of brushed off initially. It was seen as a marketing stunt, something that certainly wouldn't have any major impact on anything Lucas was doing on its side.

Ethan Vincent Yeah, but boy, did that change. | mean, that's remarkable that change.

Brian Crecente

Yes, and very quickly.

Chapter 2: Matt Fillbrandt and Matt Shell - Part | - 08:33

Brian Crecente

And that brings us to today's episode. Matt Shell, Director of Brand Marketing at Lucasfilm Games and Matt Fillbrandt, Executive Producer in charge of product development at Lucasfilm Games wanted to tackle this interview together because they've worked basically side-by-side forever on these titles.

Ethan Vincent

Yeah, and boy did they have great chemistry. That was so fun, Brian, to hear how this worked out and and how they managed to turn so many emotive, amazing moments in the films into these poignant, but also family-friendly moments made of LEGO bricks.

Brian Crecente

Yes. All that and more in this interview. So let's have a listen. (Music)

Matt Shell

My name is Matt Shell. I'm the Director of Brand Marketing at Lucasfilm Games. Yeah, so | went to college for business and marketing and graduated and started working at a strategic design and marketing firm. And Sega was one of our clients. | went to my first

meeting there. And | said, "My God, I've got to work at this place. This is the coolest job I've ever seen." And | got a job there and worked there for a little bit, and when my department was was laid off | said, "There's only two jobs that | think | can go to next that would make me happy." One of those was hosting the Tonight Show, which didn't seem like a real feasible option. And the other was working for Star Wars. And that was, God, probably 16, 17 years ago, and I've been here in a number of different roles throughout the last 15 years or so.

Matt Fillbrandt

I'm Matt Fillbrandt, I'm the Executive Producer in charge of product development at Lucasfilm Games. | actually worked at a law firm, but with the intention of going to law school, but after having worked with attorneys in a high pressure law firm environment, | decided that probably wasn't a good path for me to take, and | wanted to try to get into something more creative. | was a huge video game fan. And so | had frequently been going to the Lucasfilm website, and lo and behold, a position opened up at LucasArts in the legal department. Had a lot of similarities with things that I'd been doing at that time in corporate law, and | took a chance, applied for the position and ended up getting it with the mindset of knowing that | wanted to do something else. | didn't know what at that time, but | just want to get my foot in the door at Lucas, and | made a transition over to production. | started there back in 1999, so I've been with the company for now 22 years, | guess. And it's been a great ride so far.

Brian Crecente

When did you, both of you, I'm curious, when did you first hear about TT Games working on a Lucasfilm property? And what were your thoughts when you first heard that there was going to be this sort of team up and the LEGO Group was involved?

Matt Shell

Yeah, | think that's probably more along my timeline at LucasArts.

Ethan Vincent This is Matt Shell speaking,

Matt Shell

If you remember, we were working on all sorts of different games, you know, flight games like Secret Weapons over Normandy, and Armed and Dangerous and the Old Republic games. My boss had come to me and told me that | was going to be working on this new LEGO Star Wars game, and to be honest, | think we all were kind of like, "Huh?" Like, that didn't make a whole lot of sense for us given the other types of games we were working on, given what our audience looked like, given the direction of the company. And so that project came over to me primarily because it was really just a marketing relationship at the time. We were not publishing that game. So you know, we knew about TT, we had very

few conversations, and mostly it was just about working on sort of that creative, the creative elements for the game with Eidos, and working as more the license holders on the title moreso than we were from a production or marketing standpoint.

Brian Crecente

Yeah, you know, it's interesting, you raise an interesting point. If you look at sort of a snapshot of the year before and the year of that game's release, no one would have expected a LEGO game to come from one of the properties because you had the Battlefront games, you had Knights of the Old Republic, you had Mercenaries, Empire at War, so those are all like T and up rated games that are certainly, like you said, they're sort of meant for a particular, | think a very particular sort of audience. And then along comes this game that is, at least at first blush, seems like it's tied directly to a much younger audience.

Matt Shell

Yeah. Well, first off, you gotta love those titles that you mentioned. Those were really exciting and fun times for us working on things like Mercenaries, it was really a hoot. If you remember, the LEGO Star Wars game was sort of the first of these movie-type games that had that LEGO spin on them. But before that, when we were thinking about LEGO games, you were talking about little kid games and little builders and games that took advantage of the LEGO generic minifigs. And there was... it was nothing like the LEGO games that we know today.

Brian Crecente

Yeah, no, you're right. | mean, yeah, there's obviously well before them, but LEGO Island, and then there were like a bunch of other games sort of around that time - LEGO Loco, LEGO Racers - but they were all definitely sort of more tied to the theme ets and more tied to a much younger audience. So on the one hand, you've got LucasArts doing titles that are sort of much more teen and adult. And on the other, you have LEGO Group doing titles that are much younger and theme-set themed. And then the output is something that doesn't match either of those, which is, | think, really fascinating.

Matt Shell

Yeah, | think anybody that says we heard about making LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and thought, "Oh this is going to be a huge hit, and this makes perfect sense," you know, I'd be the first to tell you they were lying because that was not exactly the first thought that any of us had, you know, it took a lot of convincing. There were a lot of conversations that happened in order to convince us that this is really going to be the match made in heaven as it's turned out to be.

Ethan Vincent

Matt, this is Ethan here. | think that it's interesting what you said about not too many people having that foresight about the potential success. But | also remember in putting another episode of Bits N' Bricks together on TT Games, that Brian and | heard the story of one of the producers at Lucasfilm Games getting these builds and looking at them, you know, doing check-ins on them, and with every successive build that came in more and more people were showing up to play it and crowding around behind this person, and by the end it was like a sudden realization, at least, you know, among developers, that there's this really fun game there. And | guess my question is, is this an urban myth or is that true?

Matt Shell

Yeah, | think that's true. | mean, we certainly grew with the game as we were getting a better understanding of it, and seeing how all of this sort of magic came to be, you know, that fun, and tongue in cheek nature of the game, the whimsy of the game. You really don't understand it until you see it. It's not the kind of thing that can be described really easily, and translates to something that makes people go, "Oh, yeah, yeah, that's a great idea, that makes perfect sense." And so once people started getting their hands on it, seeing it, getting videos of the gameplay and the cutscenes, | think it really started to translate to something that made sense for all of us.

Brian Crecente

Now, Matt Fillbrandt, what was your first sort of realization that there was a LEGO game in the works or a TT Game with one of the properties?

Matt Fillbrandt

You know, people | think were familiar with the fact that the LEGO Group had been working with Lucasfilm licensing to put out the physical brick set since about the late ‘90s. And so that proved, | think, to be quite successful. And so you could sort of imagine, it wasn't like this was the first time that that the LEGO Group and Lucasfilm and Star Wars had done something together. So you start to think about the sets that you might have been familiar with, and how those we're going to come to life and animation, and how are they going to do that with this hard plastic bits, and how the character is going to work. And so | think that was like a very interesting thing, because most of the people that | know that are in gaming, or have had kids remember their time with LEGO bricks as kids, that's kind of a magical time in your sort of coming of age. And it's sort of awakened this playfulness, | think, in all of us that there could be something pretty fun there to be able to interact with those elements and relive elements of the various trilogies through that medium in a totally unique, and in a way that's completely honorable to the series of games that you really don't get anywhere else, | think.

Brian Crecente

When you look at that first game, one of the things that really stands out, in my mind, is the fact that it sort of minted a very specific type of humor that TT Games was able to use throughout all the properties, the LEGO games that they've come out with since, which seems to appeal both to children and adults. And I'm just curious, you know, they're sort of doing this on the fly with his first game. Do you think that it... did it sort of translate well when it came to those Star Wars and Indiana Jones properties? Or do you feel like that was a struggle initially?

Matt Fillbrandt

From my perspective, | think it worked. | mean, | think it was so kind of fresh and new from that perspective that, you know, kind of hats off to Howard Roffman for taking a chance with something like this that really hadn't been done before with an IP, and had the vision to see potentially building off of the success of the brick, physical brick side of the business, that there could be something special here. And, you know, | think because of that sense of humor, hats off to Jon Burton and the folks at TT at the time that were able to kind of bring their vision in that whimsical element to this property that married what effectively is a, you know, a really a kid's toy, and sort of the ability to break things apart and build things and all those different elements in a way that was so compelling.

Matt Shell

Yeah, | think just just to add to that: Matt sort of hints at it, but | think that humor that you talk about is really what allows this game to cross so many barriers and boundaries of its audience. It is a kid's game. You know, and it does primarily speak to kids in the type of gameplay, but the humor is what allows adults and different demographics to find this enjoyable to play on their own, like this isn't - you'd think it would just be a game that kids would play or maybe parents would play to introduce their kids to Star Wars, but plenty of adults find it really enjoyable, | think primarily because of that humor aspect, you know, the little - putting things on their head a little bit and telling just a slightly different story with a humorous bend to it really allows it to reach a much different audience.

(Music)

Chapter 3: Excerpt from Bits N' Bricks Episode 9 with Tom Stone - 20:26

Ethan Vincent

So, Brian, what I'm hearing both Matt saying here in this interview, too, is just how skeptical and surprised they were about LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. But I'm reminded of that they weren't the only ones. There were people who bankrolled the game, even potential publishers, who seemed disinterested in the idea behind the game.

Brian Crecente

Yeah, that's true. You know, in fact, we did an interview with Tom Stone, who was the founder of Giant Interactive, which was the studio that was later bought out by Traveller's Tales to become TT Games. He talked a lot about what it was like to sort of shop this game around before it had a publisher.

Ethan Vincent

And we chatted with a bunch of people about those early years at TT and about LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game back in Episode 9 in Bits N' Bricks, Season 1. Let's take a listen.

(Sound of lightsabers)

Brian Crecente

You know, it's easy to forget, when you talk about game development, how many people how many ideas, how many long nights are involved in creating a game. Burton tells us that much of those core ideas tied to sort of the foundational work of this game and in turn, sort of all the games that came after it, came from people like John Hodgkinson and James Cunliffe and Jeremy Pardon. He said he liked the idea of having a lot of different characters in the game, each with their own abilities, because of something that he saw and played on an old ZX Spectrum, this old game called Thunderbirds, and so that's where some of that inspiration came from. So anyway, once the deal was made and Traveller's Tales were deep into development of the game, Giant Interactive still had one really big issue they had to solve, and that was they needed to find someone who could publish and disseminate their game to retailers around the world.

Tom Stone

We took a trip to Los Angeles and we met with THQ, we met with Activision, and we met with Electronic Arts. We had already previously met with Ubisoft, and we'd met with Eidos. | think they were the five publishers that we met with. | then received a phone call from Activision at the time saying, "Really enjoyed the demo, but we don't think this game is going to succeed, so we don't want to be your distribution partner." | got a similar phone call from THQ saying, "Yeah, you know, we think it's like an interesting idea, but we don't think it's that big an idea, so actually, we don't want to be your distribution partner." And then, because I'd worked for Electronic Arts, | thought, "Well, they'll be on board." We'd already worked with Electronic Arts on some LEGO brick stuff, | thought they might be on board, and they actually turned me down as well. So at this point, | was thinking, "Ooh, this could be interesting. So we've got this game that we were working on developing it, and we are not going to be able to find a worldwide distribution partner." Anyway, Ubisoft and Eidos actually did say, they both said, we really believe in this, and we'd love to work with you on it. And we decided to go with Eidos. Part of the reason we went with Eidos because they didn't have any other games. And we thought, they will give us all their attention. And we think that's really good for this. | didn't want to be fifth on the list at,

let's say, at an Activision or another company. | want to be at the top of their list. This is the most important game that we're going to release in 2005, and that was true for Eidos. That was their most important worldwide game in 2005. We got attention in Japan (the game was released out over there), it got an incredibly powerful release in Europe, and they did a fantastic job in North America. So that's how that happened.

Ethan Vincent

While they were able to find a publisher eventually, it was touch and go. And for Tom Stone, it was very personal.

Brian Crecente

Yeah.

Ethan Vincent

He had invested a lot of his personal funds, and even put his house on the line to get the funding for Giant Interactive. And if they couldn't find a publisher, or if the game didn't do well, there was a very good chance he would have lost it, but Stone said he kept his spirits up during those dark moments of rejection by going back to watch children test the game as work continued on it.

Tom Stone

| had young gamers coming into the cottage where we worked. And | just listened to their response, their reaction. They were screaming with delight as they were being able to be these Jedi Knights, slicing up the droids and anything made of LEGO bricks and fighting each other. And they were dropping in and dropping out two-player gameplay. And | just watched them and thought, "This game is going to be successful. | just know it. Look at the reaction of these 8-year-old kids who are playing this game. They absolutely love it. Don't care what adults think. These kids love it." And that was proven to be true. And | just, | listened to them rather than listen to the adults, if you like.

(Lightsaber sounds)

Ethan Vincent

That quote there from Tom stone, Brian, | love it how he talks about that experience. And there's a lot more to hear in that Season 1, Episode 9, so make sure you give that a listen if you haven't already.

Chapter 4: Matt Fillbrandt and Matt Shell - Part Il - 26:09

Ethan Vincent

But now back to the two Matts who are about to talk about stormtroopers in hot tubs, and an award-winning commercial about a brick bowel movement so absurd that it required not one but two swear bleeps.

(Music)

Brian Crecente

One of the things that you both sort of touched on this, this sort of, there's this sense of irreverence that | feel like most people, if they came to Lucasfilm or came to any other IP owner, they would say, "No, you can't do that." And the one, the example | think of is | think the very first, well maybe it's not the first one | saw, but it's certainly the one that stuck in my head. There's this scene, and | think it's LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, just a tiny little scene where you find these stormtroopers hanging out in a bathtub. And | remember when | saw that, first off, | thought it was hilarious, but like the very second thought | had was, "How did they get that approved?" And so I'm curious, was that a struggle? And when you saw these were you like, "Oh no, we can't do that. You can't have stormtroopers hanging out in a hot tub."

Matt Fillbrandt

| can't speak to the initial approval of how it got in the initial game because | didn't work on that.

Ethan Vincent This is Matt Fillbrandt speaking.

Matt Fillbrandt

Sometimes things like that it's not always obvious that it's going to be a gag or a joke that is necessarily going to work. | think the ones that - we sort of have a philosophy when it comes to having humor with Lucasfilm IPs and our franchises, is that we want to have fun with it, but we don't want to make fun of it. So things like that, | think, it's the kind of thing that, at least from my perspective, you might think, well stormtroopers hanging out in a hot tub doesn't necessarily make sense in the Star Wars universe, but because of the LEGO bricks, it sort of works. And then you're like, well, it's obviously being satirical that you've got characters running around, there's mayhem all over the place, and you open a secret door and all of a sudden, you find a bunch of stormtroopers with their helmets on sitting in a hot tub, is just instantly is a great gag, it's just funny, so | know that's one that we have brought back and done a bit of a homage to in The Force Awakens games, etc. And so, when things like that work you want to pay respect to them because they're so good.

Matt Shell

Yeah, | think I'll just add, you know, our involvement back in 2005 -

Ethan Vincent This is Matt Shell.

Matt Shell

- there was very little work for us to do other than, | mean | joke, but | think my primary role on that title was getting the sticker approved which had, you know, the sticker that called out the film, Episode 3, that the story elements from that movie were in the game. It was literally just a sticker on the cover of the box, and | think we worked on the key art. And as time has gone on, we're now involved with every aspect, every joke, every story element that's included in the game, and so at the time, early on it was much more consumer products play and those humor and story elements that we included years ago, we now are taking throughout the entire process from creation of the story and the jokes, to the implementation in the games.

Ethan Vincent

| have another question here. Do any of you have any sort of favorite surprising scenes or gags in the Lucasfilm games' library that have been turned into LEGO games?

Matt Shell

You know, there's tons of great moments in all the Star Wars games. But | think my favorite actually belongs to LEGO Indiana Jones, and that's when the - and Matt can tell a little bit of the behind-the-scenes of the story but when (sounds of LEGO Indiana Jones gameplay) they open the Ark of the Covenant and the disco ball comes out, and everybody starts disco dancing, was an E3 demo moment I'll never forget, one of the more enjoyable moments for me as it relates to that franchise.

Matt Fillbrandt

Yeah, | mean, there's so many that it's really hard to say exactly which one is your most favorite. | think the ones that stick in my mind that some of the things we've used in teasers and had show up in cinematics in the game too, where there's the Kylo Ren (sounds of gameplay) gag where he throws out his infamous lightsaber that has the three lightsaber blades on it, and of course, it doesn't work and he rattles it and they keep going out different sides, is a good one. At the beginning of the Force Awakens when you play The Episode VI level and you have that dramatic moment where Luke and Darth Vader have fought the Emperor and they're having Darth Vader's death scene and he's asking him to take his helmet off and he pulls his helmet off (popping sound effect) and lo and behold, he's under there (soundsof gameplay scene) with Anakin's head so he has to shake the helmet and actually take off Anakin's head and put on the one of the dying Darth Vader. You can only do that, a gag like that, with a LEGO Star Wars game because it's not going

to work anywhere else. And it's a way to just have fun with the franchise and kind of, you know, somewhat a wink and a nod to some of the history in the past and also just satirize it in a way that's just, is just brilliant.

Brian Crecente

You, I've forgotten now which one of you was responsible for this, in a good way, but you guys were talking about a ad, that I think you even sent to me, | know you even sent to me, which is hilarious, but I'd love for you to describe it and explain - did this actually air this ad?

Matt Shell

Oh, yeah. Yeah, this definitely aired and I'm going to jump in before Matt Fillbrandt tries to take credit for my work because I'm usually trying to take credit for his, so before he can even get in word in I'm going to say, "Yeah, this was absolutely me. This is Matt Shell talking," so there's no confusion. | don't want anybody to give anybody else credit because this is one of the best moments of my career, | think at Lucasfilm. And what you're referring to is what we, very lovingly, refer to as "the pooper trooper spot."

Brian Crecente

Nice.

Matt Shell

And this was one - we were doing 30 second spots for TV. | literally think | brought it up as a joke. | don't know about your audience here. Are we are we allowed to swear?

Ethan Vincent

You know what, we can beep you. So go ahead, Matt. Go ahead.

Matt Shell

OK, well, I'm going to do it. I'm going to drop one here for you because | literally said it'd be funny if there was a way we could convey them to [swear beep] a brick. Because these are LEGO minifigure characters, and, you know it's like, it seemed obvious how can nobody have ever come up with this before? So we worked with our agency to come up with a concept where the trooper literally - and | think if | remember correctly, one of the marketing pillars that we had for the game, you know, | should have prepared better for this, | think it was LEGO Star Wars Ill, and we were touting the boss fights. We were trying to think of different ways to highlight the boss fights, which we were bringing to the franchise, which we hadn't really had before. And so it seemed like a natural fit to have one of the troopers go up against a boss and then literally have a brick bowel movement on screen. And they came up with this concept, and | loved it. And | literally was - I've said no matter what we do, going forward, I'm going to get this spot approved. Most people probably haven't been to Lucasfilm, but we've got some beautiful, beautiful conference

rooms at our campus and our exact conference room upstairs literally has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's sitting in the pristine Presidio. It's an all-wood room with big leather chairs, and it's like when you're a kid you think of the most magical meeting you could ever have. It takes place in this room! And, you know, I'm in there and Howard Roffman was in there, and our president at the time was in there, and a bunch of execs from the LEGO Group, and | had to present this concept. And | did what | said earlier, | literally presented as the character's [swear