There are many unsightly euphemisms for the various stages of game development. My favourite used to be "sunsetting", aka cancelling a live service game, aka "we dragged the servers outside and smashed them with bats, gangland style". But now there's a new front-runner, "simmering". You know what's simmering? Quantic Dream's Star Wars: Eclipse, that's what. "Can I say it still exists? Because it exists," the developer's vice-president of marketing Lisa Pendse has revealed in a new interview from this year's Tokyo Game Show. "It's just not ready. It's simmering." Hmm.
Set in the High Republic era of Star Wars, when Jedi were as abundant as pigeons and half the big spaceships still looked like doughnuts, Eclipse takes you to an uncharted region of the Outer Rim, for reasons yet to be disclosed. The announcement trailer from 2021 was an almost Robert Eggers-esque conflagration of lightsaber duels, gnarly drummers, space dogfights and xenodiverse street scenes. I thought it looked quite good, or at least I did until Alice Bee burst from the undergrowth with entirely reasonable prophecies of doom based on Quantic's, well, inimitable approach to videogame storytelling.
Eclipse slid from view amidst Quantic's purchase by NetEase in 2021. You might say that it was eclipsed, hah hah hah. But according to Pendse, the game is still cooking. Speaking to IGN, she also had a little to share about how the game will handle the deaths of key characters.
"One of the big focuses we've had when we announced Star Wars Eclipse was to make sure it was clear that this is actually an action adventure game that has all of the elements that you would come to expect and want from a Quantic Dream title, which is intricately branching narratives, multiple playable characters," Pendse said. "There's no game over. Anyone can die, anything can happen and the story sort of continues so that those signatures are still there. But what we've been doing is even more ramping up our expertise in the gameplay arena."
I'm interpreting "ramping up our expertise in the gameplay arena" as "learning how to do a combat system". Quantic's weapon-of-choice hitherto has been the humble QTE, which they have wielded with varying degrees of eccentricity and clumsiness. Press X to High Ground?
As to when we'll get to play Eclipse, you can carry on holding your breath. "One of the amazing things about working with NetEase is that they're not imposing release dates on us," Pendse went on. "Quantic Dream has always released games when they're ready and I think the high level of quality that you get when you buy a Quantic Dream game is a testament to the value of that approach. And it's the same exact same thing with Star Wars Eclipse. So you will know, but it's too early right now to really give any update on it."
I think "simmering" is an apt choice of wording for a game that is in that purgatorial state between announcement and the airing of proper gameplay, inasmuch as I can never quite work out what "simmering" means when I'm cooking. It's all about the bubbles, I think. Too many bubbles, and you're boiling that pasta to sludge. Too few bubbles, and you're just washing it. But where do you draw the line? There's probably a dialogue puzzle in this.
Quantic remain dogged by reports of a toxic workplace culture. The company sued two French media publications over the claims, eventually winning one libel case and losing the other. Our sister publication GamesIndustry.biz has more.