Star Wars: Trench Run – The Inspriation Behind The Game

June 11th, 2010 by Mike Oldham


If you’ve ever met John Grden, you’ve probably have discussed Star Wars in some form. Despite his love for the Star Wars series, his dislike for Ewoks has become a popular discussion topic amongst our team and a great way to bust his chops if needed. John has been programming for over a decade and has built everything from games to RIAs and collaboration tools for a variety of projects and clients. John has also supported and contributed to the Open Source Projects Red5 and Papervision3D. We love John for many reasons, but mainly just because he rocks’. As part of this Q&A series, we got a chance to peak inside John’s brain and figure out where this unhealthy addiction for Star Wars began.

Q: You’re obviously a huge Star Wars fan, but tell me what inspired this game in particular?

One of my most impressionable moments in movie history was watching Star Wars for the first time at a drive-in with my mom. The moment they went into the trench, I nearly lost it. I was blown away by the speed, and the cool factor was notched up to about an eleven in my brain – it was beyond cool. I never forgot the speed and the hairy feeling of being in the trench. The atmosphere of this gray trench with the sun coming in from top left, the lights in the windows of the pieces of the trench – all of it was amazing.

When I started to write games, the Trench Run was one of the first on my list. Seems obvious, but it was really born out of a disdain for the other Trench based games that had been released in years prior. They all sucked. You would get into the trench, and it was slow as can be. Terrible – just hideous. With that, I was determined to set the record straight on how a Trench Run game should be done.

This became the second game in an over all scheme of games for me. I started out with “Escape of the Falcon” in 2003, and had story boarded at least seven games that went from the moment Han, Luke and Leia escaped from the Death Star, through the Pod race of EP1 on into the battle of Geonosis (Escape of the falcon, Trench Run, Battle on Hoth, Asteroid Chase, Death Star 2, Pod Race, Battle of Geonosis). When EP3 came out, I’d even thought about trying a lightsaber dual on Mustafar, but not sure about that one.

Now that I have two notched off the list, I’m heading into Battle of Hoth!

Q: How was your experience using Unity3D for the games development?

Unity3D was a love affair from day one.  Shhh… don’t tell Flash – she’s a little jealous.
Developing the Star Wars: Trench Run in Unity was a great experience – especially coming from a background in Flash/Papervision3D where you have no IDE for working with scenes – everything is done in code primarily. Also, using Javascript in Unity for the project made the work flow a bit sweeter since my background was so heavily steeped in ActionScript.  Although, I have to say, I’ve converted to C# full time now.

Q: Was there anything in particular with Unity3D that saved you time?

Having a great IDE to put the scenes together is an obvious time saver. Unity’s support for FBX makes working with models from 3DS and Maya pretty sweet and easy. Also, being able to create custom panels for your own workflow is very nice. You use the same API and either Javascript or C#, so it couldn’t be easier to get into.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the game?

I love all three sections (Escape, Dog Fight, Trench), but I personally love Dog Fighting the most.  When you go full screen in Dog Fight on a huge monitor and you see the entire beautiful scene, it’s just intoxicating. Although, I’d have to say Escape is a close second, but that’s because it’s based on my first game’s concepts and has never really been done in a Star Wars game before (that particular scene from the movie).

Q: Now that you’ve accomplished a dream, what’s next?

As I mentioned before, I have five other games story boarded out, or at least conceptually laid out. I’ll be working on them one way or another. It’d be great if they could be official releases for Lucas Film like Trench Run was, but either way, I’ll be making them. Hoth is next on the list, and I can’t wait to fly the snowspeed around some AT-AT’s!!

Disclaimer: No Ewoks were harmed in creating this post.

Plug: Star Wars: Trench Run is available in the iTunes store as well as on

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