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Star Wars: Darth Vader leads new virtual reality story

Check out video of the ominous Lucasfilm teaser below

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No one spurs a high-tech project forward like Darth Vader.

The Sith Lord will be the focus of a virtual reality story from Lucasfilm that will reveal new facets of his past, the company announced at Star Wars Celebration in London.

It’s one of the initiatives from Lucasfilm’s new ILMxLAB division, a hybrid of visual effects house Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, and the Star Wars story group, which aims to use emerging technologies to push the limits of traditional storytelling.

The Vader project will have a script by Man of Steel and Batman Begins screenwriter David S. Goyer, who also wrote the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops.

“What character is so iconic that we need to know more? [Where] we can’t sleep at night and want to experience things that can’t be experienced in film, or can’t be experienced in a novel,” Goyer said. “And we came up with … this person.”

Then they rolled the project’s teaser clip on the Celebration live-stream:

Story group member Pablo Hidalgo said this will be an official story within the Star Wars universe, adding to the existing canon. “You just saw that — very impressive on a flat screen,” Hidalgo said. “Imagine living that, standing in there, having that character right in front of you.”

The project doesn’t have a name just yet — only a subject. “We don’t even have a name for the genre of storytelling we’ve been working on,” said Goyer, since “film” or “movie” doesn’t quite cover it.

Goyer said they also weren’t sure how to describe the audience for the virtual reality story. “Viewer” feels too passive, but “player” may be too active. “You don’t play it. You be it. You’re in it. You’re part of the story,” Goyer said. “The world I came up with, that I’m pushing, is you are ‘the visitor’ — the visitor in this story that’s happening around you that you may have some effect on. You can pick up things, you can open things, you can push things. You can walk and touch characters. Imagine being in a movie.”

The Darth Vader project will also feature other iconic figures from the galaxy. “It includes characters you know, or some that may have been talked about that you haven’t seen before,” Goyer added. “We’ve got this incredible new storytelling platform that allows you to feel in a way you never felt before, and possibly feel for someone in a way you’ve never felt for them before. And it allows you to feel like you’re in a real place.”

Goyer has been developing the project for a year and a half and said it’s still a year or two from being released.

ILMxLAB’s other new virtual reality project, Trials on Tatooine, will be arriving much sooner. It becomes available on the Steam virtual reality service for free, starting Monday.

Anyone with an HTC Vive VR headset can immerse themselves in the outer-rim world as a Jedi trainee. “As the Millennium Falcon descends for a landing and Artoo Detoo delivers a lightsaber that you use to deflect blaster bolts back at firing stormtroopers, you become fully immersed in the iconic desert planet,” according to a statement announcing the project. Check out its trailer below.

For more Star Wars news, follow @Breznican.

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