There's a mystery in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (opens in new tab): the buried history of the fallen Jedi, which you uncover in ruins as travel from planet to planet. There's also another mystery that I discovered while interviewing Fallen Order developers Jeff Magers and Aaron Contreras: the Stormtroopers have names, but I'm not allowed to know what they are.
This does not seem like it should be top secret information, but apparently it is. I went into my interview not thinking too hard about Fallen Order's stormtroopers. I liked the variety I encountered in about three hours of hands-on with the game (opens in new tab): I fought regular ol' stormtroopers, scout troopers with cool stun batons, bazooka troopers who fired RPGs I could send rocketing back with a Force push, and minigun troopers whose fast-firing blasters had shields on the front to protect them from ricochets. Standard videogame archetypes, but throw a few into a combat encounter and they'll keep you on your toes.
As you'd expect from stormtroopers, their aim isn't great, and they're not the smartest either—the basic boys helpfully call out "Firing now!" to let you know when it's time to block. When I brought up their dialogue, how some stormtroopers reacted to my presence with fear and others seemed more gung-ho, narrative lead Aaron Contreras explained they have different personalities that affect how they behave in battle.
This is how the name secret(?) slipped out.
"Under the helmet they have personalities, and so we've kind of given them nicknames and call signs. So you have, it looks like a horde of faceless grunts. And they are, right, 'cause they're stormtroopers, but they each have a specific personality and they'll interact with each other in ways that are specific to their personality. And then when one's left alone, it could be the guy who's terrified or it could get a guy who's super gung-ho and he's like, 'now it's my time to shine and take out a Jedi!'
I immediately wanted to know some of these nicknames, as well as find out more about this AI system. At a high level, it's not surprising different stormtroopers would be different "characters" that could be a basic way to express which voice lines are attached to a given unit, and maybe other characteristics (I won't pretend to understand the intricacies of development, here). But this system started to sound even cooler, as lead level designer Jeff Magers chimed in to say there's more to the AI.
"They can contextually know the makeup of the fights too," he said. "So maybe if you kill all the ranged stormtroopers first they'll call out 'all of our ranged troopers are down!'"
Contreras added another variable: If a Purge trooper is with them, that changes the way they react to stuff, cause now there's this alpha killer in the midst, who's going to inform how they approach combat."
This is all good stuff. By now I'm running out of interview time, and psyched to get some behind-the-scenes dirt on how they named all these baddie variants. Do they have normal names, like Steve and Bill and Roger? Are their names descriptive? Obscure in-jokes?
I drop the question, and three people answer at once:
EA PR: "No."
Contreras: "No. Not yet."
Not yet—so at least there's hope we'll get to know about Steve the stormtrooper, or whatever the hell his name is, and all of his friends. I can only assume this information is being tightly guarded until closer to release, to give Fallen Order a huge marketing push in November. But the world must know.
And by the world, I mostly mean me, because the curiosity is eating me alive.