The Creation of Turgle and Jedi Survivor’s Other Weird Little Guys – An Interview with Respawn Entertainment

A conversation with Respawn Entertainment about the creation of Star Wars' "weird little guys"

Star Wars has always been known for its alien creatures; from Jabba the Hut to Grogu, these iconic creatures find a way to burrow into our brains and never leave. In Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, there are quite a few new alien faces that fans have taken to.

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The internet went wild over our favorite new frog man Turgle and fish-loving Skoova Stev.

What’s the secret to making these weird little guys, and how did the team at Respawn Entertainment give Star Wars fans new little freaks to love?

In an email interview with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s Lead Writer Danny Homan and Senior Concept Artist Jean-Francois Rey, we talked about the making of Turgle and the rest of the eclectic cast of aliens.

The Creation of Turgle and Jedi Survivors Other Weird Little Guys

We talk about everything from making aliens to who would win in a fight between Turgle and Skoova Stev.

What goes into creating a weird little guy in the Star Wars universe? How do you even begin to figure the concept out?

Jean-Francois Rey: “I would say there are two ways to tackle creatures and aliens within the Star Wars galaxy, in addition to collaborating hand-in-hand with the team at Lucasfilm Games to make sure our creations are in-line with what’s expected by fans for characters within the franchise.

On one hand, you get a specific brief for a specific character where most of the anatomical and narrative requirements are already pointing towards a general direction, which greatly informs the final look and feel of the critter.

On the other hand, sometimes you just get told, “We are gonna need a whole bunch of aliens. We don’t know who they’re gonna be, we don’t know how many of them we need, but we will for sure need aliens, so just have fun with it – and your individual creative process.”

This second example was the way Turgle came to be.

I did a lineup with about 15 alien sketches designed to live within the Pyloon’s Saloon cantina area, and out of those, five were chosen, including Turgle.

And as the story beats fell into place, some specific roles needed to be filled, and that’s when Turgle came to life. Later on, all the departments came together—voice, art, animation, etc. to create a complete portrait. It’s really a fully collaborative process, and the final version ended up being quite a surprise to me, in a very good way.”

When being able to pull from so much lore and alien species in Star Wars, how do you find the process of creating something that fits within the universe but also feels wholly unique?

Danny Homan: “A bipedal frog in Raider territory is going to have to be a tad slippery to survive such a harsh environment. Turgle also seemed a bit vulnerable to us in the narrative, and we saw a lot of opportunity in exploring what he was like when he was alone or scared or helpless. There are several conversations in the cantina, as well as Force Echoes found throughout Koboh, that tell more of Turgle’s story. It’s been really interesting watching players grapple with the Turgle they hear in these Force Echoes versus how he acts around town. “

Jean-Francois Rey: “I’ve been observing and designing aliens since I was a tiny kid, getting constant inspiration from all the greatest designs from the 1970s and 1980s (starting with Star Wars, of course). After so many years of obsessing about these things, you kind of move past sweating over anatomy or perspective and can just concentrate on fun design ideas.

In some cases I have a specific idea that comes to my mind and I just draw what’s fully resolved in my head.  Other times  you just draw a few lines on the paper, and from those lines come other lines, and more, and more, and the idea ends up just materializing in front of your eyes without having had to actually think about it. And that happens because you have so many years of experience deep-diving into creature design that it is totally integrated into your thought process, so it’s almost like automatic writing, but for drawing. It’s a really fun process where you discover the design at the same time as it shows up on the page. And the more years of experience you have, the more relaxed you get with just allowing your mind to wander off and come up with unusual ideas.”

Is there a lot of back and forth between Respawn and Disney on trying to determine if a creature of your own design is allowed in Star Wars canon?

Jean-Francois Rey: “Yes. There are many guidelines regarding the creation of creatures and aliens in Star Wars. For example, we have to consider what the original team at Industrial Light & Magic would have been able to do with technology back in the late 1970s. So we chose to design characters that aren’t overly complex and retain a level of believability without going too far toward modern sci-fi.

The team at Lucasfilm Games was always extremely generous with their time and assistance resolving designs that fit totally within the Star Wars franchise, and they sometimes made suggestions that unlocked more creative possibilities for us.

Ultimately Lucasfilm has the responsibility of making sure everything in Star Wars is coherent and correct, so it’s very important that we collaborate toward that end, especially because once something is in the game, it’s Star Wars forever, so it’s a huge deal. And frankly, we are such huge fans of Star Wars that we absolutely love the process of diving deep into this universe in order to do the art justice and give fans the very best we can possibly come up with.”

Internally, what were the developer’s vibes on Turgle?

Danny Homan: “Exploring how each character at Rambler’s Reach saw and treated Turgle was a lot of fun as well. He’s a classic instigator, and one of our narrative goals was to make him so outrageous that players would want to keep coming back to talk to him in Pyloon’s Saloon.”

Jean-Francois Rey: “Funnily enough, I had heard that some people were liking the character over the years of development, but it’s mostly over the last few months that I started seeing threads where many team members were sharing screenshots of Turgle and voicing their appreciation for the character or sharing memes.”

When these aliens are in the concept phase, how do you finally land on “that’s it, this is the one”?

Jean-Francois Rey: “You never know!

On some occasions (which was the case for Turgle), the original sketch just came fully formed and everyone, both on our team and the Lucasfilm Games team, seemed to gravitate towards it, so that was that.

In other cases, the complex requirements can be so subtle and tricky that we end up spending weeks finessing the designs, followed by endless refinement of the shapes and ideas.

And finally there are cases where the production imperatives come into play and we just have to call it “finished” simply because we’ve run out of time and have to get it through the pipeline. But we’d never allow a bad design to go through this way. These would more so be cases of having worked through a design for a while and knowing that it’s good enough for primetime despite our ever-present desire as artists to tinker.”

Who would win in a fight, Skoova Stev or Turgle? 

Skoova Stev Jedi Survivor
Image via Electronic Arts.

Danny Homan: “Skoova Stev—but here’s what would happen. Turgle starts spreading rumors that he’s been training with the Bedlam Raiders and that he’s a master in various martial arts, including Teräs Käsi and some other fighting styles no one’s ever heard of (because they’re so secret and deadly, of course). Eventually, word gets around, and Koboh newcomers bet big priorite on the frog. Of course, secretly, Turgle has bet against himself and takes a dive.”

Jean-Francois Rey: “Turgle has the size advantage, but I feel that Skoova Stev would totally come out on top with his wit, leaving Turgle confused and useless.”

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. If you haven’t read our thoughts on the lovable frog man Turgle, be sure to read our full review of this wacky character.

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Jesse Vitelli
Jesse loves most games, but he really loves games that he can play together with friends and family. This usually means late nights in Destiny 2 or FFXIV. You can also find him thinking about his ever-expanding backlog of games he won't play and being constantly dehydrated. Do not contact him.