Hmm. Great discussion here.
I just can't see them doing anything with a previous game. I'm possibly one of the biggest Saga Edition junkies out there. Greatest d20 system ever created, for my money. And I cut my teeth on WEG's d6 for Star Wars play. But re-hashing a prior rules system another company started just doesn't seem like FFG's style.
Over at the d20radio boards, all the Order 66 listeners are screaming for FFG to "reboot" Saga Edition. I can't stress what bad idea I think that is. A reboot of any system, frankly. From a purely business perspective, it's unwise. Especially if they hope to sell books (which is kind of why a company creates an RPG, lol…).
The eternal trouble with a Star Wars RPG is what is commonly called the "Fanboy Factor". (Speaking as a fanboy, of course.) More so than just about any other IP, Star Wars is rife with gamers who are slavishly devoted to a mental ideal - and if a game doesn't mete out that ideal as they desire it, it gets… well… quite a reaction. Couple that with the inherent dangers of a system that has to deal with such a strong established canon and "heroes" that are a part of collective subconscious at this point (check out http://www.gnomestew...d-die-in-a-fire), and it can be difficult to please all people.
I think there's some merit to saying "The system doesn't affect the GM's story, and can't if you don't let it…" But if that were the whole truth, then no new systems would ever be created. I think a system and its mechanics can actively and tacitly foster a style of gameplay - and can also tacitly prevent certain styles of gameplay. Bearing that in mind, I see several core precepts in Star Wars that an RPG should try to promote:
1. Cinematic glory. Despite the vast amount of EU material (some great, some less so…) out there, the cultural frame in all of the world's heads are the flims. When you roleplay Star Wars, the inclination is to imagine yourself in a movie! The system should allow for "epic scenes" like we see in the films.
2. Fast gameplay. Combat shouldn't be laborious or tedious or complex. It should be fairly abstract with narrative elements, but most of all run smoothly and quickly. This lends itself to the Cinematic Glory.
3. Black and White. Despite some fanboy's rage over it, no one can deny that Lucas' world is a world of clear delineation between "Good" and "Bad", with noble heroes fighting against obvious evil. (This may be why Star Wars has such an impact on so many…) As such, the system should define heroic characters and villanous foes - as well as delineated transitions between the two. (Becuase another key part of the Black/White motif is the fall and the redemption of heroes.)
4. Aliens. This sounds silly, but players in a Star Wars RPG tend to want to BE an alien, and have that translate to in-game differences for their character.
5. Droids. See above.
6. Starship Combat that Makes Sense. Starships and starship combat are a huge part of the Star Wars universe, and something that fans love. Unfortunately, some previous systems made it cumbersome, complex, or a ruleset so vastly different from character-level play that it was almost a seperate game, or required a character suited to "starship combat" at the expense of anythying else. Star Wars is full of heroes that can lay down some smack in a battle or in a negotiation, then hop into a cockpit and be somewhat competant.
7. The Trouble with The Force. Sigh. Star Wars canon establishes that Force Users are… frankly… better than normal people (ie: more powerful). This is why Jedi are such a force to be reckoned with. But another eternal problem with ANY Star Wars RPG is that this can't be reflected in the RPG. Because it creates imbalance that seriously impacts gameplay. Saga Edition attempted to mitigate this with Dark Side Points; abuse the raw power of The Force and you will eventually become an NPC. But this was less than optimal. The truth is that if you scale down Force power, then players will feel like the game doesn't represent Star Wars. But if you give the Force it's due, then the game breaks. I genuinely don't know how to solve this problem. And I'm anxious to see what FFG comes up with.