With the official word that Lucasfilm’s video game division, LucasArts, was being effectively shut down this week, there’s been a lot of reminiscing of the great titles that LucasArts had developed and some investigation for why the closing happened, and the search for a silver lining.
With the company’s re-alignment to solely focus on licensing Lucasfilm’s intellectual property to outside game developers, in-house game development has been shut down, finally cancelling Star Wars: 1313 and First Assault games. (See our guest column from Paul Ens suggesting that Dark Horse could turn these game projects into graphic novels.) I’ve rounded up some of the views on the closure, with a look at LucasArts’ recent history, and some tributes to the game company that started in 1982 and the people who worked there, as well as my own nostalgic look at some of the games that were part of my life.
The blame game: While many fans were quick to point the finger at Disney for killing off yet another happy part of the Star Wars family, others took a more critical look at what factors might have led Disney to decide to pull the plug:
- The Guardian points out that warning signs at LA go back to 2010, and feels that the weight of the expanding Star Wars saga over time contributed to the recent woes.
- Brian at Tosche Station has a great investigation of the last decade of LucasArts for warning signs by looking at trends in leadership, layoffs, and hits and misses.
- Wired’s Chris Kohler points out that while Lucasfilm might try to save a troubled games division, Disney wouldn’t, and reminds us that the LucasArts of the late 90s with its wacky adventure games has been long dead anyway, and the silver lining: most of those classic adventures might work best when done by licensees like Telltale or Double Fine, which now are home to many of those games’ creators.
- Luke Plunkett at Kotaku looks at the recent wasted potential and hopes that closing LucasArts might mean more games which might mean some great games.
Looking back at the Gold Guy’s Golden Age and the amazing people who worked at LucasArts:
- Joel Aron (of The Clone Wars) captures the LucasArts & ILM family in the album “Another Last Day”
- Chris Persons has compiled a video of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from LucasArts Games”
- Christian Blauvelt picks out the 10 Best Star Wars games (and 5 worst) at Hollywood.com
- TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak waxes nostalgic for the graphic adventures, closing with “So long, LucasArts, and thanks for all the SCUMM.”
- The staff at GameTrailers focus on the good times brought to them by the classic LucasArts games they grew up with.
- Raven Software, developer of Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, and Jedi Academy, decided to release the source code for those two games for modders to play play with.
- Though we linked to it earlier, here it is again: Ron Gilbert (one of the creators of Monkey Island) pens his farewell to Lucasfilm Games.
I, too, grew up with many of the LucasArts graphic adventures and Star Wars titles. I still recall playing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in awesome four-color CGA on my dad’s PC, and trying to fly WWII planes via keyboard in Their Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain, or the hours of playing X-Wing with friends in the dorms (we’d rotate through, with one person with the joystick, and the next person up as the ‘R2′ unit, doing all the keyboard commands), and of course, finding a special someone who loved Monkey Island and the two of us tracking down and playing some of the other adventure classics like The Dig and Grim Fandango that neither of us had yet played. That special someone is now Mrs. Jawa and the two of us still quote Grim Fandango and Monkey Island from time to time.
I even still have a fond place for Masters of Teras Kasi, as the first game to depict Mara Jade and the first fighting game that I actually mastered. Mrs. Jawa got pulled into the Knights of the Old Republic games while I got my shooter kicks with Battlefront and its sequel. And I still treasure my Dark Forces poster that was a game store display poster that I got from a mall shop – such a spectacular game, and wonder where my copy of the Adventurer went that had a Sam and Max doing the Death Star Trench Run comic. But I will always remember that nacho cheese is a great substitute for pitch when repairing a pirate ship, and that sometimes saying “I’m selling fine leather jackets like the one I’m wearing” will get you past obstacles in life.