Open calls. UPDATE: “On Nov. 21, The Collegian reported false information in an article about a student cast in “Star Wars: Episode VII.” As far as The Collegian’s editors and reporters know, the part has not yet been cast. We apologize for this error. ”
Meanwhile, the London call this weekend has a new venue – Twickenham Stadium, while Dublin will be holding theirs at the Croke Park Stadium. The U.S. call Friday is in Austin.
Gaming. Electronic Arts has a ten-year Lucasfilm deal, and they won’t be producing direct tie-ins the new films, Variety reports.
Mystery. A Star Wars character will appear in the LEGO movie.
Gaming. Kotaku has a lengthy write-up/expose on the last days – and games – of LucasArts. There’s plenty on the evolution of the game that was announced as 1313, and what was going on behind-the-scenes after the Disney sale. Interesting stuff – even for a non-gamer.
Star Wars Reads. A number of locations have been added to the StarWars.com list of venues participating on October 5. Ashley Eckstein, Timothy Zahn, Aaron Allston, Martha Wells, John Jackson Miller and many other EU luminaries will be attending events around the country. (Anyone else considering the Ann Arbor stop?)
Lists. John Williams’ theme for Star Wars tops a BBC poll of voter’s favorite soundtracks.
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.
Wednesday, it was announced that Disney is closing down LucasArts, the video game division of Lucasfilm. This news did not come as a surprise to me, nor likely to many who follow the storied company closely. In the process, an estimated 150 employees have been laid off, including friends and former colleagues of mine. To they who worked very hard everyday to bring interactive Star Wars entertainment to the fans, we wish the best of luck.
Like every aspect of Star Wars fandom, the pros and cons of this move will be hotly discussed and contested among fans, and perhaps I will join you when the wound has healed somewhat.
Meanwhile, for those who lament that they will never see cancelled LucasArts projects Star Wars: 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault, might I suggest that you may one day have a rescuer in Dark Horse Comics?
Kotaku reported and GameInformer confirmed with Lucasfilm that the company is in the process of shutting down LucasArts. Kotaku says that 150 have been laid off and both Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313 have been canceled. Variety is reporting that the layoffs are spilling over to Industrial Light & Magic as well.
Here’s part of the official statement:
“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”
This has expected for a while, and there was plenty of speculation that LucasArts was headed for the bin even before Disney was in the picture.
Ron Gilbert, creator and co-creater of several of the company’s most iconic games, says goodbye to Lucasfilm Games.
Unlike the ending of Clone Wars, reports of a possible LucasArts shutdown in the works are anything but surprising. While Kotaku’s report on the future of 1313 was mostly based on sources, the absence of the game – perhaps LucasArt’s hottest upcoming property – from any recent industry events is rather telling.
This week, another report from GamesIndustry International has been making the rounds. LucasArts told them that the speculation of a shutdown is “one hundred percent not true” and that “everything is moving ahead.”
Ex-employees are less optimistic, echoing much of what you’ll hear from gamers themselves these days:
The studio’s performance in recent years has not impressed former LucasArts employees. One ex-LucasArts employee had this to say: “The ‘business’ has been on life-support since the Star Wars license and subsequent development for their best title went to Bioware/EA. I’m frankly amazed that they’ve stayed in business this long. No stomach for truly original product, and slender means to produce their previous cash cows – Indy and Star Wars.”
Given Disney’s history with their gaming divisions, along with some other hints, you can’t blame anyone for worrying about the future of LucasArts these days.
Every time I see someone use the term ‘Jedis,’ I sigh.
Maybe it’s petty, but few things drive me battier than glaring Star Wars typos, particularly when they come from professional and semi-professional news outlets. Here are a few Star Wars terms and spellings every fan (and entertainment journalist) ought to know and use correctly in the years ahead.
Game designer Tim Schafer shares the tale (and scans) of how he got his first job in the industry, at Lucasfilm Games. (The LucasArts name didn’t join the party until 1990.) There’s some quality hilarity here:
I called David Fox right away and scribbled all the notes you see while I was talking to him. I told him how much I wanted to work at Lucasfilm, not because of Star Wars, but because I loved, “Ball Blaster.”
“Ball Blaster, eh?” he said.
“Yeah! I love Ball Blaster!” I said. It was true. I had broken a joystick playing that game on my Atari 800.
“Well, the name of the game is Ball Blazer.” Mr. Fox said, curtly. “It was only called Ball Blaster in the pirated version.”
But the best part may be his cover letter – which is in the style of a text adventure.
LucasArts announced via Twitter that they are going to be releasing many of their older PC game titles for direct download. The first batch of ten classic games, including Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, LOOM, Star Wars: Battlefront II and The Dig will be re-released on July 8 via Steam, the online delivery system from Valve Entertainment. Steam will also be the download system for the PC version for the upcoming Monkey Island remake The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, coming out July 15.
The full list of games being released on July 8 contains some classic graphic adventures, and some more recent action titles:
- Armed and Dangerous
- Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventure
- Star Wars Battlefront II
- Star Wars Republic Commando
- Star Wars Starfighter
- The Dig
- Thrillville: Off the Rails
This is only the first batch of classic LucasArts games to be released – and noticeably some popular game franchises are absent, possibly to be re-released in future batches: Maniac Mansion, X-Wing, Dark Forces, and Grim Fandango. No pricing information is yet available.
Meanwhile, the new Monkey Island game from Telltale Games, has its first episode coming out tomorrow, Tales of Monkey Island – Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal for PC. The Wii version will be released in the coming weeks.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was also included as a bonus game in the Wii version of Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, released in June 2009.