Requiem for LucasArts

Old game companies don't die. They just get discarded by Disney.

It’s been a good run, Lucas Arts.

Yesterday we learned that LucasArts will soon be no more.

Although the company certainly hasn’t produced a game that lives up its glamor of old, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss at its passing. The games it made in its early days and middle years played a key role in developing our sense of what a game should be. They were master storytellers, comedians, and character designers. Who can’t help but smile at the loony greatness of games such as the Day of the Tentacle? It also kept us playing countless hours as X-Wing or Tie Fighter pilots.

This fondness remains despite many of its more recent releases generating a resounding “meh” at best.

Gamasutra has just released a collection of thoughts from leaders from around the game industry Why are we still talking about Lucas Arts? Many poignant thoughts emerge as to the impact it had on game development. The most important thoughts come from Lucasfilm Games alum David Fox:

“When I first started working at Lucasfilm in 1982, we had a heavy burden to bear. How could we create games that were as compelling as the Star Wars films but without mining ideas from the Star Wars universe? While other game companies of the 1980s had to rely on the income from their games to survive, we had the unheard-of luxury of taking our time to get our games right, with years to experiment, try new things, push the envelope, and with no pressure from marketing, focus testing, or even George Lucas. We also had time to develop our company culture, starting where the Lucasfilm culture left off.

So we’d spend months thinking about our games… brainstorming with the other brilliant designers, refining, reworking, revamping, tossing out the parts that didn’t work (or the entire concept) and starting again. One of our edicts was “don’t ship shit” and we wanted to make sure we never did.”

I can’t help but suspect that the degradation in the quality of the games they have been publishing may have resulted from a shift from such a pure ideal towards the quest for the almighty dollar. Regardless, if the loss of LucasArts does but remind us of but this one principle, then it was not for naught.

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