While a glance through their catalog reveals a studio that has had more success than the vast majority of their competitors, a deeper look reveals that LucasArts set themselves on a risky path nearly a decade ago.
The most tragic thing about the closure of LucasArts is the loss of jobs, no question. But when the dust settles, when those that were made redundant finally settle into new jobs, new lives, what will hurt, and continue to hurt, is the legacy of lost work. Years of graft by hundreds of human beings passionate about their jobs . They will never enjoy the fruits of their labour, share that work with family, friends or the general public. That work will remain buried inside some dusty server in a locked room, never to be seen again. That's a genuine cause for sadness.
...it's not much of a surprise that LucasArts is a globally trending topic on Twitter right now as those in the games industry, those who write about it, and fans who play them, take to social media to pay their respects, and make known their regrets about LucasArts' end as a developer of games. Here are several.
Disney aren't the bad guys here. Once you've squeezed out your requisite levels of nostalgia over the company's demise - and given Lucasarts' illustrious back catalogue, that's going to take some time - move on from thinking about what Lucasarts were and think about what they are. Well. Were more recently.
The man led the creation of Grim Fandango and Full Throttle and helped make other beloved LucasArts games including The Secret of Monkey Island. Today, LucasArts is all but no more, shuttered as a development studio by its new owners at Disney and turned into a licensing house. Tim Schafer, now running things at Double Fine, shared his thoughts about the shutdown with Kotaku.
If you made a list of each and every one of the memorable games that LucasArts has given us throughout the years and added a description of what made them special, you could easily fill a small book. [...] Still, we felt the need to highlight a few of our favorite moments from the last three decades of LucasArts games in our own far-from-comprehensive list:
It's hard for me not to be sad. I haven't worked there since 1992, but it was still home to me. I grew up there. I learned just about everything I know about designing games there. I became a real programmer there. I made lifelong friends there. Eight of the most memorable and influential years of my life were spent there. I would not be who I am today without Lucasfilm Games.
"The main message is that large media companies are still leery of major involvement in the game business. Disney bought Lucas for Star Wars. LucasArts just came along with the package, but it didn't really fit into Disney's strategy."
Although LucasArts may be best known for its Star Wars games -- starting as the gaming branch of Lucasfilm, George Lucas' production company -- the developer's biggest successes in the 1980s were point-and-click adventure games. The classic Maniac Mansion, released in 1987, introduced the SCUMM engine, that would provide the model for most of their two-dimensional adventure games (including several Indiana Jones games, Loom, Day Of The Tentacle, and The Dig).
With LucasArts closed, and internal development ceased, the studio has become a licensing house for others to borrow brands and create new games. With that in mind, the IGN editors convened to fantasize about what the future might hold -- obviously the completion of Star Wars: 1313 would make sense if, say, Crystal Dynamics picked up development. Of course DICE would do a great Battlefront reboot. But we wanted to explore less obvious options.
In order to pay tribute to this once great studio, we rounded up CVG staff members, our fellow Future Publishing writers and our readers on Facebook and asked them one simple question - what was your favourite LucasArts game and why? The variety of answers is a testament to the range of quality titles LucasArts has provided over the past 30 years.
The outrage over Disney’s recent closure of LucasArts is almost completely unwarranted. Sure, at one point the studio created amazing video games, but that was a long time ago. LucasArts definitely holds an important place in video game history, but the studio/publisher hasn’t been very relevant for the last few years.
And lastly, for a broader take on the situation at Lucasfilm...
When Disney first announced their acquisition of Star Wars, fans were trepidatious. What changes would they make to the Star Wars universe? Then Disney announced the new movies, including a sequel trilogy and stand-alone films, and fans were ecstatic. But now that Disney has killed LucasArts, we're seeing the Dark Side of Disney's Star Wars -- and this is probably only the beginning. Lando Calrissian said it best: "This deal keeps getting worse all the time."