LucasArts On Star Wars And PC Development

By John Walker on May 12th, 2008 at 11:23 am.

Why did LucasArts appear to abandon original development in favour of churning out Star Wars games sausage factory-style? Because they got “a little excited.” And why no Force Unleased on PC? Because console-equivalent PCs cost £2000, apparently.

LucasArts

While interviewing the producer responsible for the current-gen consoles, VideoGamer.com learned the Star Wars obsession was all down to misplaced enthusiasm, something they’ve learned from since. Cameron Suey explains after the jump.

“Star Wars is one of the greatest licenses for a video game you could have and in the past we got a little excited about that and we put out games that probably weren’t up to the quality bar that we would have liked. That’s definitely something we’ve recognised and we understand. The more Star Wars games you put out and the more you love that environment the more it becomes mediocre and anodyne.”

(Unfortunately grammar then takes a blow at the claims, when Suey states, “You’re might see less and better. Make it right and do it right.” Fewer! “Less” would be where you’ve been going wrong for a while now.)

So why no Force Unleashed on PC, when it’s coming out on just about everything else, ever? Follow this:

“[The] PC being the gaming platform that it is, someone with a $4,000 high-end system would definitely be able to play the Euphoria, the DMM and really technical elements of the game. But someone with a low-end PC would have a watered down experience, they would have to turn all the settings down and it wouldn’t be the same game. On the other hand if we made that game for as many people as possible, because we are trying to make mass market games, something that everybody can enjoy, well then it’s not taking advantage of what those $4,000 systems can do. So one way or the other depending on how you build that lead PC SKU, it’s not going to be for the same amount of people, it’s going to be not as good or only for a select few people.”

Flubble. How exactly does that explain a PSP, PS2, DS, Wii and… N-Gage version? What a very peculiar answer. But the PC isn’t forgotten, Suey claims.

“That said we’re definitely not out of the PC market. It’s just with our choice for this game, with the known quantity for the consoles, and every console is the same with the same processing power, it made sense for us to develop for those consoles.”

That doesn’t sound too optimistic. So come on then LucasArts – money and mouths. Let’s see some completely new titles that have nothing to do with Star Wars. (And no, replacing them all with Indiana Jones doesn’t count). And put some of them on PC.

You can read the rest of the interview here. Thanks VideoGamer for all the nicked quotes.

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78 Comments »

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  1. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Paging Rev. Campbell, paging Rev. Campbell…

  2. propanol says:

    The only LucasArts property I have any interest in whatsoever is KOTOR, which they’re turning into an MMO according to popular rumor (and that makes me sad – upcoming original Bioware/Obsidian properties look to have far less depth than KOTOR/KOTOR2).

  3. John Walker says:

    Don’t page him!

  4. Cigol says:

    Well, at least they didn’t blame piracy. It’s pity they had to pluck out the next best mythical excuse however.

  5. kalain says:

    What a load of rubbish. This goes to show just how lazy developers are becoming towards the PC. They’ll make the game for consoles with less power then low end PC’s, then cite they cannot make the PC version because they want everyone to experience the same gameplay?

    What a load of Bollocks. It seems, to me, that they are starting to put the PC platform, the one that got them to where they are today, to one side so they can concentrate on our inferior console cousins..

  6. Alex says:

    On the other hand if we made that game for as many people as possible, because we are trying to make mass market games, something that everybody can enjoy, well then it’s not taking advantage of what those $4,000 systems can do.

    I love that.

    “We can’t do a PC version because most people don’t have $4000 systems and if we do a lower-scaled version the people with the $4000 systems will be disappointed, which would be really heartwrenching, utterly devastating, in fact! We have to show compassion, what with the Force ‘n all.”

    In other words: “WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE EXTREMELY HIGH END SYSTEMS?!?”

  7. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    I have to fight with this hilarious contention every day over on Eurogamer. LOL YOU HAVE TO MORTGAGE YOUR HOUSE TO GET A TOP PC!

    /opens latest pc gamer
    /looks at first advert
    /sees 2GB ram, Geforce 9600 GT 512, 7.1 surround sound, logitech kb/m, quad Q9300 processor.. £585. 500 quid if you just get a dual core.

    Horror. Why do people INSIST on bandying this shite about??

  8. pauleyc says:

    But someone with a low-end PC would have a watered down experience, they would have to turn all the settings down and it wouldn’t be the same game.

    In the old times high-end PC games pulled the market forward. Wing Commander, Strike Commander, even the early CD-based games (Rebel Assault for instance) – all of them were reasons to upgrade PCs. True, modern consoles are more powerful than their counterparts from the 90s but building a capable gaming PC isn’t that expensive anymore.

    LA apparently prefers the easy path of the dark side…

  9. Bobsy says:

    They should talk to Blizzard about that. The $4000 figure is clearly utter bullpoop, but there is a tiny speck of a point in there. They’re approaching development from a console point of view – one system, one spec, one development, which PCs do not follow. One can assume that their current development model does not allow for time spent optimising code for variations in system spec, so therefore anything they made to this model WOULD require a $4000 machine.

    Meanwhile, we’ll be playing World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2, which are carefully coded to suit a range of different system specs so that everyone can play them. Blizzard will be earning money from PC gamers, and Lucasarts won’t. It is, quite literally, their loss.

  10. Pavel says:

    Damn, that pissed me off.Not that I care about Fart Unleashed (I would rather prefer sequel to Jedi Knight series), but 4000 bucks PC? Where the hell does he live, in the 94 ?

    Nowadays you can get great PC for 500 bucks (if you are not an idiot), and considering what you spare on games (pc ones being a lot cheaper), his argument his full of SHIT.

    Among other things.

  11. Lh'owon says:

    And what’s with the “$4000″? I’m building a system with a high end video card (9800GTX), a more than adequate CPU (E8400 3GHz), 4Gigs of RAM, a very good PSU (620HX) for almost exactly NZ$2,500. And that’s a complete computer — monitor, speakers, case, everything. In New Zealand dollars.

    Straw men sure do burn well, don’t they?

  12. derFeef says:

    I knew it, the DS is more powerfull then a high end PC nowadays… Lazy they are, very simple – or couldnt they just say “Its because of the piracy” ?

  13. Jochen Scheisse says:

    I think it’s just that producing games for high end PCs has proven to be a waste of producer’s money…like with Crysis.

    I don’t think it’s just about the piracy. That’s a problem, because it’s so easy on the PC, but there are other reasons why the PC as the high end developing platform is being abandoned. One of the reasons is in this interview: Either you produce for a select few who want to pump 300-500€ into their PC every year or so, or you try to convince with content (haa haa!), or you develop for consoles.

  14. SwiftRanger says:

    Well, let’s hope that The Force Unleashed turns out to be another Obi-Wan, that’ll teach them. The scaleability (“variance”) they mention isn’t an obstacle but rather the main strength of the whole PC platform and it has always been there. Of course it won’t look as good on every system out there but at least it’s playable and tweakable as hell; the highest system specs will have better visuals than consoles if it’s a proper PC title and once the lower-spec people upgrade, the game will get a new life for those people.

    A proper Jedi Knight III would be welcome though…

  15. Rook says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s just a dual core thing, and they don’t think enough people have them at the moment. Although Assassin’s Creed managed to do ok, and the min specs on that was Dual Core (although it would run on less).

  16. Taxman says:

    They could have easily just ported the PS2 version which would have run even un-optimized well enough on most PC’s. Though whether PC gamers would be happy with that is another matter, I’m guessing Lucasarts probably thought no so why bother.

    Lucasarts hasn’t really been too interested in the PC for a while now, after they got into difficulty a few years back & brought in Jim Ward who stabilized the ship by focusing on the consoles pretty much. The are starting to dabble again in the PC but they do ignore it for certain titles like Mercenaries, Fracture and probably the next Indy (not lego) are all console only.

  17. Butler` says:

    As above, such ignorance from Lucas Arts. £500-600 gets you a very reasonable gaming machine (8800gt, C2D, 2gb ram).

  18. James G says:

    I could swear that Force Unleashed was supposed to be comming to the PC. So much so that I was torn between getting it on the PC, with all those fancy physics effects, or on the Wii where I can pretend to wield a lightsaber.

    As it is though it seems I would have needed a PC with more computing power than the human brain. (In terms of buying power $4,000 is probably worth a fair chunk more than £2,000 due to the higher price of electronic goods in Europe. I doubt I could build a +£2,000 system if I tried, save for buying all the comonenets at PC World or some other overpriced store, or decided to use an 120” plasma screen as a monitor.)

  19. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    “I think it’s just that producing games for high end PCs has proven to be a waste of producer’s money…like with Crysis” – 1.5 million sold = waste of money? Damnit, they’re ambitious!

  20. rocketeer says:

    What a load of bullshit. No wonder they fell from the sky long ago.

  21. Riotpoll says:

    A $4000 PC is more than £2000 as stuff is cheaper in the US.
    To spend that much you’d have to be running 2 9800GX2s in SLi. Which is a hell of a lot more power than the 360 and ps3 can put out graphics wise.

  22. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Call of Duty 4 sold more than 1.5 million copies on the XBOX alone. That’s what developing for high end PCs does.

  23. DigitalSignalX says:

    Load of crap, blame lazy developer syndrome. Then again, what do you expect from the folks who let KOTOR Sith lords ship with like 30% of the game cut off.

  24. Ging says:

    I’ll forgive them if they do a version of Tie Fighter with new graphics…

  25. MeestaNob! says:

    Bloody hell, 4000 anything these days would get you a machine that was near sentient.

    Not a loss though, the Force Unleashed look pretty awful (concept wise).

  26. Theory says:

    I bought a laptop which out-performs the 360 both theoretically and in real terms (and comes with a very un-laptop-like 17 inch LCD screen built in) for £850 two years ago. The model has been discontinued, but looking at what’s on offer today it’s hard to imagine it costing any more than £650. Get an equivalent self-built PC together where you aren’t paying a premium for manufacturer assembly or laptop miniaturisation and I’d guesstimate that that figure goes down by at least another £100 to £150.

    How much does a 360 cost again (let’s not even start on the PS3)? And an HDTV? And the extra cost of console games? And the computer you own anyway?

  27. The_B says:

    It does seem incredibly stupid. £2000 for a console capable machine? For example, my current set up hasn’t flinched at any of the 360 conversions or multiplatform games (I’m mainly thinking Gears, Pinata, even Assassin’s Creed) and that setup barely cost me £650…

    (EDIT: I would have said this a lot earlier, but my internet went down and now I can see a lot of people have said very similar things. Ah well.)

  28. Ginger Yellow says:

    “I think it’s just that producing games for high end PCs has proven to be a waste of producer’s money…like with Crysis.”

    So make the engine scalable and don’t spend the year before release telling everyone who will listen that your engine is so amazing it will only run on super high end machines.

  29. Mawich says:

    They don’t need to make any Indiana Jones games – LEGO Indiana Jones is out soon! Wheeeeeee!

  30. fluffy bunny says:

    “The are starting to dabble again in the PC but they do ignore it for certain titles like Mercenaries, Fracture and probably the next Indy (not lego) are all console only.”

    The next Mercenaries-game is coming out for the PC as well, though it doesn’t seem LucasArts has anything to do with it.

    As for Fracture, it looks great. But it’s LucasArts we’re talking about here. I bet they’ll release it three months too early, when it works well enough, but lacks the final polish that would actually make it as great as it looks.

  31. mrrobsa says:

    @James G

    You’d be surprised how pricey you can make a PC if you try. I ‘built’ one on Dell’s website once for around £16,000 (I suppose it IS Dell) , I think it had 8 processors and 4 TBs of space, and this was a few years back.
    Suffice to say I put in my mates contact details and clicked the stupid checkbox where they ask if the PC is to help develop/distrubute weapons of mass destruction.

  32. cliffski says:

    What a bunch of tools. But frankly, fuck em. If they don’t want to make PC games any more, like epic, they can just go fuck themselevs. There willl still be plenty of people making PC-only games DESIGNED to take full advantage of everything the PC has (mouse/keyboard, modding, dual monitor etc).
    This is great news for companies like stardock who make great PC-only games. And maybe good news for lil ol me making PC games too?

  33. Turin Turambar says:

    Pretty funny comment, knowing how they have fallen, quality wise, since the left the pc development both in native studios and in licensed (like Jedi Outcast from Raven).

    In fact, that was pretty much the last good Lucasarts game. Not done for them, and in computers. Coincidence?

  34. Kanakotka says:

    HOOOONK, HOOOOONK, HOOOONK

    That’s my bullshit detector going off on full alert. It’s keeping slightly less racket that it did with crytek not too long ago.

    Want a PC system that’s more powerful than any console on the market today? $730 dollars. I’ll build you one myself, and it’s still profitable for me. Of course the catch is you provide audio and monitor, but hey, that’s the catch with consoles too, so…

    Well, of course, unless you’re looking at ALIENWARE (HOOONK, HOOONK….) prices…

    Soo… reading between the lines: “OUR GAME IS IN HD! BUY HD! HD!HD! COLORFUL RAZZLE DAZZLE OF VISUAL GLEE OVER GAMEPLAY AND ORIGINALITY! WE WILL MAKE SO MUCH MONEY!!!!” HOOONK…?

    Chances of this conversation ending up someone blaming piracy? 99.7% cap’n!

  35. Rook says:

    People really need to stop with the sour grapes over not getting PC versions. It makes you look like petulant children.

  36. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    I think it’s more sour grapes over things like “$4000″ than the fact the PC isn’t getting it.

  37. subedii says:

    Man I wish somebody had told Crytek they should have developed Cryengine 2 for a more powerful system like the PS2. It would have saved them buckets of money.

    Realistically, the arguments were vapid a long time ago and we know they were. But there’s no sense in whining about it or making accusations at LucasArts “abandoning” the PC market. That’s their prerogative, and if they feel that it’s the option that makes the most financial sense, then they should do it (whether it actually does make the financial sense given the arguments and the context given is debatable, but that’s a separate issue).

    If I’m honest though, I feel that they don’t believe the argument about the $4000 PC or that somehow the PS2 is more capable than the average WoW spec PC. The guys making this game know enough about the games market to at least know that. I would guess at the real reason lying elsewhere, possibly piracy, or just plain extra effort for less return (let’s face it, having to make the game scale for a large range of hardware configurations just isn’t as easy as programming to take maximum advantage of a set hardware configuration), but who knows.

    In any case, the more I hear and see about Force Unleashed the less interested I’m becoming in it anyway. So I can’t really seem to muster any actual ire up on any of this. It’s not as if I haven’t got ENOUGH to play this summer as it is.

  38. Homunculus says:

    This is generated by an executable file 180kb in size. I’m sure Lucasarts have sufficient talent base to make a scalable Force Unleashed for our beloved beige box if they really wanted to; it would appear that the will just isn’t there. Which, as Cliffski rightly points out, hopefully bodes well for those willing to fill the vacuum.

    Me, I’m just pining for a really good Tie Fighter 2. There’s not been an exceptional space dog-fighting simulator since Freespace 2, which, thanks to continued development, is infinitely scalable from hardware that existed a decade ago right up to today’s beastliest of megabeasts.

  39. Dexton says:

    PCs are for World of Warcraft, every other franchise makes more money on consoles.

    That would have been a far more believable answer. Except you could build a PC for £200 that would play World Of Warcraft, rather than a £2000.

  40. subedii says:

    Speaking of TIE fighter, gametrailers.com is doing a retrospective on Star Wars games. The latest episode is devoted solely to the X-Wing series of games, well worth looking up if you were ever interested in them. Good for a nostalgia kick.

  41. Steam Report says:

    It is incredible that with all the platforms TFU is coming out on the PC isn’t one of them. It’s almost silly not to which probably means they are trying avoid piracy.

    The internal argument probably went like “if you can pirate for free on PC you won’t be buying the console version”. Which we all know is horse shit. I had a feeling this is why Assassin’s Creed came out late and badly ported on PC.

  42. subedii says:

    Badly ported? I though Assassins Creed actually had a lot of good work put into it, they even added in extra investigations and things.

  43. C0nt1nu1ty says:

    horse manure to the comments on high end PCs.
    I could throw together a PC that would give the PS3 a pretty good run for its money, do all my coursework on no crappy multiplayer restrictions and have 10X the hard drive space for…..oooh bout £600ish

    But yes, give us more original content
    Or alternatively dont if the smart funny orignal games department have been replaced by the star wars game chimps (yes i’m paraphrasing yatzi, get over it). even so I’d like to see what the “modern” lucas arts can do.

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  45. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Uh

  46. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Funny, at Star Wars Celebration Europe, I met the project lead(Hayden Blackman) of SWTFU (after he finished an interview) and asked him why they didn’t make it for the PC. Hayden’s answer was that the controls were designed for the Consoles, and that it would not play very well when playing the game with a keyboard and a mouse.

    Two contradicting stories. I think they should just stop trying to justify it and make a good pc game.

  47. araczynski says:

    oh for the love of god, $4000 computer needed to run 1280×720? (at BEST), they’ve been sitting too close to the exhaust fumes from their 360 i would say…

  48. Chaz says:

    Yes you can get a good PC for £500 – £600 but that’s still twice the price of a 360 or PS3 and a lot more cash than a Wii. Yes the games are a bit pricier on a console, but not buy much at around £30-£40, and if you’re willing to wait a bit longer then you can usually get them for about £25 from Play Asia. At the end of the day when all’s said and done the console is the cheaper games machine, and it always has been. As a PC gamer, I’ve certainly never been under any illusions about its wallet emptying abilities. However I don’t think it really matters which format you prefer, as computer gaming here in the UK is a pretty expensive hobby which ever route you choose, and especially so if you choose both.

    As for Lucas Arts using the cost of PC’s as an excuse not to release on that format, well that is certainly a real prize turd of an excuse. I would say it smacks more of the corporate bean counters shaking their collective heads rather than developer laziness though. Because lets face it if Lucas Arts were to do a PC conversion, the duties would probably get farmed out to a third party anyway.

  49. James T says:

    Finally, my WoW gold needs are catered to!

    …And I’ve ended a sentence with a preposition. Of course, that’s a very artificial rule, but it’s one I enjoy the challenge of keeping. Now, where was I? Oh yes.

    $4000?! He’s talking out his arse! Glad I don’t give a hurtling shit about Star Wars.

  50. Nick says:

    I love how a bunch of the companies who wouldn’t exist in the state they are now were it not for the PC are now turning their backs on what made them.