LucasArts: Lucid At Last

By Alec Meer on September 14th, 2009 at 12:35 pm.

Lucasarts made all their Lucidity screens 600 pixels wide already, thus saving us a ton of resizing no-fun. We love Lucasarts.

LucasArts are on quite the crusade to prove they’re no longer the grey men in grey suits working in a grey building and having grey dreams about billions of dollars earned from grey, lacklustre Star Wars games they’ve seemed to be for the last decade-plus. The re-release of a few beloved vintage titles onto Steam earlier this year won them a big old credibility pie, and now they’re showing off the first of a mooted several new IPs – indie-esque gamettes that hint at a return to their offbeat barnstorming of yore. First up is Lucidity, which is best described as Mario meets Tetris meets Crayon Physics Meets Little Big Planet Meets Ico Meets Lemmings Meets Braid. It’s dead pretty, and it’s betrailered below.

In the broadest, broadest terms, it’s Tetris as a platformer. You’re granted a string of random shapes, which you then need to place in the environment to create a safe, fluid route for the auto-walking young lass Sofi. It might be an oblong, it might be a set of stairs, or it might be a jumpad (in the form of a Catapult). Sofi’s rambling through her own dream-world – hence the title – and will merrily stumble into danger or grind to a halt if you (the exact nature of the player’s character hasn’t been exposited yet, but takes the form of simply a cursor) don’t construct a suitable egress for her. It goes a little something like this:

It’s as charming as a kitten wearing a hat shaped liked another kitten, and what’s more it’s out in mere weeks. What’s more more, it’s apparently not a one-off. LucasArts has also announced what it’s informally calling its Labs, which is a quasi-experimental think/development tank aimed at creating titles more inventive or leftfield than its more conventional game-crop. Quoth its new blog:

“We are a lot of the same team that worked on Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. Our team is inspired to create new IP by all the amazing games being created out there in the indie space. Some old crusties on the team remember old skool days of bedroom coders mailing out tape cassettes and it’s great to see that spirit back (minus the cassette tape). It’s an exciting time to be in an industry that supports creative ideas as distinctly different as Flower and Shadow Complex.”

Two things. One: wooooooooooooooooooooooo, etc.

Two: I wonder how yer actual indie developers feel about enormo-budgeted big boys turning up and piggybacking them like this. While it’s a pretty happy turn of events for the gamers who ultimately get to play the resulting delights, if a load of big studios get in on this kind of act it could leave independent devs out in the cold. Or, alternatively, it’s a handy route for struggling bedroom developers to access the mainstream, but without yielding their integrity to mainstream values. Either way, when the company that owns Star Wars opts to do this kind of thing, it’s got potential to be a massive fuggin’ deal for this old industry of ours. Iiiiiiiiiinteresting times.

Back to Lucidity, anyway. There’s some confusion about the PC release. The mere mention/controversy of an Xbox Live release but not a Playstation Network one means most reportage of the PC version seems to have fallen through the cracks. Those places that had at least acknowledged it have claimed its release date was unannounced, but RPS’s own super-sleuth John Walker dug up a press release that confirms an October 7th release date on both Xbox and PC. WELL DONE JOHN WALKER.

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47 Comments »

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  1. RLacey says:

    Saw the trailer for this the other day. Definitely piqued my interest.

  2. Schaulustiger says:

    Well, there is a big Steam store page for it since it was announced: http://store.steampowered.com/app/32410/

    On the game: It’s great to see LucasArts developing new IPs and stuff, but I’m not that impressed from Lucidity. Maybe I was hoping for a new remake of some older games (especially the X-Wing and TIE-Fighter series), but the gameplay looks a bit… clunky. I don’t know, it doesn’t look as smooth as, let’s say, Braid.
    Well, it’s just 3 weeks till we can judge ourselves, I hope they give it an appropriate price tag.

  3. Dan Lawrence says:

    This kind of thing was always going to be a ‘problem’ when indie was being defined largely as an aesthetic, or set of aesthetics. “It looks weird so it must be being made by a tiny roomful of chaps eeking out a living from scraps”.

    On the other hand its bound to be a good thing if mainstream gaming gets reinvigorated by borrowing more than just the clothes of independent gaming. In the end what matters to players is if the games are any good.

  4. Dan Lawrence says:

    Should have mentioned that indie was often being defined as a set of aesthetics and a selection of price points.

  5. Xercies says:

    This looks awesome and I can’t wait, good on Lucasarts in doing this, and thinking about it i think all companies should have like an idie wing where they use it to make original games just like films did back before blockbusters becaume big money spinners. If this becomes more widespread I could see a very nice future for gaming.

  6. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Xercies
    See an indie wing of a large corporation wouldn’t really make any sense would it? What you mean is that big corporations should have a ‘small creative ideas incubator’ wing.

    You can’t be indie and part of a corporation; I’m not judging either just making clear the distinction as I see it.

  7. Matosh says:

    @Schaulustiger: Maybe I was hoping for a new remake of some older games (especially the X-Wing and TIE-Fighter series)

    Yes, let’s have some more Star Wars sequel games, those are in short supply. It will be a good use of this initiative for new, original content.

    Really now. I’m at the point where I’d rather have a bad original game than a good Star Wars game from LucasArts. It took a long time to get me here, but I thoroughly arrived.

  8. Igor Hardy says:

    Looks pretty, but boring. Like it’s all about catching a falling girl over and over again.

  9. Mike says:

    That mysterious John Walker is my hero! If only we knew the true identity of the dashing info-finding highwayman.

    Also – this is good. Indie developers have always competed on ideas, not budget, and you can’t buy that so in theory this is just going to make people pay more attention to the unusual games out there.

  10. ChaosSmurf says:

    Good old John Walker.

  11. Sinnerman says:

    The gameplay does look sort of ho-hum but if this is a genuine attempt to make a game for kids then I can’t really complain.

  12. Schaulustiger says:

    @Matosh:
    Let’s have some puzzle platformer then, as they are in short supply? ;)
    Nah, I get your point, but I’m still madly in love with the old LucasArts Star Wars games. Can’t help it.

  13. Ffitz says:

    Whatever. If it doesn’t have JarJar Binks and his funny voice involved, I’m not interested.

  14. Nathan says:

    Y’know, everyone keeps bemoaning the, err, “grey, lacklustre Star Wars games they’ve seemed to be for the last decade-plus”; but looking back at Lucasarts releases over that same time period, I can’t help but feel that a huge number of those Star Wars games were genuinely strong, well made, and plain *good* titles. Sure, there was some rubbish in there, but no more than one would expect from most publishers who are releasing a comparable volume of titles. Perhaps there was a lack of innovation, but I have only fond memories even of Starfighter, and many of their now rather mediocre games such as Battlefront (I revisited 2 the other week after digging out the CD. It sucked) are looking upon primarily as having been really good.

  15. mashakos says:

    I can’t see myself getting this for anything other than the iPhone. This was meant for touch controls :)

  16. lumpi says:

    Interesting point about a huge studio competing with the indie scene. I’m not sure whether it’s that big of a problem. For once, if they stay on the simplistic side of things, the only advantage they have is a marketing budget. This could be used to create publicity for a genre that indie developers are actually able to compete in.

    On some level, I agree though. I’d rather see Lucas Arts get creative at a higher budget. Not necessarily AAAA blockbuster mega-titles, but, say, a new full-length Day of the Tentacle?

  17. Fashigady says:

    Looks interesting. Props to JOHN WALKER

  18. AndrewC says:

    Igor Hardy wrote: ‘it’s all about catching a falling girl over and over again.’

    That sounds like quite the lovliest thing in the world.

  19. Ian says:

    It looks purdy.

    However! Kittens wearing kitten-shaped hats? Terrifying, not charming.

  20. Hodge says:

    That John Walker is a dreamboat.

    To play devil’s advocate, it could just be that LucasArts have seen that the ‘2D artsy indie’ thing is in vogue right now, and are jumping on the bandwagon in search of many riches for not much outlay.

    The game looks interesting though, so more power to them. As others have said it’s a welcome break from all the Star Wars stuff.

  21. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Hodge I doubt its quite as cynical as that but yes, they even say in John’s article above that they made this because they were inspired by the indie game scene.

    This also probably means that someone who gets to make decisions at Lucasarts noticed that some indie games like this had a) made enough money to be viable (and might be even more than ‘viable’ with a big marketing push) and likely b) generated a lot of community good will and ‘warm fuzzies’ of the sort that helps a company trying to reclaim its old reputation. Alternatively, Lucasarts is now completely in the hands of a bunch of fun loving devs with no outside interference whatsoever and they are allowed to do whatever the hell they like even if its unprofitable.

  22. roryok says:

    I love this first sentence

    “LucasArts are on quite the crusade to prove they’re no longer the grey men in grey suits working in a grey building and having grey dreams about billions of dollars earned from grey, lacklustre Star Wars games they’ve seemed to be for the last decade-plus.”

    Thats an absolute gem! That sums up everything that frustrated me about LucasArts for the last 15 years or so.

  23. The_B says:

    Was it John Walker that requested for Dark Forces to get rereleased on Steam? Because that’s happening too along with every other Jedi Knight game. Yay John Walker!

  24. Salt says:

    The tetris-plus-platformer aspect reminds me of Super Gusson Oyoyo (and its sequel), which was a SNES game only released in Japan. You can see a suitably confusing video here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHy5fkvL9wI

    That game didn’t have the catapults, trampolines and fans of this one, and instead concentrated on more pure brick-stacking and manipulation (mainly with bombs that you would occasionally get instead of the usual brick piece.)

  25. Spoon says:

    It looks good, but the object placing sounds are a bit loud / out of place. At the rate the player was placing objects in that video, the bgm was wholly obscured by dings and wooshes.

  26. RagingLion says:

    Sounds like a really brilliant development to me. I don’t think indie developers should be worried, or more accurately have a right to be worried. There’s no reason why the bigger guys shouldn’t be exploring the more unconventional gamespace mined by indies in recent times.

    I think it’s great that indie developments don’t go unnoticed by some other developers and that they are indirectly having a more wide-reaching effect than the games they are themselves producing.

  27. Thomas says:

    The game style and gameplay seem slightly alike to one of the games posted eariler
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/waker/

  28. sbs says:

    well done JOHN WALKER

  29. jsutcliffe says:

    I feel bad for Alec — it’s his post, you meanies!

  30. Bursar says:

    All hail John Walker

  31. Jazmeister says:

    I like Dark Forces.
    Also, Alec, that is some sensationalist shit right there dawg!

    “[…] best described as Mario meets Tetris meets Crayon Physics Meets Little Big Planet Meets Ico Meets Lemmings Meets Braid.”

  32. Sonic Goo says:

    I think with indie wing of a large corporation Xercies meant something like what Miramax is to Disney.

    I think this could be a win-win situation for everyone. If Lucasarts can manage to grow this part of the gaming market with their marketing money, indies could profit from that as well. Plus, more fun games is better!

    John Walker, what a guy!

  33. Tom says:

    ’bout blardy time LucasArts, that’s all i’ve got to say.
    You guys used to rock.

  34. fuggles says:

    Ah… reminds me of sleepwalker. WELL DONE JOHN WALKER!

  35. Jayt says:

    LucasArts creating new IP, and not doing bland/generic 3d starwars games.

    I’M INTERESTED

  36. Brass Gerbil says:

    And still no TIE Fighter revamp. One begins to suspect obstinance…

  37. Persus-9 says:

    There’s something about her constant walking that I don’t like. I don’t know it just doesn’t look right, she walks like a zombie, unaware of her surroundings when she should be somehow engaged with her dreamworld. It makes it look and feel wrong to me. Maybe it’ll play well but right now it doesn’t look that much fun to me.

    Also I found that press release on Friday and I pointed it out in the comments thread of the Eurogamer story about Lucidity but I didn’t even get a plus +1 on their karma system for my trouble. I guess that’ll teach me for messing about with other websites.

  38. msarge says:

    I was just thinking the other day that I wish Valve could somehow start releasing “indie-style” games like this. Might help make the wait between games more bearable.

  39. Rei Onryou says:

    WELL DONE JOHN WALKER. WEDOHNKER!

  40. Tei says:

    Thats probably the best transition from video to game.

    But it seems the gameplay is limiting. I suppose is like “lemmigs”, but with only one lemmig, and forced scroll.

  41. Garg says:

    I love JOHN WALKER.

  42. tapanister says:

    You know what has two thumbs and is not impressed? Hopefully a lot of people who see this video.

    Personally, I think the game’s trying too hard, and failing.

    The only redeeming quality that video has is the music, and seriously, the map elements like ladders and stuff look as if they were made by my little brother.

    Maybe LucasArts should leave the DOTT-style 2d graphics to proper indie developers who can do them and love them and go create some more bad star wars games.

  43. Pod says:

    “What’s more more, it’s apparently not a one-off. LucasArts has also announced what it’s informally calling its Labs, which is a quasi-experimental think/development tank aimed at creating titles more inventive or leftfield than its more conventional game-crop.”

    I was convinced KG wrote this until I checked. Alec, colour me suprised.

  44. Skalpadda says:

    Seems like a fun idea full of loveliness and, as much as I like blasters and light sabres, new colourful and interesting stuff from LucasArts makes me more hopeful for the future :)

  45. Casimir's Blake says:

    I’m just pleased to see a modern game with some unique style for a change. The PC gaming landscape is festooned with generic-looking games (so many bloody war games!), so whether or not I get this, I have to take my hat off to LucasArts for making something… uh… arty?

  46. mrrobsa says:

    Ah fuggles you got there before me, Sleepwalker (it was some kinda Comic Relief sponsored thing?) had you protect an AI-contolled ‘lemming’, unfortunately I found that game maddening as hell, so hope they can balance the challenge better in this game. Looks interesting if limited.

  47. Nerd Rage says:

    “Two: I wonder how yer actual indie developers feel about enormo-budgeted big boys turning up and piggybacking them like this.”

    Slightly different circumstances since, as far as I know, Popcap started out as a small time indie dev house and grew into a big money but technically still independent game house, but if a lot of big studios start getting in on indie-style games, it will be like trying to compete with Popcap in the puzzle market. People do it, but not very many of them are successful.

    And from a purely capitalistic point of view, I can’t fault the big studios for wanting to get in on these smaller titles. The big budget blockbusters aren’t working out as well in the current market, it makes sense that they would want to offer something at a lower price point. That is assuming they have the sense to not price this thing at $50.