RIP LucasArts: An Obituary

By John Walker on April 4th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

It’s always genuinely sad when a game developer closes down. People lose jobs, many lives are affected, and the industry as a whole loses a degree of potential. But before now no news of a studio closing has brought me close to tears. The death of LucasArts, while perhaps inevitable to anyone following closely enough, has made me very sad indeed.

No developer has ever had such a wide-reaching, hobby-defining impact on my life.

It’s certainly sadly the case that the studio has made little I’ve cared about in a very long while. The Monkey Island remakes were as close as they got to me in the last, what, decade probably. But even they were emblematic of what the studio was capable of, of how much the people working there cared about their projects, no matter how successful they might have been.

At a GDC gathering last week, I was chatting to a LucasArts employee I’ll obviously not name. For me, he captured the sense that so many had at LucasArts – he loved it there, and he loved the people he worked with there, but he was planning to hand in his notice in a couple of weeks. He was working on a project he couldn’t mention, but was incredibly excited about. Thrilled to be working on. (A game we’ll likely of course never even know the name of now.) But still feeling like his time there was done.

Churning through CEOs, constantly horrendously mismanaged, and cancelling so many projects as to become farcical, it’s a wonder that LucasArts kept going until 2013. Cranking out Star Wars licenses, or indeed cancelling numerous Star Wars licenses, it had certainly lost a significant portion of its heritage. But it never seemed to lose its potential. Whomever you spoke to there, they still had the drive, the sense of a history that pushed them forward. They had some of the best in the business in many areas, especially sound and voice recording, and it always felt like they could at any time turn themselves around.

But of course no matter their recent state, they were and always will be the studio that brought us Day Of The Tentacle, Sam & Max: Hit The Road, X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter, Zak McKracken And The Alien Mindbenders, Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis, The Secret Of Monkey Island, Dark Forces, Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Jedi Knight: Mysteries Of Sith, Maniac Mansion…

God, that’s a list of games.

The same studio in the same year gave us the incredible FPS Dark Forces, Tim Schafer classic Full Throttle, and adventure epic The Dig. That was some of 1995 for LucasArts. It’s a lineage the like of which gaming has never known since. This is who we’re losing.

These are games that defined my teenage years, and without question, defined gaming for me. I loved Dark Forces so much more than Doom – hell, you could talk to the monsters. Full Throttle may have been relatively short, and may have had racing sections, but it was an exceptional adventure game, packed with brilliant writing the likes of which the genre hadn’t seen before. And The Dig – I implore you to go back and play it again now. While its ending doesn’t quite match its potential, it’s an incredibly thoughtful, gentle and brilliantly paced game.

And clearly anyone alive for enough years will have a LucasArts game they wish to celebrate at immense length. Whether it’s the original X-Wing, or the peculiar god game Afterlife, or idiotic time wasted away on Indiana Jones Desktop Adventures, their genre-spanning genius reached everyone. It’s this that we’re losing now.

In the last few years I went back to many of their games for Eurogamer, finding that so many of them still stand out today. Here are my thoughts on Dark Forces, The Dig, Jedi Knight, Zak McKracken, Day Of The Tentacle, Armed & Dangerous, The Curse Of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis, and Escape From Monkey Island.

Yes, a look at their recent releases isn’t the most cheerful sight. A string of Star Wars prefixed titles stretches back for a decade, interrupted only by the peculiar misfire of Lucidity, an experimental platformer that never quite came together. For a new generation of gamers, that’s who LucasArts were – the Star Wars people, occasionally seeming to stumble on something decent, but mostly cashing in on the success of Clone Wars. And it seems their final release, their swansong, shall be Kinect Star Wars. It couldn’t be a more degrading end.

But I swear that they were still a company bursting with the potential to revive themselves. Everyone I spoke to there believed it. If only, it was said, there could be management who’d let it happen. Management confident enough to let a non-Star Wars licence make it through to release, and then remember to promote it when it got there. Management not resentful of a more successful past, willing to make the incredibly obvious moves of releasing their extraordinary catalogue of games for tablets and phones. Day Of The Tentacle on iOS is so stupidly clearly a sensible move, and yet one that was never taken. Damn, even getting their classic games onto Steam seemed to require juggernauts to drive them – and they absolutely always refused to speak about what they were hoping to get on there next, as if they were determined to flatten any excited buzz.

And now, in the hands of Disney – a company that couldn’t prove itself incapable of managing gaming more – LucasArts is gone forever. In a time when the adventure has revived itself, when digital distribution allows far smaller scale games to achieve big success, when people are desperate for that personal touch on the FPS, a studio – that with the correct management, the correct downscaling, and the important freeing of staff – could have taken such strong advantage of it all, is gone. No, of course they don’t have Schafer, Gilbert, Grossman, or Stemmle. But with their heritage, their IPs, and the passion of those still working there, it’s hard to believe the magic couldn’t be revived.

So goodbye, LucasArts. I bloody loved you. You were so damned important to me. You helped make 1988 to 1998 some of the most special years in gaming, and provided my childhood and teenage years with genuine joy. In truth, I was already missing you. I’ll miss you more now.

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153 Comments »

  1. int says:

    RIP, Golden Guy!

  2. Nim says:

    It shone, pale as bone,
    As I stood there alone.
    And I thought to myself how the moon,
    That night cast its light
    on my heart’s true delight,
    And the reef where her body was strewn.

    • RakeShark says:

      Now I love that rusty anchor
      But man she don’t love me
      And this morning I woke to find us both
      A’driftin’ out to sea

      Every chance I get I thank her
      For never leaving me
      Well my bones are carved up driftwood
      But she won’t never set them free

      OH RUSTY ANCHOR
      Going down, down, down
      OH RUSTY ANCHOR
      Guess you gotta hang around

      Oooooh, Oooooooh,
      Oooh-Ooooh Ooooooooooooooh,
      Booooooone Waaaaaaaaagon.

    • Akael says:

      With bony hands I hold my partner
      On soulless feet we cross the floor
      The music stops as if to answer
      An empty knocking at the door
      It seems his skin was sweet as mango
      When last I held him to my breast
      But now we dance this grim fandango
      And will four years before we rest

    • P.Funk says:

      Never has an easter egg from a computer game ever given me such pause and chills of recollection. Innocence and enthusiasm and awe for a genre I was just discovering. Today much of my bitterness and ire stems from happy memories of just this game. I grew up around this and today I look about and wonder how it came to this.

      I’ve been meaning to replay Grim for a long long time. I think this bitter memorial should mark the appropriate time.

    • Demon Beaver says:

      They’ll tear you apart, bone by bone
      And build with you a human throne.
      Their bucktoothed king will sit upon
      what once was you, but now is gone.
      This key unlocks the gates of Hell.
      Steady traveler, use it well.

      Looks like a rusty old key to me…

  3. Meat Circus says:

    There appears to be something in my eye.

    *sniff*

    Anyone wanna hug it out?

  4. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    :(

  5. Meat Circus says:

    Wait, that last DOTT screenshot is deffo a SPOILER.

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      The game is 20 years old. I think it’s safe to spoil it now.

      Besides, the pleasure of DoTT is in the journey.

    • lokimotive says:

      Calling it a spoiler is more of a spoiler than showing it.

      • fuggles says:

        Is it a spoiler to say that The Dig has more than one ending? Might this change John’s opinion of the ending..?

        • benkc says:

          Huh, I’m not sure I ever knew that. Well, I’ve been meaning to play it again anyway…!

    • theblazeuk says:

      I only know this is a spoiler because you said its a spoiler. Now you’ve RUINED the game for me, ruined it I say.

  6. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    Very sad. Huge influence on me growing up.

  7. eraserhead says:

    There’s really nothing to add. I just want to sign this. :-(

  8. Spacewalk says:

    Clearly we must tell them not to dissolve the company… yesterday.

    • frightlever says:

      Potentially a bunch of IPs have been set free, eager to find a new home where they’ll be loved and not locked in a closet for eternity. Potentially.

      I’d be really surprised if there isn’t a new X-Wing vs Tie Fighter announced in the next couple of years.

      • Grey Poupon says:

        While I too do think this might be a good thing, LucasArts has mostly just published games this millenium and only a few of those were good. I doubt a space sim would be the first game to be licensed. There’s just not enough of those breaking through.

        I’d love a new space sim though. I played so damn much of Tie Fighter back in the day. I loved the scale of it – how you’d be bombing a Corellian Corvette with a Tie Bomber while it shoots it dozen lasers at you and your wingmen.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Given LucasArts (or LucasFilm Games) was oft hitting its highest notes when making new “IPs”, in an era before gaming journalism was happily using that term, I honestly think that’s not much of an upside. I doubt many people would be honestly happy with a Grim Fandango 2: Grimmer Fandangoier, because the original stood alone.

        The talent being set free from bad management might be more promising, but I’m not sure how many times a great studio’s members being scattered to the four winds has actually worked out for making great games. Now, if Double Fine suddenly finds it has a ton of unallocated budget on their payroll…

        (But but, despite what John was saying, surely the aformentioned talent already leaked away over the past two decades?)

      • Premium User Badge

        Elusiv3Pastry says:

        “If you strike me down my IPs will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

  9. jussipe says:

    we may have years
    we may have hours
    but sooner or later
    we push up flowers

    • Birdman Tribe Leader says:

      Ashes to ashes, to ashes, to ashes, to ashes… to… ashes, to ashes, to ashes, to me… to ashes, to ashes, to ashes, to ashes…

  10. Stuart Walton says:

    DOTT remains my favourite P&C Adventure game. The only ones that come close are – in no particular order – Gemini Rue, The Dig, Syberia (1 & 2), Monkey Island series, Beneath a Steel Sky, and Full Throttle.

    So… how long before we see a Double Fine Kickstarter to acquire licencing deals?

  11. Cara Ellison says:

    Oh John. *cries*

  12. Sam says:

    As alluded to in the article, LucasArts died years ago. This is just finally shutting off the ventilator.

    I would be surprised if there was a single member of the mid-90s team that was still working at the studio when it closed. I’m sure the people working there were passionate and wonderful, but it’s rare to find people in the games industry who aren’t. You don’t join up because you’re looking for a 40 hour a week job with good long term prospects. (Not that I wish to glamorise poor working conditions.)

    • Baines says:

      People all over the net are mourning LucasArts, but when they mention the games, they always mention decade old titles. Or Project 1313, which was likely going to be mediocre., but people keep dreams of a new good Star Wars game.

      LucasArts time was long passed. It had become part of the problem, a stumbling block in the path of games rather than an entity responsible for worthwhile titles.

  13. Premium User Badge

    squirrelrampage says:

    I will forever remain stumbed by the obvious inabilities of present day managers to handle creative companies. It is something that is so obvious in all parts of the media biz (not just gaming) and yet company after company falls under management that fails to realize its potential.

    Even though management skills with all their technicalities and legal hubbub do certainly not align themselves easily with creative environments, it can’t be that hard to find some sane managers who can tap the full potential of a company’s talents.
    It would just be good business.

    RIP Lucas Arts, another good one bites the dust.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      The main problem seems to be that managers are not trained to lead these type of companies. Companies come in all shapes, varieties and tastes but managers usually only come in one variant which often does not work well with the environment they end up working in.

      • Fomorian1988 says:

        I think it would really help if managers were enthusiasts of the medium the company they run works in. They might be harder to find in regards to video games though.

        • Premium User Badge

          Sunjumper says:

          Enthusiasm for the work done by their company would go a long way, as well as a fundamental understanding of the product they are producing.

          Another thing that would also immensely help is an approach to leading the company they are responsible for that goes beyond the veneration of numbers and a deeper understanding of how the systems that make up a company work. Only by doing so can the company as a whole be optimised, everything else is just trying to fix numbers which never works (in the long run)

        • Prime says:

          Dammit, wish I’d known. I’d have flung my CV at them. :(

      • Premium User Badge

        squirrelrampage says:

        You have a point there.
        Another one being the blind devotion of many managers to so-called “market analysts”, instead of listening to the people in their own house. (I do not even dare to talk about costumers here)

        Hence all we get is…

        “Social gaming is the next big thing!” “Oh yeah, let’s all do that!”
        “In-app purchases are the next big thing!” “Oh yeah, let’s all do that!”
        Actual quote from every EA conference ever

      • Supahewok says:

        Honestly, I think that the best manager a big company could try to get would be an editor (for those antiquated things called “books”) who had a passion for games. They actually have experience working with creative people, and although a game is very much not a book, the important thing is that they know how to recognize good and bad creative ideas and how to coax the creativity in their people.

        At least, that’s what makes sense to me. They’d need to learn a few things about business of course, but the foundation would be there.

    • sophof says:

      I would single out high management for this. Company culture tends to trickle down and therefore the culture is set by the high management. High management is always looking for ‘big hits’ instead of working with what they have. You see this in all companies, not just creative ones and many get held back or even destroyed by it. The problem is just worse in creative companies.

      In a creative company your product is extremely tied to your employees, even more so than in other companies. But you rarely hear of creative companies that treat their employees as their most valuable resource, Valve being a notable exception.

      Everything just shows that LucasArts was completely drained of its creative energy from the top, basically weighed down by the apparent Star Wars license to print money.

      • Bart Stewart says:

        The writing was on the wall for LucasArts at least as early as 2005.

        It was clear that the place had become a licensing shop filled with clueless suits, insulated from understanding the “product” by powerful Reality Distortion Fields, when Nancy McIntyre defended the decision to completely remake the existing Star Wars Galaxies. From her 2005 interview by the New York Times:

        “There was lots of reading, much too much, in the game. There was a lot of wandering around learning about different abilities. We really needed to give people the experience of being Han Solo or Luke Skywalker rather than being Uncle Owen, the moisture farmer. We wanted more instant gratification: kill, get treasure, repeat.”

        A thoughtful case might be made as to why LucasArts needed to interfere with a game’s design, or that it’s choice to eliminate “Uncle Owens” was necessary. This wasn’t it. This was just a failure to understand gamers.

        And with the occasional rare exception, that design interference by non-designers with financial power seemed to be the pattern: 1. A LucasArts VP would dictate to a third-party game development studio (who had licensed the Star Wars brand) what was fun and how to design it. 2. The game would “fail to meet expectations.” 3. Gamers would loudly blame the development studio, and LucasArts would quietly let them. And the studio didn’t dare object if they ever wanted another licensing deal with anyone.

        While I’m sorry for the disruption to the lives of working LucasArts employees and their families, there’s no reason why Disney should want to continue to employ the executives who for at least a decade now have showed no evidence of understanding what made those game properties great. It’s a shame this wasn’t just an executive-level housecleaning, though.

        • Arglebargle says:

          Lame game managers have often been disasterous to gaming. Especially as the budgets and egos got larger. I know several people who worked on SWG, and their tales of the monumental screw ups and idiocies of mid and high level management were appalling. They warned me away from the game, telling me how much of it was thoroughly broken on release.

          You can see this pattern repeated time and again, especially in the big budget MMO fields: Vanguard, SWG, Ultima Online 2, Tabula Rasa, Warhammer, SWToR. Reaching too far, not fitting their development budget to the realistic expectations of income, manager incompetance, etc.

          LucasArts management seems to fit squarely in that particular reticule. With an extra helping of lack of vision.

  14. mbp says:

    Why come no one is mentioning Indiana Jones and the last Crusade. I always thought that was their real breakthrough game.

    • apa says:

      Last Crusade was awesome, I think that it’s one of the best movie adaptations ever: you could do all the stuff in the movie if you wanted but there were other solutions too.

  15. Colej_uk says:

    The thing that makes me sad is they could of spent a fraction of the money that goes into one of their generic star wars licensed titles and used it to commission half a dozen new old-school style 2D adventure games. Then released those games on steam and perhaps iOS/android.

    I mean that’s all they had to do. If only it were run by folks who understood the heritage of the company and the direction of the gaming market… It seems that is too much to ask.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I dunno; Full Throttle’s budget was $1.5 million in 1995. I don’t know what Star Wars Angry Birds’ was, but I would certainly hope it was less, and that’s the kind of cheap 2D tablet game that’s selling like hot cakes.

      • Fomorian1988 says:

        Well, Full Throttle did have full voice acting (which included Mark Hammil).

        • LionsPhil says:

          Sure. There’s a huge amount of very professional work put into it (I’m surprised the budget was that low; good frame-by-frame 2D animation isn’t cheap, good voicework isn’t cheap, etc.)—that’s why it’s so great. As a straight adventure game, honestly, it has some rather obnoxious puzzles and is briefer than its contemporaries, but the atmosphere it sets up it just so perfectly enthralling.

          I am assuming that we are not proposing a retrograde step from the mid-’90s, and that any supposed “just make more adventures” would at least be near that level.

      • Colej_uk says:

        Don’t Rovio make angry birds though?

        I bet Star Wars Kinect cost a few million at least. If you factor in the music licensing, probably a lot more actually.

        Plus the tools and distribution platforms developers have nowadays has made things a lot easier for simpler games. You only need to look at all the indie productions out there to see that you could easily have a few 2D adventure games made for a fraction of a AAA title as long as nobody was being too greedy.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I don’t know if 2D animation of that calibre has actually got any cheaper. It’s still a skill and time-intensive process if you’re not going to just let Flash or such auto-tween everything. Voicework, too.

          Even something with fairly high indie production values like Resonance is kind of stiff and limited in its animation in comparison. And also only partially voiced.

          • Colej_uk says:

            It’s not like the Monkey Island/DoTT/Indiana Jones games had outstanding animations or even any voice acting in some cases and yet they are my favourites. I’d happily see more projects like those and resonance, and that’s kinda the baseline I was referring to.

            Great animation & voice acting != great game.

            But I bet you could Still make a Full Throttle for significantly less than Star Wars Kinect. Not that the animation would be cheap, but it’s not like 3D animation is much cheaper when you factor in mo cap, modelling, texturing, lighting and engine costs. I bet the money saved from not licensing pop songs alone would be enough to get some quality 2D animators onboard.

          • roryok says:

            You could make a full throttle for cheaper, but only us old folks would be interested in it. Todays young uns… well a handful might appreciate the old school retroness, most of them wouldn’t. A decision like that would not be made by a company that wants to make money

  16. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    For the longest time Jedi Knight / MOTS were my favourite games. I’d replay them choosing different force powers, using the sabre as much as possible or just loading up the boss fights. And damn, as a young teenager, did the swamps of Dromund Kaas unsettle me something darkly terrible. Evenings and weekends were spent on the Microsoft Gaming Zone (not a tear shall be shed for the passing of that pile o shite). Also Jedi Knight was the first game I seriously attempted texture mods for.
    Of course, the adventure games were fantastic. The midi sound track of X-Wing is burnt in my mind like a permanent flashbulb memory. The grand intro credit sequence to Monkey Island 2.

    Yes, Lucasarts had lost practically all relevancy to me over the last decade or so (apart from, as John pointed out, the Monkey Island special editions), but this, the final passing of the idea that was 90′s Lucasarts, makes me sad. Indeed, I may need to immediately go out and buy a hat so I can stand moodily pressing it against my chest in mourning atop Alexandra Palace while looking wistful.

    • KwisatzHaderach says:

      I’m presently playing through Jedi Knight and MotS again (finally got my gfx problems fixed for the Steam versions) and I’m just humbled by the amount of atmosphere that LA were able to produce with such primitive graphics and sound. The art is very basic and repetative but the leveldesign is stellar. While roaming the gigantic but very bare levels I keep thinking that devs nowadays have to think of so many props and details, they totally lose sight of what witty and fun leveldesign is all about.
      The emptiness of JK environments feels soothing and creates a sense of forlorness no other Star Wars game was able to reproduce (even the brilliant successor).

      • Manfromtheweb says:

        Tell me about it! I remember the opening levels on Nar Shaddaa with the bottomless pits. There were also a number of scripted events, at a time when they still new and fresh (like a Tie Bomber leaving it’s docking clamps as you pass by).

        My favourite level has to be the one where you storm the Imperial Tower about midway through the game. You first crawl your way through a sewer until you come to a room where you first meet stormtroopers. Then as you leave it you enter a round courtyard with an immensily tall tower in the middle. I was blown away by that setpiece alone. The following level then took place on the top of the tower. The great height gave me goosebumps back then.

        The scale and opennes in the levels was something I had not seen before. To me JK was one the defining games in my gaming “career”. Along with Tie Fighter and X-Wing Alliance. And the Dig. And Monkey Island. And all those other greats from early Lucas Arts.

        There was also that one level where you escape the falling cargo ship, with everything the floor at a wierd angle, since it was falling nose first.

  17. pistolhamster says:

    Rescue on Fractalus, The Labyrinth, Night Shift, Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken and The Alien Mindbenders, Monkey Islands, Ballblazer, Battlehawks 1942, SWOTL, Indy, Strike Fleet. Oh, the memories.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Surlywombat says:

    Indeed. The closing of Lucasarts is all about the lose of potential and hope. There was always the hope no matter how small that they could find their way again, now there isn’t, and its a pity.

  19. Meusli says:

    I hope Mr Lucas feels ashamed now.

  20. suchtie says:

    Who put the bowl of onions here?

    Really sad to not have LucasArts anymore. Though we knew it was already dead, getting the official message is worse than rumors…

  21. Laurentius says:

    Thank You JW for this piece. I feel exactly the same, this company have brought some many games that defined me as a gamer (probably only second to Microporse ). Games that i will be forever comparing new games to, seeing this logo go make me sad. ( and angry at these cynical soluless RPS commenters ).

  22. Premium User Badge

    Ecte says:

    You know, sweetheart, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: nobody knows what’s gonna happen at the end of the line, so you might as well enjoy the trip.

  23. bigjig says:

    Forget Nintendo, Lucasarts was without a shadow of a doubt my favorite games company growing up in the late eighties/nineties. No matter the genre, the gold Lucasarts logo on the box essentially meant “great game inside.” While I know that the Lucasarts of today is a mere shell of what they once were it saddens me greatly to see them pass into the night. Thanks for the memories LA. :(

  24. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    It certainly is sad, but I face the realisation that long has been lost what LucasArts meant to me. Or rather what Lucasfilm-Games-then-LucasArts meant, once upon a time, to a person far, far away from what I am now.

    In turn, I am sort of glad and hopeful that those people left with the company will realise their ideas somewhere else, not tied to the gigantic AAA-size expectations that a corporation like Disney would have. Though I doubt that things could get worse than Force Unleashed 2. Then again, I thought it would not get worse than the first.

  25. Mnemosys says:

    Shared feeling. As a voracious point-and-click adventurer I mourn for the future without LucasArts.

  26. Zabinatrix says:

    “You helped make 1988 to 1998 some of the most special years in gaming” – I agree with this so much. And I guess I was holding out some vain hope that some new owners would turn it all around, return them to the company that they used to be.

    Like the article said, this would have been the right time for it. A lot of people want the kind of games that they used to make and a lot of games of that type could probably be produced at a lower cost than many of the forgettable titles they made (or tried to make) recently. With the right management they could have made money and also made people happy.

    But instead it has come for this. I’m wondering what the ultimate fate of all their old IP will be. And I wonder if they will ever allow their old games to be sold on GOG. It never made any sense to me – people have been shouting from the rooftops for years “Hey, let me give you money for some old games you made many years ago!” but never did GOG manage to make any sort of deal with them.

    Sure, some of them are sold on Steam, but many of their old titles are just not available anymore. I don’t see the reasoning behind refusing to sell something that you’ve already completed when a lot of people are saying that they want to pay you for it. I’m sure there’s some silly legal reason, but again I’m holding out a vain hope that things will change. That their old IP will make a grand return, both with selling the old games again and with developers who understand the series being able to get a hold of the rights to make new games in them.

  27. MOKKA says:

    Here, enjoy an old internal video from Lucas Arts (via Tim Shafer’s twitter):

  28. MOKKA says:

    By the way:

    Bullfrog: Dead

    Microprose: Dead

    Lucas Arts: Dead

    Black Isle: Dead

    Interplay: Dead

    Westwood: Dead

    Origin: Dead

    I honestly can’t think of any studio whose games I deeply loved during my childhood and which still exists.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      Team 17: full of Worms.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Sad as it may or not be: These alone are probably the main content of 90% of ~10 years of my life.
      And perhaps Streetfighter II.

      • vanosofmanos says:

        Same here, only I’d have to add Sierra Entertainment and Strategic Simulations Inc to that list. Seriously, those two companies made up such a huge part of my childhood PC gaming that it’s hard to think of a time I wasn’t playing a game by one of those companies, or at least Lucasarts.

        And now, I am sad.

    • LionsPhil says:

      DMA Design, now Rockstar North, are still around, but they’ve lost their sense of light humour.

      (No idea if it’s any of the same people.)

      I wonder what ever happened to Chris Sawyer. The one-man two-contractors bedroom programmer weathered the rise of big publishing, but has completely failed to resurface in the age of the Kickstarter.

    • Lukasz says:

      Black Isle is alive in form of obsidian and inxile. Interplay being dead is a good thing. It was such a bad company :(

    • Prime says:

      Cryo Interactive.

      …no, no, I can’t maintain a straight face on that one, not even with my trademark mouthplate. They were terrible. I apologise. Oh and they’re long dead, thankfully.

    • Lemming says:

      Well Blizzard are still around, but if that’s what the price of success is maybe it’s better that all those studios you mentioned don’t exist any more.

    • Shadowcat says:

      For me, I would have sacrificed them all to keep Looking Glass alive and kicking (it would have hurt, but I’d do it). When Looking Glass closed out of the blue, it was like a punch in the stomach. I’m sorry to see the Lucasarts name gone (I loved those adventures too); but I find that at this point the event has remarkably little impact. The studio that closed simply wasn’t the studio that we loved, and I doubt that anyone had expectations of any new greatness from them.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Same thing for me with Black Isle. It seemed such a shame that a creative studio that had done so many good things was being shuttered.

    • roryok says:

      Looking Glass: Broken

      Ion Storm: Passed

      Pandemic: Incinerated to prevent contamination

      3DRealms: Flattened

      Valve: Still Open

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Valve survived in part because they started in the late 90s when 3D was taking off and didn’t have the troubles of figuring out how to take their existing production methods for 2D games and try to make 3D games.

        But even more so, Valve started with a bunch of guys who were experienced with software development, and understood that making computer games is essentially a software engineering project, not a creative project. Yes games are art, but conversely: Daikatana. Half Life was the opposite of Daikatana (Gabe was willing to trash inadequate “drafts” of the game, as opposed to Romero’s “design is law” philosophy), so Valve “won”. The fact that Valve are willing to toss what they’ve been working on and apply the lessons to “better drafts” so that we consumers only get the best possible output… Well that’s why we’re still waiting on Episode 3 a.k.a. Possibly Half Life 3, but that’s also why everything they put out is excellent.

        So far, it’s worked.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Wow. As if I wasn’t sad enough with just having read John’s post.

    • MentatYP says:

      Sierra

  29. Love Albatross says:

    It’s mismanagement on a spectacular scale. LucasArts could have just re-released all its old games for newer OSs and mobile platforms and made a lot of money, never mind what they could have done if they allowed someone to make sequels to the likes of Day of the Tentacle or TIE Fighter.

    Disney are just bad for gaming. They killed off Black Rock Studios, and more recently Junction Point. They had Warren fucking Spector, and they fucked it up! Twats.

  30. Fomorian1988 says:

    Here’s to you
    I sing for my daddy-o
    As I lay him down to sleep
    It’s been so long
    Since I lost my daddy-o
    Hope he’s watching over me…

    *sniff*

  31. Svant says:

    Dark Forces <3 Damn those watertrashcompatormonsterthingies scared the shit out of me as a kid.

  32. Firkragg says:

    I grew up watching my oldest brother play the games X-Wing and The Dig. So engrossed was I in my watching (hadn’t even considered I could play them myself at the time) he’d occassionally ask me to back away, because I was breathing on his hand controlling the mouse. Views into fantastic worlds, gods those were good times. Probably what got me into gaming in the first place.

    It’ll break his heart when I tell him this, he probably doesen’t even know yet :S

  33. RegisteredUser says:

    Nothing big, just some of the BEST GAMES EVER MADE..

    Yes, indeed a very sad event. Moreso, as, as a poster above has indicated, it is just one in a long string of developments away from epic gaming with depth, love and heart, and towards DRM’d “cloud gaming” / MMORPG / prescripted shooter regurgitation. Yes, yes, the indies and all that, but look at where we came from.
    Good god.

  34. hello-schadenfreude says:

    Goodbye LucasArts. Thank you for giving me the Blue Casket, because it’s totally where I’m setting my imaginary wake for you.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Schmudley says:

    The original X-Wing is literally the first computer game I remember ever playing. I was rubbish at it, but my older step-brother was great. He managed to rack up an impressive-looing collection of in-game medals and ribbons, which made me thirst to be a better gamer to equal him. Sad times indeed to see LucasArts go, but at least we’ve still got the happy memories of those glorious earlier titles.

    Still, I think the main thing to remember is that ultimately, games are made by people. As long as the people like the employee mentioned by John find a new berth, then we can hope that there will be more great games in future.

  36. Blue_Lemming says:

    The best use of the joystick on my PC was playing x-wing v tie fighter, its a pity they never built on that series more (i never touched battlefront) I imagined an up to date version would suck up all my free time, sadly I guess that will never happen.

    • Lemming says:

      Well said my azure cousin.

      One of my shining memories is having the privilege to cobble together a LAN game of X-wing vs Tie Fighter at college. It was only four of us, but it was enough to form an X-wing squadron to take on a Star Destroyer. Closest thing to Star Wars bliss there is.

  37. MeestaNob says:

    And with that the last of my childhood is dead.

    I don’t have the passion in me to blame Disney for this, LucasArts haven’t performed in ages, although it seems to be entirely the fault of endless mismanagement. Even though LucasArts have pumped out trash for the past 10 years, they always had the potential to just go berserk with good titles at any moment. But that moment never came.

    Their entire back catalogue of adventure games for a new generation of mobile users: nope.
    Rebel Assault/Rogue Squadron re-imagined in HD as downloadable titles: nuh-huh.
    X-FUCKING-WING 2: nein.
    Grim Fandango HD: surely a license to print a little quick money in a difficult market: pffft.
    Jedi Knight 3/Dark Forces 6, whatever we’re up to: astoundingly, they couldn’t even be bothered to do this in the console generation, yet were content to shit out Force Unleashed (twice). Hell, even the games initials spelled ‘FU’, which seemed appropriate.

    So, Disney will charge and arm and a leg for people to use the Star Wars name, however these games are no longer capable of attracting the fans they once did after years of being driven into the ground. The best we can hope for is Raven getting a deal on doing more Jedi Knight, and Double Fine buying up all the adventure game IPs and revisiting them in the future.

    Otherwise, the legacy is dead.

    As an old gamer, LucasArts died a decade ago, but I still shed tear at the news. Salute.

  38. Premium User Badge

    Martel says:

    Very sad, but for the love of all that is holy, somebody please remake X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter now.

  39. RegisteredUser says:

    P.S. Am I the only one who not only understood that Maniac Mansion walkthrough tip, but also remembered all of it?
    Its awesome, because its actually correct what she says(minute 7 onwards).

    Also I kindasorta cried at the Lucasfilm Games outro, but don’t tell the guys.

  40. Ezhar says:

    Dear John,

    how could you write an article about LucasArts and not mention Loom?

    • LionsPhil says:

      So that you are compelled to ask him about it.

    • Revolving Ocelot says:

      Ask me about Loom.

      (actually, don’t, I never played it)

      • Ezhar says:

        There you go (took me a while to find one that didn’t have awful voiceovers added decades after the game was originally released):

        • Nasarius says:

          The voices are awful, but they were in the original CD-ROM release of the game in 1992. Very expensive things in those days, the agonizingly slow 1x CD-ROM drives.

  41. mrmalodor says:

    Fate of Atlantis is my favorite adventure game of all time and it’s also the only one I’ve ever beaten without even briefly consulting a walk-through. I was in tears when I finally finished it. This company created many of the best games I’ve ever played.

  42. rustybroomhandle says:

    Go forth, people of LucasArts… you were scraping along the ground like rats, but from now on you SOAR, like EAGLES on POGO STICKS!

  43. Prime says:

    In another thread I’ve already seriously compared Lucasarts’ early games library to the works of Shakespeare, so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice to say those games were legendary and, although the company that died yesterday was a long way from the one that produced those great works, I am sad to see them go.

    C’mere Dark Forces. Let’s get drunk together until we can’t feel feelings.

  44. Solidstate89 says:

    One of my favorite “unheard of” games to come out Lucas Arts in recent-ish times was Gladius. It was such a breath of fresh air of gaming back on the original Xbox. My friend and I probably played through it at least half a dozen times and the turn-based, combo-skilled gladiatorial combat was just so god damn fun.

    You will be missed LucasArts.

  45. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    Thank you for this, John. You said everything that needed to be said. The final years were sad and undignified, but to me, no other gaming company could ever hold a candle to the house of wonders that was LucasArts in its heyday.

  46. cunningmunki says:

    Even though I had a SNES, when I was home for the summer holidays from University, I used to spend hours playing X-Wing and it’s sequels on my Dad’s PC in the spare room, with the curtains closed to keep out the glare of the sun.

    A few years later, after I had graduated, got a job and had some money, I bought my first PC specifically to play Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II.

    Although I’ve owned various consoles since I’ve remained a stalwart PC gamer at my core. Lucasarts sent me on that journey and Valve keep me on the path.

  47. Arkhonist says:

    We’ll never have Gladius II….

    • Solidstate89 says:

      I’m so glad there’s others on RPS who have played this wonderful game. It’s such an unknown title in general gaming.

  48. man-eater chimp says:

    I’m going to blow up the Death Star in Rogue Squadron in memory of them.

  49. airtekh says:

    Sad to see them go.

    I have very fond memories of playing Grim Fandango and COMI. They were among the first PC games I ever played.