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Hocking Joins LucasArts

Splinter Cell 3 and Far Cry 2 lead Clint Hocking stood down from Ubisoft Montreal back in May, citing a need to challenge himself and to leave comfortable habits behind. The newly-announced upshot of that is that he’s moving to LucasArts, to be creative director on an unannounced project.
In the light of this, it’s worth looking over the man’s open (and excellent) letter regarding his resignation. Notably this bit:

“In the 451 weeks that I have been here, I have adopted many new habits. It has taken tremendous effort to prevent those habits from atrophying into bad ones. Pride burns into hubris. Willingness wilts into desperation. Confidence slows to stubbornness. Passion boils into anger. Each of these faults and others – without care and constant self-examination – risk becoming habits.

I am too comfortable. I am too content. And I know where that can lead for me.

Fortunately, for the first time in my life, I know the way forward. The way forward lies in my having the courage that I did not know I had a decade ago to bid farewell to those tragically comforting habits. I need to walk on hot coals and sleep on a bed of nails. I need to chew on broken glass. I need to drink paint.”

LucasArts, then. Iiiiinteresting. It’s difficult to determine what this suggests in terms of creative opportunities. On the one hand, it’s the Star Wars company, and big licenses can often be less than conducive to original thinking. On the other hand, inserting wild ideas into something that is resistant to it: now that’s definitely a challenge, and quite possibly a highly-motivating one.

On the other hand again, there have been recent signs of interesting throbbing from that old Lucasian brain. Pseudo-indie puzzle-platformer Lucidity may have been disappointing, but it was a nonetheless bold and appreciated attempt to move out of a well-worn comfort zone. The Monkey Island renaissance (to whit, both a remake and a new series helmed by an external studio), meanwhile, did for all its IP-leveraging involve a fair degree of risk-taking. It implies a changed way of thinking.

All told, I’d say this is a peculiar but highly appealing move for a developer who has always seemed bound for something truly fascinating. Can’t wait to see what comes out of it.

(Also: a number of news sites have drawn attention to the fact that LucasArts has seen a number of high-profile, did-they-jump-or-were-they-pushed departures in recent months, and have implied this means something is rotten in the state of Tatooine. It’s possible. It could also be coincidence or purely business. I’m not convinced speculating it has any bearing on Mr Hocking’s new gig is a worthwhile pursuit, though).

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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