It’s (almost) always a little sad to hear that a games company has shutdown. But this is a especially sad for people like me that grew up on LucasArts games.
LucasArts were a huge part of my gaming history. From those late 80’s Amiga gaming days of Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken, through Indiana Jones and LOOM, to 1990 uber-classic Secret of Monkey Island and it’s sequels. Then onto the PC, with Grim Fandango, and the brilliant X-Wing series.
The love of LucasArts games continued through my college years, with the degree distracting Full Throttle, Sam & Max, and Jedi Knight series. Post college, 2003 saw them collaborate with Bioware to bring the astounding Knights of the Old Republic, and of course, my first MMORPG – Star Wars Galaxies (developed with SOE).
In 2004, LucasArts underwent a restructuring, and things have been rather up and down since then, starting with interfering in Galaxies, then the fiasco with forcing Obsidian to rush KotOR II out half finished. The Battlefront series was fun, but hardly original. The Force Unleashed did sell extraordinarily well despite a critical panning, however, various attempts at expanding beyond existing (mainly Star Wars) IPs, fell flat. Even the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO couldn’t save a studio which had become rather directionless in recent years…
LucasArt’s isn’t completely dead however. Although it won’t be developing internally, will still be a licensor of the LucasArt’s IPs. Actually, if you look back at the games that i’ve mentioned so far, we may not notice all that much of a change… KotOR/TOR were developed by Bioware. X-Wing by Totally Games. Galaxies by Verant Interactive/SOE. Battlefront was developed by Pandemic. Traveller’s Tales were behind the later Monkey Island/Sam & Max games and Lego Star Wars. Raven Software developed the Jedi Knight games. You actually look at the games developed solely by LucasArt’s internally for the last 10 years, and, well… Lucidity (a 2D platformer for XBox) in 2009 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (good but not great) in 2008, and Gladius in 2003. All other games have been produced under license by other developers.
Unfortunately, the one game casualty of the closure was the upcoming ‘Star Wars 1313’, a very interesting looking FPS, where you played a bounty hunter in Coruscant’s subterranean level 1313 underworld… There is still hope someone may pick it up and continue development under license.
As a tribute to LucasArts, Raven Software have released the source code to Jedi Knight 2 and Jedi Academy, saying “We loved and appreciated the experience of getting to make Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy for LucasArts. As a gift to the persistently loyal fanbase for our Jedi games and in memory of LucasArts, we are releasing the source code for both games for people to enjoy and play with.” So expect to see a rush of amateur developers and modders out there go nuts with it.