Yes, it’s been week ago that the news broke about the closing of LucasArts and only now I am getting to it. As always here on the Chomp (just as a heads-up to some new arrivals; thanks for your readership), we’re off schedule but still flexible.
Firstly, I hope that all those who lost their jobs because of this find work soon. The LucasArts crew was certainly talented, so hopefully it won’t take them long to find work. Secondly, the nostalgic in me feels (not considering the business side of things) saddened by this closing. A lot of video game history was created at LucasArts. More accurately, LucasArts itself was gaming history. LucasArts was one of the earliest examples of a person from the cinema foraying into video games. Before Fox had an interactive company, before Bruce Willis had Apocalypse and Vin Diesel founded Tigon Studios, there was LucasArts.
Let’s go back to 1982, a year where gaming was a promising but still relativity new medium for entertainment. Cinema icon George Lucas was looking for other forms of entertainment to branch out to and eventually decided video gaming was a good idea. The initial result was LucasFilm Games, which had its earliest releases such as the futuristic sports title Ballblazer and the first-person space shooter Rescue on Fractalus! released first on Atari hardware.
LucasFilm Games would eventually branch out and release titles on other systems, some of the earliest examples being Maniac Mansion which first appeared on the Commodore 64 and Labyrinth, which first appeared on Apple and Commodore hardware.During the early part of the 1990s, the Lucas companies were restructured, resulting in the creation of LucasArts Entertainment. The game division was eventually titled LucasArts, a title it held until its eventual closing.
For the younger generations who may be unfamiliar with LucasArts or its importance, just think about how many successful gaming studios are that are run by very successful people from the film industry? There’s the aforementioned Tigon Studios and Steven Spielberg got into the mix through DreamWorks Interactive, but nothing ever came close to what LucasArts accomplished overall.
LucasArts simply didn’t just make games. It made great contributions to game making as a whole. Who could forget the fear one felt not knowing if they were picking up an alien soldier or a human in Rescue on Fractalus!? What about the multiple endings in Maniac Mansion (before that practice was commonplace)? How about the inclusion of a sniper rifle (one of the first of its kind in gaming) in Outlaws? Kyle Katarn’s Force powers (well before plasmids) in Jedi Knight? That was just a sampling of some of the great things that LucasArts used in its games to enhance it gaming experience.
I wonder what Disney has in store for us gamers in the near future. By nature, I’m an optimist (despite my sometimes pessimistic ethos) so I’m going to hope for the best while being prepared to be unpleasantly surprised. If anything, hopefully Disney can give us some good original games, or at least salvage some promising projects that LucasArts worked on before its closing. We shall see.
Peace & Pixels