Disney done goofed.

The Horror.

I think there’s something in my eye.

The massively publicized lock-stock-and-barrel acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney a few months back was some serious goddamn news, considering how it led to the announcement that not only will there be another Star Wars trilogy but that nerdmaster J.J. Abrams would be directing the initial foray.  There was much rejoicing when the news broke, but unfortunately the other shoe has dropped now that the hoopla has died down: Disney announced yesterday that Lucasfilm’s video game studio, LucasArts, would be shuttering its doors effective immediately.

Oh Guybrush, you so crazy.

You fight like a dairy farmer!

Whatever hatred or disdain you may have in your heart for George Lucas and his enormous flabby beard after he subjected us to three Star Wars prequel films that were the equivalent of strapping us down to a hospital gurney and giving us a nine-hour Cleveland Steamer fueled by a steady diet of chili dogs and cat food, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who feels the same level of vitriol towards LucasArts.  In the late 1980s and 1990s, if you had a PC and  you were looking for a good adventure game, you had two major choices when it came down to it: the sadly now-defunct Sierra On-Line – which now joins its erstwhile competitor in the dustbin of history – or LucasArts, and from the first time I played Maniac Mansion or The Secret of Monkey Island I knew that LucasArts was something incredibly special.

Dropped the ball on that one.

Dropped the ball on that one, eh boys?

LucasArts leveraged its intellectual properties expertly throughout the latter days of the 20th century, with an amazing selection of games tied to both the Star Wars and the Indiana Jones franchises, and even as the popularity of graphic adventure and combat simulator games began to wane, LucasArts achieved their zenith with games like the X-Wing series and Sam and Max Hit the Road.  Anyone who’s ever experienced these games has absolutely nothing but fond memories from them; in fact it’s almost enough to erase the foul taste in your mouth after having to put up with howlers like Super Bombad Racing and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  If anything, complete and utter failure of SW:TOR as a subscription-based MMORPG could have easily been the nail in the coffin for LucasArts, though much of the blame there could be placed on the shoulders of the BioWare team that developed the game in partnership with LucasArts, despite the fantastic success of the first two Knights of the Old Republic games; LucasArts has most likely been hemorrhaging cash for quite a few years, which undoubtedly led to Disney’s decision to ax the division completely, sending 150 employees out into the cold.

Telltale, if you were a hot girl I would so do you.  If I wasn't married, that is.

Telltale Games: doing God’s work.

If anything can be gleaned from this story of the meteoric rise and tragic fall of LucasArts, it’s that hope isn’t necessarily lost.  In fact, many of the luminaries behind these fantastically entertaining LucasArts games from the ’80’s and ’90’s – people that were sadly axed once the market for adventure games and space combat simulators dried up in the early 2000’s – have gone on to found their own game development studios like Telltale Games and Double Fine Productions, and have since resurrected the adventure game genre.  There’s still a home out there for clever, well-written games that focus on problem-solving, exploration, and inventory management instead of racking up combat multipliers or pressing X to win, and while LucasArts is finally gone its spirit lives on.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go find my copy of Day of the Tentacle.

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5 thoughts on “Disney done goofed.

  1. I definitely agree that games are too focused on formula these days. The two most offensive genres are shooters and mmos. I admit that in the case of shooters, there isn’t a ton of room for innovation, the mechanics of a shooter are what they are. But they just aren’t fun by and large anymore. Mass effect being one of the few shooters in recent years not to make me bored… Granted it was a shooter rpg…

    As for Swtor, the game was basically just wow with the illusion of compiling dialog. I never liked the watered down/dumbed way it handled dialogue. And once you got your ship and got to hoth, the game became a snore/grind.

    My favorite star was game was Jedi outcast (the second one I think). Playing multiplayer as a Jedi in a saber only server was exquisite fun, and the single player game was awesome.

    Anyway, that’s why I like funcom’s the secret world. Its more like an mmo adventure game, with real puzzles and riddles.

    • Well the games industry – at least the mainstream portion of it – has become absolutely forumlaic. It’s all about turning a profit with the newest Madden or FIFA; you’ve gotta go to independent game studios to get some innovation nowadays.

  2. It seems like every older studio that made great PC games is dying away. These guys also had the super star wars series on SNES, as well as a bunch of other games I loved on PC growing up. I’ve played countless hours of X-Wing during the early to mid 90’s, and you’re completely right that I have nothing but fond memories of that game. This is all part of the reason why I’m more of a retro gamer than a current gen gamer. Newer games just tend to not be as much fun, IMO. I think the reason is that back in the 90’s, lots of games and game types were either unrefined, or undiscovered territory, respectively. So it was all fresh and new, pushing for cooler graphics and sound due to hardware limitations. Nowadays, graphics are no longer really a selling point, and the majority of games and game types are pretty much the same old shit, just in a new box. Most gamers exacerbate that by shelling out $60+ for the latest call of duty or madden, which is essentially last year’s offering with different boards and weapons. Most games these days are tired and recycled, and the only ones I bother playing that are new, are games where the story intrigues me, like Darkness, Infamous, and Amalur.

    BTW, I try like hell to restrain myself from blogging about the same thing you do, which happens often since we both get aggravated by the same shit, apparently. This time, however, I can’t. Don’t take offense.

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