I was in New York a month back when I heard the news that Disney were canning the LucasArts team. I wasn’t connected to the web much in my time over in the States, but I caught the news one night before slipping off. It wasn’t hard to miss. A lot of people were talking about it. It was the sort of news that makes a very tired man post an angry comment on to Facebook. HOW DARE DISNEY DO THIS!
Before I headed off to NYC, Sean and I were already mulling over what the next Get into Gaming theme was going to be. We knew we were going to bring Get into Gaming back – we were just not quite sure what to come back with. We had lots of ideas, just which to start with.
Our previous two GiGs carried conceptual themes – The Nearly Games was about games that nearly happened, that were nearly there. Co-Op! centred on gameplay that needed you to work with, not against, other players. We kinda wanted to continue that line.
But around the LucasArts decision there was a lot of discussion about what LucasArts actually was and what it stood for. In a lot of people’s minds the output of LucasArts was like a holy chalice. Disney’s decision and all the banter reminded me of my earliest days playing games on my first computer, and the experiences those games gave me – and also how LucasArts developed as great story tellers. Ballblazer, Koronis Rift, and The Eidolon were the early days – and great, unique experiences. PipeMania and Night Shift added some more traditional arcade style thrills. And the sea-bound simulations of PHM Pegasus and Strike Fleet? These are often forgotten as people go for the more obvious point and click (but also excellent) adventures such as Loom, the Monkey Island series, Zak McKracken, Maniac Mansion, and so on and so on.
The quality of the studio’s output was outstanding, very rarely putting a foot wrong. Man, LucasArts’ reputation was so high there was a point when it sounded like the plot of the fourth Indiana Jones film was going to be based on the original story for the game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. That is how highly regarded LucasArts were. (And looking back, how I wish the fourth film was based o the game.)
Personally, my time playing LucasArts games stopped when I’d gone through Grim Fandango and Sam and Max Hit the Road towards the end of the 1990′s. (I got a job about this same time as well and what little time I spent on video games left me disillusioned after the second controller trick in Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation.) Over the past couple of years I have just thought LucasArts had gone off and done loads of sub-standard Star Wars games since the start of the century, and the guys and gals who had written the interactive, immersive, story-led, and downright entertaining games went off to set up companies like Telltale Games.
Apparently I might be wrong on that assumption, and some of the games LucasArts produced over the past 15 years were actually quite decent. But for a change there’s something for me to learn here. And where better to learn than at Get into Gaming?
So, we are going to dedicate the next Get into Gaming to LucasArts! We want to celebrate that magic, that certain je ne sais quoi. We’ll have games! We’ll have the talks! We’ll have fun! And we want you to Join us!