The demise of LucasArts

I have found the following 3-year-old article from Kotaku about the demise of LucasArts providing a bunch of interesting insights:

They describe some cancelled projects there and criticize Lucas’ influence on them.

They also mention a Special Edition of DotT, similar to the Monkey Island SEs, which has never been released.

You can find some interesting statements there. For instance:

All of these people helped paint a single picture: Even before Disney purchased LucasFilm, the parent company of LucasArts, in November of 2012, the studio faced serious issues. LucasArts was a company paralyzed by dysfunction, apathy, and indecision from executives at the highest levels.

“The sad legacy of multiple presidents, multiple layoffs… there’s a lot of people out there who’ve been treated badly by the company.”

“Every couple of years, George Lucas would get re-engaged for a period of time,” said another person connected to LucasArts. “The whole company would pivot around George’s interests. And then it would fizzle out.”

And finally, Ron gets the opportunity to share his thoughts:

“George once told us: be the best, stay small, and don’t lose any money,” Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert told me in an e-mail recently.
(…)

“That was our mission,” Gilbert said. “Working there was like being part of a creative Cambrian explosion. We feed off the creativity of each other and dreamed whatever we dared. We were free of market pressures, yet we all wanted to make games that sold well. We wanted to make games that a lot of people played and loved. We were passionate and naive and idealistic. Maybe Lucasfilm Games was just a perfect storm. The right people in the right place at the right time. Whatever it was I am proud, honored and humbled to have been a part of it.”

… just click on the link above and read the rest of the article! :wink:

Well, the article does not exactly cast a positive light on the company’s management during the later years. I think, it was not the same company any more that had made the SCUMM games in days of yore.

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DoubleFine released Day of the Tentacle Remastered in 2016 after releasing Grim Fandango Remastered in 2015…

That’s true. They even added this information via a supplement in the article. But, this has been a completely different project. Double-Fine just created a high-resolution version with some new features, whereas the remake from LucasArts Singapore might have been a bit more ambitious. I assume that it would have been similar to the MI SEs, featuring 3D graphics and so on.
Seeing the fact that I still prefer the artworks from the original MI games, the DotT Remastered by DF may be even better than the LA remake would have been, though.

Albeit the MI SEs were eventually released, the managers at LucasArts had obviously little relation to the “roots” of their division. Maybe most of them had never even played a SCUMM game. Even back when EMI was released, I thought that the responsible people at LucasArts did not know at all why the MI series had been so popular, so I’m not surprised about what the article revealed. It seems to me that the series of wrong decisions had started 20 years ago.

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Wasn’t the game division founded with the aim to produce games based on the Lucasfilm movies?

Remember that even the first MI games weren’t commercially successful (according to Ron). So the question is: Was the games division successful at all?

I think so, but the only ones of their early games which were based on a movie might have been Labyrinth and Indy 3 (before X-WING and Rebel Assault were released). They had started with so many other titles, too, that those were part of the company’s identity as well, in my opinion.

Okay, maybe it was not very successful. However, CMI received positive reviews and might have sold quite well. For this reason, I don’t understand why they altered the entire visual style once again for EMI. It was even hard to recognize Guybrush and Elaine in EMI and some places in the game look ugly - so I guess that EMI would not have been done that way, if the managers had been familiar with the previous games. The 2D games had been great the way they are.

Yes, their first games were very popular - especially Rescue on Fractalus, Kronis Rift and later Indy 3. But I bet that most players had them as a pirated copy. It would be interesting to know which games were actually commercially successful.

At that time 3D was “state of the art”. If you wanted to sell a game it had to be in 3D (regardless how bad it looked in 3D). Especially if you would like to sell it on consoles…

(And the consoles were the reason why we had these awful keyboard controlling schemes …)

I think the original intention was to explore technology and use the creativity of games to see where that would lead… possibly applying it back to the films?
Mr.Fox has lamented that they were not allowed to make Star Wars games in the beginning, since it was already licensed to another company. At least that ended up funding some of our favorite games in the long run. :grinning:

Yes, but for me it seems that they planned to do this one day. And beside the Star Wars stuff they had other films and brands, for example Labyrinth or Indiana Jones. (Keep in mind that they made more money with the merchandising stuff than with the movies…)

Indeed! :slight_smile:

It may sound cynical but I seem to remember that I read that the games foundation was originally founded to have an additonal way to make money because video games seemed like a good new sort of merchandise at the time (this was in 1982 at the height of the success of Atari and arcade games).
This is George Lucas after all who became more of a buisness man as time went on.

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That would reinforce my assumption. :slight_smile:

Lucas had been a pure business man from the beginning, when he (and a lawyer) negotiated with 20th Century Fox for the first Star Wars movie. He knew the potential of Star Wars, so he made sure that he would own the IP plus the full rights for merchandising. The managers at 20th Century Fox were just not clever enough. And now, they are owned by Disney, just like Lucasfilm.

As I always say George Lucas is a hack fraud!

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Fox as in 20th Century Fox, the movie company.
Not to be confused with the above mentioned lamenter Mr. Fox, one of our favourite game designers.

Reading those comments back to back, it took me a few seconds to realise. Huh?

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You mean in that parallel universe where @David is George Lucas and Annie Fox is Kathleen Kennedy and they have built this huge franchise on the big success of Zak with sequels, prequels spin offs and merchandise? Yeah I live in that world too once in a while…

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Good point. I changed it in order to make it more clear.

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I just read on Wikipedia that they also intended to do a sequel of Full Throttle around the year 2000.

(…) according to Tiller, it eventually fell apart because of disagreements on the game style between the production team and “a particularly influential person” within the management, which led to a series of “mistakes”.

I guess we might know who that “particularly influential person” is.

Ironically, Grim Fandango wasn’t even available on consoles at the time.

What would that even have been at the time? Playstation and Sega Saturn? I think that´s about it.

More pictures and concept drawings here:

Yep. But that style was “in”. And maybe they would like to attract people who came (or played only) on consoles.
/edit: Or there were indeed plans to port the game to the consoles.

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It seems like it would have been based on GrimE as well.