Mourning Lucasfilm Games/Lucas Arts

The sudden closure of Lucas Arts raised a few questions, like why we’re still talking about a studio that hasn’t done much of note in a decade. Slashdot posted a link to a developer’s musings. I’ll talk about it from a fan perspective.

I remember at a very young age reading an article in Run magazine by Jim Strasma about games. Strasma lamented, way back in 1984, that the lesson of many games is that “strangers are for shooting.” Those were his specific words.

I think that was a bit of an overstatement in 1984, but looking at the landscape today, I have a hard time finding a game that doesn’t involve running around with a stupid gat and shooting everything that moves.

The classic Lucasfilm adventures were crude by today’s standards, with simple 2D graphics and a very simple point-and-click parser. But behind that, they had timeless storytelling and humor, along with puzzles that were challenging, but not impossible. The games were generally low-violence, and they were accessible. You could learn to play them quickly and have fun whether you were winning or not. But generally, if you hung in there with them long enough, you could win them. And you could come back to them a few months later, play them again, and catch something you missed the first time.

Here’s another thing about them: The games were fun to watch someone else play, or to play in groups, puzzling through the adventure. You can’t say that about all games.

It’s been a decade since they’ve done any of these games, and they’re abandonware, but that’s why we lament them. Their classics were so good, we’re willing to forget the question of what have you done for me lately.

I don’t play modern games. I don’t really have time for it, but there’s not much out there that makes me want to play modern games either. If someone had captured that old Lucasfilm Games magic, it would be a lot harder for me to stay away.

There may be plenty of developers who pay lip service to that old magic, but I haven’t seen anyone really capture it.

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