Com-cast Ep. 25: Lucasarts, A Fond Farewell?


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Gameinsight Productions


Lucasarts: A Fond Farewell?

• Is our methodology of only considering games published AND developed by Lucasarts fair?

• Did their energy really taper off in later years, or were they focusing more energy into fewer projects rather than reskins of a point and click game each year?

• Did Lucasarts’ shift towards mainly Star Wars game sap it of needed creativity and innovation?

• Is this transition towards becoming a publisher and farming out work inevitable? What does it say about companies undergoing that change, e.g. Bethesda?

• In the final reckoning, where will Lucasarts stand in terms of a major force in gaming history?

swu's picture

I would like to issue an apology for an oversight we made in collecting comments for the podcast: on the previous podcast, Whiplash had made a comment which was deleted because of a repost and manually quoted by Alex. Because of this, we missed it when collating comments for this episode. The full text is reproduced below. 

I think achievements and trophies—over the course of this current generation—have actually resulted in games becoming easier to complete than games that were around when when the 360 and PS3 first launched. Because there are achievements that you have to unlock, it's expected that you get most of them in your first playthrough. So, in order to keep the achievements easily accessible, they toned down on the difficulty of the game to make it easier to get them. Look at the gulf between Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2 in terms of difficulty. By comparison, Call of Duty 4 was way more challenging than MW2, which made getting the achievements for completing X missions on Veteran difficulty harder, but they were satisfying to get and really gave you a way to boast to your friends. But, with the reduced difficulty in MW2, completing the game on Veteran was almost, in a way, expected. With most games these days, you start to see some of the more obligatory achievements that are just canon to the experience.

Some examples of these are the ones that you get for doing a specific action during the game, like The Simpsons Game, where the first achievement you unlocked was simply titled "Press START to Play", in which the description of the achievement read "Easiest achievement... ever", or games where there are achievements that pop up when you complete a chapter, such as "Arrived at the mansion" or "Defeat the Super Awesome boss". To me, these aren't really achievements in the simplest of terms. It isn't an achievement if anyone can do it. I can breathe, but it's not an accomplishment if everyone can do it.

Then there are the ones that you guys didn't mention: Achievements that unlock Avatar items, like in Gears of War 3, Halo Reach, Left 4 Dead 2, and Fable 3. I will give Microsoft some credit in trying to make Achievements more rewarding by giving you an incentive to unlock a specific achievement to unlock a special item, but it doesn't work in this because the unlockables are cosmetic. Maybe if they gave you microsoft points based on how many gamer points the achievement was worth, giving the player more incentive to get more achievements and would encourage them to play more games.

Joe Harris's picture

Order 66. Very good.


B47713s74r's picture

I would love for TellTale Games to do an HD remake of Sam & Max Hit the Road.

Solifluktion's picture

While I think that Lucasart's shift towards Star Wars did in the long run hurt them I still think that Republic Commando was well worth the sacrifice. And should EA make a worthy Republic Commando 2 (or Imperial Commando?) all is forgiven.

As to Lucasarts' standing.....I'd probably place them slightly higher than Id. But I haven't really made up a complete ranking.

B47713s74r's picture

Another one of the great games from LucasArts in the Star Wars universe in my opinion is Force Commander.

disgruntledavians's picture

I personally think that this transition happens to pretty much any company. However, Bethesda seems to be slightly different; the developer is also under the umbrella of Zenimax, while Lucasarts went to really far 3rd party developers for their games. It would be akin to Lucasarts going to ILM or something under Lucasfilm to be like Bethesda. 

darthskeletor's picture

I think that you might not be giving them enough credit in the later years.

 In the early years, yes they produced hit after hit. But what exactly was there to compete against them? Best game of the year competing against a dozen others? I also think that Lucasarts got very lucky by having a bunch of people who were just insanely good at making that one type of game and completely geared to that one thing.

In later years, things got far more complex. You said that the adventure games were all reskins using the same basic engine, and pretty simple for a small team to accomplish. Games like Republic Commando require teams of an entirely different magnitude. 

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