The Shining Light Behind the Death of LucasArts
When I was in high school my Dad and I would often play XBOX with each other until the wee hours in the morning. We had our main standby’s (Halo 1&2, Burnout, etc) but there was one game which we might have loved above all others: Star Wars Battlefront 2. Sweet baby Jesus did we plug countless hours into this game, and rightly so: Battlefront 2 was the penultimate Star Wars experience. You had both trilogies on display, amazing space levels, addictive gameplay and a perfect split-screen experience. I remember thinking that no game could ever make for a better Star Wars experience. That all changed when I played a little game by BioWare.
I know most of you are obviously thinking KOTOR, but I have something to admit: I have played only fifteen minutes of the first KOTOR. The series is something I really want to jump in to, but BioWare made an even better Star Wars game. This game was exactly what Star Wars needed as a video game: a deep storyline, plenty of exploration, tight combat and massive replayability. The game I am talking about is of course Mass Effect.
Mass Effect is of course not a Star Wars game, it is an original IP filled with hundreds of planets, dozens of alien species and a story that honestly puts Star Wars to shame. Mass Effect did the space epic right, and it made gamers realize that this kind of universe could exist in a game this huge. While KOTOR did make for an expansive Star Wars game, it could not even come close to touching what Mass Effect was able to achieve. If only we were to take the game Mass Effect and replace everything with Star Wars and leave the rest- that would make for an amazing Star Wars experience.
I bring this up because a lot of you are worried about the future of the Star Wars IP. Disney may have made a lot of enemies with their decision to shut down LucasArts, but this may be exactly what out favorite sci-fi universe needed. Star Wars games can now be licensed out to any game publisher with a vision of their ultimate game set in the galaxy far, far away. Imagine Battlefront 3, as made by DICE. Or KOTOR 3 made by BioWare. Or a Han Solo bounty-hunting adventure made by Rockstar. What if Irrational Games made a psychological FPS starring Jawas? (It could happen…)
While Disney may want to be focusing their efforts on Universe, social games and the upcoming Star Wars film trilogy, they will be selling the rights of Star Wars games to whomever wants to pay for it. This is great news for the industry because we will be seeing a lot of new Star Wars games, and many more of a much higher quality than titles like FU2 or Star Wars Kinect. Not only will Star Wars games get better, but we can fully expect to see the classic LucasArts adventure games (Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, etc) to get new iterations. Imagine the glory of a TellTale Full Throttle. (Drool…)
I know a lot of you are worried, but you need not fear. Any worry you should have should be for the now ex-employees of LucasArts. Worry for them, while they are all incredibly talented people this is a tough industry right now. Our collective thoughts and wishes should be that they quickly find new positions throughout the industry and the magic they produce can spread to many other developers for many years to come. Some of the best game ideas come out of the breakup of larger companies (The Astronauts anyone?).
I want to see a Mass Effect-sized Star Wars Experience. I want to see Battlefront in the Frostbite engine. I want to have people who grew up with Star Wars to make their ultimate vision for what that universe can represent. Just like Christopher Nolan used Batman to make a movie about man’s inherent nature to do evil, some awesome developer can make a game about Princess Leia overcoming sexism in the new Empire. I want to see the struggle that Luke goes through knowing that he is responsible for resurrecting the entire Jedi order. I want to play a game where a Stormtrooper hates his job and wishes life was different.
While LucasArts is now just a ghostly shadow in the background, we must look forward to what will come next. Someday we will see the universe of Star Wars just like we have the universe of Marvel (also owned by Disney). We will see developers and writers and programmers who have always dreamed of molding their favorite stories in Star Wars being able to create the game of their dreams. LucasArts is not dead, it has now spread throughout the world of games and books and movies and will forever be felt in the hearts of all of it’s fans.