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Star Wars Prequels Games

How LucasArts Fell Apart 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-couldn't-you-just-make-a-new-xwing-vs-tie-fighter-game dept.
An anonymous reader sends this story from Kotaku's Jason Schreier about the downfall of LucasArts: "Over the last five months, I've talked to a dozen people connected to LucasArts, including ex-employees at the company's highest levels, in an attempt to figure out just how the studio collapsed. Some spoke off the record; others spoke under condition of anonymity. They told me about the failed deals, the drastic shifts in direction, the cancelled projects with codenames like Smuggler and Outpost. They told me the stories behind the fantastic-looking Star Wars 1313 and the multi-tiered plans for a new Battlefront starting with the multiplayer game known as Star Wars: First Assault. 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."
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How LucasArts Fell Apart

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  • Some spoke off the record; others spoke under condition of anonymity

    As a non-journalist, what is the difference?

    • by evil crash (739354) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:38PM (#44972203) Journal

      Some spoke off the record; others spoke under condition of anonymity

      As a non-journalist, what is the difference?

      Um, IIRC, off the record means I'll talk to you, but you can't publish what I told you. Anonymity is you can print what I said, but not who said it.

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        off the record you can paraphrase or include in background, but on the record yet anonymous you can quote. huge difference.

        • Also off the record means you acknowledge that you interviewed an individual in the story where anonymous you cannot name the person.
    • >As a non-journalist, what is the difference?
      As an ex-journalist, I have no idea. I'd say it was the same thing. You could possibly argue if you actually quoted someone it would be under anonymity but if you just spoke to people and wrote your own thoughts/conclusions it's off the record.
  • So .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:31PM (#44972133) Homepage

    So essentially the same thing that happens at every large company over time with roots in creating stuff?

    It seems like corporations more or less get to a point where they collapse under their own weight and cease to be able to actually do things.

    In my experience, that happens right around the time accountants start micro-managing everything, and when winning "buzzword bingo" happens in every company call.

    At some point, companies change from being places that create stuff and can get things done, and morph into an entity where you need huge reams of paperwork to get a new pen. At that point, everything you do starts to feel like a futile gesture.

    The accountants won't let anything happen, and management is more focused on covering their own asses than building anything new.

    • by jambox (1015589)
      How do you account for the IBMs or (more creatively) Disney's of the world, then?
      • Re:So .... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:50PM (#44972343) Homepage

        I've known people who worked at IBM, and in a lot of ways they have the exact same problems.

        And, except for Pixar and Marvel which Disney has bought and not yet ground into dust ... Disney spent an awful lot of years putting out endless, lousy, direct to video sequels and other stuff which was just an endless rehashing of stuff they've already done. Which is why they wanted LucasArts in the first place I'm guessing.

        Sometimes stuff gets done despite a management structure stacked against you. But over time, even that can get beaten down.

        • Re:So .... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dahamma (304068) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:15PM (#44972601)

          There is a huge different between "losing creative vision and putting out mindless crap" and "driving the company financially into the ground".

          Disney has undoubtedly made some crap over the years - and honestly, Pixar's last few efforts (Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University) haven't been even close to their earlier ones. But they are still making money hand over fist.

          Same with EA - poster child of game company losing sight of creativity and pumping out sequels, but unlike LucasArts, they do in fact have clear business goals and are making a ton of money from their mostly mediocre/repetitive offerings.

          • Re:So .... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Friday September 27, 2013 @03:12PM (#44973897) Journal

            Uhhhh..actually EA has been bleeding money hand over fist for the past few years, hence why the previous CEO is gone. Sure they make money hand over fist...and the previous CEO blew it like a sailor in Vegas by having a single minded obsession in beating Warcraft and Call Of Duty. I don't know if you read the articles over the past year or so but many titles such as Deadspace 3 would have to sell something like 6 million copies just to break even which is why the previous CEO had the gall to say that new games should be $80-$100 a pop!

            In a way what happened to EA reminds me of MSFT. Like MSFT they had a CEO that instead of playing to their strengths got obsessed with the other guy, like MSFT they thought that making a half ass clone of the other guy's product would work and like MSFT the CEO thought the answer to any reality showing that his lame brain ideas weren't cutting it was to double down and throw ever larger piles of money on the fire.

            • by Dahamma (304068)

              Uhhhh..actually EA has been bleeding money hand over fist for the past few years

              Actually, they have made a decent profit in the last 2 years.

              But yeah, lost a buttload the two years before that :)

              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                But how much of that was "real" profits versus what MSFT does when they have a turkey and just shifting money around? I know that many of the triple A games they released in the last 4 years would have had to broken first day sale records just to break even, and with Riccitelo's single minded obsession with beating Call Of Dookie and Warcrack he had them sink just insane amounts into IP that went nowhere, not to mention shitting all over good IP like Deadspace by giving it "broader appeal" which translated

                • by Dahamma (304068)

                  Hey, I was somewhat agreeing with you... they lost a lot of money 3-4 years ago (like $300-$700M). But they made ~$70-100M in each of the last 2 years.

                  But these are public companies - "shifting" money around only works with crazy complicated setups with independent subsidiaries, etc - the bottom line still tells the final story in this case (which honestly at this point they probably wish didn't...)

                  You are clearly passionately pissed off at EA. Honestly, I haven't bought any EA games since Mass Effect 2 (

          • Re:So .... (Score:4, Informative)

            by lgw (121541) on Friday September 27, 2013 @03:29PM (#44974095) Journal

            Disney has undoubtedly made some crap over the years - and honestly, Pixar's last few efforts (Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University) haven't been even close to their earlier ones. But they are still making money hand over fist.

            Brave was just fine - a new idea, not a sequel, and how often does that happen in Hollywood these days. Plus the theme of "growing up means learning to compromise - yes, even on the things you find important" (with the same in reverse for parents) was nice.

            • Brave was just fine - a new idea, not a sequel, and how often does that happen in Hollywood these days.

              I haven't watched it continuously end to end, but I got the impression I'd seen something like it before.

            • by Dahamma (304068)

              Well, movie opinions are just that - opinions, but I thought it was somewhat tedious, and the characters and plot didn't have near the depth of almost any of the Pixar movies before it (including the sequels). Critics tended to agree. And I didn't say it was crap (unlike "Planes", which was a godawful Disney attempt at extending one of Pixar's more mediocre franchises) , I said it wasn't close to their earlier ones, and I stand by that opinion :)

      • by guru42101 (851700)

        IBM has had several restructuring and re-orgs which is exactly what he's saying the upper echelon employees try to prevent.

        Disney acquires new income sources via acquisition, have diversified sources of income, and their products are long lasting with a new set of customers every generation. Their internal creative development team goes through spurts of good and bad that would kill a normal company. The Princess and the Frog was lackluster at best. My 3yo nieces LOVE Lilo and Stich, Finding Nemo, Lion

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        Companies that encourage creative people right from the get-go, and reward creativity.
      • by ArhcAngel (247594)
        Diversification.
        IBM has divisions [wikipedia.org] which cover a breadth of industries so if one isn't doing well another should allow them to continue operating until that market improves or they can divest themselves.
        Disney owns everything else. [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:So .... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kelbear (870538) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:58PM (#44972419)

      Corporate accounting doesn't call the shots, accounting tells managements the results of the shots that have been called. Finance takes accounting's results, evaluates and extrapolates, and makes plans for the future. Somewhere between management and finance, decisions get made. Ya got the wrong guy.

      The only companies that get run by accountants are accounting companies.

      • Re:So .... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:16PM (#44972615) Homepage

        I've been at places where the bean counters have put so much work on people it's impossible to get their jobs done.

        I know people who have to enter their time into no less than 4 different time systems every week. Because the people who own those systems don't have any integration and expect everyone else to make their horribly flawed process work.

        My timesheets have to be submitted by Friday at noon, despite that I often work after hours work on Friday nights because that's our change window. They want accurate timesheets in place before the work is done, and get upset when you have to change it later. I've been told on more than one occasion that I need to provide 100% accurate data, even if that means providing it before I know. If I don't know how late I'm working, how can I provide you with a value for how many hours I worked until I'm done? I can't tell you in advance if we'll be done at 9pm or 1am depending on what we're doing.

        Hell, at one company we were asked to provide our time accounting in five minute increments, but they got the hint when 2 out of every 5 minutes was classed as "telling you what I've done the last 3 minutes".

        I worked at a place where the accountant decided that getting a Solaris machine with a CD-ROM was too expensive, so they updated the PO to drop the CD-ROM -- and then you couldn't install the OS because there was no CD-ROM. The machine sat in a corner for 6 months until we could get a PO for the CD-ROM. We spent FAR more in man-hours fighting with them to get a bloody CD-ROM drive than the initial cost would have been. (In fact, given what they were billing for me at the time, I believe it was about 15 minutes of my time as the client would have paid)

        I've been in development shops where accounting decided that building the product cost more than their estimates -- despite them having no bloody clue what was actually involved in the process and their formula being useless. They just came along and said "according to how we calculate this, this took more than it should" -- even the VP was stunned by that one and had to explain to them they needed to go away.

        I don't give a damn what their actual title is -- when the micro-managing departments which have no understanding of what is required to make the product are making it impossible to make the product, then from my point of view, the accountants have taken over.

        Sorry, but I've worked in far too many corporate environments where the process overshadows the actual work, and the process is frequently divorced from reality.

        It's like every Dilbert joke come to life some days, or Office Space. Never underestimate how badly a company can go downhill when the internal business processes make it impossible to actually do the business of the company.

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          I guess in your situation, I would just go ahead and report that I was working all of the hours between noon on Friday and 8 a.m. Monday morning, and then just not go back and fix it since that pisses them off. Then, since they are requesting my time by the hour, i would go ahead and submit to the labor board that they are benchmarking me by the hour so I must be an hourly employee and therefore entitled to overtime, and oh by the way, here are my timesheets for the last 5 years indicating 80 hours per week
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Then you haven't worked many places. I've been places where $10,000 of paperwork was done for a $5000 purchase. That's "run by accountants".
      • I get tired of the constant blaming of corporate woes on the bean counters "ruining things" with questions of money. A company run by "technical people" is not really any better. I've seen it first hand: huge amounts of R&D are spent design technically exquisite and cutting edge products. They talk with their customers about what they want and manage to work out beautiful systems that solve their wildest dreams. The problem? The actual price tag for those products is way more than the customer's bu
    • Re:So .... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:00PM (#44972449)
      I don't think it's all the fault of accountants. Human nature encourages nepotism and favoring friends, regardless of actual quality of work. So after a while all the management positions end up filled with mediocre managers who all got the job because they were buddy-buddy with someone, not because they had earned it or had real leadership skills. And once a corporation becomes mediocre, it will stay mediocre. It's very easy to be a mediocre worker in a quality environment, you just have to know how to look busy or failing that, how to intimidate people. However it's almost impossible to be a quality worker in a mediocre environment. You end up discouraged, unsupported, even hated by co-workers until you become mediocre yourself.
      • I came into this thread and searched for "nepotism" and it brought me to this post...a relative of mine who worked there said it was a major problem. That and the Wii Star Wars "Swing to progress" game that flopped.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        So after a while all the management positions end up filled with mediocre managers who all got the job because they were buddy-buddy with someone

        That's not entirely true. SOME of the management positions get filled with mediocre managers who were unable to perform the technical job, so the person good at the technical job gets stuck at the same level, while the people who are incompetent are able to continue rising through the organization.

      • Re:So .... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Friday September 27, 2013 @03:43PM (#44974277) Journal

        Hell that is true everywhere. I was called out on a service call with a "code red" ( means they can't function until i fix the problem, VERY expensive as i have to drop everything and head straight over) at this electronics shop because it turned out the secretary had seen a TV show the night before about how "strong password protect systems" and decided she'd "protect the company" by coming up with a strong password and...well i'm sure you know what happened next.

        Well after I got the thing straightened out and this was like my fourth time of dealing with a code red because of that secretary i asked "You know she is costing you a LOT of money with all these service calls, why don't you just let her go?" and the owner got a dreamy smile at the thought, then shook his head and said "Nothing I'd love more but I'm afraid the wife would kill me if I fired our new daughter in law"

        As for TFA I think we ALL know whose fault it is...George Lucas. From what I have seen talking about him behind the scenes he reminds me of Gene Roddenberry in that while he has interesting CONCEPTS he just doesn't know how to flesh things out. From the sound of LucasArts he kept coming up with new ideas and the entire place had to suddenly do a 180 every time he opened his mouth because nobody had the balls to say no to him. Look at the Prequels or Indy 4 to see what happens when nobody tells him no, same as Roddenberry kept going for those lame "God is a machine" and "Wesley is great!" stories.

        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          No argument there. I'm sure Lucas isn't poor. It was his company. He can do what he wants with it. Maybe it was just a hobby for him and he got fed up of the money sink. Sucks for the employees though.
    • Re:So .... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:23PM (#44972703)

      So essentially the same thing that happens at every large company over time with roots in creating stuff?

      No. A great many large companies whose main charter is "creating stuff" manage to retain competent managers and remain responsive to competitive market pressures. They are amongst the largest and most successful companies on the planet. The ones who do not retain competent managers and are no longer responsive to competitive market pressures, we have a name for: Bankrupt.

      The top 10 companies in the US, by founding year:
      1. Walmart: 1962
      2. Exxon Mobile: 1999 (Exxon: 1982, Mobile: 1911)*
      3. Chevron: 1984*
      4. Phillips 66: 1917*
      5. Berkshire Hathaway: 1839
      6. Apple: 1976
      7. General Motors: 1908
      8. General Electric: 1892
      9. Valero Energy: 1980*
      10. Ford Motor: 1903
      --
      * It is worth noting that almost all major oil companies can trace their roots back to Standard Oil. Very few oil companies have gone bankrupt since oil became a major commodity; They most usually either merge with other companies or are broken up by government regulators. Thus the 'founding' dates of these companies is not really good context for how long they've been around. On paper, they may be relatively new, but these companies typically have lineages over a hundred years back.

      It seems like corporations more or less get to a point where they collapse under their own weight and cease to be able to actually do things.

      At least in the United States, a curious statistic is that about 40% of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, despite making up around 10.5% of the population. To quote Forbes [forbes.com]; The revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants of children of immigrants is greater than the GDP (gross domestic product) of every country in the world outside the U.S., except China and Japan. To me, this is smoking-hot proof that complacency kills more companies than economics; How else do you explain how some of the poorest and least-advantaged on arrival here manage, within a generation, to control some of the largest assets in this country?

      In my experience, that happens right around the time accountants start micro-managing everything, and when winning "buzzword bingo" happens in every company call.

      Your experience is not objective. People tend to overvalue their own personal experience, emphasize negative events, and are total and complete crap when it comes to estimating risk and probability. We have spent trillions trying to prevent terrorism, but spend very little in comparison combating drunk driving. All of this is down to cognitive biases, of which you are engaged in one right here.

      At some point, companies change from being places that create stuff and can get things done, and morph into an entity where you need huge reams of paperwork to get a new pen. At that point, everything you do starts to feel like a futile gesture.

      Again, you're relating to your personal experience here, at the expense of objectivity. You are extrapolating from your own experiences and concluding that the entire world must run this way. And yet, if it did, civilization as we know it wouldn't exist; Economies would invariably self-destruct, having reached their use-by date, if everything tended to "morph into an entity where you need huge reams of paperwork to get a new pen".

      The accountants won't let anything happen, and management is more focused on covering their own asses than building anything new.

      I can see you feel very jilted about how the working class is routinely exploited by the wealthy. And frankly, if you live in the United States you have good reason to feel this way; the pay difference between CEOs and entry-level w

      • Only four out of your ten can be said to "create stuff" in the same way as a game company.

        Half the list are oil companies.

        Top ten on what criteria, by the way?

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      This one is a bit different. The owner who knows nothing about software development made frequent change requests and whoever stood up to him got fired. Small wonder management was a direction- and spineless set of bastards. In the end they only made Star Wars games for that one-trick retard.

      But at least he got them to squeal like little piggies.
  • It's okay (Score:5, Funny)

    by fey000 (1374173) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:32PM (#44972143)

    DON'T PANIC!

    Upper management still got paid, so everything worked out.

  • FTFY (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:35PM (#44972169)

    LucasArts was a company paralyzed by dysfunction, apathy, and indecision from executives at the highest levels."

    LucasArts was a company paralyzed by greed, overconfidence, and incompetence from executives at the highest levels. The fans consistently told them what they wanted, and they were consistently ignored. This isn't apathy or indecision -- that's flat out incompetence. They mismanaged SS LucasArts into a iceberg, then locked the workers below-decks and abandoned ship while the band played the Imperial March.

    • The fans consistently told them what they wanted, and they were consistently ignored. This isn't apathy or indecision -- that's flat out incompetence.

      Doing what the fans say is not necessarily good, at least for new product design. Fans often tell you to be a derivative of some other game and/or an incremental improvement of your previous game. This sort of thing is a *classic* problem, not specific to the game industry at all, for an established company with a successful product by the way.

      Now for improving a game once it has been released things change dramatically. Fans may not be a good source with respect to potential innovation but they are the

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by osu-neko (2604)
        If you give people what they ask for, you quickly discover that people don't actually know what they want.
      • The fans consistently told them what they wanted, and they were consistently ignored. This isn't apathy or indecision -- that's flat out incompetence.

        Doing what the fans say is not necessarily good, at least for new product design. Fans often tell you to be a derivative of some other game and/or an incremental improvement of your previous game.

        Apparently you've not heard of kickstarter, or indiego, or various other crowdfunding initiatives. Here's the thing: Gamedevs need market research. Doesn't matter where it comes from. The idea needs to be fun, and we need to know it'll be purchased well before we blow lots of money on the project. All that indecision? Let's let the player's decide! That will keep you from dumping too much money into a failed route, AND give instant feedback into the course of action that should be taken TO MAXIMIZE S

        • ... Gamedevs need market research. Doesn't matter where it comes from ...

          And good market research is not simply asking fans what they want. Consumers often have **unstated** needs or wants, often things they are not even aware of. A good game designer figures out these unstated things.

          Ever wonder why some online surveys are a series of comparison, one item differing from the other by one and only one specific feature, and that some of these comparisons seem similar or redundant? The reason is because such a series of specific comparisons often generates a more accurate list

        • Market research is over-rated. One part of the proof is all those researchers who don't produce hit products.
          Another part is all those professional book editors being paid to find the next great hit novel and passing on Gone With the Wind 39 times or other countless examples
          Another part is the surprise music hits such as Oh Brother Where Art Thou? vs the heavily invested records or movies which end up duds, despite market research.

          I read one study where the best music is 50% familiar and 50% unfamiliar.
    • by dunezone (899268)
      > LucasArts was a company paralyzed by greed, overconfidence, and incompetence from executives at the highest levels.

      I'm going to say greed mostly greed and lazyness. During the 90s they were pushing out 3-4 titles a year under their name. By the 2000's they had very few titles under their own name. Most games were being developed by another developer with the Lucas Arts name slapped on for licensing purposes. They would release a game every few years to show they did something. Disney probably saw th
    • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Friday September 27, 2013 @02:06PM (#44973155) Homepage

      LucasArts was a company paralyzed by greed, overconfidence, and incompetence from executives at the highest levels. The fans consistently told them what they wanted, and they were consistently ignored.

      Fans need to get this into their heads. They are NOT the market. Any movie or game will USE the fans to get a jumpstart on the marketing through name recognition, but the market is the millions of people who will go to see or buy on impulse, especially around christmas. There are not enough fans to fund a major motion picture or video game with the production values that they expect, nay demand.

      • As long as we ignore the success kickstarter has had with fans helping to produce actually good games.

  • lilke most of us in the 90's, I loved the X-wing/Tie Fighter assault games - you're IN the tie fighter, man - awesome!

    After the multiplayer - (X-wing vs. Tie Fighter) - I was always disappointed they didn't keep upgrading and updating that universe - the Dark Forces/Jedi Academy games were good - but Battlefront didn't do much for me - neither did Rebellion - (a Masters of Orion ripoff) - it seemed like they were always a few months behind whatever the big thing was and came out with less interesting produc

    • X-Wing Alliance came after "X-Wing vs Tie Fighter" It had a decent single player campaign with a story... BUT it also had a solid online multiplayer experience.

      While I didn't like it as much as regular "Tie Fighter" I do have to say Alliance was quite fun.

    • by dslbrian (318993)

      I loved the X-wing/Tie Fighter assault games - you're IN the tie fighter, man - awesome!

      For me the Freespace series took over that genre (back when it existed). More recently the X-series games (X3AP). Upcoming X-Rebirth is looking pretty awesome.

      The thing I don't get though - I would be honestly surprised to find a single gamer in the executive staff at LucasArts. I really don't know how execs get placed who have no knowledge of what their product is, or what makes it good or bad. People rail on it in reviews and yet they keep churning out the same garbage. Anyone with 1st person experie

      • by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:35PM (#44972815) Homepage

        I really don't know how execs get placed who have no knowledge of what their product is, or what makes it good or bad.

        I've seen executives saying and believing something along these lines: that their job is to be executives, that what they need to know is how to execute, and that the specifics of the business they're executing (pun intended) doesn't matter since you can replace one business for another and at their level it all boils down to the same thing, so why bother? Sure, some experience in the area is a bonus, but by no means a requirement.

        History has shown time and again that's not how reality works, but as the saying goes few things are more difficult than to make someone understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it.

        • I really don't know how execs get placed who have no knowledge of what their product is, or what makes it good or bad.

          I've seen executives saying and believing something along these lines: that their job is to be executives, that what they need to know is how to execute, and that the specifics of the business they're executing (pun intended) doesn't matter since you can replace one business for another and at their level it all boils down to the same thing, so why bother? Sure, some experience in the area is a bonus, but by no means a requirement.

          That sort of gets back to why they have to do market research. It's like that Tom Hanks movie Big where he's trying to play with some transformer-like toy and says it's not playable. If you actually play video games and like to play them, you'll know yourself whether it's working for you or not. I think the real secret of success is that everybody likes something uber-specific but what certain folks like is liked by more people than other ideas. Think Minecraft or Sims, both written originally so the author

      • by firex726 (1188453)

        IDK about the X series. It's not quite the same, losing a ship in there can be a serious loss of an investment, to the point you often try and avoid combat.
        If you think there is a chance for a pirate raid, you're better off bypassing it.

        You want an EVE like learning curve, and writing scripts? X is your series.

  • Real Artists Ship (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:57PM (#44972401)

    Amazing they would kill completed games.

    It sounds like George Lucas was never able to fully delegate responsibility for the worlds he created, so he had to be involved with everything. The executives would try to manage him by limiting what they told him in order to get a desired result. That kind of gaming killed their gaming.

    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Friday September 27, 2013 @02:11PM (#44973205) Homepage

      Amazing they would kill completed games.

      It sounds like George Lucas was never able to fully delegate responsibility for the worlds he created, so he had to be involved with everything.

      It was obvious, even as a kid, watching the original movies as they were released, that Lucas had no integrity to tell his story by the third movie. Any vision that he had was thrown out the window to accommodate his greed to make tons of money off of merchandising. Everything since then has been either protection or promotion of his IP from those first two movies.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      What it comes down to is that George Lucas was as bad at directing a software company as he was at directing movies. Classic rags-to-riches untouchable syndrome where the support people become yes men (JK Rowling is another such example, but seems to have managed it better; Obama is yet another example).

      Look at Episodes I-III. Look at the revised Episodes IV-VI. That is the real George Lucas. Hardly deserving of the cult status he currently enjoys.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:00PM (#44972453)

    After they went from making games in house to being just another publisher and then just an agency that licensed the star wars names for games.

    This happened in the late 1990's when the X-wing series went from being produced in house and moved to Totally Games. (I don't remember if that was Xwing vs. Tie Fighter or Xwing Alliance). Later on I noticed that they weren't even publishing games. Games were being released by Activision or EA.

    I know the space combat sim died 10 and going on 15 years ago. That's why I've spent as much as I have looking forward to Star Citizen.

    • After they went from making games in house to being just another publisher and then just an agency that licensed the star wars names for games.

      This happened in the late 1990's when the X-wing series went from being produced in house and moved to Totally Games. (I don't remember if that was Xwing vs. Tie Fighter or Xwing Alliance). Later on I noticed that they weren't even publishing games. Games were being released by Activision or EA.

      I know the space combat sim died 10 and going on 15 years ago. That's why I've spent as much as I have looking forward to Star Citizen.

      And X:Rebirth, and that Occulus Rift based game that CCP is teasing, but I don't have any confidence they will actually be able to deliver something good.

      But I am expecting a "Rebirth" of the space sim genre in the next few years. Technology is finally catching up with the imagination of the classic games. Does EA still own the rights to Wing Commander? Ok so that one won't be part of the renaissance.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:09PM (#44972539)

    They grew and decided they needed to hire some newly minted MBAs, accountants and an HR department.

    Almost immediately, anyone who did *productive* work was either passively ignored or actively punished for doing anything innovative or productive, while the aforementioned business school parasites determined how best to extract any remaining value in the company and place it into their personal bank accounts before moving on the the next victim.

    But of course, that's just a guess. I mean, how often have any of us seen *that* happen?

    • by Zeromous (668365)

      No no no, according to half of this thread, this never happens and the greedy worker bees left with all the honey!

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:18PM (#44972639)

    " a company paralyzed by dysfunction, apathy, and indecision from executives at the highest levels."

    Can really describe any decent-sized company.

  • by schweinhundert (3042319) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:21PM (#44972677)

    The thing about Lucasarts that's ironic is that they were always at their best when they were *not* making Star Wars games. The ones that many current 27-35 year olds remember are the Monkey Island games, Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, Grim Fandango, and Full Throttle. Monkey Island 1 and 2 have been remastered and are likely making gobs of money compared to production cost, and Sam and Max was a hit for Telltale. But Lucasarts decided around the turn of the century to stop making original IP, cancelled the Full Throttle sequel, and Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, and others jumped ship. At that point, Lucasarts *was* the Star Wars company. They lost their creative talent and just became a company with an IP asset but no vision.

    The bit in this article that's surprising is that George Lucas himself, ever the twit, was coming in to meddle in the game production of Star Wars 1313. Changing the main character part way into production isn't like rewriting script pages and making a new costume; tons of assets had already been created around that one character. Maybe this unfortunate micromanaging was the reason Lucasarts contracted out their Knights of the Old Republic franchise.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      They did fine with the Labyrinth game. I'd argue it was the basis for Monkey Island, and their other successes. For a while they made games, later they were "commercial" (stopped trying to create, and saw "create" as a hurdle to profit, not as a worthy endeavor to itself).
  • This game looked amazing. I really wanted it. I hope that it is somehow saved from the scrapheap by Disney.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday September 27, 2013 @01:39PM (#44972847)

    One ex-LucasArts employee told me they think the franchise is in more competent hands under EA than it ever was with LucasFilm.

    Then LucasArts was truly fscked.

  • Games based on movies tend to have a "plot". With George Lucas interfering, that got completely out of hand. (Especially since Lucas sucks at plotting. What makes the Star Wars franchise go is production value, not plot or character development.)

    A game is a place that you go and do things, not a story. Movie directors have a hard time with this. They want to lock the player into a track ride, like an amusement park.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Lucas himself did not have much to do with LucasArts.

      • Looks like someone didn't read the article. In the article, every once in a while, Lucas would push for changes to the games. For example 1313 after multiple changes in direction from Lucas was going to be about a bounty hunter. Then Lucas announced without warning to the press it was going to be about Boba Fett which had the development teams scrambling because the entire game was revolved around a generic bounty hunter. At the very minimum new CGI models had to be developed.
    • by Urkki (668283)

      A game is a place that you go and do things, not a story. Movie directors have a hard time with this. They want to lock the player into a track ride, like an amusement park.

      Speak for yourself. I play games for the story, the rest matters only in context of the story and relative to it.

      Which is why I'll never forgive SWTOR2, may the ones responsible be suffocated in bantha excrement.

  • by NonUniqueNickname (1459477) on Friday September 27, 2013 @02:40PM (#44973533)
    We're all familiar with the works of George Lucas. How could any of us be even a tiny bit surprised to hear that game development under his direction turned out to be an endless re-write?

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