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Sam & Max Sequel Canceled 401

Pluvius writes "A terse press release from LucasArts, the creator of classic adventure games such as Grim Fandango and the Monkey Island series, reveals that development on Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the planned sequel to Sam & Max Hit the Road, has stopped. Says LucasArts exec Mike Nelson, 'After careful evaluation of current market place realities and underlying economic considerations, we've decided that this was not the appropriate time to launch a graphic adventure on the PC.'" The International House Of Mojo fansite has some editorial comments [original URL] on this move, the second Sam & Max game cancellation in recent years, lamenting: "LucasArts has made a gigantic mistake."
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Sam & Max Sequel Canceled

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  • by buffer-overflowed ( 588867 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:18PM (#8456072) Journal
    Me and everyone else I know who played the original were waiting for this with wallets drawn and baited breath. Even though we mostly disagreed with some of their design decisions, we were still prepared to buy the game.

    Silly lucasarts. Well, I'm off to write them a letter I suggest you do the same.
  • Where are... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Azureflare ( 645778 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:20PM (#8456105)
    Where are the comedic PC games? All we've got is Unreal, MMORPGs, etc. I want a funny game that makes me laugh!

    LucasArts is making a huge blunder in canceling this project. Is there no way to convince them that what they are doing is a mistake?

  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:28PM (#8456216) Homepage Journal
    The days of PC specific titles are gone. With three, count 'em, three home consoles out there, any game that can't be ported (and be profitable) to at least one of the home consoles is gonna be canned. Yeah, you probably could use a controller to play a graphic adventure instead of a mouse, but I'm sure it would get tedious after a while.
  • Re:Hello Egg! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by X_Caffeine ( 451624 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:30PM (#8456245)
    My guess is that they made this decision based on the sales of the most recent Monkey Island games, which honestly haven't been all that hot.

    My rebuttal? They need to re-evaluate their audience. Many would-be adventure gamers are likely older (both the kind of folks who played classic Lucasarts games and Myst, and also people who are just too whooped by twitch-and-shoot games), and are gravitating toward consoles since they aren't hard-core.

    Monkey Island did get ported to PS2, of course, but I'm not aware of any real marketing push to non-mainstream gamers.
  • by Channard ( 693317 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:38PM (#8456341) Journal
    .. for whatever crappy Star Wars Game they're putting out next. The last good game Lucasarts made was Escape from Monkey Island, and they haven't done a decent Star Wars game in years (KOTOR was a Bioware game), continuing to shoehorn Star Wars into every damn genre, not giving a toss about quality. Still, I suppose they're in synch with the goals of George himself. I can't honestly say this was a surprise, after Full Throttle 2 was cancelled. Lucasarts has such great properties, yet they keep messing them up. I honestly can't think of any business strategy that would explain that.
  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:42PM (#8456376) Journal
    This is quite sad.... When you get right down to it, advernture games created solid customer bases for both Sierra On-Line and Lucasarts that provided enough support for those companies to experiment and often succeed with FPS and console games. The problem with those sit-down-and-play games is that they are much worse at building customer loyalty. The largest draw that Sierra had, with Half-Life, has been stolen by the overambitious developers at Valve. While a number of Star Wars games are quite good, they've not helped LucasArts in customer loyalty since failing to follow up X-Wing Alliance.... I know of tons of people who would love the X-Wing concept to get a massive update for today's PC hardware.

    I do see one bit of logic in what LucasArts is doing, and it's because they probably don't believe that the new game would surpass the original. Just look at the Monkey Island 1 and 2 compared to the rest of the series. However, I believe those flopped largely because of the teams and writers.... Whereas with this Sam & Max, I believe that Michael Stemmle and Steve Purcell were involved in some way.
  • Re:Where are... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Peldor ( 639336 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:46PM (#8456430)
    Armed and Dangerous has some seriously funny (often adult humor) cutscenes. Laugh out loud stuff and just plain WTF moments. And you get to shoot things. Also it's in the bargain bin now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @05:53PM (#8456497)
    Plenty of companies have gone under after only releasing good games. No, it is not always a good time to release a good game, nor is it never a good time to release a cash-in game. It's unfortunate that we need food to live, and that food costs money, but that's the price you pay for living in a capitalist society, I guess.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:04PM (#8456629)
    It's always a good time to release a good game (by "good," I mean fun to play and judged by many to be worth their hard-earned money), no matter what the style or genre, or how many similar games might have failed recently.

    I'd love to agree with you. But PC adventure games have been taking a huge beating in the marketplace over the last 5 years. Even the good ones.

    Consider The Longest Journey, hailed by critics as fun, beautiful, well-written, well-acted, engrossing - the best adventure game of that year and the best to come along in years. After being on the US market for over a year, it still hadn't broken the 1,000 sales mark here (it did sell OK in Europe). Business-wise, the US release was a disaster, and not because the game was no good. The gaming press has more than a few times ruminated on the death of the genre.

    I think The Longest Journey was one of the early casualties of the new dominance of console gaming. The PC games market is increasingly looking like a closeout bin of the console world's greatest hits. As games become more expensive to produce, commercial success requires appeal to the huge console audience becomes more important - and appeal to the smaller (and tech-support-heavy) PC audience becomes an afterthought. Catering to the console audience means party games like Mario Kart and sports games, and action games like Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. And speaking of POP:TSOT, it was silmultaneously released for the GBA, GC, PS2, XB, and PC - but retails for $10 less on the PC. Clearly, somebody realized the PC version wasn't likely to rake it in without a little encouragement, while the console versions are selling like gangbusters.

  • google saves the day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dave_bsr ( 520621 ) <slaphappysal@hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:07PM (#8456647) Homepage Journal
    If you google for "grim fandango belt problem" there are a couple of pages that address the difficulty. Here [gametalk.com] is one that might help ya.
  • by yroJJory ( 559141 ) <me&jory,org> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:12PM (#8456688) Homepage
    When I was working at LucasArts, I bitched about the same thing. My last full project was Monkey 4 and I still laugh heartily when I play that game.

    Grim was fantastically received by the critics, but didn't sell very well.

    This is the problem LEC always claims is keeping them from making adventure games: fantastic critical acclaim, little monetary recovery.

    Personally, I don't understand it, apart from knowing that an adventure game is probably not likely to sell as many copies as KotoR, but it's still worthwhile.

    I wish Sierra Online was still making Al Lowe adventures and the like.
  • I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Polyphemis ( 450226 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:16PM (#8456730)
    It's always a good time to release a good game.

    I strongly disagree. A lot of good games get BURIED at Christmas time when the market is too saturated with new releases, and you can also kill a game by releasing it too closely to a similar product.

    Mythica recently got cancelled for the same reasons. Probably nothing wrong with it, just that there are too many MMORPGs. It may have been the best game ever, but UO, EQ and AC got there first, and the risk of getting buried underneath them was too great.

    The PC adventure market is mostly dead. No reason to go into reasons why, but who in their right mind would fund a game in a dead market? Sometimes a game comes along that can surprise everybody, but not that often.
  • Possible explanation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Killswitch1968 ( 735908 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:18PM (#8456754)
    The biggest problem with single player games is piracy. It's just too easy to get a copy from a friend. No amount of CD keys, game-manual copy protection, or anti-burning technologies will ever work.
    With multiplayer games, at least the CD-key is checked against a database of CD-keys before the player can play online. I have no doubt this is why Blizzard's battle.net and Half Life's WON systems have been so successful.

  • by R5900 ( 699398 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:42PM (#8457112)

    MobyGames, the reference site for everyone, either involved in the game industry, or just in love with games, has its Top Rated Games: All Time Best [mobygames.com] list, based on game rankings by registered users :

    1 Grim Fandango 4.19 (234 votes)
    2 Curse of Monkey Island, The 4.14 (168 votes)
    3 Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge 4.13 (203 votes)
    4 Planescape: Torment 4.12 (189 votes)
    5 Day of the Tentacle 4.11 (191 votes)
    6 Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis 4.10 (231 votes)
    7 Secret of Monkey Island, The 4.09 (285 votes)
    8 Super Mario 64 4.08 (67 votes)
    9 Fallout 4.08 (230 votes)
    10 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The 4.07 (64 votes)

    I'm really impressed by the cluelessness of LucasArts' management.
  • by Ifni ( 545998 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:43PM (#8457128) Homepage
    Thank you for the addresses. Here is the letter I sent:

    To whom it may concern,

    As a fan of the original San & Max game, I have looked forward to a sequel for many years. I read the announcement of a planned sequel last year with great excitement. I was disappointed earlier this year when the cancellation of the Full Throttle sequel was announced, but the same announcement seemed to indicate that the cancellation would allow Lucas Arts to concentrate more on its other products, and Sam & Max was mentioned specifically, so I remained silent, and continued to anticipate the Sam & Max sequel.

    However, with the latest announcement, it appears that Lucas Arts has lost its desire to innovate, and would rather stick to the same FPS and MMORPG drivel that marks the current industry. Lucas Arts won many a loyal follower, and significant acclaim, for its adventure games. The list of these games is like reading a top ten list for this category. Even Loom was brilliant, though certainly not destined to be an enduring classic. Whoever has decided this gaming genre is dead hasn't been listening to the fans. I can't even count the number of times that RPGs have been declared dead, only to be revived by one game that introduces a whole new generation to their ranks. In fact, Everquest, by far one of the most successful games today - and for the past 3 or so years, is at its core an RPG (hence the "RPG" in "MMORPG"), simply updated and improved with newer technology.

    Adventure games have not lost their place in the world. It only takes one company with vision and talent to restore them to the stage - to lead the charge the same way that Command and Conquer started the massive success of RTS games (even though the previous Dune title all but flopped). Your die hard fans had hoped that LucasArts would demonstrate its brilliance and step up to the plate, but apparently mining the Star Wars franchise is all that we can expect from you. Though I am truly disappointed in this step away from leadership and innovation your company has taken, I still hold hope that when the Star Wars franchise has been adequately milked, your management will once again allow the creative talent of your developers to shine, and light the way - no, LEAD the way - into a new golden age of story driven gaming.

    Sure, it's harder to create a market, but the created market is also less crowded with competition. And, just by looking at the reaction to this announcement, I have a feeling that you will be receiving a large number of emails expressing disappointment. It is unlikely that you will "un-cancel" a game, even if it can be conclusively demonstrated that the cancellation was a patently bad idea, but I should hope that in a few years, when Lucas Arts is again looking to explore something outside the Star Wars franchise, that Sam & Max will be reconsidered, and the massively under-represented adventure gaming genre can again be catapulted to the glory it deserves. If you still fail to see the importance of this market, there are numerous studies that show that more and more women are starting to play computer games, and so many of the genres that may have fallen from favor can certainly enjoy a new life fueled by this whole new market segment. And since the Adventure genre will stand on its own, just from the older players that still yearn for new and GOOD games of this type, it seems to me that it would be a low risk platform for capturing the female audience.

    Thank you for your time in listening to my complaint, and I hope that it inspires you to re-evaluate the direction Lucas Arts has taken regarding this genre.
  • Re:I disagree. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Babbster ( 107076 ) <aaronbabb@gmaiSL ... com minus distro> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:43PM (#8457130) Homepage
    There's some truth to what you say, but it's also true that there should be a place for development of niche-type games. A company like Lucasarts that all but mints money by milking their core (Star Wars) franchise SHOULD be expected to "give something back" by taking a chance on the development of something like Sam & Max, somewhat like big movie studios that make low-budget "art house" films on the off chance one could be a hit or at least recoup costs.
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:17PM (#8457544) Homepage Journal

    LucasArts also recently cancelled Full Throttle 2 [gamespot.com]. (Although good luck confirming it through official channels thanks to an incompetant web site at LucasArts [highprogrammer.com].)

    LucasArts has consistently shipped some of the best adventure games ever. The worst adventure games from LucasArts are still fun. They sell at least tolerably well. The most recent Monkey Island game did, I understand, quite well when ported to the PS2, even though it had been available on PC for a year or two at that point. Full Throttle [lucasarts.com] and Sam & Max Hit the Road [mobygames.com] are two of the most creative adventure games ever; I know I wasn't the only person eagerly anticipating the sequels. (Sequels suck in general, yes, but LucasArts has proven that it's possible to buck the trend by releasing 4 great Monkey Island [lucasarts.com] games.) Adventure gamers have gone from being able to look forward to two great games to zero. Feh. At least we can look forward to Dreamfall [funcom.com] and Syberia 2 [syberia2.info].

  • Re:I disagree. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Babbster ( 107076 ) <aaronbabb@gmaiSL ... com minus distro> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:20AM (#8461310) Homepage
    Certainly there's no legal mandate to do what I describe, but I consider it to be an ethical issue. Unfortunately, most have come to the conclusion that a free market means a market without a conscience, so every business judgement comes down to ONLY the bottom line, as you describe and screw doing anything nice for anyone.

    In any case, you're right. "Expected" was the wrong word. "It would be DECENT of Lucasarts to 'give something back'" is probably a better way to put it. Of course, it would also be DECENT of Lucasfilm to avoid sullying a classic franchise with lousy movies, but that's probably not going to happen either.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.