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LucasArts

Overview

LucasArts was founded in May 1982 as Lucasfilm Games Group, the video game development group split off of Lucasfilm Computer Division( the computer special effects division of Lucasfilm Ltd.). The group was created by a joint agreement between Lucasfilm Ltd. and Atari; Atari paid US$1 million as seed money and, in return, got first right of refusal on publishing any game they developed. The first titles developed by Lucasfilm Games were Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus!, action games published in 1984 by Atari. At the time Lucasfilm Games were forbidden from developing Star Wars games because Lucasfilm Ltd. made more money licensing the franchise out to other game publishers.

The "first generation" of Lucasfilm Games employees were Peter Langston, David Fox, Charlie Kellner, Dave Levine, and Gary Winnick. Loren Carpenter, technically a member of Lucasfilm Computer Division, was "loaned" to Lucasfilm Games to program the fractal landscapes of Rescue on Fractalus!.

The release of Maniac Mansion (1987), an adventure game that introduced the SCUMM engine, was the starting point of the company's "Golden Age", during which it established itself as one of the leading adventure game developers. Secret of Monkey Island (1990) consolidated the company's adventure game design philosophy, including "death-free" gameplay, interaction with highlighted objects, and branching dialogue system. Later in the same year, a restructuring of Lucas' companies led to the video game division's name change to LucasArts.

Holding the licenses to the popular movie franchises Star Wars and Indiana Jones, LucasArts also developed games based on these movies. Their first Star Wars game was the space combat simulator X-Wing (1993). In 1995, LucasArts produced Star Wars: Dark Forces, which incorporated the Star Wars license with the nascent first-person shooter genre and started its own series.

The adventure legacy began to decline with the release of Grim Fandango in 1998. It received raving press reviews, but turned out to be the first game the company did not make a profit from. Escape from Monkey Island (2000) marked the end of the company's adventure era. From then on, almost all effort was diverted towards the Star Wars license. Most development was also outsourced, especially to the British development studio Traveller's Tales Ltd.

A large amount of staff was laid off in June 2008, although the company still has projects in development at its internal development studio.

Along with its parent company Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in October 2012. It was subsequently shut down on April 3rd 2013, cancelling all projects and laying off all staff.

Also Known As

  • LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC (from 1993 to Mar 30, 2003)
  • Lucasfilm Games LLC (from May, 1982 to 1993)
  • Games Group -- Original company name.


Trivia

Lucasfilm Games won the "Best Game Developer in 1989" award from the German gaming magazine Power Play (issue 01/1990).

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