There exists a faint whiff of legacy around LucasArts.
A year ago today, Disney closed the iconic studio, six months after they purchased it. With this closing they ended two anticipated Star Wars games, but something more came to a close. In recent memory, LucasArts was best known for handling the Star Wars franchise, pumping out games about Jedi knights and Sith lords. But this was not always the case. Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, LucasArts was the home of innovative game designers and writers like Ron Gilbert and Tim Shafer. It was the place where Monkey Island and Grim Fandango were first created. For fans of adventure games, LucasArts was the focal point for a Golden Age of adventure games.
When it closed, LucasArts seemed to have given up entirely on “legacy” titles, moving towards shilling out disappointing Star Wars games instead. With a market seemingly uninterested in adventure games, there was no reason to continue making them, and the best fans could hope for was remastered versions of the classics. In the last couple of years, adventure games have achieved a revival of sorts with companies like Double Fine (headed by LucasArts alum Tim Shafer) and Telltale Games (made up of former LucasArts employees) reinvigorating audiences with the wealth of point and click adventures. Adventure games have rebounded in a way that didn’t seem possible five years ago, and with surely more success than LucasArts expected when they shut down development of non-Star Wars titles.
The closing of any studio is sad, but this one is marked by a trace of what if? What if LucasArts hadn’t stopped making adventure games? What if they had continued working on the sequels of Sam and Max as well as Full Throttle? Where would adventure games be now if they had continued on with beloved franchises? What new IPs would have been made under the umbrella of LucasArts? There’s little fruit to be gained from such speculation, and the creation of Telltale and Double Fine shows us just what adventure games can be if handled with care.
Here’s to you LucasArts, may your legacy live on.