Today's a sad day for any old school graphic adventurer (such as myself) who grew up wandering every inch of Maniac Mansion looking for that damned can of gas, and then finally finding it on Mars while playing Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. For those of you who know what the hell I'm talking about, understand we're a dying breed of gamer, but I digress. The real story here is in the headline. Disney, less than five months after prying Lucasfilm from George Lucas' hands for $4.05 billion, has decided to close the LucasArts game studio. Go ahead and tip your grog glass over the pavement.
Some long time fans of Star Wars are afraid of what will become of their favorite franchise now that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion (to be fair, Disney's done a good job with Marvel assets, like The Avengers movie), but as an old school adventure gamer, I'm even more concerned with what fate awaits old friends like Guybrush Threepwood (The Secret of Monkey Island) and Bernard (Maniac Mansion). So is Ron Gilbert, the guy who created both games (along with Gary Winnick, who co-conceived Maniac Mansion).
We've all dreamed at one time or another of growing up to become a game designer. It used to sound so rad, up until we got a little older and discovered there's actual work involved, the kind of work that entails sitting in a dungeon hammering out code under the crack of the whip. Those fears were probably unfounded, and if you have the background for that sort of thing, LucasArts is looking to hire for three different unannounced gaming projects.
Star Wars Galaxies may have caused its fair share of anger – which led to hate, which led to suffering, which led to the dark side – but the galaxy spanning MMO was far from universally despised. Case in point: a contingent of Galaxies players who absolutely refuse to let their beloved virtual haunting ground meet its natural end. SOE, meanwhile, hasn't given an inch of ground, closing down a number of irate forum posts. That, however, may have given Galaxies devotees just the ammo they needed.
We'll always remember our days as a Twi'lek cantina dancer. Well, OK, “days” in a figurative sense. It was more like “minutes.” But they were, er, different – that's for sure. If nothing else, we'll always remember Star Galaxies for blazing its own trail. And hey, how many games let you try your hand at being a Space Chef? Sadly, that number will soon be a resounding “none.”
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy not too far from here, someone tried their hand at a massively multiplayer Star Wars game. Unfortunately, unless living the life of a tentacle-haired cantina dancer eternally stranded in a barren hell that just so happens to share some location names with Star Wars sounds right up your alley, the game was something of a disappointment. Taken on its own merits, yeah, it was all right. But it wasn’t Star Wars.
So, how do you convince gamers who’ve been burned once to abandon their lives as Night Elf Mohawks and take up lightsabers once again? Easy: you hire on BioWare, creators of what’s arguably the best Star Wars story since “Empire Strikes Back.” That, however, cracks open a whole new can of worms. Does a BioWare epic – let alone KOTORs 3-8 – have any place in an MMO? What about dialogue trees? MMOs are a fertile soil for social interaction, sure, but chatting up NPCs is another story entirely.
It’s with those questions and plenty more that we took Star Wars: The Old Republic for a test drive during E3. So, how’d it fare? Find out after the break!
You’ve waited and waited and waited, and you were prepared to wait even longer. Now, though, you can get an early hit of your next MMO addiction. Just head over to the official Star Wars: The Old Republic website, create an account, and – BOOM – you’ll… probably have to wait a bit longer, actually. But only a bit. And then maybe -- if the stars align in your favor – you’ll nab a spot in the game's testing phase.
Be quick about it, though. In case you hadn’t noticed, this game’s got everyone talking, and they’re mostly spouting one phrase: “I want to play this now.” LucasArts agrees with that assessment.
"Testing will be an ongoing process, and spots are limited, so people need to sign up early to give them the best possible chance of getting selected," wrote LucasArts.
So make like the Millennium Falcon and take a lightspeed leap over to the official sign-up page. Vominos!
“You heard about them Wookies, right? They say those giant furballs will tear your [socks] off and [tickle] you until you’re [not dead from having your arms ripped off].”
Like that? Well then, you -might- be happy to hear that LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment -might- be working on a Star Wars MMO for this generation's impressively impressionable younglings. Citing an "inside source," TenTonHammer revved up the rumor mill:
“While we have not yet learned the title of the upcoming game, it sounds like SOE is planning to use the browser-based Free Realms engine to power the game, and the game’s setting will be the Clone Wars,” the site reported.
Obviously, then, this game wouldn’t be attempting to undercut Star Wars: The Old Republic – or even Star Wars Galaxies, for that matter. Rather, it would serve as another portion of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ multimedia barrage.
That’s not to say that we entirely approve of this potential product, however. Maybe we’re old-fashioned, but we think the original trilogy’s the only way to go when kickstarting a child’s unhealthy obsession with Star Wars. Clone Wars, though? If we see any of that watered-down stuff in our house, you’re grounded like yesterday. And no more homework until you finish watching the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, got it?
Old school adventure gamers who own an Apple iPhone may soon have reason to raise up a mug of grog, and those who have never matched wits with LeChuck might be in for a treat. In a not-so-subtle Twitter update, LucasArts stopped just short of saying it would release The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition on the iPhone.
"For our Monkey fans - an iPhone sized wallpaper. No reason. Wink wink nod nod," LucasArts tweeted.
LucasArts plans to release the remastered adventure game for the PC and Xbox 360 on July 15th, just two days from now, and the Twitter message is being seen as a (strong) hint that the game will also find its way to the iPhone, though it's anyone's guess as to when that might be.
The remastered title will feature high definition graphics, original cast member voice-overs, renewed music score, a new interface, an in-game hint system, and the ability to switch between Special Edition and Classic Modes at any time during gameplay, LucasArts says.
With The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition on the way, LucasArts is finally reopening its vault of classic adventure titles. However, Monkey Island -– great as it is -- is only one game in a storied lineage. We begged, groveled, and whined for more than a decade. Is more than a single game so much to ask? Fortunately, LucasArts wants its old school A-team back just as much as we do, but this time, the publisher would prefer we make our demands known through ka-chings instead of boohoos and puuuuhhhleeeases.
"If [Monkey Island] sells," said LucasArts community manager Brooks Brown, "there's no one at this company who doesn't want to do these games. It's a matter of showing that there's interest and this market is alive and (sic) get people as excited as possible about Monkey Island Special Edition to show that these things can make it.”
Monkey Island: Special Edition is set to pick away the pixels and give good ol’ Guybrush a current-gen makeover. This means new graphics, orchestrated music, an updated interface, and full voice acting. Presumably, revamps of other games would include similar feature sets.
So, you know, make with the buying when Monkey Island: Special Edition comes out this summer. Otherwise, future generations will probably never fall in love with Grim Fandango or feel Day of the Tentacle’s gentle caress. And let’s be honest here; a world run by people who’ve never been touched by the Tentacle is doomed to fail.