LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC (short LucasArts) is a company for video game development and publishing founded by George Lucas in May 1982 as the Game Division of LucasFilm (LucasFilm Games). With its memorable games, LucasFilm Games became one of the most important pioneers in the range of adventure games up to the 1990s. Today its success is focussed on publishing Star Wars games.
In 1982 George Lucas contracted a development partnership with Atari. The first games, Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus!, were illegally spread on pirate bulletin boards months before their official release for the Atari 5200 in 1984. Home computer versions published by Epyx followed in 1985. Koroni’s Rift and The Eidolon were further results of the collaboration with Atari and Epyx, until Lucasfilm Games started publishing by itself in 1987. The first movie-realization developed by Lucasfilm Games was the action-adventure game Labyrinth, based on Jim Henson's movie, which was produced by George Lucas. The developers already used some sort of sub-form of the SCUMM-engine here.
In the course of a reorganization of the George Lucas' spin-off companies in 1990, Lucasfilm Games, Industrial Ligt & Magic and Skywalker Sound were united under the newly created LucasArts Entertainment Company, from which later Lucas Digital Ltd. (ILM and Skywalker Sound) was split and LucasArts was from then on the official name of the former Games Division.
X-Wing (1993) was the first in-house production using the Star Wars license, leading a whole serial of Star Wars games, which would later become the basic formula for success within the company. Holding onto this concept for years shaped up to a nearly flop in the new Millenium, when LucasArts was criticized for producing Star Wars games in bulk at the cost of quality. Reinforcing their focus on quality to revive the profitable Star Wars franchise paid off for the company, as the fruitful release of Knights of the Old Republic (2003) did prove.
In 1985 Ron Gilbert joined the team of developers. He created the concept for Maniac Mansion together with Gary Winnick and programmed a special graphics-engine for it: Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, short SCUMM. The SCUMM-engine opened up a new era of gaming experience by enabling the players to control the game without longsome text-inputs for the first time. The users could from now on just click on the playscreen to get a direct reaction from the character - point-and-click was born. Another feature of the game were the multiple possible endings, depending on which character the player used. Maniac Mansion was one of the first games not only developed, but also published by Lucasfilm Games in 1987.
The invention of the SCUMM system did not only prepare the ground for the future Lucasfilm Games adventure games, which should gain cult status, it was also the basement to a new era of game development.
Following the line of Maniac Mansion's success, LucasArts released a pack of adventure games in the following years, such as Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (1989) and especially the popular The Secret of Monkey Island (1990). Besides Sierra, Lucasfilm Games could vaunt to be one of the leading developers in the field, publishing adventure games, that have been unforgotten until today. In the first half of the 1990s, LucasArts peaked out with the release of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (1991), Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992) and the Day of the Tentacle (1993) (a Maniac Mansion sequel). But the PC market alterred: two-dimensional graphics were no longer popular, high quality graphics cards applied a new standard for developing. The last game to keep the tradition of two-dimensional graphics and point-and-click interface was The Curse of Monkey Island (1997). One year later, LucasArts released its first game with 3D graphics: Grim Fandango (1998). The final adventure game in the classic LucasArts style released was Escape from Monkey Island (2000), a 3D game using the Fandango engine. Due to market turnover, plans were scrapped for sequels to both Full Throttle and Sam & Max. An unrelated episodic Sam & Max sequel was eventually developed by Telltale Games.
In attempt to continue the success LucasArts made with their first home-developed Star Wars space combat simulator X-Wing (1993), the company launched a whole X-Wing trilogy (1994: TIE Fighter, 1997: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, 1999: X-Wing Alliance) and a big number of other Star Wars-based games like first person shooters (1995 Star Wars: Dark Forces with its Jedi Knight sequels), arcade video games (1993: Rebel Assault, one of the first CD-Rom-only games), strategy games (1993: Rebellion) and others within the following years.
Over the years, LucasArts had to take stick about the mass-production of Star Wars games, especially criticized for the growing lack of quality. In 2002 they announced to release at least 50% non-Star Wars-related games. However, those were not selling too well, so that LucasArts is today again developing mainly Star Wars games, but managed to revive the Star Wars franchise with the release of the role-playing game Knights of the Old Republic in 2003.
In the same year LucasArts captured a new market by launching the MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies. Again their new idea was very well received, and so the company released a number of expansions. Although Star Wars Galaxies is very popular all in all, some redesigns didn't match the players taste and there is also a number of problems that haven't been fixed yet.
The success in the year 2003 encouraged LucasArts to keep developing Star Wars games. More effectual releases followed, such as Star Wars: Battlefront (2004) and its sequel Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005), Revenge of the Sith (2005), Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005), the popular Lego Star Wars in 2006 and its sequels and finally Star Wars: The Force Unleashed in 2008.
Chronology of Releases
|1984||Rescue on Fractalus|
|1988||Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders|
|1988||Life Story: The Race of the Double Helix|
|1989||Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade|
|1989||Their Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain|
|1990||The Secret of Monkey Island|
|1991||Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe|
|1991||Monkey Island 2: LeChucks Revenge|
|1992||Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis|
|1992||The Empire Strikes Back|
|1992||Defender of Dynatron City|
|1992||Super Star Wars|
|1993||Star Wars: X-Wing|
|1993||Day of the Tentacle|
|1994||Sam & Max Hit the Road|
|1994||Star Wars: TIE Fighter|
|1996||Rebel Assault 2|
|1997||X-Wing vs. Tie-Fighter|
|1997||Shadows Of The Empire|
|1997||Monkey Island: The Curse of Monkey Island|
|1998||Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith|
|1999||Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine|
|1999||Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance|
|1999||Star Wars: Rogue Squadron|
|1999||Star Wars: Pod Racer|
|2000||Monkey Island: Escape from Monkey Island|
|2002||Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast|
|2003||Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb|
|2003||Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy|
|2003||Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic|
|2004||Star Wars: Battlefront|
|2004||Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 – the Sith Lords|
|2005||Star Wars: Republic Commando|
|2005||Lego Star Wars: The Video Game|
|2006||Star Wars: Empire at War|
|2006||Star Wars: Empire at War - Forces of Corruption|
|2006||LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy|
|2007||Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron|
|2007||Thrillville: Off The Rails|
|2007||LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga|
|2008||Star Wars: The Force Unleashed|
|2008||Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures|
--Zahya 12:39, 15 December 2008 (UTC)