An insight into the formation of LucasFilm Games (now LucasArts)

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by jp-30, Aug 4, 2004.

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  1. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    This is fascinating stuff;

    LucasArts forbidden from making Star Wars games...

    ...well, LucasFilm Games, really. And we're talking 20-25 years ago.

    A post on slashdot has revealed some articles by Chip Morningstar about the early LucasFilm Games' MMORPG predecessor 'Habitat' and better yet, this detailed report about the establishment of, and mindset within LucasFilm Games.

    ...Because of the phenomenal success of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Lucasfilm existed in a weird kind of bubble that made it very different from other companies, especially companies in the computer games industry. Most of this weirdness had to do with money, or expectations about money. The basic attitude can be summed up as, "we are Lucasfilm, people will pay us."....

    ...This frame of mind colored everything. It lead to a couple of fundamental constraints that rather tightly restricted what we could do. The first rule was that we were not to do anything that required spending the company's own money. We could do pretty much whatever we wanted, but we had to get somebody else to pay for it, arguments about ROI not withstanding. The second constraint was that although we had a fairly high level of creative freedom, we were absolutely forbidden from doing anything that made use of the company's film properties, especially Star Wars. That was viewed as just like spending money, since these properties were, in effect, money in the bank. If somebody else wanted to make a Star Wars game, they had to pay a hefty license fee, and so we made money no matter how well or how poorly their game did, whereas if we made such a game ourselves we would be taking all the risk if it bombed (and never mind that we'd also get 100% of the upside if the game was a hit).




    Madness. Sheer madness. Sheer madness that worked.

    Links;

    http://www.mixnmojo.com/
    http://games.slashdot.org/games/04/...6.shtml?tid=209
    http://www.fudco.com/chip/lessons.html
    http://www.fudco.com/habitat/archives/000021.html
  2. Jon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2004
    star 2
    (fixing jps slashdot link: http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/08/03/0718236&tid=209 )

    I've printed the majority out, looks an interesting read. I've never heard of Habitat Chronicles, but if this mentality caused them to think up DotT and the like, it's ok with me!
  3. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    Ahh, thanks for that! That'll teach me to cut and paste from another forum I post at with URL shortening enabled.

    "Habitat" was the first MMORPG, run on commodore 64's, and partnered with what later became AOL.
  4. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5


    I'd be curious what prompted the eventual change in thinking.
  5. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    Probably the fact that 3rd party companies were making $$$ from Lucas's intellectual property.

    When it was obvious LucasArts could make wildly popular SW games that were ulikely to be sales flops, I guess the 'risk' was outweighed by the income they would generate.
  6. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5


    Makes sense, one thing you have to say about Lucas, he's no dummy as a businessman.
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