LucasArts Run by "Psychopaths"

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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LucasArts Run by "Psychopaths"



After key people left, the executives killed all game development.

Back in the heyday of the 1990s, LucasArts was one of the good guys. Titles like X-Wing, Jedi Knight and Monkey Island were pillars of PC gaming, but then something happened. Star Wars Battlefront, an FPS with third person elements released in 2004, was an extremely successful game for LucasArts and the 2005 sequel performed equally well. But after Jim Ward left the company, the plans for a technically ambitious Battlefront 3 from the British studio Free Radical went sour. Free Radical bosses David Doak and Steve Ellis say every effort was made to sabotage development by the people running LucasArts in 2008.

"We went from talking to people who were passionate about making games to talking to psychopaths who insisted on having an unpleasant lawyer in the room," said Doak.

"For a long time we talked of LucasArts as the best relationship we'd ever had with a publisher," said Ellis. "Then in 2008 that disappeared, they were all either fired or left. Then there was a new guy called Darrell Rodriguez, who had been brought in to do a job and it was more to do with cost control than making any games. And the games that we were making for them were costly."

The plans for Battlefront 3 were radical, pardon the pun, and the development cost a lot of money. Somewhere along the line, LucasArts decided they couldn't afford to make the game former studio head Jim Ward wanted to make. But they couldn't just cancel the game because of the contract in place, so instead they just tortured Doak and Free Radical until their spirits broke.

From Free Radical's point of view, the studio was delivering milestones for Battlefront 3 on time, but LucasArts quibbled over the game assets being actually ready. "If a publisher wants to find something that is wrong with a milestone, it's very easy for them to do so as there are so many grey areas within a deliverable. If the contract says, 'Graphics for level X to be release quality,' who can say what's release quality?" asked a Free Radical employee.

In this way, LucasArts refused to pay Free Radical for more than six months, until the developer ran out of money. That ended up being a very successful tactic because Doak couldn't afford a long legal battle. "If we wanted to fight about it, they were quite happy to fight about it, but it would be on their terms, on their turf, and we would lose not because we were wrong, but because... well, we wouldn't be able to ante up.

"In many ways it was a depressing farce talking to them," said Doak. "They had an agenda motivated by purely financial considerations. Their goal was to stop doing it. And it didn't matter that we had a contract that protected us."

Finally, after many deals including the GoldenEye remake fell through, Free Radical went into administration, laid off 140 people and was eventually purchased by Crytek.

It just goes to show that publishers can engage in some very tricky tactics when tens of millions of dollars are on the line. It's not about the games or the developers, then, just the bottom line.

Source: Eurogamer [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-05-04-free-radical-vs-the-monsters]

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Bolt-206

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Dec 6, 2010
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I suddenly Despise LucasArts as much as EA...

They couldn't have even the smallest amount of faith that Battlefront 3 would more than make up for it's costs? 'cause it would have.
 

Fappy

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Is this really how it went down? Seriously, fuck LucasArts. I can't say that loud enough.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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So... Lucasarts played a big hand in the demise of the developers of Timesplitters? And the death of Battlefront 3?

All my hate... they get all my fucking hate.

Activision and EA to a lesser extent as well. Mainly because it's just par for the goddamn course with them.
 

V da Mighty Taco

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Wow, just wow. Battlefront 3 was game I anticipated for ages but lost hope a few years ago due to all the development hell going on. Now I'm hearing that LucasArts deliberately put it into development hell because they didn't want they game to get finished. I honestly hope this shit isn't true, but after seeing the likes of EA and Activision... *le sigh* and to think that I still have Battlefront 2 and have been thinking about picking up the original sometime. <:(

EDIT:
Bolt-206 said:
I suddenly Despise LucasArts as much as EA...

They couldn't have even the smallest amount of faith that Battlefront 3 would more than make up for it's costs? 'cause it would have.
Basically what this guy said. Though I still try to live up to my policy of "never hate" and am one of those bronies who actually believes in the whole "love and tolerance" motto (before I even got into MLP *hipster shades*), shit like this does push me a bit.

This does explain though why LucasArts stopped being even remotely relevant years ago, so I guess there's a small silver lining in this after all. I'm still very upset buy this, however.
 

Dahaka27

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Apr 20, 2009
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If this is how it really went dowm, that just downright scummy on Lucasarts part, legal technicalities and loopholes being expolited like this should carry the death penalty or something.
 

matrix3509

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Please people, don't act surprised at this. We've already been told that this is how publishers act on a regular basis by Brian Fargo. There is only one way to fight this bullshit. You know which way I'm talking about.
 

Greg Tito

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Destroyed a games company to save money. Well, aren't you just the smelliest turd in the pile, LucasArts.
 

Kae

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Lose 1d20 sanity points.
Well that's another Free Radical game I'll never get to play, how sad, specially considering how awesome it looked and how much I liked the Pandemic Battlefronts, but I guess it's not really that surprising.
 

Greg Tito

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Sep 29, 2005
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Greg Tito said:
Then there was a new guy called Darrell Rodriguez, who had been brought in to do a job and it was more to do with cost control than making any games. And the games that we were making for them were costly."
I'm going to have to take issue with that...
Jim Ward was decisively involved in cancelling Full Throttle: Payback/Hell on Wheels and Sam&Max: Freelance Police.

In his very short months with LucasArts, Rodriguez actually made a deal with TellTale Games to make the Monkey Island Episodes and he also greenlighted the Money Island 1+2: Special Editions and brought Loom, The Dig and Indiana Jones to Steam (he also greenlighted Lucidity - hey you can't get all of them right :p). In fact he brought a lot of the LucasArts Lineup to Steam during that time (April 2008 - May 2010): http://store.steampowered.com/search/?sort_by=Released&sort_order=ASC&term=lucasarts
Don't you DARE badmouth him...

After he was replaced all was lost though...
http://kotaku.com/5533053/lucasarts-president-executives-out-as-publisher-shakes-up-top-brass
 

Hollyday

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How sad that a company that I used to admire so much is now just as shitty as the rest of them. To essentially destroy a studio - people's jobs, something people had put time, energy and their souls into... there are no words for how despicable this is.

matrix3509 said:
Please people, don't act surprised at this. We've already been told that this is how publishers act on a regular basis by Brian Fargo. There is only one way to fight this bullshit. You know which way I'm talking about.
I can't help but be surprised. If I got to the stage where I expected this I'd never be able to buy another game again.
 

GeorgW

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Aug 27, 2010
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Fuck you LucasArts. Just fuck you!
Battlefront 3 would have sold at least 10 million copies, I can guarantee it! With its loyal fanbase, the growing market and the FPS boom going on right now, it would have made its money back no matter how expensive the development was, even if it was only a mediocre game.
There are not many publishers I like, but this has placed LucasArts as the definitive winner of the title as the shittiest publisher ever.
 

lancar

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I had been hearing bad things about lucasarts for quite some time now, but i guess it wasnt just a case of a publisher going stale and unimaginative. They were actually actively tormenting people due to them not wanting to keep their own word.

There is a term for these kind of people:

Scum
 

Ldude893

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[HEADING=2]YOU MANIACS. YOU BLEW IT UP.[/HEADING]

[HEADING=2]DAMN YOU, LUCASARTS. DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL.[/HEADING]
 

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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Hah, nice article, you should read it before putting it all on LucasArts.

Meanwhile, Second Sight had finally entered full production. The project had changed hands from Eidos to Activision, and Free Radical were about to taste business Bobby Kotick style. "We got some way through it with Activision," says Ellis. "Then they had a day in November 2003 where they made big changes. They decided they didn't like UK development anymore, they didn't like external development anymore, and they didn't like developer-owned IP anymore. Bad for us, because we ticked every box! On that day I think they canned ten projects and in the process put some companies out of business."

"It was a troubled development," says Doak. "Because that's when we found out how Activision worked. Bobby Kotick really loves developers! He wouldn't even speak to us, and we never spoke to him. He's quite happy to have some people put us out of business, but only does calls with investors. That was like the night of the long knives. We stood up to Activision, we had good legal counsel and they told us the right things to say. It looked like it was going to put us under for a bit, but didn't."
Classic Activision xD

Free Radical's other project at this time was the last TimeSplitters game, Future Perfect. After TimeSplitters 2 EA had come sniffing around, and Free Radical was ready to listen. "EA Partners was this part of EA that was involved with third-party things," says Doak. "It was a bit like being groomed, you know. Here's all these friendly avuncular people that will give you all the love and attention you need to get your game out, and then after a while they go away and all the bad guys come around and it's like you're in borstal. Getting held down, beaten around the head with a cue ball in a sock."

"In retrospect, what happened after TimeSplitters 2 was that EA saw the Metacritic and came to us," says Ellis. "I don't actually think they'd looked at the game very much." The publisher demanded Future Perfect have a strong lead character in order that it appeal to the US market. "EA turned up with this stuff that was supposed to help us," says Doak. "And it was just big boards with pictures of Vin Diesel on them. Wesley Snipes was on one in his Blade outfit." Future Perfect ended up with Cortez, a cowardly and dumb marine whose catchphrase falls flat every time: "It's time to split!"

Future Perfect had the longest development of any TimeSplitters game, and there was a sting in the tail. "We had quite a frank conversation with EA," says Ellis. "Where they told us they weren't going to bother trying to market it very much. Because at the time they had their GoldenEye game [GoldenEye: Rogue Agent], and they said that for every dollar they spent on marketing that game they would get more dollars back. It didn't match up with their original promises."

"Throughout the development of Future Perfect we had EA people all the time coming to us saying 'yeah your game's alright, but not as good as this GoldenEye we're making.'" says Doak. "Continuously! 'Yeah I saw GoldenEye, it's awesome, you Brits had better raise your game!' And we asked to see it. 'No, no, you can't see it'. We killed ourselves getting Future Perfect done, only to find that they had made a total balls of GoldenEye to the extent they had to throw more money at it to market it, the money that they might have spent on Future Perfect. I mean, it's like fiction that it's a GoldenEye game, isn't it? I don't think the irony of what they were doing ever occurred to EA."

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent came out late in 2004 to a muted response, receiving a flat 60 on Metacritic. Future Perfect was released in March 2005, and while it received a warmer reception EA didn't push it, and it didn't achieve better sales than the series had under Eidos. "The problem is they never really got it," says Ellis. "That summarises it. And because they never really got it they tried to change it into something that they did get."
Classic EA xD
 

Formica Archonis

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Nov 13, 2009
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Wow, another notch in the Lucas franchise murder gun.

You know, in light of that video recently released to the people who donated to Double Fine Adventure, this seems slightly less surprising. Still shocking, but "in character". (To over-summarize, Tim Schafer doesn't think the Lucas empire has a very high opinion of video games or the people who make them.)
 

T'Generalissimo

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I'm not sure you can necessarily take things like this enitrely as presented, we are very much being given one perspective here, and this could potentially be a situation where incompetence is being mistaken for malice. That said, this is a story that screams "If you want to be a game developer, go indie!"
 

Sneezeguard

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Oct 13, 2010
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why? WWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYY?????????

It could of been strong enough to of been as successful as CoD.

It was the greatest 3rd person shooter ever made and still is.

Did Battlefront 2 not sell well enough?

Did you think despite the major successes of the first two games it wasn't going to make enough money to cover the development of the third???

Do you want me throw money at you? I will!