When I got the news on Twitter, I was devastated. I learned that one of my childhood friends was gone. I canít say I didnít know they werenít doing well, but I always held out hope that they would get better and their glory days would return. Unfortunately, someone came along and pulled the plug. They were just gone one day. No last hurrah, no blaze of glory, just a quick article about their death. I canít help but look back at the good times we had and how you were my only friend at one point in my life. You will be missed, Lucasarts.
Itís hard to admit that when I was little I didnít pick up many social graces. I had just moved to Washington State after leaving my lifelong home in California to pursue my fatherís new job and I was constantly switching schools. I had lived a pretty sheltered life and it did me no favors as my awkwardness and shyness lead to constant bullying in any school Iíd drop into. For the first couple of years I didnít have a friend to my name as my parents continued switching me from school to school hoping something would stick. During that time I took a liking to computers and I had tried a few games, but nothing really stuck until my parents bought me a copy of Sam & Max Hit The Road
. This game was different from the usual shareware fare my loving mother would give me. These characters were talking directly to me and they didnít mind that I tagged along in their adventures. At the time, they were the only friends I had.
Sure Sam and Max may not have been the most ideal friends for a seven year old, what with their fascination with wanton violence and collecting of dismembered hands
, but it was all I had. The time I got to spend with the pair of freelance police officers made my constant school hopping and run-ins with bullies just bearable enough to get to the next day. I must have spent over a year completing that game, getting stuck at certain points and trying to find ďcluesĒ in the scenery. I was convinced that the smudges on the wall outside of Sam and Maxís office was a vital clue that would blow the bigfoot case wide open
! Eventually though, I actually did wrap up the case and finished the game. I remember being genuinely saddened that my adventure with my two friends had finally come to an end. It wasnít easy saying goodbye to Sam and Max, but I was comforted in the idea that maybe there were more games like this; games that would invite me into their world full of people with a joke to tell. I decided the best place to start was with these Lucasarts guys from the Sam and Max box.
It was through this search I discovered the other great games of the Lucasarts library. First I got Day of the Tentacle and teamed up with Bernard, Laverne, and Hoagie to stop a rogue tentacle from world domination. After I thwarted the evil purple tentacles plans, I jumped into Monkey Island and helped my buddy Guybrush Threepwood fulfill his dream of finally becoming a pirate. I would then use all the skills and sword fighting insults I learned on MÍlťe Island to stop LeChuck from achieving his revenge. All of these wonderful games and their incredible worlds drew me in and made me feel like I was apart of them. What had started out as stumbling onto a game about a dog and rabbity thing solving crimes became something more. These characters, Guybrush, Bernard, Governor Marley, Sam, Max; we were all a family. They were all characters I could turn to when I needed a place to go and have a laugh. It didnít matter if it was just raining outside or if I had faked sick again to get away from the bullies at my school, they were always waiting with a line of dialogue I had never heard before or a joke right when I needed it.
Eventually things started to settle down as my family finally found a house and a permanent school for me to go to. The bullies there were just as bad, but I was also able to find my first two real friends. We had bonded together because we were the kids who were picked on the most and would retreat to each others houses to find solace from the harsh treatment from our peers. One guy had brothers who weíd play football with. One guy had an Amiga and an imagination that wouldnít quit. Me, I had Lucasarts. The first time I shared The Secret of Monkey Island
with them was like introducing my new friends to my old ones.
Lucasarts would continue to be a fixture in my life when my friends and I discovered Star Wars. My experience with Star Wars: TIE Fighter
would make me fall in love with the space sim genre and finally allowed me to see the universe from the point of view of the Empire.Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
would be a constant contender for attention when Iíd play N64 with my friends. We managed to turn what was a single player game into a party experience, laughing as weíd lead stormtroopers right into the claws of a rampaging Wampa and racing each other to see who could bring the AT-ATs down the fastest. Later on, Star Wars: Battlefront II
would dominate our gaming nights as we would dogfight in our X-Wings and TIE Fighters in epic clashes over the moons of Yavin. Though these games didnít bring me into them the way that the old adventure games did, they were still creating the worlds that enthralled me and let me and my friends create the memories we still have today. Lucasarts had now taken a step back and began telling us all the old war stories, allowing us to put ourselves right into the middle of the action.
Now Iím in my mid-twenties and I have a close circle of friends, but I was worried about my old friend Lucasarts. It had been a rough few years with a constant stream of mediocre titles that opted to recap the Star Wars films in lego form and having Han Solo dance for your Kinectís delight. Lucasarts was more than happy to tell all the old war stories again, but in itís old age the stories had started to get confused and, at times, nonsensical. Lucasarts would introduce people like Starkiller into his stories like they were there the whole time, tossing around TIE Fighters and bringing down Star Destroyers with the power of the force. Darth Vader could do all this too, but chose not to when Luke was going down the Death Star trench, I guess. The rambling stories were bad enough, but the worst part was how much Lucasarts seemed to hate me interacting with the stories the way I used to.
Everything became about the spectacle and moral choices at the cost of the characters I had grown so close to in my youth. It wasnít the Lucasarts I had known, but I still loved it anyway. The writing was on the wall when Disney bought Lucasarts for an absurd amount of money, but I didnít want to believe it until the plug was officially pulled. Just like that, one of my oldest friends was gone.
Iíll be the first to admit that I felt a little empty inside the day I heard the news. All of the old family was still around for the most part, having primarily taken residence with Telltale Games, but Lucasarts represented more than simple games. For a year of my life, they were the only friends I had. They were always there for me when I needed them. The jokes they told me helped me developed the humor I would use to get the friends I have now. In a way, they taught me how
to make friends. After teaching me that, they selflessly stepped aside and made game worlds designed for me and my friends to create our own memories in. Iíll never forget what Lucasarts did for me.
In the adventure game of my life, there is an inventory slot that can never be filled again. Rest in peace, old friend.