Warp Drive

Showing posts with label LucasArts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LucasArts. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Year of the Adventure Game

Something miraculous happened last year. Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions asked for $400,000 on crowd funding site, Kickstarter, to make an old school point and click adventure game, and the world gave him $3.3 million. In doing so, he and his company bypassed the usual publisher route needed to secure funding for a game, and maintained full creative control of their project. People just about everywhere took notice. Among them, a number of past and present game developers from such origins as Access Software, LucasArts, Revolution Software and Sierra On-Line. They all wanted a chance to take another stab at the adventure game genre, which until then, had been regarded by publishers as a genre that did not typically generate a significant amount of revenue. Translation: It did not make as much money as Call of Duty. Could lightning possibly strike twice? Not only did it strike twice. It struck again and again and again. It was a bit like the end of It's a Wonderful Life, with an angry CEO at Activision, Electronic Arts or some other such place playing the part of Mr. Potter. And as a teacher once said, every time a bell rings, an adventure game developer gets his paycheck.

With that said, Happy New Year! This year is going to be very special because all those adventure games that we Kickstarted last year are going to be released this year. To celebrate, I decided to put together a list of adventure games being released in 2013, including a few that were funded beyond Kickstarter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Treasure of the Sierra On-Line (SQ)

Inspired by Al Lowe and Jane Jensen's recent Kickstarters, I have decided to write a blog about Sierra On-Line memories. Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe have also returned!

Today, we venture into the hallowed halls of Sierra On-Line, or should I say, the hollowed halls of Sierra On-Line. Sierra has existed in name only for more than a decade. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, they were arguably the greatest developer of PC adventure games under the sun. Notice, if you will, how I said arguably. These days, fans of the adventure game genre usually stand behind the assertion that LucasArts was better, and there are some very good reasons for that. For one thing, LucasArts' adventure games were typically a lot less buggy. For another, LucasArts did not punish you for dying. In fact, most of their games lacked death altogether. Personally, I still love both companies' games equally, and yes, I know that I will get a lot of flack for saying that.

I believe that Sierra On-Line has just as much merit in gaming history as LucasArts. Sure, their games may have generally been buggier, and they may have punished you for not picking up key items, but in my book, that does not make them a sacrificial lamb (bonus points if you get the game reference). For me, it was all about the beautiful worlds that Sierra crafted, and the stories that they told within them. Oh, and let us not forget about the amazing musical scores. I still get them stuck in my head to this very day! Sure, they made a few mistakes along the way, but you have to remember that computer games were still a very new thing when Sierra first came onto the scene in the early 1980s. LucasArts came later, and that allowed them to have a less rocky start with a more refined system in place.

Sierra Logo

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Double Fine Adventure

Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert want to make a modern classic-style point & click adventure game. If you are not familiar with Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, beat yourself over the head with a monkey wrench, and then continue reading.

Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert go way back. Ron Gilbert may not have invented the adventure game genre, but he revolutionized it with LucasArts' 1987 cult classic, Maniac Mansion. A game that dropped the archaic command line interface found in earlier games for a much improved verb-based point & click interface. Maniac Mansion was unique in that you could choose two additional characters to accompany the main character from a group of six. Each character had his or her own set of skills, and because of this diversity, the game also contained several different outcomes. Ron Gilbert would go on to develop The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, and if you have not played either of those games, you should do yourself a favor and locate them on iOS, PlayStation Network, Steam, or Xbox Live.

Maniac Mansion Longplay

Tim Schafer is best known for Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, and most recently, Brütal Legend. Games that were all a stroke of creative genius in their own right. Definitely worth checking out. As of this writing, only Psychonauts is readily available via digital distribution channels, but you can probably still find boxed copies of Full Throttle and Grim Fandango on eBay or Amazon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to the Comic-Con (Part 3 & 4)

Part 3: Focusing on the Positive

My first assignment for Comic-Con 2010 was given to me via Twitter the night before I left. LucasArts would be giving away free Monkey Island Voodoo Dolls to those that asked for fine leather jackets. As soon as I had acquired my badge, I rushed over to the LucasArts booth, where I found Chris Cook holding a box full of the little guys. I gave him the secret password, and just like that, one of them made their way into my possession. It was just like magic... I mean, voodoo.

Signed Stuff #1: Monkey Island Voodoo Doll (By Dave Grossman)

My next stop would bring me to the Telltale Games booth. Once there, I learned that Graham Annable would be signing books from 11 AM to 12 PM. I had been told that he would be there, so I packed my copy of The Book of Grickle in advance. Graham was happy to sign it, and we even had a brief discussion about his gaming career. He worked on Sam & Max: Freelance Police before the time of its cancellation, and had an artistic hand in a few other LucasArts games, as well. Many fans may recall that he also worked at Telltale Games for awhile.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Top 11: Video Games

This is my attempt to list my 11 favorite video games (of all time!).

1. Chrono Trigger (SNES)
I first played Chrono Trigger in 2000; one year after the "Year of Lavos." Technically, I first played it on PC, since I used an emulator (Snes9x). Before I played Chrono Trigger, I was not much of an RPG fan. I had a few friends that were very much into RPGs, though. They strongly suggested that I play a few. I was blown away by the depth of Chrono Trigger. I still don't own a legitimate copy, but plan to when I pick up the DSi.

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
I first played "ALttP" in 1992. It was not the first Zelda game that I ever played, mind you. I played The Legend of Zelda (NES) a few years earlier, which was also a good game, but nowhere near as great as this one. Furthermore, I have not played a Zelda game since then that has matched it. Until I played Chrono Trigger, A Link to the Past was my favorite video game of all time.

3. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
I first played Super Mario Bros. 3 on Christmas Day 1990, as evidenced by these two YouTube videos. The addition of items, map screens, and warp whistles set it apart from Super Mario Bros. and Doki Doki Panic: Mario Edition...Okay, Super Mario Bros. 2U.

4. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles (GEN)
I first played Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in 1994. By itself, it was very much an underwhelming game, but when locked-on to Sonic & Knuckles, it transformed into something of beauty. Knuckles became a playable character, Super Emeralds could be collected (unlocking Hyper Sonic/Knuckles and Super Tails), and additional levels were available.

5. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)
I first played Super Mario RPG in 2000. It was around the same time as Chrono Trigger, and also via Snes9x. You can save the rotten tomatoes, though. I recently purchased the game on the Wii Virtual Console.

6. Sam & Max Hit the Road (PC)
I first played Sam & Max Hit the Road in 2004; a few days after the cancellation of Sam & Max Freelance Police. The outcry made me wonder just how good the original game was, so I decided to play it for myself. Of course, I was sad afterward.

7. Psychonauts (PC)
I first played Pi...Pyc...Psyco...Psychonauts in 2005. I am not afraid to admit that I couldn't spell Psychonauts until I bought the game. The game itself is mind blowing (literally). You can't expect anything less than awesome from Tim Schafer. Who knows, maybe Brütal Legend will make my list. That is, if a PC version is released.

8. Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers (PC)
I first played "SQ4" in 1996. I found it in a bargain bin at Price Club for five bucks, so I was not expecting much. It was better than I originally anticipated. Although, it did take several months to complete the Galaxy Galleria sequences due to timer issues. I still consider Space Quest IV my favorite in the series, seeing as it was the first one that I played. I later picked up Space Quest V and Space Quest VI individually, and the "prequel trilogy" (Space Quest I, Space Quest II, and Space Quest III) in the Roger Wilco Unclogged Collection.

9. GoldenEye 007 (N64)
I first played GoldenEye 007 in 1997. For me, it was the pinnacle of first person shooters. Perfect Dark would have made my list, but looking back, it was more of a retooling of what made GoldenEye 007 so good.

10. Star Fox 64 (N64)
I first played Star Fox 64 in 1997. I was never a very big fan of rail shooters, but this was one of the best. Of course, it does also contain a few free roaming stages.

11. Donkey Kong Country 2 - Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)
I first played Donkey Kong Country 2 in 1995. I actually played this one before Donkey Kong Country. "DKC2" was the high point of the series for me. It fizzled a bit with Donkey Kong Country 3, and became mediocre with Donkey Kong 64.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Comic-Con Adventures - Episode 2

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Peter Mayhew (the man that filled the role of Chewbacca in the Star Wars films)

One of the first places that we stopped by after leaving the Telltale Games booth was LucasArts. While there, we talked to a PR guy, who told us that LucasArts is looking into bringing back some of their back catalog of original game IPs. He didn't specify exactly which ones, but we did bring up the subject of Monkey Island to him. We suggested that they license the rights to Telltale Games. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to dislike this thought completely. He simply said that LucasArts "wouldn't be entirely opposed to the idea." Who knows, maybe something will develop there eventually.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

My Ordeal with LucasArts

Okay, so, I was missing a handful of LucasArts games (not counting that Star Wars rubbish). Among them were The Curse of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. These two particular games are important to my story, as they were the subject of numerous e-mails and phone calls to LucasArts over a period of one month.

On December 15th, I placed an order on LucasArts.com for The Curse of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. The latter game had off and on been removed from the online store (only the powers that be knew why). I did not have a credit card to my name, so I sent a money order. A week went by, but I did not hear anything. Another week went by, but I still did not hear anything.

So, at that point, I wrote an e-mail to LucasArts.com support. I got no response. Yet another week went by, but I STILL did not hear anything. I wrote another e-mail, but no response. I decided it was time to make a few phone calls. As it turns out, 1-800-STAR-WARS puts you on hold indefinitely. So, I was at a dead end. I sent one more e-mail. This time, I did get a response, and they said that they had never received my money order.

I proceeded to check with the bank, and to my surprise, the money order had been cashed on December 22nd. Was LucasArts lying to me? I wrote another e-mail, and this time provided all of my personal information. As you may have suspected, another week went by, and I did not hear anything. It was now the middle of January. Finally, I did hear back from someone who knew what was going on. My order had finally been shipped. The representative apologized for the delay, but boy, was that some delay.

I received my packages a few days later, and to my surprise, there were two copies of The Curse of Monkey Island and one copy of Grim Fandango. Okay, that is the end of my story. You can stop reading now (assuming that you even read this far). Really, I've got work to do now.