March 6, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless
Browsing big sister site Gamasutra's comments earlier, I came across a new comment on the (fairly recent) story 'LucasArts President Ward Steps Down', and it's worth reprinting here.
Of course, we have no way of proving whether this anonymous commenter is at LucasArts. But he certainly seems to have some interesting (if cynical) insight into the state of George Lucas' developer.
So - definitely to be taken with a pinch of salt, but some interesting insider perspectives on their upcoming games and ILM convergence, as follows:
"Whether Jim Ward resigned or was asked to leave is up in the air. However, one thing is clear and that is Mich (& company) was unhappy with his delaying of the Force Unleashed and Indiana Jones titles. They also didn't trust his numbers for increasing expected sales as a basis for delaying the game.
LucasArts has a motto and that is to release kickass games, on time, on budget. Of the three Jim chose chose to prioritize kickass games over "on time" and "on budget", for that he should be commended (most games that go on to become blockbusters were delayed to improve quality).
Additionally, LucasArts is a "young company" in the fact that it fired every engineer save four in 2004. So they've had to rebuild from scratch - including a substandard engine. This is where Jim comes in, rebuilding the company from the ground up.
Now the head of licensing (Howard Roffman) is now interim president for Lucas Arts and this could spell trouble for the LucasArts division. There are some that believe that more money can be made by licensing the SW and Indiana Jones IP to third party developers than through in-house development. Whether Mr. Roffman's taking over the reins of LucasArts represents such a shift will be only be revealed in time.
But one thing is for sure, Jim Ward was in a no win situation from the start, trying to meet unrealistic expectations - young team and some of the worst tools in the industry to work with. He chose kick ass games over selling out early on a game that was half done. It will be too bad that he will not be with LucasArts to reap the rewards of a job well done. The Force Unleashed will be a stellar success (aka won't suck) because of Jim Ward.
And their tool for convergence with ILM is a joke. Zeno is garbage for game design (everything is 4x to 10x more complicated because it's forced to be shared tech with ILM). Saying that it is one of the worst first party developement tools out there would be a fitting description.
This may be shocking to the outside but really this is widely accepted as fact by the engineers, designers, artists, producers and animators working at LucasArts. The fact that they they present this in SIGGRAPH as a standard for convergence is a laughable farce. As far as Zeno is concerned it's the model of how *not to do it*. It can be fixed but it won't because the people on the top really don't know how bad things are."
Hm, so... any former or current LucasArts folks want to weigh in on this, either anonymously or... not? From my point of view - it's clear that LucasArts' 'new gen' games are significantly delayed, but it also seems likely that Force Unleashed, at least, will be interesting.
(One of the unfortunate parts of the delay, though, is that games like Grand Theft Auto IV will be coming out first with the NaturalMotion Euphoria tech that LucasArts was trumpeting before GTA IV even announced it had the license. Doh.)