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Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III

A lengthy feature on Eurogamer looks back at the rise and fall of developer Free Radical games. The article's into states it was once to be called "Did Haze Kill Free Radical," but their research resulted in more of an indictment of mainstream game development in a piece ultimately titled "Free Radical vs. the Monsters." One interested contention, highlighted by GameSpot, is that LucasArts actually wanted their ambitious plans for Star Wars: Battlefront III to fail. Here's what he says about the sequel where the idea was that "players could seamlessly transition from a small-scale gunfight into a space battle simply by climbing into a ship and taking off":

But LucasArts began to press hard on other, less quantifiable, issues. "Stalling tactics," says Graeme Norgate. "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? And there you have it."

"LucasArts hadn't paid us for six months," says Norgate "and were refusing to pass a milestone so we would limp along until the money finally ran out. They knew what they were doing, and six months of free work to pass on to Rebellion wasn't to be sniffed at." Part of the eventual agreement between LucasArts and Free Radical saw certain assets passed on to Rebellion Studios. For a time LucasArts was tempted by the thought of a hastily put together Battlefront 3, but nothing came of it. When presented with the allegations put forth by this investigation, LucasArts said simply that it does not comment on rumour and speculation.

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29. I still have BF1 and 2! May 7, 2012, 10:19 Ant
 
I still have Battlefront 1 and 2 for Windows/PC. I wonder if the games are still played today. I find them fun, but not great.  
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28. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III May 6, 2012, 12:40 Tanto Edge
 
Never cut a deal with a dragon.  
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27. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 6, 2012, 12:06 Nighthawk
 
I didn't mind republic commando, but it was...like a call of duty with star wars, a rail shooter, hell it even showed you where to get cover.
I will agree to the personality though.
 
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26. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 6, 2012, 10:39 Flatline
 
Prez wrote on May 6, 2012, 10:20:
I'm sure it's possible that Lucasarts were being complete assholes during the development period, but the contention that they killed it by "stalling tactics" is hard for me to swallow. Why the hell would they do that instead killing it the tried and tested old-fashioned way? Like just cancelling outright. Very odd.

Usually there's a penalty for failure to deliver. It might be that LA could get the assets for free. Or something like that. Or maybe again for tax reasons. Simply pulling the plug isn't a loss the way a failure to deliver is a loss.

It's sad. The last LucasArts game I really enjoyed was Republic Commando. Short, and it didn't push the FPS genre anywhere new, but it dripped with personality and some real (darkly) humorous moments. A lot of people really wanted a sequel, and nothing ever came of it.
 
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25. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 6, 2012, 10:36 Flatline
 
Aero wrote on May 5, 2012, 17:28:
It is amazing how they went from one of the best early PC game developers (starting with games having nothing to do with Lucas's IP, like Maniac Mansion, Battle of Britain, SWOTL, LOOM, Sam and Max, etc.) to one of the most reviled IP cash-in shops at almost exactly the same time the prequels were released. They *were* one of the greatest studios of all time.

I bet you there's a really interesting story to what happened at Lucasarts between about 1997 and 2000.


Dude... LA predated PC games entirely.I remember Blazeball and others.
 
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24. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 6, 2012, 10:20 Prez
 
I'm sure it's possible that Lucasarts were being complete assholes during the development period, but the contention that they killed it by "stalling tactics" is hard for me to swallow. Why the hell would they do that instead killing it the tried and tested old-fashioned way? Like just cancelling outright. Very odd.  
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23. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 6, 2012, 07:19 Ledge
 
"Going by the article, LucasArts basically decided to cancel the project midway through as part of a larger move to significantly reduce their expenses and the number of games in development"

ooohh. so what other exciting shitty games have they got in the works.
i can hardly wait.
 
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22. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 6, 2012, 01:07 Sho
 
Sure I noticed, but come on, Foundation is so mainstream it doesn't deserve a reaction.  
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21. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 6, 2012, 00:14 Wolfox
 
TurdFergasun wrote on May 5, 2012, 16:57:
hari seldon would know what to do, but i'm sure nobody would listen if he existed in our timespace.

The guy mentions Hari Seldon (from Asimov's "Foundation" series) and no one notices? What has this world come to?

Well done, sir, well done.
 
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20. LucasArt did not shutdown Star Wars mods for Battlefield games. May 5, 2012, 23:58 IMAPC
 
necrosis wrote on May 5, 2012, 15:44:
It still pisses me off to no end that LucasArts sicked their dogs on the team making a Star Wars mod for Battlefield just to release this total turd of a series.
You like to work yourself up over complete bullshit then.

LucasArts didn't shutdown any Star Wars mods for Battlefield games. As a matter of fact LucasArts even hosted the trailer and files for one of the mods. See here for a discussion on this. First, there was Galactic Conquest for BF1942, which was one of the most popular BF1942 mods, and when BF2142 was released some of that mod team moved to the newer game and released a Star Wars mod for it called "First Strike." The First Strike mod is still being worked on today.

There was also a Star Wars Battlefield-style mod for UT2004 done by some of the same people, but it didn't get as much coverage or play as the ones for the Battlefield games.

This comment was edited on May 6, 2012, 02:57.
 
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19. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 22:37 Rigs
 
First Battlefront was 'ok' but the second one, while more advanced, had some really weird bugs/quirks, at least for me anyway. My mouse never would function correctly and I would get weird spikes and lags when aiming, sometimes it would lag as I lined up a shot and then all of a sudden, it would take off past my target and ruin the shot. And I never knew when or if it was gonna happen. Plus the AI did some really off the wall stuff sometimes, especially in vehicles such as star fighters...


=-Rigs-=
 
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'I know what you think you are, what you want us to believe! But I don't buy it! For three years now you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven't done a damn thing except stand there and look cryptic.'
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18. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 22:32 Jerykk
 
jdreyer wrote on May 5, 2012, 20:05:
Cutter beat me to it. There are two sides here, and we're only hearing one. While it sounds damning, I'll withhold judgement for now.

Also, Free Radical, why would you agree to such vague contracted milestones? Is it just the case that LA holds all the power, so dev studios agree to whatever? I also make software and are in the middle of contract negotiations with one of our larger customers. Everything is very finely detailed so both we and the customer are crystal clear on the expectations. Not only is it common sense, but it protects you.

Game development milestones are a bit more vague than regular software milestones. Regular software milestones are very much a binary thing. Either a feature exists (and works) or it doesn't. In game development, a lot of milestone requirements revolve around quality. As a developer, you have some negotiating power but publishers ultimately hold all the cards.
 
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17. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 21:07 Hyatus
 
necrosis wrote on May 5, 2012, 15:44:
All the Battlefront games were slapped together. It still pisses me off to no end that LucasArts sicked their dogs on the team making a Star Wars mod for Battlefield just to release this total turd of a series.

Well, to each their own. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the series(the non-portable ones anyways). I was stoked about the third game.
 
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16. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 20:56 entr0py
 
"...LucasArts actually wanted their ambitious plans for Star Wars: Battlefront III to fail. Here's what he says about the sequel where the idea was that "players could seamlessly transition from a small-scale gunfight into a space battle simply by climbing into a ship and taking off""

Wasn't there a Star Wars Battlefield 1942 mod 10 years ago that was a lot like that? Or maybe I'm thinking of one of the unreal tournament games.

This comment was edited on May 5, 2012, 21:03.
 
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15. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 20:17 ViRGE
 
RollinThundr wrote on May 5, 2012, 16:17:
While I don't doubt it happens. And at that happens often. Why would a publisher put money towards a project, especially in LA's case a core franchise involving starwars, and want it to fail
Going by the article, LucasArts basically decided to cancel the project midway through as part of a larger move to significantly reduce their expenses and the number of games in development. For any number of reasons - but most likely the cost of the penalty clause in the development contract - LucasArts sandbagged FRD rather than to outright cancel it.
 
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14. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 20:07 nin
 

"A lengthy F..." - that describes a lot of lucasarts stuff these days...

 
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13. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 20:05 jdreyer
 
Cutter beat me to it. There are two sides here, and we're only hearing one. While it sounds damning, I'll withhold judgement for now.

Also, Free Radical, why would you agree to such vague contracted milestones? Is it just the case that LA holds all the power, so dev studios agree to whatever? I also make software and are in the middle of contract negotiations with one of our larger customers. Everything is very finely detailed so both we and the customer are crystal clear on the expectations. Not only is it common sense, but it protects you.
 
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12. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 19:35 Cutter
 
This could also be a simple case of a dev team that was fully unprepared and was missing milestones by a long shot. LA simply decided to pull the plug before they lost too much money.
 
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11. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 18:10 Dev
 
Paketep wrote on May 5, 2012, 17:10:
In fact, Lucas himself has been saying fuck off to all Star Wars fans since the release of The Phantom Menace.
And before that, when he had Greedo shoot first instead of Han (he changed it to simultaneous shooting in like 1995 and a few years later to Greedo shooting first).
"derrr there's this guy who has a gun pointing at my head from a foot away, I can see his finger tightening on the trigger.... duhhh I'm gonna sit here and let him shoot me in the head before I shoot"

If he had had Jar Jar die in one of the films, he could have redeemed himself in large part, even if he had him die heroically.

In more recent history, you have lucas nuking the fridge.
 
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10. Re: Free Radical on LucasArts and Battlefront III<br> A <a href= May 5, 2012, 18:07 Sepharo
 
quote != edit  
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