GDC 2010
What Are They Hiding at Lucasarts?

Russ Pitts | 16 Mar 2010 23:30
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We were ushered into a nearby building and waved through a security checkpoint to the wailing cry of a person detecting device that seemed painfully aware that we had invaded sacred space. Our badges, rather than being coded to soothe the sensor's concerns, seemed to have been coded for just the opposite effect. It knew we didn't belong, and announced as much. There would be no anonymity here. This was Lucasarts, and we clearly didn't belong. The alarm was to remind us of the fact.

A short elevator ride took us to another floor where we were warned that picture taking would not be allowed. A shame, too, since the walls of this space were adorned with some of the most striking art ever seen. Oil paintings inspired by the many products Lucas has helped bring to life. One massive painting was of a Star Destroyer in flight, a moon just off the bow. Another of Indiana Jones standing on the grounds of The Presido, gazing at a half-finished Golden Gate Bridge. Some of the paintings were whimsical, some serious, but they were all hauntingly beautiful. Worth sharing. If only.

I will say this: everyone was nice. There was no vanity, no rancor. Our hosts didn't need to posture to remind us of our place - the grounds and buildings themselves had accomplished that - they all seemed genuinely interested in having us over for the show, if a bit perfunctory.

We were shown to a plain room in which a number of workstations had been assembled. It was here we learned what we'd been invited to see: A single, short demo of The Old Republic in which we'd be playing as the Trooper class of character. We would not be allowed to take pictures. We would not be allowed to shoot video. The game was not finished, but we were not allowed to ask what else remained to be added. There was very little, in fact, we were to be told about the game, other than what was presented in the demo - a single class, level 6, with a few abilities.

At one point in playing the demo I actually exceeded the scope of the day's programming, having ventured "off the path," as one Lucasarts employee said. I'd encountered an NPC who hadn't yet been given a voice, and was being offered a mission to which there was not yet any resolution. Pieces were missing. I asked what they were. No answer was given. I was asked not to ask, and to get back in line.

Feeling a need for some air, I asked where I could find a restroom, and was informed that I'd need to be escorted there. It was around a corner and down a hallway. It was clearly marked. It was a restroom, same as any. And yet, this was Lucasarts. I didn't belong in that hallway, around that corner, at that urinal, any more than I belonged on those sacred grounds. Heaven knows what kind of foolishness I may have gotten up to had I been left to my own devices in there.

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