April 4, 2013 at 11:43 AM ET
Following the sudden ending of LucasArts yesterday and the ambiguous fate of all "Star Wars" games currently in development by the storied video game company, one fellow game company has already stepped up to show its solidarity with fans and gamers.
Just hours after news of LucasArts’ imminent closure broke yesterday, Raven Software and its parent company Activision made the source code for their two "Star Wars" games, "Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast" and "Jedi Knight II: Jedi Academy,: freely available for players and the vibrant online modding community.
In a statement given to Kotaku Australia, Raven said that it wanted to release the source code "for people to learn from and play with.”
"Raven is sad to hear about the closing of LucasArts today, we respected them and enjoyed working with them over the years," the statement said. "We wish the best for all the talented people who were let go and hope they find good work in studios in the industry."
"We loved and appreciated the experience of getting to make Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy for LucasArts," Raven said. "As a gift to the persistently loyal fanbase for our Jedi games and in memory of LucasArts, we are releasing the source code for both games for people to enjoy and play with."
Releasing a game’s source code is one of the best ways that a studio can extend the shelf life (at least culturally) of a video game by inviting in the creativity of the online modding community. Mods are essentially customized or converted versions of the original game that adds new content — anything from new characters, weapons, levels, and storylines — which can even amount to a new game entirely. "Counterstrike," for instance, which is one of the most popular first-person shooters ever created for the PC, was originally created as a mod for the first "Half Life."
So while Raven and Activision probably won’t be making any more money on "Jedi Knight" anytime soon, releasing the games’ source code is good-will gesture that could even amount to a new game someday. In the meantime, modders and players can download the tutorial-free source code for "Jedi Outcast" and "Jedi Academy" on Sourceforge.
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at email@example.com.