To say that the Lucasfilm group has a finger in every pie completely fails to capture how entrenched they are in several key areas in the entertainment industry. Revising the expression to include a ravenous ball of thumbs rolling through a quaint bakery might be more effective, if somewhat indicative of a strange and broken imagination. With film, game, animation and special effects divisions (amongst others) to keep track of, George Lucas and friends have decided to implement
a single, software-driven database to manage all of their digital assets, essentially linking together the imaginations of the 2,000 or so people currently employed across the world. Lori Gianino, director of information systems at Lucasfilm, completely fails to make any of this sound even vaguely interesting by saying it lets them "eliminate data entry by pulling information from other systems."
What she really should be saying is something along the lines of, "This universal database will give those working on our next-gen games a considerable advantage, as they'll have direct access to all the assets from our various productions. That's really awesome and stuff." Once the system is fully implemented, it is expected to house just about every piece of every puzzle, including live-action frames, motion capture data and even in-progress special effects shots. The forthcoming Indiana Jones game, for instance, can only hope to gain from an increased synergy with those involved with the fourth movie in the action archeology series. Even original titles that aim to be cinematic in nature can look to benefit from sharing assets with Lucasfilm's stable of, err, films.
The unified data management system also provides scheduling and reporting tools which could certainly prove to be useful in an industry where game release dates often get pushed back and development costs get pushed higher and higher. Better management of time and budget will become all the more important in the next-generation of gaming, perhaps even skipping right past "important" and going straight to "essential." Large companies like EA and Microsoft are sure to have investigated or already implemented similar sharing strategies amongst their many developers.