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David Fox, in an 🔌🚙 @DavidBFox
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Good article about #RescueOnFractalus, one of the first two games we created at #LucasfilmGames, and efforts for a fan-created modern version. In Finnish, but open in Chrome and ask for a translation. Mostly accurate telling of the game's history.
Some really minor inaccuracies: Loren Carpenter was never a member of Lucasfilm Games. Instead, Lucasfilm Games was originally a group within the Lucasfilm Computer Division where Loren worked, He was on loan to us part time during the early development.
It was George Lucas' idea that sometimes the pilot you're rescuing turns out to be an alien. We figured out how to make that happen, and got Atari to agree to keep it a complete secret in their marketing/box/manual text.
We couldn't prove it, but we think someone inside Atari released beta versions of #RescueOnFractalus and #Ballblazer in the fall of 1983 to pirate BBS's a week after we gave them unserialized disks. Titles of those versions were #RescueMission and #Ballblaster. #LucasfilmGames
Loren Carpenter created the #Fractal routines. Charlie Kellner added the flight dynamics, cell animation, multichannel sound, and LOTS of 6502 optimization, squeezing incremental frame rate increases out of thin air.
We were ready to go in January 1984 but Atari marketing wanted to delay until 1984 Summer @CES. Then a month later Jack Tramiel bought Atari and all bets were off for Atari 800 distribution. Had to redo the game for disk loading for Epyx, the final US distributor.
The @ILMVFX team did all the cover and manual photography and models. Probably one of the more expensive box covers at the time.
.@WinnickGary gave me some concept art... Here's his concept of the Valkyrie Fighter... @ILMxLAB used this as the basis of their model for the manual.
Photo of me in my pilot suit that didn't make it into the manual. I still have that helmet (motorcycle helmet, spray painted, with plastic model tank turrets glued to the sides.
This is the photo that was used instead...
.@WinnickGary animated the Jaggi monster. Original concept drawing:
Jaggi popup animation (GIF) electriceggplant.com/images/Rescue_…
Better GIF of the Jaggi Monster... anyone know what those strange designs are on its shirt? #RescueOnFractalus
Some of you figured it out. Here's a better view:
We weren't allowed (by Atari) to have our names in credits on any of the screens, so we found ways around that. Fun Easter Egg:
But #Lucasfilm, being a film company and totally understanding the importance of credits, allowed us to have all of our names in the manual. And later, when we weren't dealing with Atari, on the screens and box as well.
I got to be on both the front and back covers... In fact, on the front cover, I'm both in the cockpit (my knees and hand), and the running pilot. On the back, I made sure my wedding ring showed to make the situation even more desperate.
On the back cover, the cockpit really was on fire, and there was an @ILMVFX guy standing by with a fire extinguisher. Ok, just the rubber glue or something they dabbed onto the wires, then lit. But it made acting worried a lot easier. Can you tell?
In 1990 I was working on a Lucasfilm #LBE project (not #LucasArts). Finally got to do a game in the #StarWars universe, but still with a #RescueOnFractalus feel. Check out the #Mirage project, using an @ES_Digistar ESIG 2000 image generator (~$1M in 1992)
And of course, this could totally be done today for a fraction of the cost using current GPUs, and look way more realistic. But it was still an amazing experience, maybe the most immersive experience I've had. 120° display, surround sound. The video doesn't do it justice.
I don't think this has been shown publicly before... another @WinnickGary #RescueOnFractalus concept drawing. This time, showing what's left after a Jaggi attack at Outpost 6:
One last #RescueOnFractalus photo before I go to sleep... I think this was posed for a magazine... I'm clearly having fun play testing the game! Got a couple of Atari computers I'm testing on, plus a dumb CRT terminal connected to our Vax 750 named Kessel.
Yes, “Kessel”. Each #Lucasfilm Vax was named after a #StarWars planet. Dagobah, Alderaan, Bespin, Tatooine were already taken. We figured games should be addicting like the spice of Kessel.
On May 9, 1984, we had a large press conference at #Lucasfilm, in the theater in C Bldg in San Rafael, CA. We filled the theater with press, and showed videos of #RescueOnFractalus and #Ballblazer. All footage came from the games, with voice over added.
Note the video is audio only for the first 80 seconds. We didn't want to confuse anyone by having live actors on screen... just sound, then the actual game footage.

The #Ballblazer video is here:
#Lucasfilm no longer uses the buildings at Kerner where the theater is. Now run by @32TenStudios, including the theater and large sound stage. 32ten.com/production-ser…
Both videos were produced by @HelloThereLBA, including capturing from our #Atari800s and directing the voice-over sessions.
Rescue voice talent:
Commander – Rick Cimino
Fox Leader, Announcer – William T. Hall
Ballblazer voice talent:
Slan Sterling – Bob Sarlatte
Arboster Kipling – Rick Cimino
Lazer Lite Announcer – Laurie Bauman Arnold
BTW, for those that don't read Finnish, here's a pretty decent translation of the article that started this long (and getting longer) thread: translate.google.com/translate?sl=a…
If you have read the article at the beginning of this thread, you know about @lsdwa's decade long project to create a modern version of #RescueOnFractalus. Check out his progress here:
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