Rescue on Fractalus!: Interview with David B. Fox
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Started in 1982 and lasting until 2013, LucasFilm Games (eventually renamed LucasArts) made some amazing games. While many of them involved George Lucas’s film properties like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, some of them were original ideas that the company came up with and a few were even created with technology as their initial spark.
Such is the case of the game Rescue on Fractalus! which was the first known game to use fractals, a beautiful mathematical beast that Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic first used to create the Genesis planet in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Fractals can be used to recreate realistic computer rendered versions of things found in nature such as leaves and mountains that all appear to be different and yet the same. Think of the old phrase “no two snowflakes are alike” and you can better understand what I am talking about.
This game is a 3-D flight simulator with a rescue element. You need to fly around the planet (all rendered with fractal mountains) and land to rescue pilots, in similar fashion to Choplifter! although it requires a little more work and you never actually see the pilots get into your craft.
The procedurally generated landscape was the first to do so and is, in a sense, a very distant relative to the expansive No Man’s Sky, which is literally worlds apart in terms of scope but not in spirit.
Rescue on Fractalus was released on a whopping 8 platforms which was quite unusual for the time. Two versions exist on cartridge and the rest are on floppy disk. Unless you have an Atari 5200, Commodore 64 or CoCo 3 laying around you are going to have to get an emulator to try this one out.
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