Lost Treasures

August 4, 2015

Episode 4: Rescue on Fractalus!

Rescue on Fractalus!: Interview with David B. Fox


David B. Fox, one of the original employees at Lucasfilm Games Division, joins us this week to talk about the first game he developed there called Rescue on Fractalus!  We learn about how the Games Division got started, how the game almost didn’t get made, and some of the firsts that this game brought to gaming.  We even learn about how George Lucas himself contributed to make the game more than it was originally designed to be.

Follow David on Twitter @DavidBFox and visit David’s work:

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.

Rescue on Fractalus Screen

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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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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