Tuesday, November 18, 2014

1038 - May The Force Be With Me

A long time ago...
     ...1993, to be precise...
... LucasArts, a teeny tiny division of the same people that made Star Wars, released their X-Wing videogame.  I remember spending many hours working my way through the missions until I finally destroyed the Death Star!  It was a high point of my gaming career.

Now, twenty years later, the X-Wing game has been re-released, and it's as much of a time sink as it ever was back then.  Trouble is, Red Leader is now twenty years older and fatter than he was back then.

Even though I feel I am smarter now than I was back then, these missions are still joystick-twistingly difficult.  Now I remember how I learned to "use the Force" back then.  Since the game structure is purely linear, if you fail a mission or get killed, you just go back to the main briefing and try again.  And again. And again.  After a while, through the process of learning from mistakes, you develop a sense for how the mission must unfold: target the fifth transport only, use torpedoes to kill the TIE Interceptor, turn and fly towards the Rebel rescue shuttle, protect it from the squadron of TIE Fighters, then head towards the Star Destroyer, target the three TIE Bombers and blow them up with torpedo shots before they can launch, and so on. If you make a mistake, usually the whole mission falls apart and you have to try again: Star Wars meets Groundhog Day in space. 

Fortunately, although the graphics are very pixellated by our standards, the sounds are realistic and the missions are seldom boring.  X-Wing stands today as an example of some of the best of game design ever, as far as I am concerned.

As for today's JSVB graphic, I drew it using the original Star Wars storyboards as a visual reference.  I bought a book that published all of the boards from the original movies: fascinating reading.  I adapted a board by Joe Johnston and one by Nilo Rodis (who signed my copy of the book! Cool!) and drew my fat old self in the cockpit (the glasses don't show up at all well, heck).  Twenty years ago, or maybe even longer, I recall drawing myself in an X-Wing cockpit, replacing good ol' Luke.  I have no idea where that drawing is now, though, so I re-drew this one. 

Trivia: George Lucas insisted that his boards be drawn on vellum instead of paper.  He wanted the boards to last for as long as possible.  Vellum is used for manuscripts and illuminated writing, but it's a difficult medium for sketch work since the ink takes a long time to dry and the surface is slippery.  I re-created the look of the vellum using Photoshop.  

All Star Wars related imagery is the intellectual property of Disney Studios.