Game

The making of Star Wars Episode 1: Racer – How a sneak peek at prototype podracers inspired this memorable Star Wars racing game

In a way, game design is constantly changing. But the huge shift from sprite-based games to polygonal games in the late 1990s required a redesign of the way games were designed. Understandably, many early 3D production teams relied too much on sprite-based, game-proven designs. As former Lucasarts designer Jon Knoles admits, the N64’s launch game, Shadow of the Empire, is one such example.

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After deciding that the project would share a release date with the upcoming Star Wars prequels, Jon and his project lead were given a roster of Lukasat experts to help them meet the tight deadline. “Three members of the Shadows core team together: myself, Eric Johnston and Mark Blattel, and our producer Brett Tosti. We’re a small team by today’s standards. Around 25-30 at peak. We There was a need for people with specific real-time 3D skills, and because we were a high-priority project with a very tight deadline, we had to make this film, so we got everyone we needed.”

from nothing

“Initially, all shuttle racers looked the same: each had an egg-shaped pod powered by two massive jet engines. They were all piloted by human pilots, the youngest of whom were teenagers Anakin. We see these concepts evolve into visually distinct vehicles, each with a unique silhouette and color scheme, and equally diverse alien drivers to match each. I think there are 24 in the movie car and driver, the three of us built them at Lucasarts at various levels of detail to support the N64. We also added a few of our own, one designed by Jim Rice and another by Clint Young with his drivers Jin Reeso and Cy Yunga Design. See what we’ve done there? These are only accessible when you enter a special code.”

In addition to the new characters, Jon wants his racing game to include new worlds created with the help of renowned concept artist Peter Chan. “We have a lot of concept art that references the Tatooine races in the movies, but we want to take players on a colorful journey across the galaxy. We enjoy a lot of freedom and invent planets purely for the game. Many Star Wars planets are one-off Things: lava planets, ice planets, rocky planets, forest moons… well, we’re continuing this trend, although Baroonda has more variety: a bit of Tibet, a bit of Dagobah, a bit of Mayan ruins. – all on one planet .”

Jon Knowles

In addition to designing the race cabin, driver and race world, Jon uses trial and error to deliver the lessons that define his Lucasarts racing game. “The three of us designed on paper, then prototyped and made the final art for all the 20s tracks in the game. I built the Tatooine and Baroonda tracks, while Duncan Brown and Jacob Stephens designed and built the rest of the tracks, with additional level art support. Lucasfilm provided a top-down sketch of Tatooine’s “Boonta Eve Classic” track, which I used as inspiration and reference when building the track in-game – our first test track. I tried pressing Scaled it up and found that even at 400 mph it took almost 15 minutes to complete a lap! This is way too big for our game engine, let alone a fun game. So I cut it down considerably , and then scaled it up accordingly. When he tried to recreate a cannon jump, there was a huge “aha” moment. The testers were really excited to see how far they could go and asked if we could achieve the max The leaps. Before we knew it, we were tearing holes in every track and doing crazy jumps.”

While Jon provided the design and visual effects for the Star Wars Corridor, project lead coder Eric Johnston focused on bringing these components to life in the evolving Shadows game engine, a goal Eric describes in two words. “There is only one goal: go fast! As you can see from the vehicle, everything else is secondary: the original prototype was a cylinder with no speed limit. It’s unclear how this will translate to the game, but “Hurry up “Used as punctuation in many conversations.”

Since the game’s speedy vehicles have to be towed by huge left and right engines mounted in the cockpit, Eric turned the dog walker into a simulated pod to help him with physics. “I was living in Half Moon Bay on the south coast of San Francisco at the time, and I had two yellow retrievers, Abacus and Tangent. We had two harnesses and climbing ropes and a skateboard. Always hit top speed on the way to the beach. Half Moon Bay’s cars aren’t that fast, but we’re always faster. Officials don’t recommend this!”

fight with the engine

More improvements followed, including a 3D RPG-inspired store where match bonuses can be used to buy parts to upgrade podracers, which Jon attributes to progressive features. “Watt’s Junk Shop is just a cool, well-made piece that uses light RPG mechanics to add depth. It’s interesting that we didn’t intend to use a fully interactive 3D interface until late in development. I’m glad I did. In the game It’s more immersive and fun in between.”

As for the power-ups in the running game, Jon looked to Lucasfilm’s Star Wars prequels for inspiration, which resulted in constant speed boosts, but with the risk of jogging. “Oddly, we didn’t like the idea of ​​littering the field with floating buffs. We wanted to be as faithful to the movie as possible, even given the N64’s graphical limitations. We agreed that there had to be a reload mechanic to use boosts Otherwise you’ll just use it all the time, but since Anakin’s mechanical repair abilities are a huge part of the haste scene, we wanted to push the idea of ​​pushing your vehicle beyond its limits and then be able to repair it in the blink of an eye.†

In addition to the energy boost that affected the pod race, Lucasfilm’s prequel film Star Wars: Episode I also named the Lucasarts racing game, though Jon and his team didn’t quite get the title they hoped for. “The game would be called Star Wars: Episode I Shuttle Racing. Unfortunately, there was another sci-fi racing game in North America at the time called Planet Of Death, or POD for short, published by Ubisoft. They use the word “pod” in any form of interactive entertainment. We don’t allow titles with the word “pod” in any game. In the end, we chose Star Wars: Episode I Racers , because it’s short and sweet.”

want to liberate

If anything, Episode I Racer was more of a commercial than a critical success, beating its rivals to become the world’s best-selling sci-fi racing game, though Eric Johnston recalls having nothing but respect for racers.rivals . “We love F-Zero and WipEout. The development team was small back then, and playing someone else’s game was like talking to the developers. You had to see how they solved the problem you gave up.”

When asked how he feels about his Star Wars racing game now, Eric expressed nostalgia for the Racer development environment and pride in co-creating the game. “The Racer was written at a special moment. The source code and development team are small but ready to go. The crowd welcomed it, excitedly stomping on the gas and enjoying some unlikely vehicle shenanigans. I’m proud to be one of them.”

Jon Knoles’ last words about the racer explain the paradox of the game compromising on speed, but also ensuring much of its lasting appeal thanks to its high speed. “It’s hard to replicate the kind of door-to-door action one would expect from a great racing game at speeds over 400 mph. So we focused on fulfilling the fantasy of driving fast in an alien landscape. I think that sense of speed and racing The challenge of Tao, and the strategic use of acceleration mechanics make for a fun game. Of all the movie-based games I’ve been involved in, this is one of the best.”

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Content

The making of Star Wars Episode 1: Racer – How a sneak peek at prototype podracers inspired this memorable Star Wars racing game

To some extent, game design is in constant flux. But the dramatic shift from sprite-based to polygonal gaming in the late ’90s required the way games were designed to be all but reinvented. Understandably, many early 3D production teams relied overly on designs proven by sprite-based gaming. And as former Lucasarts designer Jon Knoles concedes, the N64 launch title Shadows Of The Empire was one such example. 
Subscribe to Retro Gamer

Following a decision that the project would share its release date with the forthcoming Star Wars prequel, Jon and his fellow project leaders were given their pick of Lucasarts specialists to help meet the strict deadline. “Three of the Shadows core leadership team remained together: myself, Eric Johnston, and Mark Blattel, as well as our producer Brett Tosti. We were a pretty small team by today’s standards; something like 25-30 at peak. We needed people with specific skills in real-time 3D, and because we were a high-priority project that had a very hard deadline – it had to come out with the movie – we did get everyone we needed.”
Building something from nothing

“Originally, the podracers all looked the same: each had an egg-shaped pod pulled by two massive jet airplane engines. All were driven by human pilots, the youngest of which was a teenage Anakin. We watched these concepts evolve into visually-distinct vehicles, each with unique silhouettes and colour schemes, and equally diverse alien drivers to match each vehicle. I think there were 24 podracers and drivers in the movie, and three of us at Lucasarts built all of them in various levels of detail to support the N64. We also added a couple of our own, one designed by Jim Rice, the other by Clint Young, as well as their drivers Jin Reeso and Cy Yunga – see what we did there? These were only accessible if you entered special codes.”
As well as new characters, Jon wanted his racing game to feature new worlds, which were devised with the help of noted concept artist Peter Chan. “We had plenty of conceptual art to serve as reference for the Tatooine race seen in the film, but wanted to take players on a colourful tour of the whole galaxy. We enjoyed a good deal of freedom, and invented planets purely for the game. Many Star Wars planets are all one thing: lava planet, ice planet, rock planet, forest moon… Well, we continued that trend, although Baroonda had a lot more variety: a little bit of Tibet, a little Dagobah, a little Mayan ruins – all on one planet.”

Jon Knoles

Beyond designing podracers, their drivers and the worlds they would race on, Jon also employed trial, error and testing in order to deliver the courses that would define his Lucasarts racing game. “Three of us designed on paper – then prototyped and built – final art for all 20-something tracks in the game. I built the Tatooine and Baroonda tracks, while Duncan Brown and Jacob Stephens designed and built the rest, with additional level art support. There was one top-down sketch of the Tatooine ‘Boonta Eve Classic’ race course provided by Lucasfilm, which I used as inspiration and reference when building that track in-game – our first test track. I attempted to build it to scale and discovered it would take nearly 15 minutes to complete a single lap – even at speeds of 400mph! That was too big for our game engine, let alone for fun gameplay. So I reduced it considerably, then widened it accordingly. A great ‘ah-ha’ moment happened when trying to recreate a big canyon jump. The testers were having a blast seeing how far they could fly, and asked us if we could make the jumps bigger. Before you knew it, we were cutting big holes in every track and making crazy jumps.”
While Jon managed the design and visuals of the Star Wars racer, fellow project leader – coder Eric Johnston – focused on bringing these components to life within an evolving Shadows’ game engine, a goal Eric describes with just two words. “There was exactly one objective: go fast! Everything else was secondary, as you can tell from just looking at the vehicles – the initial prototype was a cylinder with no speed limit. It wasn’t clear how it might translate into gameplay, but ‘go fast’ was used like punctuation in many conversations.”
And because the game’s hyper-fast vehicles were to be dragged forwards by massive left and right engines tethered to their ‘cockpits’, Eric turned dog walking into podracer simulation in order to help him work out the physics. “I lived in Half Moon Bay at the time – on the coast, south of San Francisco – and had two yellow retrievers, named Abacus and Tangent. We had two harnesses and leashes made of climbing rope, and a skateboard. Maximum speed was always achieved while travelling toward the beach. The cars in Half Moon Bay aren’t that fast, but we were always faster. Officially, I don’t recommend this!”
Wrestling with the engine

Further enhancements followed, including a fully-3D, RPG-inspired shop where race winnings could be used to buy parts to improve podracers, which Jon attributes to feature-creep. “Watto’s junk shop was just a really cool, well-developed set-piece to add depth using RPG- light mechanics. Funny thing is, we had no intention of using a fully-interactive 3D interface until pretty far into development. I’m really glad we did that. It was much more immersive and fun between races.”
In terms of the racer’s in-game power-ups, Jon looked to Lucasfilm’s Star Wars prequel for inspiration, which resulted in constant access to speed-boosts at the risk of blowing up podracers. “As odd as it sounds, we didn’t like the idea of peppering the course with floating power-ups. We wanted to be as authentic to the film as we could, even given the graphical limitations of the N64. We did agree there had to be a recharge mechanic for using the boost – or you’d just use it all the time, but because Anakin’s mechanical repair skills were a big part of the race scene, we wanted to play around with that idea of pushing your vehicle beyond its limits, then being able to fix it on the fly.”
In addition to influencing podracer power-ups, Lucasfilm’s prequel movie – Star Wars: Episode I – also lent its name to Lucasarts’ racing game, although Jon and his team didn’t quite get the title they had hoped for. “The game was going to be called Star Wars: Episode I Podracer. Unfortunately, there was another sci-fi racing game at the time called Planet Of Death – or simply POD, in North America – published by Ubisoft. They trademarked the word ‘pod’ in any form of interactive entertainment. We were not allowed to use a title for any game with the word ‘pod’ in it. Ultimately we settled on Star Wars: Episode I Racer because it was short and to the point.”
Reflecting on release

And if anything, Episode I Racer was a greater commercial than critical success, beating the competition to become the world’s bestselling sci-fi racing game, although Eric Johnston recalls having nothing but respect for rival racers. “We loved F-Zero and WipEout. Dev teams were small then, and playing someone else’s game was like having a conversation with the developers. You got to see how they solved problems you gave up on.”
When asked for his thoughts on his Star Wars racing game now, Eric expresses nostalgia for Racer’s development environment and pride at having cocreated the game. “Racer was written at a special time. The source code and dev teams were small but about to start growing. It was received by audiences thrilled to punch the gas and enjoy some improbable vehicular shenanigans. I’m proud to have been part of that.”
Jon Knoles’ last words on the racer explain the paradox of the game making concessions to speed and yet also securing much of its enduring appeal thanks to its high velocity. “At speeds of 400+ miles per hour, it is difficult to emulate the type of door-to-door action people expect from a great racing game. So we focused on delivering the fantasy fulfilment of speeding through alien landscapes. I think that sense of speed and track challenge, and strategic use of the boost mechanic, all added up to a fun game. Of all the movie-based games I’ve worked on, this was one of the high points.”
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  • Synthetic: Tài Chính Kinh Doanh
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Tài Chính Kinh Doanh

Business Finance - Synthesize economic and financial news, market price news, insurance news.... Start-up investment opportunities, business cooperation and loan guidance. #taichinhbusiness #taichinh #tintuctaichinh #tintucbaohiem Contact Info: Website: https://taichinhquangdoanh.info/ Mail: Address: 63-47 To Hien Thanh Ward, Le Dai Hanh, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi, Vietnam

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