Rescue on Fractalus!

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Rescue on Fractalus!
Developer: Lucasfilm Games
Publisher: Epyx, Atari, Activision
Year: 1984
Platforms: Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, TRS-80 CoCo, ZX Spectrum
Genre: Flight simulator, Action, Shooter
AI Era: Simple Hard-coded Rules

Rescue on Fractalus! was a spaceship flight simulator in which the goal was rescue stranded pilots on an alien world.


Description of AI Behavior

Rescue on Fractalus! featured procedural terrain generation using fractals, which visually set the game apart from others at the time. It is highly likely that this game is the first to use fractals for terrain generation.


Procedural Terrain Generation

Fractal Landscape
Fractal Mountains (Rescue on Fractalus!)
At the Lucasfilm Computer Division, Loren Carpenter was the primary creator of the fractal mountains in Star Trek 2's "Genesis effect" (video). Later he was asked by office mate David Fox if there might be a way to do similar fractal mountains on the Atari 800. Loren took home an Atari and within several weeks prototyped the fractal terrain for Rescue on Fractalus!.
Fractal Landscape
Fractal Mountains (Star Trek 2)


What Worked

The fractal procedural terrain set the game apart with a unique visual look.

What Didn't Work

Due to the limited number of colors and processing power, the terrain was one color with jagged outlines. This made it a little difficult to make sense of the terrain depth when trying to land near a pilot. To help with navigation, an indicator in the top center gave additional information as to how close the ship was to the left and right mountains.

Reception by Public

The game received great reviews in the press, such as Omni Magazine. On the Atari 5200, Rescue on Fractalus! is considered one of the most innovative games ever developed for the system (Giant Bomb review).


Reminiscing: Rescue on Fractalus, June 1997

Wikipedia, 2011

BALLBLAZER and Rescue on Fractalus! A very brief personal history, Peter Langston, 2005

External Links

Gameplay video

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