The video game industry has given us some amazing Star Wars games (as well as some absolutely terrible ones) but I don’t think any of them ever looked quite as stunning as this. Designed by Arthur Nishimoto of the University of Illinois at Chicago, this Fleet Commander game is the Star Wars game many fans have dreamed of. As ToplessRobot points out, the game isn’t for retail or distribution, which isn’t surprising given that the game uses actual Star Wars ships and audio, something with which LucasArts lawyers might have a little bit of a problem. Star Wars: Empire at War was a great Star Wars game, one which let players enjoy a solid RTS (real-time strategy) feel on the ground and in space.
Space combat is tough to pull off, and games like Homeworld and Sins of a Solar Empire managed to do it well. This Fleet Commander game definitely makes me think of Homeworld and how novel the concept of a space combat RTS was in a 3-dimensional environment. As it would happen, though, this game goes back to the 2-dimensional interface, but the use of a huge touch-screen dubbed TacTile is what really immerses one in the game. Capital ships have bright circles around them; touching one and sliding over the screen gives it a path on which to move. The massive ship will then, apparently, auto-attack when in firing range. The smaller ships like X-Wings and TIE Fighters also seem to be automatically controlled, likely launched from capital ships to swarm each other and the nearest large target. However, the capital ships appear to have further options, as touching their circle causes a ring of smaller buttons to appear within, likely consisting of tactical options you can assign to the vessel.
Even more astounding is that, due to the ridiculous size of the setup, it’s multiplayer. Not just one-on-one, but since there are multiple capital ships, multiple local players can take control of them, as you can see in the video. Of course, something like this isn’t practical for actual gamers, since I imagine there are very, very few with a couple dozen touchscreen monitors set up to handle it, but technology like the Microsoft Surface could make similar games a reality on a slightly smaller scale, something closer to this Touch Screen StarCraft II. This game, however, won’t be hitting markets any time soon or, likely, ever. If LucasArts sees profit in something like this, however, we can only hope they’ll scoop up Mr. Nishimoto to help design it for them.