Later this year, Disney will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a theme park experience set in the world of Star Wars. Amongst the coming attractions is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, which puts visitors in the Millennium Falcon. Guests will have specific jobs which affect how the story in the attraction plays out. The ILM Experience Lab, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd., which focuses on virtual reality, augmented reality, and real-time cinema, is creating the ride “film” in conjunction with Nvidia and Epic Games. It’s a giant step in immersive entertainment, but for longtime fans of Lucas Film Ltd., it harkens back to the early 1990s and a project known as Mirage.
David Fox, who was responsible for classic video games like Rescue on Fractalus! and Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, served as the Manager for Entertainment Software for Mirage, Lucas Film Ltd.’s first foray into location basedentertainment (LBE).
Though the project began in the 1990s, it had its roots in the 70s when Fox was counseling people on their lives and relation- ships. The work helped him develop ideas for a new kind of entertainment. “I began imagining an Interactive Disneyland where all the attractions would be just as immersive as the theme parks of the time, but instead of static repetitive attractions, they’d be ever changing,” Fox said. “People going through these would end up learning more about themselves, being put through experiences that were empowering and enlightening.”
Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game fed into his vision and furthered his concept of a simulator that could be used for entertainment and enlightenment. “He very much described the personal growth part of my vision with the Giant’s Game that Ender would play,” Fox said. “It would devise puzzles it knew Ender would have trouble with because of his limited way of seeing things. To solve those puzzles, Ender would have to break out of his normal patterns and think differently. As a result, the solving the puzzle would also open Ender up to new ways of thinking.”
Fox joined Lucasfilm in 1982, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the company decided they were ready to begin exploring LBE. Fox and a small
group formed Rebel Arts and Technology and Mirage was born a short time later.