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Classic ’90s space sim Star Wars: X-Wing had one mission that was so brutally hard, a fan cut up his floppy disks and mailed them back to LucasArts

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Today’s Star Wars games are built for a broad spectrum of players to enjoy—2023’s Jedi: Survivor, for example, features challenging combat but is otherwise an easy to grasp third person action game. That wasn’t how Star Wars rolled in the early 1990s. Before George Lucas’s prequel trilogy brought the films back into the mainstream, game developers largely had free reign to adapt Star Wars however they saw fit. And on PC, LucasArts saw fit to make some seriously hardcore space flight sims.

“The X-Wing series chose a serious approach to being space combat simulators,” said David Wessman in a retrospective at last week’s Game Developers Conference. Wessman was one of the two main mission designers on 1993’s X-Wing and its expansions and sequels, including the beloved TIE Fighter (1994) and X-Wing Alliance (1999). “I’m sort of a nerd,” Wessman joked, which led to him researching flight combat and naval operations, and pulling ideas from contemporary Star Wars wargames and pen-and-paper RPG sourcebooks.

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