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LucasArts Should Hire This Man

Arthur Nishimoto created the Star Wars game we didn't know we wanted.

The collective nerd gasp from the Internet to Arthur Nishimoto's touch-based Star Wars game probably tells you everything you need to know about LucasArts' handling of the franchise in recent years.

Nishimoto is a computer science masters student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He's been working on Fleet Commander on and off since summer 2009, back when it was an undergraduate undertaking.

There are plenty of science fiction universes to pick from, but there's a reason he chose Star Wars.

"Being a Star Wars fan," said Nishimoto, admitting the obvious, "as well as working in the lab that made the computer graphics for Star Wars in 1977 probably had an influence."

The computer graphics for the original Star Wars film were conceived in the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, the same lab that Nishimoto finds himself working in regularly.

In the age of touch-enabled devices, Fleet Commander looks like a no brainer of a concept, with players manipulating a massive space war through sweeping finger gestures and generous use of radial menus. Nishimoto cited Mass Effect, The Sims 2 and Crysis as likely influencers of his own creation, sprinkled in with futuristic interfaces seen in movies like Iron Man.

The game itself was played on a 20-foot monitor, dubbed the Cyber Commons, which is comprised of 18 LCD displays tiled to create an absolutely massive 8160x2304 resolution screen.

"The Cyber Commons wall is often billed as the classroom of the future where the whiteboard or projector is replaced with a very high resolution wall," he said. "We're trying to answer questions like 'how do you interact with the display in this environment' so in 10 or 20 years when the technology that drives the wall is more widely affordable."

Everyday folks can't exactly afford such a massive screen, but they do have iPhones and iPads. While Nishimoto isn't in a legal position to start publishing Star Wars games on the App Store, he's behind an iPad virtual canvass project that you've also probably seen passed around the Internet before.

And if neither of those struck your fancy, maybe his tribute to Discs of Tron will.

After watching the video, it's hard to imagine Nishimoto will have any trouble finding a job. In fact, LucasArts would probably be smart to pick this guy up as soon as humanly possible.

"I've received a few e-mails that have expressed interest in my work," he said, "including some from LucasArts."

He's even got the right attitude about the prequels for a prospective LucasArts employee!

"We can pick apart the details all we want, but overall I enjoyed the prequels," he professed. "They don't quite match the level of the original trilogy, but it was fun to see the Jedi in their prime."

Nishimoto expects to graduate in a year or two. The response to his videos has been so tremendous--278,605 for Fleet Commander alone, as of this writing--that he'll be documenting his work more thoroughly going forward.

Next up? He's creating an interactive 3D model of the starship Enterprise bridge featured in the first four Star Trek films. You can follow his progress on this and other creations at his website.

Patrick Klepek on Google+