X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter Remake was “quite far down the track”

Chris Stead 9 May 2016

ar wars vs tie fighter

Anthony Reed reveals that LucasArts and Transmission Games were well on the way to doing a remake of the dogfighting classic.

Currently the CEO of the Game Developers Association of Australia, Anthony Reed has a long and quite incredible history within the video games industry, working with Sega, Interplay, Virgin Interactive and more in a career quickly approaching 30 years. During that journey, he spent four years with Melbourne developer Transmission Games, where he was marketing director when it closed down in 2009.

During a recent interview on theGamehugs podcast with Guy "Yug" Blomberg - content manager at PAX Australia - Reed discussed in detail the demise of Transmission Games. And by the sounds of it, the developer was close to working on a title that would have made many Star Wars fans very happy before its doors shut. As it turned out, the developer’s final game would be Heroes Over Europe for PS3, 360 and PC, a WWII dogfighter and a sequel to Heroes of the Pacific that further refined the team’s flight combat chops. Yet that game had caught the attention of LucasArts.

During the interview (read the transcript below), Reed reveals that Transmission Games and LucasArts were deep in conversation about doing a remake of the classic Star Wars dogfighter, X-Wing vs. TIE-Fighter. Released on PC in 1997, it was developed by Totally Games and is fondly remembered for doing a stellar job of making players feel like they were battling between the stars in a galaxy far, far away. It was also something of a pioneer for online multiplayer experiences that weren’t an FPS.

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It remains unexplained what the “something terrible” was that led to the remake being cancelled, but it wasn’t alone on the chopping block. It was around this time that LucasArts also cancelled a promising looking, and reasonably far into development, Indiana Jones game – yet inexplicitly greenlit Kinect Star Wars. As it is, gamers can only lament the loss of what would have been a warmly received remake of a cult classic. And Disney, if you are reading this, it’s not too late for X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter HD!

Blomberg: Were you there when it all started to fall apart [at Transmission Games]?

Reed: Yeah I was. It was at that time when the GFC [Global Financial Crisis] was on the horizon and there were a few of us that could see there was going to be a problem. Also at that time, going to E3 as many times as I had, you started to see that there was a glut of product. In fact, that had started to worry me as far back as 1997 or 1998. So by the time we got to 2007, with the volume of product coming out at E3, you didn’t know which way to turn. Every pod had a different game to play, and not all of them awesome.You could see that there was a problem coming up – too much product, not enough purchase and when you walked into any retail store you were stuck for choice. The good ones would always stand out and do well, but it mean the small ones would never get a look in, no matter how good they were. Transmission became a victim of that as the publisher model changed. As the business model changed. As the number of products released every year changed. And [Australia’s development industry] at the time was very much based on a work-for-hire system, as was Transmission Games.

Bloomberg: But Transmission Games was not owned by a publisher specifically, so during that time were you hitting up your contacts and looking for opportunities?
Reed: Yeah, absolutely. There was a time when we were talking to LucasArts about remaking X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, which had gotten actually quite far down the track, but then something terrible happened. We were also talking to Frank Miller and his company about a Sin City game, and you may have seen the demo we created at the time.

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