On The Eve of War: Avaneya

The Forgotten War

Fair Use - Lucasfilm Ltd.
Lucasfilm Ltd.

Star Wars fans have been intrigued by recently discovered EditDroid footage from Return of the Jedi. In the video you will see unreleased (alternate) takes of the scene between Luke and Yoda on Dagobah. Until now this lost footage was never seen by the public… in fact, we didn’t even know it was lost! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz56q4t6fek&feature=youtu.be)

This has been a major find for the Star Wars community. However, in our own galaxy, there has also been missing visual data that many of us didn’t even know existed.




The Read[sic] Planet


In 1975 NASA successfully photographed the surface of Mars *from the surface* for the first time. What we might not have known was that the high-resolution photographic data were released into the public domain in 1995. Unfortunately, the raw data remained unread due to a lack of resources to develop software that could extract the images…

…until now.

So, an indie software company, Cartesian Theatre, created the forensic recovery software to extract the Mars mission data because, well, it needed to. Enter the Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered DVD(VLR).

Cartesian’s main project, Avaneya (pronounced ‘av-an-EH-uh’), is a cerebral science fiction game that takes place on Mars in a region called Arcadia Planitia. In order to represent the Martian surface accurately, the designers and artists needed to recovery the Viking mission data, which contains the high-resolution images of the neighbouring region, Utopia Planitia. The Viking lander was the only one to visit the area of interest pertaining to Avaneya. Thus, the creation of VLR.

The VLR software was also designed to work especially with Ubuntu and is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Moreover, the Avaneya game will also be software libre and developed for the Ubuntu gaming experience.

Fighting Back

"We cannot teach anyone anything. We can only make them think."
“We cannot teach anyone anything. We can only make them think.”

When asked about the reason for starting the Avaneya project, the creators said, “the game we wanted to play doesn’t exist and we knew there was no point on waiting for the industry do it for us, so we knew we’d have to build it ourselves.” This approach should be encouraging for the Ubuntu community. We need not complain if we aren’t going to take action ourselves. I have been personally involved with Avaneya, so I have started to understand a bit about the development process. This is also a good exercise for us to do. Get to know developers and founders before throwing stones.

Cartesian Theatre has taken huge risks to maintain ethical computing and be innovative. It is difficult to stand up against “the industry” standards, and if we aren’t going to conform to these standards, then we ought to create better ones. We need these types of developments if we are going to make it to Mars.


If you like the Avaneya project, then consider donating to the project and/or join the mailing list. You can also purchase the VLR software ($15), which will help fund the project.

Jedi Mind Tricks

"...without [imagination] we go nowhere." --Carl Sagan
“…without [imagination] we go nowhere.” –Carl Sagan
The whole story of Avaneya is about learning from Earth’s mistakes, and rebooting humanity. Much of our current society has turned into a “consumption only” culture. We can do better. That’s why the VLR software is of interest; instead of releasing a bunch of images for the public to consume, we can be involved in the recovery process and also look at the source code. We should be encouraged to understand (if not contribute) to the processes of the things that we consume. This goes for film, software, and society. So, instead of being told what we are looking for, we can create what we really want. This is Ubuntu.

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