Aliens is very close to my heart (pun intended) 🙂 It was one of the first R-rated films I watched before I turned 13. My father, who introduced me to the sci-fi genre, was criticized often by my mom for letting me watch such an intense movie at such a young age. That’s neither here nor there.
The film has a lot to offer. While it may carry a lot of baggage as a sequel to Alien, the movie has a lot of great visual effects and really catalyzes the Aliens franchise. David Giler, a co-producer in the first installment, was heavily invested financially and creatively in a follow-up film. There was a great deal of drama between Giler and 20th Century Fox that I won’t get into. But to make a long story short, Giler eventually approached Cameron to help get the movie on its feet.
Because Cameron was delayed nearly nine months while shooting The Terminator, he was able to write much of the script for the Aliens in that time. Being a huge fan of the growing franchise, he really poured his heart into the script. The new Fox Studios president at the time, Larry Gordon loved the script and green-lit the movie, but only promised Cameron the director’s seat if The Terminator was a success.
Sure enough, it was a great box-office hit and Aliens was born.
The intro credits for Aliens are pretty fantastic. While the introduction is not necessarily important to HCI, it’s fun to watch and personally reminds me of a sort-of loading indicator. Right from the get-go, we see a DOS prompt:
We’ll see a lot of these in this film. Here’s another one.
But when we explore LV-426, the interface become a bit more graphical:
This movie was released during the height of the PC wars. Cameron had the foresight to envision an industrial future, where mankind is embedded with hardware at nearly every turn. Unfortunately, that’s not really where we are headed…
But, I digress.
A large portion of digital technologies (in and out of sci-fi) have HID’s, or Human-Interface Devices. Mostly analog devices such as knobs, mice, buttons/keyboards, joysticks and switches. I find Cameron’s choice of HID’s hilarious and practical. The film takes place in 2179, a year where terraforming planets, salvage vessels the size of cities, mining asteroids are commonplace and artificial intelligence are all the norm. But touch screens just aren’t there yet.
Like I said earlier, hilarious and practical. I cannot imagine flying a hybrid spacecraft with touchscreen control like Angry Birds, or let alone operating a hydraulic mech-suit.
Now the interfaces support bitmaps and what looks like some buttons.