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Bi-Weekly Roundup 2000-12-06 Erik
A roughly every two week recap of the last fourteen days in gaming.   Thanks to Andrew and Scum Bunny.
Two weeks ago today I was playing a pre-release version of Carmageddon 3.  For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it's like the Sims only instead of helping little computer people decorate their apartments, you run them over with a truck.  About ten minutes into it, I yawned.   I only planned to execute a regular yawn, but to my surprise it turned into one of those open mouthed, full bodied, eye-fluttering sighs that anyone who's played the lead role in a movie or play about Caligula will recognize as a good way to express how jaded you've become about everything.  That's when it hit me:  I live in the future, I own the most powerful electronic brain money could buy nine months ago, I'm using it to accurately simulate a murderous rampage, and I'm still bored.  I realized that I needed a break from games. 

I've discovered that a good antidote for this feeling is to turn off the computer and either get some excercise or place a few jew-baiting crank calls to NPR.  I did almost an entire sit up before I lay back down, grabbed the phone cord, pulled the handset across the floor and onto my chest, and dialed the Diane Rehm show.  I planned to say something like "Hi Diane.  Love your show.  Here's a thought: The Holocaust - Never Again or Never Happened in the First Place?  I'll just hang up and listen to your guests respond to this."  Instead, there was a pretty crazy NPR mixup, and I was offered a job at the Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank, which I immediately accepted.  I was like "see ya, Chet. I got a job at a think tank," and he was like "Whatever, man.  Don't let the door hit your giant brain on its ass on your way out." As I was leaving, I fished Rune out of the trash so that I could toss it back in as sort of a dramatic goodbye to gaming. 

The Brookings Institution lady put me at a desk and gave me some vague instructions about researching a new framework for relations between America and China.  At the staff meeting seven days later, everyone sat in a semi-circle and presented their policy briefs to the group.  Mine was called "When the Chinese go 'Ching Chong Bing Bong' they're trying to talk!"  This is the point where I'd normally say "to make a long story short" and condense the events that followed.   But the preceding sentence has actually made this account longer than what actually happened, because before I even got all the way to the exclamation point, the Brookings Institution lady said "You're fired," and that was that.

So I'm back.  A lot has happened over the last two weeks.  Of course the biggest news is Jaleco's release of its long-awaited Beer Party controller.  The entire page is in Japanese, so I don't know what the game is about and I'm not even sure what passes for a beer party in Japan.  But if I had to guess, I'd say you capture schoolgirls, bind them to potty chairs, then spray beer up their asses until their stomachs burst.

While I was gone, Gamecenter interviewed Simon Jeffrey, the president of LucasArts.  They asked him why Force Commander sucked so much.  Here's his response:

Artist's conception of Simon Jeffrey

Force Commander had quite a checkered and interesting history. I think that ourselves, along with a couple of other publishers, found out that the real-time strategy market wasn't quite ready for the jump to 3D. We made a bet, a gamble, that the real-time strategy market was looking to evolve beyond the Command & Conquer or StarCraft-style of gameplay and go into the 3D world. I think that we came up against a bit of a technology
hurdle, and we realized that it was hard to implement something that is real-time and strategy in a 3D environment, because there isn't the same kind of direction. [Two-dimensional] real-time strategy games almost always are linear in their gameplay, and that may sound trite, but in some ways I think that was what part of the problem was. And we've seen other 3D real-time strategy games that have suffered from the same problem; when people are in a 3D world, they don't know what to do--they aren't so directed--and their strategic thinking is more muddled and more confused.

trekbuttheadsmall.jpg (2260 bytes)What he's essentially saying is that someday evolution will produce a race of real-time strategy gamers whose jumbo, vein-throbbing butt heads will permit them to finally appreciate the genius of Force Commander.  You hold on to that dream, Simon Jeffrey.  You too, George Lucas.   And while I'm thinking about it, fuck you Ron Howard.

Is there anyone currently alive who's smart enough to comprehend Force Commander?   As Chet pointed out while I was away working for the Brookings Institution, Game God of tomorrow and self-proclaimed super genius of today, Relic's Alex Garden, just might be.  How smart is he?  In his own words:

I only recently got a TV, I haven’t watched TV for about three years and I read a lot of books

People who don't watch TV love to mention it and never fail to pair that statement with the fact  that they read books too.   But as long as they're patting themselves on the back for simply not doing something, it seems to me that there are lots of worse things you could be taking credit for not doing.  For instance, next time someone decides to lord over you the fact that he doesn't watch TV, go ahead and tell him "Good for you!"  Then while everyone around you is reflecting on his massive intellect, up the awful-things-you-don't-do ante by mentioning that you don't rape people and then add that you watch lots of television instead.  Not only does that make you a better person - after all what kind of psychotic jerkoff wastes his time not watching TV when he could be busy not commiting violent sex crimes? - but it gives you sort of an air of barely suppressed operatic rage, which makes you more like Batman.

Still, it pains me that all of us may be missing the pleasure we could be getting from Force Commander simply because we're too stupid.  So just in case there's something to this reading makes you smarter business, I'm going to start an official OMM reading club.  Every week, we'll read a book, then discuss it in the Tetris forum.  This week's assignment is Charles Bronson Superstar.

Next week:


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