Mail Bag

The Escapist Mailbag

| 15 Dec 2006 19:26

imageWhen the moon is in the Seventh House, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars ...

This is the dawning of the age of the Mailbag. Every fortnight, your friends at The Escapist will sit in to answer any and all gaming-related questions that weigh heavy on your soul. Wanna learn something about the mag? Interested in just what crazy pills the higher ups at Sony are taking? Look no further, and drop us a line in this handy dandy question form. After sifting through numerous responses, your letter might make it to the Mailbag.

And so, here's your first inaugural Mailbag, with questions provided by members of The Escapist staff!

Don't you know everyone hates that layout? Why do you insist on using it rather than something that works on my Slashdot Web2.0 STANDARDS COMPLIANT browser?
-Shannon Drake, voracious Slashdot reader

We take a lot of the pride in not only the literary but the artistic style we try to convey, but we take the intricacies of the web very seriously, as well. Believe it or not, we're W3C standards-compliant. In fact, everything we do, including the CSS voodoo that we do so well that it makes you wanna shoop shoop shoop, is A-OK with all the consortiums we know of. While we're sorry you don't like the layout, the majority of our readers love it.

However, in deference to those readers who don't, we provide text-only versions of the magazine for your enjoyment, as well. In order to access those, you can either check out the Featured Article on the Portal, which showcases a different article from the current issue every day, or you can go to the regular version of the article and click the "text" link on the navbar in the lower right-hand corner.

With Nintendo's Wii right around the corner, it seems that a lot of people are looking at how alternate control devices (Wiimote, Guitar Hero controller, or dance pads as just a few minor examples) might affect gaming.

Wouldn't it be totally awesome to use, say, a DDR Dance Pad to play a game like Street Fighter 2? Ignoring the tremendous increase in effort (doing a Hadoken becomes significantly more difficult, for instance)... it IS getting more of your body into the game. Cool idea? Or no?
-John Funk

Actually, it's such a cool idea that I'm stealing it for my own. Unfortunately, Sega had it long before either of us did.

Back when I was living in Vegas, there was a gigantic arcade in the fabulous Luxor casino named Sega VirutaLand. And I mean gigantic - this thing was a two-story, 20,000-square-foot black glass building inside the casino's pyramid. (It's long since been renamed Games of the Gods Arcade, and it's nowhere near as cool.) In 1993, when the casino was brand new, the Luxor's buffet was pretty awesome, and the fam and I went there a lot. In those halcyon days, Las Vegas hadn't yet been overcome by burgeoning families, and they weren't losing money when they charged people $5 for access to hundreds of thousands of calories, because chances are, the person eating was just trying to get enough food in him to keep gambling for another 30 hours straight, so we'd take advantage of their economic loophole and fill up on the cheap. Anyway, right next to the buffet was VirtuaLand, and I once copped a few bucks from the parents to play a few games after dinner.

imageTurns out I'd need a lot more than a few bucks to buy much more than 15 minutes of entertainment from VirtuaLand; they were charging $0.75 to play the older stuff, and anything new was at least $1.50. After blazing through a fiver playing Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, I figured I'd at least take a look around the rest of the arcade, even if it was meant for those from higher socioeconomic classes.

It was mostly the standard faire you'd expect from the early '90s, but beside the fighting games and enclosed simulated "thrill rides" was a bunch of kids huddled around a Virtua Fighter area. It wasn't a machine, at least not a conventional one; there was no cabinet or joysticks, and the screen had to be five feet tall. As I got closer, I noticed two guys standing about 10 feet apart, each with a foot planted inside a small circle, about a foot in diameter. They were both flailing their arms and legs around, locked in a long distance, geeky karate match, but their motions were being mirrored by the fighters on the screen. As long as they kept a foot in the circle, their punches would make the fighters punch. Usually.

Needless to say, the technology wasn't quite there. Virtua Fighter continued along its merry way for a few more years, but the notion of the circular pad that magically divined your body's intentions died in childbirth. It was a few more years before better pressure-sensitive devices made their way to the States, and it took a much catchier game to make the whole notion take off.

But I think it's only a matter of time before someone else gives it another try. Funnily enough, though, Sega's got a history of their ideaworks being a few years ahead of their technology. Take a look at the Dreamcast's online service and compare it to Xbox Live.

Have you ever had something in regards, with or about Tim Cain, designer of Fallout?
-Ben

Funny you should ask that, Ben. Stay tuned for something from yours truly on that very subject.

Get off my lawn!
That does it for this edition of The Escapist Mailbag, folks. Be sure to get your questions in for next time. If your question gets published, we here at The Escapist HQ will buy an acre of Brazilian rainforest in your name!*

*I've been advised by our attorneys that we will not, in fact, be able to purchase acreage in the rainforest at this time. But I promise, I'll think really hard about giving up my spray-on deodorant habit.

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