atari email archive

a collection of messages sent at Atari from 1983 to 1992.

USENET Video game review in London

(1 / 3)

	This review came over the USENET
	The main subject is Virtuality vs. Battletech,
	but there is also an interecting paragraph about
	a gambling version of Space Invaders.

From: [email protected] (steven.s.ozdemir)
Subject: Video games in London - an American's perspective
Date: 31 Oct 91 15:09:54 GMT
Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

After a week long trip in London, I can say those Brits really know
how to make video games!!  And the arcade at the Troc near Picadilli
Circus was just as good as people said it was.  Specifically, the Funland
at the Troc had Virtuality and R360 playing GLOC!!

Virtuality is an simulator game, which is very similar in concept to
Battletech here in Chicago.  However, in my opinion Virtuality is what
Battletech was suppose to be.  The main difference between the two
is that Virtuality does not need a support staff of half a dozen people
(like the Battletech center needs), thus making it more like a video
game that you just walk up to and plunk your quarter (or 2 pounds ~ $4).
Secondly, Virtuality's controls are more intuitive that Battletech's
(a friend of mine, after hearing about Battletech's controls, thought
that only a heavy machine operator would think the Battletech controls
are intuitive).  The main advantage of Virtuality over Battletech is that
the aiming mechanism is a helmet that you place on your head!  Movement
of the helmet (say by turning to the left) causes the scene to shift (to
the left) and the gun sights are at a fixed point on your screen.  Thus
aiming becomes the intuitive act of tracking an object with your eyes,
and the helmet's motion sensors determine where you are looking.  In
addition to these controls are a steering wheel and a gas pedal - again
very intuitive.  My only complaint about Viruality controls was the
firing button is a two position lever - one position for laser and one
position for missiles.  This could have been replaced by two fire buttons.
Battletech and Virtuality are about the same in play, except that Virtuality
put two 3 inch LCD displays in the helmet (covering your eyes) where as
Battletech uses three screens in your pod.

R360-GLOC was essentially a pod (that looked like a gyroscope) that held your 
body.  It was constructed so that the pod could spin in any of the three
directions, x y or z.  I never was any good at GLOC, so I couldn't play it
well.  But I really enjoyed doing barrel rolls with the plane and feeling
the simulated acceleration!!

The last bit of news was a Space Invader's game in the Gatwick Airport!  The
game cost a $1 and would increase a pay back pot every time you reached a
certain score.  At the end of a wave, you could take the pot (which I got
up to $2 with little trouble) or continue and risk everything on the next
wave.  I really enjoyed playing a gabling game that was based on your video
game skill.  One change in the rules was that, if a saucer successfully
went across the screen without being hit then your score would be null.
This made the game alot more playable, since when your score went to null
so did the pay back pot!

Ok, complaint department.  Battletech crashes often and has visible problems
due to not enough processing power.  Virtuality runs flawlessly, like an
arcade game should!  Also after sorting through all the articles, I feel it
is my duty to say that all you shouldn't pick on M Channing as much as you
do!  The poor guy must have to sit at his terminal all day waiting for flaming
articles to come in so that he can immediately respond back and clear his
name (or clear up a minor misunderstanding, or a spelling mistake, or a
rude insinuation, or just plain name calling...).  I must have seen a dozen
articles alone from him over the last two weeks where he was responding to 
someone's teasing!!  Maybe two dozen!!!  So please stop teasing him. 8^) 

More info on Virtuality and R360

(2 / 3)

The Virtuality system described in the previous USENET message is
made by a British Company called W Industries.  Yes, they use
a helmet display system. The collective wisdom says that it will
not sell in the US market because:
	a) Putting a public helmet on your head is unsanitary -
	   one commentator likened to putting a dirty bowling shoe
           on your head
	b) The helmet is secured to the cabinet by cables which 
           means it will be ripped off as a neat decoration for
           any teenagers bedroom.

Edison Bros. have recently signed up to be exclusive USA distributors
of the product. So maybe we will see a few in selected locations 
with strong supervision - Theme parks and Mega Arcades. I have a vague
recollection of a price in the $100,000 range.

The R360 is a sphere containing a seat, harness, video display and controls.
It is suspended by a double gimbal allowing full 360 degree pitch and roll.
It costs about $50,000. Sega makes it. It is marketed in the USA at
Theme park trade shows since the price tag is out of the reach of the
typical arcade.

Another American's Perspective

(3 / 3)

Last month while I was in London on vacation, I too spent some time exploring 
the virtual reality games that are in that city.  I found two.  The one that 
seemed to be closest to the virtuality reality ideal was located at the Rock 
Garden (a bar/disco) at Covent Garden.  You put on a helmet, you held a rifle 
in your hand, you could move head and body around, and fire at who-knows-what. 
It was a gas to watch the game being played.  Each player was involved in their
own private war, fighting enemies invisible to all but themselves.  This game 
seemed very popular.  Unfortunately, the lines were just too long and with my 
time constraints I was unable to play it.

The Virtuality game that I did play was at Funland, a large arcade at the 
Trocadero, and it wasn't anything to write home about.  It was a racing game, 
6 units linked together.  Each driver had to put on a helmet which contained 
2 separate monitors (one for each eye).  One arcade employee was needed to 
assist all 6 players with their helmets and getting set up in their vehicles.  
It took me quite awhile to adjust the helmet in order for my brain to process 
the images in STEREO-VISION.  The graphics were polygons, much like HARD-
DRIVIN', and once the race began (even with separate screens for each eye), 
the 3-D effect was no better than its predecessor.  If asked if the STEREO-
VISION effect was worth the extra cost of helmet and time putting it on, I 
would say no.  

The sanitary question that Chris Downend brought up about the helmets didn't 
seem to be much of an issue for me.  The helmets were loosely fitting, made of 
a hard smooth plastic, and tightened down (as in "strapped on") by a screw-like
mechanism which connected to the base of the neck.  Perhaps if I had thought 
about it more, I would have been more squeamish about putting "a dirty bowling 
shoe on my head".  But the helmet didn't smell like a bowling shoe and thus I 
had the false impression of it being clean.  As far as the theft issue is 
concerned, I can't see it as a problem since there would always need to be an 
employee present anyway to assist patrons with the helmets. 

The controls were the least satisfying aspect of the game.  Speed was 
controlled by two buttons located down by the feet.  To speed up, you would 
tap on the right button.  To go faster, you would tap more times on the button.
To stay at the same speed, you would do nothing.  To slow down, you would have 
to tap on the left button.  Why Virtuality didn't go with the more traditional 
accel/brake controls, I have no idea.  The steering wheel was more traditional,
but I don't remember it having any feedback.  HARD-DRIVIN' and most other video
driving games FEEL much more realistic than this supposedly virtually-real game.

Another criticism was that gameplay did not exploit the virtual reality 
capabilities of the equipment.  There was no reason to turn your head and 
frankly I don't think the game program would shift the images in the monitors 
had I done so.  The stereo "headphone-quality" sound however was effective 
with nice car pass-by's and lots of crowd and announcer effects.  But all in 
all, it really seemed like an quite ordinary video game dressed up as high-tech
product.  I am sure the hardware had much more potential.  At 3 pound ($4.50) 
for a 2 minute race, this game from Virtuality was a disappointment.  
Apparently, this racing game was a replacement for the Battletech-type game 
described in Flanagan's original message.  Its too bad they decided to replace 

=john paul=
Message 1 of 3

Nov 01, 1991