Last time, you decided physical panics are better than pretty food. While I admire delicious food, I’m very happy that something completely unintended (and often unwanted by the developers) is still in the running. The games are weird and silly magic tracks, and that’s awesome. This week, you have to choose between weirdness and serendipity. What’s better: impossible geometry, or games playing the music CD left in your drive?
I really like big, unreal places in video games, and I really, really like impossible places. You know: a hallway that seems to loop endlessly; a door that takes you somewhere else when you turn around; Escherian megahells of places that don’t connect; holes in the world that shouldn’t be; fractal landscapes; stairs that go up longer than they go down; trails that casually change direction for you to scale walls; endless recursive shapezones. Of course, video games are getting more and more fancy in simulating reality, but we don’t have to. Embrace unreality and all its puzzling majesty.
I also like when the placement of loading zones creates impossible places. I don’t know if it’s an intention or an oversight, but Dark Souls II has a place where you take an elevator from the top of a windmill in a clearing to… a castle sitting on top of a lava ditch? Perfect.
I guess you might consider games with wrapping screens impossible. I think mathsfaces argued that games like Asteroids take place on a torus (a donut shaped donut) but since you can’t eat asteroids I consider that unverifiable and think it takes place in a impossible place. If you wish to challenge me on this, you must prepare me an asteroid donut, thank you. Any similar argument about “in fact, considering 5D space and the Michaels-Robertson-Vaziri hypothesis, all of these places are perfectly plausible” must also be served as snacks to me.
Games playing the music CD left in your drive
It’s kind of sad to think that the best thing in video games may have already passed and probably never will. Many people will never experience this. The dwindling number of us who have done so will be here, decades from now, choking back tears as we recount the moment The Prodigy’s Fat Of The Land synced perfectly with the game you were playing.
To explain: when games moved from floppy disks to CD-ROMs, many also moved from synthesized music to pre-recorded CD music. A data CD can also be a music CD, see. You can put a game in a regular CD player and listen to the soundtrack, and vice versa. These games would expect you to put their CD in your drive to get the soundtrack, but they didn’t verify that and would work just fine with any old music CD that was in the drive. Hence the fun of having a music CD (or CD of another game) in your drive and having the game treat that music as its own. This could lead to moments of wonderful serendipity.
Some music could fit perfectly with the game you were playing, taking it in a very different artistic direction while still giving off real energy. Or sometimes the mysterious music could turn seriously ridiculous moments into the most delightful moments. Sometimes, of course, it didn’t really work in an interesting way. But when did it? Delicious! These opportunities for serendipity were amplified if you shared a PC with your family and had no idea what might be in the drive. That’s what I call music! 44 really went places.
But what is better?
I have many fond memories of musical serendipity but I can’t resist impossible places. Reality is for squares.
Choose your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your point in the comments to convince others. We will meet again next week to see which thing will triumph and continue the great contest.