Martine and I did something different last night; we tried some 3D gaming. It was really quite the thing, although right off the bat we knew the game’s design was flawed because in order to play we had to physically relocate our bodies to a specific geographical location in Parc Lafontaine. I mean, what the Hell kind of network is that?
Then we had to lift these metal balls and fling them around. It was pretty weird and they were kind of heavy, but at least they were wireless. The game is called pétanque, which apparently is French although it’s not from Ubisoft. It seemed to be a rather old game, which might explain some of its quirks.
Regardless, we played anyway. One good thing was the 3D rendering. In fact it was quite spectacular. There was full 360° perspective, with good depth rendering and nice atmospheric effects. You could walk around other players and objects, although you couldn’t walk through them. Unfortunately there were no accelerators or anything like that, so if you wanted to go from point A to point B you had to ambulate in real time.
You couldn’t change worlds, either, which was a bit of a bummer. And there was only one level, although the environment did morph over time from being bright and vividly saturated to sort of dark and shadowy. Not sure what the intention of that was. But I liked the effect, which is fortunate because I couldn’t find any way to turn it off or undo it.
There were other odd things too, like the fact that there were no energy meters. You had to judge when it was time to refuel based on some kind of gut feeling. The fuel came in glasses of a milky yellowish substance called “Pastis.” Oddly, you didn’t have to solve any puzzles in order to win them. You just asked. Where’s the challenge is in that?
What really freaked me out, however, was the other players. They tended to speak one at a time, sort of linearly, as if there were some kind of compiler limit or something. And none of them said anything about blogs, Second Life, WordPress, or wikis. It’s as if this game came from some whole other world. It was kind of creepy, because you couldn’t even pull up any bio data or background information on them, and when you got close, the avatars gave off a faint sort of meaty aroma.
In the end it was fun, but bizarre. I had trouble with all those things going on in my peripheral vision, and that one-on-one, one at a time communication was like something you’d expect from animals. I’m not sure there’s much of a future for a game like this – a game on some kind of closed-circuit, that doesn’t function on a WAN or even a LAN. Yet there was something strangely compelling about it too, as if it were tapping into some other reality that seems to have escaped us.