Sunday, November 16, 2008

Translating the analogy

Tim, writing from the second leg of his India journey:
Autorickshaws in Chennai : autorickshaws in Delhi :: Asteroids : Sinistar
For those too young to remember, or who were busy with an actual life in 1982 to have been playing Sinistar at their local Golfland, I've provided a helpful visual translation.

In Asteroids, players control their ship with short bursts of thrust in an environment approximating zero-gravity physics (in two dimensions). Motion continues in a straight line, and even slows to a stop (as if there were somehow friction in space).

The asteroids you are attempting to destroy/avoid are also moving in straight lines at constant speeds. When they disappear off the edge of the screen, they reappear at the opposite edge (180° opposite), continuing to travel in the same direction at the same speed. The challenge is that as you shoot the larger, slow moving asteroids, they break down into smaller asteroids, now moving in new trajectories at quicker speeds.

At the start of each level, it is easy to sit in one spot and rotate your ship to shoot at asteroids passing by. As the level continues, you are forced to continually adjust your position with short (or long) bursts of thrust to avoid the paths of an increasing number of asteroids traveling at varied (if constant) rates of speed. The video below is illustrative (you do not have to watch the whole thing):

YouTube link

While unrealistic, the physics of the game are extremely predictable. When your ship is eventually destroyed, there is a sense that had you only done a better job of anticipating the various trajectories, you could have escaped your fate.

Sinistar begins cosmetically the same. You pilot a triangular ship in two dimensions, attempting to break apart large asteroids.

But unlike Asteroids,there are multiple things flying at you, in variable trajectories, at variable (non-constant) speeds. Worse still, one cannot control the acceleration of the ship with controlled engine thrusts. In Sinistar, THERE IS NO STOPPING.

YouTube link

Add to that the screaming Sinistar (skip ahead to 1:30 into the video), and a game of Asteroids begins to feel like a spa day in comparison.

Which is simply to say Tim's had an exciting first day in Delhi.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Chris; you rock.

second day in delhi; more autorickshaws.

observation; star wars epsidoe iii came out some 25 years after star wars episode iv. the special effects in the intervening years made the aerial space dogfights that much more intense.

Delhi is like episode iii to Chennai's episode iv.


chennai = disneyland's autotopia
delhi = disneyland's star tours