Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

I Can't Tell You Why

Peegee has been in a contemplative mood for the past few days.  All because of one question:

"Why the hell are you doing this?"

The question came from a guy I was showing the pictures of the arcade cabinet and the plans for the Orbital game to.  I explained it, what I was doing, and so on, and he brushed it all aside to ask, "Why the hell are you doing this?"

What's wrong with it?

"This is stupid!  Why don't you get a Pac-Man machine or something?"

I explained to him the conditions of such machines and the costs with making sure they work correctly.

"So what?  It's a Pac-Man machine.  Everybody knows what that is.  Or what about one of those multicades?"

I don't like multicades.

"Why not?!?"

That's not how games were at the time.

"They weren't like this, either!  At least a multicade is cool!  People see that and want one!  Who's going to want your game?!?"

I will.

"So what?!?  How much have you spent on it so far?!?"


"There are people getting rid of full sized games for $300!  I got my Crystal Castles game for that!  It didn't need to be recapped!"

This was what I dreamed of as a kid.

"They make monitors for Arduino now.  10 inchers!  You can make a real video game!  You want to make your own, fine!  But at least this would look more legit!"

My idea's legit.  Merit Industries....

"You could take apart a Simon game, wire it up in that cabinet, and it would be more advanced than what you are doing!  This is a waste!  What happens when you die?!?  You think anyone else is going to want that stupid thing?!?  It'll go in a landfill!  They won't even repurpose it because of the screw-ups you made like the putty!  It's a dead end!  Why are you bothering?!?"

I have to admit, I wonder that sometimes myself.  A single button creation, a chasing lights game -- ten LED's, and when the right one lights up, you hit the button, next round is faster.  I had stopped for a while because I wasn't happy with the cabinet, but had nothing else to do with the parts, and starting over just wasn't in the budget at the time.  So I figured I might as well continue.

And the thing is, I admit this is lame.  I admit no one is going to find this the least bit interesting.  It won't be like when I did the GRAND UNVEILING!!! of FAILboat.  Making an Atari game appeals to other heads and/or those with a sense of kitsch. Orbital?  I recently reconnected with a friend I hadn't seen in over a decade.  I showed her the pictures and told her a little about it.  She didn't ask questions or say anything, she didn't see the point.  Which would pretty much be most people's reaction.  This isn't like making jewelry or some other hobby, where others can see a value in it, want to do it, or wonder if you could make something custom for them.  It's just something this person is doing, and the reasoning is iffy at best.

As I write this, the Orbital cabinet is about twenty feet away to my right.  I just have to lean the chair back and turn my head and I can see it.  And the weird part is, every nueron in my head is telling me making what is basically a glorified electronic game the size of a refrigerator, something that would be shrunk down and included free in a Happy Meal, is stupid.  I'm the only one that wants something like this.  Anyone else would want more.  Hell, I even want more.  There's a guy about an hour away from me with a working Road Runner arcade game for $1,500, and if I had the cash, I'd get it this weekend.  Another guy had a sitdown Star Trek -- Strategic Operations Simulator, fully restored for $3,000.  Once again, I would totally go for that.

But the weirdness doesn't stop there.  I look at Orbital, and I still want to finish it.  And not just as some sort of moral victory.  I will walk by it, and occasionally adopt The Stance that all arcade gamers do, put my hand on the button, and give it a couple of presses like the game is finished and playing, my gaze on the empty part where the display would be.  The marquee is below my eyeline, and I'll look at it, imagining what it will look like once I put that part together.  I'll run my hands along it, thinking I should have been more careful puttying up the holes and such, but also aware that, placed correctly, no one will really notice.  I will still work on the code for the game itself once in a while, building it piece by piece.

Why am I making the game?

I have no idea.

But clearly, some part of me wants it, as lame and uncool as it is.  Even though the parameters of the project no longer apply (for example, I wanted it portable so I could take it to comic shows as a fundraiser.  I'm not really bothering with comic shows anymore) other than my goal of trying to bring it in for under $500, I still want this thing.  To see it finished.  To play it.  To have it.


Maybe I'll figure it out after the game is done....

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