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Desc:1992 story on the Battletech virtual reality center. A whopping 32 meg of RAM per machine!
Category:Science & Technology, Video Games
Tags:90s, virtual reality, battletech
Submitted:FABIO
Date:12/06/12
Views:2256
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Comment count is 30
SteamPoweredKleenex
They still set these things up at conventions, though I think the hardware isn't as crappy. I have to hand it to them that the gear is still in use when just about every other sit-down or VR pod game from the days of yore are in landfills somewhere.

Still hard as hell to play, especially if you do so with all of the options running (like being able to turn your mech's torso independent of the legs).
TheOtherCapnS
FUCK YES!

My older brother actually played BattleTech (and Shadowrun), and I would always read the sourcebooks and marvel at the awesomeness of it all, even though I knew he and his nerd friends were mega-nerds engaging in mega-nerdery.

When I was 12 my family was in Chicago for a completely unrelated reason, and my brother and I put on a huge campaign to go to Navy Pier to go to the BattleTech center (it was straight out of Christmas Story, with magazine articles left for my parents to read about it well before the trip took place). We got there a couple of hours before the center even opened (I think it was on the decline even then), so we had to wander around for a while, but then we got in!

There was a substantial tutorial/orientation and then we got into those incredibly intricate pods that I had read so much about. I felt reverential as the attendant told me there were over 100 functional buttons and toggles, most of which they hadn't even told us about because they couldn't cover everything in the beginner tutorial (none of the magazine articles had even mentioned that! I was floored). My mech was a Mad Cat, and I assumed I would wipe the floor with everyone. I got my ass handed to me, of course.

Whoever it is that used Kerensky as their tag (was it the designer, Jordan Weisman maybe?!) was in our game, and he wiped the floor with everyone. We only got to play the one round, then it was time to leave (I think my mom was pissed that we had to wait for the center to open, which was after Navy Pier itself opened).

Later on that trip the Bulls won their second championship, and we watched dudes flipping over cars only miles from our hotel. The very next day my brother and I went to the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium by ourselves. My mom was worried about us, but our family friend who had lived in Chicago his whole life was like "They'll be fine!" so we took a cab down there and wandered around together, then took a cab back that night.

Okay, I'm done geeking out. Thanks for this vid! I'm gonna share it with my brother.
FABIO
The owners/makers hanging around the center to wipe the floor with 12 year olds who have never played before is kind of a dick move.

EvilHomer
I don't care if he IS the owner, it takes some nerve for a freebirth to name himself Kerensky.

Meatsack Jones
Aff Evilhomer. Such a surat would never make a worthy opponent to the true children of Kerensky quiaff?

cognitivedissonance
The gap between "what the book says you do" and "what actually happens when you're playing" is always quite enormous in every game system, ever.

FABIO
Why don't you fags go couple while quoting The Remembrance to each other? Maybe they'll even let you adopt a freebirth child!

RocketBlender
I'm with Captain. Navy Pier was one of the best parts of living in Chicago. I was just shy of 10 when this place showed up, and it was awesome to me.

Callamon
fourty-two thousand colours are available at any time!
sosage
LJ: When I was in high school they set up one of these centers in the area's "rich neighborhood" a couple towns over (Walnut Creek). I could never afford to play, but I always thought it was cool/weird that there were centers in only a few places across the world...all in major cities (Chicago and I think Tokyo??)...and then this one in the random Bay Area suburb full of rich assholes. Why not downtown SF or San Jose? Today, the Battletech Center is a high end Persian rug store. The town is still a community of rich assholes.

I didn't claim this LJ was interesting.
memedumpster
I never got to go to one of these. This place my mecca for my childhood.
erratic
you were a bad muslim-child then

HarrietTubmanPI
They had one in Eagleton and they never let anyone from Pawnee play.
EvilHomer
I read about these in my video game magazines, but I never got to go to one. All I had near me was lousy Q-zar.

At least I know what I'll be getting for my midlife crisis in a decade or two!
Meatsack Jones
I worked at the Hazard Center one in San Diego. Fracking awesome capabilities for the time. The 50 plus controls in master mode could make your brain cook after a bit.
Cheese
I went to that one a few times in 1995-1997, my buddy and I dug it (though not as much as the nickel arcades around at the time). I still use my Battletech call sign for games, Bowlringer.

Jeriko-1
They had one at Forest Fair Mall in Ohio.
We were poor so I never even got near it.
You might remember that one, it was eventually renamed Cincinnati Mills and was featured here as 'the Mall of the Dead' The arcade it was in closed 15+ years ago like everything else in that godforsaken place.
Explodotron
Always wanted to go to one of these places as a kid, but of course I never did. A coupon for a free session came with the second (?) edition boxed set. I held onto it "just in case" I ever had the chance to go.

My current day dream is to get 10 Xboxes with 10 complete sets of Steel Battalion and Line of Contact. Even though the net code is infamously horrible, I'm sure full 5v5 on a LAN would do just fine.

Also, building a cockpit from scratch for the above. I'm sure I have my napkin blue prints somewhere around here...
Meatsack Jones
Just play Mechwarrior In Line. It's about as good as you can get for battlemech simulation.

FABIO
Mechwarrior ONline!

I'm playing that right now! Handle: BOOMLegshot

FABIO
Just a word of warning though, it's free to play and all the free mechs are garbage. You'll repeatedly get stomped into the ground until you grind enough funny money or plunk down real money to buy your own mech.

Explodotron
I prefer the more simulation-like experience. Otherwise I just play the table top game... or as my friend calls it "Fighting Spreadsheets."

Albuquerque Halsey
There's one where I live:

http://hinklefamilyfuncenter.com/

when I first heard of them, I couldn't go because it was too expensive, or when I had the money I had noone to go with. The one time I could, I had a stomachache and couldn't play.
CornOnTheCabre
The Wizards of the Coast Game Center in Seattle used to have a room full of pods, while that was still a thing that existed. I got a lot of play out of it, especially once I learned how to bind firing all the medium lasers at once between the two trigger buttons, which isn't really all THAT big of an advantage, but was positively crushing in the late '90s against a bunch of fellow 12-15 year olds and the odd dumb dad.

It was great. Sometimes you could just cripple a particular obnoxious person's leg and leave them slowly wandering around in a circle for the rest of the (usually) overpriced session.

hooray for nostalgiafests
cognitivedissonance
Tell us about your summers at Magic: The Gathering camp. It's my favorite story of yours.

FABIO
Arcade dominance nostalgia!

I remember being 12 and visiting relatives in a small midwest town and hitting up the local arcade with my cousin. It was the height of Mortal Kombat 2 mania. It turned out no one had ever seen a fatality before, didn't even know they existed. Spending the afternoon surrounded by jaw dropped amazed midwesterners as I decapitated and diced every challenger.

I guess their arcade never had the black trench coat kid selling everyone move lists for .

CornOnTheCabre
ha, I KNEW i wouldn't get away with making that post without the thread finding out I went to Wizards of the Coast daycamp...

But yeah, it was essentially the anti-social indoor kid paradise you'd expect. They broke down 4 weeks of camp into specific games, which was kinda laughable because the camp was run by burnout twentysomethings who basically just played the same games at work all day (as broached in the post following this one, how did this place shut down again?).

I went to the Magic: The Gathering week and the Warhammer one, which added up to me playing approximately an hour of each game throughout the entire summer. Granted, the Warhammer week did pretty much dedicate a whole day to painting figurines, taught by some doughy blowhard who claimed he used to sell figures to Robin Williams for up to a thousand dollars a piece... He taught me how to paint a pretty nice looking wooden staff, which is far and away the closest thing I got to obtaining a marketable skill throughout the entire experience.

The rest of the time was either spent on WOTC's bank of computers playing all the games I couldn't otherwise play due to cheapo home hardware or ESRB ratings (first time I played Fallout 2!) OR playing Super Smash Bros with fellow campers ("social time") OR playing Battletech. The employees weren't supposed to let us play in the pods more than once or twice a day, but again, you're talking about mostly disillusioned young dudes who could really give a shit. if you were amicable enough to the staff, you could spend the whole day just jumping in on other paying peoples' games in the interest of "a fuller experience" (see: the 12-year-old being shoved into a dark, soundproof pod instead of trying to talk to you)

and as terribly run as the game center was, it wasn't nearly as bad of an idea as Dalmuti's, the adjoining Wizards of the Coast-themed pizzeria, which somehow managed to shut down before the gigantic, poorly-accounted super arcade did. but before that, they essentially catered the camp, meaning that we'd get pizza for lunch pretty much every day. which would be almost immoral for a child's daycamp if the pizza weren't so absolutely godawful and bland that I, a slovenly preteen addicted to JRPGs, swore off pizza for the rest of the summer.

ahhh, the salad days. i might not have lost my virginity until i was 18, but at least I at one point knew how to paint tiny sticks on figures for a game I don't even play

DriverStabby
I was just telling my girlfriend about these Battletech simulators the other day. We had them in Seattle, at the WOTC experiment in the U District, in the late 90's. They had you watch an instructional video before playing, and it starred Judge Reinhold himself.

Aside from the Battletech room, they had a full size arcade on one side, and a gaming store on the other. The lower floor was a massive tournament hall. Of course, Battletech was their main thing, and it was too expensive for all the kids to play, but I stopped in all the time to talk to people and use the toilet. I don't know why they went out of business.
jreid
They had a setup of these at the base of the CN Tower in Toronto for a while. I remember being poor and young and a friend and I going there with all the money we could scrounge together - it was something ridiculous like per round.

The place was dead so the two nerds who were running it jumped into two machines and played VS my friend and I - without providing us with any instructions. Obviously they killed us both within seconds and that was my entire expensive and horrible experience. So fuck those nerds and fuck Battltetech.
Explodotron
Couldn't have been that traumatic... you still gave it 4 stars.

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