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The "What'd You Say About My Mother??" Dept.:
MailBag for Issue #2

Comments by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman


Every week our associate editor takes on the big ol' pile of mail for your reading enjoyment...got something to say? Send it in. You just might win a swanky loonygames t-shirt. Letters are presented exactly as they are recieved.

They like us! They really really like us!

Dear Loonyboi,

I give up...call me loonyboi #2. :(

You ever have one of those mornings where you wake up, get ready for the day, and realize you might as well go back to bed because nothing seems interesting enough to actually stay up for? Lately the internet has taken this dull, drab feel to it and I've found myself just wishing I hadn't even opened my web browser in the first place. Sure there's always new news and reviews, but after awhile it just all seems to blend in together as one dyslexic blur.

Know the feeling well.

Then I read on Blue's about your page, and thought, "a no-news game page with columns written by people I've either met and enjoyed talking with, or other(s) whom I didn't agree with but respected their opinions." So I clicked the link and so far have enjoyed just about everything my eyes have come across. My only complaint Loony is WHY THE HELL DIDN'T YOU DO THIS SOONER?!? The net needs a breath of fresh air, and you have (no pun intended) blown the compitition away. Congrats!!!

Sincerely,
Chris King
a.k.a. Red Barchetta

Why thank you! This idea has been floating around loony's head for a while, but of course, a few too many beers and the loon's head turns into goop. So, it took a while for him to get it together. No, seriously, there was a lot involved in creating a site with everything he wanted on it (read last week's Mouth of Madness for the whole gory details), so it took a bit, but...we're here.

On gunshots to the head and Romero...er...Jeff??

Oooooh, my panties are in such a knot about that article on simulation sickness that I can't find the necessary words to express myself. While reading it, I found so many things to complain about to my co-workers that I am simply boggled at the idea of trying to find a starting place. I would appreciate it if you simply took the author out and shot him in the back of the head and then posted a picture so that I will be able to calm down.

Otherwise, your 'zine is pretty good.

Ty!

What part of "please use some reason when you have something to complain about" didn't you understand?? Why don't you tell us exactly what about the article got your panties in a snit instead of asking us to SHOOT Jeff. Because, well, NO! I have known Jeff (ready, I'm gonna make him turn bright red) since he was a cutie little boy, (not that he's not a cutie anymore, but he's hardly a little boy) and there's something quite fun about seeing someone grow up. And I fully intend to keep watching and embarassing the hell out of him. After all, that's what big sisters are for...embarassing not only the little brother, but the little brother's friends. :)

Guns belong in the games, not in our hands.

Just what is this "Quake Community" anyway?

Subject: Community

I've been an avid reader of Blue's News since way back when it was Blue's Quake Rag (I can almost remember the original URL, too). I've been a fan of id FPSs since Wolfenstein. I've been reading id .plan files off and on since long before QTEST. I remember the origins of clans, long before id tried to take control of the list (I remember the original dozen). I remember the old Stomped graphics.

And yet I don't feel like a member of any "community." There was a time, when Quake was fresh, that I felt marginally part of something greater. A time when I could recognize one handle across several servers, and know that it was the same person; friend or foe. There was a time when I read the various fan sites to see what was new, and got excited about it.

But those days seem long ago. Now I feel tired. I feel isolated. I play Quake II online with a few friends. I don't recognize handles across servers. I've given up calling out against campers. I read the news pages half-heartedly, hoping for the one inspiring article or link that will get my juices flowing.

Basically, I'm bored.

But why? In all honesty, I haven't ever felt part of this "community" that I hear folks talking about. I've never been included. I'm a member insofar as I play the same games. But the "community" as I see it, here in lovely central Ohio, is a private club. The movers and shakers are a community, and they all chum around with one another at the various gaming conventions. Web masters get to go see game demos long before they hit the shelves. Folks get private beta tests of the hottest new releases, and scores of hungry gamers wait with baited breath to devour the ensuing review.

I've never been to a gaming convention. I don't run a popular website. I'm just a guy who likes to play Quake. I don't know anyone famous. I don't live near any big gaming companies. I don't have the hottest hardware, fresh off the shelf (nor are companies sending me any to try out).

In some regards, I almost resent the "community" of which I am labeled a member.

I was going to write some feedback in regards to Paul Steed's first "Thinking Outside the Box" column. I'd love to order a pint of Guinness and talk to him in a smokey pool hall. I'd love to have some banter with him on all manner of subjects. He is intelligent, articulate, and fairly down to earth. But reading a .plan file, or reading a column, and responding to that is *far* removed from the scenario painted above. I can't interrupt him when he types. I can't make him clarify something on the spot. I can't see a wry smile creep across his face. I can't make him buy me second pint. Instead, all I can do is craft a long-winded response to his essay, detailing each point as I read it. He then replies in the same manner. Where's the fun in that? Where's the life - nay, the COMMUNITY - in that? Typed messages lose all personality, all flair. I can't get any hidden messages, or will often read in unintended hidden meanings. There's no *inflection* in the typed words.

I can remember a time when the id .plan files were basically lists of things that were either finished, or to be done. The occasional personal quip about something gave them a bit more flair. My favorites were always John Cash and Tim Willits. But then things started to change. Romero and KillCreek had a big publicized fight. KillCreek got a lot of attention. I could have cared less. The .plan files were suddenly filled with all sorts of posturings. These, in turn, bled over to the web pages. The news suddenly turned tabloidal.

Now we have gaming companies fighting one another in a text medium. How exciting is that? There seems to be very little focus on actually playing the games any more. Once, a web page contained brand spanking new information on some facet of the game; now web sites have in-depth reviews of mods, TCs and games that are no where CLOSE to being done. PlanetQuake promotes projects that are just getting under way.

Most of the games in development have very little mystery surrounding them. Reviews, screenshots, interviews about Shogo, Half-Life, Messiah, etc etc ad infinitum. It used to be that games were kept fairly under wraps. Every now and again an id employee would pop into IRC (<sarcasm> what another fine example of community that is. </sarcasm>) and drop some little nugget. Now game companies are filling whole web pages with more info than you can read in one sitting.

The news (or that information which is interesting to all parties) is trickling, where once it ran fast. We're in a lull state. We need something to come in and shake us up again. We need something fresh to unite us as a "community". It's hard even to find a site with consistent information about one topic. Blue's is now a 3D gaming resource. PlanetQuake hosts just about everything else. Where is a fellow to go to get information on just one topic?

Further, the novelty of this whole "community" is wearing off. I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread to be able to play Quake with some guy in England, or Switzerland, or where ever (and I fondly remember the day I played against Bear and Willits on the id public server...). I enjoyed playing a pioneering game with others like myself. Now, it's almost impossible to sell a game that doesn't support internet play. And as the younger generation begins playing, they take this fact for granted. They don't (in my experiences) appreciate the "connectedness" these games can promote (or, at least, at one time promoted).

So for any such community that exists, I am on the fringes. The guy who lives on the outskirts. In the bad part of town. I drive the beat-up Pinto, with the plank for a bumper. Although I may vote, the public leaders certainly aren't actively soliciting my thoughts.

Skippy

<with apologies for the randomness of thought.>

Very well put, and I totally agree with a lot of what you said.

I do feel part of a community, but I have a feeling if I didn't belong to a Quake clan, I would not. I have met 3 of my clan members in real life (well, 2, one has since left the clan), and that certainly helped create a feeling of togetherness I know everyone in my clan feels.

However, I completely know, and have felt the dismissal that is imposed upon people who aren't deemed to be 'somebody', or l33t. The effects go from not being opped or voiced when an entire channel is set to +m (meaning, without either, you can't talk), to being completely ignored at such events as E3 or QuakeCon. In other words, if you're not somebody, you don't have anything to say worth hearing. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast at both events. But, there is no denying the hierarchy that seems to exist in our community, how some people (those with webpages, or jobs in certain game companies) have more importance than others (those that just work for said webpages). And since I ended up hanging around both events with people substantially more well-known than me, no matter what I had to say, a great deal of the time it was ignored.

So yeah, there's a community there for me. That of my clan, and the people we hang out with in our irc channels...we're like some big dysfunctional family, and I consider a number of those people close friends. But the rest? Technically we're a community, and I certainly respect and enjoy being part of it. But the self-imposed caste system we've somehow created does a geat deal to destroy any sense of friendship anybody might feel.

And yeah, a lot is lost when all we do is read something. To use your example of Paul Steed...I recently interviewed him, in person, for this site (you can read the entire interview, which is a bit lengthy, in an upcoming issue). Based on what I've read of his writing, I expected an arrogant, obnoxious, loudmouthed smart-ass. He's really not any of that in person. Well, he's arrogant.J But not the rest. And he's suprisingly easy to get along with, I think the interview went very well. I did not expect to like him, in fact, that's part of why I did the interview instead of somebody else. But you're right, when you meet someone in person, things come across that don't on screen...namely a real personality.

So here's a question for everybody. Our 'community' is a mess. What do we do about it?

And the winner of his very own loonygames t-shirt...

It's nice to see a new site these days that isn't just another news site (no offense to Blue, I tend to think his is one of the best, if not the best, news site of its type), but has some rather interesting articles. I also especially enjoyed the review of Sam & Max, it got me to go find those old floppies and load it back up...and now that I know there's a "deluxe" (if it says deluxe, it MUST be good!), I might have to go track that down and buy me a copy. So I wanted to thank you for the site, your work lately on Shooters over on Psuedo, and for getting me to re-discover Sam & Max in the interim between Curse of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. Oh, and I think I can top 15-seconds for a pint of Guinness...

Brian "Tom Servo" Nilsen

Wow..someone likes Shooters. Just kidding loony, you know I love the show too. Anyway, yeah, Sam & Max is one of those lost treasures I think we've all forgotten about.

And god, I love Monkey Island...anybody named Guybrush Threepwood has to be fun.

But one guess why you're winning the t-shirt? Yup, the under 15 seconds for the Guinness. Next time you're in NY, come on down to the pub, we'll put you in a 'drink-off' with Jeff. You don't, we take the t-shirt back. :)

 We have gotten tons and tons of responses to Jeff Solomon's article on simulator sickness, most substantially more, well, substantive than the sludge printed above. Because of the volume of these requests, Jeff is going to write a separate feedback article that will appear in a future issue of loonygames. So...none of those letters here, keep checking back and you'll see them soon.

 

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Credits: MailBag logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. The MailBag is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and not nice.