...randomness surrounding Guided by Voices, Robert Pollard, and other great indie rock bands; a quasi objective look at "my" sporting teams; the random horror film; plus other crap as we see fit...all with a Pittsburgh based feel.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Desert Bus

I'm an unapologetic Penn & Teller fan. Whenever I make it out to Vegas, I'll be seeing the stage show. I try to catch all the Bullshit episodes, despite not having Showtime. I've even bought and read the books.

One of the lesser know ventures the duo have undertaken was a failed video game. The game was being produced under the working title of "Penn & Teller: Smoke and Mirrors" and was essentially a collection of mini-games, that covered a variety of Penn & Teller subject material. While the game never saw the store shelves, one of it's mini-games found its way into the deep seedy world of Internet piracy. That game is "Desert Bus".

The game was a response to the then Janet Reno attack on video game violence and detachment from reality. She called for video games to be more realistic, which prompted the making of the most painfully realistic game you could make. As described in the (accurate) Wikipedia article.

The objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time at a maximum speed of 45mph. The feat requires 8 hours of continuous play to complete, since the game cannot be paused.

The bus contains no passengers, and there is no scenery or other traffic on the road. The bus veers to the right slightly; as a result, it is impossible to tape down a button to go do something else and have the game end properly. If the bus veers off the road it will stall and be towed back to Tucson, also in real time. If the player makes it to Las Vegas, they will score exactly one point. The player then gets the option to make the return trip to Tucson—for another point (a decision they must make in a few seconds or the game ends). Players may continue to make trips and score points as long as their endurance holds out. Some players who have completed the trip have also noted that, although the scenery never changes, a bug splats on the windscreen about five hours through the first trip, and on the return trip the light does fade, with differences at dusk, and later a pitch black road where the player is guided only with headlights.

The game became famous, or infamous, in certain circles for its inane premise and absurd play.

Why discuss Desert Bus? Why now? All fair questions, but ones that can be answered.

Yesterday started the 3rd annual "Desert Bus for Hope" game marathon. A bunch of kids decided a few years back that a multi-day marathon run of Desert Bus was a fitting way to raise money for a charity that supports groups that foster gaming and recreation for "less-fortunate" children. I'm not trying to sell anyone on a charity, just felt it necessary to the story.

"Desert Bus for Hope 1" lasted 4 days and 14 hours, earning them 6 points.
"Desert Bus for Hope 2: Bus Harder" lasted 5 days and 5 hours

Now the group is roughly 14 hours into "Desert Bus for Hope 3" and as for now they hope to go 103 hours of driving a lifeless 16-bit graphic bus down a straight scenic-less road.

I would suggest everyone take a few minutes to check out their website. It's full of good stuff, along with updates to their progress, as well as web cam shots from the bus driver and of the video game itself.

Go those guys.

P.S. Fortuna Dusseldorf, winners! Reading, soon-to-be-winners!

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