When we last mentioned the Amiga Wing Commander Computer, it was on its way around the world to have critical circuitry repaired in New Zealand. The machine has arrived at its destination, and the Kiwi technician there has already fixed what was broken! That doesn't mean that LOAF has been without a mission for the last few weeks, however. In the mean time, Karga has gotten some upgrades in order to clean up its layout and make room for the Amiga. Most impressive of all is the new VFX-1 virtual reality headset that has been added to the setup. In addition to fancy head tracking and 3D support in games like Wings of Glory and System Shock, the device is also the coolest way you can possibly steer your ship in Wing Commander. LOAF even got a posh glass head to store it on when not in use!
So, is that it? Project on hold for a month, you're not going to have LOAF to Amiga around anymore? Actually, the stars have aligned and I'm happy to announce that following in Pix's footsteps I have...
... purchased a Forte VFX-1 virtual reality helmet! You can read about Pix's first experiences here: http://www.pixsoriginadventures.co.uk/system-shock-on-the-vfx-1 and I just couldn't let him have all the fun. Actually, I saw sold the minute I learned I had an excuse to buy one: the card officially supports yaw movement in several Wing Commander games. That's enough to warrant inclusion in my setup, although the REAL prize should be using it to 'look around' in Wings of Glory!
Now, yes the use in Wing Commander is fairly limited... and yes the 3D aspect is useless to a cyclops such as myself... but it's just too darn cool looking to pass up. And WoG, one of my favorite games, fully supports them.
It's going to require a major structural change to Karga. The vaunted and valuable LAPC-I is out and will need to be replaced by an external MT-32 (luckily I have two ready to go!)... and I'll need to put a PCI video card with a feature connector in my last available slot. And of course my web of various external connections will need to change... but it'll be fun to figure that all out in the coming weeks! And come on, it's a freaking VR helmet! What is more 1990s than that?
I'd actually been working behind the screens to try and get one of these the last few weeks. I had a heartbreaking encounter over at the VFX Yahoo group where someone offered to GIVE ONE AWAY to the first person from the UK who responded. I replied first and I should have just given him Hades' address but I didn't think of it... so it went to someone else.
Then someone offered to sell me one, but shipped from Canada with an entire computer attached... and I had to make an offer. I was going to say $400 for the system and hope that was enough when I happened to search eBay and find one listed UNDER THE WRONG NAME! It was listed as a "VFX-I" (eye, not one) and so it didn't go for an insane amount of money. Burned off Saturday waiting to snipe it and I got lucky!
So: VFX-1 coming in the mail and Karga will re-enter our story!
Finally, I'd heard that the VFX-1 had a cameo in an episode of X-Files. I decided to go through my DVDs and see if I could find it. Interestingly it wasn't in EITHER of the Virtual Reality-related episodes... instead, it shows up in the Lone Gunmen's origin story, "Unusual Suspects." Screenshot!