Image Prompt: The Exploding Earth!

Author’s note: this is definitely based on the picture…

No sound carries in space.  That makes it eerier, perhaps, as I watch the destruction unfold in front of me.  Our only home, the source of all known life, being washed away in a single catastrophic event.

At least, that is how I would be feeling if the damn design artists could just get the stupid thing right.

Instinctively, I reach up towards my face.  Unfortunately for me, the helmet simulation is working perfectly, so I feel my gloved hand “thunk” against the plexiglass of my helmet.  I can feel my temples aching already.

“Pause, pause,” I say into the mike.  “Look, I’ve reported this before.  I’ve explained to you guys why we can’t have this.  Why isn’t this error fixed yet?”

The picture in front of me winks out, and I reach up and lift the bulky goggles off of my face.  This new 3-D gaming may be immersive, sure, but I do wish that the hardware engineers would work on slimming it down.  I feel like I’m back in chemistry class.

With the goggles off, my view of the slowly exploding planet is replaced by a group of confused executives and worried-looking nerds.  I turn around, pointing at the screen behind me, where my last view is still displayed.

“Just look at this explosion!” I yell, making sure to direct most of my anger towards the nerds.  “This isn’t at all how it would look!  Tiny little impact crater?  The back half of the Earth fracturing for no reason?  Massive fireball, when there’s no oxygen in space?  We’re trying to market this as science fiction, not science fantasy!”

At the head of the table, I see Bill, one of the executives, raise a hand in the air.  With a grunt of disgust to end my speech, I gesture towards him.

“Look, I’m glad that our head of QA is so focused on this project,” Bill begins in an affable but confused tone, “but I’m not quite sure why this is such a big deal.”

In response, I wave my hand down at the getup I’m wearing.  I still have the kinetic control gloves on my hands, and the mask is now perched on my forehead.  “We keep on talking about the ‘realistic, immersive experience’,” I say, quoting the proposed jacket design from memory.  “We went and studied space suits to get every detail right.  We’ve got a launch simulator so intense, NASA wants to lease it from us.  But we can’t put all that emphasis on reality and then make a total joke of the laws of physics like we do here.  And this is in one of the early cut scenes!”

Throughout this speech, Bill is nodding.  I can only hope that this is a gesture of understanding, not just of wanting me to finish and shut up.  He turns towards the closest nerd, a worthless excuse of a developer named Casey.  “How long would this thing take to fix?” he asks.

Casey fiddles with his glasses, adjusting where they are held together at the bridge by duct tape.  “It’s a pretty intense cut scene,” he stammers, obviously flustered at being put on the spot.  “It would probably take us a couple weeks to generate it again just for taking out the fireball.  Adding in the other effects would probably be months.”

Now it’s Bill’s turn to sigh and rub at his forehead.  Unlike me, he doesn’t have any goggles blocking him from doing so.  “Weeks, huh?” he says finally, and I feel my heart sink.  “Look, we’re set to go gold next week.  Sorry, but there’s no way that this is getting fixed.”

I can already feel rage and arguments welling up inside me.  A half dozen different ways of approaching the problem present themselves to me inside my head.  I sweep them all away, letting out my breath with a sigh.

“Okay,” I say instead.  “Let’s move on to the next bug – this one happens when we stumble onto the alien craft in the next crater over…”

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