Monday, June 16, 2014

Getting Meta - Mission Space

Getting Meta - Mission Space

I've stopped playing a few video games at the point that I have my character enter some kind of virtual reality simulation.  My instant reaction is that what's going on isn't real and there are no consequences.  This is, of course, a completely accurate statement towards playing video games in the first place, but I don't like to be reminded of it.

So, Mission Space.  It replaced Horizons at Epcot, but it's also more of an update to the classic Mission to Mars, it self updated from Rocket to the Moon and Flight to the Moon.  Take a look at the original and see how it's done properly:

The only effect you can't see in the video is that the seats sunk down to simulate the g-forces of acceleration.  Not the most thrilling attractions, and by the 80s it was outdated to the point of needing to be either revamped or replaced.  But it did have one neat thing, or at least neat to a little kid:

You got to pretend to go to Mars.

So, Mission Space.  So close to Mission to Mars that people still mix the names up more than twenty years after the original closed.  Instead of a theater, guests sit in an actual spinning centrifuge, or a stationary centrifuge for the tamer, less likely to kill you version.

Here is the script.

So, we're not actually going to Mars, of course.

Nor are we pretending to go to Mars.

We might be pretending to go on a training mission in a futuristic spaceship, the X-2, but we're not.

We're pretending we're in the future (2036 to be exact) and pretending that we're entering a simulation of travelling through space.  Meanwhile, in real life, we actually are going into a simulation of traveling through space.

The scripts are a bit hazy in parts, but they're very clear that nobody is going to Mars, pretend or otherwise.  Some issues:
  • The pre-show implies that we're going to board an actual (or at least pretend) X-2 Deep Space Shuttle.
  • The pre-boarding spiel refers to it as the X-2 flight trainers.  The green team spiel is even clearer - "X-2 Flight Trainer that produces the sensation of a flight through space".  So we're not even pretending to take the X-2 on a training run.
  • The script constantly mentions how you're training for the first mission to Mars, and how elite this mission is.  But to be clear, you are not going on (or pretending to go on) the first mission to mars, only training for it.  And the elite mission is not the one you're going on, its one that you're training for.
  • If we're only on a simulator for a future trip to Mars, why do we need to do this from the imaginary future?  Why send us halfway to imagining we're going on a trip to Mars, only to pop our bubble and stress that it's a simulated training mission.  We could have a modern day Gary Sinise just say "Spin around like an astronaut in training, maybe one day we'll go to Mars" 
I'm struggling to come up with any reason why "a futuristic simulation of a training mission" was picked over a straight out "you're going to Mars".  Some possible stupid reasons might be:
  • to explain why a regular tourist is piloting a ship to Mars.  First off, I don't think any guest is so insecure that they're thinking "I'm not qualified to pretend to fly to Mars.  I can only handle pretending to be on a training simulator".  Also, this would be a brilliant time to pull out the patented Disney "something goes wrong" bit, like Space Camp or Far Out Space Nuts.

  • to explain why there's no return trip, like the original Mission to Mars.  But they could have had a return trip, or theme the post-show area to be a base on Mars.
  • to explain why the in-ride video looks so horrible.  This one is a titch more plausible, as the video doesn't cut it for a realistic view of a space flight.  For that matter, it doesn't cut it for a ride that cost $100,000,000.

As an aside, to make the pre-show narrative even clunkier, they had to have lines to spackle over a plot hole which doesn't even matter.  This is the first mission...sorry...this is a simulation of a training mission for the first landing on Mars, so why does it appear that there is already a base there?  Sinise has a line about robotic teams setting up the landing zone, but since it's only a simulation why does it even - 

- deep breaths, crystal blue persuasion - 

If anyone can fill me in on why they didn't just go with "You're flying to Mars, please don't die", please let me know.

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