When I was younger, I played the grand-daddy of all future ‘god-games’, RTS, or Real Time Strategy games, wherein you control an army from a top-down view. Things have gotten cleaner and crisper and a lot in gameplay has been enhanced, but the style is the same and in most of these games you can still ‘Tank Rush’ – build as many tanks or like units as possible, as quickly as you can, and bulldoze the opposing army.
Dune 2 started it all.
My brother and I and a ragtag group of friends were huge fans of this game, and I would still play it briefly today, just for nostalgia. Plus it had a great musical score that no subsequent incarnations of the game have been able to match.
We were biggest fans of House Harkonnen, made famous in the book by Frank Herbert for being ruthless, bloodthirsty, degenerate, calculating and slightly insane bastards, symbolised by their House colour – a rich, blood red.
In the later missions (there were only 9 for each of 3 Houses – the others being Atreides and Ordos), House Harkonnen received the ability to launch ‘Death Hand’ atomic warheads from their palaces. This would devastate a vast area, but always take out the building it hit directly. Of course, the missile itself had a dreadful aiming mechanism, which meant that you saved before you launched, and launched and reloaded the saved game as many times as necessary until you took that sucker’s Construction Yard out once and for all.
“Death Hand Missile – LAUNCHED!”
Now it seems, the Death Hand is real – in name if not in exactly the same context.
In the 1980s, the Soviets developed the ultimate Doomsday device that would monitor seismic waves and air pressure etc across the motherland, looking for signs of devastation from an American nuclear warhead, at which point it would remove layers of crucial red tape, and allow a 25 year old officer access and ability to launch his local neighbourhood’s nuclear toy.
You can read the full Wired article here.
It’s real. And what’s more, it’s still operational. This is a fascinating article that shows that behind how far we’ve come is the story of not only how close we’ve come, but how far, in actuality, we’ve yet to traverse.