Monday, May 28, 2007

Can't Catch a Break

I bought a Nintendo Wii a little while ago and I like the sports game that came with it. I was most interested in the bowling game, but that's turned out to be harder to master than I thought. Here's a frustrating game I played - I got a spare in every frame, including a tricky split in the 6th, and not one solitary strike. Even the last bonus throw in the 10th resulted in a nine!

Have you ever heard that joke by Steven Wright about buying a humidifier and a de-humidifier, putting them in the same room and let them fight it out? I saw this principle in action at an office a couple of days ago while I was running errands. The a/c was set rather low in this office building and the staff in the lobby had no control over it. So they fought back with a small heater down by their feet. A few years ago I'd have laughed it off, but the energy usage is nothing to laugh at. I hope they get their a/c sorted out, but its more than likely they'll just keep things as they are. As long as the power bill stays where it is and there's enough profit to handle it without blinking, they'll leave the settings alone.

I spent a week in Jackson, Mississippi for work, where we installed some new software I've written. It's a billing system, which again demonstrates a principle I've noticed. Most software in businesses is built to move data from one place to another; simple as that. I wonder if anyone has, or will, come up with a computer language specifically designed to make such a task easier. I love writing in Delphi, an object-oriented extension of Pascal, but you do have to re-invent the wheel somewhat with each project, building objects and structures which do much the same task as the last project you wrote.

I'm reading a very interesting book at the moment, called Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life. It's a summary of the science which informs our speculation about life, so that when we go to places such as Mars and Europa we'll be able to make intelligent guesses about what sort of life we'd find there. Recommended if you like reading about science and history.
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Ivan Ric said...

Are you serious? How long, in minutes, would you say you have played Wii Sports bowling? I probably got my first strike within the first 15 minutes of playing.

Perhaps you are not doing something correctly, you can move left and right before you bowl, plus add curve and what-not.

Brian said...

Hey there Ivan,
Now I'm not saying that I can't get a strike - it's just this one game where for some reason I couldn't quite get it together. My best is around 208 and I usually get several strikes, and a couple of frames where I don't spare or strike. This was just an unusual game where I genuinely tried but couldn't get a strike. I might have been trying a new position, or direction or curve.

My usual is to stand all the way to the right, release the ball quite early, and apply a lot of spin - it puts it in the pocket a lot of the time.

S.Robins said...

Hey Brian,

Welcome to the world of Wii! Love that bowling, but the really hard thing is to be consistent with the spin. I can't believe the number of times that I've placed the 'feet' on the same spot, and held the Wiimote just 'so', and found that even a subtle variation in 3 dimensional space can completely change the way the ball goes. It even picks up on variations in speed and the position of release!

My biggest gripe about the Wii is how expensive the games are, and how few titles there are available at the moment. We 'resorted' to picking up a couple of GameCube titles just to give us a little more to do. Still, loads of fun to use... particularly when in groups of 2 or more.



Brian said...

Hey there Sean,
Yes, it's tricky isn't it? I reached pro status and now have about 1050 points on bowling. I'm at 1950 on tennis, and around 1100 on baseball. I don't play the golf much and tried the boxing only a couple of times.

But that sensitivity is really the beauty of the bowling game. By using the remote and really swinging it, you're not watching meters and pushing buttons, you're actually trying to calibrate a large physical action, which is much more fun and natural, I think. I hope more games use big analogue movements soon, like a fencing game or the ever-threatened light-saber sim :)
Games are around $50 here, but much more expensive in Oz, which doesn't seem fair. I can recommend excite truck, and for a good blast on the gamecube try F-Zero, which I wrote about a while ago. It can be difficult, but rewarding once you crack it.

Say hi to Liz and the boys for me!