When Nintendo first released details about the Wii and the Wii Remote, my first thought was that it would be perfect for FPS games.
I’m not a big fan of FPS, especially on consoles, and controls are the main reason why.
In fact, I’m not a big fan of analog sticks in general, but especially for aiming. I thought that a remote I could just point at the screen like an actual gun would be more intuitive, easier, and more fun to use.
I finally got to rent a copy of Call of Duty 3, one of the two launch FPS games (the other being the much maligned Red Steel. After playing through the first mission, I’m not overwhelmed by how much better the control is, though I’m not completely disappointed either. I guess that I’m cautiously optimistic.
The controls are easy enough: nunchuk joystick to walk, remote to aim (and also change walking direction). The A button goes to “scope” view, which is much steadier and easier to aim. The buttons on the nunchuck are for crouching/jumping/etc. The B button is to shoot. The arrows are to launch grenades. While you can melee by just moving the Wiimote, you can also melee with the down arrow. The minus key is to pick up stuff/open doors/get on tanks/etc. The 1 button shows objectives, and 2 button switches to binoculars. That’s a lot of controls to keep straight.
Obviously, the analog stick has been around longer than the wiimote, so it will take some getting used to, and unfortunately, I’m still not very good at it. For some reason I was expecting to become immediately better at FPS games, and that has just not happened. That being said, I’ve played one mission in one game, so I’m sure it’s too early to condemn or praise the controls overall.
I’m optimistic that as more titles are released that controls and interaction will improve. I’m not yet convinced that wiimote aiming is any better or worse than analog stick aiming, but I’m certainly convinced that wiimote aiming is more engaging. I think a gun-shaped controller with trigger might be a good idea for FPS’ing down the road (the B button really isn’t in a natural place for shooting.
IGN has also checked out an upcoming FPS Wii release (Far Cry Vengeance), and according to them, the FPS controls are only improving.
Verdict: if FPS controls on the Wii stay as they are now, FPS on the Wii will fail. They must be refined and improved considerably.
I enjoy SomethingAwful’s regular feature (series?) about the DynaMars Corporation. In case you missed the previous installments, I’ve compiled a list of previous DynaMars articles.
- Welcome to the DynaMars Corporation’s Ares Station Update Service [August 4, 2004]
- Welcome to the DynaMars Corporation’s Ares Station Update Service [September 15, 2004]
- Welcome to the DynaMars Corporation’s Ares Station Update Service [May 11, 2005]
- Welcome to the DynaMars Corporation’s Ares Station Update Service [May 25, 2005]
- Welcome to the DynaMars Corporation’s Ares Station Update Service [December 28, 2005]
- DynaMars Corporation Ares Station Resident Complaint Queue [November 22, 2006]
I think that’s all of ‘em. If I missed one, please feel free to post it in the comments below and I will add it.
If you are confused about what this is about, it’s almost like a back-story or even background story to the Doom series of games. The idea is that this corporation is like a pioneering time-share resort/settlement on Mars and its moons. The hilarity ensues when the DynaMars staff responds to living on the edge of Hell (literally) with careful, dimwitted bureaucracy.
What would it take to show that outsourcing (the common misnomer for what should actually be called offshoring) is not a danger to the U.S., its workers, or its economy?
What if, in spite of increased offshoring, the unemployment rate went down, the total number of jobs went up, the GDP went up, and the average wage went up?
Now, I know that statistics never tell the whole story. I think that there has been a lot of backlash against outsourcing: not necessarily because “DEY TOOK ER JERBS”, but because “I can’t understand what this Dell rep on the phone is saying to me.” However, not every offshored job was a call center job. Offshoring makes a lot of sense if various barriers (practical ones: time zones, distance, language, etc) aren’t an issue or can be mitigated. The wisdom of outsourcing is almost undebateable: the only issue of contention was the “giant sucking sound” of offshoring to other countries. Enter Ross Perot, Michael Moore, Pat Buchanan, etc ad nauseum saying something to the effect of: Evil CEO Wadsworth T. Moneybags trying to save a buck so he can buy an extra-large yacht at the expense of the hardworking pariah Joe Q. Bluecollar.
Exploitative class warfare and anecdotal evidence aside, whether their attempts at isolationism were well-intentioned and/or foolish, the disastrous loss of jerbs and damage to the economy hasn’t come. In spite of the dot-com bubble, in spite of terrorist attacks, in spite of the Iraq war, in spite of [insert person or event you hate here].
The panic-based arguments about India aren’t new, of course. NAFTA was Ross Perot’s nemesis, from hence the “giant sucking sound” was coined. Japan was the devil from the far east, rising up to destroy U.S. car manufacturers in revenge for the A-bomb. Neither country has destroyed the U.S. economy yet, despite legions of doom-sayers.
In the meantime, India has gone from a third-world country to an emerging capitalist force. Japan’s operations and management techniques hurt U.S. car companies because of their unwillingness to compete. But in the end, they have improved efficiency, productivity, and innovation all over the world. Mexico…well…they can’t all be winners I guess. Though a less corrupt government might help things out there.
To be clear though, not everything can (or should) be outsourced (or offshored). Just because Company A outsources their trucking or catering, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for Company B to do. Since offshoring is just a different version of outsourcing, the same holds true. But would you pay $50 for a $10 bill? Companies aren’t charities (at least, not for long): if they see a good opportunity to reduce costs, why wouldn’t they take it?
My father’s birthday was just the other week, and my friend’s daughter’s first birthday is coming up this weekend. Ali decided to make cakes for each one.
My father is a car nut, and he is currently restoring a Nash Metropolitan in his garage (the picture below is not his car, but looks very similar). Ali made a car-shaped cake colored about the same as his.
Apparently all the kids love Dora the Explorer now, even the 1-year olds. Ali made a Dora cake for her.
You can check out other cakes she’s made by using the cake tag here.
Here’s a little easter egg for those of you (like my wife) obsessed with Wii bowling.
Have you ever played World of Warcraft (or any game) for 48 hours straight and then hated yourself afterwards for wasting so much time?
A friend of mine at Digital Welfare is going to play 48 hours of World of Warcraft, but he’s doing it for charity.
Details are forthcoming, and I believe he is still looking for sponsors, so if you want to be a part of it, head on over there and contact him.
I hope you all have a nice Thanksgiving. Feel free to leave a comment about what you are thankful for, and try not to be sarcastic this time (this means you Jonny).
I’m thankful for every single reader of this blog. By reading, you validate my ramblings and make me feel like someone cares about my dopey opinions.
Also, I’m thankful for:
Recently, some coworkers and I got into a discussion about the various “new” media formats that are coming out, their advantages, disadvantages, etc. Ultimately it came down to this: which one will win?
We’re all familiar with Betamax vs VHS. VHS “won” the consumer war with it’s lengthy recording time versus the Betamax’s superior quality. Betamax was relegated to niche/professional roles while millions of VCR’s filled consumer’s houses.
For music, it’s been more or less a story of progression and not necessary competing mediums. Record players were the media for a while, 8-tracks became popular for cars, cassette tapes supplanted records for the most part, and Philips’ Compact Disc has been the dominant music media for a while now. We are starting to see two complimentary technologies supplant CD’s: MP3 players (iPods, etc) and music download services (iTunes, Napster, etc).
The question then becomes: what will be the prevaling video format in the years to come? The Blu-ray disc is now competing with the HD-DVD. This isn’t exactly one company versus another. Blu-ray has an impressive list of supporting companies, and if HD-DVD’s site wasn’t a crappy, entirely flash site, I would give you a link to their list of supporting companies as well.
Another alternative entirely is that video will go the way that music is going now: downloads from whatever website to the device of your choice: a video iPod or iRiver or some such thing, or maybe some sort of home component like an iHome or Xbox 360.
I’m not going to get into the detail of the technical specs of each alternative, there’s plenty of information about each one floating out there on Google. Go look for yourself and make up your own mind.
Here’s another alternative that I think (or maybe wish) that would “win” the home format war:
To put it more clearly: memory cards. SD cards. Flash RAM. Those little things you put in your camera, cell phone, Wii, PC. Go ahead and laugh. Go on, let it out. Done? Okay keep reading:
For many many years, I’ve looked at floppy disk drives, hard drives, CD/DVD drives, casette tape players, etc. They’ve all come a long way and they’ve all improved, but they all have one thing in common: moving parts. This means that they are slow, can wear out, and require a specialized (relatively expensive) machine to read them.
I think the only things stopping solid state media from already being dominant is fairly obvious: price and capacity. They are too expensive and not big enough for anything but specialized use (cell phones, cameras, Wii save games). But, that is changing. USB jump drives have been declining in price and increasing in capacity every year. SanDisk just announced a 16gb SD disc, easily beating out current DVD capacity and well on the way to matching HD-DVD/Blu-ray capacity. Granted, it’s over $1000, but how much were 128mb SD cards and USB drives a few short years ago?
Lest you think I’m crazy, I’m not the only one who sees this as a possibility. Solid state devices can already easily plug in to PC’s, car stereos, cameras, cell phones, PDAs, laptops. Why not your TV? Why not a completely solid state video player?
I had predicted solid state to supplant CDs way back in the late 90s when it seemed certain (to me) that the speed of solid state would beat out the low-cost optical media in a matter of years as prices came down. I was wrong, of course, but I think the inevitable has only been delayed. Maybe HD-DVD, Blu-ray, or even downloadable content will win this round, but I think that solid state media will be a standard sooner rather than later.
Puzzle games are some of my favorite games to play. They challenge me mentally, provide entertainment, and are easy to pick up and play in a spare minute to kill time.
I was recently referred to a puzzle game compilation created by Simon Tatham. Many of these games are just copies of other popular puzzle games, but some of them are fairly unique. They are all very simple, minimalistic games that might only take a few minutes to learn and a few minutes to play.
One of the games I’ve been playing recently is called “pattern”. It’s just like Picross, which is itself similar to Sudoku. The “pattern” game, however, actually randomly generates the puzzle. So instead of getting some sort of picture/icon when solving the puzzle, you end up with more of a random pattern. A mini-Pollock, if you will. It’s fun and more challenging than regular Picross because there is no predictable patterns and very little symmetry.
None of these games will blow you away with innovation or creativity, but it’s a solid collection of games to keep on your laptop when you have a few minutes of down time.
It’s been a crazy Wiikend (last Wii pun ever, I promise). It starts with the PS3 launch. I heard crazy stories about people lined up for days, violence and conflict while waiting in line, and disappointment as PS3 only ships around 260,000, well short of the projected 400,000 that I kept hearing. I’m sitting around acting all smug because I’ve got my guaranteed Wii preorder in at GameCrazy, so I’m just laughing it up at all these suckers standing in line in the cold.
Karma is a brutal mistress.
Strap in for a long, long rambling story of sleep deprivation, doctor visits, awkward uses of the word “Wii”, and vegetable shortening.
I get a call from my good friend and Wii ally Luke Busler on Saturday evening, Wii Launch Eve. Apparently he received a call from GameCrazy saying that they were getting less consoles than expected and that he would be on the “second shipment” of Wiis, due in early December. I never answer my phone, so I checked my voice mail and sure enough, I received the same notification.
That sucks! Luke said that he had checked around at Meijer’s and a couple of other places to see if anyone wasn’t sold out yet. Every place he checked was sold out. After I hung up, I stewed on the couch for a little bit. I walked to go get my preorder paperwork. Then I paced around the house stewing a little more. Disappointment and frustration were taking over my otherwise perservering optimism. I asked Ali, my faithful wife, what to do. She shook her head at me, having a chuckle at my expense, and told me to go look for one, and hey pick up some shortening while you’re out!
So, on a whim, I decided to check out the nearest Wal-mart. It’s a garbage hole, even for Wal-mart, and I never step foot in it if I can avoid it. I figured, this would be a good place to start. I got to the front door. No line of people outside. I went inside. No signs, no Wiis, nothing. I went to the electronics department and managed to flag down an employee. He says to go wait at the OTHER entrance: a Wal-Mart employee was handing out tickets for 29 Wiis total, and she had only given out a dozen or so so far.
Bingo! Pay dirt! Voila! I would soon have a Wii ticket. Now all I had to do was come back before 7am (when they open) to purchase the Wii. Things were looking up, I would have my Wii after all! I called Luke to let him know that there were Wiis ripe for the taking if he would make the trek down to my side of town. Before I could finish putting my cell phone back in my pocket, Luke pulled up in his car and sat down with me. “I was driving about 80,” he said. I laughed, but it wasn’t a joke.
I received the Wii ticket with little fanfare. A Wal-mart employee came out and gave tickets to me, Luke, and a couple of others. I called Ali and told her I had a ticket, and that the Wii would soon be mine! “That’s great, Matt. Don’t forget to pick up the shortening.” I drove next door to Kroger’s and picked up the shortening. She was making a cake or something.
Luke and I decided that we would not just sit there for 7 hours when there was no real “line” to wait in. I told him I would come back at 4am, he said 5am was a good time. I brought the shortening home to Ali, and announced my intentions. I did not go to sleep. It would only be 4 or 5 hours from now, what’s the point of sleeping and taking a chance of waking up late? I played around with my laptop, watched some DVR, and drank a lot of caffeine. 4am came quickly, and I quickly drove to Wal-mart.
Once I arrived, I surveyed the entrance and saw a few people hanging around. I decided to stay in my warm car and listen to XM for a while. A few more people trickled in, and at 5am, I decided to go stand in the cold. All those people I had laughed at and mocked, and now I’m one of them. I stand in the cold, ready to pass out from exhaustion.
Someone I talked to earlier said that Wal-mart did not receive as many Wiis as they expected to. He asked me what number I was. I said “19″, without looking in my wallet. He chuckled at me and said, “they only have 18, man!” I quickly looked in my wallet to verify, but lady fortune smiled upon me, for Luke & I were #15 and #16. Just made it!
We all stood in line in the cold for what seemed like days. We made small talk about the Michigan-OSU game. We listened to some toolbox make outlandish claims about being an X-Box beta tester, having patents on several controllers, and generally acting like an excited fanboy, even though he looked like a 35 year old accountant and father of 3.
Tension filled the air as more and more people pulled into the parking lot, excited to get in line and wait for a Wii. Pain washed over their faces as I asked them, “What number are you?” The only answer I ever got was, “Number? What number?”
“Oh, you weren’t here last night? Hit the road, heathen! This line is for the hardcore only! You think you can just waltz in here and pick up a Wii like it was a 6-pack?! Beat it!” is what I wanted to say. What I actually said was, “Yeah. They gave out numbers last night. You can wait if you want, but you probably won’t get one.” Some people stayed anyway. One creepy guy said something about getting knifed for a Wii. I wondered if he was just half-awake and awkward, or if it was a veiled threat.
6:45 rolled around. The Wal-mart lady opened the doors and yelled “ONE THROUGH FOUR”. Phew. This is going to be nice and orderly. Don’t panic, you are getting a Wii. “FIVE THROUGH EIGHT”. Good, good. Everyone crowded forward, eager to get their number called. Luke snapped a few pictures on his new cell phone. This was a historic moment. “EIGHT THROUGH TWELVE”. She came back and yelled for thirteen as well. This is it! “THIRTEEN THROUGH EIGHTEEN”. We all walked calmly into the store. We weren’t exactly sure where to go, but we followed some others towards the electronics department. The Wal-mart lady started yelling at us to come back to the front.
She called my number. I purchased a Wii.
I was so tired I was ready to collapse. Maybe I seem like a wuss, but keep in mind that I don’t normally go this long without sleep. I don’t stay up all night partying and being zany. I have a job. I go to school at night. I have homework to do. I’m an out-of-shape lump who sits at a desk all day. Just humor me here. I was tired, cold, but I was happy.
Luke and I walked carefully out to the parking lot together, Wiis in hand (laugh it up). We had both heard the scare stories about the PS3 launch. To say this Wal-mart wasn’t exactly in Beverly Hills is to say that the ocean isn’t exactly the dryest place. I can’t speak for Luke, but I was a panicky Pete: tired, cold, edgy, and a bit paranoid. I clutched my Wii like the One Ring. But not to worry, we both made it to our cars without even the hint of an incident. Some guys behind us had to settle for rainchecks, but we had our Wiis.
I told myself that I would go home, put the Wii up for later, and just…sleep. I told myself that, but I was lying. I got home around 7:15 or so. I mysteriously got a quick burst of energy! I’ll just set it up, and play a quick game. You know, make sure it works!
I had the placement for it all worked out in advance. There’s a small table underneath my wall mounted flat-screen TV. It’s a perfect place for a Wii, sensor bar, and accessories. I booted it up with no game, just to check out the dashboard, get some firmware updates, create a Wii, check out the virtual console store, enter some setup information, configure the WiFi, read some instructions, calibrate the sensor bar, etc.
I then put in the Wii Sports disc and began playing each game, from top to bottom. I was a bit woozy from being so sleepy, but all the games seemed to play like a dream. I soon figured out the toolbox way to play games, but I also completely understood, at that moment, WHY I would be a toolbox for playing that way. The toolbox playing style isn’t new: you know you played some Duck Hunt with that gun right against the screen. You know you’ve played solitaire before and cheated a little just so you wouldn’t have to start over again. We’ve all done it, but we all know deep down inside that’s it’s contrary to the whole POINT. Anyway. More on that some other day.
Ali woke up right when I had started playing golf. The Wii sports Golf is a very realistic golf sim: I suck at it as much as real golf. She congratulated me on picking up a Wii. I decided to give her the old razzle dazzle. I fired up Wii bowling. I handed her the Wiimote and gave her quick instructions on where the B button is, and told her to swing the Wiimote like a bowling ball and release B to let the ball fly. She rolled the ball one time and watched the pins get knocked over. “Oh, this is awesome.” She did it one more time. “Oh, honey, this is so much fun!” I think she even squealed a little bit.
We played a little more. Some tennis, some baseball. Bowling seems to be the biggest hit. 10am rolled around, still no sleep. Ali calls up her Mom, and sells my GameCrazy preorder to a cousin. I had ordered a system, an extra Wiimote, and a classic controller, so I went down to GameCrazy (which just opened) to see if I could still get my extra Wiimote and controller. I stood in line at GameCrazy while all the lucky “first shipment” guys systematically bought everything they could get their hands on. Zelda. More Zelda. Red Steel. Extra remotes. Points. Jimbo was able to sell me my extra controllers, no problem. Thanks Jimbo.
I played a couple rounds of 2-player Wii Sports with Ali. I was starting to see that Wii Sports alone was not going to hold my interest forever. The game has long-term party game ability, but lacks short term single player interest. At least at a cursory glance–more on that some other day. I was still having a ton of fun. At this point, I was starting to get really really tired from a) not sleeping, b) waving my arms all around the room playing Wii. I layed on the couch with the intention of starting this blog. I fell asleep under cover of a warm laptop and woke up 4-5 hours later seeing Ali still waving her arms around playing bowling and tennis.
My family came up that night to celebrate my father’s birthday. Ali made him a nice cake with that shortening that I bought, and we gave him My Tank is Fight by Zack Parsons as a gift. He and I played a little father-son Wii Baseball. He got me with that split finger EVERY TIME and I lost 1-0. Ali and my sisters played would be $2500 worth of bowling at Columbus Square Bowling Palace.
Everyone went home and I played a little more Wii by myself. I tried out a Gamecube game, memory card, and Wavebird on it. I checked out my Mii plaza which had suddenly balooned in population. I went to bed. After all, I’ve got work tomorrow.
I awoke around 8 the next morning to howls of pain from my wife. She called out for me and I sat up to see what was happening. She stood there with a sad face on, clutching her right arm.
“I can’t move my arm,” she said. Aw, is it sore from all that Wii playing? “Can you drive me to the doctor?” WHAT!? It turns out she was in so much pain that she couldn’t move her arm. I tried moving it around for her and she yelped and cried no matter what direction I moved it in. There’s no way she can safely drive herself around. I took her to an Urgent Care. At this point, I’m racking up the extra dollars I’ve spent on the Wii, controllers, and doctor visit.
She comes out of the hallway with a sling on her arm.
Good lord! I figured it would be a simple sprain or something. “What happened!?” I asked.
“I have tendonitis and muscle spasms,” she says.
“Tendonitis! From playing a Wii!”
Good lord. Still, the Wii is a bargain compared to the PS3:
- Wii: $250
- Extra Wiimote: $40
- Classic controller: $20
- Doctor’s visit: $30
- Prescriptions, Naproxen and Cyclobenzaprine: $10
- Total Wii Bill: $350
Turns out the “Wiinjuries” are rather common:
Thus ends my rambling story of Wii adventure. As for a review of the system itself, I think Seth Godin sums things up rather nicely: “Just because it’s not a product for the loudest, most devout fans of gaming doesn’t mean it’s not a brilliant product. It still has a dumb name, though.”