Monday, November 17, 2014

Trying Different Things

CCP Seagull dropped a little dev blog on Friday giving a brief overview of the changes coming to EVE Online with the Rhea release on 9 December.  The buzz on Twitter was pretty positive.  But I'm going to hold off writing about the changes for a couple of more days because I got busy doing some non-EVE video game things.  No, I didn't jump into a new video game like ArcheAge and the Warlords of Draenor expansion did not draw me back into World of Warcraft.

The first thing is a six-year-old Japanese RPG whose PC port was released on Steam last week, Valkyria Chronicles.  The game takes place in a fictional Europe in the 1930s in a country based on the Netherlands.  The game is divided into chapters, with a lot of cut scenes surrounding the one combat mission in each chapter.  The story is a bit cheesy at times, but so far I like it.  I think the anime art style and watercolor graphics helped the game age pretty well.  More importantly, I like the turn-based combat in the game.  The controls were a little strange, but then again, Valkyria Chronicles is a PC port.

I should add that another reason I like the game is that it's hard.  Perhaps I should refer to the game as a challenge, as I'm probably not that good at these types of games.  I find myself needing two tries to clear any of the missions.  Right now, I stalled on Chapter 5, as I'm trying to figure out the best way to take out a heavy tank.

The second thing I did this weekend was by a Wii U.  Why would a buy a console when I'm horrible at console games?  Well, not because Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land came with the unit.  I've got a personal goal I want to accomplish and don't want to wait until New Year's to start.

Currently I'm about 8-10 pounds lighter than I was when I attended Fanfest in May, but I really need to lose more weight than that.  The weather is getting really cold here in Chicago and gym memberships are expensive.  So I figured that, since I'm so heavily involved playing video games anyway, I'd add the Wii Fit U Game to my list.  I purchased the package that includes the Wii Fit Balance Board and Fit Meter and started using the Wii U Sunday.

Setting up the console was really easy, which is always a concern I have.  The synchronization function that connected all the peripherals like the Game Pad and Balance Board wirelessly worked the first time.  In fact, I like the television controls on the Game Pad better than the remote control that came with my TV.  Also, using the stylus with the Game Pad touch screen makes logging into the console and Nintendo's network so much easier than setting up on my PS3.

Admittedly, I'm a natural skeptic.  I've always wondered how well these types of games really do at helping people lose weight.  So far, the signs are promising.  The initial set-up for the program uses the balance board to weigh the player.  The board came within a half pound of what my bathroom scale reads.  Not bad.  Then the game figured out my "Wii age."  57.  Look, I'm old, but I'm not quite that old.  Part of the incentive to keep playing now is to see if I can bring that number down.

The game also forces the player to set a goal.  I chose the modest, and thoroughly achievable goal of losing 12 pounds in 2 months.  Sure, the holidays could get in the way, but at this point I'm pretty established in my diet and I'm counting on the additional exercise the Wii U will provide to see me though.

I won't know if Wii U Fit really produces results for a couple of months, but while exercising, I noted three aspects of the game I particularly liked.  First, the game monitors the player's form for some of the exercises and gives good feedback on how to perform the exercise better.  The game also has a scoring system and leaderboard to show how a player performed to allow players to judge if they are progressing or slipping. 

Next, about 20 minutes into the session, the game gave me a gentle hint that I could stop.  I like that the game has an algorithm to limit the length of a workout.  People overdoing workouts can lead to people just stopping and giving up.  However, I kept going because I was having fun.

Yes, the most important aspect was that I was enjoying myself.  I had set a goal of 30 minutes and I think the last mini-game I played was a cycling game.  When I finished, a big banner displayed across the screen letting me know I had gone for 30 minutes.  I also exceeded 100 calories burned.  I was happy.

My new found interest in Japanese RPGs and the Wii U doesn't mean I'm turning away from EVE.  But who really wants to hear how I compiled 50,000 Sisters of EVE loyalty points this weekend in anticipation I may need to replace losses that occur in the new Sleeper exploration sites?  Well, perhaps some might, but I didn't feel like writing that story.

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