Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kinetic Week 11

I'm in my tenth week of the 12-week EyeToy:Kinetic training course.

The good news is that the program really does live up to its billing. You are indeeed getting fit by playing video games. They cheat a little in that the "warm up" and "cool down" do some of the work, but by and large you're being told "today we'll play this set of games, here's how..." you play the games and at the end you've stretched, balanced, punched, kicked and ducked your way into a bit better shape.

Most of the games are forgiving enough that you can still do well and get a high score without playing perfectly. But a couple of the games are not sufficiently forgiving, and I find them infuriating. I've mostly figured out the problems and have some workarounds, but they don't work all that well.

The games I have the most trouble with are Arcburst and Reactivate. One is due to false negatives, the other false positives.

Arcburst requires your hand (or whatever) to traverse an arc of targets in a particular direction. If you miss one target and hit others, that's a penalty. But I often get false negatives, where my hand passes through the first target without triggering it. Sometimes there's a "dead area" on the screen, where no matter how I wave my hand over a trigger, the game misses it. In other games that have a false negative issue I figured out a cheap hack solution which is to put a pair of strongly-patterned socks over my hands. The socks give my hand greater contrast with the wall. Which would be fine except that Arcburst requires CLAPS as well as target hits, and you can't make a loud noise while wearing socks on your hands. The workaround for THAT is to shout "CLAP!" every time you clap your mittened hands.

Reactive requires you touch a specified list of targets in a specified order while avoiding all other targets. It's that "while avoiding" part I have trouble with; I hit so many wrong targets that sometimes I can't pass the first level. Diagnosis: At first I thought I was just being clumsy - which I certainly was - but gradually I realized my body wasn't anywhere near the mis-hit targets. It turns out it's THE SHADOWS. When I move my body, the light casts a shadow on the wall and sofa behind me, and that shadow can, on its own, trigger a bad hit.

I still don't have a solution for this except perhaps "get a darker-colored couch". Or perhaps "make the lighting more diffuse".

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