Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tetris Weightlifting

Take two pulldown handle grips. Add a small "rotate" thumb button to each grip. Pull the right handle down to move the tetris object to the right, pull the left handle down to move it left, pull both handles to drop the object faster. Adjust the weight bucket and the required pull distance as needed to make the game challenging. You've got a serious workout game.

This isn't just a wacky idea; it's a wacky idea with a prototype, tested and functional. The control software is open source, so have at it!

It's a great idea for a controller, but I'm not sure tetris is the best game to demonstrate the concept. Given the same control set, I think I'd make a parachuting game. Or if we have to stick with old-school 2D graphics, what about Lunar Lander? Make the controllers return analog values instead of on/off. Given a right and left jet, pulling one cord more than the other turns the craft, pulling both chords equally applies central thrust to slow the craft, and within the allowable movement range the further you pull down, the more the rocket slows the ship. Yessss!

Somebody call Konami. Have my people and your people set up a meeting; we'll do lunch.

Share this:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Who Killed the Yourself!Fitness Sequel?

Roger Avary. Apparently this lawsuit is still active and there's no point in releasing a sequel under that sort of unresolved threat.
Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary has sued Microsoft Corp. for $30 million, claiming the software giant stole his idea for a virtual yoga game. The Academy Award-winning screenwriter has also asked a judge to stop Microsoft and responDESIGN from selling Yourself!Fitness, the first fitness game program for the Xbox.

According to his lawsuit, Avary met several times with the Microsoft team, and in 2003, pitched them a detailed concept for a videogame designed to lead players through yoga poses using Microsoft's Xbox game console.
A source within ResponDesign confirmed the unlikelihood of a sequel but added "it is still remotely possible, if international sales are good and the lawsuit ever gets settled."

Share this:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Games For Health Competion

Got an idea for a health-related videogame you'd like to share with the world? Here's an idea:
The Games for Health Competition runs from October 19 to April 1, 2007.

[there are] three specific competitions - two for storyboards & game treatments, and a grand prize for best working prototype/game. The following links provide basic information on each competition:

Student Storyboard & Treatment ($5,000 prize)
Organization Storyboard & Treatment ($5,000 prize)
Open Prototype/Health Game ($20,000 prize)

Five finalists will be announced in each competition with one finalist receiving the prize for that competition.

Official Rules are available here.

Share this:

Games For Health Intro

Here's a short (5-minute) promo for the Games4Health movement.

Share this:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Free USB Dance Pad from Kraft!

If you've got a Windows PC, check this out: Kraft is giving away free USB dance pads plus a small collection of games.

So what's the catch? Advertising. The free games include "ad breaks" between levels that advertise Kraft products. I could live with that. There's a nice symmetry there: buy some Kraft food, then exercise on the Kraft dance pad to work off the calories!

(okay, so there's $6 shipping & handling.)

Share this:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No Yourself!Fitness Sequel? Augh!

Games for Health is a series of conferences intended to "develop a community and best practices platform for the numerous games being built for health care applications." Games for getting in shape, games for recovering from illness, games to teach health concepts.

A recent talk on the state of exergaming included this sad news for Maya's fans:
ResponDesign, the creators of Yourself Fitness [brought news of] Yourself Fitness no longer being in stores and [that] there is no sequel in the works. While ResponDesigns has an uncertain future there is still strong support and need for the exergaming space. They also feel having compelling software is what is required to get people to exercise and to solve the obesity epidemic.
Compelling software is important, but so is good marketing and branding. To buy these products, you have to know they exist and where to find them. Despite the lovely New York Times article, "Yourself!Fitness" and "EyeToy:Kinetic" don't roll trippingly off the tongue and haven't become household names. Hey! Maybe what the field needs is a celebrity! Like Tiger Woods Golf and John Madden Football, our instructor could be based on a real person! Although, come to think of it, that's been tried too - the XaviX console has a series of Jackie Chan fitness products. Or does it? Jackie Chan Studio Fitness just says "our new site is coming soon - check back shortly!"

Since January.

Of the "serious exercise game" triumvirate: XaviX's site is mostly dead, Y!F is slowly disappearing without a sequel, and the official EyeToy:Kinetic blog hasn't posted anything since May, which seems like a bad sign for their rumored sequel EyeToy:Kinetic Combat.

So is there any good news?
  • Wii is on the way with the explicit goal of making full-body movement fun and part of not just a few games but every game on the platform. They're making "get up and move" a required part of the game experience. If Wii succeeds, others will follow.
  • Dance Dance Revolution is no longer a game, it's a game category. It's a genre. Every platform needs a dancing game as much as it needs a fighting game and a first-person shooter.
  • Exergaming and real-world gaming have conferences. It's not just a few weirdoes working on this stuff, it's enough weirdoes to have a Games4Health conference. To have an exergaming area at CES or E3. Like DDR, the idea of a videogame workout has enough momentum to survive the death of any one product. Or two. Or three.
(hat tip: iPortion)

Share this:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wii Preview

A British magazine recently got to try Wii for extended play sessions. First, they consider the challenge level:
Some gamers have shown concern that the activity level required to play Wii games, especially the sporty titles, may be too high. There are concerns that you have to stand for long periods of time and use body actions such as swinging your arm above your head or at the side of your body... [this was not a problem]...even the most active title on the launch line up, Wii Sports, doesn’t require you to make large body motions unless you want to. You can play it moving very little if you want, and some of the games can be played sitting down.
I love that people are starting to worry that potential videogame options might be too strenuous. Seriously, think about that for a minute - being concerned that consumers might not be in good enough physical condition to play a video game! We've sure come a long way from the notion that videogames produce couch potatoes, haven't we? Pretty soon, parents will be reminding their kids to do their daily videogame exercise...
When introduced to Wii Boxing, all a player has to do is hold a nunchuck in one hand and the Wii remote in the other and then move exactly as you would a boxer – lean back or side to side, blocking, jabbing, upper cutting etc. The Wii detects the movement of the nunchuck exactly the same way as it does your main remote. There’s no need to press buttons in this game, you simply move. This is truly an awesome innovation in gaming and not an experience you’d expect outside of the arcades.
The QA guy on hand to talk us through the launch line up also informed us that there may be plans to invent shin remotes of some form to enable kicking in games in the future. As far as I am aware, this would definitely be a first in home entertainment, if not any entertainment!
It wouldn't be a first. At the last CES I was able to play Street Fighter using arcademx shin and wrist sensors. Still, it'll be nice to see what Nintendo comes up with.

Share this:

Monday, October 09, 2006

More Jumping Like a Videogame Character

Howstuffworks has a good behind the scenes article on the inner workings of the Nintendo Amusement Park, which they call an example of physically-augmented reality. They describe what it is, how it works now, and how it might work in the future.

How do you give normal human beings the superhuman abilities Mario and Luigi have in the video-game world? You help them jump, of course -- and jump high. Jumping is just one requirement, though. The other is the world itself -- the Mushroom Kingdom complete with its moving platforms, obstacles and enemies. The designers plan to use a variety of mechanical systems and objects to duplicate these effects and create a large, navigable obstacle course. When complete, the Nintendo Amusement Park will be a 100-meter-long course that fully replicates the side-scrolling, platform action of "Super Mario Bros." To simulate the various worlds and levels of the video game, the designers will build different challenge areas -- or courses.

That's the ultimate vision, anyway. Right now, the park exists as a much simpler prototype, with plans for a gradual, phased implementation of the more complex gaming environment.
I liked the notion of taking the current essentially 2-D control and making it a limited-range 3D in which the player is constrained to a long, skinny slice of real estate but within that slice can move horizontally in two dimensions as well as vertically. The ultimate game might borrow as much from Zaxxon as Mario Brothers.

The article goes on to discuss how physically augmented reality compares to virtual reality and mixed reality. More here.

Share this:

Geek-a-Cycle Exercise Workstation

SlimGeek is selling a $349 computer desk/exercise bike combination called Geek-a-Cycle. It's an odd beast. It's merely a small computer desk that fit over a recumbent exercise bike. The desk has no drawer space, but has a keyboard tray that angles up to get out of the way of your knees.

Gizmondo and Slashdot claims to the contrary, the Geek-a-Cycle does not require you to keep pedalling in order to make the computer work. It's just a bike. Perhaps they'll add that as an upgrade feature.

Better yet, they could put a computer desk on a real bike so you can get some work done on your way to the office!

Share this: