Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ring Fit Adventure (More)

I forgot to mention yesterday that Adventure mode is not the only game mode. You can also work out on your own in the mini-games, or set up a custom program. That should contribute to extending the game's longevity, although the consensus is that there are 3+ months of content if you play Adventure mode for 30 minutes a day.

As a short summary, it's a regular fitness game with an entirely delightful adventure thrown on top of it. By Nintendo.

After playing this for a few days, I feel like I can give you a general idea of whether you'd like it or not.

--Casual exercisers who would like to work out more, but lack motivation. This will be perfect for you, and fun.
--Regular exercisers who have unbalanced workouts, like runners who don't do anything else. Also perfect, because this will work every part of your body, and give you more balance, which will help in preventing injuries.
--The snowbound, who stop exercising in winter because they just hate the damn weather and don't want to fight through it to get to the gym. This is going to be me, at times, because when the hellscape freezes over and the snow piles up, I want to work out without needing sled dogs to get to the damn gym.
--People who are middle-aged (or older) and aren't really enjoying exercising because they've done it for so long that it's all starting to seem the same. I'm also in that category, to some degree.
--Gamers who don't really exercise but would like to start.

Not the target market:
--Super-fit people who have balanced workout programs. Even at the highest difficulty settings, you might get bored, unless you enjoy the game aspect of it. You also might not get the benefit from feeling your body get stronger, because it's already strong. I will say, though, that the highest difficulty levels are reasonably stout.

Well, it looks like I included almost everyone in the "yes" grouping. That's because Ring Fit Adventure is widely accessible, with enough difficulty settings to accommodate almost everyone.

It certainly seems good for me. You, too, hopefully.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Ring Fit Adventure

I'm kind of a hero, really.

I did 20 squats kill a purple grape with horns. I did 20 overhead presses to kill a red grape with similar horns. I collected gold coins. Oh, and I unleashed a pilates demon. Mistakes were made.

This is my experience after two days of Ring Fit Adventure. 

I realized long ago that I don't want a fitness instructor with perfect hair and capped teeth encouraging me every thirty seconds. It's the voice, the phony voice that promises everything and means nothing.

However, when it's a cartoon figure encouraging me in the enthusiastic way that Nintendo has always done, I am 100% in and totally pleased. It is very, very fun to be pushed along with the ideal level of silliness.

It's also remarkably fun to see your character onscreen matching your movements very precisely. There's no lag, either.

The form of the game is basically an endless runner, and you have to do different exercises or motions to get past obstacles. Quite a bit of it is reasonably organic, too--you're running in place and doing movements with the ring (twisting, squeezing, pulling) to jump or destroy obstacles and collect coins.

When you get to battles, you do multiple reps of an exercise, and you'll do multiple exercises over the course of a battle (boss battles are particularly long).

I only know a few exercises, for now, but the narrator has mentioned that there are over 50 to use, eventually, which seems solid. And it's clearly a wide variety, too.

I'm playing half an hour a day, and I feel good when I'm done. Not exhausted, but not bored, which is a good balance. I think I could kick it up to a higher difficulty level and be very tired, if I played for long enough.

Tomorrow I'm going to talk a little more about the game and the target groups who would find it particularly useful.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, because everyone should see it: Saturday Night Live Gives Oscar the Grouch the Joker Treatment, and It's Perfectly Ridiculous.

This is genuinely inspiring and tremendously courageous: ‘Women That Would Gladly Give Their Life’: How The Paramilitary Women's Emergency Brigade Battled GM At The UAW's First Big Strike.

It's hard to build character when you don't have any yourself: What Art Briles Brought To The Town That Never Asked For Him.

This is quite amazing: Why Lightning Strikes Twice as Much Over Shipping Lanes.

This is fascinating: Researchers find just two plague strains wiped out 30%-60% of Europe.

Oops! Researchers find bug in Python script may have affected hundreds of studies.

From Wally, and it's a gearhead red alert: Orley Ray Courtney. Wait, no config.sys to screw with?  Software Library: MS-DOS Games. I only wish he'd been asked to make a Charlie Brown cartoon: REJECTED by DON HERTZFELDT (Blu-ray restoration). Breathe in, everybody: Cruise Ship Passing Through Corinth Canal. A terrific read: The Dreyfuss Nightmare.

From Kevin Womack, and this is astounding: Beluga whale saves an iPhone from the sea in Norway...

From C. Lee, and it's a brilliant idea: Osaka University develops easy method to detect early dementia. This is always the listed house that you can afford: Home buyers, beware: Contamination from cooking meth can linger for years. This is awesome: MIT Confirms a Bridge Leonardo da Vinci Designed 500 Years Ago Was an Ancient Engineering Marvel. I had no idea: The Man Who Mentored da Vinci Receives First U.S. Retrospective. This is a fascinating explanation: Why Renaissance Paintings Aren’t as Green as They Used to Be. I missed this trend: Irish Butter Kerrygold Has Conquered America’s Kitchens. Here's a terrific This American Life episode: A Policeman Burns Down the Firehouse.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

An Observation

Joe Flacco looks like he's trying to hold onto a porcupine.

Ring Fit Adventure/Disco Elysium/Six Ages/Notes

Okay, I forgot that I'm actually playing TWO games on launch day this week.

We go from the sublime (Disco Elysium) to the ridiculous (Ring Fit Adventure). I'm going to try to play RFA for 30 minutes a day for at least two weeks, and I'll report when interesting (YMMV).

Maybe I'll play each of them for 30 minutes a day, consecutively. That would be entirely surreal.

You should be ready for a slower pace at the start of Disco Elysium than most games have these days. It's not a game for people with five-minute attention spans, but it really is extraordinary. I was trying to think of a word to describe the feeling, and I think it's "crafted." So many games now just don't have that feeling--they're kind of slopped together, we'll fix it after it ships carelessness. DE, though, feels tight. It feels like an enormous amount of care was taken in its creation.

Oh, wait--THREE games on launch day. Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind (the sequel to Dragon Pass) launches today as well.

This is the big week of fall for me, gaming-wise, and I didn't even realize it until today. Entertainment coffers are overflowing.

Also, in random notes, I sometimes put things on the shopping list. Not items, really, but conditions, which is considerably less helpful. Today's shopping list has "CHIP EMERGENCY!" scrawled on it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Long Day

I finished chapter five of the rewrite of The Man You Trust today.

I don't know what I can say except that it's going well. I'll spread out all the notes I have and take a picture one day and you'll understand why it's taking a while.

It's been a very, very long day, so I was only able to play Disco Elysium for about half an hour. It's still very early, but everything I've seen so far indicates that it's the real deal, a game that will be remembered for a long time.

I don't know how it will sell, because there's a lot of reading to do, which excludes a large tranche of potential customers, but I do think it will be revered. The writing is very, very special, as is the game design.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Disco Elysium

I don't play something on launch day very often,

Today, though I made an exception, because the game was described as a cross between Planescape Torment and Blade Runner. Not by the company making the game. By people writing about the game.


The game is Disco Elysium. I was only able to play for an hour, but man, what an hour. The comparisons to brilliant games of the past? Perfectly justified, at least for now.

Quick notes:
--the writing is just incredibly good. Usually I get tired of dialogue trees, but not when the writing is so excellent.
--voice acting is very strong.
--it strongly evokes the old Westwood Blade Runner adventure game.
--information (about your character, the world, etc.) is presented in very efficient and effective ways.
--all of this combined makes the world very, very immersive.

I don't know very much at this point beyond that. All I've really done at this point is walk around and talk to people.

Well, I know that the first hour didn't disappoint me, which happens all to often to old and jaded me. Plus, I can't wait to play tomorrow.


Einstein Bros. just announced the bagelrito. At Taco Bell, emergency response teams are forming.

Monday, October 14, 2019

On Pointing

This is an article that you'll think about all day: The pointing ape.

Here's an excerpt, and it's long, but it sets up the entire article:
But to what degree are humans truly unique? Psychology tells us that humans, alone among animals, have the capacity to theorise about the contents of other minds. If you’re reading this essay and wondering where I’m going with this, you’re displaying this capacity. We humans also regulate our own behaviour based on the outcomes of such computations. This is a core tenet in many branches of the cognitive sciences today: the idea that our mentations cause our behaviour. In terms of our language behaviour, human children are magnificent test subjects because every child who masters a language (and this describes the overwhelming majority of humanity) transitions from being a creature without any apparent capacity for symbolic communication, akin to other animals, to being a creature who can skilfully produce and comprehend complex utterances that are, apparently, unique in the world. If we can understand the changing competencies of human children, then, the argument goes, we can discern those infant and toddler capabilities that facilitate this language learning. We can glean the ‘psychological toolkit’ that human babies apply to their social environments to produce their native languages.

Because it is so easy to study children, the literature on this issue is immense. A sub-area in this active research domain involves identifying the competencies present in preverbal children while absent from our living relatives, the great apes. An ability displayed by preverbal children but not adult great apes would be seen as an adaptation unique to us. For decades, the sine qua non of human preverbal communicative exceptionalism was the pointing gesture. A language-competent individual can name an entity or event to which she would like to draw the attention of her social partner; a preverbal child armed with a pointing finger can accomplish much the same. 

In the early 1990s, it was a nearly universal axiom in psychology that pointing was a human adaption for creating a ‘referential triangle’ between two people. At that time, I had no particular reason to doubt this story, but quite by happenstance I met someone who gave me grounds to reconsider pointing as a human adaptation in the human toolkit for language. That ‘someone’ was Clint, an adolescent chimpanzee, and this is the story of how he trained me to question the mainstream scientific perspective on pointing as an evolved cognitive adaptation for the acquisition of symbols.

That's the set-up, but it's not just about pointing. It's about a friendship between a great ape and a researcher, and the kind of bond two creatures can have together, even if they're different.

The reason I thought about this article all day, besides its brilliance, is that it made me think about what really distinguishes humans, and how we decide that. Or rather, how we assume that.

In the last few decades, there have been many flags planted about what humans can uniquely do. It seems, though, that over time, those flags keep disappearing. Our claims seem to reflect more what we want to believe about ourselves.

The more research that gets done, though, the more we find pieces of ourselves in others. The great apes. Dolphins. Crows. Elephants. Killer whales. So many nuanced, sophisticated behaviors and emotions.

There is so much to digest in the article, so many rabbit holes to get lost in. It is a very satisfying, pleasant way to spend time.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Links!

From Wally, and it's fascinating: Russia’s Retro Lenin Museum Still Runs on Decades-Old Apple II Computers. Next, and it's brilliant, it's Painting 'Zebra Stripes' on Cows Wards Off Biting Flies. This is excellent: Warp speeds in 'Star Trek' are achingly slow, and a simple animation by a former NASA scientist proves it. This is hilarious: This chicken breaks into her owner’s house daily to lay an egg on the bed.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and it's an interesting look at design: An exclusive look at how Google designed its Stadia game controller.

From Joshua Buergel, and it's riveting: The Cheating Scandal Rocking the Poker World.

From C. Lee, and it's both simple and brilliant: Schoolgirls in Fukuoka use plastic bottle to save child in sea. This is fascinating: I learned how to do math with the ancient abacus — and it changed my life. Useful: How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct. This could be huge: Just a drop of urine, worms for highly effective cancer screening. Yuck: Your Washing Machine Could Be a Breeding Ground for Hazardous Germs. What a rabbit hole: Mathematics in Movies. Bewitching (sorry): This Map Shows the Scale of 16th- and 17th-Century Scottish Witch Hunts. They probably interfered in the walrus elections: Walrus attacks Russian Navy, sinking inflatable boat.

From Mark Hollett, and it's terrific (also, "How to Weigh a Whale" is an excellent title for a children's book): How to weigh a whale without a scale.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Consider This

This is an actual place, per the brochure:


So, some important notes from the dedicated axe throwing page. Pay attention:
-Groups of less than 4 maybe mixed with other walk-ins.
No problem. I'll just throw axes with complete strangers. No problem.
--Guaranteed Private Lane with 4 or more.
What's the Public Lane look like? Wait, don't even tell me.
--Everyone in Axe Arena Floor MUST wear closed toe shoes.
[insert the obligatory sandals joke HERE.]

Oh, and full bar service. Drinking and axe throwing. That dude on the brochure holding up his index fingers? Those are the only ones he has left.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Oh, Man

Well, it's another absolutely humiliating day to be an American, but you already knew that.

Eli 18.2 sent a text yesterday
Fun brain teaser. 
Each word is a 6-digit number.

Each letter stands for a number between 0-9.
No number can stand for more than one letter.
D = 5.

It's very challenging and very relaxing to work on. Enjoy.

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