Jogging in Azeroth – Warcraft Mod Puts Wii Fit in its place

3 09 2008

Warcraft Jogging Mod Hacks Wii Fit’s Head Off.  From Manapotions.com

If you are anything like Mediasapien, you are probably fed up with the Wii Fit already. While googling other game-based workouts, this link came up.

A couple of enterprising level 2 elves figured out how to hook up a treadmill to World of Warcraft and convert their RL running motion directly onto their in-game avatars.

This is not only a great DIY project, but also a cool hack combining VR and RL – a real Mediasapien project.

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Wii Fit Workout 30 Day Exercise Challenge – Week 3

24 08 2008

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Day 15

Nursing a sore back again, so Mediasapien kept it light.  20 minutes of yoga-based stretching and a walk of about 1.5 miles.

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Day 16

Today: 30 minutes of yoga (all Wii Fit poses) and 30 minutes of boxing in Wii Sports.

As week # 3 get under way, Mediasapien is frustrated.  Some chinks in the armor are staring to appear that have me ending my workouts feeling angry and frustrated, not drained and relaxed.  Mostly its because the boxing I’ve been enjoying so much seems to have real limits as I progress through the ranks.  When I first boxed in the game, I was able to feel a reasonable connection between my punches and those of my avatar.  As I faced tougher opponents, I had to improve my game – and it showed.  I was getting stronger and faster with each bout.  But something happened along the way.  I started noticing missed or dropped punches – my avatar was unresponsive to faster punch combo, and missed many uppercut and roundhouse punches all together.  This would leave my avatar exposed too long and slow to recover, and the opponent would seize on this opportunity and pummel my avi to the mat with a quick succession of blows.  

As a test, I tried to shadow box a little to see how responsive it could be and the game failed.  IMHO, if the game misses one out of 10 punches, I could live with it.  But if the game is missing 4 out of ten, then there is little point in playing.  I even went to my local Gamestop and purchased a used copy of another Wii boxing title, Showtime Boxing.  This game was such a complete dog.  I returned it immediately.

Evaluation: The accuracy of the Wiimote had better improve if Nintendo expects people to play these games more than once or twice.  There is some research to indicate that 60% of Wii Fit owners use it once, and then never again.   Granted this research seems to be a quote from a Microsoft exec., but still, no Nintendo spokesperson has stood up to refute the claim.

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Day 17

Funny thing.  While rooting through the Wii Sports menus, I came across a fitness test that predates Wii Fit, and was clearly the inspiration to take the idea further.  It consisted of 3 tests – 2 boxing oriented tasks (hitting the trainer’s mitts and not the trainer, and KO’ing a punching bag), and one agility test based on avoiding balls thrown at you by the trainer.  These were fast and fun, if not particularly useful, and inspired me to do something foolish – break out the Wii Sports boxing and the inevitable frustration that it has come to represent.  Like a prophesy fulfilled, by the 2nd bout, I was getting angrier with each non-responsive “punch.”  I threw the Wiimote so hard that it literally flew down the hall into the next room, and smashed against the far wall, breaking the battery compartment lid.

I blame myself.

I knew this would happen.  It’s the same pattern that has developed in the last week or so while boxing.  It’s a shame because it is clearly the most fun AND the best workout available on the console, but I really must stop playing it.  What good is a workout that ends in rage?  

Since I acted some rashly, and broke my toy, I decided some punishment was in order, so I went through all the strength-building exercises at the maximum-allowable reps.  Fortunately, this took me past the minimum required 30 minutes, and I was able to power down the Wii and walk away.

Evaluation: I seem to be hitting a wall with Wii Fit and it’s cousins.  I am looking deep within the game and options to find a useful and enjoyable workout, but I might be reaching a point where the limits of the game are starting to show. Ironically, it’s the system’s selling point – the Wiimote – which seems to be the weakest link.  With just under 2 weeks remaining in the 30 day test, the outlook is becoming less rosy for the game.

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Day 18

Once again Mediasapien is sidelined by chronic back pain issues.  No Wii Fit today.  Hell, no sitting upright today, for that matter.  I have 18 holes scheduled for tomorrow in Golden Gate Park actual outdoor exercise with people, not Mii’s to keep me company.  I hope I’m up for it.

Mediasapien out.

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Day 19

Well Mediasapien’s back is still sore, but it comes and goes.  So I’m off to the park and some RL disc golf.  I’m going to record my walking distance (and call it a hike) even if I don’t toss the disc.  Either way I will record my outdoor activity for Wii Fit credits and perform a body test later.

…Later. Golf was great.  Here’s the evidence, according to my iPhone and Pathtracker software:

After adding my Wii Fit credits, I took another body test.  My BMI hasn’t really budged much.  I’m still about 8-9 lbs overweight, but my improved center of balance and coordination have brought my Wii Fit age down to 36.  Woo Freakin’ Hoo.

Tomorrow Mediasapien is going to compare Wii Fit with an older Xbox game called Yourself Fitness – Microsoft’s effort at making a fitness title 3 years ago.

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Day 20

Bad new for Mediasapien.  Due to the flair up of old injuries, I can no longer continue my test of Wii FIt and other exercise and fitness games.  As reported several times over the last few weeks, the lower back was intermittently in spasm, and as I fired up the Xbox title Yourself fitness today, my left knee blew out severely.  Mediasapien hasn’t been in this much pain since first ruining my knees as a ballet student, which effectively ending any chance of a professional dance career back in high school and required 3 months of physical therapy.  So no exercise for at least 3-4 days. Period. None.  Even typing hurts my knees.

Too bad, because Yourself Fitness seemed to have potential.  The initial body test seemed more accurate than the Wii’s, even without the motion sensing tech – It evaluated resting and active heart rates, lower, core and upper body strength, weight and flexibility.  It even offered a built-in menu planner for weight loss, as well as the option to use any existing equipment you already have in your workouts.

Since the 30-day evaluation plan was cut short, I will hustle to get the final verdict posted within a day or two.  But for now, Mediasapien has to get off these throbbing knees, sit back and relax.   Maybe I’ll finally get a chance to sign up for Warcraft and see what all the fuss is about.