Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kinetic week three

Still continuing my 12-week Eyetoy:Kinetic fitness program. Difficulty levels have increased since I was starting to get perfect scores on some of the games.

A full Kinetic workout takes about an hour. There doesn't seem to be a way to do more than one optional segment in a workout and it never remembers what segment you did last or what room you used last - the interface always resets to the first in the list.

You can always pause an Eyetoy game by holding your hand right over the camera lens. If you do this during a Kinetic workout, then select "continue", it skips the rest of the current segment rather than finishing it. This is annoying if you do it by accident while trying to aim the camera better.

It's very hard to do the "meditate" segment while being pestered by a cat. :-)

At full speed, the "Pulsate" game is exhausting!

It's difficult to get a good score in the games while using good form, moving gracefully, not overextending. It might be better to start at the beginner level even if you're capable of intermediate level.

Repeated dialog snippets gets old, especially during cool down. I wish the warmup and cool down sequences varied more and the trainers had a wider range of comments to make. That would make it feel more like having a personal trainer and less like watching an exercise video.

I like how high-resolution the trainers are and that you can see them breathing. The game designers made all the backgrounds static -- there's no camera movement, no passing birds or helicopters, nothing of that sort -- in order to focus more polygons on the trainers.

The training program wants you to work out three times a week. If you miss one, you get a failing letter grade for that workout, but you can still get a decent overall grade for the week if you do well on the other two.

I work out standing 6-7 feet from the camera. This works for most of the games, but I have to adjust the camera angle downward to see myself for the floor routines.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Eyetoy Kinetic

I finally received a copy of Kinetic. First impression time!

The trainers have strong personalities - much less generic than Maya. I like that "Anna", my Kinetic trainer, has a british accent, slightly messy hair, and a lot of vocal enthusiasm. The backgrounds and the trainers are well-rendered, have strong useful shadows, and the camera views make it clear what they are doing most of the time. The post-workout stretching is fantastic - very comprehensive. I like that the workout is divided into a mandatory minimum set and optional extra components, so you can do more or less depending on how you feel towards the end of the main segment. I like the games - the idea that my workout has a "score" and a "grade" associated with it. Being able to compare a video of myself to a video of a trainer is useful, if occasionally depressing. :-)

You don't have enough control over scheduling. For instance, my training program has a session scheduled for Sat/Sun. If I'm going away for the weekend I may not be able to make that, but there's no obvious way to tell it to shift those sessions earlier or later. There's no way to tell how long any exercise segment (or the entire set) is likely to last. The EyeToy interface for entering personal data is terrible; they should give up on the eyetoy and have the user enter a name, weight, or whatever using the standard controller.

The eyetoy control can be sloppy and inaccurate and it's a pain to get the camera aimed properly but so far the games seem to be forgiving enough that it doesn't matter all that much.

So far, I am favorably impressed. I'm going to put Maya on hold and try my recommended EyeToy:Kinetic "12 week fitness plan" for a while and see how it feels.

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