Bad Wii Design

December 30th, 2006

Update: I wasn’t really able to test this until now, but it looks like both media=”tv” and media=”handheld” (for when you press the “2” button) aren’t implemented. Like most beta software, there’s flaws. Hopefully this will be implemented in the future.

I’ve seen some WordPress plugins lately that change how WordPress looks if the user is accessing it with a Nintendo DS or the Wii’s Internet Channel.

Stop it. Stop it right now.

While I can’t really speak for the DS browser, if you wanted your site to be easily viewable on the Wii then use the features that are out there specifically for that purpose. CSS stylesheets can be loaded based on what’s displaying the website, and wouldn’t you know it? There’s a type specifically for televisions. It’s crazy enough to work.

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/css/special-tv-stylesheet.css" media="tv" />

Besides the fact that it’s the easier way, it also doesn’t use user agents improperly. By changing the site when the user agent has a “Wii” in it you’re assuming that people actually want it to be changed. I sure don’t. The Internet was never meant to be customized for Wii users, it’s already prepared for that. It’s not even a real way to detect Wii users either, it’s just a hack. I already went over this a few weeks ago, but relying on user agents is almost always poor web design. You’re also completely forgetting other lower-resolution devices that could use the attention as well.

Yes! Score one for the good guys. The buttons on the wiimote apparently gives out key events in Javascript, so it likely does the same for Flash. Read more on it here.

Update: Apparently Flash doesn’t get the key events, although Javascript does. Still, this is the beta version of the Internet Channel, it’s likely an oversight.

Update 2: There’s a clever solution out now from Mario to send key events to flash in a rather interesting way.

I just discovered the theme song to my first game (Ben Lewis’s Metroid Brinstar Theme) was removed from OCReMix because it wasn’t up the the quality of modern remixes. They aren’t wrong, even Ben seemed to think so, but to remove it from the site entirely? Besides being one of the earliest remixes, it even brought one of the better remixers to the site – Disco Dan.

I may never be able to explain why I love this mix so much.

About 5 years ago, (that’s 98, for the mathematically impaired) I picked up this mix while searching on audiogalaxy (back when it was ftp’s only) for various videogame titles. This was about the same time that I found the SMB orchestral arrangement. So I typed in Metroid in the search window and found one result with this title, apparently on the guy’s personal server. It had his e-mail address in the id3. A couple of years later (after the creation of overclocked) I talked to Ben, finally, and he pointed me to this site, which is part of how I got into this site in the first place. But this mix was around at least a couple of years before OCR came into existence.

Anyway, I think it’s the beat and the placement and the patterning that makes me play this one over and over again. It may also be nostalgia, but I really dig the way it’s laid out. Still. After all these years…

DC

The original page is actually gone, but Wayback helped me out. I’m making the complete song available from here for anybody who does want it.

Metroid Brinstar Theme (Ben Lewis Mix) OC ReMix

The Internet Channel (the Opera browser) on the Wii came out today. It’s a beta (sorry, “trial” version) but doesn’t seem too bad so far. I visited my website first and was pleased to see my games worked, although I couldn’t control them (no keyboard, remember?).

Anyway, the title kinda gives it away, but the browser supports Flash 7 and no higher. I ran it through a Javascript version detector myself. What a shame.

Fauxto

December 19th, 2006

Check out Fauxto (via del.icio.us), it’s one of those drawing tools all Flash programmers are doomed to create at some point. Only this one uses Flex2 and does a way better job of it. People keep talking about Internet replacements for desktop software but AJAX will never really fill that hole. When’s Flash going to catch on as a webdesigner fad, anyway? Flash is so much more powerful these days it could do it all.

User Agents and You

December 18th, 2006

I tried to visit a website today that blocked me for using a browser it hadn’t heard of. Why do web designers who are aware enough to know how to access a browser’s user agent only seem to use it to block working browsers from their site? Even Google does it! Let’s set the record straight just in case somebody needs it.

  • GOOD: Noticing a certain older browser doesn’t work with your modern website, so you redirect those who use it so they can upgrade.
  • BAD: Thinking that all browsers except for the few you’re aware of are probably incompatible, so it’s better to block them until they switch to something you are aware of. It could be a security problem if they access your site with an incompatible browser so detecting the user agent is a perfect way to prevent this.
  • GOOD: Relying mostly on CSS and XHTML to ensure that your website will be easy to view in all kinds of browsers (text browsers, older cell-phone browsers for example).
  • BAD: Since your site is table-heavy you change the content based on the user agent (or even possibly the language) to ensure that it can be viewed everywhere. Unless your site is frequently updated it will eventually become outdated and improperly handle newer browsers.
  • GOOD: A specific browser has a bug, so you redirect it when it’s that specific version. That or alter your site so it continues to work while keeping it compatible with other browsers.
  • BAD: A specific browser has a bug, so you block that browser entirely. That or you block all versions starting with above the one with the bug since it will always have that bug.
  • GOOD: Assuming that the user agent can be faked, you develop future-proof ways to detect browser features.
  • BAD: Since browsers are required by law to deliver proper user agents, you use them to detect what features are available.

Basically, don’t change your content based on what browser is accessing it unless that specific version has a problem. Assume future versions will not. Don’t use the user agent in Javascript to detect what features are available. The key word is future-proof, just deliver standardized content and hope for the best. If you really want to do any of the bad things on that list, then at least allow people to bypass it somehow.

Link Sketch Goodness

December 16th, 2006

I had some money to burn, and although an annoying part of my brain told me to spend it on important things (like video games) I opted instead to commission a sketch from an old buddy of mine. My obsession with Zelda knows no bounds (I ultimately bought the Wii so I could play the highest quality Zelda possible) so I figured a Zelda sketch should do it.

linkganoncommish-thumb.jpg

Andrew‘s good isn’t he? Click on the image for the hi-res version.

Totaka's Song

December 13th, 2006

Well this is nifty (via Digg) to a video game nerd like me. One of Nintendo’s composers has inserted a small tune into nearly all the games he’s participated in. I remember it distinctly from Mario Paint (the easiest and earliest place to find it), although I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve heard it elsewhere. Probably Animal Crossing. Basically at someplace in the game, you sit and wait for a long time, and a simple yet memorable tune plays. The hunt is on to find it in other games.

Shell Scripting

December 13th, 2006

This is the first shell scripting guide I’ve seen that doesn’t suck. It’s worth it to every programmer to learn shell scripting, bash files, unix/linux command line, blah blah blah whatever. It’s all the same. After overcoming your initial disgust and/or horror you’ll come to realize something, it’s actually pretty useful. The Linux programmer types are evil, to be sure, but they really know how to get the job done when you want to be hardcore about it. Just in case you don’t know, Windows users can use Cygwin to bring the Unix command line experience to them.

The most important thing to know is that the language used in the command line is the exact same thing as a shell script. That’s all a shell script really is, line after line of commands as if somebody typed them one after the other. I enjoy it so much now that I run my website entirely through a command line (frontends are for suckers) and it’s actually much easier in the long run once you get over the learning curve.

Twilight Princess (Review)

December 12th, 2006

Okay, first off there are no spoilers here, so unless you’re hardcore about keeping yourself hidden from any information, read with impunity. Also, I’m gonna complain about it some in this review, but that’s just what I do. There should be no doubt in the minds of any Wii or Gamecube owner that they should buy this game, and people without either system should consider getting it to play this game. It’s a near-perfect Zelda game, the likes of which we’ll probably never see again for a long time. Simply put, if you ever enjoyed a Zelda game, you’ll enjoy this.

It’s long, it took me around 50 hours (keeping in mind I went after every side-quest I could get my hands on). There’s lots of interesting weapons, most of them rehashes of older ones but they tried to enhance nearly every one of these in some way. There’s some new stuff in there too, but these aren’t very usable except in specific situations, which is annoying, but they’re fun while they last. Lots of dungeons, lots of side-quests, lots of minigames, lots of things to collect and enemies to kill. It looks fantastic (despite being a Gamecube game), and it’s one of the best games I’ve played in a long time.

The dungeons are fascinating, each is so unique that it never seems to get old despite how many you’ll go through. It’ll probably get hard for you at some points, otherwise it’d be boring, but mostly follows the usual Zelda concepts. They’ve improved the swordplay, and while it’s mostly standard at first, you can pick up nifty tricks that make fighting very interesting (Tip: sheathe your sword right after killing a more powerful enemy, Link does a cool little animation when you do). You get a new sidekick, much like Navi and Tatl, only instead of a fairy it’s a demonic looking imp named Midna. Midna turns out to be darker and more interesting than both fairy sidekicks and does more useful things than yell “Hey!” and “Listen!” whenever you do something.

You spend a lot of your time as a Wolf in the game (while Midna rides on your back). Which is interesting, but gets old – right around the time they stop forcing you to be one though. Hyrule is huge, but there’s lots of warping so you don’t have to spend all your time walking everywhere. Epona (the horse) is back again, and she’s pretty fast too. There’s no musical instrument this time, instead you mostly rely on plants that Link can play special tunes with. They only grow in certain places, but it ends up being more interesting anyway since there’s nothing to play.

I played the Wii version, and in my opinion it probably doesn’t have any real advantage over the Gamecube version. The Wii controls are tacked on, and although they’re interesting sometimes (fishing!) the advantages are slim. Unless the Gamecube version has been neglected in some way, don’t concern yourself with what’s better and buy what you can get.

As for complaints? Why are there so many rupees?! I can’t kill an enemy without triggering a treasure chest loaded with so many rupees Link refuses to take it. I’m not joking, he’ll seriously put it back. There’s nothing to spend all your money on so I simply donate most of it to a man who won’t actually give you anything if you give him enough. The minigames in the game are dirt cheap, sometimes free, and most of the things you can buy are refills (bombs for example). The kind of things you pick up plenty of while playing the game normally. So why am I complaining? It gets really tired checking dozens of treasure chests full of money because you don’t want to miss a key or a heart piece only to find yet another 100 rupees that you can’t have. It’s like Hyrule’s going through a recession.

The bosses in the game are very epic and cool looking, but are usually pretty lame. They’re so easy to beat it’s ridiculous, I beat nearly all on the first try without any potions or fairies to help me out. Their weak spots are usually obvious and they have a hard time hurting anybody who can see them winding up for an attack. One boss (not the first one either) didn’t hit me once. He didn’t seem to even try, I actually threw myself in his way because I thought he’d do something interesting. Instead he ignored me. There’s a couple of exceptions (particularly sword-battle minibosses), but you’re mostly there to enjoy how nifty the boss looks. I’m mostly surprised that the same guy who directed some of the best bosses in a Zelda game (Majora’s Mask had some amazing fights) has managed to create some of the lamest. Keep in mind boss battles are a fraction of the game, you spend most of your time in pure dungeon-wandering bliss.

I can’t shake the feeling this is the last great Zelda game in some way. A Link to the Past defined the series, Ocarina of Time made it amazing, and now Twilight Princess is quite possibly as good as it gets. There were flaws, sure, but how can you improve that much upon something so perfected? The only hope for the series now is probably some drastic changes, because the formula probably won’t work any better than this. Hopefully they’ll think up some new ideas using the Wii, since a new Wii Zelda game is already in the works.