Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mario Kart Wii

So I got it and I got lots to say.

It's pretty damned cool. I haven't used the plastic wheel very much
but I think it adds a nice touch. I thinks its still going to be
easier to play with a wiimote+nunchuk, but I enjoy the feel of the
wheel.

There's not that much that's different from the previous versions,
just slightly better graphics. And of course the online multiplayer.
More about that in a moment.

Weirdly enough, even many of the maps are the same as from previous
versions of the game. I understand one or two like that, but half?!
That seems...lazy. But whatever.

The fact that it won't tie in to the friend codes you _already_
laboriously entered on your Wii is actually shocking. I imagine
Nintendo is erring on the side of caution against online predator
types or something, but...really!? I already entered a 10-digit code
to get my friend hooked up with me, THEN he did the same...now we have
to do that AGAIN?! C'mon! If I've been able to dupe my prey into
entering 10 digit codes and divulging his/her own, then it's over.
Making me re-re-enter them (or a completely different one?!) is NOT
protecting anyone, it's pissing people off. So I suppose instead that
all my foes shall be anonymous hordes from Teh Intarwebs. So be it.
Not such a terrible thing.

My only real complaint - and there's some bias to it - has to do with
the architecture of the multiplayer. I think the WFC connection is
just to some kind of queue. I think it's set up as some kind of
mid-1990's style client-server game. Efficient, sure - but it only
fucking works when the goddamned server is not-firewalled!! When the
hell does that happen?! Who the fuck has any kind of network with no
firewall?! Crazy people. Crazy people whose PC's are swimming in
viruses and porn dialers.

Now I, by history have been a network builder and troubleshooter for a good chunk of my career. So I'm biased when I say this, but that's totally insane. The reason that I believe that it's set up this way is that I can spend half an hour trying to play online and get either booted out in the first few seconds of a game, or sometimes I might even make it a minute or so into the game before I get kicked off. But when I disconnect my entire goddamned network, and plug my Wii _directly_ into my cablemodem connection, it works like a charm, and flawless.

Now at first, I figured maybe it's my cranky Vonage box getting in the way, so I put my more modern Airport Extreme box in its place. Same results.

The only other, possible bizarre thing that Big N might be doing is that their servers act as 'game servers' (without players) and those slots exist in the queue as well as un-firewalled Wii's, but are simply all used up due to demand. That's serious levels of network architecture, but if I were building the system, I sure as hell would not build both a client and a server to run from the Wii, it just seems...excessive. But we'll see how it really is set up as time goes by and perhaps as Nintendo builds more centralized capacity. It's true that I haven't heard of any Microsoft-style giant Failure of centralized systems yet on Nintendo's side, and there are more Wii's than 360's, but time will tell.

Still, I thought that style of developing multiplayer games went out in the 1990's. But I guess Nintendo is dealing with a larger scaling problem than anyone else (except maybe World of Warcraft) has.

And, with a nearly completely decentralized architecture, as you can imagine, multiplayer works great - once I fucking eviscerate my goddamned fucking network of course.

Edit - a tournament just popped up - that should be pretty exciting! Hopefully I can give it a whirl soon.


-B.