I should have all the science lined up by the end of the week, ready to stuff into the piano black lozenge I've obtained to celebrate my return to personal computing. Wish me luck; I've never before had the opportunity to fry four processors at once.
I know things. Specifically, things that may be of interest to you. For example, I know if playing Eye of Judgment online is an onerous as it might seem. It is not! I cannot express my relief.
Well, let's try.
In my last, vast expose, I broke down a card's unique language and expressed some misgivings about online play - ultimately just accepting it, because what they're trying to do is so weird that there's no prior art. Essentially, you "register" your thirty card deck with the system itself, where it is stored and named for future use. This process is extremely straightforward: it is simply a matter of you laying your cards anywhere on the mat, a few at a time. It will probably take two minutes if you really keep on it. Then, you jump online, choose what nation you want to play for, and track down a partner. At this point, the game will "draw" you your five card hand by showing you the card art onscreen. You get one Mulligan (or redraw), but if you like your hand you move into the game proper. We laid out our deck by element, face up, and this smoothed the turn to turn process considerably.
In the build we have, and I hope this is changed for release, it shows you these cards in a single file line without their name or text - just the art. Once you got familiar with these images, slightly modified from their card format, it's pretty quick - but the names should be displayed on this screen. You can use the controller to pull up the names, but let's be serious - at no point should the player be forced to interact with a mundane controller once the game is underway.
You should know that the game really wants a well-lit environment. You don't need a flare gun or anything, but we didn't have what we needed before and certain squares would slow down the game flow with partial reads that would only resolve after several attempts and minute card adjustments. I should state that here in the office, we removed all the overhead lights, installing a single track of illumination that we point at the ceiling, where lights used to be. We tend to transform any place we live into a cave. So, our scenario might be somewhat atypical.
Also, I know if playing Rock Band with all the instruments off of a USB hub is onerous. You will be happy to know that it is not - we played said instruments spread out on an actual stage, and found it more than satifactory. The reality is that the drum kit already needs its own wire, so it isn't as though the future had actually arrived anyway. Plus, the mic isn't wireless either. This makes the contrived brouhaha over wired guitars a fairly transparent traffic ploy.
This is a matter quite apart from Microsoft's reticence to play ball with unique, third party hardware. And when I say "play ball," I'm taking about the shakedown operation they've got going licensing their wireless technology, which either makes products for their system more expensive or (in the salient case of Rock Band) results in them bundling a wired controller for the same price as a wireless one on a competitor's system. This is the last holiday they can get away with this sort of thing... right?