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Another lost weekend - where did it go?

by: Dave -
More On: Eleven: Table Tennis VR

One of the best things about Steam is also one of the worst things about Steam: sales.

It has happened before and will likely happen again. I make a quick stop in the Steam store Saturday morning to see what's going on and find a game that I have been impatiently waiting for bannered with a 50% off sale. I immediately buy it and start playing. Before I know it, it's Monday and I have nothing to show for it other than the reverse-mohawk hairdo I get from wearing the Rift for too long.

This time around the culprit was Eleven: Table Tennis VR. I had been reading rave reviews about this game and its incredibly good physics and knock-you-down immersion. It turned out to be true. Every good thing I had read was absolutely true.

I do have to mention that I have never played table tennis, nor have I ever played what I call ping pong. Perhaps those are the same thing and the only difference between the two is that "ping" and "pong" are a pair of words that have gone from common usage to universal societal disdain - who knows? I don't keep up with these things.

In any event, the point is that a real ping pong ball could float like a 12 lb. bowling ball for all I know. All I know is that dozens of reviewers said it was just like the real thing and that having played it, I have no trouble believing that. When it comes to games that require good hand/eye coordination and a  modicum of athletic ability, the worse I do at the out set, the more accurate I believe the simulation to be. Another defining trait of an accurate simulation is that I can get better at it with enough practice.

This is exactly what happened with Eleven: Ping Pong VR. At first I could barely return even the easiest serve from the Amateur-level AI. Once I was able to hit a few back to him/her/it, I couldn't return a volley. I lost every match 11-0. Every single one. Further exploration of the menus uncovered a nifty little practice machine that would do nothing more than serve up balls for me to return. It was highly configurable, so I dumbed down its shots to a point where I thought I could return a few. I was wrong, of course, but through practice I got a lot better at it. The Amateur could only beat me 11 - 7. Then it was 11 - 8. Eventually.... I won!

Semi-Pro was another kettle of fish. The serves were much faster, and returns were no longer light love-taps to slowly loft the ball to my side of the table. After a whole lot more practice and dozens upon dozens of ignominious defeats, I finally beat that one too.

That's when I retired. It's also when I discovered that I had seemingly misplaced an entire weekend. On the plus side, I feel like I actually can play table pong, or ping tennis, or whatever its called. I'm not adventuresome enough to go out and find someone with an actual table, mind you, so I will probably never know, but I will always have that weekend that I lost in February of '18.

Eleven: Table Tennis VR is available in the Steam store here.

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