CorkIt!

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Rating  5 bull rating  out of  5 bull rating

Let me start off by saying if you write software for a living and you really want an honest opinion on how well you did, you send it to another software developer. For whatever reasons, we all believe we can write a product better than the next guy so that suddenly makes us the harshest critics. I guess it's an ego thing. :-)

So when Rob emailed me and asked me to check out his software, I had my doubts. Over the last 5 years, other people have asked me to check out their homemade dart software and none of it was worth the time. I would spend a couple of minutes looking at it and then would delete it off my PC. This one is much different.

First, let me give you a short overview of CorkIt!.

I've spent the last month playing with this software and deciding how I was going to do this review. I didn't see any need to add a lot of items that can already be found at their web site OmegaDarts.com (game rules, screen shots, etc.) or the demo version you can download. If, like me, you're still using a dial-up modem, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is the original download is 11.5 meg in size, it took me a little under an hour to download. The good news is all future updates only require the .exe file and it's only 600k in size.

One last thing before we get to the nitty-gritty. In the short time I've had this, Rob has made a number of enhancements to this program and continues to do so. His dedication to this project will only mean it will continue to get better. Now would be a great time to get on board and let him know what you'd like to see him add to the software in the future. The best time to get a programmer to make changes in a system is while they still have a passion for it.

Documentation/Manual

Documentation consists of a help file built into the game. The software is written and designed in a way that makes it extremely easy to use without a thick instruction manual. If you're familiar with the game of darts and other computer software, you may never even bother reading the manual. If you're looking for a large meticulous document that explains everything to the most minute detail, you will not find it here. You will find a manual that simply explains how the software is run and what the stats it keeps means.

Graphics/Sounds

The graphics are very stunning and the sounds aren't overdone. Some of the sounds include the dart hitting the board, the "twang" of a dart bouncing off the wire and applause for a good throw. What I like most is the sounds that aren't there, specifically background music. Games with background music drive me nuts (something that isn't hard to do). I was pleased that Rob left that out.

Practice Mode

This is something that can seriously help you hone your darts and work on those targets that you have the most difficulty with. This is also a good way to get the program enough stats on you so that you can actually compete against yourself later on in Play Mode.

Here's what I did and would recommend you do when you first get the software. Go to practice mode and play two games of Count Up/Any, one game of Count Up/Doubles and one game of Count Up/Triples. This will accomplish two things. First off, that will give you a total of 252 darts thrown, more than the 200 minimum required to play against yourself. Secondly, you will have aimed at every target on the board, so every target now has stats against it. This is important when you review your accuracy to see which targets you have the most difficulty with. If you haven't aimed at a target, you'll get no feedback.

Another way to track your progress would be to not use your name when you use the software. Instead of that, type in a date, something like Mar02. Go by that through the month of March and when April roles around, add a new player called Apr02. This will allow you a better idea how well your game is progressing. And, as I mentioned before, if you have Access, you can do all kinds of things with that information.

Game Mode - Against the Computer

There are really four modes in which you can play games against the computer: "B" Player, "A" Player, Master, and Yourself. I will explain the latter, Yourself, further below. Here's what you can look for in the first three levels.

"B" Player: This is the easiest level you can play against. It is geared for beginner to intermediate throwers, more toward the intermediate. Some beginner throwers will most likely find even this level to be a bit intimidating but you've gotta start somewhere.

"A" Player: This will give even your best local throwers a good game. I think you'll find that only a small percentage of the throwers you know will be able to win at this level more than half the time. It will definitely help you maintain your concentration if you want to win.

Master: This level will teach you one of two things; humility or complete frustration. I'm sure there are players out there that can regularly win at this level, they're what we commoners refer to professionals. If you're really feeling cocky and think you're on a roll, go ahead and give this level a try. I would suggest not doing it around any friends, who wants "witnesses".

Game Mode - Against Yourself

This I believe is by-far the best feature in Game Mode. Once you have thrown enough darts for the game to have stats on you, you can literally play against yourself. Advantages to this include:

  1. If you're skill level is between either B & A or A & Master, you can play competitive games as opposed to getting your butt kicked. Then, when you get a little better, you can attack the next level. There's nothing more demoralizing than playing against the computer and it whipping you game after game.
  2. You can adjust the skill level the computer will play you with. So, you can keep adjusting "Your Level" up as you get better.

Game Mode - Against Someone Else via the Internet

I have not tested this out. I do not have an internet connection in the dart room.

Soft-tip Throwers

Yes, the picture shows a steel-tip board but there is no reason you could not use this with a soft-tip machine. Not only that, but look at the electricity/batteries you'll save by not having to turn the board on (assuming, of course, the computer would have already been turned on)!

Recommendations

If you've read this far I have to assume you have the following; a computer that meets the minimum requirements, a dartboard, and the ability to have both in the same room. If that's the case, this software is more than well worth your time. This software costs less than a mid-range set of darts and will help your game considerably more. Bottom line, if you want to improve your game, this software is for you!

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