Big news over here! The results of the National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge are in. (Say that five times fast!) And…
Velocity Raptor is a winner! It got an Honorable Mention, which places it tied at the top of the Games category. You haven’t played it yet? Click below to solve that!
This is particularly big news for me as a solo, unaffiliated-with-an-institution developer. To put it in perspective, the first place winner last year was Fold.it, which you may have heard of. Most importantly, though, my trophy shelf looks a lot less depressing / more awesome.
You can read more in the journal Science, or online here. I think there’ll even be a video, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
But you’ll also find a slew of other interesting items there. The contest ranged from images to videos to games. And frankly, since this has just been released, I’m excited to take a closer look at the other winners, myself.
-AndyPost a Comment
The News that’s Fit to Print
I’m back with another installment of the weekly update. What’s that you say, it has been two weeks? Sure, in *your* reference frame. So aside from running around a lot (near c), I’ve been:
Some General Updating
I gave a quick, minor facelift to several projects. You might notice the website is a bit shinier (oh, you didn’t? Curses!) Well, maybe you notice the improved graphics in Agent Higgs: Chapter 1 (the flash game)? No? How about the further polish I’ve added to Velocity Raptor? (Side note, which punctuation will I use more, parenthesis or question marks?) In any case, a bunch of small changes. It’s nice to clean up the projects every now and then. No ulterior reason for doing that now. Nope.
They can Walk!
I’ve worked a bit on the evolution simulator, mainly focusing on a side-part of it. The sim is generally about evolving stick-and-motor organisms to run faster and better. However, it grew out of a long ago thought I had about whether a stick figure could ‘learn’ to ‘walk’. That turns out to be a lot harder. I wasn’t having much luck with simple human-shaped stick-and-motor creatures. It was tough enough to convince them to try to walk (I guess an evolutionarily advanced way for us to move is to flop around on the ground. Try it. It must be very energy-efficient.) Once I turned the floor into lava, though, they avoided dunking their heads in it, but they still had trouble loco-moting. And that’s of course for a whole bunch of reasons — namely the simplicity of the simulation and the small populations I was dealing with. So I shelved it for a while.
But, I made some good progress past that, this week. I made the humans slightly more advanced to start with – building in some basic coordination. Move both legs at the same time. Move with some rhythm. That kind of thing. And so far the results are promising. But hey, a tiny, grainy gif is worth a thousand words:
Well, kind of. It’s been a while since I released the suggestively titled flash game, Agent Higgs: Chapter 1. So I’ve been pulling together the follow up. It is based on the next section of levels in the iOS game, about the neutrinos. So if you’ve been pining for more Higgs, and you don’t have apple devices, get ready! More physics puzzles will be heading your way soon!
And to round out this wildly scattered weekly update, I’ve also been working quite a bit on that electromagnetism game I showed off last time. The basic pieces are starting to come together, with some fun levels – and the ever abundant physics curiosities (wait, you shouldn’t be able to fly through a wall like that…!). The graphics are a big improvement from last time. I mean, you can see the determination in the main character’s eyes:
(You have to look very close to see the emotion.) So that’s that for this week. Stay tuned over the next couple days, I have a nice Friday Fun coming up!
-AndyPost a Comment
A New Prototype
A quick Wednesday update this week.
I’ve been feverishly working away this past week – hence the lack of our weekly ‘Friday Fun’. And I’m afraid this Friday will slip through the cracks too. So while we’re on the subject, I’m just going to leave this here for you: whale.fm. Try to match various snippets of whale songs to identify the whales you are hearing. What makes this awesome is that these are true, very-recent recordings from the wild. Researchers are using the help of people like us (who spend time on the internet, you see) to identify a bunch of recordings. My favorite part is you get to see where the whale you’re listening to was heard. Personally, I liked the Norwegian whales the best. Those in the Caribbean were a bit too laid back for me.
Ah, but on to what I did with my week.
Last week I showed off the video of a sample from this simulation. I’m happy with where it stands at the moment. I did a bit on it this week, and still have some to do to make it useable (adding instructions and so on). But for the next week or so I’m shelving it. Why? Because I’m testing out a new prototype for a game.
I’d mentioned a month or so ago (can’t be buggered to look!) that I thought Electromagnetism might be next up for a game. I’m just testing things out at this point, and who knows if anything will come of it — only a small portion of prototypes see the light of day. But I figured I’d give you a glimpse in at the beauty of the game so far:
Just boxes. What the heck is going on there? Well, I wanted to show off this image to give you all a little glimpse into the development process. It is not a polished beast (like, say, most of the images I wait to show you). Most of the time I’m just working with lines and geometric shapes. But the core is in fact there.
The green and blue (surrounded by lines) are negative and positive charges, with field lines emanating from them. You are the wee grey box on the left. Right now, I’ve set it up so that the goal is to jump from platform to platform and make it across the level. Picture something like Super Meat Boy. But replace half of the gore with Electric and Magnetic fields. And make your character electrically charged. Suddenly the fields become very important for you to pay attention to.
As I said, this is very early on, but I’ve been pretty focused this week so far in bringing this project together and getting a proof-of-concept. Am I there yet? Nope, but I can say it already keeps me entertained when I play it. So something is going right…
-AndyPost a Comment
Happy New Year! Yes, I’ve taken a couple weeks off of posting for the holidays. But the world still seems to be intact. Phew!
But let’s get back into the thick of things with this Wednesday(s) Update.
The Evolution Simulation has advanced along nicely. In fact, you can check out a video of where things stand:
Basically, you can watch stick creatures evolve of over the course of generations. Though these creatures may have very simple, mechanical bodies, the necessary steps of evolution are in place:
1.Selection – The creatures race. Whoever makes it the furthest wins and gets to reproduce
2.Mutation – a creature will make 6 offspring, but they are each a bit different. Longer limbs, different motions, or even different shapes.
There are a bunch of options that you can change as you play around with it. In the video, the ground is flat, but you can select different terrains (bumpy, or with pits, etc). Change the basic starting body shape, and even compete head-to-head, gladiator style, in a pushing match with another creature.
So that’s the short and long of what the simulation is. It is still a work in progress, though. For instance, I’m still working on getting the evolution to occur at the right pace (too little mutation, it goes too slowly; too much and your creatures flounder). I’m hoping I can release the simulation in the upcoming weeks.
I’ve started working this past week on a game that’s connected to the simulation. It is in the style of Defend-your-Castle. Imagine the video you just watched above, but you are trying to stop the creatures from reaching the far end of the screen. Each generation they get better and better, and thus the game gets more and more challenging.
Ever-increasing difficultly is central to games, and with evolution this emerges naturally. And I can imagine some clever twists. The creatures should adapt to your various strategies… and you’ll need to be careful who you first attack. Should it be the weak creature or the strong one? Whoa.
-AndyPost a Comment