Evie Powell
REU Student at UNC- Charlotte
Contact: empowell@uncc.edu

Hi! I'm Evie. This website is dedicated to me and all of the really cool projects that I'm working on at UNC-Charlotte. This site is under construction and will change a lot over the next few days. Thanks for stopping by!

What Evie is doing:

Final Report Completed!  Click here to check it out!

Week 1- Hello World!

Evie here! I'm wrapping up my first week in this research experience and so far it's been great. This week has been mostly about getting acquainted with people working on the project. I've met a few new people that are interested in joining the project. They all seem very excited about this project.
I've got my work cut out for me over the next couple of weeks. Basically, I'm going to be learning a bit more about Unreal Editor and the magic of non playable characters. Stay tuned! By next week, I should be an expert on the matter. The goal is to replicate a game mission that I've made in RPG Maker in Unreal. Wish me luck!
I'm also building the awesomes server on which we're going to be hosting the game. Here's the catch, keep it under 500 dollars. I do enjoy a challenge! I'll let you know what I come up with next time.

Other things worth mentioning

Another thing worth mentioning is the birth of Kirika (my new desktop computer). She's Alive!!! (evil laughter) Kirika is awesome, if you want to see her spec's here they are:

Gigabyte GA-G1975X Motherboard
Supports 1066/800/533MHz FSB

Northbridge: Intel® 975X Express Chipset
Southbridge: Intel®ICH7R
T.I IEEE 1394 Controller
Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Creative Sound Blaster Live 24-bit Audio controller

Type: Dual channel DDR2 533/667-240pin
Max capacity: Up to 8GB by 4 DIMM slots

Internal I/O Connectors
4 X Serial ATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 X UDMA ATA 100/66/33 connector
1 X FDD connector
1 X IEEE 1394 connector (support 2 ports)
3 X USB 2.0/1.1 connectors (support 6 ports)
1 X audio pin header (support 7.1-ch)
1 X S/PDIF In/Out pin header
3 X Cooling fan pin headers

Expansion Slots
2 x PCI Express X16 slot
2 x PCI Express X4 slots
2 x PCI slots

Rear Panel I/O
2 X USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 X RJ45 port
PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse
Audio (1x Line-in/ 1x Line-out/ 1x Mic) connector

Form Factor
ATX form factor
305 x 244mm

H/W Monitoring
System health status auto-detect and report by BIOS
Hardware detecting and reporting for case open, CPU voltage, and fan speed
2 x 4Mb flash ROM, Award BIOS

Other Features
Multi-GPU support
C.R.S. (CMOS Reload Switch)
Norton Internet Security
Xpress™ Installation
Xpress™ Recovery 2
C.I.A. 2 (CPU Intelligent Accelerator 2)
M.I.B. 2 (Memory Intelligent Booster 2)
EasyTune™ 5
Download Center


Intel 775 Pentium D 950 Dual Core 3.4GHz 2MB

Retail Box
Series: Pentium D
CPU Socket Type: LGA 775
Core: Presler
Name: Pentium D 950
Operating Frequency: 3.4GHz
FSB: 800MHz
L1 Cache: 24KB+32KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 2MB
Process Type: 65 nm
Hyper-Threading Support: No
64 bit Support: Yes
Multimedia Instruction: MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3
Voltage: 1.25-1.4V

Raidmax Sagitta Gaming Case

Mfr Part Number: ATX-921WBP
Blue LED Status lights
Meets Intel CAG Regulations
Intel Prescott Ready
Case Type: Sagitta Gaming Case
Color: Black
Material: SECC Steel
M/B Type: ATX Form Factor 12 x 10.5 inch or smaller

Drive Bays:
o External Bay: 5x 5.25"; 2x 3.5"
o Internal Bay: 3x 3.5"
Expansion Slots: Standard ATX 7 slots
Side Windows: Custom side panel window with 120mm and 80mm Blue LED fan
Front Port: 2x USB 2.0 ports; Audio jacks

Power Supply
Ultra Products X2 550W PSU - Titanium w/ UV Blue
If you're familiar with the Ultra X-Connect (1st Generation) you know that it's the world's first completely modular design. That means you only have to connect the cables you need. This leaves your system's airflow unimpeded by clunky, chunky air stifling cables. The end result? Airflow that cools and protects your precious components. This born-to-be-modded power supply goes several steps beyond its award-winning predecessors. The Ultra 550-watt titanium finish X-Connect features FlexForce technology, which delivers easy cable routing while remaining hidden within your case. FlexForce's special design allows air to travel 30-percent more effectively than standard cables. This results in a quantum leap in performance. Plus the 550-Watt X-Connect dresses its cables in a sleek, titanium UV reactive finish. Dual Rail Technology for More Stable Power Specially developed for extreme gaming rigs! This 550-watt Ultra X-Connect features Dual Rail Technology. The X-Connect's critical 12V power are divided into two separate rails. This distributes cleaner power to your CPU

Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

Graphics Card
ATI 100-435705 Radeon X1800XT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16 Video
Brand ATI
Model 100-435705
Interface PCI Express x16
Chipset Manufacturer ATI
GPU Radeon X1800XT
Core clock 625MHz
PixelPipelines 16
Memory Clock 1500MHz
Memory Size 512MB
Memory Interface 256-bit
Memory Type GDDR3
DirectX DirectX 9
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
TV-Out HDTV/S-Video/Composite Out

Witness her glory! What happens to my other desktop (what's her name again?)? She's gonna spend her final years with my sister, Vida. Oh yeah, thanks Vida for funding this special project!

Random Story

Actually, Brane (old compy) was an ongoing project for about 2 years. When I met her, she was just a bag of bones. A friend of mine was getting rid of her because he was trying to build another desktop capable of playing Doom3 on maxed out settings without any hiccups. He had given up on her and so he gave her to me. She sat in my room for about 3 months until Shadow (my old laptop) died. Desperate for companionship, I operated (brain surgery, her short term and longterm memory was nowhere to be found) that night, and we've been friends ever since. Occassionally, I'd see an old discarded computer on the side of the road. Brane always had first dibs on organ donations. Now, Branes a nice healthy compy that has a full productive life ahead of her. I'll see if I can remember her final specs.

Some Intel motherboad
Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz processor
200GB Western Digital ATA Hard Drive
256MB AGP 4X/8X ATI Radeon X700
Hewlitt Packard 930i DVD Reader/Writer
768MB SDRAM (256 discarded from someone else's compy)
ATI TV Wonder Pro
3.5" Floppy (from discarded compy)
5.25" Floppy (from discarded compy)
Some kinda gaming case
450W Power Supply (discarded compy)

I never checked to see if she could ever play doom3 maxed out flawlessly. But she's never gives me any problems with the games that I have. Brane is an amazing machine, and I wish her well.

Welp, that's it for now! See you next week!

Week 2- Moving In...

This week I moved into my room on campus. The room is located in Squires Hall and so far I really like what I see. It appears that I have a kitchen. I'm not entirely sure what I should do with a kitchen. I suppose I will by a pot and a pan and see where that leads.

I have met my two other roommates. Jordan I had already met last week. She is from Virginia. I have discovered that she plays the piano a little. I look forward to hanging out and playing the piano together sometime. Tar (short for Tiffany or TiffyTar) is from Colorado (wow!). I here there are no trees in Colorado. Where do they get their oxygen? Besides being able to breathe phantom air, she also seems to enjoy video games as much as I do.

I also met Paige and Lauren this week. They are both from South Carolina. Paige is working on the same project as Jordan, Tar, and I. Lauren is working on a slightly different project involving Virtual Humans. Lauren also plays the piano. Perhaps we could start a band?

We have started brainstorming on our project and prototyping levels that we would like to add to our game. So far we have come up with some pretty interesting ideas to help Computer Science students learn to write programs. Next week, I hope to have some of the ideas posted on this site.

I have also started looking into changing the default animations for animated characters in our game. This has required a lot of research on my part. Most documentation for animation and rigging character meshes is for Maya. I happen to be most familiar with 3d studio max when doing those kinds of things so that slowed me down a little. I think with a little more reading I'll have a good idea of what I'm doing.

Stay tuned!

Week 3- Parties and games

Don't let this week's title fool you. There was plenty to do this week, my job just happens to be video games (clever right?). Dr. Barnes invited us over twice this week, once for a small dinner with games afterwards, and once for a party with games afterwards. Both times we entertained ourselves for hours playing Iron Dragon, a rare board game about building railroads and shipping goods. Yes, the concept is very boring, but the game itself is amusing. I am now looking into purchasing this game for myself.

Also this week, we all spent half of a day outdoors at the UNC-Charlotte Venture low-ropes course. The course was all about challenging ourselves with complicated tasks and working together as a team to overcome obstacles. By the end of the course we were all exhausted but very happy with ourselves. I was reminded of a song that I used to sing as a child (that I had actually shared with my peers the day before). I recited part of that song at day's end, hoping to share it's warm yet powerful message:

"Don't be a leaf if you can be a tree,
don't be a raindrop if you can be the sea,
because a leaf may fall but the tree remains,
if it never rains at all the sea remains,
better to be the tree and the sea,

-The Peanut's cast, Snoopy the Musical

This week was spent mostly getting everyone else acquainted with the game engines and other applications. We've continued refining ideas and coming up with new ones. Tar even implemented one of these ideas in RPG Maker.

Well, I believe that's all for now. I will come back and elaborate on these ideas later with pictures and screenshots.


Week 4- Unreal Muffin Trees

Well, besides being stuck on the silliest problem in the world for three days. I'm finally far enough along on this week's task to feel productive. This week I worked on switching out animations for characters in the StormHaven game. For now, we're using the 3d studio max biped and a 3d mesh created by a member of the Unreal Developer's Network (UDN). To accomplish this task I had to acquaint myself with Unreal Script. This is my first week seriously working with script and not the level editor. I'm really excited about the progress that I'm making.

I was off to a great start this week with familiarizing myself with Unreal script. It's not terribly different from any other scripting language I've played with before. I've spent a lot of time going through tutorials at Unreal Wiki and UDN. I wrote a few mutators that do really silly stuff until I felt confident enough to accomplish my goal of writing custom physics and ai for our StormHaven Characters.

I kind of hit a wall halfway through the week with pipelining revised artwork (3d characters and animation) into the game without having to tinker with code or rebuild. Turn's out that my problem was nothing more than Unreal's screwy naming convention. Apparently you cannot name an animation file and a texture file the same name, even if they have different extensions. For different builds the response is different. For me, it completely ignored everything I did in the level editor, which made it kind of difficult to figure out what was wrong. There were no error messages... just a lot of wrongness. Oh well, it's over, and it will never happen again. Now I can concentrate on more important things like NPC artificial intelligence and creating a nice neat template for our other character classes.

In other news, Lauren wants to be a potato and one should never talk to muffin trees. TiffyTar wrote an interesting poem about noodles and we still have not finished our game of Iron Dragon.

This weeks addition to the Stuff link includes sceenshots and bloopers from my work in Unreal. Also included is my todo list for this week and my version of StormHaven's functional documentation. That's it for this week. And remember, never talk to muffin trees...

Week 5- Unethical Human Research

The research team has split into two parts for the experiment that we are going to perform. My team is using RPG Maker to create a small role-playing game that presents basic computer science concepts in a what is hopefully a new, fun, and comprehensive way. The player will explore he small world and complete various quest all to save the fair princess that has been captured by the evil sorcerer, Gargamel (don't ask me where the smurfs are?I don't know.)

We have also begun preparing for the groups from Hallym University. I look forward to working with this group. I had a great time working with the Hallym University students last year. I enjoyed it so much, I worked with similar groups all school year. There are people from last year's group that I still contact from time to time. GRE classes are going well. My vocabulary and writing skills have a lot of room for improvement. This is something I've been meaning to work on for a long time. Being absolutely clueless in GRE prep class for an hour is just the motivation I need to pick up a dictionary every once in a while and maybe take a peek at some new words.

Week 6- Bannana Bannana Terracotta Pie

This game is taking a lot more time than I originally anticipated. RPG Maker is originally very limited in it’s capabilities and I’ve spent a lot of time adding the features I need to accomplish my vision. The rest of the team seems to have trouble understanding the scripting language so I have been trying to walk them through scripting simple scenes in RGSS. The print statement quest is almost complete and I’ve begun changing the while condition quest to be more useful to learning computer science. So far we a seriously behind schedule and Jordan is going to have to leave in a week. With the Hallym students coming in less than a week I am becoming worried on how much of this project Paige, Jordan, and I can complete. But, I’m very happy with what we have so far, the battle scenes are awesome!

Another concern is that our story line is far too complicated and too long for research purposes. A lot of the work that we have completed is going to have to be cut out. This saddens me, but it’s ok, I’ll post both the evaluation various and the entended version on the website.

Week 7- Glorious appearance

This has been by far the craziest week of the summer. The Hallym students have made their glorious appearance and so far have spent every waken moment ensuring their comfort and happiness. Of course that means that the research moments were few and far between. The students start every day with a 3 hour game design class. The responsibilities of the lab assistants includes helping them understand their projects, helping them complete their projects, and make sure all software runs correctly on the lab computers. After each class is some kind of afternoon activity, like team building projects, spotlights, on research, and cultural activities. Right now, the Hallym students are still very shy. Most of them can speak English to an extent but are afraid of saying things wrong. I expect this to go away by next week. Jordan is doing well translating what they don’t understand for us. She really likes this group and seems a little sad to be leaving at the end of this week. Of course we are all sad to see her go…. *sniff *sob

This Saturday, I have the honor of hosting the Hallym computer game night. I’m really looking forward to it. Last semester I also hosted such an event for Kungpyook National Univertsity with UNCC’s Nihon(Japan) Club. The event went very well last semester, but I’m worried that not as many people will show up this time because it’s in the middle of the summer. Regardless, it should still be a lot of fun!

Evie’s Schedule this week:

July 2
1:56pm - Hallym Arrival in Charlotte. Pick students up from douglass Airport.
Check them into dormitory
Campus Tour
Trip to grocery store (Harris Teeter)
Trip to Asian Market
(Somehow this whole ordeal wasn’t finished until 8:00pm…. Wow)
July 3
9:00am -10 :00am - A more involved campus tour
10:00 am – 12:00pm- Staff introductions and orientation
12:00pm – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Game Design Orientation
4:00pm - 5:00 pm – Break
6:00pm -11:00pm – Welcome reception at Dr. Barnes house
July 4
RPG Maker work. I traded out the trip to Carowinds with Jordan. (she really wanted to go)

July 5
9:00am – 12:00 pm Game Design Training
12:00m – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00pm – 4:00pm Team building activity at the low ropes course
4:00pm – 6:00pm – I took a break while the students went to Spotlights on research
6:00pm – 10:00pm Charlotte Knights baseball game. It was cancelled within an hour of us arriving because of rain so instead we took them to dinner.

July 6
9:00am – 12:00 pm Game Design Training
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00pm – 4:00pm Meeting with Dr. Barnes and more RPG Maker (yay!)
4:00pm – 5:30 pm Spotlight on Research (Dr. William Ribarsky: Foundation of Visual Analytics, 3-D interaction, and Geospatil Visualization.)

July 7
9:00am – 12:00 pm Game Design Training
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00:pm – 4:00 pm RPG Maker

July 8
9:00am – 12:00 pm Game Design Training
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch
4:00pm – 7:00 pm Prepare for Computer Game Night
7:00pm – 10:30pm Computer Game Night

Week 8- Espiranto

I worked with the Hallym students from last year, and like last year, the students are a lot of fun. They are a smart bunch and really love making games. The Game Engine is a little nicer from it's last few updates and not nearly as hard to teach to the Hallym students. But you know what would make this whole process ten times easier? Esperanto...

I'm serious! How awesome would it be if there was a middle-ground language that everyone knew? So far, the Korean students are hard-pressed to learn English and they're doing a fantastic job, but what about us lazy Americans? The things we do to communicate to foreign students are borderline rude. For example, someone asks a question and we reply, but they don't understand. So we say it again slower, and maybe they still don't understand. And then we say it again... slower...
You may think I'm over reacting but I know I'm not. All last year I worked in the intercultural office, close to the international office. Do you know that people from all over the world that speak different languages communicate better in English with each other than an international student and an American? How horrible is that!? *sigh Anyway, Jordan is gone and now the rest of us are trying to pick up the slack. the Hallym students are being good sports about the whole thing so it's not so bad.
The students meet everyday in the common lab and work on their projects. In between classes I work on the Saving Sera game. We're heading into crunch time and it's getting kinda difficult managing my time between the Hallym students and the Game2Learn Study. On the other hand, however, I'm getting a lot of good ideas on how to teach in game through working with these students. I ask myself questions like: What can you compare things with to get your point across? How much time to people spend working on games before their attention dwindles and they start talking about their day with their friends? What makes a good game? Which of these students are overambitious and why? You know, these students may be teaching me more than I'm teaching them...

Week 9- Goodbye Hallym

The students are leaving and everyone is super sad. But even worse! Tar, Paige, and Lauren are packing their bags too!

Anyway, Saving Sera is almost complete! This week is mostly about debugging the game and getting it ready for our participant study. The catacombs quest seems to be going faily well too. I finally got to play the entire catacombs quest yesterday. It's impresssive, the game looks amazing. Saving Sera is getting some good reviews as well. It's unfortunate that Jordan isn't here to see the fruits of our labor but she'll be back. I figure I won't put it online just yet... it'll be a surprise.
I'm really warming up to 3d Game Studio, it's so much easier to use than it was last year. I'm seeing more documentation and tutorials for 3d game studio as well. The Hallym students are working like crazy to finish their games in time and so far it looks like all the teams will make it. They give us TA's a lot to take home every night, but with the way they are working, it's really hard to complain. I tried doing to tutorial on modeling/uv mapping for the students but I don't think it helped very much. I didn't have much time to present and as a result I think the tutorial moved way to fast to be of any use to them. Besides, I doubt many of them had a use for the tutorial, by the time I presented, most of them had figured out all of their modeling/mapping problems. Oh well, better luck next time, huh?

Week 10- Participant Study time

The students are gone and I don't have time to mourn because the study has officially started. I just ran my first study and got a great review so now I'm pretty excited about research participants playing the game. Hehe, I know I'm not supposed to take any responses to the game personally but I think anyone can understand how difficult that is to do... I spent ten weeks working on Saving Sera after all.

There was a game convention in Boston Massachussets that I went to, courtesy of Dr. Barnes. The convention was awesome! I got to take a peek at the latest work in artificial intelligence, game physics, and games for learning. I wasn't really aware of the kinds of research people are doing with video games, but more importantly (not really) were the games they had to play while I was there! They had all of my favorites! DDR, Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero (there seemed to be alot of rhythm simulation game enthusiasts there). I met a few people in industry that I hope to keep in contact with. Also, I won a couple of competitions and brought home two new video games. Awesomes!

Week 11 & 12- Wrapping Up!

So, the SLC (student leadershop corp.) planned a get together in Atlanta Georgia, and as part of that project and as a wrap up to this one, I attended and had a blast. Of course, driving a 15 passenger van(I hate driving those things) through Atlanta wasn't all that much fun, but I'm alive so it's ok. Of course all of my buddies (except Tar *sniff *sniff) were there and so it was a heart warming experience. The workshop was more of a celebration of diversity. I had never met so many women in computer science in one place.
I met a lot of new people at this conference, people that actually go to my school and share my interest. I'm amazed that I haven't seen some of these people before. I think that I've been in the same class with a few of them but never introduced myself. I'll have to work on that.
The past week everyone was wrapping up their work DMP and we are rushing like mad to finish the study in between workshops and discussions. We got a lot of participants at the workshop. Everyone there was really helpful. We also got a lot of ideas started for the following school year. Go to club.us.cyworld.com/unccgamers for more information!
This program has been an amazing experience that has inspired me to do so much more than I originally intended with my education. This summer has been an amazing experience and I encourage anyone to try it. Not only did I come away from this program with more knowledge and more direction, I also feel more confident in my ability as a programmer and as a student. Thank you everyone that helped make this program a reality.


Game Development Website Nihon Club