Work on the Technical Design Document. Debug current work. Attend
two conferences. This week I will be attending the SIGGRAPH Sandbox
Symposium in San Diego, California, followed immediately by the STARS
Celebration Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.
was learned: Lots... Plenty of applicable research.
encountered: Airplane luggage troubles...
Week 9- Presenting my work
Create a presentation to show off my work for the summer. Write my
paper. Get as much of the game done as possible.
I've learned: Nothing. this week I'm regurgitating recently acquired
problems encountered: The more I work, the more problems come up from
being unfamiliar with the system and not being able to find documentation.
this is the reoccuring theme for this summer. If I had to do this
over again, I would find a group on campus that is working (even if
on unrelated things) on Microsoft Robotics Studio. Just working in
an environment where many people are doing the pioneering work would
have taken a lot of th pressure off of me. Oh well. Live and Learn.
work: Write a technical design document for future students that choose
to work on this project.
Week 8- Reprioritizing...
So, because of major setbacks in the last couple of weeks. I have
to seriously reconsider my priorities for this game. This week, I
need to stop working on issues associated with not-working- assets
and start getting the interface working. The robot needs to be controlled
in ways specific to this project and player should be able to receive
and accept missions.
was learned: Documentation is important. It seems like new information
is being added everyday, days after I figure out a solution to a particular
project. It's important that I document my pioneering efforts for
this project, as it looks like I will not be able to get a working
game by the end of the summer.
problems encountered: I'm running out of time.
Future work: Finish game(yeah right). Start working on final paper.
Week 7- Asset Generation continued
This game is starting to look more and more impossible. At this point
I'm focusing on finishing designing level and starting on the GUI.
was learned: I should really start looking to design smaller games.
I'm still having trouble with the terrain, and I also have another
problem with the terrain on top of the current problem. The image
that I'm using to paint the terrain is high enough resolution, and
in order to fix that I have to make the image insanely large. So large
in fact that it takes all of my computers physical memory (2 gigabytes)
in order to open the file in an image editing program. For obvious
reasons, this isn't going to cut it.
work: Finish the game.
Week 6- Asset Generation
So the design is nearly complete and now its time to start creating
levels. This week is to be spent creating the assets that will be
used in MARS2020.
was learned: I've started with the MARS level, specifically with creating
the terrain. The problem, however, is that I can't seem to make a
terrain real enough to be a convincing Mars terrain. Ultimately, we
want a terrain that maps directly with an area of Mars, so that students
wll be able to see the direct translation of what they would be doing
in this situation. The problem, however, is that I can't seem to translate
overhead images of Mars into terrain data.
Terrain generation is harder than I thought.
work: Finish he terrain and start developing other assets.
Week 5- Search and Research
related works from other researchers. My work is starting to resemble
a black box which is not good. I’m hoping to find others that
have attempted to do something similar with teaching robotics.
was learned: There have indeed been many attempts at teaching engineering.
Unfortunately, their aren't many game attempts that have reported
positive results (as far as learning is concerned). Bad design and
unclear objectives seem to be a common theme among games intended
to teach engineering or computer science related concepts. Of the
projects that seemed the most successfull they usually werent abstracted
into a game form.
encountered: There isn't enough time to do read these papers. But
they're important to the design of this game. Game Design Document
was not completed.
work: Start implementation, wrap up the GDD.
4- Game idea confirmed
New game idea has been confirmed, but I still feel like there are
a lot of unanswered questions. I decided that before I continue development,
I should spend the week reading up on related works in the programming/engineering
field. I also started evaluating some of my pasts works on the topic
of learning in an immersive virtual environment.
was learned: Caught up on a lot of reading concerning these topics
and from there began writing a concept document for MARS2020. MARS2020
will be designed to tackle some of the past failures of mine and other
related projects. I don't want the problem of bad design this go round
(a problem a lot of people seem to have). I'm taking extra steps to
ensure that time dedicated to a certain aspect of the game is proportional
to the amount of influence it has on my overall goal.
problems were encountered: It's taking too long to write the GDD,
everytime I think I'm done, another aspect of the game comes up. I
don't know if I even want to attempt a Technical Design Document.
Maybe I can take the cheap way out and take a code and go approach?
Heck, I don't even know if anyone else will see this project when
I'm done with it... Also, Georgia Tech doesn't allow me to look through
their online resources for technical papers. I'm beginning to like
this school less and less. >.<
GDD. Start development. Make an immersive game in 5 weeks.
3 - Change of plans
Pitch a Game Idea to Dr. Howard and Sekou that is doable within the
remaining time. Dr. Howard decided that she would like my research
here to focus more on teaching robotics to a younger audience.
was learned: After harrassing Sekou about my new project until I knew
exactly what Dr. Howard wanted, I did a lot of research on the applications
of robotics, more specifically future applications. I decided that
making a game based on a realistic future would be a good way to get
the next generation interested in robotics and get them psyched about
learning in game. Eventually, I was able to come up with a game idea
that was doable, fun, and with varying levels of difficulty that I'm
fairly confident that I'll be able to pull off in the remaining seven
problems were encounted: I'm never sure that I'm doing the right thing...
*sigh. Oh yeah, and I had to scrap the beautiful world that was sooo
close to being finished, oh well... Next go round should be a peice
of cake. Plus I'm sure that the Search and Rescue environment can
be used for something. I'll hold on to it.
work: Game plan has been finished, presented, and green lighted. The
remainder of this week will be spent creating a user manual, GDD,
and TDD. Plus I'll be researching whether or not anyone has attempted
to make a game with Microsoft Robotics Studio (although I think I
already know the answer to that question)...
Week 2 - Microsoft Simulator 101
Get down the foundation for the urban environment that I will be using
for the Urban Search and Rescue simulation environment.
was learned: I learned a little bit about the Wavefront object format.
Apparently a material file is needed in addition to the actual mesh
file itself. None of the tutorials made mention of this, it was yet
another important criterion for creating a world that was assumed
or omitted. I intend to make mention of this on my blog. Also, there
were differences between my desktop and laptop that caused my previous
build to crash when I ported it to my desktop. I’d like to play
some more with moving my build from one platform to another and see
what causes it to act up the way it does.
problems were encountered: Many hours were wasted trying to make the
mesh textures work. The solution is actually pretty simple, though
I’ve yet to figure out how to do it through my 3d modeling application.
half of a day was spent trying to port the application to my desktop.
I’m still not sure what I did to solve my problem but as of
right now it works.
metro modeler was a little more complicated to use than I originally
thought, but it didn’t take too long to adapt to the environment.
I’d say the only result is that some of the buildings that I
am using in my world look a little funky. I figure I’ll fix
work: I still intend to port a robot into my environment but I’m
not entirely sure what that robot is supposed to do once he’s
in the world. I’m still awaiting briefing on what these robots
will do once they are ported into my environment. As of now, all I
know that the robot will do is walk around.
also intend to create a very basic GDD for the robotics world. A Technical
Design Document doesn’t seem necessary because most of my work
as of now seems to be more scripting than programming.
1- Learning the Ropes
Familiarize myself with the project and the tools that I’ll
be using for the completion of this project.
was learned: My objective is to provide a virtual environment for
robot simulations. For the summer, I will be working directly with
a type of Urban Search and Rescue project that was started prior to
my arrival. After the summer, standard robots and associated protocols
should be able to work within the environment that I’ve set
week I started by familiarizing myself with Microsoft Robotics Studio.
I’ve gone through various tutorials provided by Microsoft and
feel like I should be fairly comfortable working in this environment
in a short amount of time.
also become familiar with the work being done in the lab that I’m
working in and why my work is necessary. It’s a very costly
endeavor to engineer robots. Working out some of the design issues
and testing in a simulated environment should cut cost significantly
if done correctly. So far, I’ve seen some of the simulations
that they’ve set up in 2 dimensional environments, it’s
pretty cool buts I think it limits the amount you can accomplish within
the simulation. Microsoft has provided a free solution for homebrew
robot enthusiast and researchers. This should make it easier to create
more realistic simulation solutions for our robots.
problems were encountered?
Robotics studio seems like a very solid solution. So far, I haven’t
found any real limitations, but a lot of the work going on behind
the scenes is so far removed from the code that I’m working
with, that it’s very difficult to control the things that I’d
like to control. Also, because of the newness of the studio, documentation
of my limited knowledge on what’s going on behind the scenes,
I feel like I’m wasting a lot of valuable time guessing on what’s
happening behind the simulation engine. For example, it seems that
a lot of the processes are occurring within different threads, even
though when I write them, I’m writing them sequentially. Why
didn’t they tell me that somewhere? Was I supposed to assume
that’s what’s going on? Because I did, after about four
hours of guessing….
I’ve started designing the world I would like to create in the
simulator and looking at the different way’s to bring this world
together. If the environment is to be Search and Rescue, I have to
look at methods to make the world more dynamic, which is something
they don’t show you how to do (and I’m not sure if they
want you to do).