Robot’s, MMO’s, Sci-fi and Programming…

Firstly, I’d like to say hello to anyone reading this, you’re probably reading this – if at all – about 4 months after it’s been posted (no-one ever reads new blog’s until they’re successful) so Hello to the future! Hopefully it’s not as crap as I expect it will be.

Secondly, a bit about myself. I’m 24 Years old, I live in Glasgow, Scotland, and I work for an independant software company developing E-learning software, mainly for Universities and Home-learning courses. The majority of the work is web-based, and my main job is building the Flash components of it. I have a repository of scripts that I use (both AS2.0 and AS3.0) on my website. I’m adept at Flash Programming (Having an Adobe ACE Certification in CS3) as well as Javascript programming. I know a smattering of C/C++ and a bit of C# (Both WinForms based and ASP.net)

In my free time I like to read Science Fiction novels and play MMO’s. I am currently nearing the end of Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds, and I will probably be posting my thoughts on it by the end of the week. It started off quite slow, but the last few chapters have really kicked the pace up a notch.

I’m currently torn between two MMO’s, World of Warcraft and Age of Conan, and it’s going to get even more complicated with the imminent release of Champions Online and closely followed by Jumpgate Evolution. Both of which are looking fantastic. CO looks like it’s going to be a fun jump-in-jump-out casual MMO, and, providing it’s cheap enough, could easilly run in tandem with another MMO subscription. JGE is something I’ve been hoping for for years. Something similar in concept to the X-series, or Elite, but in an online setting. Twitch-based FPS style shooting in a spacecraft. A space-based MMO that will actually be fun to play and, more importantly, fun for new people (I’m looking at you EVE online).

Age of Conan is quite pretty to look at, and the combat is visceral and refreshing. Levelling is a simple matter, there are no trainers or what not, everything can be done from anywhere and there’s no need to return to a town except to cash in quests and sell all your loot. The Initial 20 levels are fun and play more like a single player RPG than an MMO, given your own epic storyline about the liberation of a small island from it’s megalomaniac pirate despot. After that it falls quite a bit. The art department went all out on Tortage and it’s surrounds, but seemed to have run out of steam when it came to one of the main Cities, Tarantia, looks bland in comparison. Sure it’s on a grand scale, but it just feels empty and devoid of personality. Like it really is just a lump of stone people sleep in. The quests are pretty much the standard MMO fare. Collect x of y, kill n of m, and so on to infinity. There’s none of Lord of the Ring’s online’s Hobbit quests, like Pie delivery and avoiding hungry hobbits. There’s nothing like The Burning Crusade’s bombing runs, Wrath of the Lich King’s mounted combat quests, or City of Heroes Bank Robbery quests. Nothing that really set it apart from the crowd and did anything special within it’s mould.

Having played through Wrath of the Lich King’s content I feel rather spoiled immersion wise. Certain moments during the quest chains you really felt something when the plot twisted. An example, without giving any spoilers, is a name: Drakuru. Which I believe is Trollish for “Little bastard”. Or even the times when the Lich King pops up and shows his ugly face, you feel that he really is an antagonist, rather than a boss waiting to be looted for an Epic sword. Even if you never get to face him 1 on 25 (or even 1 on 10) You feel that he’s a part of the overall story, unlike Illidan’s back-seat brooding in TBC.

Well, all that’s left is the “Robot” part of the title…

There’s nothing much to say except we’re trying to build a tracked robot that costs next to nothing. As you can probably imagine it’s taking a while. We’ve gotten the control system working, and a wifi camera feed, we have the base unit, and all we need is a chassis and a powerful enough motor. So far it’s cost about £50, but It’s going to take a bit longer to get the rest of it (we have one motor on the way), we tried, and failed, to create a Lego-based Motor/Chassis (but the motor didn’t have enough torque to turn the assembly when it was on the ground, and if it did I fully believe it would have ripped the thing to bits) – but we have a basic design now, which should work if we get the right materials and a good enough motor. Hopefully we’ll get some photos once our Electrical Engineer gets back from his holiday.

Domo Arigato – Dave Canazza

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