A Return Visit

So I’m back from college for spring break, and I’ve been put to work. I walked in the door and Mr. Gras said, “hey, you came back to blog for us!”

Then Mrs. Newcastle saw me, greeted me cheerfully and asked me about school, then as a sidenote asked if I came back to blog. I went down the basement, where Tucker and Ryan were like “sam! you’re back! you gonna blog?” and then Mr. Newcastle showed me the new board…. and… asked if I came back to blog.

Well, no, actually I did not come back to blog. I came back because I’m on break, it’s Sunday afternoon, I don’t have anything better to do, and I love my nerdy robot friends. But sure, I’m here, and it feels awkward to be sitting idly in the BotCave.

For Botball 2009, there’s obviously a new board and a new challenge. The challenge is meant to be a “green” challenge, with the main objectives including installing wind turbines, utilizing hydroelectric power, and storing fossil fuels. Botguy seems to be the most valuable object in the game, provided a good amount of object collection is done, because depending on where he gets to on your side, he doubles or triples the score.

This board has two hills and a valley, with each start box in the valley at the bottom of that team’s hill. The hill is utilized in a variety of “eco-friendly” ways: the blue foam balls representing water must be taken to the top so their energy can be used, and the pinwheel “wind turbines” are supposed to be installed at the top of the hill to harvest the most wind energy. The green tribbles represent “green” fuels, and the orange tribbles are meant to be fossil fuels. All of these together , when used properly, generate points and generate power to give light and electricity back to the blacked-out city of Robopolis.

Link: Botball 2009 Game Video

Our main challenges so far involve new hardware and software. The code has evolved and is giving the software team some new difficulties. The camera this year is a typical webcam, and it is a great deal slower than the previous camera, taking only about 3 sweeps per second. This delay will make it a bit more difficult to get a good reading of the board and to stop loop commands. The XBC has been replaced by a CBC, which, rather than looking like a Game Boy Advance controller, has a fancy schmancy touch screen and has a processing system inside it. Adjusting to the new systems is our first objective to keep in mind as we consider game strategy.