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“Beyond Game Design – A case of when not the same is not the same”

Posted by: on Feb 18, 2015 | No Comments



By Shane B. Morris

I am not a gamer. I’ll be honest with you there, perfectly honest. My reactions and coordination means I will never be a gamer of any sort, especially in the high stakes online multiplayer arena. It is not an impediment for me. Because I like to design games. Been doing it since I was something like twelve years old – the classic “Escape from Vandaharia” eat your heart out! Yes, I would have the Visnu Observatory, where they discovered the secrets of the universe, anti-gravity and hyper drive… oh, but I was a boy once…Could I be a boy again? Certainly, times have changed. I’m now going into an Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree. I’ll be specializing in a few key areas, one such area is semi-autonomous robotics systems (and I’ve written about this previously). But one such product of a robotic future that could help me be a boy again is the 3D scanner. Why? I can scan in my in game items! This has been posited a number of times, and certainly there is enough software out there in the public domain to do my heavy lifting for me. I could get my girlfriend Kara (admittedly a Counterstrike and Steam fan) to make me up a scale clay mockup of a gun, or a building, or what have you, and scan it in. I am still good with a pen and paper. I can visualize my concepts that way, have Kara make up my model, and then scan it in – instant in game item.



And here where it becomes very interesting. I can then place it into a games engine that designs its own levels! Yes, I want to see this to believe it. It’s one of those things where you have to see it in action to believe it. I can understand it, intellectually, but seeing it run… that’s something else. I’m seeing machine intelligence in 4G Self Organizing Networks, I’m positing all kinds of autonomous behaviors in mobile robots (even to the point where computation is offloaded to the cloud of an “always connected” mobile robot), so this is a logical extension.



This is the future, a future I want to be a part of. A future where our own children are conversant with the technology, can’t imagine a world without it, like some of us can’t remember a world without mobile phones and Facebook. I’m showing my age, I can remember a time before widespread dial up internet, boy! But seriously, isn’t this a technology you would want to invest in? The underlying engine is good for more than just games. Take training and simulation – I could picture an urban search and rescue scenario played out in such a way where the collapsed building has various rules, but the level is randomly built from thousands of different combinations. I have made, then completed, real simulated USAR courses, and I know what it’s like to get down in the muck and debris, and pull those people out. Loved nothing more, like a chess game with fate. Yes, I’m quick to come up with quirky ways to apply this underlying technology. Why? Because I see plenty of potential in it. Is it just a games console, or could it be so much more? Interactive TV, simulations, VR control of robots, more applications than my puny brain can dream of, and waiting for all of us to unlock, because I know everyone has an idea for the future. The beauty of it is, it’s open enough to apply your ideas to. The Ouya is still restricted, even though it’s the most open games console out there, in terms of the game development. Simply put, an Ouya with this paradigm? Couldn’t work, Android simply doesn’t have the facility to build and run this software.




Simple as that. If you want openness, you use open software. But the AyR, with its real Linux base, counts for something in my book. Imagine you wished to use a Playstation 4 or an Xbox 360 for the USAR simulation I just described, hooked up to a projector. I’m not entirely sure what paperwork you’d have to fill out, just to get a developer unit, and then your market is limited, so your software would be hideously overpriced, and untenable in market. It’s a dud in the water before you even start. But why couldn’t you use perfectly good games hardware? Because it simply isn’t open enough. Linux distributions for ARM are mature, I’ve been using them for many years.




My collection of odd ARM development boards is pretty much legendary. My collection of Arduinos and mBeds is even more legendary. I live, eat, breathe open source. I’ve learned more from the open source community in the last five years than I had in the fifteen years before of reading the official textbooks. Up until the AyR was revealed, my idea of a low powered robotics control system was a 1GHz single core HP thin client hacked to run Linux, running off a 12V battery. The battery is because I do a lot of remote installations – take a piece of bush, and provide communications, both wifi and UHF commercial, to it for the purposes of public safety during an orienteering event. I’m good at that, and I’ve seen some beautiful places, and I would not give it up for the world. It sure makes me think outside the box. A challenge I relish with gusto, and I do it all with the repayment of the satisfaction I did my job to the absolute best of my abilities. That’s an aside though. With the AyR, my world changes considerably. For something that could design its own levels could take a re-index to the VR world once a robot encounters something outside its range of parameters. I am simply excited by what this means, both on the robotics and the game design side of things!


Be a part of the future !


This special blog post was wrote by  Shane B. Morris on December 20, 2013. The vision Shane’s seen for our  autonomous PC, console and robotics system called the OTON AyR is beyond awesome. This system is still a year or so away but I wanted to share his vision and thoughts  of what we could accomplish with the AyR technology . At EnGeniux we design products not just for profit but to spark imagination and creativity. The OTON AyR is such a device. A device that will incorporate community ideas and openness. The OTON AyR is coming!

*Special thanks to Joseph Dumary for the EnGeniux OTON AyR concept design.


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