Friday, January 8, 2010

Let's get real - Real Tournament 2010

I love working on visual effect using the graphics card, but sometimes simulated renders just doesn't cut it. You want the real look and feel of what it is like, you want to hop into an Avatar and run out there in the harsh world with toxic air and play a game. Admitted the movie has some of the richest renders ever and a lot of human effort went into the art and content creation, but it is difficult to do real time.

So here is the idea, quite simple really - an Augmented Reality MMO with camera robots. Going with the classic shooter genre, we will need some lasers and possibly other projectiles. Here are the units from a quick looks at ThinkGeek.

The Basic Spawn Foot Soldier - Grunt

This is the unit you spawn as before acquiring a transport. Has to be simple cheap, yet robust unit. It also needs to be physically agile with humanoid motions. Ideal candidates are the plethora of humanoids built in Japan. I will choose one that is smallest, runs embedded linux and has a preprogrammed motion called round house kick - i-SOBOT. Sadly the i-SOBOT as it stands lacks a camera, so this is the alternative.

The Basic Land Vehicle - Tank

You of course do not want to be foot bound and run everywhere. So your robot avatar can interface and drive a vehicle. You could also possibly just apparate in a vehicle and never be foot bound. Lots of video streaming car bots are around. I like the ones running a blackfin DSP, but it is aimed at the research market. Though it is hackable, it is pricier. The other option is the Rovio.

The Basic to Advanced Aerial Unit - Chopper and Troop drop

The greatest fun is going aerial and dropping into the back of their base when no one is looking. Need an aerial platform that is cheap small, has a camera and will not be greatly impacted by a fall. The dual-contrarotor designs are good and will make for a fast platform,
where as the quad-rotor designs will make a more stable platform and function as troop-drop.

There is a Swiss ETH spin-off making the dual-rotor ones, Skybotix. Recently there was a lot of media around the iPhone controlled Quadrotor - AR. Drone Parrot. You can actually get one of these as a game dev. Only if I had the cash.

The Scenery and the Sand Pit

So we can now move about willy nilly and see where we are going. Still need a play pen though. This is where we can get really inventive and easy. Making a real forest with trees which take damage on shooting is hard in graphics, but really trivial in augmented reality. May be it will encourage preservation of play parks and clean play beaches, or post-apocalyptic architecture. We will have to stream and clean and stabilize the videos, we will have to motion track and assist with auto-lock shooting. Technology which I pray the millitary will not try to use for other means.

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