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Figuring all this out

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Conner McCloud


So I found the money to support Mother GameDev, and so I have done so. Now I'm figuring out how to use all the cool stuff I have access to.

I do plan on using this as a project journal, so I'll go ahead and introduce myself first. I am Conner McCloud [not of the Clan Macleod, so don't ask], and I am better than you. I don't hold that against you, of course. I understand that its not your fault I'm so great. [grin]

Seriously, I go by Dennis Zickefoose, Junior, in the real world. I am a duel Computer Science and Electrical Engineering major at The Colorado School of Mines. By my count, there are two students and one alumna hanging around GDNet. Its nice to know I'm not alone. With any luck [and its currently looking pretty good], I'll be joining the alumni ranks come May.

I have a number of projects I'm working on, but two in particular I figure I'll be discussing here over the course of the next couple weeks.

(1) The Walking Robot. This is my Senior Design project required for my Engineering degree. Its about three feet by two feet, it has six legs, and walks like a crab. Or would, if it didn't suck. I'll post a picture once I figure out how. I am currently focused on building motor drivers, which is a lot harder than it sounds. The motors are real beasts, and draw up to six amps when starting, and two amps when running freely. All cheap, commercial solutions fry pretty much instantaneously. I've spent the semester designing a high current H-Bridge, but when the motor stalls one of the FETs activate, creating a short to ground and melting half of the circuit. If you're not familiar with electronics, in lay terms this is a bad bad thing. The other day, however, I came upon Building Robot Drive Trains. This is a wonderful book, which I highly recommend to anybody dabling in robotics. In my case, the important thing is that there's a design for using mechanical DPDT relays in lieu of a solid state h-bridge. I'm about to go into the lab and build one, and if it works I'm going to push for its use. They don't share my worries regarding our current design, so its going to be a tough sell as we're about to buy the components to build lots of our broken drivers.

(2) This one is somewhat more Game Development-ish, although I have no current plans of actually fleshing it out into a full fledged game. Its a Hexagon based tile sysem, with support for hills and such. It was a good excuse to learn D3d9, and so far I must say that I'm impressed. I remember dabbling with D3d7, and get getting frustrated and going back to DDraw. Either I know more, or the API has gotten cleaner. I suspect its a combination of both. Either way, I can already tile the screen with hexagons, and manipulate the camera and such. So my next step is to figure out the terrain. I'm developing it all from scratch rather than reading stuff on known solutions, so it should be interesting to see how it turns out. That work should progress this weekend.

And so there we have it. My first journal entry. I should have been at school forty-five minutes ago, but oh well.

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