AI Programming, WoW, & Linux Weekend Wrap-up

Sad times are here again as the weekend draws to a close and the usual grind picks up again with a week full of work looming ahead.  I didn’t get a whole heck of a lot done this weekend, but as always, I managed to have some fun, so here I am to share my adventures.

Game Maker Robot AI Programming Competition

Though I haven’t had as much time to work on this program as I’d like so far, I have made some decent progress on getting the engine ready for a new contest.  First proposed a few days ago on the Reflect Games forums, I’m hoping the new robot AI programming comp proves to be a more fun replacement for the old, more involved contests.

The idea is that I will create a base application which everyone can download and play with – essentially just a room from top-down view, and a simple “robot” object – and anyone wanting to participate in the contest will write an AI for the robot that will compete against others’ creations.  Movement and attack variables / objects will be the same across all entries (I’ll be coding those in scripts), and once everyone’s AI script is finished, we’ll draw up a tournament tree, I’ll have the bots compete, and then record the results and broadcast them, via either YouTube or some kind of live Podcast.

One of the goals of the new competition format is to encourage creative coding without forcing entrants to commit to an entire game, which can be both difficult and frustrating at times.  I think that with an AI programming tournament, people will have more opportunity to show off good coding without being bogged down by the need for other assets, they’ll have a more interesting method of feedback (watching their bot compete with another, as opposed to a “secret” judging), and expansion of the competition can evolve more naturally – if the contest proves to be fun and engaging, we can add more weapons to the bots’ arsenal, more customization, etc.

Though it’s taking me a long time to get things rolling, I’m very excited about this project.  We’ve already got lots of feedback about how this competition should work – be sure to visit the Reflect Games forums to voice your opinion too!

World of Warcraft MVP

Over the last few days, I’ve managed to grind my way to Exalted status with two (more) factions, the Shattered Sun Offensive, and the Kurenai, netting myself a new title, some sweet additions to my gear, and a new mount that I’ll probably never use.

Gaining exalted with SSO, even without visiting any instances, is pretty easy – it only took me a few days, and I only had to visit the Isle of Quel’Danas and complete all the daily quests there a handful of times.  I liked the variation and overlap in the quests there though, and going from that back to grinding the other factions’ reputation was a pretty rough transition.  By contrast, the only quest I could take in Nagrand to gain Kurenai rep was the repeatable Obsidian Warbeads quest, which meant enduring the monotony of killing hundreds of ogres.  Not exactly my cup of tea, and I will probably be looking for different quests when I start my quest for Consortium rep…  even if it just means a simple change in scenery.

One good thing about grinding in Nagrand however, is that I was able to pick up a lot of mining nodes that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.  I’ve now got a mining bag (20 slots)  almost full of stacks of Fel Iron Ore and Adamantite Ore – which I’m not sure what I should do with yet.  Selling at the auction house will net me a huge sum of gold, but my blacksmithing skill is only at 300, so it might just be better spent on leveling.

My chances for scoring some decent raiding increased significantly last week as well, as I was inducted quite unceremoniously into Encore, an awesome guild which a few friends from college are pretty well-entrenched in.  Though I’m not always up for 5-6 hours of raiding, the occasional run through the higher level dungeons should be new and fun.

Ubuntu Test Drive

Though I’ve played with the live CD version of Ubuntu before, I finally took the plunge this weekend.  I dug an old hard drive out of the closet, popped it into my older computer, and installed it.  I’ve taken some time to play around with it this weekend, and I’ve mostly enjoyed my time with it.

Downloading Ubuntu and installing it was a piece of cake.  All you have to do is get on the official site, download the CD image, burn it, pop it in the preferred computer, and boot from it.  The live CD  will load Ubuntu just like it would from the hard drive (a bit slower, of course), and once you’re in the OS and you’ve played around with it, you can choose to install directly from a link on the desktop.  The only confusion I had during this process was with which file system I should format the drive, but after doing some quick research, I settled on ext3, which seems to be holding up just fine.

So far, I am impressed with Linux.  Though I couldn’t see myself switching over to it for good, I like many things about it, and I will probably continue to tinker with it.  The customization Gnome / Compiz provide is great, and being able to move around virtually every button on the desktop is just plain awesome.  The extra effects you can perform with capable hardware are not only fun to look at – they are often genuinely useful.  And although there area a few bits of oddness here and there, the OS feels mostly cohesive and with a few more generations of work, I think it really could rival the quality of similar Unix-based OS’s, like Mac OS.

Another thing I am particularly fond of is that fact that Ubuntu comes with just about everything you need pre-installed.  From the “Faux-toshop” (yes, I made that up), GIMP to the entire suite of tools, there’s really not much aside from games that need to be installed after loading up Ubuntu for the first time.  And of course, that’s where the problem lies.

Ubuntu has an impressive number of built-in games, like Solitaire, Blackjack, etc. but if you’re like me, you want more meat on your games.  Unfortunately, not many games are currently being written with a native port of Linux in mind.  There are options available however, like WINE, which can run Windows applications nicely, and can even throw around a growing list of games (it ran my installation of Guild Wars flawlessly, if only a tiny bit slow).

But whatever – running my games in WINE is silly when I’ve got another hard drive in the same computer with Windows on it, so I’ll be dual-booting my older computer on Windows and Ubuntu for now.  I’m sure Linux will continue to be fun to play around with, or at least a good diversion from working on my projects and playing games.

Odds & Ends

Aside from all that stuff, I also got to spend a lot of time with my girlfriend, and we finally found some time to start researching home loans.  Hopefully we end up qualifying for a decent loan, and we can find a nice place to live – I’m a little sick of the apartment life!

Oh, and it was also my brother’s 24th birthday!

Anyway, it’s about time I wrapped up this weekend wrap-up.  Hopefully everyone else out there had a good weekend too.  Thanks for reading!


  1. GH - Over a year ago

    Sounds like fun! I can’t wait to get started on the game robot :) – Bots, Sploits, Hacks, and How Games Work

  2. freaked (GMC) - Over a year ago

    I would like to make a suggestion on Ubuntu.
    If you’ve still NOT installed it, go get WUBI.
    It makes life a hell lot easier, as it helps those who wanna install and try linux but are afraid of partitiioning.

  3. FredFredrickson - Over a year ago

    Funny you should mention that, Freaked – Yourself (of GMC fame) also mentioned this to me, and it looks like a great thing!

    Lucky for me, I had a spare hard drive laying around (an old 10k RPM Raptor), so I just dropped that in the computer, wiped it clean, and put Ubuntu there. It’d be nice if I had the option to choose which drive to boot from by default, but I just go into the bios and change the boot order when I want to switch. Works alright for me. :)

  4. Deus Ph3x - Over a year ago

    One thing you should try on ubuntu is KDE. In my opinion (and Linus Torvalds also :P) Gnome is far too simplistic. KDE is much more customizable. Try installing Kubuntu, or just install KDE through aptitude (this way would be easier to remove in the future). And yeah, it really sucks that there aren’t many people willing to develop games for linux.

  5. FredFredrickson - Over a year ago

    Didn’t they just put out a new version of KDE? I’m not sure I want to try it because I hear it has problems with the nVidia drivers… and I’ve got an nVidia card in that machine. :(

  6. Deus Ph3x - Over a year ago

    Yeah, 4.1 was just released. I tried it, and well, my overall opinion: It’s messy and annoying. Some things that bug me were main menu (new design simply sucks), panel editing is a real headache, some effects that are listed don’t even work, etc.

    It was kind of nice to experiment with, but not to the point that I’ll change 3.5.9 for it. I suggest you to try v3.5.9, it’s pretty nice and doesn’t seem to have any problems with Nvida cards.

  7. Naruto - Over a year ago

    Thanks for sharing your work with us! Your theme is just awesome!

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