Bret Victor’s Victorious Creations

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During our Computer Simulations class, software engineer Bret Victor came in and game a presentation on some of his past projects. The scale of his work are small and simple. However the projects go into great depth. The most memorable program that he made was a compiler-like software that has an interface that assists the user. These features include an adjusting meter for all the variables, a prediction system that shows how the program will turn out, and items that change relative to the other objects. Bret’s work exposed me to the world of app development and what it’s like to be a software engineer, which is what I intend to do. Thanks Bret Victor!

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Arduino 101

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The Arduino is an open source microcontroller that makes applications more accessible and integrated with daily life. An Arduino Uno starter kit consists of the Arduino circuit board and a breadboard that allows wiring. This set would normally cost about 100 US dollars. Our Computer Simulations class received them for free! (Perks of Stanford).

The Arduino might be small in size, but it has great potential. People all over the world has made inventions using the Arduino that could benefit entire populations. The following pictures are a few starting projects using the Arduino.

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Travelling Mousey

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Mousey is back. This time he wants to visit the hometowns of every classmate in Computer Simulations. I helped him plan out a rout that always leads him to the next closest location. This program is created using Processing. The program implements an algorithm that searches for the shortest distance in a 2-D array. When a location is visited, its boolean value becomes false so it will not be visited again. By using this program, Mousey was able to travel efficiently and avoid all the tourist traps.

 

Sorting Cheesesticks – Insertion Sort

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Meet Mousey, the most intellectual mouse you will find on the inter-webs. Mousey has 20 cheesesticks in random order that he wants to sort in order. I created a program in Processing that helps Mousey do this. The program uses insertion sort, which has a run time of O(n^2). Not the most efficient, but Mousey is content with the cheesesticks :3

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Object Oriented RPG (Final Project Proposal)

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The prototype will be an RPG in which the player will choose the classes and methods to use for their character. The player will learn the fundamentals of object oriented programming, through making decisions on the attributes and behaviors of their character. The player can gain experience through killing monsters, and use experience points to upgrade instance variables and unlock more methods. In a way, the player is programming the game! This RPG can fit into the Exploratorium because the player is in complete control of how the game will turn out, and they are learning Java along the way. Currently, there are not many interactive games that teaches programming, which is what Object Oriented RPG is going to do.

The Sticks and Stone in the Video Game Industry

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Spending three weeks of summer in a computer class at Stanford offers countless opportunities. Today was one such example. Game designer Stone Librande gave a presentation to my Computer Simulations and Interactive Media class. Librande worked for Blizzard, and was the lead designer for Diablo 3. Librande also went to EA, and worked on The Simpsons Game, Spore, and SimCity. Now Librande is at for Riot Games, working on a “Secret Project”.

Librande’s presentation focused on the development process video games. Surprisingly, all of the games followed the same pattern: starting with very simple concepts. The early stages include making paper models and even board games to test the rules of the games. From there, the games are gradually built up through a complex process of cross-checking and revisions. The same applies to current games. Behind all the explosions, particles, and lens flares, the most intrinsic aspect of any game are simple ideas that are fun!

Librande also gave an overview of the video game industry: it is tough. Small studios rise and fall in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, the gaming industry is still one of my considerations. Thanks Stone Librande.