More Complicated Hunt AI

SMARTER HUNTING AI

In my previous post I talked a bit about my plan for AI chasing for a rolling ball game. I covered three separate targets to make AI smarter.

Dumb: Go after the player’s position.

Well, by the time you get there, player may well be long gone. He used to be there.

 

Smart: Go after the player’s future position based on his current velocity. Better.

However, if the player is trying to change direction with joystick, he’ll still be gone when enemy gets there, as he is not going in a straight line, but curving to a new position:

 

Smarter: Go after the player’s intended position, based on current velocity plus joystick’s direction. This means the enemy is heading towards where the player is hoping to be.

This is a pretty smart algorithm, but there is a problem depending on how fast the enemy is. One of the factors that you can tweak in making an AI enemy “better” is just by making it faster, dumber would be slower. However, at some point, the enemy will begin to race ahead of the player if it’s too fast. And I’ve tested this. If my player just goes in a straight line for a while, the enemy races right on by and says “Hey, I’ll meet you up here!”

“Hey, you were supposed to be here. I guess I’ll wait?”

There must be a better way still!

 

LERP BETWEEN TARGETS

So I had a thought:

What if the enemy tries to get to the player’s intended position if the two are far apart, but as the two get closer, the enemy’s focus slides towards the player. That means that as the two close the distance between themselves, the enemy goes more for the player’s current position and less for a future position!

(A LERP (linear interpolation) is simply a slider between two positions, based on a percentage, which can change on the fly. 0% focuses on the first target’s position, while 100% focuses on the second target’s position. Percentages in between focus proportionally.)

This sounds awesome!

1) I already have a MODE switch, between target = player; target = player’s velocity position; target = player’s intended position (velocity + joystick)

2) Keep track of the target’s position. This can be either player, velocity or intended, see above.

3) Keep track of a second position: This will always be the player!

4) Get an interpolation between these two angles based on a number between 0 and 1 (a Mathematical LERP). If mode is targeting player, nothing changes, as a lerp between two same values will always be that value.

5) Keep track of the distance between the enemy and the player. Cap this at some maximum and divide that distance by the cap. So if 10 meters is your max, and there is 30 meters between the two bodies, it still just uses 10 as distance. Divide by cap and the number will be 3 if distance is 30, or 1 if distance is 10.

6) Clamp this value between 0 and 1. That way, any distances greater than 10 won’t make a difference. But at 10 meters, the enemy is aiming towards the target (velocity or intended). At 0 meters, the enemy is aiming all at the player. And of course half-way there, it’s half-way.

If the Hunt Mode is set to player you will see no difference because both of the targets will be the player, and any Lerping between them gives the same result, so no change there.

However, for velocity position and intended position you get a sliding focus between the two targets.

And … I just tested it. It works rather well.

Here, the player and enemy are far apart, so the enemy targets the intended position 100%:

 

Soon, as they get closer together, the enemy begins to target 2/3 to the intended position and 1/3 to the player: (this slides, obviously. I’m using thirds to illustrate.)

And as the player gets even closer along that path, his focus slides even more towards the player. Here, you see it 1/3 towards intended position and 2/3 towards player:

And even closer still, the enemy now focuses entirely on the player, and not at all on the intended position:

This works pretty well in practice.

This is what it looks like over time:

However, it’s difficult for the enemy to catch the player at all times. The player can fairly easily evade the enemy because the enemy has momentum. If it’s pushed for some time towards a predicted position, then the player suddenly changes direction, so to does the enemy, but it does take some time, due to the momentum, so it may shoot right on by and then arc back to take up the chase again.

But then… that’s kinda what I want.

And each parameter in this scheme is variable.

The distance along the velocity vector can be short or long, which would alter the perceived intelligence of the Hunt AI

The distance along the joystick vector can be short or long, which would also alter it

The force the enemy is exerting towards its target can be mild or strong. This is a major factor in how “smart” it seems

The mass of the enemy matters too. If it is less massive, it can turn on a dime, whereas a heavier enemy will have to take more time to swing back around if it misses.

Each of these parameters can be set on the fly by a game, as it determines how smart it wants an enemy to be, whether that be level, or a timer, or whatever.

 

ATTACK!

My next step in this scheme is to set a radius around the enemy, and if the player gets inside that radius, the enemy is going to exert a very strong sudden impulse towards the player, which is basically a punch attack!

I will post stuff when I get that working.

 

Predictive Chase AI for Unity

Many years ago now, I designed a game on paper for iPhones. I never built it. Never new how.

However, now that I have gotten familiar with Unity I have been able to write parts of this game, as time permits. And as you can see from reading below my time is spread out pretty thin among my many interests.

That said, I managed to make a very playable as-yet-incomplete Hover Taxi game that I will write much more about in future.

But for now, back to my Rolly Ball game. Based on a game I wrote in BASIC on the Commodore 64, which was based not-so-loosely on Q*Bert, but with a level editor, I decided to make a game where you control a rolling ball with accelerometer. I haven’t quite cracked that part yet, so for now I’m using an XBox 360 controller and it works fine.

So far I have the ball rolling around changing the color of grid tiles. That’s the main game.

But there has to be more. Much more.

Enemies

Enemies start out pretty docile, just meandering around the board undoing your work, repainting squares back to their original colors. You have to stop them by hopefully pushing them hard enough to break them, or push them off the board if I allow that. (A no-edge board presents major problems for a player.)

Later, enemies begin to chase, and eventually get quite aggressive in not only chasing you but predicting where you are going and getting there first, and even adding a sudden pulse to push you suddenly in a different direction.

How Do I Make An Enemy Hunt?

I started a totally new Unity project to explore this AI idea:

The Player is a spherical rigidbody. That’s a physics object that can roll around and obey the game’s physics laws. To make it move, I use an analog joystick pad to add impulse in the direction the joystick is pointing, at the force the analog joystick is pointing. (ie: you can nudge the stick and get a small push, or jam it all the way for a larger push.)

So that’s been done for months.

But what about an enemy ball? How do I get it to be a threat?

Just telling the enemy ball to try to get to where you are at this very moment is not so great. By the time it gets there, you’re long gone.

So I set up a scene in which an indicator circle is placed at the Player’s velocity vector. That is, an X, Y, Z coordinate which indicates where the ball is going at any given Physics Frame.

If I set the enemy up to try to get there, by adding an impulse in that direction, that will be better. It will get to where you’re going. However, you’re not just rolling in a straight line.

You have a joystick to tell your Player ball you now want to head off in a different direction entirely, and because physics has momentum, you don’t suddenly go in that direction, but you angle towards it naturally.

So now I add another vector of the Joystick’s intended direction, and I add that vector to the position of the ball’s velocity position.

To visualize this, I created two indicators.

One is placed, every frame, at the position the ball’s velocity wants it to go.

The other is placed relative to that object, in the position of the joystick’s vector.

Each of these values is multiplied by an intensity variable, so I can tweak how much to tell the Enemy ball the player wants to get there.

I used two line renderers to draw lines between the objects so you can easily tell what the motion vectors are.

Here’s a screenshot to tide you over until I fill in the above with better shots when I get time.

Why No Updates?

Well first, updates were never very regular. But this time I just got burned out.

Toylanta

In what was supposed to be a great experience, I booked a trip to Atlanta for Toylanta, a toy collecting show that started as an alternative GI Joe Collectors’ Show, as an option for those who could not or would not attend the official GI Joe Collectors’ Club Convention.

I was lucky enough to attend two of those, one in Providence, because it was just down the road, and one in Dallas which I went through great pains to go to.

I loved both.

But since the Collectors’ Club shut down, I figured this would be a great opportunity to attend Joelanta (now Toylanta) and see a lot of people who have wanted me to go for many years. Friends I knew only online.

And I did meet many of my good friends there, and had a great time. And met many good new friends.

But the show kind of overwhelmed me.

Burnout

It put me on the back foot. It drained me. It should not have drained me. It should have invigorated me. But it drained me instead.

From March to mid August I have done NOTHING in my 3D printing hobby.

Orders languished. Many parts printed, but I found no compulsion to clean them up and assemble them. So they sat. And sat.

In fact, in that time I turned to my video gaming interest and began work on a new game in Unity.

Vijuhgames

Let’s face it. I’m a game creator. Always have been, since before I got my Commodore 64 in 1984. Hell, when I worked at Radio Shack, I started writing a TRON Light Cycles game on a TRS 80 Model III. And I wrote a Star Wars-like space shootem in BASIC on a Color Computer Model II.

My current game started out as a rolling ball Q*Bert kind of idea that I have had for more than a decade, where you roll a ball around and color squares on a grid. Evil villains would get in the way, and some would try to undo your work, and some even worse – would try to kill you.

I was in the process of this game for some time. Working on it a little bit here, a little bit there, but with no real eager effort.

Then one day I tried to implement a jump feature, where you hit a controller button and the ball would jump off the board. This would serve to avoid board elements, such as short walls or gaps.

And in doing so, I put in an Update() loop to trigger an upward impulse on the ball if you held down a joystick button.

Stupid me didn’t realize there was already a function to add a single impulse to a RigidBody, and instead put this on an Update() loop. And so when I hit the Jump button, instead of jumping once, I began to hover. All the while being able to still move around.

I had invented Space Taxi! (A Commodore 64 game I loved from my early life.)

So I began to see a new game take form instantly in my mind.

HÜVVER

Since March that’s mostly what I’ve worked on. I spent a lot of time creating a simple Taxi out of primitive shapes, and then began to work with RigidBody physics code to get the car to hover, turn, land on landing pads.

I created a city out of a single cube by scaling and populating them on the ground (on a floating cylinder world) and pretty soon I was flying around.

Then came goals, and achievements.

I soon had a pretty good-looking Taxi flying around with blue jet flames out of every attitude jet when I hovered, braked, turned, strafed. It was looking pretty good and played well.

I spent a lot of time then adding a way to make the buildings in the city take on clusters of height, so a center could be taller, outskirts, shorter, etc. And I put in 3 distinct buildings for variety.

Then I put in landing pads you had to make it to to pick up and drop off passengers. And repair/gas stations to fill up and repair damage taken from colliding with buildings.

Then I came up with the idea of achievements. After every level you got something new for the car.

Level 1: Radar so you don’t have to go searching for the next passenger pick-up point

Level 2: Radar indicator to point to the nearest repair/gas station

Level 3: Strafe control – makes landing much easier

Level 4: Turbo – jet across the city much faster

And more to come, such as larger gas tank, faster fill-ups, faster repair, auto-hover, etc. I can imagine MANY useful upgrades.

Then I put in a very rudimentary badly-implemented UI panel that simply told you what new upgrade you got. Eventually I hope to implement a choice system where you choose which upgrade you want out of a list of ones available at that level.

And the best part: It’s fun to play.

It uses an XBox 360 controller (USB) and is compiled from Unity.

At this point, I’m calling it Hüvver.

Merging Hobbies

I even used my 3D printing skills to print a model of my primitive taxi cab.

I finally got my Anycubic Photon SLA printer fixed by putting in the third screen it’s had. I got it cleaned up, put together right, and began printing again. Not a lot of prints. I find the process arduous. But the result can be amazing.

The first few prints of my Space Taxi, however, didn’t turn out well. One did, though, which I painted yellow with rattle cans and have at my desk at work.

I may begin updating this page to show my work. Concepts, what the original game was to be, what the new game is now, and what it aims to be later.

And an executable you can play.

Stay tuned.

But since then I also

Space 1999 Eagle Hangar – Dinky Scale

The Eagle is the workhorse space ship for Moonbase Alpha in the TV series Space 1999, a 1970s Gerry Anderson production, beloved around the world.

In various episodes, we are shown glimpses of the huge underground hangars that hold and service the Eagles.

(Screenshots from The Catacombs archive)

In these shots, you can see that the walls of the hangars are made up of these protruding tetrahedrons, in a lattice almost like a beehive, with sections at the top that include windows, piping and other details, while some are just panels. There are also hangar doors and other features.

The simplicity of the walls made me think I could make a 3D printed set of module pieces that I could connect together to form various configurations of this hangar.

To start, I am making a simple wall with the paneled tops, and a corner beam. Later I may add a different detailed top, as well as a half-height tetrahedronal section as seen in some shots, as well as perhaps hangar doors, but for now, I’m sticking to a simple set.

To make these connect, I am using a bow-tie peg and slot. They are spaced to allow the tetrahedronal wall sections to flip upside down and connect correctly, and then the wall toppers can connect to the slots in the base length of those wall sections.

This allows for a custom-configurable wall series.

More later as I develop this set.




ATV RACCS Cargo Trailer

The Idea

During my summer vacation in Newfoundland this July I began sketching an idea for a trailer for the Halo Warthog. The sketches tried to use the contours of the body, which I would mold as side shells for an interior main cargo body, with wheels and an arm to attach to the Warthog.

While I was sitting around a very lovely rental cottage in Twillingate one evening…

…Greg Brown (Cotswold Collectibles) texted me and asked me if it would be possible to create and print a trailer for the GI Joe Adventure Team Vehicle (ATV).

I texted him back letting him know I was already designing one for the Warthog, so I was already thinking about it.

I got to work.

The GI Joe ATV

The GI Joe Adventure Team Vehicle (ATV) is a highly prized possession among Joe collectors. Many collectors have multiples. Originally, the ATV was sold in one of the most iconic GI Joe Adventure Team sets of all time – “Secret of the Mummy’s Tomb”.

This versatile six-wheeled vehicle came with a winch to haul up a newly-uncovered mummy. But it was far cleverer than that. Remove the winch, and you could put cargo rails into four slots in the body of the ATV. Those slots would later be re-used in a new version of the vehicle, now with tank tracks, called “The Trouble Shooter”. Now, a large electronic radio (with talking technology) would take up those four slots.

Could make it RACCS Compatible too…

One of the most versatile toys I have created was a collaboration between Greg and me. He wanted a platform that could fit over the cargo bay of the ATV/Trouble Shooter, which would fit into those four slots and hold various adventure equipment.

I wasn’t sure how that would work since my printers can’t print an object big enough to span that space. However, soon enough, I came up with a grid system on a two-part platform that snapped together for easy storage. Pegs on each side would snap perfectly and snugly into those four slots.

Greg wanted the new trailer to be able to slot the RACCS platform into it.

I did him one better.

The Plans

I began sketching, and while these are very rudimentary sketches, I shot them and sent them to Greg who seems to have no problem understanding what I’m trying to get across, though my drawing skills are not on display here. They are very rough sketches to flesh out the ideas:

This one shows my original concept as two halves, with the RACCS attached by separate tabs. The cargo section would fit into a frame, with curved springs for the wheels, and a metal axle between the wheels, riding under the body.

I changed a lot of that, to make it much simpler. I didn’t have to cut a metal axle, the plastic is strong enough to handle being a thick axle. And to avoid screwing or gluing the hub-cap into place I split the axle and made a wedge of the cap. Push the wedge into the splits until they snap and those wheels ain’t goin’ anywhere. And they spin nicely.

Below is a sketch of how I envisioned the built-in RACCS platform working. And it works exactly like this, and works great.

RACCS On Board

I incorporated the RACCS platform directly into the design of the trailer. And in a very clever way.


(RACCS closed and ready for action!)

Tabs in the side of the cargo body would fit into slots on the sides of slightly altered RACCS platform halves (otherwise identical to the original system) and it would allow the RACCS to slide into place over the cargo bay – and when not in use, slide out, angle downward, and store in the sides of the cargo bay itself. The tabs were square, and just fit into the slots. But at the end, those slim slots become a circle, and allow the platform to hinge upward, and then slot down the same tabs.


(RACCS out)


(RACCS up)


(RACCS stowed into the side.)

There are even slots in the floors for the connector pins on each side of the platform (which snap them together) to fit into.

Here’s where some serendipity comes into play:

As always I sent Greg a nearly complete prototype, and he discovered that the RACCS platform halves are fully functional when split open and pulled out to the sides. A completely unintentional bonus!

The RACCS Platform is optional. It can be removed simply by loosening the screws holding the body halves together, and re-tightening them.

Other Features

Other features I included are a folding leg which allows you to remove the trailer and have it stand upright as a mobile work station. Without this fold-down leg, the trailer would tilt forward and be useless.

Another: Notice in the original ATV there is a tab at the back with a brass eyelet. Clearly this is intended to tow cargo, but to my knowledge, HASBRO never used this feature.

This allows my Cargo Trailer to be towed, obviously.

So I added an identical tab to the back of my trailer. While the photo above shows it without the brass eyelet, I managed to find some perfect brass eyelets that fit like a glove into the tab, and acts identically to the original.

The upshot is you can daisy-chain these trailers as many as you like.

I took a photo of prototypes in a train:

The funky psychedelic one at the rear is an early print. I almost always print in colors I have a lot of but don’t use a lot. No need to waste the final colors on a prototype meant to test fit and function.

Sold As A Kit

Due to the size of this toy, I knew shipping a number of them to Cotswold Warehouse would be trouble, so Greg and I opted to offer this up as a kit. So I had to make it easy to assemble.

My printer’s maximum print capacity is not large enough to print the body as a single piece. So I had to cut it into four corners and make puzzle pieces out of them so they could snap together nicely.

If I was assembling it myself, I might just glue the parts together. Since Super Glue bonds to ABS so strongly it’s almost impossible to break, that would have worked fine.

But if people were going to assemble it, I wanted it to be as easy as possible.

So it’s designed to go together with screws, and as efficiently as I could engineer.

I also designed the body to be symmetrical. The wheels can fit into any slot on the sides, and the tow arm and rear hitch can fit into either end. This meant symmetrical screw holes too.

Two screws hold the sides together, and two each hold the tow arm and rear hitch, which has the dual purpose of attaching those pieces, and joining the two halves of the body.

A single screw connects the leg latch to the body. There are two screws to keep the axle assemblies on.

I used a metal nail, with the tip cut down, as a hitch peg, for strength.

I was able to use the Huxter Labs logo for the first time! I put them on the hub-caps and the tow arm.

Based on the AT Logo, I turned the A and T into an H which has a sort of L on the upper left.

Packaging

Normally when I ship my toys to Cotswold Collectibles, I use zip-lock bags and bubble-wrap, and pack them into large boxes. For this toy, sold as a kit, I would have to do something new.

I bought a bulk order of 4x6x6″ boxes to sell products on my ETSY store. These, it turns out, were perfect for packing this kit into. I worked out a fit system that allowed me to put a body corner in, put an axle on that, cover it with another body corner, repeat, then put the RACCS platform halves between them, the wheels on the side, and the rest of the parts in a zip-lock bag (including the screws and tow bolt) and they fit perfectly.

I printed instructions to fold into the package, and I printed a label for the box.

I used yellow duct-tape (AT Yellow) as my signature box seal.

My first fully packaged toy!

 

 

Song Lyrics and their True Meaning – “Your Love” by Outfield

I love this song. Every time it comes on, I sing to it. Even in public.

But I’ve been hearing it a lot lately, because on my commute, I’m listening to 80s channels on Spotify and Pandora.

And when you get down to it, this song is damn creepy.

In the late 1980s Sting once commented on the trendy phenomenon of people using “Every Breath You Take” as a wedding song:

“Don’t you people realize this song is about a stalker!??

Well this song is about a sexual user, and it could be construed, worse.

 

Josie’s on a vacation far away – My girlfriend is away, so… let’s fuck.
Come around and talk it over – Yeah… talk.
So many things that I want to say
You know I like my girls a little bit older – Ok… not specific, but how old IS Jose??? And you’re borderline too old for me, but I’m pretending that’s what I’m into…

I just want to use your love tonight – Clearly
I don’t want to lose your love tonight – You’re gullible enough right?

I ain’t got many friends left to talk to – Wonder why, you asshole?
Nowhere to run when I’m in trouble – You get into trouble often do you? Not surprised.
You know I’d do anything for you – Yeah… right.
Stay the night but keep it under cover – Let’s keep this our little secret, ok?

I just want to use your love tonight
I don’t want to lose your love tonight

Try to stop my hands from shaking – Some kind of sudden realization?
But something in my mind’s not making sense – Guilt? Conscience bothering you?
It’s been a while since we were all alone
But I can’t hide the way I’m feeling – Yeah. Clearly.

As you’re leaving please would you close the door? – I’m done with you for the time being… don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.
And don’t forget what I told you – I told you – this was OUR LITTLE SECRET!
Just ’cause you’re right that don’t mean I’m wrong – Well…..
Another shoulder to cry upon – Yeah, whatever, dude.

I just want to use your love tonight
I don’t want to lose your love tonight
I just want to use your love tonight
I don’t want to lose your love tonight
I just want to use your love tonight
I don’t want to lose your love tonight
Use your love, lose your love, your love!
I don’t want to lose your love tonight
(I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna)
Lose your love tonight (your love)
Lose your love tonight (your love)
Lose your love tonight (your love)
(Lose your) I don’t want to lose your love tonight

And I think I’ve always know this. But damn. I still love this song.

Don’t Go To Jail!

At my company, several times a year they host a Game Jam. Teams are given a week to come up with a game for judging. Since we use Unity, usually the teams write a game in Unity and have a bit of fun coming up with some cute little games.

This week we are holding one with the theme: “Don’t Go To Jail!”.

I usually don’t partake, as I’m usually way too busy doing my own thing, but this year my colleague Dan Parke asked me to consider helping him with a game idea, and I agreed to at least listen.

He pitched me an idea I was fascinated with right away. It was a physical game, not a computer game (as such) featuring hand movement in a game using a light sensor. The idea was to use your hand to manipulate a light on a project circuit board called Circuit Playground Express, holding it in one space for as long as you could. If you failed, you would “Go To Jail”, exactly the thing you’re supposed to avoid in this competition.

Dan thought a circuit board alone would not be very enjoyable, and was hoping I could 3D print something fun to house it in.

I was intrigued, and immediately came up with some sketched ideas for a casing for the game.

My first thought was, since I had made so many UFOs and other designs using Vending Machine bubbles, that the circuit board would perfectly fit under one, which would give us a nice first idea for a casing.

But with just the circuit board and a battery case to worry about, the casing could be quite small. But I thought since the theme was about jail, and the game idea was escaping arrest, that we needed to put this into a cartoon-like prisoner character.

My first sketch showed an angry moustachio’d villain, which I thought a bit too angry.

My second sketch was more emotive, a bit scared, hands up, perhaps in surrender.

And since we had exactly one week to create this game from the start, I knew I could call on existing creations to make this little guy work.

The hands and arms are almost unaltered from my WERBLZ characters:

And with that, I began modeling, and soon had this basic character modeled:

Prisoner 0110 was born.

The Circuit Playground Express has touch capacitance on some of the contact points around the periphery, and that came in very handy. I was worried, though, that the capacitance would not conduct through a metal screw or other metal bit, and touching the circuit board itself would be impractical as game play. So I immediately came up with the idea of using two cotter pins I had in my own inventory already, and used a Dremel to cut them down to size, and angle the ends so they could slip over the circuit board’s contacts.

With this plan, I began immediately to model a body and a collar (a manacle) that would allow me to use these two cotter pins to secure the collar to the body and act as the function buttons of the game. Dan programmed the pins to accept touch control, and I modeled (and re-modeled, and re-modeled) a collar that would fit the circuit board and hold down well with the cotter pins.

Here you see the prototype body in green, the collar base in pink (and an earlier prototype in purple) and the collar cap also in pink. (I use these colors for test prints because I don’t use them much for real, and this is better than wasting colors I have to buy a lot.)

After I assembled this all and got it working, I began detail modeling which involved slicing the body into stripes (for a prison uniform) and adding the other details. Starting with a base that could fit the battery container, and feed the wire up to the head, with room in the body for the extra length of wire.

I drew a sticker for the mouth, and 3D printed eyes, manacles for the wrists, and slots for the arms. Assembly began.

Here he is on my office desk, being tested before we began real iteration on the game itself:

Meanwhile we did some play testing and found that the game was not quite what it could be. Dan worked on it some more and came up with the idea of having to use your hand to move a single light around the rim of the board (there are 10 lights around the circumference) and then a single light would light up, which would soon add another light to the right or left of itself, then another, in an ever-increasing arc that would come at your light “character” on either side, and your job was to hold your hand in such a way as to not let your light collide with the encroaching lights.

After that was working, complete with sound samples to tell players what to do, the game was more or less complete, and even kept track of high scores.

With a few suggestions from me during game testing, I thought flashing all lights green 3 times would be a great way to indicate you won the level, and failure should result in 3 flashes of red. I thought that would be intuitive to players.

And Dan’s original chase lights were purple. I thought the universal color for police would be more immediately recognizable, so he changed those to blue.

Now you are represented by a green light, which you can play with before you begin the actual game. Then you’re on your own. You can move the light around the perimeter until the cops start homing in on you. Then you have to hold your hand steady to keep the prisoner where he is. IF you can hold out with the police lights to both your left and right and not move it into them for a given interval, you win the level. If you collide with their lights for too long, you lose the game and go back to jail.

This is the final version as will be played by our judges:

The left cotter pin triggers the game to Start, while the right one can recall the high score.

Game Jam ends exactly as I’m typing this, and judging has begun. Two judges already told me they really liked the game.

Cotswold Catalog – Spacey!

This catalog features three of my latest designs, mostly space-themed.

On the left is a metal box I found at Lowe’s, to which I added a harness and antennae, as well as other details. This is my Mobile Communications Pack.

On the right is the Extravehicular Mobility Unit 10. This is a full outfit, and my part is the space helmet and chest mount, belt and belt-mounted oxygen scrubber which eliminates the need for bulky oxygen packs. And a wrist controller.

In back is my new Wing Pack, known as SWIFT (Swing Wing Individual Flying Transport), which features a swing-wing action and stowable joystick controller.

GI Joe Hi-Tech Communications Pack – Adapting a Found Object

The Find

This year at Lowe’s hardware, the diamond plate cargo gift card box is no longer available. It was replaced with a metal box made to look a bit like their miniature tool chests.

Of course my brain went immediately to “Astronaut’s Oxygen Pack”. And that it certainly can be. But I went in a way that really could be used for various purposes, so I will call it my Hi-Tech Communications Pack.

Luckily I had a reel of ABS plastic filament for my 3D printers that closely matched the cobalt blue of the Lowe’s box. I started immediately to think of how to adapt it. First, I needed to cover the bottom, which is recessed, and contains the UPC code and other information.

Then I had to cover the Lowe’s logo on front. No problem.

Then I knew I would need antennae. So I modeled and printed a mount on top for two antennae.

And of course it needed a harness. I had produced a harness for my Action Pack Heli-Jet, which works nicely for most cases, but the front chest clasp was too complicated.

While designing a new flight pack for Joe (A Wing Pack coming soon!) I adapted the chest clasp to be far simpler to construct, and much less bulky, while still allowing a cover plate for a logo of some kind.

Using a single length of .9mm elastic I created a front piece that allowed me to thread it through in two directions, then into an upper frame piece, down the backpack, and into a lower frame piece, then on to the body where there are standard strap adjusters and two clasps which fit nicely into the front piece by friction and holds very strongly.

I am comfortable saying that this is my new harness design and most of my future backpacks, be they flight packs or simple backpacks, will use this new clasp, and not the bulky old one which had to be screwed together to work. (This cap snaps on nicely, and can even be removed, as the simple clasp frame is not too ugly by itself.)

The Final Product

Here it is, my Hi-Tech Communications Pack posed on my Club Exclusive Super-Articulated 12″ Super Joe that they produced last year.

GI Joe Atomic Man Cargo Box – Adapting a Found Object

The Find

Last year at Lowe’s hardware store I found a metal box sold as a gift card holder. It was in the form of a miniature diamond-plate pickup truck cargo box.

Needless to say I find it hard to shop anywhere without seeing every object that comes into my sight in a 1:6 scale filter, to see what I could make of it. This was a no-brainer.

I bought a few, took them home and began to think how I could best use them.

Since the new GI Joe Club Exclusive Mike Power Atomic Man had just recently arrived at my door, I figured how better to use this than to make it Mike Power’s personal equipment box.

It is a great fit for the GI Joe Adventure Team Vehicle or Trouble Shooter, too.

And around that time the Mattell Halo Warthog was making its rounds on Amazon at sell-out prices and a bunch of us collectors were getting them, and I’m no exception. I bought two green, and painted them (one in AT Yellow and the other in a bright AT Red) and then they came out later with a red version, so I have one of those too.

The cargo box fits nicely into the cargo bay of the Warthog.

The Final Product

Of course I wanted to cover up the LOWES logo, and make it Mike’s, so here is the final product:

What’s Next?

This, I should say, is almost finished. I have one other thing I want to do, and that is to put a tool-box-like handle on the top lid.

More on that later…