Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Make it Visual

My good friend Bobby was just here on holiday. He works in Denmark as a game programmer for IO Interactive but studied at UP and was our graphics lecturer at a stage. You may also know him from here:  http://takinginitiative.net/, if you have ever tried to learn to program in DirectX or attempted to program a Neural Network.

He decided to visit the lab (after a good morning of munching Cinnabon) where he insisted on looking at what I have programmed for the initial phase of my M.

As a re-cap, I am currently working with my swarm robotics algorithms in a 2D grid world, rather than a real-world simulator or actual robots. It has taken AGES to program it. Not because it was difficult to do, but because it is HORRIBLE to debug. I outputted the grid world is the form of a text-based grid. This was fine for the beginning stages of testing. I could check if each robot moved correctly. I thought about programming a nice graphical animation output but I had blocked out all my graphics training quite heavily for some reason and didn't want to go near it.

Anyway, so  after exclaiming how totally pointless and academic my thesis topic is (he tends to do things like that) and helping me figure out how to do a 3D histogram in office (not as easy as you'd think), Bobby said "Why are you using a histogram to do this? Make it visual". I told him I'd been avoiding programming some sort of proper visual output. He (having seen the state I managed to get myself in when I had last programmed my Honours graphics project) was nice enough to let me use a part of what he programmed for his thesis. His thesis was on path-finding in games and thus he also needed a little grid-world. Took about half an hour of stripping out the important stuff and merging it to with code and I had a little visualizer.

Immediately, I identified 4 or 5 issues occurring in my grid-world! Hopefully on my way to perfectly functioning abstract mining problem.

So my advice for this month is this: Make it Visual!

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