HullCSS – Local Winners of NASA Space Apps Challenge

 

This weekend I was part of team HullCSS, a team made up of 5 members of the Hull University Computer Science society. Together we entered the NASA spaceapps 2018 hackathon, and managed to win the Hull Local Award, qualifying for the Global competition. The 30 second video above was our  submission after a tiring weekend of work.

We used PlayCanvas, VisualStudio, and the C# MVC Framework in order to create our solution to the challenge. SpaceTrack is a visualisation tool that allows you to see and learn more about rocket launches, finding out where and when they’re happening for the next few years. I worked mainly in javascript, using playCanvas to provide engaging visuals and interactive functionality.

A link to our submission page is here: https://2018.spaceappschallenge.org/challenges/can-you-build/when-next-rocket-launch/teams/hullcss/project

Getting stuck into Mixed Reality – Thank god for emulators

Starting to mess around with developing for mixed reality with the Microsoft Hololens emulator and Unity, and I have to say, its going surprisingly smoothly! Whilst I wont be able to buy myself an actual Hololens any time soon, the emulator does a very good job for development purposes, and works seamlessly with visual studio and Unity. (after taking 10m on first launch… but ah well, can’t be picky)

My last foray into the world of AR was back in 2014, using Qualcomm Vuforia and Unity. Whilst there were a few headaches, especially getting the apps to work on actual mobile devices, that development was also relatively smooth thanks to Unity’s in-built emulator, which allowed me to use my webcam to test out the scenes, holding up the physical AR targets created via Vuforia’s developer website. I have yet to use Vuforia again, since it was integrated into Unity as standard from the 2017.2 version onward, but look forward to doing so, as I have heard great things about it.

Back to the present, I was a little surprised, but delighted to find that everything went exactly as Microsofts tutorial said it would: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/academy. Once I updated my version of visual studio, and downloaded the emulator, https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/using-the-hololens-emulator, it was the next best thing to having a hololens in front of me.

Whilst it is still just a dev tool, and cannot replicate the sense of wonder and experience that I’m sure a real device would bring, it is very useful to train and learn with. With the cost of the hololens being so high, an effective emulator is essential, whether for poor students, or large companies who cannot afford a hololens per developer. It is reassuring to see it work so well, I am glad that microsoft have realised its importance.

Angry Rolling Drake

In a previous post I mentioned that we had won our second ThreeThingGame  with our game: “Angry Rolling Drake”. But this time I will leave out the bragging, and focus on the game itself. We haven’t polished it much, as we wanted to stay true to the game that was built in 24 hours.  Bugs “Unique features” and all. Here it is in all of its glory!

The three words to make our game from were: Angry, Rolling and Drake 

In this particular park feeding the ducks has been banned! As a Drake (male mallard duck), you get a bit Angry about this, especially as you were programmed not to be able to eat anything else! As your rage builds, you decide to declare war on the pedestrians, and take the bread by force.

Normally you are slower than the pedestrians, and will take damage if they hit you, decreasing your hunger gauge. Using your stored Anger however, you can Roll into a ball (as ducks do) and defeat those selfish people, gaining access to their bread. This can either be crumbs, a slice, or a loaf, each fill your hunger gauge by different amounts.

Running out of anger means going back to walking, so be careful how you use it. Try and last the longest before succumbing to hunger!

We will soon be uploading the game online, and when we do I will add a link here! Watch this space!