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ARGOS Project
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ARGOS Project

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Had to change a few things; thought the video would sound even better with the original sound effects in the important bits! Thanks Cliff for pointing that out!
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ARGOS Project

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This is the latest and greatest build of ARGOS Phase 2. Please welcome A.I.M., powered by ARGOS!
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Announcing PHASE 2: The next development of ARGOS! Phase 2 will take what we learned from the first phase of the project, and add new functionality, as well a new game concept! With ARGOS PHASE 2, we're pushing the limits of open-source Augmented Reality!
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PHASE 2!!!
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Developing ARGOS—Pitfalls—Michael Lutz

Remember when I said the initial idea was for mobile development? Well, Processing had an updated version, of version 1.5 (we were using 1.2) which allegedly made porting to Android phones as easy as possible. Thus, we continued developing for the computer, rather than a phone(s). This turned out to be backwards. But to back up a bit, after completing a mostly finished version on the computer, we tried to export, and some components refused to work. Wayne and I researched why and considered ways to fix the problem. We decided to use a different component, so I modified the program and got it working—in theory. It turned out this component needed QuickTime, so it wasn’t working as it had a QuickTime dependency. So I installed QuickTime and then it would have worked. Except that it failed with the same issue. More discussions followed with much confusion. So after trying to solve it, I gave up for the day—maybe something would occur to me tomorrow. Then, I turned my computer on and it mysteriously worked. I had forgotten what’s sometimes the default solution to Windows problems—restart. So after fixing this problem then we exported again and it actually worked. At this point our sights were realigned on Android, so Wayne and I looked into the new Processing version with Android in mind. It had an Android Mode and came with its own Google Android Emulator to play the Processing programs on. As a test I tried installing a sample program onto the emulator and it failed. Did some research on the issue and the Android Developer Tools and Kit needed to be strategically outdated in order to work with Processing. After that I discovered Google’s emulator didn’t include a camera, just a placeholder object that let you know a “camera” existed. Wayne and I looked into programs that used the camera on Android and experimented with that but they were slow. The one using Processing was prohibitively slow for our purposes, making real-time play dangerous if not impossible. Still pursuing a mobile device of some kind, Wayne considered Ubuntu Linux, as it could potentially run on another portable hardware. The short version of the story is that development is ongoing, and it may use Linux or Android. Linux may be more adaptable from the current program version as it can already install on the target device—just not sure if the program can run, but it is closer than potentially starting from scratch. We managed to have different versions for Windows and Linux. The Linux version uses new components, but fortunately the program change is insignificant once the components are installed. The logic change was only around two or three lines, so it was easy to fix between them. Unfortunately I was not able to install the components (yet) on my laptop’s version of Linux, so it only works for Wayne. The Mac version is an easier Windows version as it has fewer dependencies due to QuickTime already existing. The hacked together portable version involves a backpack and my laptop using an external camera and Windows XP. The cords and wires are a mess and are prone to disconnect occasionally, so future versions for recent new tests need some harness mechanism.
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Developing ARGOS—Triumphs—Michael Lutz

Early in the Fall Semester for COSC469, I was recalling my own experiences of two past C# (XNA) projects in the previous Spring Semester. For one class it was fortunate scheduling, as I tended to be on campus earlier—on several occasions this allowed me to observe the future COSC470 class that I’m taking next spring. It was a sneak peak at finished games. One Unity game had me recall the previous summer when I was experimenting with the engine…just trying to understand the workflow from a programming and design perspective. I explored features, considering parts of future game ideas without really “making anything”—it was more of a creative exercise for learning’s sake. Then in the past Spring Semester’s Frontiers of Game Design, Processing really clicked with me. Fast-forward to COSC469 and I’m trying to decide…pick a project, form a group, join a group, something new? I joined a group of people I haven’t worked with before, Wayne, Alex, Arielle and Thomas. The concept was relatively new compared to recent seminar projects—those considered in the semester and on the occasions I was a guest for presentations for the final seminar classes. At the same time, the concept planned to use Processing, the program and features I was familiar with from the previous semester. Initial concepts considered mobile development, but to get the prototype running we focused on getting a computer version working. The general idea is a navigation game where the player proceeds through a building with the aid of 3D “maps” activated on reaching specific locations—follow a route from place to place and if you arrive at them all in time you win, gaining time upon arriving at a correct place. Here is where the small scope of the game was useful. There were two important elements to make the game. There was the camera which represented the player’s view. Next there were symbols to represent the locations in the building. By interpreting the camera information, the program looks for the symbols and then displays the maps as 3D models. After that, expand the proof-of-concept so it is more like the game concept. Processing had various libraries which could extend the basic abilities of the program by using existing behaviors. This took care of accessing the camera and displaying the models. This eased initial development of the important secondary features, allowing me to get the gameplay running ahead of schedule allowing other team members time to tweak the appearance and offer input on behaviors of the game. Then I created an empty structure for the “menu” system, with just placeholder text and timer values. I’m becoming more of a virtual designer now, but at the time I wasn’t one at all, so I asked for mockups on some occasions. Around this point Alex and I worked to integrate the starting screen, instructions, the main game screen, win and losing screens based on Wayne’s designs. That worked really well because then I virtually just dropped Alex’s appearance code into the screen sections to have the working system.
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COSC 496 Reflection 2… the Sequel. - Alex Metcalf

The hardest part of making contribution to the ARGOS (Augmented Reality Graphical Operating System) is not the tedium of programming something to perfection or finding the minor cause of a maddening bug. The hardest part for me was finding out how you can make yourself useful when you have other members of the team who can be just as capable. I am a creative person, but so are my team members Wayne and Thomas. I have experience with making use of the Processing (the programming software for using Augmented Reality), but so does Wayne and another team member, Mike. All of us know how to use 3D Studio Max to create 3D models. My biggest disadvantage as a team member though was that I did not have as much free time. While most of my students already have scholarships to pay off for their tuition, I juggle class with a 35-40hr/week job that takes up a lot of my energy.
Thankfully, I was assigned to program for one specific aspect of our project – the HUD display. It was a very important aspect to focus on for two reasons. The first reason is that we have to give a very simple, but specific enough guide to the player on how the demonstration of our project works. If we are to make our ARGOS project a universal one that is to be played by millions, it needs to be accessible and easy to get into. The second reason that it is important to focus on the HUD is that it’s hard to execute it correctly. What is the right size for the letters on display that can be readable, but not take up too much of the screen space? Will it depend on what mode of the game you are in? Are the letters at the right color for players to see what they’re reading behind a black or white wall?
A lot of my time in this seminar was spent on programming the interface, focusing on building the basic structure before tweaking each aspect to make them just right. My team and I have made quite a few debates on what is the right font to use, and the right way to word out instructions for the players. I was put in more control of those issues though, and it was mostly up to me to decide how the player is going to see what goes on in the game.
What this seminar has taught me is the importance on knowing your position, your motives, and knowing when the plan ahead. Many people like to call this situation the “squirrel on the highway” dilemma. If a squirrel were to run across a highway, but become hesitant to reach towards its destination, it becomes more in danger the longer it hesitates. Communication is also always vital. Being able to work with people you get along with and respect each other’s perspective always lead to a positive outcome.
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Presenting A.I.M.: Advanced Intelligence Missions, powered by ARGOS Phase 2! This is the just the tip of the iceberg for ARGOS, as it can apply to many things outside of video games. ARGOS can be used as an educational tool, medical diagnostics, and even general computing! Hopefully we will be expanding on this later in the future!
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This is just a preview of the new type of functionality that we have added to the game prototype. The marker-based gesture functionality is the main improvement over the Phase 1 prototype, and allows the player to interact with Augmented Reality Projections intuitively!
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For those enterprising types who are not content with the current Icon system on their PC's.
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ARGOS Project

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Contributions to ARGOS

Wayne: Acted as project leader, designer and contributed some 3d models of the building. Provided hardware for prototype hands-free system using goggles and other devices.

Alex: Secondary programmer of the team, Alex implemented the appearance logic for the heads-up-display on earlier prototypes, some of which moved onto the final. Alex also provided ideas for directions the project could advance (for next semester), and assisted with playtesting sessions.

Thomas: One of the primary 3D modelers of the team, he created models of the building floors. Thomas was also available for component research, and assisted with presentations.

Arielle: The other primary 3D modeler of the team, Arielle created the remaining models of the building floors. Arielle also assisted with documentation paperwork, milestone updates and presentations.

Michael: Primary programmer of the team, Michael combined project components and implemented the main logic of the game for the majority of the versions, and the final prototype.
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Here is the demonstration of the latest version of ARGOS, for Windows! Special shout out to our Programmer Michael Lutz, unintentionally caught on camera. Jacob Clayman also makes a cameo!
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Thanks. The new version is going to be even better very soon!
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Exploring the future of Augmented Reality and Games
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