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A general education class at Fountainhead College traveled to King University’s Hardin Valley campus on March 31 to attend a talk given by Holocaust survivor Alfred Münzer.
Many students afterwards were struck by Münzer’s positive, even uplifting stories, in the face of horrible personal loss.
When he recounted his father who died shortly after the liberation of the camp where he was imprisoned, for example, Münzer spoke affectionately of the edelweiss flowers that now grow on his father’s grave.
“The sacrifices that were made just so he can be with us today,” said Fountainhead student Michael Hall, “speaks volumes for the power of the human spirit.”Add a comment
The First US Robotics Competition came to Knoxville on March 27-29, 2014, and the Knoxville Convention Center became home to over 50 of the area’s top high school robotics teams. The three-day event culminated in a two-out-of-three final showdown between the best teams of the weekend.
While the standing-room only preliminaries kept a frantic crowd screaming and cheering for their favorites, the real show took place in the pit area behind the grandstands. Taking a stroll through the pits brought the smell of motor oil and burnt resistors mixed with a visual extravaganza that would warm the soul of any Techie. Toolboxes brimmed with the latest in Arduino-based technology, and soldering iron sizzled and smoked as components were replaced with NASCAR-like speed and precision. The sportsmanship on the playing field extended behind the scenes as rival teams shared software upgrades and swapped spare parts to keep machines running.
The raucous sounds of the fanatical crowd signaled the beginning of the final phase of competition. In this sport, the object of the game is two-fold. The robot can score by shooting the ball through a designated goal, or by herding the ball out of a gate. The combination of basketball and soccer makes play fast and exciting with robots being remotely controlled for certain tasks and running in autonomous mode for designated portions of the game. The Red Coalition, featuring the team from Oak Ridge, made a clean sweep in two games and will advance to the next stage of competition.
While shooting basketball is not the epitome of robotics, it is a viable path for robotics education that can lead to greater things in the future. The same technology being developed by these high school students will spread into other applications and fuel the future of the robotics industry. I want a personal robot that will bring me coffee in the mornings, and if it wants to shoot some hoops after breakfast, who am I to say no?
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So, I have finally started my first programming class (ok, its nearly over now) and have just been enjoying the crap out of myself. I don’t know how many of you read the posters on the walls around the school but one of them is a flow chart to help you choose the perfect video game you should be playing.
How to Pick the Perfect Video Game
I decided to take that poster chart and convert it into an application. After a week or two of hunting pictures and typing in short "If statements," I finally coded this simple program that helps you figure out the perfect video game for your personality.
How to Pick the Perfect Video Game is a graphic flowchart that begins by asking: “Do you want to avoid using much of your brain?” Faced with dozens of Yes or No answers, the user is asked questions like "How are your reflexes?" and "Are you on drugs?" and "Do you want the hardest game ever?" In all there are some 90 questions that potentially face the user.
Hint: answering "No" serves up more questions, whereas answering "Yes" will end the questioning fast.
Click Here to Download the Perfect Game Picker (Zip file: after downloading, you must "run" an .exe file to play. This is a Safe program!)
I wrote the Game Picker using Visual Basic, so it won't work on Android devices. It was fun to make and quite simple. Yes, it was a lot of work but totally worth it I think. Leave a comment below and let me know how you like it, what could be better, or if you found a glitch (I found a few typos already).
View the original poster here, and the top of the picture below.
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A week or so after the release of my biggest hack (Pokemon – UltraViolet Version), while I was minding my own business, basking in the popularity of my work, I got an email asking me a lot of specific questions about Pokemon Gold (Emu Edition). I was a bit surprised as this game seemed pretty straight forward and it was odd that he needed the exact locations and times to find specific Pokemon. I answered his questions and he told me that he was entered into a contest to attempt to catch all the Pokemon in MY game. A website called Vizzed allows users to play games online and they had started a contest offering Viz (their version of online fake money) to whoever could catch all the Pokemon in my game the fastest.
This interest in my hack inspired me to join the site. I passed on tips and tricks to a few fellow hackers that were on the forums, but mostly I hung out in the chat rooms of my games. Each game being played has a little chat stream and ALL the people playing it can chat. Anytime anyone would have an issue with something I implemented (something they could not google themselves) I would help.
I became tired of answering the same questions several times a day, so I decided to make a Players Guide to Ultra Violet Version. After releasing a massive PDF file to the public I was contacted by the owner of Vizzed, mostly nonchalant banter and congratulations and such. We chatted awhile, I continued to lurk and eventually found no need to return to Vizzed very often at all.
A month goes by and I get another email. This time from a Vizzed fan of mine, she told me that Vizzed started a Pokemon Hacking Competition with a cash prize, and proceeded to tell me that if I entered a hack I surely would win. By this time, however, I had already begun work on a new hack. I was about 40% finished. One of the rules to the competition was that it could ONLY be released on Vizzed. I had no intentions of releasing my new BIG hack on only one website.
If you remember from my previous blog post, I mentioned hacking games for a reason (previously it was to catch them all), my new hack was a hack that would add the Orange Archipelago to the games. The Orange Archipelago is an area from the TV show that was never made into a game, so I had a reason to make it. I had no other ideas to make any other hacks. The fan from Vizzed gave me a GREAT idea. Her idea was to play as the bad guys, following the main character of the real version of the game, cleaning up the messes he made. I fell in love with the idea, my mind filled with ideas and in just a few hours we had layed out the entire game and all the events that the player would get to see from the villain’s side.
It was time for me to actually read up on the contest. With a $200 grand prize plus $20 extra per every 10,000 plays, I was sold on the idea of entering. The contest would be graded by the players, only hacks with a rating above a 7 (out of 10) and with a minimum of 5,000 plays would qualify. To win you must have the highest “rating X votes” so if I had a rating of 9 with 10 votes, and you had a rating of 8 with 30 votes, you win. The contest had a 3 month deadline (with a few other stipulations) so I had little time to remake an entire game. I worked non-stop (around 20 hours a day) for a month and released Pokemon – Rocket Science.
This hack forced me to learn A LOT more about the game's graphics. I learned how to make sprites - sprites are the moving characters in the game. I made many super complex scripts and inserted new game mechanics. An entirely new main character and story was created. Most of the maps are the same and all of the music is the same but other than that, this game has everything changed. It was a lot of learning, but with everything I learn, I can put it to use in my next hack.
With the contest coming to a close (no more hacks can be entered) and my hack slotted to win by a landslide, it just reinforces my beliefs that I am on the right degree path and that this is the right school for me.
So I have been spending a lot of my time making Pokemon games. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge Pokemon nerd, I enjoy the games but I don’t own a houseful of plushies and posters or anything. It is an interesting story as to how I fell into this sort of hobby.
It has always been a dream of mine to get my name in a real video games credit list. So one day I just started doing research into hacking video games. I think it is pointless to hack a game without a point, so I needed a reason to hack. I decided that I had always wanted to play a Pokemon game that had all of the Pokemon in it (for the specified generation). If you are unaware, Pokemon is a video game series that came out around 1998. The point of the original games (the only ones I care about) is to catch all of the Pokemon (little monsters you can obtain by battling and capturing in items called “PokeBalls”). Pokemon games require multiple cartridges to complete the games 100%. You have to trade Pokemon between the cartridges until you have them all. My idea was simple, I wanted to hack the first generation games, Red, and Blue (my favorites) in particular, to contain all 151 Pokemon so there would be no trading needed to complete the game.
The idea was simple so I used a simple tool to create “Pokemon – Red Version (Emu Edition)”. The name “Emu Edition” came from the realization that you would be playing this game on an EMUlator, and it is generally considered impossible to trade on emulators (yes I know some emulators have this ability, but they are few and far between, and it does not change the fact that you must play 2 versions of the game to trade Pokemon to get them all by yourself). I don’t know how well the name took off but that’s what I went with. My first Emu Edition game simply tossed all the unobtainable Pokemon in legitimate locations. This was not difficult for low level Pokemon like Ekans (only obtainable in Red version) or Meowth (only obtainable in Blue Version), I would simply place them in the location they would originally be if you played their version. But SOME Pokemon could only be obtained by trading and evolving a Pokemon at the same time. If you traded a Haunter to a friend, it would evolve to Gengar by the time your friend got it. I tossed these high level Pokemon in logical locations too but it made the game silly to run into these very powerful wild Pokemon.
I made an Emu Edition for Red Version and then the second generation game Gold Version. These hacks were moderately popular but you can see some of the downfalls. I started working on a first generation game remade with third generation graphics and hardware. This game was FireRed. FireRed is the same game as Red Version but it is made for GameBoy Advance instead of regular GameBoy. So much it had better graphics, full color and the series had just generally gotten better in the several years it took to get to third gen.
Working on FireRed was much more appealing. The graphics were better, it was the story I loved, and there were more tools. I started with the same steps, adding all game specific Pokemon to this game. There was a tool that allowed me to change how Pokemon evolved so I did not have to add random powerful Pokemon to the game. So by this point the game was about what my Red Emu Edition was, but I wanted more. Mew was my favorite Pokemon and I wanted him to have his own event. So you can catch him in a special event during the game and there was only one Mew. I needed to learn how to script events, how to create new things and make the game do what I wanted.
To do this I started looking at scripts already in the game. I began to learn how the game made things happen and started creating my own by simply copying how the game did it and altering little things. For instance there is a Mewtwo event where you fight the only Mewtwo in the game, I simply copied that event and changed the Pokemon to be Mew, I also changed his level and the noise it makes (so it sounded like Mew and not Mewtwo). I released the game just like this. And people wanted more.
A 3rd gen game actually as 386 Pokemon in it, but my hack only had the first 2 generations of Pokemon in it (251 total) because I only cared about the first two gens.
To accommodate my growing fan base I started learning how to create maps, and levels, and areas. I made a huge new island the player could travel to that contained all of the 3rd generation Pokemon. By doing this I learned a TON about scripting and pretty much gained the ability to make the game DO anything I wanted without rewriting HOW the game thinks. Staying within the games capabilities I could script any event.
Because there were so many changes to this game I decided to rename it. I mixed Red and Blue (the first generation game colors) and came up with purple or violet. Then it needed to be special because FIRE red or LEAF green are special colors, not just red and blue, I decided to call my hack Ultra Violet Version. To rename the game I had to learn to change the title screen from the standard screen to my custom one. I learned how to work with graphics and LZ7 compression (which is the image compression that the GameBoy Advance (GBA) uses.
Now I am a fairly good authority on scripting and mapping and graphics editing for these games. Not that I’m the biggest Pokemon fan in the world, but I enjoy making my own games, and am apparently good at it. People loved my hack, it’s one of the more popular hacks out there. In 3 months I learned A LOT, but still had NO IDEA what I was doing. I decided to actually learn how to program because I was good at it, and I enjoyed it, and people enjoyed my work. I enrolled in Fountainhead College of Technology and started a new chapter in my life. Not to mention I grew up wanting to make video games - that passion had faded through the years until I actually started hacking.
Welcome back passion.Add a comment
Fountainhead College is pleased to welcome employers, students and graduates to our Spring Career Fair. This networking event is the perfect venue to get discovered and make meaningful connections in the tech industry.
WHEN: April 1, 2014 | 4:30 – 6:30 pm.
WHERE: Fountainhead College of Technology Campus
Employers: Please fill out the Registration Form to reserve your company's table.
Employers Attending Career Fair:
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