Episode 167 – Robotic Physics


Michael and Michael start this episode with big robots.  As in extra huge robots.  Like Mecha-sized robots.  The articulation of the robot Jeff Bezos piloted was reminiscent of the one that the character Eileen Ripley piloted in the Aliens movies (see video above).  Michael R was also reminded of the NASA Valkyrie robot, and it’s mission to go to Mars ahead of humans to set up the environment for human habitation.  Walking on two legs, and being roughly human-sized, the form factor is well suited to ensuring that the habitat structure such robots would build would be on the appropriate scale and work for the humans to follow.

The team also looks at a few learning games, starting with Big Bang Legends, which teaches the players about particle physics, and uses a SaaS subscription method the game company Lightneer calls “Learn to Play” that replaces video ads with a monthly fee.  This game reminded Michael M of DragonBox, a game that his kids really enjoyed that taught them algebraic skills while they weren’t really looking.

Michael R gave a shot at compiling the ported Pokemon Yellow Game Boy game to Apple Watch, but did not succeed during the recording session — will be interesting to see how it goes!

Rounding out the show, and just as Michael R predicted in the last episode, Michael M has been playing the new Nimblebit Bit City game, and, again, just as Michael R predicted, has been crushing it.

selected links 

PC Mag article: Jeff Bezos Pilots a Giant Robot — http://www.pcmag.com/news/352476/jeff-bezos-pilots-a-giant-robot

TechCrunch article: In a Massachusetts warehouse, NASA’s Valkyrie robot helps lay the groundwork for Mars settlements — https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/18/nasa-valkyrie-robot/

NASA’s Valkyrie robot — https://www.nasa.gov/feature/valkyrie/

Mecha — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecha

Robotech — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macross

Mashable article: This game is teaching particle physics to five-year-olds — http://mashable.com/2017/03/23/big-bang-legends/

Big Bang Legends — http://www.bigbanglegends.com

DragonBox — http://dragonboxapp.com

Making Giovanni, a Game Boy Emulator for the Apple Watch — http://gabrieloc.com/2017/03/21/GIOVANNI.html

Nimblebit’s Bit City — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bit-city/id914343148?mt=8


Episode 116 – Monster Bash

This week we are especially delighted to have two special guests on the show, Eric Mertens from Galois, Inc.  and Aaron Camerata from voidALPHA to share their insight and experience on the Verigames project with DARPA over that past couple of years.

Aaron does a fantastic job explaining how playing the game Monster Proof helps improve code quality by players playing the game in his recent blog post “Games…for Science!”  http://voidalpha.com/blog/ce6a4/monster-proof—how-it-works .

The concept here is pretty simple — can crowdsourced players playing a game perform formal verification / code testing faster and more cost-effectively than testers following the traditional development testing methodologies?  And if so, can these same kind of constructs and methods allow for code creation to write new code to solve new problems?

Some of the selected links from the discussion on the show
Penn & Teller’s Desert Bus game — http://www.polygon.com/2013/7/10/4510388/why-teller-created-desert-bus-the-worst-video-game-in-history
Desert Bus by Amateur Pixels for iOS — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/desert-bus/id470288016?mt=8
Desert Bus by Amateur Pixels for Android — https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tueidj.DesertBus&hl=en
Iavor Diatchki — https://galois.com/team/iavor-diatchki/
DragonBox algebra learning games — http://dragonboxapp.com
FoldIt — http://fold.it/portal/
Zachtronics —http://www.zachtronics.com
Elevator Saga, the elevator programming game challenge — http://play.elevatorsaga.com
Rosalind platform for learning bioinformatics and programming via problem solving — http://rosalind.info/problems/locations/
Waze — https://www.waze.com
The Curve by Nicholas Lovell — http://www.thecurveonline.com
Attention economy — http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/5.12/es_attention.html

Games we are playing these days
Eric Mertens — TIS-100 — http://www.zachtronics.com/tis-100/
Aaron Camerata
Slingshot Braves — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slingshot-braves/id857514427?mt=8 
The Sailor’s Dream — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id895869909
Framed — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/framed/id886565180?mt=8
Magic the Gathering — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic:_The_Gathering
Knights of Pen and Paper — https://www.paradoxplaza.com/knights-of-pen-paper-1-editionMichael R –Hearthstone —  iOS https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hearthstone-heroes-warcraft/id625257520?mt=8 and Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blizzard.wtcg.hearthstone&hl=en
Phaedra B –Grim Fandango — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/grim-fandango-remastered/id978524071?mt=8Michael M
Does not Commute — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/does-not-commute/id971756507?mt=8
Bang! the Wild West card game — http://amzn.com/B001Q4XWB8


Episode 58 – Zombies vs Mummies

Porter Stowell joins Phaedra and Michael M for a rockin’ good time across a broad set of topics for this week’s show. Phaedra shares her stories from the Serious Play Conference in Seattle earlier this week, highlighting how Ross Smith has created a building with personality to interact with the people who enter and use it. We playfully riff off of the idea that a water fountain may say “glad to be of service” and how other aspects of the building personality may interact with people, and how municipalities could interact with citizens, rewarding them for taking action to help maintain the city.

Porter highlights how crowdsourcing has been incorporated in charity concerts, and the team speculates how technologies such as Foursquare (and Foursquare mayors) might be engaged for validation of the crowdsourced contributions.

The panel then turns to the question of ethics that was started during last week’s show, and reaches a consensus that disclosure is key for organizations using games to achieve a goal beyond that of simple entertainment. If you play a game, and the outcome of that play may be in the furtherance of another goal, the player should know in advance what their play is helping to attain so they may make an informed decision to play or not. Porter, Phaedra and Michael speculate on what it would take to gain informed consent to build the Death Star, and what kind of spin would be needed to do so.

How does Michael spend his vacation? Well, playing games! He shares his experiences with a couple of iOS games — Sid Meier’s Pirates, Plants vs Zombies 2, Motor World, and Simpson’s Tapped Out. We have an intense discussion as to whether mummies are zombies before Porter calms Phaedra and Michael back down. A thread between Motor World and the Simpsons is that both use doughnuts as a scarce currency. It’s all about the doughnuts.


Porter has been playing a game played by 30m people, growing by 60% every year, where you sorting through useless data points in order to win. Porter stumped Phaedra and Michael on this riddle – see if you can identify what game it is before Porter gives it away!

Selected show links

Serious Play Conference, Seattle August 19 – 22, 2013 — http://www.seriousplayconference.com
Ross Smith — http://www.linkedin.com/in/rosss42
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy
Bill Gates, The Road Ahead — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_Ahead_(Bill_Gates_book)
Nolan Bushnell — http://nolanbushnell.com
Gabe Zimmerman — http://www.gamification.co/gabe-zichermann/
Zoran Povović — http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~zoran/
Fold.it — http://fold.it/portal/
Dragonbox — http://dragonboxapp.com
ESP Game — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESP_Game
reCaptcha — http://www.google.com/recaptcha
World Community Grid — http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org
SETI@Home — http://setiathome.berkeley.edu
Waze — http://www.waze.com
Ender’s Game — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ender%27s_Game
Sid Meier’s Pirates — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sid-meiers-pirates!/id499794670?mt=8
Plants vs Zombies 2 — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/plants-vs.-zombies/id350642635?mt=8
Motor World — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/motor-world-car-factory/id580666714?mt=8
Simpson’s Tapped Out — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-simpsons-tapped-out/id497595276?mt=8
Techmo Bowl — http://tecmobowl.org