Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
My oldest son loves Age of Empires II, so I decided to see what fun we could have hacking with the game.
Before kids I spent too much time playing Age of Empires II. Since kids I've been a recovering adict, keeping well away from temptation as I feared that one hit would lead me down a slippery slope to the AOE monster eating my free/sleeping time. Recently however my oldest son has started playing AoE2 himself, influenced by his mother I should explain. He started out on the scenario levels becoming a great fan of Gengis Khan, Joan of Arc and friends. It was his idea to start hacking with AoE2. We went on a visit to Warwick castle and the next day he suggested that it would be great if we could play a Warwick castle game on AoE2. A little playing with the scenario builder and we had a passable map of Warwick castle with the forces of Ricard Earl of Warwick lined up against the Duke of Hastings and Edward 4th. My son was in charge of deciding the sizes and composition of the various forces and, being only five, he made quite sure they were heavily biased in the human player's favour. We got this set up and ran the game. At first we couldn't get the two sides to fight each other. Then we found the dipolomacy settings and with the help of drawing up the grid of who was with who, got the correct forces to engage.
My son seemed quite happy with the set up we had. He'd get his huge band of troops, march up on the hapless enemy and win decisively. I was disappointed with the way that the computer controlled forces did little to defend themselves. They just stood about and waited for the enevitable anihilation. A little digging and I found that AoE2 has a scriptable AI language and there are lots of people writing AoE2 scripts at www.aiscripters.com. So now I have my next hacking mission: learn the AoE2 scripting language and start coding some things in it. Meanwhile, my son has this idea for a "build the Great Wall of China" scenario.
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Re-reading my previous posts it occurs to me that I was assuming that spending time with my family was taking time away from doing cool hacker stuff. I've missed a trick there. What I should have been looking for was the win-win. If the things you do with your kids are cool hacks at the same time then the hours are not zero sum. So, shifting focus, my search changes from looking for ways to hack in the spare moments around the kids to looking for ways to hack with the kids.
What would constitute a hack with the kids? Well it has to be something to do with problem solving, being creative, and getting immersed in a topic. The difficulty is finding the topic. Its got to be something where both me and my kids are interested. It seems patronizing to get the kids to repeat experiments out of kits without some wider motivation.
So that's what I'm going to try to do. If you have an idea for a topic then post a comment.