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Written by  :  Kasey Chang (4613)
Written on  :  May 13, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
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Virtual robot construction kit is infinite amount of fun

The Good

Mind Rover allows you complete freedom on how to tackle your problem, and some of the tasks can be quite complex indeed! There are plenty of challenges, from simple stuff like pursuit/evade to races to even actual combat, all handled by the AI of YOUR design! And it can be quite challenging to think of an algorithm that is sophisticated to win yet simple enough to fit into a rover.

The Bad

Tutorial explains basic interface concepts, but almost nothing about design. Some analysis on certain simple problems like "drag racing" would have prevented a lot of frustration. Not possible to save/reuse certain subsystems (blocks of components) so re-wiring takes up a lot of time. Interface does not allow easy copying of existing designs, so you have no "backup". There is also no "god mode" that let you rotate/push a robot to see how it would react.

The Bottom Line

Mind Rover is a virtual robot construction kit that allows you to build mini robots to perform a variety of scenarios, from simple pursuit or evade, to racing (drag or corridor or arena), to wrestling (push the other guy off the area), to even team battles where you engage enemy rovers with lasers, machine guns, and rockets. There are also tasks like hot potato (better known as "tag"), hockey, and more. As there are almost infinite ways to solve the same problem, the challenge is infinite!

There are nine different chassis to choose from (Hover S/M/L, Wheel S/M/L, Tread S/M/L) with different engine sizes, different sensors, and different logical/math components to use, so the combination is virtually infinite either. There are plenty of methods to solve a single problem, so creativity and debugging your settings are very important.

Once you defeat the existing AI rovers, submit your rover to one of the dozen online tourneys where your rover is pitted against all the other competitors in the specific scenarios.

The graphics in Mind Rover are not bad, but not that good either. Some of the camera angles need a bit of work, as "auto" tend to zoom a bit too far. There are quite a bit of clipping problem if the viewpoint gets too close to the wall. It uses OpenGL so it should be compatible with most video cards.

The sound is quite normal and nothing really special about them. The new-age type music gets tiring after a while.

Aside from the Lego Droid Construction set, this is probably the cheapest way for you to build a robot and have it follow your commands. If you like this field, definitely give it a try.

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