www.whyville.net Nov 30, 2000 Weekly Issue

Configuring It All Out

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Configuring It All Out
Cyranojoe tells you how he did it.

   by cyranojoe
  Times Writer

Now, I should probably be modest, but ahhh... I'm #2! It might be for just today, but I just snagged second place in the Smart Cars Arena tournament! So, I think I've got a pretty good handle on configuring the racetracks and smart cars, and hopefully I can help you with this article.

First of all, there's a couple things that have confused some people that I want to clear up right now:

  • You don't have to be online to run a race.
    Once a challenge has been accepted, the two racers just have to submit their configurations. The race gets run automatically at the time chosen by the challenger.
  • Give your opponent time!
    If you challenge somebody on Tuesday for a race on Thursday at noon, the person you're challenging has to accept or decline by Wednesday at noon! Meaning, they have to respond to your challenge 24 hours before the race would be run. So if you're getting a lot of challenges rejected, it might be because you're not giving them enough time to respond!
  • If you decline a challenge, you lose that race!
    Originally, nobody won a declined race, but it ended up that all you had to do was decline all challenges and you wouldn't drop in your rankings until the end of the week, and that's not fair. You've gotta work to stay on top here in Whyville!

Okay, on to the good stuff -- how to win!

Configuring Your Racetrack

So, let's say you've challenged someone to a race. What do you do now? Go to your Race Book in your satchel and find the entry for this race. You can configure your racetrack even if the person hasn't accepted the challenge, but it could end up being wasted time if the challengee ends up declining and the race never happens. On the other hand, practice makes perfect!

Click on the link to configure your racetrack. The next screen should show the racetrack on the left, a column of lights in the middle, and the control panel on the right. As you should know from going through Slim's helpful tutorial, the smart cars react to light in all sorts of ways, depending on how you wire the wheels together. (If you didn't know that, you definitely need to check out Slim's tutorial.)

To put a light on the track, just click on it to pick it up, move it over to the track, and click to set it down. (This is just like the Pick Your Nose tool in that sense.) You can put as many of the lights as you have on the track screen. Remember, they don't have to go on the track itself! You can put them just off the track, on piles of tires and hay bales, anywhere, just as long as it's on the track screen. Also, you don't have to use them all -- sometimes finesse results in a faster race than brute force.

Once you've laid out your lights in a pattern that you want to test out, click the "Start" button on the control panel to let your car go! You can also click "Step" to take your car through the race, step by step. This can help when you're trying to figure out why and where your car took that sudden left turn.

If your car hits a wall or a hay bale, the track will automatically reset. You can then move around the lights for another try. If your car makes it to the finish line, congratulations! Wait a moment to let the track reset, then hit "Save" to save the configuration for your race with the person you've challenged. If you want, you can make changes to the track, but remember, if you want those changes to be used in the race, you've got to hit Save!

There's a lot more to go over -- I haven't even begun with the control panel -- but this article's plenty long already.

If you've got any questions, you can just Y-mail me. Or you can challenge me in a race, and learn as I beat you! :)

Keep these things in mind:

  • You can configure before the person you challenged accepts.
  • Moving the lights is just like Picking Your Nose.
  • You can put the lights anywhere on the track screen.
  • Hit Start to test your configuration, Save to keep it for the race.
  • Important: Give the computer a moment to reset after a crash before you try to change anything!


For more about the Smart Cars, check out Bigfoot's article.




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