John Topley’s Weblog

Child’s Play

I recently had some software recommended to me by a six year old. Not directly, but via her Daddy, who casually mentioned to me this amazing software that his daughter was having a lot of fun with. The software is called BAMZOOKi Zook Kit and as the name suggests, it lets you make Zooks…A smiley emoticon

In case you think I've finally lost the plot completely, I'd better explain. Zooks are animated creatures—the weirder the better—that have their own television show on Children's BBC called BAMZOOKi. Unfortunately I haven't actually seen the show because it's on whilst I'm at work.

A Zook created by one of the professionals i.e. a child. Click to enlarge.
A picture of Timmy's crab Zook

The Zook Kit is software that lets children (and adults!) construct their own Zooks and I believe that the best ones are featured in the show, where they take part in all sorts of challenges. It's sort of like the Olympic Games, but without the politics and cheating. There's also a gallery of the best Zooks on the BAMZOOKi website.

The best part of it all is the Zook Kit software, which is incredibly sophisticated. Maybe I've been asleep for a few years, but I was astonished by the professional quality of this tool, which lets you manipulate and combine three-dimensional objects and specify their behaviour. All the control you'd expect is there, from shape manipulation to motion control and colours/patterns. You can give your Zook legs and specify the order in which they move. Objects can be cloned, mirrored and imported and exported. It's an object-oriented construction kit for animated creatures and the best bit is that it's really easy to use. There's even an online Zook Kit Lite version, created using Shockwave.

One of my Zooks. Click to enlarge.
A picture of the Zook Kit editing my Zook

Once you're happy with your Zook you can switch to test mode and watch it come to life. If you've only given your Zook one leg then at this point it will start to flail around helplessly! The programmers have used AI algorithms to animate the Zooks in a realistic way, which certainly works. The environment can be changed so you can see how your creation copes with obstacles and slopes, or perhaps see how fast it is in a sprint.

It may not increase your productivity or be the next big thing, but the Zook Kit is a ridiculously fun piece of software that put a big smile on my face, in a way that hasn't happened since I first clapped eyes on Delphi 1.0 or CityDesk.

Comments

There are 4 comments on this post. Comments are closed.

  • avatar John C
    26 August 2004 at 20:38

    That is seriously cool! Why don't I get to work on software like that?

  • avatar John Topley
    27 August 2004 at 09:16

    I don't see why you wouldn't be able to, John. Are you having a sabbatical from blogging?

  • avatar John C
    02 September 2004 at 22:21

    Yes I have been. Sort of a sabbatical from the internet really! But i'm back (sorry to say)... ;)

  • avatar Canary Woolf
    13 August 2005 at 14:24

    Hi I thought you might be interested in a new website which I've put together for a team entering the third BBC series of Bamzooki : http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/bamzooki The website can be found at: http://www.bamzooki.org.uk/web-content/index.html The name of the team was chosen because.... The presenter of Bamzooki is a mad keen Norwich City Fan (The Canaries) The team is also from Norwich and knew that a funky name might help them get on the show! It's also a play on the words of Canary Wharf. My son (Joshua, 9) found out about bamzooki while surfing the cbbc website and after creating about 4 zooks read an article on the bamzooki noticeboard asking for entries for the third series. I believe that there were about 700 and from those the BBC decided to interview 80 teams from across the UK. He got together with 3 mates from his school and 2 weeks after the interview he got the news that Canary Woolf would one of 35 teams to be participating in the next series. The rest of the story (and future info can be found on the news section of the website: http://www.bamzooki.org.uk/web-content/news.html Tell me what you think and how it can be improved. Many thanks Canary Woolf

It's sort of like the Olympic Games, but without the politics and cheating.


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