Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Amtgard News #4

So, I started a new recruiting tactic: rather than giving out flyers, get people to give me their email addresses and sign up for a mailing list. So far I have 35 email addresses on my mailing list. Unfortunately, last time nobody who was on the mailing list came, although two people did say they tried to come but got lost. (I thought I was pretty clear where the park was because I posted up the link to the Google Map.) However I also discovered, when I put my own email address on the list (I set up a separate email address for the list) just to check whether the messages were getting sent out correctly, that the message was sent to me - but was directed to my spam folder. It is a good chance that this was caused by me writing "to unsubscribe from this mailing list, send mail to such-and-such address" at the bottom, as this is characteristic of a lot of spam emails. When I sent the same message to myself without that line, it got through.

I also came up with a new idea for my next Arts and Sciences project. It is a software program that is designed to be useful for foamsmiths (that's the term for people who create foam weapons like those used in Amtgard.) Features that I plan to include are:

- Create weapon designs: specify length, materials used, location of striking edges, etc. and automatically test new weapon designs for legality, weight, swingability, etc. before spending lots of time and materials building them.

- Set up production lists and automatically generate "shopping lists" of required materials - so you don't spend lots of money on materials you don't need or end up missing key components.

- Also: add your own material types, create shields and arrows in addition to weapons, compare different materials, and much more.


Dan Mont said...

Sounds pretty cool....although I don't know if there's any potential for advertizing revenue.

(just kidding)

Nanette Goodman said...

Getting email addresses rather than handing out flyers seems like a good idea. Did anything come of your last marketing approach?

Is that a difficult program to write? Will it include cool graphics?

Alexander said...

Someone did pick up one of the flyers I had left in the math department lounge and he came out to the park on the 31st, but he didn't come out on the 7th.

As for the computer program, it probably won't be that difficult because there aren't a whole lot of different components that are used in weapons - it's mostly just different combinations of them. Calculating the weight is very easy since if you know the density of each component you can just multiply density times volume and add it all up. "Swingability" is measured by moment of inertia (i.e. resistance to rotation) about the point at which the weapon is held, and the formula for that is also pretty simple. One thing I am also thinking about adding is measuring "whippiness" (i.e. how much the weapon core bends when it is swung) but I haven't figured out hoe to calculate that yet.

Dan Mont said...

Is there some way to measure "breakability?"

Maybe the website could also have a way for people to rate the weapons they use.

Alexander Mont said...

>> Is there some way to measure "breakability?"

I don't know, but that's one of the things I am thinking of looking into.

>> Maybe the website could also have a way for people to rate the weapons they use.

I wasn't planning on having a web site with functionality much beyond just downloading the program and documentation. I was thinking of posting up on popular Amtgard discussion forums like and telling them about the program and asking people to submit weapon designs. It would be interesting to compare the results that my program comes up with with people's actual experiences with the weapons. Also, if I was able to get a reasonably comprehensive database of different materials and weapon designs, that would be a useful tool in and of itself.