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Controller Freak

Chad Sapieha leads you deep into the world of games, covering gaming trends

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Guy Himber's Lego robot interacts with an Xbox 360 controller to perform repetitive actions in Gears of War 3. (Guy Himber)
Guy Himber's Lego robot interacts with an Xbox 360 controller to perform repetitive actions in Gears of War 3. (Guy Himber)

Lego robots play Gears of War 3, Skyrim Add to ...

It’s no secret that Lego and video games make fantastic bedfellows. Traveller’s Tales’ ever growing roster of platform and puzzle adventure games – Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman, and Lego Harry Potter, to name just a few – are proof of that. But the bricks in these games exist in virtual form. What happens when you combine real-world Lego with real-world video game hardware?

As you'd probably guess, great things.

The Brothers Brick, a blog for grown-up Lego fans, reports that two people have used Lego Mindstorms NXT sets to create robots that interact with a controller to perform basic and repetitive tasks, helping them earn achievements and level up their in-game skills.

Guy Himber, a special make-up effects artist in Hollywood, has made at least a couple of Lego apparatuses for use with the Xbox 360 game Gears of War 3 . The first presses a trigger to fire a rifle, then presses another button to perform a reload, and then presses a third at just the right time to achieve an “active reload.” The machine performs this trick repeatedly every few seconds. He let it chug out 25,000 active reloads, earning him a tough-to-get Onyx medal, which is necessary for the "Award Winning Tactics" achievement.

Himber made a second robot to earn a different Onyx medal awarded for manipulating 2,000 objects in the game's campaign mode. This robot had renowned tough-guy protagonist Marcus Fenix pressing a piano key once every couple seconds, reaching the magic number of plinks in about an hour.

More recently, another Lego super fan with the YouTube handle "comicsacrifice” created a Lego Mindstorms NXT robot to level up his restoration statistic in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim . He moved his avatar into an area of the game where he would be burned by a fire trap every few seconds. Shortly after each burning the Lego rig presses a button on a PlayStation 3 controller to activate a self-healing spell, increasing his healing skill by a small amount each time. In text accompanying the video he said he planned on letting the rig run until he hit a maximum restoration level of 100.

Some might label these machines a form of cheating. Keep in mind, though, that it probably took their makers longer to design and construct them than it would have taken them to earn their rewards the old fashioned way. I just see it as nerds expending some of their excess creative energy, and doing it in a way that those of us with lesser Lego skillz can admire.

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