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  TV Recommendation 03:49 AM -- Thu February 16, 2012  

I've started watching Prototype This on Netflix. It's very much in the vein of Mythbusters, but instead of testing myths, they arbitrarily assign themselves a random ridiculous product to build a prototype of in 2 weeks. The first episode was giant robots that box each other a la Rock Em Sock Em Robots, but you control them by doing boxing motions (like a Kinect game). The second was a truck that could drive over other cars and parallel park itself robotically, and even parallel park over other cars. That's how much I've seen, but I am intrigued for more. It lacks a lot of the charisma of Mythbusters, and most of the science value, but it's very fun to see what they can do.

Now, the ethos and feel of the show is very much a Ludum Dare kind of vibe. The way they run into problems that set them back and then they have to fix it or just scrap what they're doing and try a whole new approach is exactly the feel of being in an LD contest. The 2-week deadline looks about as tight as an LD48 48-hour deadline, in relation to what they have to do (not a lot of welding involved in game programming). And at the heart of it, it's all the same thing as LD: they're making something ridiculous to have a little fun, and to give other people some fun, and it doesn't have to be great, it just has to work.

So I recommend it for the entertainment value, but I really recommend it if you are into the "game jam" thing. It's pretty much what a game jam TV show would be, except that they have more interesting stuff to show than just programming and drawing. They have welding! Of course, they also do a lot of programming, because the stuff they build has robotic elements. They don't show that though. But they actually acknowledge its existence and vaguely reference that it's happening, which is more than any other show will do!

Update: I started episode 3. It's a Pee-Wee-Hermanesque pod to sleep in, then wake up, shower, eat, and see the news before you exit it.
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