Sample screenshot of Monster Milktruck
|Release date(s)||INT 2008
Monster Milktruck is a Google Earth plugin application developed in 2008 as an example of the Google Earth Web browser plug-in to showcase the capabilities and features of the Google Earth Plugin API at the first Google I/O developer conference. The small application is a video game accessible through the Internet using the Google Earth engine. The application can be played on certain operating systems and/or browsers. The Google Earth plug-in is required for proper use of the software. However, the plug-in can be installed without leaving the website. Once the installation is complete, the player needs to restart his or her browser in order to access the game.
The milk truck is colored white with red cursive letters that say "Milk" on it from the left side and the right side of the vehicle. While the letters cannot be seen from far away, they become more visible when the camera is forced to become closer to the truck. There are turn signals visibly seen on the rear of the truck that are never used in the game. Four rubber tires can also be seen on the track although they look unrealistically huge and protrude from the sides. This is considered to be a consistent trait among monster truck vehicles; giving it monster truck tires and the chassis of an old milk truck.
Using the arrow keys to accelerate, decelerate and turn, the player can navigate his box-shaped milk truck anywhere in the world. Players can either drive in their surroundings or instantly warp to a new area by typing in either a name of an attraction or a familiar address (street addresses are permitted to be used but rural route addresses are prohibited because they cover too large of a territory for the program to adequately cover). After completing this first step and clicking on the "Teleport" button, the milk truck is instantly transported to the desired destination. A few minutes may be required for the topography to completely load depending on the clock rate of the computer and the bandwidth of the Internet connection. The milk truck driver will either complain or enjoy the moment depending on how fast the player controls him. Comments include "Whoah, cowboy" and "Sometimes I wish I was working for UPS." However, the ultimate comment when it comes to acquiring speed over the more bumpier areas of the game is: "CREAMY!"
Players can easily drive through their own neighborhood (and their local area) just like they were driving through the preset areas. All the player needs to do is to type down either their home address (without needing a postal or ZIP code) or the name of the town that they live in followed by clicking on the "teleport" button. The player doesn't have to remain confined to their local area as it becomes possible to explore anywhere that the road system can get them. It is possible to clear off the home address from the address line but the address will have to be re-inserted in order to be able to teleport back to the player's chosen address if they end up getting lost on the roads. Preset areas are already well defined and include Tokyo, Pismo Beach, Whistler, and the Googleplex. They drop the player off within reasonable driving distance of a notable attraction and provide visible roads to drive on.
Monuments and properties
Buildings of notable properties are shown on the map as they appear on the most current edition of Google Earth using 3D computer graphic imagery. All other buildings appear flat and integrated with the terrain; novice drivers may have difficulty in telling the difference between a non-notable building and a part of the general terrain. This can include drug stores like Shoppers Drug Mart, services like Blockbuster Video, restaurants like McDonald's, and hotels like those belonging to the Hilton Hotels franchise. Even sporting venues like the Texas Motor Speedway that are used in NASCAR racing events and Stadium of Light (which is used for English Premiership soccer matches) can be found with 3D models. A few of these sporting venues show visible graphics when driven through like the Rogers Centre (revealing a baseball field) or most of the race tracks (revealing the entire track along with the infield).
However, some sporting venues like the Air Canada Centre, the Cowboys Stadium, and a few of the NASCAR tracks (i.e., Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway) do not allow the player to see the inside while "driving through" the structure. Instead, they are forced to drive through the building before coming out on the other side due to a lack of collision detection.
The game can teach people about spatial concepts, geographic categories, and description of landscapes. This program could also be used to compare and contrast the experience of visiting a major U.S. capital as opposed to seeing it in a textbook. Using the visual stimuli, it is also possible to adapt the Monster Milktruck program too learn about other things like European geography, world history, world geography, and social studies. People using the software can also embark on independent studies that compare the way that milk was brought to consumers in earlier years as opposed to today. They can study more about milk trucks and their appointed routes.
Lack of realism
The milk truck has a tendency to react adversely to the changes in the elevation on the map. Sometimes, it tends to treat some elevation changes like stunt ramps. Even mild changes in altitude can cause the vehicle to wildly jump off the road. There is no collision detection with any of the 3D buildings in the game, bridges (forcing players to drive under the bridge with the appropriate road appearing under the structure), or even with bodies of water (lakes, oceans, and rivers). Although the speed is not shown, it is estimated that the maximum speed of the milk truck is 400 miles per hour (640 km/h).
There are no traffic lights or highway patrol to punish the player for excessive speed and/or reckless driving with either a traffic ticket and/or an arrest to "rehabilitate" the offender. Speeding is a nearly unavoidable accomplishment because there is no visible tachometer or speedometer that can show the player's exact speed. The player must convert the time it takes from one flat area to another into either miles per hour or in kilometres per hour. Also, the player may do downright suicidal actions without dying. These actions can include jumping off of the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, Niagara Falls, or even off any generic canyon that descends 100 feet (30 m) or more. Players, however, are limited to Planet Earth; Google Earth's flight simulator (that is included with the main program) permitted players to fly Mars and on the moon. Due to a lack of an onboard GPS unit or a proper map mode, the player must memorize the driving route by using 3D landmarks in order to purposely drive to a destination. A lack of other vehicles on the road to generate traffic (either through a multiplayer mode or through AI-controlled vehicles) allows the players to maintain speeds that are unrealistically fast for windy roads, urban streets, and for roads that are on mountains.
The Monster Milktruck, which is a Google Earth API sample, can be used for other purposes such as allowing Virtual Segway tours with a Wii Fit balance board. This Google Earth plugin had the necessary features to control navigation.
Developers can use the Google Earth API and examples to learn and to develop their own material.
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