In a world where most games deliver loot in a six-sided box of some sort, Apex Legends sticks out with its quirky "loot tick" robots. The little spider-legged pyramids are jittery dudes that squirm around on the screen before exploding into loot, and for good reason. Who likes having their faces caved in so some jerk can get a new stat tracker or pistol skin? YouTuber Graham Watson (AKA The3DPrintSpace (opens in new tab)) built a real-life loot tick and captured its creepy-crawly movements in his latest build video, which you can watch above.
The video above is mostly a timelapse of Watson's eight months of designing, building, and programming the loot tick, which stands a whopping 2.5 feet tall or so, judging from its position on his kitchen counter. Watson works as a software engineer and has a mechanical engineering degree, but says this was his first proper robotics project.
The robot itself has everything you'd hope for. There are independently movable spider legs that let it slowly walk, kick, or crouch. Then of course there's the pyramid-shaped head, which has three LED lights on each side to mimic the loot box opening animation. The loot tick even has the ability to shake in "fear" just like the in-game version will before you open it.
Speaking to PC Gamer, Watson detailed how he worked to bring the "incredibly challenging" loot bot to life.
"I wanted this thing to be as true to the game as physically possible, but obviously the loot bot in the game was never designed to be something that exists in real life. It's only designed to look as cool as possible, not actually account for motors or servos, joints, electronics, gravity, physics, etc," Watson said.
Watson noted that the loot tick's thin spider-like legs realistically don't have anywhere to hide a servo motor that would be necessary to move and make articulate motions. He went through about 10 iterations of the legs before he found a design that would support enough weight. After that, he took a few months to figure out how to program the robot with a Raspberry Pi as its brain.
"The main focus at this point was to keep it as light as possible while being just about strong enough to not break under a bit of force. I probably did overengineer it a bit though, not that I did any kind of FEA," Watson said, referring to "finite element analysis," a fancy engineering term for testing individual parts before you build a whole prototype. "Or even any basic stress analysis, but it has just survived a lot of heavy hits I didn't expect it to."
Watson says the software he designed for the loot tick ended up being more advanced than it needed to be, allowing for changing height and moving it in different directions. Once he got everything situated, however, the weight of the robot strained the servo motors to the edge of their strength.
The end result is a handsomely accurate bot that has a mean streak against its smaller ilk. It's mostly just a forward wobble and the ability to twist it's pyramid head, but it's certainly close enough to the in-game robot that I almost want to crack it open myself. Watson does plan on making a V2 loot tick, ideally with £150 servo motors rather than the £14 motors he used, which should allow his original vision to come to life and not threaten to wobble.
It's not the only neat Apex thing Watson has made on his channel. Previous projects include a Wingman revolver with a working reload mechanic that pops the cylinder, top, and bottom of the gun out. Then there's a functioning phone charger made to look like Octane's jump pad. He's got a smaller version of the loot tick that works as an LED lamp.