Saturday, 18 January 2020

How well can connected boxes learn to swim? The ecosystem game

Sometimes I play a computer game, mostly of the simulation type. While looking for something different from steering a European nation through history, or building a sprawling city somewhere, I came across a game promising to show biological evolution.

It would not be the first time a game tried to do that; Spore promised that too, and there are some others. I even wrote a post about Spore for this blog, because I was curious how the game designers dealt with the number of legs a creature might have. That number did not evolve by itself, but was chosen by the player. While the anatomy and movement of these legs were cleverly arranged, they turned out to be completely predetermined. In other words, the gradual changes in shape and capabilities of the resulting beasties had nothing to do with random variability followed by the environment pruning the stragglers, which is how real biological evolution works. Instead, Spore relied on Intelligent Design by the developers, and to a lesser extent by the player, acting as a minor deity.  

Click to enlarge; copyright Tom Johnson
But this ecosystem game promises the opposite. You get to play with a barren stretch of sea floor and have to turn it into a thriving ecosystem. The game will create swimming animals completely on its own, at first anyway. There is random genetic variability, and the unfit are weeded out, leaving their more successful brethren to forge on. You may wonder whether a full evolution simulation handled in this way would be any fun to play. After all, the premise would firstly be that genetic, anatomic and functional variability are all left to chance, and secondly that the environment provides all the selection pressures. What is left for the player to do?



In the demo, the player can indeed not control the characteristics of the beasts at all, but can guide evolution by altering the environment. The player has to place new plants or simple animals as food, and will also have to provide spawning areas and cordon off some pleasant mating grounds. Then you watch to see whether your Chosen Species rises to your challenge.


In the final game, there will also be a possibility to tinker with the anatomy of the beasts directly. An example of how that may look is shown above. Much as I like the idea of a fully independent evolution model, I also look forward to take up my duties as Minor Deity and start tinkering. In the full game you do not need content yourself with one Chosen Species; there will be various species, and herbivores as well as predators. At present, the game is in an early stage, so do not think you can lord it over a complex ecosystem just yet. That will be later. But a large part of the true evolutionary part is already in place. Let’s discuss the mechanics and the nervous systems of these beasts.



Tom Johnson, the creator of the game, provided some explanations. The animals consist of connected rectangular boxes of varying width, length and breadth. That’s it: they are boxes. That is what is shown in the video above. In the game, the animals look much nicer, as the boxes are depicted as smoothed forms with some nice fishy textures. At one end of one box there is supposed to be a mouth. To help the player, this part is shown as having a distinctively fishy head, with two eyes and two jaws. In a way this is a pity, as otherwise the animals have nothing that reminds you of a vertebrate. They are wholly and spectacularly asymmetrical! The boxes move at the connecting points, sometimes around one axis, sometimes around more than one. If one box moves with respect to another, this creates forces acting on the water around our hopeful monster. There is drag, there is angular momentum, and the creatures moves. Well, if you play the demo you will find that the earliest forms flop rather than swim and can be so painfully clumsy that they die before they even make it to any food.


The animals have nervous systems with an input layer, a layer for connection and integrationr (the Brain!) and a layer of output neurons controlling the muscles of each body part, which is, unsurprisingly, a box. You can actually see the neuronal connections in action, with impulses speeding along the axons (although at present the number of visible impulses does not reflect the true impulse frequency yet – for that you have to look at the number next to the neuron-). In successive generations, both the anatomy of the boxes and their nervous systems evolve. It is not quite clear to me yet whether the neural system develops at random or in response to mechanical needs. At any rate, I think it is an impressive feat to have both an evolving anatomy as well as an evolving brain linked to that anatomy.

Tom told me that the capacity of the evolutionary fitness principle was well born out by the game. At one point it turned out that some features of the animal worked only with a specific frame rate. In other words, the modelled animals had taken full advantage of one characteristic of their particular world, even though that was a completely unintentional one.


Another example is the animation above this paragraph: the animal seems to wave one limb in such a way that it acts as sort of propeller. In my searches for original means of locomotion to use on Furaha, I had tried to find a way to have a limb do just that. The problem is of course that in biology you cannot have a body part going through a complete 360 degree turn, as that would of be incompatible with blood vessels, nerves and muscles running to that limb. I could not see well enough how the movement worked, so I asked Tom. His reply was that I needn’t bother, as that was an early design, and he had not specifically stopped the animals from having continuous circular motions. So, again, blind evolution had used what it could and found a way...


Tom was kind enough to send me a unique illustration for this blog, shown above. The wrote: "This creature lives in the deep sea with a rocky, spiked terrain and evolved a nice downward glide to stick to the seafloor and eat the sessile creatures attached to it." I like it.

As I said, at present this game is available as a free demo, here or here. I will be keeping my eye on it, to see what strange forms can and will evolve. Charles Darwin once wrote the following about evolution:

 “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Isn’t it fascinating that we can now see these principles in action, right before our eyes, on our computer screens?

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally! A game about realistic evolution, and not...Spore.

Seriously, Spore is the worst excuse for an "evolution" game, it was just an excuse to make a civilization of phallic monstrosities.

TheWingedScourge said...

I mean, it's less of a game and more of a simulation. If they're going for say, an RPG game with objectives then it could probably play off more like "selective breeding", perhaps?

tribbetherium said...

This is a pretty neat concept, tho I'm disappointed they were made to look like a stereotypical earth "fish". Would be interesting to have completely alien-looking creatures, that is, moving boxes, somehow thriving in a world. There's just something appealing about aliens that look nothing at all like familiar creatures.

Also, highly doubt twitchy seizure-fish there would have viable fitness in this world or any other.

Unknown said...

I can imagine this being a "No Man's Sky" game where creatures "naturally" evolved on a planet and you discover all of them. Still better than NMS having procedurally-generated creatures that make no sense anatomically, such as the infamous "Thrusting Horse".

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Anonymous: I found that I fairly quickly lost interest in Spore for very similar reasons. But to each his won.

The WingedSource: you could say that selective breeding is in fact 'unnatural selection', but I guess that a game must have an active input by the player. I would like a 'hands off and just watch' option though.

tribbetherium: I asked a vey similar question about the head shapes. Tom replied that they started with recognisable heads because it helps the player, but he is definitely interested in expanding the range of the heads to include asymmetric ones. We'll have to be patient.
As for their fitness: well, fitness is relative. If such creatures are the only ones with any capacity at all to move towards plants, they are at the top of the herbivory food chain.

Anonymous: I haven't played No Man's Sky, but looked up the 'thrusting horse'. Slightly Intelligent Design, I would think.

Kevin the horse said...

I like this concept. But I guess its major flaw would be that evolution is a slow and random process? With little to no input from the player (aside for perhaps somewhat sadistically making the environment as hostile as possible and watching the critters adapt or die like some sort of mad scientist) the game will quickly get boring fast.

cuddlebee said...

There's a game called "Species" that plays off somewhat like this, there's a bunch of little sausage creatures in an ecosystem and you can alter the environment and watch them evolve and diverge into various separate species while you tweak the temperature, sea levels, productivity of food on land and in water, irradiation to increase the frequency of mutations, etc.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a fun game; I downloaded the demo, and its slow, but that may just be my computer acting up.

Tribbetherium - perfectly possible to be utterly alien and looking like an Earth fish...fishes get weird on this planet.

Kevin - who told you evolution is slow and random? thats pretty much an urban myth these days.

-Anthony.

Anonymous said...

thoughts about the changeling birds from serina? personally thought them to be among the more implausible creatures in the project, they're literally birds that have a larval stage and pupate kind of like insects

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for a planet to only evolve "plants"? like, complex multicellular life evolved on its surface, but all off it are vegetative, sessile photosynthesizers or fungi-like decomposers, and nothing recognizable as an "animal", moving, feeding, thinking creatures, ever evolved whatsoever?

Surely plants would still be affected by evolutionary pressures though, competing with each other for resources, shading out each other from the sun, or directly attacking competition by strangling them and draining their nutrients like certain vines or parasitic plants do.

How would a world without animals and only plants develop over the span of millions of years?

Anonymous said...

have you ever done a post on how hexapods or odd-walkers might deal with an injured leg? like, we sometimes see a quadruped animal in real life limping on three legs if it injures one, but what about a tripedal or pentapodal one, would they be rendered completely unable to walk?

Anonymous said...

Not sure why a pentapod would be unable to walk.

as for a triped...I imagine it wouldn't be any harder for them to walk bipedally than it is for an elephant to walk on two legs.
-anthony

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Comments before Jan 27: I know, there are a few more similar games around. I liked this concepts best, so I wrote about it. I might get to the others.

Anonymous (Jan 27): I have looked at Serina but not in much detail yet. I like it and looked for a list of contacts but found none. The last new entry seemd to be from May 2018, so has it stopped?

Anonymous (Feb 16): Interesting question. There might be two related questions here: Is the evolution of animals inevitable? I guess not, but it seems unlikely. If monocellular organisms develop photosythesis by whatever means, genetic mishaps should ensure that some progeny will not have it; if some of these cells survive, they are on their way to become saprphyets of animals. But suppose that photosynthesis is entwined with the basal cellular machinery that a loss of photosynthesis means the loss of life, then there might be no animals.
The second question might then be whather you can uild a viable ecostsem out of that. I guess so, Bacteria can recycle dead wood, and basically plants simply have fewer parasites. Of course, they do not receive help with fertilisation either, but that is not a fundamental problem.
So I can think of no reason why it would be impossible. No fruits, no flowers, and plant need not produce poisons to protect them from predation by animals. Otherwise, they might look much the same...


Anomymous (Feb 17) / Anthony (Feb 19): There may be a comment with a similar discussion. If the animal in question has a reasonably copetent nervous systemn, it should be able to adpat its gait to the loss of one leg. Actually, I think the loss of one leg is less of a problem the more leg you start with. Consider a centipede with one leg less than a kangaroo or human with one leg less....


RoastHog said...

Would an organ that senses heat instead of light be able to form images and essentially become an "eye" of sorts? How would camouflage color patterns evolve should both predators and prey see with heat, and should any of them become intelligent how would heat-based "sight" affect the development of civilization?

Anonymous said...

RoastHog, thats at least a post's worth of material for the answer (and in the Furaha Blog archives, there are such answers.
but *my* answers, off the top of my head, in order: they already do; crypsis vs overwhelming the senses; to quote Draco "I cannot see the stars."

-anthony.

Ed said...

is "double centaurism" likely? in a group of hexapods, would it make sense that one derived group becomes two-armed quadrupeds, then one further derived subgroup of that becomes four-armed bipeds? since freeing the front legs for grasping, hunting fighting etc. deals with both issues of "i need arms for grasping but two legs is unstable" that hominids and theropod dinosaurs convergently dealt with, would there be any reason for a quadrupedal hexapod centauroid to stand on two legs to make its middle limbs another set of graspers?

Anonymous said...

could crustaceans become eusocial and evolve into "sea ants" of sorts?

Unknown said...

Roasthog: Anthony has a good point: I have written about many topics in my blog, and you might find that there is something pertinent there. (perhaps I should turn such posts into a book).
Anyway: start here, and use 'vision' or 'eyes' to serarch for other posts.
As for camouflage, I wonder how easy it is to camouflage heat? The only thing I can think of is not being warm, but that is cheating. The military might have an answer: https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/hiding-in-plain-heat-thermal-camouflage-moves-one-step-nearer
But whether this is feasible for animals is another matter.

Where do all these questions come from? I am beginning to feel like an astrobiological help desk...

Ed: If there is a grasping task that really needs more than two limbs, yes.

Anonymous: thei behavious appears complex enough to enavble that. Otherw ose, no idea.

a paralytic whale said...

Have you ever done a post on the Zarathustra exobiology project? They have some pretty interesting ideas for hexapods, and even life somehow colonizing several habitable moons of the same gas giant. Definitely worth a check.

(Also, a little weird tip, but the author is red-green colorblind so don't be surprised to see some unnaturally saturated-green here and there, especially with the horns and beaks of the creatures that are probably supposed to be brown...)

tribbetherium said...

I might have read somewhere tho about one kind of shrimp that forms colonies? Where there's an egg-laying queen, worker shrimps and soldier shrimps with big pincers? (Don't really remember exactly where though.) So I guess anon's "ants of the sea" idea may not be too implausible...

Anonymous said...

Link, please, Whale.

-anthony

a paralytic whale said...

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/conceptual_evolution/member-project-zarathustra-t4427-s160.html

cooked steak said...

probably a stupid question but do limbless mammals make sense? i'm working on a spec evo project on deviantart and one creature group are slithering mammal-snakes called tatzlwurms, distant descendants of weasels with long flexible bodies and only vestigal limbs. however they seem to be the most illogical creature in the project and i'm trying to rework them to make a bit more sense

Anonymous said...

Cooked - whales accomplished it; I used to try to accomplish that too, and the biggest problem is the constant heat loss - also I was never able to find a reason why something as flexible as weasels or rodents (my pick back then) would bother losing their limbs.

Whale - I think thats the only place Zarathustra exists, sadly tiny as the project was.

Anonymous said...

maybe limbless mammals could evolve from terrestrial pinnipeds? suppose seals arrived on a landmass with no other mammals and started hunting seabird prey inland, since seals move by bouncing and wiggling with little use of the flippers perhaps they could lose them entirely?

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

The 'Unknown' person who wrote a reply on 20 Feb at 14:25 hrs was in fact me; I had forgotten to sign in properly.
Paralytic whale: No, I have never written on the Zarathustra project. When I cut down on blogging, commenting on other people's projects was one of the things I let go. I felt that there are many more projects out there, so there is sufficient opportunity to learn about projects involving speculative biology. Also, is there really a need, niche or wish for me to discuss other people's work? I only did so after getting consent from the creators of the work, and I never chose projects I did not like (I do not like all projects, but the internet contains enough useless negativity as it is). If you think there is a point in me taking that up again, let me known.

Tribbetherium: about “eusocial crustaceans"; you may actually have sen a picture of what you describe in my blog, or on the website of Mr Kawasaku, who made it: https://planetfuraha.blogspot.com/2013/12/more-future-evolution-in-japan.html

Cooked steak and Anonymouses: about limbless mammals. I would go about trying to find an answer to that question in the following way. First, we know snakes (and worms) exist, so we know that the question 'Do legless terrestrial reptiles make any sense? can be answered with a clear 'YES!'. Next, find our why legless reptiles work in comparison to legged reptiles. If the reason is tied to anything specifically reptilian, the legless mammal might be in trouble. If not, have a look at whether the legless lifestyle contradicts mammal traits. For instance, does leglessness allow the animal to find lots of food; as a mammal, it will be power-hungry. By the way, I think Dougal Dixon invented a nearly legless mammal.

tribbetherium said...

found the social shrimps vid:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z735I4m8F8c

Anonymous said...

Tribbetherium, that is a fascinating find. It's interesting to wonder how convergent evolution has formed eusociality in organisms as drastically different as ants, shrimps, and naked mole rats.

-anthony

Giorno Giovanna said...

So apparently the Flygs in the Furaha site are...edible to humans? Wouldn't there be major biochemical barriers between organisms from different planets, being indigestible at best and outright toxic at worst, barring some sort of panspermia where different creatures on different planets descended from a common microbial ancestor?

baboing said...

can more than one sapient species evolve on the same planet or will they inevitably wipe each other out like homo sapiens did with all the other hominids at the dawn of civilization

Anonymous said...

Giorno - flygs are edible...you're asking about nutriciousness, a different matter. :)

they can, Baboing, quite easily; its another question whether they would overlap in time. but I don't see any reason why they couldn't get along to one degree or another - some say (as one random-ish example) elephants are too smart to be domesticated, others say its their lifespans interfering.

there's an excellent forum for spec discussions and questions like this: https://specevo.jcink.net/index.php?act=idx

-anthony.

sonic the hedgehog's inflamed and swollen pancreas said...

thoughts about the idea of "land ceteceans"? found this interesting discussion about the concept on tumblr:

https://alphynix.tumblr.com/post/175439816884/so-in-the-light-of-the-ridiculous-titan-dolphin

Unknown said...

Tribbetherium (sopcial shrimp): very nice indeed!

Giorno Giovanna on edibility: I guess the word implies that eating the 'edible' something is not fatal. Somewher else, you may reads that Furaha Sawjaws cannot digest humans, but onfortunately for them only find that out after having eaten a human. But more seriously, I think that science fiction treats alien bacteria and biochemistry as invisible subjects to be ignored at will. Suppose humans could really walk around on an alien planet with its own life and biochenistry. Would our bacteria have an impact on the plabet? How about the reverse? So far, I have treated that the same way everyone else does: ignore it... (perhaps I will write a post on the subject).

Baboing on multiple species: I agree with Anthony: there is no reason it cannot happen.

Sonic: couldn't see the site, sorry (they have no 'reject all privacy invasions' button).

And I also agree with Anthony in that many of these questions might be better placed on the speculative biology forum: you will find more people there to provide answers. I look in occasionally.

flish said...

oh it can't link to tumblr, its a bit wonky.

but i've seen that post before and it's a neat little touch on "odd walkers", where dolphins become ambush predators hunting land prey, using their foreflippers and tail flukes in a sea lion like gait, and eventually they develop hooves on their flippers and tail and become akin to a three-legged entelodont.

strangely they also re-evolve hair. is it possible to regain such long lost traits? like say a blind cave fish is the only survivor of a mass extinction and returns to the surface, could it re evolve eyes?

Jonathan said...

what are those creatures on your profile pic? the yellow bird-like centaur thing chasing the one that looks like a blue hexapod moose?

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Jonathan: you can learn more about these animals by reading this: https://planetfuraha.blogspot.com/2012/04/four-years-on-and-back-again.html

You can also look for 'centaurism' in the blog; you will find several posts on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Would a tiny whale make sense anatomically? I was doodling some spec evo animals set 100 million years in the future and one species I thought of was a freshwater baleen whale about the size of a platypus and lived a similar lifestyle, using whisker-like bristles to root out small invertebrates in the bottom substrate. Given though that baleen whales now are super big, are there constraints preventing mini-cetaceans?

intelligent snail said...

Is it possible for evolution to select for smaller brains and less intelligence? Like, not even a disease or cataclysm that wipes out all the intelligent species, but like the simpler-minded ones straight-up outcompete the clever individuals in a generally favorable envirnonment for...some reason?

Like, evolution isn't actually selecting for bigger brains actively, obviously, and even highly advanced intelligent life can become extinct if they can't easily adapt to a changing environment, like the fork-tailed babbling jay from the Serina project. But is there a situation where being intelligent or even quasi-sapient is actually a disadvantage to survival and the more instinct-driven members of the species have the upper hand?

(Excluding of course a scenario where the sapient individuals develop politics and religion and go to war over it, killing themselves off while their chimp-intelligence peers go about their monkey business...)

Sheatherius said...

Hello, responding to above, I author Serina. The project is, slowly, ongoing with the last updates early this year, in the table of contents at the bottom of the Ultimocene page. You can contact me at Sheatherius@gmail.com if you have any reason to.

Dylan Bajda

Anonymous said...

Nice! Glad to see the actual author of Serina active on this blog!

(On a side note, do you happen to have a drawing of tribbethere internal anatomy? I wonder how their "stomach-derived lungs" or their caudal vertebrae modified into a leg are supposed to work?)

Anonymous said...

A little(ish) Furaha question: it has been mentioned in the past, that terrestrial hexapods have an easier time evolving armor {than, say, their Earthly analogues} because they have a leathery-exoskeletony skin in their distant ancestry that they can modify. (has this detail been cancelled?)

Thus, I was wondering if aquatic members of the hexapod clade (either returned-to-the-sea or the branch(es) that never went on land) have this armor as well, or if its largely dormant in them.

Thank you.

-Anthony Docimo

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Anonymous (28 feb, on mini whales): there already are fairly small whales such as the harbour porpoise, but that is not a ballen whale. There could be two problems: as size decreases, it becomes relatively more difficult to insulate a warm body, and the second is whether filter feeding with baleen works for small volumes. Well otters are warm-blooded, small and aquatic, so that's one answer, and many fish of herring size are filter feeders, so that's the second one. All in all, yes, that should be possible.

Intelligent snail (2 March, on evolution favouring less intelligence): I can think of scenarios where less intellogent animals outcompete mere intelligent ones. For example, in some Norwegian flords fish were all caught (stupid humans!) and jellyfish, more tolerant of pollution and with an incredibel procreation ability, now fill the ecosystem, which seems to be stable. how about bright-eyed amphibian evolving to become eyeless worm-like creatures? But you asked whther intelligence itself could be disadvantageous. I cannot think of a direct mechanism, only indirect ones: intelligence means many neurons, and that means time to grow and train those neurons as well as a great amount of energy. Take those away, as in the jellyfish scenario, and the stupid shall inherit the Earth.

Sheatherius (3 March): I will send you an email

Anthony (4 March): Sharp observation (as usual). In my slow rebuilding of Furaha, I left the terrestrial hexpods for last. I have a better idea of where they came from now, and that is from endoskeletal 'Fish' with dermal plates that at times have a structural, load-bearing role. There is no true exoskeleton. The capacity for armour is in principle present in all hexapod lineages, apparently except for bipterates and the two independent lineages of tetrapterates. (To avoid confusion: tetrapters are unrelated to hexapods and are exoskeletal.)

ratbatcat said...

Hmm...the idea about intelligence being a disadvantage reminded me of a concept i wrote a long time ago about evolution on an alien planet, where one species becomes intelligent and self-aware (but hasn't built a civilization), developing a true language, cultural traditions, limited fire use and a sense of aesthetic art.

However, the climate gradually cools over the next few thousand years, food becomes scarce and populations become fragmented. with less food to fuel a big and energy hungry brain, and an increasingly more solitary lifestyle making a big brain less useful (after all intelligence is always a trait of social creatures), each succeeding generation becomes less and less intelligent, and 5 million years later their brains have atrophied to an almost reptile-level of intellect as they become dim-witted plains grazers who still look a lot like their formerly sapient ancestors.

I wonder if this scenario is actually plausible? It even gets me thinking if such a process could occur to humans in a post apocalyptic event, with the survivors' children increasingly becoming less educated and undernourished generation after generation until humanity is reduced to just being yet another animal...

Anonymous said...

Everyone's been dicussing tripods and tetrapods and hexapods as dominant vertebrate analogues but what if early on in a planet's history an eel-like "fish" with a long serpentine body and no appendages of any kind was the first creature to conquer land and its descendants became snake-like creatures? How would they occupy niches like "chasing predator" or "plains grazer" or "treetop browser"? Could limbless flight even be achieved in any way or will there simply be no bird-analogues?

Anonymous said...

I, Anthony, do say

Nastrazzurro,
Apologies; I couldn’t find the relevant post, so I used exoskeleton wrongly, unable to recall the proper term/description.

Hmm...so the bipterates (seasoar & flag, yes?) hail from a different Fishes group than marshmallow & kin?

Ratbatcat ,
If it has language, culture, and art, it has civilization.

I think one of Baxter’s novel series has a species who lost their minds in such a way...can’t lose a war if they can’t be combatants. Gabbleduck.

Anon,
I could see such snake-eel-thing holding it’s dominance even if legged things emerge from the sea later on. As for fast savanna hunter sans legs. - cobras and pythons do fine in that role. As for a plains grazer...it’s already at eye level with its food - so no problems.

Can we have these spec evo discussions in the spec evo forum?

Anonymous said...

Finally found it: Sat. 30 Jan. 2010 Greenworld I

-Anthony

ratbatcat said...

Oh, i meant that they didn't have hi tech stuff and industrial cities, they only reached hunter-gatherer and primitve agriculture before they began regressing.

also where is the spec evo forum?

Anonymous said...

//specevo.jcink.net is the forum...if that doesn’t help (I’m logged in, so there may be variation)...google “speculative evolution forum” and its not the reddit or taptalk ones.

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Dear all,

These threads are becoming hard to manage, with all these different subjects. I could reopen a forum, as at one time I had one on the Furaha site, but there already is a forum on speculative biology: https://specevo.jcink.net/

I will still welcome comments on Furaha and allied matters, but for general comments that have little or nothing to do with a specific post, it is better to post these in that forum. he section 'Genral Spec' is suitable for such questions.

By the way, I was informed that my provider will stop hosting websites, so I will have to find a new home for planetfuraha.org before 1 April (no joke here). That will probably take time and attention too.

Anonymous said...

maybe you could make a deviantart or tumblr account for furaha?

Anonymous said...

There are inexpensive websites available at https://conlang.org/become-a-member/ (Furaha involves both a mixing of Swahili and Dutch/Africaans if I recall)...and even if you decide against them, the folks at Conlang could probably point you to a good site.

Anonymous said...

...said by I, Anthony. knew I forgot something.

AFishWithHands said...

So I checked out this evolution simulator game called "Species: Artifical Life, Real Evolution":

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vYxpY5gJgrg

And for the most part, I kinda like it. The portrayal of concepts such as speciation, random mutations (which can be enhanced by radiation) and the ability to evolve into a wide variety of niches is fairly realistic, and for the most part the player manipulates the environment and watches the creatures evolve.

What I DON'T like, however, are the specific creature designs, which are far uglier than what Spore has to offer and often make no anatomical sense, looking like bizarre nondescript blobs... the narrator's descriptions of the creatures say it all:

"it's like a praying mantis but really fat and on drugs"

"just a furry sweet potato"

"the dinosaur of the scrotum world"

"what happens if Oscar the Grouch mated with a manatee"

Look, I want to praise "Species: ALRE" for its accuracy and portrayal of evolutionary processes in a realistic way, while still allowing enough player input for it to be engaging and not just a simulation that you just watch. And I get that it's probably due to memory limitations of the game...but still, it's kind of hard to take an evolutionary simulator seriously when some floating multicolored tuber with an assortment of nonsensical appendages is somehow the apex predator of this ecosystem. Maybe if they could make them look like actual creatures at least?

Anonymous said...

Um, Afish...

Bear a few things in mind:
1. humans and all other tetrapods can basically be described as "worms with bits thrown on".
2. if the simulated organisms all looked like familiar things, there would be cries of "utterly no imagination!" and such.
3. this is a demo, and thus will be rougher than the game itself.
4. this is an early demo, and thus will be rougher than later demos.

-Anthony