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EDIT:

This game is a finalist for the Int. Science and Engineering Visualization Contest! Yay!

Help me win the People's Choice award by voting for this game here: [link]

:squee: :squee: :squee: :squee: :squee: :squee: :squee:
_____________________________________

Hey Guys!

AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and NSF (National Science Foundation) are holding a science visualization contest ... and I'm planning to submit this evolution related game I'm working on.

The game will be played for five minutes and then evaluated for "visual impact" "effective communication" and ""freshness/originality." [link]

So, it's due at the end of this month and I'm trying to get it ready. Here's what I have so far.

Give it a whirl! I'd love to hear what you think about it. I'm interested in any kind of feedback, but especially I want to know if anything is unclear or confusing.

Also, if you observe anything interesting or do any experiments ... I'd really love to hear about that!

You can play it here, but you can also play it full-browser-screen here: [link]

I hope you enjoy it!

btw, this is version 2.0. The old version is here:


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tumblr: [link]
blog: [link]
Add a Comment:
 
:iconinfestedmatt03:
InfestedMatt03 Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
and there's over 100 of the same species
Reply
:iconlarkinfan:
larkinfan Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2014
IDEA: aggressive critters that eat other critters for energy
Reply
:iconinfestedmatt03:
InfestedMatt03 Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
that's a good one, i like it
Reply
:iconponymatt03:
ponymatt03 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
IDEA: you can spawn in your own critter by smutting a code. or you can copy a code and share it with other people (comments exc.)
Reply
:iconponymatt03:
ponymatt03 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
so fun i just can't wait for you to update it!
Reply
:iconrandomdinos:
randomdinos Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013
I was playing this for a while and suddenly the creatures multiplied so much that I could barely do stuff at all. Then I set apocaliptic conditions and made them all extinct. *evil laugh*
Reply
:iconeifle79:
eifle79 Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2012
Wow, this ist very impressive, thou goteth my vote for best video game designer on DA!
Reply
:icondikkebobby:
DikkeBobby Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011
I placed some food and then it was: babybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybaby and then it lagged. XD pretty cool:D
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011  Professional Filmographer
LOL

that's funny. :)

I programmed it so there could only be at most around 100, but even at 100 it can lag!

Thanks for playing!!
Reply
:iconponymatt03:
ponymatt03 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
EVEN AT 100 IT CAN LAG BECAUSE THE CRITTERS ARE THE REAL THING CAUSING LAG!
Reply
:icondikkebobby:
DikkeBobby Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011
no problem:) cool game:)))
Reply
:iconclearkid:
clearkid Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011  Professional Filmographer
This is super interesting!
I've been observing for about half an hour on pretty random setup.
After playing around a bit I started noticing the difference between the faster creatures and the slower one. The faster ones get to the food first, multiply first and grow. BUT the slow ones have endurance for feast and famine. On food spots that give 2 food every 5 seconds the fast ones win, but the spots that give 15 food every 60 seconds the slow ones use fewer moves and last until the next meal. Also in a large, semi open group the virus effects everyone all the time, I've not seen a immune mutant emerge.
I might leave it on all night and see what's changed in the morning.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011  Professional Filmographer
ahhh Thank you!! It's really nice to hear that!! Those are the kind of experiments I like to do, and I hoped other people would too. Glee!! Yeah, depending on the environment, the slow ones last! Faster ones come and go ... I like that because it shows how much 'survival of the fittest' depends on the environment. There is no one universal greater or worse "fitness."

Anyhoo, thanks so much for playing, experimenting and commenting clearkid! I'm very happy. ^__^
Reply
:iconclearkid:
clearkid Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Very true.
This is actually really intriguing, I kind of wish it was screensaver that had randomized layouts every thirty minutes. It's fun to watch! Very nicely done. :)
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2011  Professional Filmographer
A screensaver with randomized layouts ... that would be cool. must investigate.

I'm writing my application for this contest right now and trying to keep my energy up. It's due today. It's nice to hear it's fun!
Reply
:iconclearkid:
clearkid Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Ha, after leaving it on all night they all turned into a variation of creatures so slow they didn't move at all, didn't waste any energy and never died. xD
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
An issue I'm encountering is that the creatures often keep trying to get the same piece of food for infinite tries rather than giving up and going for something else if they can't reach the obstacle. So they keep bashing their heads into walls and dying for lack of food. A persistance gene might be good then, basically how often it chooses to pursue the same food item before giving up.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Ohhhh right, when critters bash into the barriers over and over ... pretty pathetic eh?

I see ... so you're saying to give a limit on how many times a critter goes for the same food bit. That could work.

yeah, having different behavior patterns that could be selected for ... that would be neat. Maybe a another simple idea could be having a percentage of all movements be random (instead of directed toward food) ... and that percentage could be inherited. Maybe for some types of critters and environments, more random movement could be more advantageous than non-random movement.
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Those would all be "intelligence" factors. Basically you'd be programming instinct into them. But getting the physics right will also be improtant. Otherwise they're just be exploiting glitches to move around and, while that's fascinating in of itself, it won't get across what you're trying to show when people play it.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
I understand that. I'd really like to get good physics happening in this game. One problem is that I have a large number of moving items, and checking collision detection with all of them is pretty cpu intensive. A physics engine for Actionscript might be helpful, but I need more time to learn how they work ...
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Could you maybe pair up with someone who has more experience than you in programming? Or is that not allowed?
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
It would be allowed ... but I'm submitting this on Wednesday of next week. So for now I'm just going to make whatever adjustments I can make and submit what I have. But I am interested in this project long-term ... so if you know someone who can offer help/collaboration, I think I'd be open to that.
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
It would be nice if there was some kind of collision detection between the animals so they can evolve to compete with one another for food. Like making themselves really big to keep other animals from getting their food sources. Or real tiny to manuever around those bigger animals
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Hmmmmm yeah that would be really cool. Yeah ... more actually physical competition would be neat. If I can figure out how to program that, that would be something I'd be interested in too.

Thanks for playing esda!
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
No prob, it's fun to see what these little critters do. Introducing even a minor element of competition between them could add a whole new dimension of fun to the mix.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
for sure. I'm glad it's fun ^__^
Reply
:iconvlydra:
Vlydra Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2011
Nice work! This is an excellent idea for a game.

I'm a third year biology student so I have no problem understanding what you're trying to say, but I think this game could be too complex for the general public. Still, it would make a great educational tool for science students.

Good luck with the contest :)
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks Vlydra!

Yeah, I am torn between having it as a general game for the public and a tool for science students. It's hard to pick a side! I'm going to try to make it simpler in any case. Is there anything specific you thought was too complex? Like too many options, the instructions, the buttons? Thanks for playing and commenting!

Yay for biology! I majored in biology too. What kind of biology are you interested in?
Reply
:iconvlydra:
Vlydra Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011
Apologies in advance for the wall of text!

1. First up, I think that one of the most important things you should do is to provide more information about the "code" and place more emphasis on its importance to evolution. Perhaps the user could place their mouse over a section of code in the critter info window and a bubble would pop up explaining what that bit of code actually does and if it is active or not (as a result of mutation).

2. I really like esda's idea of pacing the game and introducing things gradually. That way you can have lots of things going on but the player understands what to do. I'd start with explaining environmental variables like feeding and barriers, then reproduction and finally adding a virus. Have you also considered introducing a 'predator' species, which evolves from the critters at some point during the game?

3. I also think you should split the "environmental controls" window into several buttons ie. "Reproduction" contains all of the variables that relate to critter reproduction. I found all of the options in the ec window overwhelming!

4. If it is possible I would love to see the critter info window update in real time.

5. Maybe you could add an "More info" button (or something along those lines) in the corner which opens a window in the game with more info on evolution and links to informative websites?

Yep, biology is pretty sweet (but my favourite part of my degree has been going on awesome field trips!). I'm majoring in zoology and ecology, and am currently doing some extracurricular work in the palaeontology lab. Childhood dreams = fulfilled!

How about you? What did you study at uni?
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks Vlydra! I really appreciate all these comments. This is really helpful.

1. making the function of the code bits clearer, that makes sense.
2. yeah, I really do like that idea of introducing things gradually. Right now, I haven't incorporated any ability for critters to predate other critters, but only for lack of time. That's definitely something I'm interested in. Predation is pretty fascinating. :)
3. environmental controls panel overwhelming. that seems to be a common issue. I will work on that.
4. Real time update of the critter info window. That's definitely something that's not too hard that I can fix. Thanks for that!
5. More info button. That makes sense.

Ecology, zoology, palaeontology ... that's fantastic stuff. I LOVE all that stuff. That's great!

Awesome field trips! ooo fun! Where did you go?

My major was called "Ecology and Evolutionary Biology." I got to go to Kenya to study zebras for my senior thesis. It was pretty awesome. I also went to Panama in junior year, for a semester abroad. It was the best time of my life.

I love biology, but I'm focusing more on a career in animation. So sometimes I think I missed out on some helpful things by not going to art school, but I loved my time studying biology so much, I can't complain!

I try to keep up with it ... my boyfriend is a biologist, so I keep connected to that world through him. And I'm working on this game ...

Are you a junior, senior? Do you think you'll go to grad school?

Thanks again for all your great comments!
Reply
:iconvlydra:
Vlydra Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2011
You're welcome, I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Compared to your time overseas my field trips mine haven't been all that exciting, haha. This year I've been on week long camping trips to Fraser Island and to central Queensland. I've also been on a few day trips to catch fish and go behind the scenes at Sea World on the Gold Coast. In a few weeks we are going out on the bay to tag dugongs.

I'm an undergraduate and am starting honours next year. I wish I could go to Africa and study zebras but I'd probably get malaria the minute I step off the plane (I'm a mosquito magnet!). What was your project?

So does your partner do research?

For not going to art school I think you're incredibly talented at drawing and animation. I don't believe you missed much by not going :)
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks! That's very nice of you!

My partner used to do research ... he's working now on the Hill, doing a science-policy fellowship. But he may go back to academia ... he's not sure.

Our project was studying leadership behavior in plains zebra. The zebras generally move from one spot to another, single file, one after the other. So we identified them individually (using their stripes), and saw who led more often than others. Females led most of the time (although the one harem male led when they got close to bachelors). Also, lactating females led more often than non-lactating females.

Australia, that's awesome. I've always wanted to go there. And as a camping trip, that's pretty sweet. Wow, dugongs. That's so cool. Do you have to dart them?
Reply
:iconvlydra:
Vlydra Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2011
What a great project! It's really interesting that lactating mares do a lot of the leading. Congratulations on getting published in Animal Behaviour! Did you enjoy your time at Ol Pejeta? (it's on my Africa to-do list :la:).

We're doing surveys of marine vertebrates (dolphins, dugongs, marine turtles and elasmobranchs) and we get to "observe a dugong research team in action" which involves tagging (not sure which kinds of tags they're using though).
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Sweet! that sounds fun! And I didn't know the name elasmobranchs ... good to know. Do you think you'll focus on marine biology?

Thanks a lot! My partner wrote it up with his collaborator. I collected a bunch of the data. I loved Ol Pejeta. It's a conservancy with a lot of tourism, but they allow people to stay and do research. So, the animals are pretty acclimated to people, which makes it easier to watch them ... they don't run and hide! Africa is pretty special. Go! :)
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconazuis:
Azuis Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011
That's some impressive stuff you have there hlarkin! :D
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks Azuis! :)
Reply
:iconthe-orange-man:
The-Orange-Man Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011
This is super cool. I made a similar game for my senior game project in college.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks!

Oh yeah? Did you study biology too?
Reply
:iconthe-orange-man:
The-Orange-Man Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011
Not formally, but it's a personal interest. I studied computer science :P
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Computer science, sweet! I almost majored in that, but then switched to bio. So you also created an evolution related program?
Reply
:iconthe-orange-man:
The-Orange-Man Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011
I've created a few, but most of them weren't really entertaining enough to qualify as games. Except for the one I did my senior year, which was actually intended to be a game. It took place in space (sort of) and the object was to defend the sun from enemies that feed off it's energy. The enemies could reproduce if they got enough energy so they evolved to better avoid your attacks.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
woa, that sounds really cool!! I'd like to see that. What did you program it in?
Reply
:iconthe-orange-man:
The-Orange-Man Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011
C++. I have a couple of videos, though they're kinda old.

[link]
[link]

Neither shows off the evolution very well. I had one build in which it worked really well but I kept breaking it.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Oh what a tease... the game looks like a lot of fun!

I wish I knew more about programming. I did a little C++ in college, but nothing with a graphic component. And that's what I love about Flash, is that its so visual. But Flash ... (I could be wrong about this) .... has trouble with moving lots and lots of items at once and doing collision detection and physics and all that with so many items. So I sometimes wonder if I programmed the game in another language I wouldn't have that problem as much ...
Reply
:iconfabianfucci:
fabianfucci Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Hey I am sorry, I really tried to focus on the gameplay, but it is too far complex because of the interference of data! Instructions seem too long for me, but the behavior of characters and explanations look correct and on the spot. Animation of creatures is good, color design and panels is good, but I have the feeling this is not a casual game, but something more related to academic study. I might have failed miserably as a player, I would have liked shorter instructions and simpler panels.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks for taking the time to try it out!!

You're right, I'm battling between making this a game for people who study evolution and people who don't. Right now I'm planning to submit it for a contest held by two scientific societies ... but I'd like to make it more appealing to everybody.

Anyhoo, simpler panels and shorter instructions. Got it. I will work on that.
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
I think make the beginning part of the game simple and then slowly introduce new elements. Something like a dialogue box that says "oh no! A virus has entered the system. It attacks PaD. Let's see what happens". Now the virus option is unlocked.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
hmmmmm! I really like that a lot! Introducing the concepts more slowly ... as a kind of storyline almost. Even spacing out the events by a minute or two (just so the judges experience it within their five minutes of judging) ... that would still be enough space to let things sink in first. I really like this idea! Thank you!
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
If you want I can point you to some game developer friends of mine. They're all about stuff like this.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Sure!
Reply
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