What is this?

This? This is the development blog for Species. The FAQ Page, to be specific.

I gathered that, smartass. What is Species?

Ah. Species is an evolution simulator. It applies the well known mechanisms of mutation and natural selection to a number of creatures living in the games environment.

So… sort of like a more realistic version of Dawkins Weasel Program?

Not quite. Unlike said program, Species does not implement a fitness function, an end goal or any form of Artificial selection. Selection pressures grow naturally out of how well the creatures survive in the environment. Also, weasels are not involved.

Hang on. You’re programming it, so the selection pressures are artificial by definition. How can you claim that it’s natural selection?

I define the environment in which the creatures live: the selection pressures arise from their attempts to survive within that environment. My programming efforts are a single but significant step removed from the actual evolution of the creatures.

But isn’t that still a form of Intelligent Design?

Oh you did not just say that.


Never mind, it looks like someone stabbed it through the heart with a wooden Dover. Yes: I am “Intelligently Designing” the environment for the creatures: but not the creatures themselves. Besides Species deals with evolution, the process that resulted in lifes current biodiversity and appearance of design, not abiogenesis, the original origin(s) of self-replicators. Evolution as a theory stands independently to the origins of life.

In addition, Species is a simulation: it is by definition simpler than the system it seeks to simulate. Billions of years of progressive molecular chemistry over an entire planet is somewhat out of its, and my, scope.

Can we go back to the more generalised questions?

Very well. Who are you?

I’m a guy who programs games in what little spare time he has. Nothing special. Any rumours that I am I maniacal genius in possession of a wonderfully clichĂŠ orbital EMP cannon are completely false.

I’ll be more open about myself later on, but for now I’m just the guy who programs Species.

Why’d you decide to do this?

Boredom mostly. But a strong interest in evolution resulting from altogether too much time spent debating denialists certainly helped. See here.

Are you an Atheist?

Agnostic Atheist. But I usually identify as a “skeptic”.

I’m a Creationist/Intelligent Designist/anti-evolutionist. Why don’t you acknowledge the problems with the theory of evolution?

Oh but I do. Problem number 1: misinformation being spread by anti-evolutionists.

Oh wait, you meant problems for the theory, i.e. contradictory evidence? Well if you’ve got any, please come forward and make your case. I might even make a post out of it! We welcome differing opinions, but we recommend keeping your mind open and being ready to acknowledge if reality differs from what you claim. Do this, and I promise to at least with extend the same favour to you. Who knows? Maybe we’ll both learn something.

Species sounds kind of like Edutainment. Is it?

No. Hell no.

Edutainment is a thin veneer of interactivity wrapped around a boring as hell classroom lecture. Species is a game, wrapped around a simulation. Any learning that happens while you play the game is your own fault. There will not be a test at the end of it.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

When is Species going to be released?

When hell freezes over. Which, given that I’ve recently come into posession of a “freeze ray” attachment for the aforementioned Orbital EMP Cannon (which I totally don’t have, that’s just a rumour. On an unrelated note, does anyone know how I can get into orbit now that the shuttle program has been decomissioned?) and have been able to reverse-engineer some of Dr Gene Ray’s theories to apply temporal-triangulation to imaginary concepts via timecube-portal, could well be fairly soon.

Seriously though, I simply don’t know at this stage. There’s a lot still to do on the development list and I’m only one person, but I’m also not entirely opposed to releasing Alpha/Beta versions of it while it’s still in development. It’s certainly a lot more fleshed out and bug free now than it has been in the past: much of the gameplay’s substance is set up (August 2011). Ultimately, I’d like to release the game to the public prior to the world ending horribly in 2012, but I make no promises except for this one: it will, eventually, be released.

Will the environment evolve as well?

To some extent, yes. The vegetation system allows for trees and forests to be eaten out of existence, and it can be some time before they regrow. On the “want-to-do” list is to make the ground texture reflect this: an area without much vegetation will regress into desert, while a desert area that is flourishing will be promoted into grassland.

In addition, the environment has a “temperature” variable which directly affects the effectiveness of body-affectations (like coverings), and may even become an influence over the global fertility level.

I demand details! How many mutable variables do the creatures have? Will the vegtation evolve too? Why do you have to have a creature cap? How many streets must a man walk down? GIVE ME DETAILS!

Ask! There’s a comment section under here: I’ll add a question to the FAQ if it’s generalised enough, or just respond to you down there. Or on any post in the main blog. It’s rare that I’ll be tight-lipped about much.

Secondly: It depends on the creature, no but I’m hoping to make it quite dynamic, because resource-limiting isn’t always effective, and forty-one, plus or minus 2.5%.

Who is the guy/girl who leaves snarky comments in italics at the end of your posts?

He or she is an unknown quantity at this point. My two favorite hypotheses at the moment are “rogue personality construct” and “restless spirit”, although “figment of deranged imagination” is also a possiblity. As an aside, “italics girl” would be an awesome superhero.

(Edit 1) Huh. Turns out she’s one of my minions on the Orbital EMP Cannon. That explains how she’s been editing my posts: everyone on the EMP Cannon knows my password is “swordfish”.

(Edit 2) I wonder if I’m allowed to legally change a minions name to “italics girl”? The contract they had to sign was pretty thorough, and I made them sign it in their own blood. That makes it more legal or something, right?

  1. #1 by Vagon on May 31, 2011 - 10:31 am

    Can I get credits as the muse for this game?

  2. #2 by ququasar on May 31, 2011 - 11:26 am

    Depends. How hot are you in a bikini?

  3. #3 by theShaggy on May 31, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    Can I get credit for “Tactical Consultant,” and there are pictures of me in a bikini already on the forum. 😛

  4. #4 by Vagon on June 1, 2011 - 9:50 am

    I have womanish legs, but the package might make for an uncomfortable moment.

  5. #5 by ququasar on June 1, 2011 - 10:53 am

    Sez you.

    Well, this got weird quickly.

  6. #6 by BaldySlaphead on June 27, 2011 - 5:59 pm

    I have some frequently asked questions:

    Do you fancy the pub tonight?
    Is it in yet?
    Do you love me?
    What time do you call this?
    Are we nearly there yet?
    What’s that smell?
    D’you want a coffee?
    Did you hear what happened on Friday?
    Babe, do you fancy trying something different tonight?
    Have you got a spare ciggie?
    And that’s supposed to be funny, is it?
    How do you do?
    Isn’t the weather awful at the moment?
    Is Elvis really dead?
    Do you prefer this one… or this one?
    Do you find her more attractive than me?
    How would you like it if I came in your face?
    Is this seat taken?
    Will you leave yourself alone?
    Did you remember my cancer prescription?
    Why don’t you go on a diet, fat boy?
    Why do birds suddenly appear?
    Is this the real life?
    Why don’t you just stop bothering me and piss off?
    Why does God allow such suffering?
    Is it a normal size?
    Does my bum look big in this?
    Do you want fries with that?
    Why am I here?
    How about, you know, with another girl?
    Why are you doing this to me?
    What have I ever done to you?
    Why don’t you just let me go?
    If mommy loves me, why is she so cold?
    Have you farted?
    And exactly what’s wrong with my mother?
    Have you ever thought about life insurance?
    Are you happy with your wash?
    Are you happy with your life?
    Have you ever thought about Jesus?
    Where is the rebel base?
    Is that supposed to happen then?
    Can I have some nuts?
    What is the truth about rock music?
    Honestly, have I put on weight?

  7. #7 by ququasar on June 28, 2011 - 8:17 am

    I respond to ALL your frequently asked questions with these frequently given answers:

    “Nathan Fillion.”

    But I should probably fill out this page, shouldn’t I?

  8. #8 by Gravel on August 1, 2011 - 3:31 am

    How much evolution of environment are you thinking of implementing?

    It looks like plants are going in whole, rather than being evolved separately. (Totally understandable; I looked at simulating random tree growth/gen without evolution and ran away screaming.) Are there going to be ways to alter other environmental factors, either manually or internally?

  9. #9 by ququasar on August 1, 2011 - 11:50 am

    An actual serious question? Squeeee! Thank you so much for that, I was getting desperate. 😉

    I’ll answer it in the FAQ above (it’s actually been asked on the youtube video… does twice count as “frequently”? Aw heck, I don’t care, I’ll answer it anyway), and thanks for mentioning me on your blog (which I am now reading)!

  10. #10 by Gravel on August 2, 2011 - 10:36 am

    You’re not obligated just because I left a comment! But thanks.
    I’m a microbiologist in training, so this stuff is fascinating. Plus, it’s interesting game design – out of a near-infinite number of pressures, how do you choose which ones to go with?

  11. #11 by ququasar on August 2, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Heh, no worries: I wouldn’t be reading if I wasn’t interested. Plus I love your art-style. 🙂

    You know, I never really considered that question. I guess because selection pressures themselves are emergent: they depend on more primitive variables, like size, shape and speed.

    I do lean towards a few things, though: simplicity and visibility primarily. Things you can see, since the game is about seeing evolution. So (as an example) the creatures digestion system is entirely dependant on what their mouth is like: their internal organs are presumably some sort of homogenous mass that absorbs anything. This is because if a creature is doing better than it’s peers, I want to be able to see why as easily and quickly as possible. It’s a far cry from the original design: originally, the digestion system was going to involve stomach acid strength, and every food source would have had a “roughness” variable: so high stomach acid allows the creature to get energy out of rough food sources (like grass) while simultaniously reducing how much energy they get out of soft ones (like fruit).

    And don’t get me started on the behavioral-evolution system. The original design for it was terrifying

  1. To Primordial Life « Species Development Blog

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