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EVLU

A mutation of John Conway's pseudo-game "LIFE"
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This first part is well-baked background info; feel free to skip.

The "game" for computers known as LIFE uses a grid of squares and a population of spots that occupy some of the cells of the grid. The rules of the game specify how the arrangement of spots affect each other, from one "generation" to the next, as follows:

1. Any spot that has zero or one neighboring spots will die of loneliness (or perhaps overexposure to predators).

2. Any spot with two or three neighboring spots will continue to survive into the next generation.

3. Any spot with four or more neighboring spots will die of starvation due to overcrowding.

4. Any empty cell with exactly three neighboring spots will be a "birth cell" (two parents and -- ? a midwife? a wet-nurse? both in one, maybe!).

The entire grid is scanned, and data about the consequences is computed and saved. When the "generation" is invoked, the content of the grid is filled with the consequences. It has to be done carefully, because one spot that disappears may have contributed to (or prevented) the birth of another.

As the generations pass by, many patterns of spots tend to die out altogether, while some stabilize into various persistent shapes, others produce dynamically stable formations, some of which can move across the grid, and so on. Below is a link, so you can sample it on-line, if you wish.

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LIFE has been around for about 30 years, and is quite popular among mathematicians. As a pastime, it can intrigue most people for a short time. But it is not a true game....

EVLU is a variant of LIFE that I thought of in 1977, that is intended to be a true game. It features competition, strategy, and chance. As originally conceived, it involves two separate populations of spots on the square grid (distinguished by color, perhaps). Each player controls one set of spots, and in-between the generation-calculations, the players take turns moving the arrangements of spots into new patters. One reason to do that is to enhance the numbers of births that occur. Another reason is that you can move your spots over to where the other player is trying to enhance his births -- and interfere. The two sets of spots are considered different genera, and cannot interbreed. The game ends when one genus becomes extinct.

The game is called EVLU because within each population, the genus can accommodate several "levels" of species. The initial population is all low-level, but higher-level mutations can occur at random among the births. These evolutionarily advanced mutants have greater mobility and survivabiltiy than their forebears, so you want to breed them to get as many as possible.

Over the years some aspects of EVLU have mutated. Because it is easy to breed so many critters that they start to die in droves due to overpopulation, faster than you can move them out of the way of each other, I introduced aging. The lower-level animals die after a couple generations, regardless of how many neighbors they have, while the higher-level animals can live rather longer.

Next, because the pieces can be moved about, it is more rational to use a hexagon grid than a square grid, because hexagons allow distances in various directions to be more accurately paced off. But a hex grid had its own side-effects, making it more difficult to create birth-cells next to "parents" that will themselves continue to survive. It was necessary to modify the loneliness rule so that animals with only one neighbor would continue to survive. And the default idea of aging became something that can be turned off.

Only a computer can keep track of all the details in such a game as LIFE or EVLU. Eventually I learned enough computer programming to make it work, and in fact have written 3 different versions over the years. In that sense only, then, this idea might be called "baked". However, what if people decided that it wasn't so simple in concept, or easy to play, or whatever? Then it falls back to the "half-baked" category, doesn't it? And so a description of it belongs here, right?.

Anyway, it shouldn't cost anybody very much to find out (wear and tear on your computer, and the price of Internet access, that's all). The most recent version of the game is pure freeware, and consists of one executable file, about 140K in size. It should work on Windows95 and later versions of that operating system. I am sorry about the fact that I do not yet know enough to make the game work over a network, so those who want to compete will mostly have to sit at the same computer. Someday... (The state of the game can be saved and emailed, if one is desperate to play with a remote partner. Be warned: a vast number of emails will be needed!)

Well, if you choose to fetch the game via the link below, I hope you have fun playing it. (You might find it appropriate to create a directory where you would put the executable file. When the game runs it will create/maintain a simple configuration file, in the same directory as itself -- which is also the default directory for any saved-game files.) If EVLU needs improving, I'll be able to do a better job of it with your feedback. The current version does support up to 6 players (but has no AI), and a decent variety of initial-configuration options can be chosen. Thanks!

Vernon, Apr 06 2002

LIFE http://serendip.bry...omplexity/life.html
An online working version of John Conway's game of LIFE [Vernon, Apr 06 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net Terrarium http://www.gotdotnet.com/terrarium/
Similar, but this is build and release (and no evolution takes place so get it right the first time). And more than two people are involved. [phoenix, Apr 07 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Artificial Worlds http://www.artificialworlds.fsnet.co.uk/
A good home for Alife-based games and apps [-alx, Apr 12 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

EVLU http://www.nemitz.net/vernon/EVLU.EXE
Here is a site where EVLU.EXE is posted. [Vernon, Oct 04 2004, last modified Apr 06 2005]

Be A Part Of An Artificial Lifeform http://www.halfbake...tificial_20Lifeform
[theircompetitor, Oct 04 2004]

MCell http://www.mirwoj.o...lm.pl/ca/index.html
excellent program [cromagnon, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Jecology http://jecology.sourceforge.net/
An ecology simulation, based on Conway's game. [Vernon, Jul 08 2005]

[link]






       Hey, Vernon, this sounds quite interesting. As you know (but perhaps others don't) there are quite a number of variants of Life about, some with cusomizable rules. I'd provide some links but it's way past my bedtime...see you all in the morning. I will download your prog, by the way.
Dog Ed, Apr 06 2002
  

       I get 404 page not found. I shall try again later...
RobertKidney, Apr 06 2002
  

       Hm. There's got to be a better place to list a freeware PC game than the halfbakery. (There are a lot of them, and I don't like the implication that all the world's a PC.) Can someone recommend a site for Vernon?
jutta, Apr 06 2002
  

       'Life' meets 'Othello.' Nifty.
RayfordSteele, Apr 06 2002
  

       Has anyone actualy managed to download the thing? Ii keep getting page not found...   

       I don't really think that this shouldn't be here... the game is a nice idea and linking to it is not a bad thing...
RobertKidney, Apr 06 2002
  

       As for freeware game hosting, I would suggest www.theunderdogs.org, which I think is the largest archive for such things online. Try doing a google search for 'The Home of the Underdogs', though, because I believe they might have moved.
Pseudonym #3, Apr 06 2002
  

       Sorry, folks, I do not know why the server won't let the file loose. The file really is located at the specified address; I can see it there with my FTP program. I do know that downloading seems to have worked ONCE for the original executable, and ONCE for the zip file.   

       However, I have found a few places elsewhere that may post it, but it may take a day or two for downloading to be possible there. I'll update the link then. Please be patient.   

       UnaBubba, why do you say that it's baked? How do you know for sure? (Just because it was in the oven for 25 years...)
Vernon, Apr 06 2002
  

       A lot of freeware archives don't actually host your file, they just provide a place for your summary of the prog and a download link to the server where it lives.   

       Vernon, if you can't get it to work on your server I'll put a copy on the server I use for halfbaker's helper and you can link to that?
Dog Ed, Apr 06 2002
  

       Dog Ed, thanks for the offer. The EVLU link should now lead to a successful download. If you wish, you can post it on your server, anyway, and create links on your own Web pages to it (even add another link here).
Vernon, Apr 07 2002
  

       Vernon, I downloaded and ran the .exe but I haven't had time to sit down and mess about with it. Nice layout...that's about all I can say for now. *sigh* Maybe there'll be some free time Sunday.
Dog Ed, Apr 13 2002
  

       Dog Ed, thanks, and I'll try to patiently await your review. Any other takers out there?
Vernon, Apr 13 2002
  

       and I thought I had too much time for trivial things
freakrich, Sep 13 2002
  

       Folks, this game was created with a built-in expiration date, and it expired in late January 2004. My plan at the time was to have Version Six ready by then, but was unable to accomplish it. So, I have recompiled it and removed the expiration date. Also, at this writing the place where the executable file was available for download has removed it, probably due to complaints about it not working. I'm attempting to resolve that, but it will probably take a few days. In the meantime, there is a chance that it can be downloaded from another place (I've edited the link). Let me know what happens when you right-click on the link and select "Save Link Location As".   

       Thanks!
Vernon, Feb 02 2004
  

       Vernon -- you're invited to participate in Be A Part Of An Artifical Lifeform
theircompetitor, Feb 02 2004
  

       For anyone interested, I finally figured out a reasonably simple way to greatly increase the play-ability of this game, and I've just begun to work on Version 6. The new game will be built using HTML and JavaScript, and will need to use a Web server as the coordinator between participating players (still a max of 6 per game, but the server should be able to handle multiple simultaneous games).   

       I'm currently planning on re-using almost all the graphics that were built into the downloadable (Version 5) game linked on this page, and as a result the Version 6 game should look a great deal like the Version 5 game (not counting ordinary web-page stuff, which will include a way for players to chat). I can mention that the Version 5 game has been tested on most Windows variants ranging from Win95 through Windows 7, plus it works using "WINE" in Linux.   

       I need to thank [ytk] in the HalfBakery:Layout:"User Page Idea Count" notion for making me aware of JavaScript bookmarklets/userscripts. Such scripts offer a super-easy way to cheat at simple JavaScript games, and knowing about that in advance has allowed me to take steps to minimize that. (I'm not dumb enough to think cheating can be prevented, but it doesn't need to be EASY!)   

       I can't offer a guess as to how long it will take for the game to be finished and available to be played. Sorry, but game development isn't the only thing I have to put my time into doing.
Vernon, Feb 11 2016
  

       I downloaded Version 5 a few weeks ago (after getting linked here from Rectagon, I think) and it runs fine on my computer (W7 Enterprise), though I've only played against myself so far. Looking forward to Version 6, but no rush—I know these things take time. :)
notexactly, Feb 11 2016
  

       If you’re interested in Conway’s Life and also interested in generative music and you also have an iPad, I can recommend Xsynthesisr and Quincy — both apps use cellular automata to be the sequencer.
Ian Tindale, Feb 11 2016
  

       [notexactly], thanks for the W7 Enterprise datum. If anyone has tried Version 5 under Windows 8 or WIndows 10, I'd like to hear about it.
Vernon, Feb 11 2016
  
      
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