Concept Game – Simple Evolutionary Model

I’ve spent enough time on this now to submit it, even if it’s still a bit rough around the edges. I’ve included a bit of a write up below. This demo will run best in Chrome or Opera. Click to play. I’ve built a simple ‘game’ called Digital Husbandry. It’s more of a time killer as it doesn’t have any serious game mechanics, but there is a visual reward to keep the user engaged. It’s based on the idea of simulating progressive evolution through selective breeding. Much as generations of farmers have done with livestock. The player brings together critters on the screen based on visual qualities that appeal to them, and produces offspring that drive the overall appearance of the group closer to those qualities selected by the player. The ‘critters’ die when they reach the ‘deadzone’ at the … Continue reading »

Critters Processing Sketch – Round 3

This is taking a little bit more shape now… Coming up next is user interaction.

Critters Processing Sketch – Part 2

I’m just posting some progress as this concept develops. Code etc is hosted on Open Processing if you want to have a look. I’m really enjoying Processing as a sketchbook for code. It’s definitely a good tool for teaching programming.

Critters Sketch in Processing

If your browser is up to scratch, here’s a little JavaScript based sketch from a current personal project… This is some early code for a simple game I’m working on for the Coursera Creative Programming course (it’s my first time building a game rather than regular software). These shapes are generated from a limited range of numbers, which can later be turned into a simple genetic code to define these critters. I’ve hosted this on, so you can get to the source-code etc.

Why removing evolution from science textbooks might not really matter

This needs more thought, but writing this has helped me to join up a few ideas I was stewing over with my coffee yesterday morning while my son was napping. So I’ll publish this as is, and your thoughts are welcome. While it’s useful to teach the fundamentals of physics, chemistry and biology in schools, I think what we need to start with and to prioritize is teaching the scientific method, the importance of curiosity and the need to question the answers. As an aside: Question the Answers is also the name of my favourite Bosstones album. Rather than teaching the latest and best hypotheses, we should be showing kids how science as a whole works. How a community of disparate researchers come to agreement on an idea, and how people continue to challenge that idea as best as possible … Continue reading »

Interwoven with bits

The Internet, as a malleable collection of bits, responds to and evolves with the cumulative needs of the connected human race. It rewards, condemns or ignores elements of itself in line with our primitive human desires; growing in places and dying in others. So we, as human beings with our natural, non-digital desires, shape the Internet. Simultaneously, the Internet changes how we (cumulatively at least) behave. It creates and destroys jobs, it makes and breaks marriages, and it redefines where, how and with who we live and share our lives. And at the deepest level it rewires the chemical makeup of our brains by changing the way we think, speak and remember. While it divides two generations, it keeps them in touch. We and the Internet are now dependent on one other; we are interwoven with bits. As we shape … Continue reading »

On Pokemon and evolution

This week I’ve been reading Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker and The Devil’s Chaplain, thinking about evolution, and how this topic could be better taught in schools. Or in many cases, just taught at all. Then today, I had a lesson in Pokemon from my 10 year old nephew… Now if we ignore the issues around the merchandising of Pokemon combined with the slogan ‘Gotta catch em all’, it’s amazing how many of the concepts required to understand evolution are already developing in the mindset of a young Pokemon fan. My Pokemon lesson included: 50+ weird and wonderful names of Pokemon species (like listening to a biologist) Groupings of species by functions or appearance (taxonomy) Catching wild Pokemon (wild and domesticated animals) Seasonal Pokemon (whose appearance changes throughout the year, like an arctic fox) And evolving Pokemon (including the discernible … Continue reading »