Assignment Description

I’m interested in evolutionary computing and artificial life, so I plan to do a project that applies natural selection to reproducing, mutating organisms. Simply making abstract “organisms” that evolve would be relatively easy (?) if the mutation were a small randomization of the parameters passed on to offspring. The goal of this project would be for true evolution to occur, and I would consider proof of true evolution to be some kind of unpredictable adaptation made by the organisms. A predictable adaptation would be for an organism whose speed parameter was randomly increased to be better adapted to catching prey – I could simply have programmed it that way at the beginning. An unpredictable adaptation would be for a prey organism to suddenly develop the ability to kill other prey organisms and become a predator. I suppose speciation of any other kind would also qualify.

So I imagine the animate objects to be predator and prey organisms. Since I hope for them to evolve, it doesn’t really make sense to give them names beyond that. They would be able to sense one another through proximity, which would represent the sense of smell or hearing.

Since genetic isolation is a prerequisite for speciation I should create some sort of hazard or barrier. I think a random heat pattern spread over the map would work well. The organisms could have heat tolerance among their parameters. So “heat” would be the first inanimate object. The second would be food. It could be interesting to make the predators cold-tolerant and the prey heat-tolerant, but put the prey’s food source in the cold regions.

Now to make the terrain interesting I would go 3-D and allow peaks and valleys. I could represent height the way maps do with color coding. So “peaks” and “valleys” are my places.

And as for actions … the prey would eat. I would like for them to be able to store and even trade excess food for heat or cold. I can imagine a hot region of the map full of bustling, starving prey organisms, with a few, cold-resistant yet heat-vulnerable specialists burning in the heat and periodically darting out to retrieve food and returning to trade food for cold, which would entail the starving organism allowing the burning organism to drain its excess heat on to it.  Reproduction would be asexual for simplicity.   Another action would be killing, as the predators would have to have a method to kill the prey.  This could either be done by simple proximity or using simulated physics that required some kind of impact determined by speed, mass, and surface area.  The latter would be much more difficult but allow for much greater flexibility of adaptation. 

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