Evolution Shooter v1.0

… What is Evolution??

‘Natural selection’, ‘adaptation’, ‘evolution’ & ‘mutation’ – these are terms that majority of us think of as one and the same thing (no, biology majors don’t fall under ‘majority’). But they are very much distinct terms.

Let’s have a look at their definitions :

Natural selection is the process by which favorable heritable traits become more common in successive generations of a population of reproducing organisms, and unfavorable heritable traits become less common… *

Adaptation is the process, which takes place under natural selection, whereby an organism becomes better suited to its habitat… habitat… *

Evolution is change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next… *

Mutation is the mechanism which provides the advantageous new traits that survive and multiply in offspring or disadvantageous traits that die out with weaker organisms… *

Did all this just fly over your head? Let me explain.

Think of a small pond with a dozen creatures swimming in it. All of them are virtually identical to each other. Soon they give birth to offspring. Some offspring have better eyesight than their parents, some have worse. Some of them are better swimmers, some are worse. This is due to ‘mutation‘ (same reason some kids have black colored even though both parents have blue eyes)

This trend continues as more generations of offspring emerge. With limited food in the pond, there is competition to eat. The creatures with better eyesight spot food unseen to the other creatures. They never go hungry. The creatures with bad eyesight often go hungry and sometimes starve to death. So in each generation, the creatures with bad eyesight die sooner and so each generation has a higher population of creatures with good eyesight. This is ‘evolution‘.

As these creatures produce offspring, their genetic traits are passed on. Obviously, with each generation, the population of the creatures with better eyesight increases. Fewer and fewer of the creatures with bad eyesight survive. Soon, there are no more creatures with the bad eyesight. This is ‘natural selection‘.

Now let us introduce a little fish into the pond. This fish loves to eat the creatures and starts feeding on them. The creatures are no match for the fish and start dying off. Some creatures, who are far better swimmers than the rest manage to evade the fish. These fast-swimming creatures form the majority of the survivors. Again, with each generation, more and more of the creatures are better swimmers. So these creatures manage to survive because of ‘adaptation‘.

This should have made the subtle differences in the terms clear to you. (Okay seriously, if those terms still seems no different to you, you are a living argument to Darwin’s theory of ‘survival of the fittest’!)

… What is Shooter?

So what’s that got to do with this post? What’s that got to do with blogging? What’s that got to do with anything at all?

Well, I am a programmer. Programmers love programming (that’s a lie!). They love programming more than anything else (utter bull*hit!) and that is how they spend their whole lives (blasphemy!)

Just for the heck of it, I was developing a simple console game which was a total rip-off of Space Invaders *. I was pretty satisfied with the way it was ‘developing’ (pun intended). But when I started testing it, I learnt one thing – each level of the game did nothing more than make the invaders faster. They just grew faster each level till at level 15, they were upon the poor ‘defender’ before it could even shoot once! Boring!

So I thought about what else could I do with the invaders to make it exciting. I started giving them more ‘attributes’. The invaders now had a ‘size’ along with ‘speed’. With each progressing level, the invaders grew smaller along with becoming faster. Aah, it was fun playing my game now (till I reached the 10th level where along with moving at super-speed, they were so tiny I just couldn’t aim at them)

A little scratching of my head, and voila, the invaders also had ‘agility’ and ‘health’. Along with becoming faster and smaller each level, they also became stronger (taking more bullets to kill them) and more agile (they change directions more often). Okay, why was I doing this to myself?? Now I could barely make it to the 5th level!

Anyways, so I liked the way the game had more variety to it. But it was all still linear. A player knew what was coming in the next level, the level after that, and even the next 10 levels after that. I wanted to introduce some non-linearity in the gameplay. I stole some ideas from Mr. Darwin!

… What is Evolution Shooter?

My shooter game now had invaders pretty much like each other in the first level. Pretty much, not exactly alike! They had subtle differences in their ‘size’, ‘speed’, ‘agility’ & ‘health’.

The defender keeps killing of the invaders, till only three remain. Level done. (Congratulations, you do not have motor neurone disease * !) The next level, the invaders are all mutations of the three remaining invaders. So they have their size, speed, agility and health quite similar to the surviving three. Again, quite similar, not exactly identical, because I vary them a bit to act as ‘mutation’.

As levels progress, the invaders evolve their traits in a way which makes them survive longer against you. This direction of evolution isn’t fixed. It’s adaptive in nature. So depending on how you play it, the evolution could lead in entirely different directions.

Also, to give yourself an equal chance at killing these ‘evolved’ invaders, you get a point every level which you can use to improve upon one of the shooter traits as well.

So go right to the download page and give the game a go! Enjoy.

All I ask is a little favor. Every time you play the game and play more than 20-25 levels, could you please email me the ‘EvolutionStats.txt’ file? That stores the evolution stats for the enemies and will really help me fine-tune the mutation rates.  (and will also give me all your passwords for bank accounts) Thanks :)

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About Filya

'As you can see, we've had our eye on you for some time now, Mr. Jokhi. It seems that you've been living two lives. In one life, you're Firoz Jokhi, program writer for a respectable software company. You have a Social Security number, you pay your taxes, and... you help your wife carry out her garbage. The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias Filya, and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not.' - The Matrix

Posted on March 21st, 2009, in Applications, Games and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I havent tried the game yet but I know already, its not going to be easy if it has as much thought in it… Its like fighting the entire system and principle of the world. May try the game sometime…

    • Not really. In fact if anything, it is pretty darn easy :(
      Already started work on v 2.0. With some ‘fun’ elements thrown in, should be a better experience :)

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