Sometimes, and by “sometimes” I mean “a lot”, a feel bored and disaffected at work. On these occasions I do things like look for new versions of the “lorem ipsum” filler text. Occasionally, I find something useful, and occasionally I find something fun. I mean, sometimes you just need your lipsum to be in Morse Code or Quenya .

Well, that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted Lovecraftian Lipsum, full of consonants and apostrophes. I didn’t find it, but I did find something almost as good: Cthuugle : The complete HP Lovecraft Search Engine.

Literary Darwinism

This may be old news, but I heard today that Oprah Winfrey picked, for the Oprah Book Club, Anna Karenina. My first reaction was What, is she trying to weed out the weak ones? I say this only because, when I read it seven years ago, it took me six months to get through it.

For a good time, read the customer comments at the bottom of the page. For an even better time, count how many don’t actually talk about the book.


Where have I been? Ah! Therein lies an interesting story…

Nah, not really. I have been playing around with new things.

On Friday, when I decided not to go to work, I spent a couple of hours downloading and installing Apache, PHP and MySql on my home computer. To a certain extent, it all worked. Apache worked without a hitch. PHP runs fine, although I haven’t quite figured out how to get all the extensions (e.g. XSLT) working. And MySql stopped working when I did something with my firewall, which makes no sense because the firewall adjustment was to block MySql from accessing the internet, which it should NEVER have to do.

Meh. I’ll sort it out soon enough.

The other cool new thing is actually a cool OLD thing, and by old I mean 1985 / Commodore 64 OLD. The game is Telengard, and there is a fella made a perfect clone of it for PC users. After a couple of hours of playing I have to say, Wow, what a nostalgia trip.

Maybe I just need to get out more.

Less Play, More Build

So I was playing Diablo II last night for the eighty-twelfth time and I decided it was past time to stop playing games eighty-twelve times and start building them instead. To that end, I am slowly gathering together notes from the past couple of years when I have really *meant* to start building games, along with various books on the subject, notes and code from the Adventure Game section of this site, and printouts of the source code from completed games, written in BASIC, and played to death on my old Commodore-64, twenty (egads!)years ago.

But my ideas have evolved over the past couple of years, and I have been playing around with artificial evolution and exploring the possibilities therein.

And I have discovered something.

I have spent over half my life playing adventure/role playing games of various kinds. The object of these games is to make your character more powerful, usually by earning points of various kinds and using them to enhance one or more out of a broad group of possible characteristics.

In artificial evolution experiments, particularly in things like biomorphs , the chromosome starts out simple, then gradually increases in complexity as more and more generations are born.

The characteristics of an RPG character can be considered genes. The genes used to describe a biomorph can be considered characteristics. The points used to advance a character are analogous to the increasing complexity in an evolving organism. The only real difference is, the biomorph is Darwinian evolution, and the RPG character is Lamarckian.

In other words, level advancement == increasing complexity.

Knowing this, why not simply create a gene pool from which can be created a near-infinite number of creatures? Evolve the genotype, rather than building the phenotype! Keep things from getting out of hand by defining what proportions of one group of genes to another makes a critter an animal, a plant, or a whatever is needed to fit the storyline of the game. Need more variety? Make the chromosome larger! Need the game to be science fiction rather than fantasy? Change the code which interprets the chromosome, create some new graphics, and now you have a near-infinite variety of robots.

Once the genotype and phenotype engines are completed, the user can play God or Nature and go in and modify a specific instance of the chromosome to create a specific creature. Mutations of this creature can then be created to suit specific needs.

There. Now that my big idea is made public, I need to start building something.