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.