How ToAbout 3D Virtual Creature Evolution
This application is an example of evolutionary computing that you can run on your own Windows PC at home (see the download section). It uses a process similar to biological evolution to gradually evolve a population of virtual creatures in a 3D graphical and physical environment. Much of the inspiration for this project came from the wonderful work of Karl Sims. In the mid 90's Dr. Sims did something very similar, using an evolutionary algorithm to evolve the body plans and control systems of virtual creatures whose bodies were composed of jointed blocks. His creatures were evolved in simulated land and water environments for their ability to swim, walk, jump, follow a light source, and compete against opponents for control of a resource. See the related projects section for links some videos from Dr. Sims and links to other virtual creature evolution projects).
With this program you can watch a process of simulated Darwinian evolution unfold before your eyes (although the process can take several days of computer time depending on your computer speed and your evolution settings). The user is given control of many of the parameters of the evolution such as the size of the creature population, the mutation rate, the ability for which the creatures will be evolved, and many other settings. Users are encouraged to send me any interesting creatures they should happen to produce for inclusion in the Zoo . There are already numerous strange and interesting virtual creatures on display there, with many more to come.
How To Use The Software
Although not every detail is covered, there is a series of short how-to videos for the software. These videos can be found both in the videos section of the facebook group for the project (you must be a registered facebook user to access the group) or in the how-to playlist on my youtube channel. The videos show the very basics of creating, configuring, launching, and resuming your own runs of creature evolution. They also show some of the little extras that were programmed in during software development when I was familiarizing myself with the physics and graphics engines. These include such things as spawning various physical objects, manipulating them, changing textures, moving about, and even a virtual TARDIS for my fellow Doctor Who fans.
The interface is not especially elegant, and not as intuitive as it possibly could be, due to my own schedule and time pressure to get it completed and available for distribution. I am happy to take any questions about it by email (creatures AT stellaralchemy DOT com) from anyone who wants more detail or who encounters difficulties. For those interested, see the download section.
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD!
Official Website|The Virtual Creature Zoo|How to Playlist|The Creator's Youtube channel
You'll NEED to watch the short how-to videos, or else you'll have no clue how anything works!
Some random examples