0.4.1 Released!

Announcements and infodumps from the Species dev team.
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Quasar
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0.4.1 Released!

Post by Quasar » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:09 am

Find it here: Download Page

Couldn't get the Immortality Serum into the game, sadly, and some of the sounds are placeholders (come back later this week for updated sound effects). But I got everything else in the dev thread done!

PS: Thanks for the support guys. Knowing people are interested keeps me motivated to keep working. :D

Skylimit
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Skylimit » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:09 pm

First impressions

My first run has extremely high biodiversity, and somewhere a bit later, there was an explosion in number of species up to 110. The number of species remained high during the entire run. I saw 100% carnivores, species with agression zero (social) - saw weird omnivores as well with speed zero, bit strange how they managed . Especially at the start, the game shows a lot of interesting fellows I never saw before.

I very much appreciate the bugfixing, that crashed my pc before. This is a lot better now. Creature selection and investigating the details is now a stable feature. Also, autosave works a lot better, though I had it once that the terrain was gone again, but only once, where it was a lot more frequent in previous version.

I like the feature where you can color the creatures, selecting on many parameters (e.g. headsize, ..., also saw temperature, didn't know this was already in the creatures)

I very much like the highly anticipated export function, which works well.
The import function however crashes my pc, like 4 times out of 5.

What would be really cool is, that you can select upon creation of new world how many are randomized, and how many are from previous exports.
I'll be doing this manually, but this feature is not stable

edit : in large world, i'm wondering if the number of creatures is capped at 1500 ?

edit2 : Great job on the Ultra time! That is very helpful, very nice addition and also very stable

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Quasar
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Quasar » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:29 pm

... though I had it once that the terrain was gone again, but only once, where it was a lot more frequent in previous version

Look in the options menu for a new setting called "Save Images As..." It's set on PNG by default. Change it to BMP: in theory that should stop it. (If it doesn't, let me know).
... also saw temperature, didn't know this was already in the creatures.

It's a placeholder implementation which causes them to lose energy if they have certain body coverings (check under the energy tab for an energy loss called "climate"). I'm planning to redo it at some stage.
The import function however crashes my pc, like 4 times out of 5.

Could you send me the error message please? I've been unable to replicate that here...
edit : in large world, i'm wondering if the number of creatures is capped at 1500 ?

Creature cap is set on the Options menu. Default is 1500, but it should be able to go as high as 2000. (I plan to replace the dropdown with an input box later so you can set it as high as you like)

Skylimit
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Skylimit » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:16 pm

About import creatures crash : I was able to successfully do this in small world with little creatures. Maybe it crashes when number of creatures is already at it's cap ?

A crash also occurs on my pc when exporting a creature with overwrite. (selecting existing name)

On the creature cap : i noticed that with large world only a very small portion of the map is actually used by the critters. Or at least since this update. So I was wondering if there was a cap.
How does the cap actually work ? I had been suggesting a dynamic food allocation, which is a soft cap. How does the hard cap work ?
If the map gets overcrowded, you could make them work harder for food (ie not generating any new food, till the numbers start sinking again) ... That will stimulate the evolution process. You could still have a hard cap, just to make sure. I am convinced that the creatures that evolve are able to deal with a large map, where food is scarce.

(edit : or multiple food sources, on the same terrain size - or : when starting with adamfruit, there is only one food source, but as it speciates, multiple food sources arise, forcing the herbivores to specialize - i.e. scarcer food, or mutate to have more diet slots. )

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Quasar
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Quasar » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:36 am

About import creatures crash : I was able to successfully do this in small world with little creatures. Maybe it crashes when number of creatures is already at it's cap ?

Hmm... that would make sense: I never put in a check on the import function.
A crash also occurs on my pc when exporting a creature with overwrite. (selecting existing name)
Okay, I'll look into it. Looks like we'll be needing a hotfix.
How does the cap actually work ? I had been suggesting a dynamic food allocation, which is a soft cap. How does the hard cap work ?
It's really simple actually: no creature can reproduce if the total number of creatures exceeds the cap.

The total creature cap exists because the game sets aside a certain amount of RAM before the game starts for simulating creatures. This area changes all the time, but it never gets bigger or smaller, sidestepping a variety of Garbage Collection issues (Garbage Collection is XNA's kryptonite). The cap size determines how much RAM to set aside.

I'd much rather have per-tree soft caps (the limited regrowth rate is one, and not-regrowing in heavily overpopulated area's is another), but they can be hard to balance: very small changes to vegetation, creatures, and especially AI, have huge effects on survivability, and the creatures have an incredible ability to find exploits in the game and... er... exploit them.

I have been thinking extensively about your suggestion to implement a soft cap ever since you mentioned it. The difference between your suggestion and the stuff I've already got is that it monitors the population count as a whole and makes the vegetation react to population explosions on a global, rather than individual, level. I haven't responded to it yet because I've been trying to get my thoughts on the idea in order, but...

I like the idea as a gameplay concept (it's a very dynamic and reactive way to control the population), but as a simulation concept it takes a top-down approach to population control. My approach to the game has always been the opposite: simulate the low level interactions (eating, reproducing, mutating, etc) and let the higher ones (speciation, natural selection, evolution) take care of themselves.

So my plan at the moment is to see what effect the vegetation overhaul has first. Grazing in particular should have a massive effect on reproduction and population limits, and I've learned enough not to try to predict what form that effect will take. After that's done, we'll see...

Skylimit
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Skylimit » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:03 am

I like the idea as a gameplay concept (it's a very dynamic and reactive way to control the population), but as a simulation concept it takes a top-down approach to population control. My approach to the game has always been the opposite: simulate the low level interactions (eating, reproducing, mutating, etc) and let the higher ones (speciation, natural selection, evolution) take care of themselves.

So my plan at the moment is to see what effect the vegetation overhaul has first. Grazing in particular should have a massive effect on reproduction and population limits, and I've learned enough not to try to predict what form that effect will take. After that's done, we'll see...
You must have noticed that the hard cap has some very bizarre consequenses ?
The available food cannot work both for blank slate and for advanced creatures that can cross the entire map
So, if you take a large world, what you will see is that most of the map is unused, and creatures cluster together on a couple of spots. That is because they don't need to move, or if they do, they can slowly move the entire herd. So basically, there is far too much food, or it is far too effective to host 1500 creatures. But by hardcapping this, you are doing someting that is unnatural, and the effect is visible. Better would be not to regenerate food where it was consumed, so the creatures die unless they move. But you would need the hard cap anyway, to make sure you stay below what the pc can host.

A wider variety of food would also be a solution, or higher variety as the game progresses. Or set food effectiveness as a parameter.
Anyway, if you want to evolve a creature from blank slate to t-rex, I think the food conditions cannot be equal. While the first is still struggling, the latter can cover the entire map.

Dynamic food allocation also looks at a global scale, and aims for an equilibrium. The equilibrium should be half way the hard cap, so for instance, hard cap at 2000 => dynamic aim = 1000
So in that case you only need the hard cap as an emergency break, and on a global scale you look at survival rates so you can calculate how dense or dispersed the food must be
The type of food or location it is inserted, is random though - so the aim is not : we are out of trees, let's insert some trees, rather it is food on a global scale. If food were a reproducing species, you could have a floating cap on food, which is more elegant than a hard cap on creatures.

In your sim, I have seen omnivores with speed zero, happily procreating. I think that is a result of a hard cap. Dynamic allocation should be subtle and permanent tweaks (as in only insert next tree, when falling below creature threshold) This way there won't be any hard crashes or mass extinctions.

So the idea is : soft cap at 1000, hard cap at 2000
Population explosion allowed until hard cap, but no food at all is inserted if this happens, till count starts going down again, ..., then slowly start adding food while population is falling, and aim for equilibrium 1000. This will always oscillate, it is impossible to keep it at 1000, but you have the hard cap as emergency break

You'll see a lot more interesting battle for food, which makes herbivores faster, and will challenge the carnivores to do even better

It's a hard world :D

The advantage would be, that we can have lot larger maps, without risk that pc is exploding
Also, some of the creatures I already have are so good, that they are all over the place, and in I want tougher competition, I have to shrink the worldsize, but then there are so many creatures in the same place that it is rather a dynamic meatpile. I think all this can be sorted out with food parameters (either dynamic, or to be chosen by user at start i.e. next to worldsize, also a parameter for food dispersal)

Just my 2ct. I think you don't like this cause it is unnatural, but the hard cap is far worse than unnatural. Maybe combine the two is a solution.

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Icefire
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Icefire » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:16 am

How does the gene splicer work? It doesn't seem to do anything for me.

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Quasar
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Quasar » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:27 am

To perform a Gene Splice:
  • Select the tool
    Pick the Donor (Cursor will change, to show a dna strand attached to it)
    Pick the Recipient (Recipient will flash purple)

Any children of the recipient will now include genes from the donor mixed in with their own (you may have to feed the recipient to make them reproduce).

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Icefire
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Icefire » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:40 pm

Ah, I see. Thanks :)

Reprieve
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Re: 0.4.1 Released!

Post by Reprieve » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:23 pm

My ground disappeared again

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