December 11, 2006 9:19 PM   Subscribe

breveCreatures is a screensaver (created using the open source simulation environment breve) that simulates the evolution of locomotion.
posted by brundlefly (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I always had the feeling that this world and the things developing was just a screensaver. When will that guy come back in the room and shake the mouse so we all disappear into some sort of cosmic MS Excel sheet?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 PM on December 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

disappear into some sort of cosmic MS Excel sheet

That's one of the most depressing things I've ever read.
posted by brundlefly at 9:41 PM on December 11, 2006

Sounds like a placeholder until Spore is available...
posted by twsf at 9:43 PM on December 11, 2006

Why, oh why do they have a .dmg file for windows?
posted by hugecranium at 9:43 PM on December 11, 2006

Mouse over it, hugecranium. It seems to be a typo. It's an exe.
posted by brundlefly at 9:51 PM on December 11, 2006

I've disappeared into a spreadsheet before but I was eating potato chips at the time so I could follow the crumbs back out.
posted by fenriq at 9:56 PM on December 11, 2006

They are so pathetic. The poor blocks can't get anywhere!
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:00 PM on December 11, 2006

This is cool but, for some stupid reason, I was expecting trains. And yes, I am well aware of what locomotion is what a locomotive is.
posted by fenriq at 10:01 PM on December 11, 2006

Cool -- I didn't know about breve: my start of PhD work was exactly on the same topic and I created something somewhat similar at the time (limitted by technology -- I was using a Sun-3/60 with a whooping 16MB of RAM. The name of the project was AES: Artificial Ecosystem Simulator. 30,000+ lines of C (over a period of a few month) and X11, my own set of UI widgets and a scripted GUI builder environment. It was, of course, under the GPL but nobody cared (well, actually not exactly.)

This project ate me alive: I forgot food, basic hygiene, women and grades. But it was good and an other student used the framework to write his PhD -- I discovered that years after but and it made me really happy.

I went to the industry to get some money to fund my PhD, but never came back to the University (I fell in love in between, probably after having regained basic hygiene practices -- well that, I'm not sure about though.)
posted by NewBornHippy at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2006

upon watching generation after generation of little block-worms flopping and flailing about and not getting anywhere, i can't help feeling like this is some kind of subtle plug for intelligent design. needs more radiaton!

it'd be cool if you could speed up the algorithm a bit so that you could see progress being made.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:37 AM on December 12, 2006

I've played with earlier versions. You need to run this for a long time to see anything interesting. Also, I've found that lengthening the time for each test run and increasing the population size will improve results at the cost of taking more time to run each generation.

Unfortunately, these constants are not available in the UI, so you'll have to open up the file (contained within the breveCreatures.saver package in OS X) in a text editor to modify them. If I recall correctly, after that you'll need to reboot and reset the simulation – you may need to delete the breveCreatures.xml file. (I don't remember if the reset button in the UI is sufficient.)
posted by D.C. at 12:46 AM on December 12, 2006

If this is anything like Sim-Earth, I will be the fern master.
posted by dreamsign at 12:49 AM on December 12, 2006

Great idea, but runs sloooow...
posted by zardoz at 1:20 AM on December 12, 2006

They are so pathetic. The poor blocks can't get anywhere!

That's incredibly patronizing. With equal education and opportunities they can do anything you or I can.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:48 AM on December 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sweet. I've been waiting for this to be updated to work on intel macs.
posted by pmbuko at 4:48 AM on December 12, 2006

The creatures in the video remind me of the weird and wonderful burgess shale fossils (scroll down a little on the page).
posted by algreer at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

the weird and wonderful burgess shale fossils

Oh thank you for that. I've been trying to remember what those little weirdos were called for months!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:27 AM on December 12, 2006

is anyone far along in the program? I'm at gen 21 with a best distance of 20.5.
posted by farishta at 7:53 AM on December 12, 2006

To be fair, someone needs to get going on a "God created the world in 7 days" screensaver.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2006

To those who feel that this whole business takes too long:
Compare the six days of Genesis as a figure of speech for what has in fact been four billion years geologic time. On this scale, a day equals something like 666 million years and thus:

All day Monday until Tuesday noon, creation was busy getting the earth going. Life began Tuesday noon, and the beautiful organic wholeness of it developed over the next four days. At 4:00pm Saturday, the big reptiles came. Five hours later, when the redwoods appeared, there were no more big reptiles. At three minutes before midnight man appeared and one-fourth of a second before midnight Christ arrived. At one-fortieth of a second before midnight, the Industrial Revolution began.

We are surrounded by people who think that what we have been doing for one-fortieth of a second can go on indefinitely. They are considered normal, but they are stark raving mad.

McPhee, John A. (1971). Encounters with the Archdruid. p. 71. New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux.
The quote is alternately attributed to David Brower.
posted by SemiSophos at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Am I missing something? Is it normal, on a 2ghz AMD with an NVidia 3D card, for this thing to be getting about 1 frame per 5 seconds? Wish they'd given me some damn configuration options...
posted by Jimbob at 2:25 PM on December 12, 2006

I've been running this off and on for a few months. I'm at generation 3081 and the best distance is 53.6. Most of the critters don't get anywhere near that distance, and I still get quite a few flailers and floppers.
posted by gamera at 2:57 PM on December 12, 2006

you guys are suckers. this is just a theoretical representation of what would happen if randomly shaped boxes were glued together and then had an epileptic fit.
posted by wumpus at 4:25 PM on December 12, 2006

Generation 225 and 40ish. I remember being 14ish at generation 3, but most of that distance may have been from a tall one falling over.
posted by Chuckly at 10:44 PM on December 12, 2006

Cool - I've been looking on and off for a more modern version of the old Golem Project software, but this is the first one I've found. Now to run it for ages and see whether it's better :-).
posted by dansdata at 10:39 AM on December 13, 2006

Well, that didn't take long.

Problem 1: It doesn't model things that can exist in the real world. Its "creatures" are all collections of blocks that clip clean through each other. Which is a perfectly valid way of approaching this task if you want to maximise speed, I suppose, except for...

Problem 2: There's no way to change the speed of evolution to create cool things in a relatively short period of time, if you have the processor power. The program thus refuses to use more than a tiny fraction of the CPU power of a modern PC. Golem could run at warp speed; this can't.

Dammit, I want the thing to redline at least one core of my CPU, and so present me with a nifty hexapod or something when it's been running all night. Not gonna happen, unfortunately.
posted by dansdata at 10:53 AM on December 13, 2006

My blocks apparently made it a distance of 41.1 when I wasn't looking. That would have been exciting to see. Sadly, they've been stuck in the 15 range for generations since then. Shouldn't they be improving? Are anyone else's blocks getting dumber, or just mine?
(Or is no one else sad enough to sit around and watch haphazardly assembled geometry shimmy across a checkered floor for hours?)
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 4:20 PM on December 13, 2006

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