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posted Feb 6, 2013, 7:55 AM by Jimmy Nyström   [ updated Feb 6, 2013, 8:02 AM ]
My immune system is not doing its job! I had pretty much just recovered from a really annoying cold when I contracted a nice batch of the flu, so I've been lying in bed (and in couch) with a high fever since friday. Also, my throat is super sore and I have a cool growly voice :) But the fever is on its way down now - I think - and I'm planning on being back on my feet by Wednesday at the latest! (Last Wednesday, that is. I started writing this post last Monday, but I didn't have the energy to finish it. My speedy recovery failed miserably; I'm barely back on my feet now...)

On to a more interesting topic than my health, let's talk about life! Artificial life, that is. My life simulator (working title Evolt) has evolved! First of all, I've changed the environmental conditions a bit: Plants grow at different heights and only the large ants (I refer to them as ants because it's such a nice, short word to write) can eat the tall plants (also it rhymes with plants). But as plants grow and are eaten, some grass or leaves fall to the ground where smaller ants can eat it. Large plants grow in clusters, making up forests. Underwater breathing works differently, making it harder for land living animals to move around in water. Also, I've added a kill bonus to promote cruel violence! >:)
By the way, here's how it looks:

The color and sprite of the ants reveal how well they breathe 
underwater and how well they digest meat vs. plants.

The ants themselves have undergone greater changes. Before, they just used their nose to evaluate the smells around them to decide where to go. It worked, but it didn't really allow for complex behavior to arise. But observing their behavior is the most interesting part of the simulation, so I decided to give them brains instead! Each ant is now controlled by a neural network 
that evolves as the ants do. It's really interesting, and I'll describe it in better detail when I make a section for this project. But in short, the ants can now develop more senses than just smell, they can see, feel and make complex decisions based on the combinations of inputs that are available in their world. Everything is randomly generated at the beginning of a simulation, so some ants may just have a sense of smell, some may have (myopic) black and white vision and some may have strange combinations of senses, like grass smell hunger hearing. :) And of course, since they live in a cruel world, only the brains that do a good job are allowed to live on and develop! 
I'm hoping that if I leave a simulation running for a while, the ants will become smart enough to replace the crappy white blood cells of my immune system before next flu season! :P