March 13, 2006
Links of the Moment
Nick B's enthusiasm for Will "The Sims" Wright's demo of the upcoming game "Spore" made me think of some somewhat similar, if less ornate, work by Jeffrey Ventrella. I took a class on Artificial Life he taught one semester at Tufts' Experimental College.
I previously kisrael'd his work in terms of Gene Pool (very reminiscent ofthe early stages of Spore) Cellular Automata breeding and Fluid Dynamics but he's added some more cool stuff in the last few years (in beween his work with the virtual world There.com, I'd imagine)
Some of his more recent cool stuff is physics-based creature generation... (much like some of the middle levels of Spore, actually.) Bird is one of the most detailed, a small Windows download. (Warning...keep away from Vice Presidential PCs) You can click and toss in some seeds. The guy shown here is the somewhat phallic Peanut Boy, available as a Windows .exe or a Java applet. You can also generate your own spring-based animal critters, with 'Toon, Spring, and Box rendering. (I couldn't get the sound version to be much different) All of these other critters pay attention to and are draggable with the mouse...
Finally, his playable prototype of Gravity Tetris is really cool...blocks tumble and fall and can be dragged and spun in a very intuitive way with the mouse before they solidify into place. In terms of gameplay it's maybe a bit too forgiving, but still...this would be an awesome game on the Nintendo DS, which has the touchscreen for it...
So obviously there's a ton more on his site, things fun, intellectual, and both. If you have some time, check it out!
Overall, his site makes me intensely jealous that I might not have the imagination, stamina, or programming cajones to make my toys page nearly as cool as his.
Quote of the Moment
"The only mathematical ideas that human beings can have are ideas that the human brain allows."
--George Lakoff & Rafael E. Núñez, via this Ventrella.com essay on rotation mathematics and vertigo.