A quick reminder:
The latest proof-of-concept demo release, v0.4.1 Alpha, is available for you to try out.
Please remember, this is only a proof-of-concept demo; many, many planned features have not yet been implemented which will be featured in later releases.
Download Here - (43.5 MB)
Information on Mouse/Keyboard controls can be found here
About the goal...
We're perfectly aware that the campaign isn't going to get anywhere close to our original, over-optimistic goal of 25k. This is primarily because we vastly overestimated our own self-marketing abilities: our pageview stats are... underwhelming, to say the least.
But this doesn't mean the end of Species. Far from it: we will build this game, at cost if we have to, and since we're using flexible funding the money our contributors have provided will get to us regardless. It will be put towards maintaining the website and paying our artist.
But I just want to make something very very clear:
Species will still get made.
One way or another, we're going to make this game a reality.
Any last-minute contributions would still of course still be a huge help in making sure we stay out of the black for as long as possible, so please don't let the original goal keep you from contributing.
What is Species: Artificial Life, Real Evolution?
Species is a game about macroscopic-scale evolution using a scientifically accurate simulation that you can explore and interact with, and even perform some science of your own.
To be more precise, Species is a scientifically-accurate natural-selection simulator which allows you to experience evolution first-hand, simulated from the very first principles of evolutionary science:
Variation (every creature is uniquely defined by it’s genes),
Mutation (child creatures are randomly modified versions of their parents), and
Natural Selection (the environment affects every creature in their struggle to survive).
With these principles as it’s gameplay mechanics, Species recreates the same unguided pressures that drove the development of all life on earth over the last 4 billion years.
Whether you just want to observe, watching and studying as the tree of life constructs itself from a single species, or you want to be an active influence on the development of the species in the game, is up to you.
A group of creatures in the game, each randomly generated.
Yes, the green one terrifies us too.
There are many good academic evolution simulators across the Internet, evolving colours, numbers, text or even single celled organisms. There are also many games, claiming to be based on the science of evolution, but which actually implement none of the mechanics behind evolution.
Species is something new: both a game, accessible and entertaining, allowing you to explore a large 3D world filled with hundreds of unique, procedurally-generated creatures... and a evolutionary simulator, implemented from the ground up with the intention of making a realistic and genuine model of evolution.
With herbivores and carnivores, combat, mating, behavioral and physiological evolution, population dynamics like extinctions and explosions, speciation, and many more features to come, the world of Species is a complex, rich, and adaptive environment, featuring:
A detailed, macroscopic 3D world: the first of it's kind in a natural selection simulator, filled with hundreds of unique procedurally-generated creatures all competing for survival.
Genuine natural selection: No fitness function, no predefined goals: just survival. The player can aid and interact with the simulation, but they will never control it.
A scientific approach: Evolution, speciation, extinction: these are not a direct functions of the game, they're natural effects of the game's mechanics.
Procedural gameplay: whether you start from a group of slug-worms or generate a population of random creatures, the game carves out it’s own history full of population explosions, speciations and the extinctions of the uncompetitive or just plain unlucky.
Real-time evolution: Select a species, accelerate time, and watch as it’s shape and stats morph in front of your eyes.
That's one suspicious-looking cactus.
When we first learned that this hadn’t been done before, our reaction was surprise. Out of all the time and energy invested in video games and scientific simulations both, how was it possible that a proper evolution game didn’t already exist? After all, we wanted to play it, so surely others did too?
But we came to realise: this was something that genuinely hadn’t been done before. A variety of vaguely similar things had been done, but nothing quite like this. So we set out to do it.
Sometimes, that’s all the reason you need.
So, why Indiegogo?
Species has been in the works, in some form or another, for the past 8 years or so. In that time, it's developed a long way, and recently has begun growing in leaps and bounds. A year ago, the first public dev videos were released, and the feedback and support we recieved from everyone was very encouraging, and we're ready to take the next step forward in development.
We've been working hard to bring the game up to a high standard both in the simulation and design aspects alike, but now it has reached the point where our work on Species has hit the harsh reality of the real world, and the commitments real life brings with it.
We chose to go with Indiegogo becuase it is a more accessible funding platform to those outside the US, as we in the Species development team are, in the hope that we would be able to raise enough funding to support ourselves during the game's development.
To that end, funding from Indiegogo will be used for:
Keeping the developers alive: Enough funding to keep our development team fed, sheltered, and clothed for a year while they work full-time on Species.
Web hosting: Funding to keep the site, forums, and download services online, as well as the ability to provide online multiplayer in later releases.
Speaking of Online Multiplayer: Keeping our goals reasonable, there won't be any kind of attempt at making Species into an MMO. But something that can plausibly be added is the ability to physically connect players' maps together, combining their CPU power and creating a potentially limitless online overworld. This is possibly the single most ambitious and difficult-to-implement feature on the list, but if we can do it, it would mean the difference between a self-contained petrie-dish world, and a planet.
Sound and Music: Species is going to need a lot of help with audio, which is currently being provided by Brain Sugar. Funding from Indiegogo will keep him on the team, in order to provide a full soundtrack for the game throughout its development.
Concept, Art, and Design: In order to become a fully fleshed out world, Species not only needs audio, but striking visuals as well, currently being provided by our graphic designer, Jade Taggart. On top of both environment and creature work, Jade is also developing the UI and (planned) vehicle and structure concepts for Species; funding from Indiegogo will help keep her on the team to continue her work.
And most importantly, Expanding the game: We're dedicated to seeing Species achieve as much of it's potential as it possibly can, and Indiegogo funding can go a long way towards achieving that goal.
With your help, here are a selection of the features we hope to implement in the future:
A fully realised ecosystem, where every system impacts and influences every other system, resulting in emergent and unpredictable natural selection pressures.
Among the features already planned are flight, water bodies for aquatic and amphibious animals, variable temperature and humidity, growing and migrating forests (made out of reproducing trees with hereditary characteristics, no less), basic forms of symbiosis and parasitic behavior, and others.
Every conceivable biological niche open for the creatures in the game to fill.
We want to give them the freedom to evolve into anything, from realistic to fanciful, blind cave-dwelling dinosaurs to giant carnivorous insects, hydrogen-filled organic blimps to schools of sea-dwelling plankton-filtering birds.
Engaging, science-inspired Gameplay: Although the game will always remain a relatively open sandbox and won't have any predefined win-conditions, you'll be able to apply artificial selection pressures.
By running them over with a robotic chainsaw rover.
On top of that horrifyingly awesome thought, you can change the creatures with direct genetic manipulation, change the climate and ecosystem for the better or worse, dynamically build the in-game Tree Of Life by collecting samples and finding fossils, trigger disasters, and do awesome SCIENCE™.
- Complete Modability: A healthy community is key to a successful independant game. By opening as many segments of the game as possible to modding, we can help grow the community. And by using and making online mods, you the community will be able to help unlock far more of Species potential than we developers could do on our own!
- Mac/Linux Implementation: Species is built with Microsoft XNA Game Studio software, which means it’s not natively supported outside of Windows... but we intend to put some research into the matter, to learn what we can. Although we can't promise anything on this particular front, we do hope to make the game as platform-independant as we possibly can.
Who are you people?
James Schumacher (Quasar), an Independant Games Programmer and the Lead Developer on Species: Artificial Life, Real Evolution.
I've been programming indie games since I was 16 and have 5 years professional experience, plus 7 years of slightly-less-professional experience debating creationists on the internet. The two interests combined together in the project that became Species ALRE, which I have been working on on an on/off basis since 2007, and consistantly since 2011.
- Jade Taggart (CrashKat), the artsy person! Freelance digital artist and graphic designer for Species: Artificial Life, Real Evolution.
I specialize in game art and design, which I've been doing for nearly 10 years and hold two degrees in, as well as experience in web development and specialist consulting. While my dev skill lies mostly in 3D content creation and delivery, I also do animation, special effects and 2D artwork.
Professionally, I currently work for CyberKat Hosting as Senior Graphics Designer, and I also provide digital content and specialist consulting on a freelance basis.
- Hold Right Click to rotate the camera.
- Use W,A,S,D to move, hold shift to "sprint"
- Press Spacebar to toggle camera fall on/off.
- Press C to lock the camera around the current creature.
- Click to select a Creature, or a Species if in that mode.
- Click their respective icons on the left (next to the statistics) to change between Creature, Species and Ecosystem modes.
- Click the Details button to learn more about the current creature, species or world depending on mode.
- Click the Time Accelleration buttons (or press ~, 1, 2 or 3) to change the simulation speed.
- Click the Highlight Filter to get a visual display of various statistics across all creatures on the map.
- Click the tool icons to activate different interaction tools:
- Click a creature to feed
- Click a creature to kill
- Click a creature to take a gene sample, then click another to splice it into that creatures genome. The spliced creature will then give birth to gene-spliced creatures.
- Click and hold over a creature to irradiate it. The irradiated creature will then give birth to heavily mutated offspring.