A word of advice regarding “Evolution”

Posted by (twitter: @caranha)
April 19th, 2012 8:26 pm

Evolution is a great possible theme, it came so close to winning in the past Dares, but never quite made the final. I hope it makes it this time.

That said, whenever I see games dealing with biological/ecological evolution, they almost always get it wrong. Specifically, evolution is NOT “kill enemies, accumulate evo points, use evo points to become stronger (even though E.V.O. was a great game otherwise)”. So if you plan to use evolution in the “evolution of the species” sense of the word, let me give you some advice.

Remember that “evolution”, from an “evolution theory” point of view, is the result of the interaction between two factors: Variation (each individual in an species is slightly different from everyone else), and Selection (some individuals are more successful than others). “Variation” and “Selection” can come from different sources: Variation – mutation, sexual reproduction, etc. Selection – Natural selection (survival of the fittest), Artificial Selection (A human breeder keeping the fastest horses), etc. The end result is that the variations that are selected become the norm for the population, and the population’s average moves as time goes on.

As a simple example, let’s think of a game where 5 warriors go into a dungeon. The warriors that come back can train new ones. The first 5 warriors have different melee weapons: Sword, Axe, Staff, Dagger, Club. In their first trip, they meet some enemy that can only be defeated by slashing weapons. So the Staff and Club warriors don’t make it back. They return to the village, and train their pupils to fight with the same weapon as they did. Each warrior trains two pupils, one of the dagger’s pupils decides to try using two weapons at the same time, and one of the axe’s pupils decides to try using a shield. They all go to the dungeon again, but this time the monsters can only be killed by stabbing attacks – only dagger, two dagger, sword1 and sword2 return. They all train new pupils, and the cycle begins again.

Cheers, and just say no to pokemon-style evolution!

4 Responses to “A word of advice regarding “Evolution””

  1. AlwaysGeeky says:

    As much as evolution would make an interesting theme… I for one and hoping it doesn’t get chosen.
    I just think its too wishy-washy a theme… Dont get me wrong, there are 1001 amazing cool games that could come out of ‘Evolution’, I just personally want to make something a little more *traditional*.

  2. Osgeld says:

    it also seems rather grand for the limited time

  3. KevinWorkman says:

    Another of my pet peeves is how misconstrued the concept of “survival of the fittest” gets. Survival of the fittest doesn’t just mean that the strong beat out the weak and the weak die. The “fittest” for a given ecological niche might be a cuddly bunny rabbit, or a team-centric ant, or a mother bird that provides for its young by having warmer feathers.

    People argue against evolution by saying that if evolution was our only shaping force, we’d all be ruthless killers and nobody would do anything for other people. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We evolved to value teamwork, sharing, nurturing, etc, because attributes like that made us more fit than those without them.

    So for your example, perhaps one of your warriors evolves into a healer, or a non-fighter. Maybe the monster only kills people who attack it first.


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