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    Ludum Dare 24

    August 24th-27th 2012 :: Theme: Evolution

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    Meow for MUTATION! - marudziik - 48 Hour Compo Entry

    Story:
    An intelligent race of feline-like creatures has just learned about the upcoming attack of ALIENS. Having no choice, they must defend by all means possible. The problem is, until now, they had no use for weapons and war machines, being the peace-loving folk they are. So they figured they will use Crossover Accelerating Technology (C.A.T.!) to speed up their evolution - that's the only chance for them to survive!
    ----------
    Controls:
    X (hold) - speed-up next turn
    H - help/info (also displays current objective)
    ESC - go back to title screen
    MOUSE CLICK - select specimen for elimination, change slider values
    ----------
    Implementation:
    Game is essentially an implementation of genetic algorithm. Player can modify mutation and crossover rates to influence creatures population. These, and selecting creatures for elimination, are means for creating specific units, which is the goal of the game.

    If you're interested in GAs, see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_algorithm
    ----------
    Note on post-compo version:
    Created within jam deadline, this version relies on player selecting specimens to PROCREATE, instead of deleting them. This is a completely different mechanic, and probably more playable than original. Some tweaks are also applied to mutation to increase the chance of getting the right features.

    View marudziik's journal. | View all entries by marudziik

    Ratings

    Coolness100%
    #13Theme4.25
    #45Humor3.53
    #90Innovation3.58
    #165Audio3.02
    #176Mood3.04
    #261Overall3.17
    #262Graphics3.20
    #424Fun2.69

    Comments

    Aug 27, 2012 @ 11:17pm

    It's not exactly a game that is focused on fun but its mechanics is really interesting. The writing and humor is top notch. The relation to the theme is as close as it gets. Evolution to survive. I love it!

    BuffaloPhil says ...
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 1:05am

    Nice work on all those cat variations!

    wlad says ...
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 11:12am

    First impression: too much text; second impression: this is fun; third impression: whatâs the aim again?; fourth impression: this real fun. It would be great to have the currently needed specimen displayed during the game. Thumbs up!

    kddekadenz says ...
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 11:26am

    Loads very slow on the old computer I'm testing it..
    ..
    Ok it is now for about 2 min at 35%
    ..
    Saving the whole site on the computer - hope it helps
    ..
    It works finally!
    ..
    It is a really fun game with a original idea. Whatever I always solved only to level 1 :'(

    Sestren says ...
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    Trying to isolate the right cats for future generations seems a bit tricky, but the use of the theme is superb and the game is interesting to play.

    tcstyle says ...
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Great idea. Somehow there is some feedback missing about the mutations. They feel quite random at the moment.
    Liked the music and sounds.

    juaxix says ...
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 7:00pm

    WOW, I'm crazy ,cant get any race from the genetic algorithm of kitty mutant life! lol

    SusanTheCat says ...
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 11:02pm

    Awesome Game! Space Kitties Unite!

    I felt I should be able to put kitties closer together to increase their chances of mating.

    davisan says ...
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 1:07am

    The mutations are very weird. I love it. I also think the post-compo mechanic is more intuitive. Great game!

    Aug 29, 2012 @ 1:15am

    Greatly implemented loved it

    Yakka says ...
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 9:43am

    You're right, our games seems to be the same and are very different! I really liked your up kittens and your mutations. Your game is the one which use the most the theme of evolution, I liked it too.
    I just regretted to not be able, as a player, to have more impact on the game: only 3 actions with a long-time feedback :-/

    zx81 says ...
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 7:16pm

    Probably the best "in theme" game,
    first five stars rating :)

    madpew says ...
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Nice mechanic and cute art. Was a bit hard to get into but then it was fun. Some mutations were really difficult to get compared to others. But I like the concept. Please continue working on it. (Turned off the music as it was a bit annoying :D)

    madflame991 says ...
    Sep 2, 2012 @ 7:12pm

    I actually did my bachelor's graduation paper on genetic algorithms and I'd have to say that this is probably the most fun you'll get out of a game entitled "Genetic algorithms" made in 48 hours.

    Kudos to you for even trying to make a game based on GAs!

    yettatore says ...
    Sep 3, 2012 @ 12:06am

    The aliens can't defeat me... YEAH!!!

    Maple says ...
    Sep 3, 2012 @ 1:41am

    Pretty interesting! I liked the idea, but it would have been cool for their age to be displayed without having to mouse-over them, and also to be able to move them next to others for a greater chance at mating with them. Also I felt it was always random when I reached the goal. There should have been clearer methods of reaching the goal, other than to just wait for the goal product to randomly spawn. (Of course it isn't technically random, due to the sliders and such, but it still felt too random and uncontrolled). But yeah, other than those, this was a brilliant idea.

    triliyn says ...
    Sep 3, 2012 @ 1:56pm

    This was fun! One complaint I have though is that cats very often seem to end up overlapping each other. It would be a lot easier if they could be spread out somehow so I could see them.

    Andrew says ...
    Sep 3, 2012 @ 9:02pm

    One of the better implementations of genetics so far.

    vilya says ...
    Sep 4, 2012 @ 12:59am

    Really interesting game. I didn't feel like I had enough control over the outcome for it to be fun, but it *was* kind of mesmerising & the artwork was good (the variation in the cats was very well done!).

    RawBits says ...
    Sep 5, 2012 @ 7:55am

    Nicely done. Good idea and simple realization. It isn't clear why the population dies in some turns but I managed to do 1 objective so far.

    When I played I noticed I hold X continously but then I can't click with the mouse because the game interprets those in a wierd way I can't really describe.

    Anyway, nice gfx and I am not sad because of the dying cat population - I hate them anyway... I like dogs you see...

    marudziik says ...
    Sep 5, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    First, thank you all for your comments and the very much appreciated feedback. Some of the issues you stated are changed in the post-compo version (and the overall mechanic is quite different), so if you want to, do check that one too (after rating the original). Here are my responses:

    /selection and overall influence on the next generation/
    Overall I think that selection for elimination was a bad design idea. I had some problems implementing cat creation out of many different parts, so I wasn't able to do much more than that. @SusanTheCat's idea is great, but for now the change in mechanics in the post-compo version will have to suffice.
    Post-compo version fix: Choosing cats for reproduction, instead of deletion. If you choose two cats, you will get two children with features determined by parent's genes and mutation rate.

    /randomness of mutations/
    The mutations (random changes in a genome during the reproduction) are more often as you increase the mutation rate. If you wanted to merge just the available specimens, the mutation rate should be minimal, if you wanted a new pool of features, you would set the mutation rate pretty high).
    This is the part of the game that is taking the fun away: it's more of a simulation. There are 96000 different cat combinations in 7 different categories (head, eyes, horns, mouth, body, paws, tail), and mutation changes only one feature in one category. This is direct implementation of GA, and a major flaw, since player has no real control over which cats will reproduce, and which won't.
    Post-compo version fix: Mutating genome has a small chance (increasing linearly with mutation rate) of getting one goal feature. In essence this makes occurring the proper mutations more probable: then you can decrease the mutation rate and select cats with features you want to have to try and merge them.

    /age, UI, other stuff/
    Besides sudden death (increasing with fertility), cats also die of old age, which is around 16-17 turns and can reproduce only when they're of age 7-13! There's no info about it in the original version, though it's how it works. Moving cats isn't implemented right now but I am still considering it. Visible age value is dealt with in the post-compo version, but not in an explicit way (too much numbers on the screen, with around 60 specimens this would be a massacre).
    Post-compo version fix: Added info, cats too young for reproduction are with pink tint, and too old ones are with grey tint. Instead of fertility/death rate, there's a death rate: number of cats that will die a random, sudden death on next turn. Still thinking about the movement.

    If you're interested, there's also a post-mortem in my journal.
    Again, thank you so much for the comments. To next voters: be sure to leave one, so I can check out your game too!

    Pierrec says ...
    Sep 6, 2012 @ 11:12am

    I...just...can't...stop...playing
    Best take I've seen on the theme and the game is incredibly fun. I like how it makes you feel bad to commit genocides and all "Sorry kitten, you got tentacles...I have to kill you."
    it took me like 5 tries to get to level 2-3...and now I think I'm level 6 or 7. It is very annoying when the game ask you to mutate something you already mutated (all your cats got big horns ? Now gimme small horns!) but that's why the game is fun and addictive too. Thanks for the X button to speed up, it helps a lot
    PLENTY OF STARS IN YOUR FACE

    Pierrec says ...
    Sep 6, 2012 @ 4:42pm

    Now I've played the post-compo version and I must say...I prefer the first one. I know the first version is way harder, and thus less accessible but...i don't know...it's funnier. I think I like the concept of killing bad ones better than saving good ones. Maybe I'm sadistic.

    Maybe you could try to make a post-post-compo version with the ability to kill (left click) and the ability to prioritize (right click). Also, keep the fertility/death rate, sounds more natural than the other thing

    JaJ says ...
    Sep 7, 2012 @ 10:02am

    The first time I played I reached my first goal pretty easily without really doing anything, but the second time I had to wait 25 turns for a feline with an awesomly ripped body. I think it might have been better if you had started with a more diverse group,and have the first challenge be to get a combination of characteristics instead of having to wait for a random thing to happen, pretty much.

    I did like the concept though, and I think there are a lot of fun things and challenges to be done with this as a base. Perhaps you should add a time limit, because I felt little pressure to reach the goal.

    Jacic says ...
    Sep 7, 2012 @ 8:24pm

    It got a little tedious after some time, but it's a nice idea.

    I had a lot of fun turning the mutation up to 50. ;)

    Qaterknan says ...
    Sep 8, 2012 @ 12:05pm

    It is possible to hold X and win (after a while) automatically. Still it is great game :)

    wilbefast says ...
    Sep 8, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    I'm afraid I get a blank screen on Windows 7 64 bit, Firefox. I'll try on Linux: looks interesting, similar to mine and Yakka's. Do great minds think alike, or is breeding cats just naturally awesome?

    marudziik says ...
    Sep 8, 2012 @ 1:07pm

    @Pierrec
    That was the general idea - to remove unwanted specimens rather than select ones to mate. I also think it's more fun. And, while I get your points perfectly, I can also see that the original is a little too random. The player can control the population as long as (s)he knows exactly what the genetic algorithm is doing, and there's already an abundance of text in the game anyway - that's why the post-compo aim is to make things easier. Though I might rework the whole idea altogether at some point.

    @Qaterknan
    Yes, I suppose so (though only in the original, compo version). Only first 1-2 levels though. With the level progression, the number goal features will increase, as well as the number of needed specimens. From level 10 or so, the goal is selected randomly (as opposed to being a mutation of already achieved goal). There are 96000 combinations so you're gonna have to wait quite a while to win, assuming that the population won't die unattended. :) Plus, I'm pretty sure that with levels 3-5 and later ones, you just _cannot_ win by holding X (population starving, too high feature rotation, etc). :)

    @wilbefast
    Try the direct SWF link:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/38899557/LD24/LudumDare24.swf
    If you still got problems, try updating Firefox + Flash, it really should work (I'm also on Win7 64bit, Firefox 15.0.1, Flash 11.4 r402). And yes, GREAT MINDS DO THINK ALIKE! :D Besides, "1000 Kittens" theme was pretty awesome. :P

    Again, thanks for all the comments, really appreciate them!

    Rex Peppers says ...
    Sep 8, 2012 @ 2:12pm

    Pretty hilarious, loved all those variations. Great job, really.

    PapyGaragos says ...
    Sep 9, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    nice take on the theme

    matheod says ...
    Sep 9, 2012 @ 4:47pm

    Cats POWA !

    goerp says ...
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 7:51pm

    haha it almost seems, like cats are the theme of this Ludum Dare. A LOT of different mutations! Must be a lot of work. I liked how the cats looked. Found it a bit hard to do useful breeding; a lot of cats who don't deserve to die, but don't have any of the wanted characteristics.
    That I don't want the cats to die shows that they are well made.

    wilbefast says ...
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 6:27pm

    On Linux it seems to work okay on both Firefox and Chromium... though Firefox cuts off the bottom part of the screen so I can't see the bars. For the early levels you're just waiting for a characteristic to appear, but the game does become more interesting later on when you need multiple creatures with multiple characteristics :) Good work!

    agersant says ...
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 12:51am

    Some good fun, some great writing and tons of cats. Very solid entry, congratulations!
    My only complaints would be that the game may get a bit tedious if you don't control the population very strictly and that overlapping cats are hard to manage.

    nuria says ...
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 6:43pm

    Good and interesting concept but I couldn't help feeling it all was too random, maybe clearer instructions could help. Nice visuals and audio, too much text. Props for trying something new!

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