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Large-scale changes to the demo that includes many new features. Grow and balance your unique aquatic ecosystem with greater depth, natural stability & beauty New features include an array of varied vegetation options, more stabilised predator-prey populations, Nutrient flow fields & 3D creature pathfinding

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My overall goal with these changes is to make the game feel more like a living system so that every aspect of it is connected to all the others, giving the creatures a lot to work with when it comes to evolving adaptations to their environments. For example, in the previous demo, creating a nursery was artificial in the sense that any 'U' shape was as good as any other, but now a cove really does catch eggs and plant seeds and can be affected by how water is funneled through your landscape; each one is distinct and they are all connected to the overall system. Creatures are both more interesting and a lot faster, and now that plants spread and can be depleted in locations, foragers will need to migrate to follow them with predators following close behind. In this way, populations are more mobile and interact in varied ways, and a lot of work has gone into keeping a large amount of species diversity in the environment.

We've compiled a set of short videos from the latest version of the game here:

Gallery of fish!

Or you can relax with this very zen broad changelist video:

Here's the demo:

Ecosystem Demo 0.2


Changelog
Creature Physiology

  • Creatures are now much more likely to evolve symmetric body shapes
  • Creatures are able to swim dramatically more quickly
  • Reworked soft-body simulation on creatures so they are a little less rigid

Vegetation

  • It is now possible to make large kelp forests, and now corals will build reefs themselves over several generations
  • Each species of plant or coral has an accurate representation of its tolerances for nitrogen and phosphorus as well as sunlight, floor substrate, and crowding
  • Healthy plants now release seeds that are carried elsewhere on the current - unhealthy ones die off. Foragers now need to follow the food, leaving behind barren or depleted areas and seeking out fresh growths. In general, this results in much more species intermixing

Species Diversity and Trophic Stability

  • It is now possible to maintain a variety of different species without them driving each other to extinction
  • It is now possible to keep predator-prey populations steady, including up multiple trophic levels, ie apex predators who eat smaller predators who eat herbivores
  • Population counts roughly fit the Lotka–Volterra equations used to model predation in nature

Gameplay

  • Players no longer build fixed nurseries: creatures can spawn anywhere
  • Players no longer build fixed mating grounds: creatures decide how to mate themselves
  • Substantially increased life points and nutrient points

Fluid Simulation

  • Used a Lattice Boltzmann method to simulate current flows around the terrain as the player shapes it. Currents transport plankton, eggs, nutrients, and seeds around the environment

Creature Vision

  • Creatures must now explore their environment to learn about it rather than having all information available to them immediately
  • To detect a mate, prey, or predator, creatures must pass a vision check based on light level, motion and a comparison of the creature’s skin color to whatever is behind it, allowing creatures to evolve to lurk in dark caves or camouflage amongst plants, corals, etc

Creature Behaviour

  • Alternate mating strategies: pairing up into mutually-compatible couples, promiscuously seeking out the most attractive partner, or gathering en masse at a central mating grounds
  • Creatures emote when they are happy, sad, or in love
  • Creatures can lunge at a target in addition to swimming at a steady pace

Pathfinding

  • Creatures can now make their way through cave systems and around nooks and crannies

Creature Editor

  • Added a fully-functional editor that allows players to design a creature's body directly and let it loose in the environment; it will evolve a brain

Terrain Editor

  • Added a fully-functional editor that allows adjusting large scale parameters of the landscape to easily and quickly create beaches, reefs, lakes, cliffs, or various alien-looking oceans

UI

  • Reskinned menus
  • Added menus for audio, graphics settings, and key bindings
  • When the player selects a creature, they also get a small picture-in-picture view of what the creature is seeing
  • Reworked tutorial to reflect changes to gameplay
  • Reworked food source menu so that it's clear there are fifty plants and corals and not just twelve

Sound Design

  • Finished score
  • Added several sound effects

Bug Fixes

  • Fix: selecting creatures with a mouse click would get thrown off due to the underwater refraction effect.
  • Fix: creatures could block the camera from moving.
  • Fix: blurriness in text that would appear over creatures.
  • Many more
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