MFA Thesis Study / Personal Project at ACCAD (The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at OSU)
This is part of my thesis research to explore emergent systems inspired by Agent-Based Modeling. However, instead of simulations of artificial agents, I developed a prototype for human players. The player controls a cell and the main goal is to survive by eating food in the environments.
The process started by experimenting with paper models. Different color papers were assigned either as adjectives (soft, hard, etc) or verb (divide, propel, etc.). Two participants were involved to test-play the paper models. The idea was to try and see whether different configurations would create different “creatures”.
The process took many iterations, and when I brought the model to be prototyped with Unity game engine, the paper models were too complicated. Eventually, the mechanisms of the game were reduced to a few simple features: the main cell can move, eat, and die. The cell can also spawn into either cell type A (magnetic) or cell type B (destroyer).
Even with the simple mechanisms, the features of the cells needed the value to be adjusted throughout the process in order to gain a better balance gameplay for the game.
Depending on the configurations of those cell types, new high-level behaviors may emerge: hunter, gatherer, scavenger, etc. This is the essence of an emergent system: the interactions of low-level components (cell types) produce high-level behaviors. The prototype stopped at a single player game. It would be an interesting study to see the consequences of a multi-player game.