Grandroids FAQ

I’m putting FAQs for my Kickstarter project here, so that I can add to them without bothering everyone with updates. Oh, damn! I’ve already thought of another one… So if you have a question, check here first! I’ll add a new blog category.

1. Linux: Several people have asked if I’m going to support Linux. I’m committed to using Unity3D as my graphics engine (I chose it very carefully, and I really don’t think I could make this project happen without Unity). At the moment Unity doesn’t support Linux. It does support Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, X-Box and Wii, so it’s certainly not impossible they’ll support Linux eventually too. In fact the underlying framework is already very Linux-friendly, so it shouldn’t be too difficult if they think there’s a market. A number of Unity developers have asked for it. However, it’s not something I have any control over. If Unity offers Linux support then I’ll definitely port the game to Linux too, but I can’t do anything until/unless that happens.

2. Collaboration: People have offered to help with the project in various ways, which I’m very flattered by. Thank you. The situation is this: As far as the core engine is concerned, I have to work alone. The computational neuroscience and biology involved is very, very complex and unique, and it has an impact on almost every aspect of the code (and even the graphics). There’s no way I could do this stuff in a collaborative environment. I have to keep everything inside my head, because I’m inventing completely new things as I go, and every time one part of it changes, it has knock-on effects throughout the system. So I’m just not in a position to share the core programming with anyone. Sorry.

Having said that, I’m writing an engine, at both the computing and biological levels. It will have an open API and an open genetics, so everyone is free to write new tools, create new objects and scenes, manipulate genes, create new species, etc. and I’d be delighted if you would do that. This is my living, so I need to retain some of the action, but if you had any connection to Creatures you’ll know that I design things in such a way that people can contribute. This project will be more open than Creatures was, because the technology for it has come a long way since then. Some of this may take a while to roll out, but I’ll be publishing updates as time goes on.

3. The AI: Is it for real? Sure it’s for real! But before anyone who’s not familiar with my work gets the wrong idea, I should point out that these creatures are not going to win Jeopardy! The field I work in is biologically-inspired AI, and I make complex, realistic living organisms. Think rabbits and dogs, not Terminator or Data. Most people don’t really question the nature of intelligence much, but I can tell you, winning a game of chess is easy peasy compared to recognizing the difference between a pawn and a bishop, or picking up the chess pieces. Just because we find something easy now, after years of infant practice, it doesn’t mean it IS easy. Most AI is not real intelligence at all. Especially game AI, which is to intelligence what a portrait is to a person – a shallow imitation of the real thing. What I’m interested in is real, learned intelligence and hopefully the first glimmerings of a real mind, with desires and fears and intentions. It’s much more exciting than a pseudo-HAL.

4. Timing, features, etc. I’m banking on this taking about another year. Hopefully I’ll get enough money to go on a little longer than that and do a better job. I don’t know how long until I have alphas, betas, etc. There’s a lot of very new stuff in this project so I don’t have a precedent. I don’t know what I’ll actually be able to achieve either. I’ve found that the key is to get the biology right. Biology is an incredibly powerful toolkit, and very flexible. Get that core right and lots of happy things will fall out of it. So I don’t work in the normal way, with specifications and schedules and milestones. It cramps my style. My job is to be a good biologist and let the creatures emerge. This is all about emergence.

5. Helping out: Some of you have said you don’t have any money but you’ll spread the word. Great! Thank you! I don’t have any money either, so I quite understand. I appreciate all tweets, posts, articles, submissions, reviews… anything. Well, perhaps not holding a knife to someone and stealing their wallet, but most things. I appreciate all kinds of support, even if just good wishes. Oh, and I read every single comment, etc., so I notice and care, even if I don’t get a chance to reply personally.

6. The name: I had to pick a project name for Kickstarter, so I went with Grandroids because I like it (thanks to Andrew Lovelock for coming up with it!). But I see this as a kind of brand name to describe what I “purvey” in general terms. The game will almost certainly be called something else, but I don’t have a clue what, yet. It depends how the creatures turn out and what world they tell me they want to live in.

7. What will the creatures look like? Dunno. In my head the stars of the show are rather like orangutan babies – fairly shy, semi-bipedal, cute, slightly shadowy creatures whose confidence you have to work hard to win, but we’ll see. I’ve also had requests for tails, dragons and cute eyes. The creatures are physics-based, and that is a very demanding thing, especially since computer physics engines have some strange characteristics. The creatures’  limbs have elastic muscles and the weights of different parts of their bodies have an effect on inertia and balance. It’s quite challenging getting one that has a fair chance of learning to walk and doesn’t fall over when it glances sideways! On the upside, real physics allows real intelligence, as well as complex interactions with the world, and their motion can be quite startlingly natural, compared to animation. Animation is cheating.

8. Evolution. Just so’s you know, this is not a game about evolution. The creatures will certainly be able to evolve in a pretty sophisticated way (perhaps even the most sophisticated way ever tried), but in practice it’s not the primary focus of the game. Natural selection is VERY SLOW, and the time it takes is proportional to both the complexity of the creatures that are evolving and their life span. For these creatures to live long enough for you to get to know them and care about them means that they will evolve very slowly – not that many orders of magnitude faster than happens in the real world. Selective breeding will definitely speed this up a lot, so evolutionary changes will doubtless happen. But the most important thing is actually variation – children will inherit characteristics from both parents and so will have their own unique personalities, even if they’re often problematic ones! Evolution is there, but it’s not the point of the game. I just wanted to be sure we’re all clear on that, because most A-life projects are primarily about evolving very simple creatures with very short lifespans.

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About stevegrand
I'm an independent AI and artificial life researcher, interested in oodles and oodles of things but especially the brain. And chocolate. I like chocolate too.

140 Responses to Grandroids FAQ

  1. Molly says:

    Mr. Grand, if you make the Grandroids dragonlike I will have no choice but to declare you as my own personal God.

  2. Bob Mottram says:

    If it supports Android then that’s really just a minimalist (and forked) version of Linux.

    • Daniel Mewes says:

      Sure not. Android does its best to hide the underlying Kernel. The application side of Android is Java with some additional libraries as far as I know. I am pretty sure that Android could as well be ported over to a completely different kernel (Windows, Plan 9 whatever) and the same applications would still work. Am I wrong?

  3. Bryan Himes says:

    Steve,

    You mentioned in an interview I saw on Mashable that you’re disillusioned by AI. Was this because of the weak AI approaches taken so far? What about the potential of artificial neural networks? I recall seeing a chart, perhaps by Kurzweil, predicting full functional simulation of a brain before full biological simulation. It would appear to me that AI would be the most likely path to strong AI and artificial life. Thank you for your visionary initiative in this field.

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Bryan,

      I’m basically disillusioned by Good Old-fashioned AI. I belong to the AI Nouveau camp, but somewhat apart even from that. I’m definitely a connectionist, so neural networks are what I build. But mine are very unlike the stylized, abstract NNs that grew out of perceptrons, or the random recurrent networks beloved by much insect-based New AI. It all comes down to a question of degrees of abstraction. If you look at the bulk of neural networks, they have very little connection with the brain. The “neurons” are usually simple sum-of-products devices, the networks are largely feed-forward, they have no sense of time or dynamics, and they’re configured in trivial structures such as three identical layers. These bear almost no resemblance to brains at all. At the other end of the scale you have projects like Blue Brain, which is making very detailed copies of single cortical columns. These are obviously very realistic but it remains to be seen whether we can deduce the brain’s operating principles from them, because it’s a bit like trying to recognize a photo from a couple of its pixels. The network I’m building for Grandroids lies somewhere between the two: it’s not a copy of OUR brain, but it is actually a brain in a meaningful sense. It has a complex architecture and complex dynamics, and it attempts to implement cognitive functions that actually enable a creature to function in a biological way, rather than just being used for pattern-recognition or classification.

      So yes, neural networks are where it’s at! But not all NNs are equal. It’s all very well for Ray Kurzweil to throw numbers at the problem, but we don’t lack computer power – we could make an artificial brain right now, IF ONLY WE KNEW HOW. We don’t even understand the most basic principles of the brain’s operation yet, despite knowing millions of facts about it. That’s the part I’m working on – trying to find those principles.

      Hope that makes sense .

      • JD Fagan says:

        Would be neat to try to model some new NN architectures after the ideas of Jeff Hawkins’ “On Intelligence” with regards to prediction being key aspect of intelligence.

        Or at least have a an Elman or Jordan Recurrent NN (or both?) with n number of contextual previous state copies feeding back as input into present time’s layer for time recollection states (i.e., Hidden[0] is present, Hidden[1] is previous hidden layer (1 to 1 from Hidden[0] and then fully connected out to Hidden[0], Hidden[2] is 2 steps ago’s hidden layer (1 to 1 from Hidden[1] and then fully connected out to Hidden[0], Hidden[n] is n time steps ago’s hidden layer; ditto for Output[0], Output[1], etc.).

        Do you have any articles/insights into the NN designs/architectures from visualization/high level point of view for modeling the intelligence for this project you are now working on? Would be fascinating to see the complexities of the NN/ML models you are thinking of..

        Cheers!

      • stevegrand says:

        Oh, I’m way ahead of Jeff! ;-) The only text I have so far are the few posts on this blog whose titles start with “Brainstorm”. And they’re posed as questions more than answers. My 2nd book (Growing up with Lucy) also covers some of my early exploratory stuff (in fact Jeff Hawkins and I swapped copies of our books back then). But I’ve got a lot further since then and haven’t written it up yet. I’ll be writing about it for my beta testers soon, although many of the details are still to be worked out. The game’s going to be pretty tied to my own NN topology, so I don’t know if it will be possible for other people to try their own ideas out using the creatures – we’ll see.

      • Joel Pitt says:

        Do you have anything published on your new type of neural networks? (one of your books maybe?) I’m interested in the updating process of the synaptic weights but also whether you plan to make the neural structure evolve.

        Over at OpenCog we’re doing something similar, also using Unity3D for an embodied environment for virtual intelligent agents.

      • stevegrand says:

        Hi Joel,

        Nothing technical out there yet. Yes, the neural structures will be ABLE to evolve, although evolution isn’t the way I’m arriving at them. I have a fairly comprehensive topology worked out, but it’s pretty unusual and will take some explaining. It’s not a bit like any other NNs, as far as I know. Synaptic weights are susceptible to different rules according to class and context of neuron. And there’s both dendritic and axonal migration. I’ll start explaining all this fairly soon, although the technical aspects won’t be very public at first – I owe some of my backers the chance of a sneak peek!

        Glad to hear you came to the same conclusion about Unity! I was only reading OpenCog’s site this morning. I know Ben and Hugo.

  4. Finn says:

    I think it’s just a coincidence, but all the original Creatures games are 40% of Good Old Games:

    http://www.gog.com/en/catalogue#all_genres/search/creature labs/

    If anyone missed these, this may give you a preview of some of the cool possibilities of alife. GOG.com patches the games to take care of incompatibilities with modern OSes.

  5. Daniel says:

    Will it be possible to ‘cloudify’ the Grandroids minds? Visualisation / ‘Bodies’ / Unity3D stuff on your local system, then when your Grandroid has learnt enough to run up against system resource limitations, export it and have it control its ‘body’ from the kind of remote cloud server that Amazon / Rackspace offer?

    It would allow them to get much ‘smarter’ given the kind of capacity you can get on those systems and remove the limitations that keeping everything on the average desktop would impose.

    Any chance of this kind of import & export mind feature to make their learning capacity effectively unlimited?

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Surprisingly, perhaps, the creatures won’t require more resources as they learn more. Their memory is like ours (at least to some extent) – learning “tunes” it, rather than adds to it. It’s not holographic but in some senses it’s like a hologram – you can add as many holograms to the same piece of film as you like. You never run out of space; all that happens is that the existing images gradually get more noisy and blurred.

  6. Cliff says:

    What would you recommend as reading for those of us who are interested in your work and related work? Something that will help us better understand some of the details of what you are doing before we get a peek at the beta?

    • stevegrand says:

      Ha! Should I set homework? ;-) That’s a tricky question. There really isn’t anything else that works the way this is going to work. My own books show something of the trajectory – how I designed Creatures and where that took me next – but there isn’t really a precedent anywhere else. What technical level are you thinking of?

      • Cliff says:

        I’m technical at the level of software architect, but my understanding of neuroscience is amateur, and I have not really had any experience with AI or ALife algorithms. What I am looking is to understand some of the theories of ALife which might form the basis for your original and expanding work, at least to give me a foundation for future discussions.

      • stevegrand says:

        Well, I hate to blow my own trumpet but probably my own books are the best guide to my kind of work (my blog has links to them on the menu bar. Creation covers my thinking behind Creatures, and Lucy is about the explorations that have led me to this point). It’s tricky, because although I work in AI and AL I don’t really follow the conventional paradigm, so recommending other people’s explanations is potentially a bit misleading. You could read books or web stuff on neural networks, for instance, but that would tell you very little about the kind of NN I’m developing for this project. Same for genetic algorithms. Nevertheless, http://alife.org/links.html will give you a few places to start poking around at the simpler A-life stuff – see if that gives you some starting points.

  7. Cliff says:

    I’ll start with your book and go from there. At least it will provide a framing of the problem, which is always a good place to start :)

  8. DC says:

    Planning to contribute once my paycheck comes in. I have fond memories of playing Creatures as a kid- it’s really what sparked my interest in biology.

    How powerful of a computer is it going to take for this to run well?

    • stevegrand says:

      Thanks! :-) I don’t know yet what the hardware requirements will be. If it doesn’t run on my machine then it won’t get written! I have a fairly decent 4-core PC but my graphics card is a few generations old, so we’r certainly not talking cutting edge, hard-core gamer machinery. Beyond that I can’t say just yet.

      • Guilherme Coppini says:

        Well, but you wanted to simulate an organic brain in a virtual enviroment, right? (at least. that’s what I understood of it)
        If this is right, then I think that it would need a really powerful computer… Simulating brain-cells, organic chemistry and chemical reactions, realistic physics (to give your creatures good learning possibilities – gravity, interaction with the air [air resistance and wind]…)
        This things would require a REALLY POWERFUL machine!!!

  9. Kittie says:

    I have been a long time fan of your creatures series games! If I may say when it comes to what the creatures should look like, I vote for variety!

  10. levi sleight says:

    hey i git a quick question. it wont be like the creatures games where the creatures just recongnize object categories and dont know the difference between a tomato and a potato and a deadly mushroom? will it?

  11. Greg says:

    Quick question, and this seemed like the best post to comment on to ask it. When the funding ends, what’s going to happen? Obviously you’re not going to be putting up links to a perfect beta for all to enjoy, I’d imagine that’s still a few months off absolute best-case, but beyond that? Will you be sending out links to the forum for all of us who donated, or will the forum not be up until there’s actually a beta? For the development logs, will those start from right now-ish, or are you going back and writing up some of your earlier research in summaries? Then there’s the postcards and picture, but I don’t care quite as much about those..
    Thanks. :)

    At the very least, just seeing research in this area has piqued my interest. I managed to find a copy of Creation in my university’s library and just finished reading it. Not sure how much help a mathematics degree will be if I decide to start messing around with this field, but hey, it can’t hurt.

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Greg,

      Certainly no betas, perfect or otherwise, for months yet, although I’m hoping to trickle out pre-alphas as the project progresses, perhaps as a web app to begin with, AS LONG AS people manage to show that they truly understand the nature of work-in-progress. It’s very hard to share things that aren’t yet fully formed – sometimes quite demoralizing and also often debilitating because people start pulling me in different directions. This happened hugely during Creatures and what could have been finished in 18 months took five years as a result. But I’m going to do my best to share the whole experience with you all, as long as doing so doesn’t hamper my ability to create a good product.

      But aside from live code, I’ve been working on a site for backers and everyone who qualifies will have an account. It’s not live yet and won’t be until April 8th, when the funding period is over. I still need to add content, but the site has a discussion forum, a place to submit and monitor bug reports, my programming journal, past and future lab notes and diagrams, wiki books in which the API and biology specifics will get recorded for community developers, theoretical background, user profiles, FAQ and so on. When the site goes live it’ll have some content, but obviously this will build hugely over time. Different levels of backer will have different access to these features, as befits my obligations to them, so the general public will see nothing, voyeurs will be able to watch what’s happening but not contribute much, while testers will be able to discuss the game, submit bugs, etc. and gurus will have a fair amount of control over tuning the documentation and the like.

      It’s a scary thing to manage, given getting on for 500 backers, but my aim is to carry out what’s called Open Notebook Science, and let people follow along as closely as possible with my thoughts, worries, triumphs and disasters. It requires trust from both sides, but you’ve all proved yourselves nice people, so I’m hopeful we can make it work.

      As for postcards and mouse mats and the like, those are probably going to take a few weeks to trickle out – I wasn’t anticipating so many of you! The local post office won’t know what’s hit it!

  12. Jack says:

    Steve, you have no idea how much your creatures series changed my entire world view as a kid. I was raised in a fairly theist family which to this day believes that evolution is the idea people came from monkeys and that a good counter point to evolution is to ask why monkeys are still here.

    Playing with the concepts introduced to me in your series, as well as my then new-found ability to study and learn online, rewrote my core perspective of of what was really going on. I opened my mind and dove into this whole new world of logic that the mainstream seems to this day to have never taken a liking to.

    If your project is able to open the minds of some of today’s youth as it did mine, I am thrilled to contribute. I wish I had the time and prerequisites to put some of my own hypotheses and ideas into action as you are doing with your own. You’re truly a very lucky man to be able to have been able to live out your life passion as you have. Good luck!

    I live and work in China currently so I’m not quite sure how I will go about the donation. I imagine I could have friends back home take care of it and reimburse them or some such. I regret only having the $100 dollar option available at this time. If I had kept up with your research perhaps I could have donated sooner and went with the $500 or $1000.

    • stevegrand says:

      Thanks Jack, such stories make my life worth living!

      I’m not sure about pledging from China. You can use PayPal if that’s feasible and Amazon isn’t – let me know and I’ll tell you how. The $500 option is actually still available – I just limited the numbers because I didn’t know how many sketches and the like I’d end up with that were worth sending people (and I didn’t honestly think anyone would pledge that much anyway!), but I can always add one more if you’re desperate… ;-) Nevertheless, $100 will be most welcome. Thank you.

      The monkey argument just cracks me up! On that logic there would be no propellor planes or gliders around today!

  13. KC says:

    Hey, is it okay if I ask a question? I’m really excited about Grandroids coming out, is there a place a non-donor (no spare money, sorry) can get updates on the game? I’ll I’ve seen is that site for certain donors.

    I’m not trying to beg or be snarky, just curious.

    • KC says:

      *All
      Stupid typo.

    • stevegrand says:

      Not sure why I missed moderating a bunch of comments – sorry about the delay! Right now, the only info about the game is exclusive to my backers – it was my ‘reward’ to them for backing me. But I’ll publish more stuff publicly when things get a bit further along.

  14. jordie says:

    ehhh i dont like the dragon idea :P they should look like orangutans!!!!<3 <3 <3 thas just my opinion though, either way the game is going to be great!

  15. KM says:

    This is incredible. I had never heard of your work before, but this truly is incredible. I hope you can keep up the excellent work.

  16. Jeremy Heighway says:

    Hi Steve,
    we had contact back in September 2009 at:
    https://stevegrand.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/ok-so-about-this-game-thing/#comment-565

    This seems now to be quite a good reference to the ‘evolution is slow, but people must also grow to love individuals along the line’ idea.
    Does that mean that you will be using ‘evolution’ to develop the ‘minds’, but that the game itself will focus more on what myriad of possibilities a particular point along the line then has?

    We as humans have now almost explosively reached a point where it is not our bodies or even brains which are genetically changing in just a few generations, but thought, process and understanding evolution. Will you also be looking at trying to evolutionarily develop AI to a similar point, with the aim of the game being to find out ‘which trees to take away to make everything else happen’ (given time and a bit of shaking of the box)?

    Like many others I have missed the time when process evolution threw in “crowd funding” and got it aimed at you, enabling you to now progress rapidy further. I realise you have ‘obligations’ to your kickstarters, and maybe this also keeps the number of onlookers down to a manageable level, but maybe you could ask them if they have anything against “honorary memberships” being granted as well as a sort of lifeline to those who found themselves on the chimp side of the river of societal evolution, but who really really knew where they would rather be exploring possibilities instead?

    If you can find any way to include me and I presume quite a few others to your beta-testers list, we would I’m sure all be grateful at a pretty deep level of ‘meaning/understanding’: one which maybe sometime, someplace, can also be expressed by a Grandion towards his/her/its creator.

    • Abram Demski says:

      The problem with honorary memberships is just that it wouldn’t be fair to those who paid money. Perhaps paid memberships could be re-opened, but then it would not be fair to charge the same price for coming in late. It’s just a bit difficult. Perhaps a reasonable solution could be found.

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Jeremy, hi guys,

      I’m not actively broadcasting it, because there’s kind of a slippery slope between people supporting the project, which is fantastic, and me pre-selling the game, which is a bit more of a gray area in ethical (not to mention tax and legal) terms. But what I’ve been telling people who really would have liked to be involved but missed the kickstarter deadline, is that for a short time I’m happy to take donations via PayPal on the same terms as kickstarter. It seems the fairest thing to do.

      So if you’d like to do that, feel free to send a donation to steve at cyberlife hyphen research dot com and tell me your physical address and a username for the website, and I’ll gratefully add you in. But giving out freebies, except in special cases (like I was hardly going to take money from my son!) wouldn’t be fair to those who’ve supported the project with their hard-earned cash. Hope that works for you.

      > Does that mean that you will be using ‘evolution’ to develop the ‘minds’, but that the game itself will focus more on what myriad of possibilities a particular point along the line then has?

      No, I’m not using evolution at all. Evolution will certainly be possible and will continue to tweak the design after I’ve finished with it, but I’m ironically being pretty creationist about it and designing their brains from first principles. They’re WAY too complex to evolve in the amount of time I have available. Even such simplified nervous systems might take hundreds of years to evolve by themselves, and creating the necessary circumstances (in terms of understanding morphogenetic processes that are capable of creating such obliquely modular systems) involves just as many mysteries as trying to understand how the human brain works! It would still happen many orders of magnitude faster than geological time but I’m really impatient! The design I’m developing COULD have evolved by itself, given thousands of generations, but I have the advantage of foresight and oversight, so I can try to understand what tricks natural evolution was able to exploit and do so deliberately. So, even though I’m an atheist, I’m taking on the role of a god!

      Will they usurp their own evolution? I doubt it – they’re going to be pretty stupid, so I really don’t see them discovering medicine or inventing social welfare! Then again, even humans haven’t really got that sort of thing fully worked out yet. I wish we’d hurry up and get on with it…

  17. Jeremy Heighway says:

    Eek! Should it be Grandriod, not Grandion? Sorry!……..- actually, I prefer Grandion ;)

  18. Nekura says:

    I’ve just randomly wandered in here after researching Creatures 4 which linked me all the back to you and I just gotta say you totally blow my mind. This stuff is amazing. I’m curious, are you familiar with the strand beast? (http://www.strandbeest.com/). It just reminded me a lot of this. Though I’m sure the strand beast has no AI and such.

    • stevegrand says:

      Thanks! I love blowing people’s minds!

      Yes, aren’t his works fantastic? I’ve never met Theo but I love the things he makes. There’s no AI of the kind that I do, but there’s an honorable tradition of that sort of simple mechanical solution to things that people tend to assume require intelligence. Like ants, for instance, clear up their dead and heap them up in neat funeral piles. It looks like they’re choosing to do this and thinking about it, and maybe even doing it under instruction from a supervisor, but actually it needs no intelligence whatsover, just a very simple rule: You walk forward, and if you hit another ant you can just push it in front of you, but if that ant hits any other ants it’s too heavy to push them all, so you back up and turn in a different direction and carry on walking. The result is a nice evenly spaced set of heaps. Theo’s definitely working in that tradition and I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together into a beest that can survive on its own. And they’re beautiful to watch, too!

  19. John Kula says:

    Love the project. Just one feature request… unlike creatures that had static brain sizes…. please allow this thing to take advantage of whatever resources we (consumers) want to throw at it. So if I have a quad/quad core with 48GB of ram… let me up the brain sizes (and complexity) of these AIs. I know lots of people still running creatures today and the amount of horsepower/ram available now as to when the game came out is insane. Please future proof this work!

    • stevegrand says:

      I’ll do what I can, John! Actually it raises some interesting questions. Size isn’t always what matters. Norns wouldn’t have got much less stupid if they’d had bigger brains; in fact I think they’d have become autistic on top of everything else! These new creatures ought to be capable of thinking in more advanced ways if they have larger brains, but it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.

      Btw, I’d never in my wildest dreams have guessed that people would still be using Creatures 20 years after I began writing it! At the time I couldn’t even make up my mind whether to write it for Windows or MS-DOS!

      • Nekura says:

        Creatures was a one-of-a-kind game that for me competed with Pokemon in entertainment. I remember back in 6th grade we had this creative writing class where we had to write things, and any time we could pick a topic I’d always pick Creatures and wrote about all my splicing attempts to the confusion of the class/teachers. I could argue that the older it gets, the better it gets. I have some fairly old, cheap laptops I use for school or travel and the one game I load them with is always Creatures. It works great as a portable game, especially since just about any old laptop can handle it these days. =)

        I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ll be looking forward to the release of Grandroids.

      • stevegrand says:

        Thanks Nekura! I’m pretty excited too.

  20. Kay says:

    All I can say is I can’t wait! I have every creature version and I can’t wait to see your next piece of work! And I also want to thank you for your past versions.

    Kay

  21. Joseph says:

    I was a massive fan of the Creatures series as a kid, from the age of 12 or so, I played that so much, downloaded loads of different breeds and Cobs, had a little ecology going on there with a community of half Grendel, incredibly bad-tempered mutant Norns…. Good times.

    I stumbled across this blog because I heard rumours of Creatures 4 being in development, and indeed it is and is nearly finished….. unfortunatley it looks terrible, genuinely awful, like some Sim Pets game or something. Anyway, I googled Creatures 4 for a bit more info and landed on Creatures wiki, which suggested that the brains behind the series was working on something new.

    So here I am, and I’ve found something a million times better than Creatures 4, what you’re working on sounds absolutely incredible and I cannot wait.

    Do you think you’ll have a narrative and mythology going on in your new thing? ala Shee creating Norns leaving the planet, etc.

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for the plug to IGN!

      Yeah, C4 is still basically my old C1 engine, as far as I know, but with fancier graphics. It’ll suit some people but not those who expect A-life to have improved in the past 20 years! Grandroids is going pretty well. I have a fair way to go yet but I’m quite excited about how it’s turning out. There’ll certainly be a backstory and some kind of mythology but I’m holding off making decisions about that until I know what the creatures turn out to be like. I figure I should get to know them a bit before I decide where they want to live and what kind of history makes sense. Right now I’m working hard on the biology and just getting into the development of the brain – I’ve been working on the theory for years but the details are another matter! I’ll update everyone here soon, but most of the info is available only to my kickstarter backers right now.

      • Guilherme Coppini says:

        I thought Grandroids would be some kind of sandbox game… I think the best example about that would be “Garry’s Mod”…
        A game with absolutely no lore (history, mythology or background)… Just the map/scenary (editable by players), the creatures and options to put and move objects around the world (houses, food and other possible objects – chairs? Tables? Beds?)
        It would be more interesting than a game with a straight campaign/missions or lore… In a sandbox, players could create their own world for the creatures to live, own lore and mythology… And maybe save the map and share it with other people…

      • stevegrand says:

        Absolutely definitely no campaigns or missions, I promise! I don’t know how it’s going to turn out yet, because I need to bring the creatures fully to life and see what they’re like, what they can and can’t do, etc. but I agree that it needs to be open-ended and not a conventional game.

        > This things would require a REALLY POWERFUL machine!!!

        They certainly would if I was simulating every single chemical reaction inside tens of billions of neurons. But what I do is try to extract the central engineering principles that might operate in the brain, and I can simplify those enough to make it feasible to run in real time. The world has physics and gravity, and there will be a simplified simulation of wind. Plus the creatures really have to move and balance by using their muscles and senses – there is no conventional animation. It’s very, very difficult and nobody has done anything like this before, but so far it’s coming along nicely and I’m pleased with how efficient it is. The creatures can’t do much yet, but most of their brain, chemistry, genetics and bodily organs are up and running.

  22. Joseph says:

    I’ve sent an e-mail to the PC editor at IGN, if he’s fond of the Creatures series then he may well be inclined to publicise it.

  23. Pingback: Excited about Steve Grand’s Work!

  24. Ettina says:

    If I can convince my Dad to help me, I’ll donate some stuff. Hopefully enough to beta test with advanced tools – my absolute favorite thing in Creatures is to engineer their brains.

    In general I want to see more ‘under the surface’ in games, whether it’s complex biology and neurology like you make, or actual thought-out stories instead of excuse plots (which is why I like World of Warcraft) – any game that holds my interest for long has to have something beyond the superficial gameplay elements. Just think how many different genres of games could be improved by adding a bit more depth to them! A-life could be just the beginning of more realistic simulations in multiple kinds of games.

    Regarding C4, I’m excited about that too. My hope is that more and more people will start making A-life games. The quality may vary, but as long as they have D-DNA, simulated biology and neural networks, that’s enough to get people thinking. A-life is one kind of game I can play without feeling guilty about not doing something productive – I learnt that in 1st year biology when I already knew in a general sense what ATP was!

    One question: do the grandroids have cells?

    • stevegrand says:

      Whoops – thought I’d already approved this but I hadn’t. Nope, the grandroids don’t have cells, but they do have organs. Each organ has its own chemistry, energy management, gene expression and functionality. So far I’ve built a reproductive organ, brain (well, I’ve PARTLY built the brain), eyes, and musculature/proprioception. Those are the biggies, but there will be equivalents to kidneys, gut, ears, touch sensors, etc., etc. And trust me, they’re all pretty complex!

      • Joseph says:

        Metabolism aswell, Steve? I imagine there’s things around the enviroment for them to eat, you should add nutritional properties and stuff. You could also make carnivorous species aswell. It would be like one giant D-biological sandbox.

      • stevegrand says:

        Yep, metabolism as well, and multiple nutrients in food. Proper energetics, too. Not so sure about carnivores, though – I might not be able to control them! At least the first ones might have to be carrot-eating veggie hippies like last time…

  25. Joseph says:

    I’m still so curious about all this, I keep coming back to this blog and re-reading everything. I dearly wish I was able to contribute.

    So far, all the people I’ve refered to this blog have been blown away, and many of them have only a passing interest in video games! I genuinely think that if this project comes off as you intend, and it has the same kind of commercial polish and …. saleability as the Creatures series, then it will be very successful. It could even be revolutionary within the industry and open up an entirely new genré. One can hope.

    I understand that the fine details and all the news are reserved for the people who backed you, and consequently made it possible, but do you have a rough idea of when this info will be released to the general public?

    I like the idea of basing them on baby orangutans. Big, dark, solemn and wise eyes, with a hint of ‘cutesty’ about them. Less keen on them all being ginger though :P

    Also, will they age in a normal, biological way, rather then reaching a certain point and then immediately advancing to the next ‘life stage’? And how about towards the end of their lifetime, will their organs and stuff just naturally deteriorate and eventually cease function?

    And most importantly, will I eventually, through many generations worth of selective breeding, be able to produce a species with basketball sized testicles? (This is critical).

    Have a great Christmas, Steve. :)

    • Joseph says:

      Also I’ll just say, I didn’t hear back from IGN, but I did e-mail several other publications, including PC Gamer, who showed great interest and said they’d be looking closely for info when it comes.

    • stevegrand says:

      I’m still working on the testicles – I’ll report back!

      I’ll update people on this blog some time early in the year – I’m waiting until I get their brains working. Aging ought to be pretty natural. Genes can switch on and off at any age, so I can control the efficiency of organs, strength and speed of muscles, etc. Ideally they’ll die of natural causes. The first norns did – I’d intended to kill them off when they got to a certain age but I forgot to include a chemoreceptor gene, so it didn’t work. Nevertheless, they still died. This time they’re so much more complex, so I expect there will be plenty to wear out!

      Happy New Year!

  26. Solshine says:

    Dear Mr. Grand,

    I absolutely adore all of your work and am looking forward to Grandroids. I have one issue that’s bothering me. You’re moving from simple life forms that can, perhaps, be compared to bacteria, to life that thinks. I don’t really know if you mean REALLY real life, or just a REALLY good simulation, or both, but what are we looking at now? Is it a program or a creature?

    Do you remember norn torturers? How morally obliged will we be to stop them this time?

    I’m sure you know what you’re doing, but it’s not your work I’m concerned about, it’s other people, clever people with disregard to life’s possibilities, that concern me. What will THEY build for your creatures? Can we adequately protect them? Are we morally obliged to?

    Merry xmas,
    Solshine.

    • stevegrand says:

      I think I can make a good case for them being really alive. Whether they’ll be conscious is another question. That’s what I’m working towards ultimately, and the first species will have the glimmerings of an imagination, which I think is crucial for consciousness. Are we morally obliged to protect them? That’s an excellent question! I’m hoping it’s a question many people will ask and think deeply about! It’s one of the main reasons I do this kind of work – to mess with people’s unquestioned assumptions and make them think more carefully about such things. The responses I saw to norn cruelty (adoption agencies and stuff) were really heartwarming. I’m pretty sure the net result will be positive, promise!

      Happy New Year!

      • Joseph says:

        If the gamer has a tool that can display in full what the creature is thinking, what desires or cravings it has, it’s emotional state – in regards to personal dynamic with other creatures or other stuff, If it can develop an affinity with another creature, or favour a particular item. And if cearly distinct personalities can emerge between different creatures, then you have to conclude that this is, in fact, a lifeform, and not just a clever simulation.

        The ethical question of their suffering is very interesting. How will they perceive suffering, Steve? With us it’s an unpleasant nerve reaction (pain) and a flood of *badtime* emotion. Will the same deal happen with them? Will they genuinely feel pain?

        Typed slightly drunk, hope it made sense. And you must be getting damn tired of my questions now. I can’t help it though, it’s so fascinating!

      • Nekura says:

        Relevant thought. Can these creatures get drunk as well? Buahaa.

        On a different note, I know you said evolution likely wasn’t going to be involved.. but would it be possible for, say, when raising a group in a particular ecosystem they eventually adopt to it? Lots of water = amphibious, gills, or dolphin Desert= low need for water, perhaps a more carnivorous state.

        ..and.. Mountains = WINGS AND FLIGHT. Maybe. But then they may just evolve to be spiderman. I always find randomness is the best addition any game could have. Random spawns.. random evolutions.. random mutations.. random “o’ crap a giant space rock just killed all my critters D=”

      • stevegrand says:

        Joseph: Will they genuinely feel pain? Yes and maybe! Yes, they’ll have essentially similar nerve signals, drive changes, a sense of punishment for the actions that caused the pain, etc. But will they FEEEEEEEEL pain? That I don’t know. Ants feel pain in the first sense but I suspect they don’t feel it in the second. This is a big question!

        Nekura: Wings and flight? Ha! Not asking for much, are you? I’m hoping to be able to build flying and swimming creatures but for now the one won’t be able to evolve into the other. Their bodies can evolve only in limited ways – I had to keep the basic body plan constant so that things like instinctive reactions etc. can know what body parts actually exist. In Spore you can get away with a lot of flexibility, but in Grandroids the creatures have to control their own bodies and that presents me with some challenges. Hopefully I can make them more flexible in time, although when you think about how long it took fish to evolve into birds in real life the question might be a bit academic! ;-)

      • Nekura says:

        Okay, how about the sudden space rock coming and murdering everything?

        Ehehehe.

  27. It’s nice to see that the question of ethics is being raised even before the project is finished. I for one remember adopting the tortured norns that supposed norn torturers were putting up on their sites when I was a kid. By the way, I remember hearing that the guy who started the torturing norns trend was a conservationist who was trying to raise awareness of animal cruelty. Did you ever learn about that? I always wanted to know about that, since he seemed to be taunting people into rehabilitating norns which doesn’t make sense if he truly wanted to torture them.

    Secondly, following up on Nekura’s question, I think what she’s trying to ask is what threshold would there be on the micro-evolution of the creatures? Could they adapt to surroundings and become more like different breeds of the same creature, or would there be little to no change, other than superficial, outside of the mental processes to make the overall species smarter than when it was first conceived? The big question with that though is are you at a point in the development where you know these things? :-)

    • stevegrand says:

      > I remember hearing that the guy who started the torturing norns trend was a conservationist

      I hadn’t heard that. If we’re talking about the same guy I think he was in the military in San Diego, but I certainly got the feeling his “torture” was done tongue-in-cheeck with the aim of rocking a few boats!

      As for micro/macro-evolution, I have some severe limitations in this first iteration. Genes will be able to alter physical proportions, markings, strengths, flexibility, etc. but the basic body plan is fixed. In future I’d like to make that more flexible but this time I had some big constraints and didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew! I think of them as being of fixed genus but with the potential for multiple species. There’s certainly scope for differences in reproductive habits to isolate the gene pools, but I don’t really know how much variation in physiognomy I can support, yet. And of course evolution is VERY slow, so I’m anticipating variation more than speciation. But people surprised me last time, so I’m waiting to see!

      • Nekura says:

        Well considering we’re still play creatures.. which was released.. uh.. in ’96.. so that’s.. I hate math but.. 16 years. Realistically no time for evolution of any sort, but would 16 years be enough time for some slight changes of the dragon/monkey/chicken creatures?

        Can someone correct me on this? But I think there’s generation 5000 norns running around.

  28. Nev says:

    Steve, what you’ve promised with Grandroids is truly mind blowing! Seriously, me and my partner (solshine, who’s also posted some questions and stuff) can’t stop thinking about how in a year or however long, my laptop will somehow have a thinking entity in it. Are you a magician?
    Someone else already requested this, i hope to increase the chances by making it two requests! Please let us dedicate as much computer space to their brains as we choose/is possible, if that can make them learn more words or think ‘better’. How much of a conversation do you think we’d be able to have with one?
    I hope we’ll be able to breed visual changes into them pretty quickly, like with dogs. How much will we be able to shape their personalities, if they have them?
    If they can imagine, can they create? It’d be immensely cool to have a virtual fridge covered in art made by a favourite Grandroid.
    The things you say they’ll have and be able to do are so astounding that i really feel like i’m watching the birth of proper AI, like Grandroids 4 will be more person than pet. Do you think this feeling is justified? If so, keep the name ‘Grandroids’, you deserve to have your name attatched to it in such a visible way!

    I grew up playing creatures 2, i fell in love instantly with the gorgeous world and the lovable if thick inhabitants, i can’t wait for the next step in the story.
    (can’t wait for Grandroids 4 either!)

    • stevegrand says:

      > Please let us dedicate as much computer space to their brains as we choose/is possible

      I’m working on it! It might not be possible for the initial species but I’ll try to do that at some point. Size isn’t everything, so it needs a bit of thinking about to make it useful and I need to learn a few things about how the first creatures use their brains. It’s on my to-do list, anyway!

      More person than pet? Hard to say. They’ll still be extremely thick, but I hope this time there will be a real “somebody” behind their eyes in a way that norns never managed.

      • Nev says:

        Thankyou for the reply! Would you do me the honour of glancing over some creatures i’m making?
        http://factorynev.deviantart.com/#/d4rw69y
        http://factorynev.deviantart.com/#/d4qdy01

      • stevegrand says:

        Wonderful! The bird one is very much like I wanted the original norns to look, long before anyone was interested in what I was developing! I wanted their “knees” (strictly they’re ankles, since birds walk on their toes) to bend backwards, because I love the way birds strut, but I’m not sure if that could be done any more. Can’t remember what the rules are for limb rotations. But you’ve captured the kookiness I was looking for all those years ago.

      • Nev says:

        I’m absolutely honoured indeed! I love birds adorable struts too, I have a couple of pet pigeons who strut their stuff all over the place.
        Thank you so much!

  29. Colin Wright says:

    Steve, a few questions;

    What sort of population size do you think the average PC will be able to support?

    How many neurones on average are you going to need to simulate for the average creature in this simulation?

    Will Grandroids have the equivalent of a visual cortex or will that part of their sensory apparatus work somewhat like creatures?

    I will be very impressed by the way if you get them to stand up and walk. just finished both you books and am very intrigued by your line of research, would love to have contributed so I could see more of how it’s going and because I think it’s very original and worthwhile from a research point of view.

    Have you give thought to how you will publish the finished product by the way Steam? Good for small independent developers I think.

  30. Colin Wright says:

    By the way Steve; I was reading growing up with Lucy and think that AI is really the wrong term for what your trying to achieve as you are trying to synthesis a real rather than artificial intelligence. I think the term synthetic intelligence is better for your work and the term artificial intelligence should refer to exactly the types of badly faked intelligence it currently does. You see what I mean?

  31. Mysti says:

    Collin, the artificial intelligence Steve grand works with is known as artificial life, so it does already have a more commonly used term for it.

    • Colin Wright says:

      I was referring to his books which also discuss other approaches to artificial intelligence. I would also suggest that from the philosophical stance Steve takes in his books, which is a stance I tend to agree with that synthetic life would be a better term than artificial life.

      I’m talking about his argument that second order phenomenon can be thought of as real even if the first order simulations you build them with are just simulations.

      In any case Steve’s work covers both artificial life and artificial intelligence, since you can certainly have artificial life that’s not intelligent; In fact most A-Life deals with exploring evolution of far simpler non-intelligent “organisms” mostly in fairly simple environments.

      So I propose the term artificial life be generally replaced with synthetic life and Steve’s research into intelligence would better be described as synthetic intelligence (as he is trying to synthesis real intelligence); while the classic top down coding approach to Artificial Intelligence is just that an artificial imitation of intelligence.

      • stevegrand says:

        Er, I only just saw this for some reason – sorry. Yes, synthetic intelligence would be a good term. I’d love to distance myself from the Weak AI camp and that would help. It’s a sad historical accident that weak and strong AI are both called AI.

        Population size: hard to know, yet, but I’m aiming for family groups – half a dozen or so, rather than zillions of simple creatures.

        They’ll have a partial visual cortex. They don’t get visual data in the form of pixels but as distances, motion, color and general properties of shape (spikiness, aspect ratio, etc.). So their input is lower level than for Creatures but higher level than real life. The PRINCIPLES of their visual system map closely onto our own, though (if my ideas are correct!). It’s just that they start with abstractions and not raw pixels because of both the computational cost and the intellectual challanges that would entail.

        How many neurons is a difficult question, partly because my implementation has to take certain shortcuts that mean I need fewer actual neurons in the code than you would in real life. But we’re probably talking something like 40,000.

        Dunno about distribution yet, but currently Steam feels too restrictive for such a ‘framework’ project. We’ll see.

        Sorry about the delay!

  32. Mysti says:

    Come on Steve, can you give us any more sneak peaks?

  33. David R. says:

    I’ve been waiting for something like this since I started gaming, a simulator that lets me create something the programmer would have never expected, because it is not “programmed”, it is truly unique, like nothing else other players will create, with infinite, truly infinite, endless possibilities, like life itself. I don’t really care about the looks, or if the result of my work might look “simple”, I don’t care if I have to spend a week to create something barely complex, because that’s the nature of life and biology. Good luck with your project Mr. Grand, I hope it works because people REALLY need something like this.

  34. Lesa says:

    Hello!

    I was wondering if you were still working on this? I’ve always been a fan of the creatures games, and I was excited when I first heard about this.

    Hope I’m not being a pest. I just wanted to know if its still being worked on, as I can never seem to find anything else about it besides the here and the kickstarter page.

    If I had the money I would’ve donated while I had the chance, but oh well. Good luck on your project! ^^

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Lesa,

      Yep, I’m working my ass off on it every day! But one of the rewards for backing my project on Kickstarter was the exclusive inside track on its development, so all my backers have access to a private website. That’s why there’s nothing public yet. I’ll update everyone on this blog eventually, but I’m still in the middle of developing the creatures’ brains and so there’s not much to see yet.

      Thanks for the good wishes! Not a pest at all :-)

      - Steve

  35. CoCo Meyer says:

    I have to say, I am anticipating your game as something I would only dream of. I grew up on Creatures 1, 2, and 3 as a child, and I still crave for another fantastical world, another set of creatures with the ability to evolve, and I am following closely as possible even though I was not able to contribute. Your work is highly appreciated as an avid gamer and I can’t wait to see the outcome.

    Best of wishes,
    CoCo Meyer

  36. GB2112 says:

    Hello Steve and everyone else. Id just like to say I love the creatures games, and have only just discovered Grandroids and I must say I am extremely excited about it. Creatures has satisfied my need for a life like simulation that can learn, grow, reproduce and evolve. Its like a dream come true and now I have discovered Grandroids. Honestly I can’t wait for the release, but take all the time in the world to make Grandroids as life like as possible. The more indepth content such as spychology, anatomy, biochemisty and “digital DNA” the better! I’d love to help out in any way I can with this project, and saying that I noticed you have a Grandoids website up for backers. I was wondering if it is still possible to get onto it and how necause I want to read up on it as much as possible and follow the dev every step of the way. So I’d like to say thank you for all you have done and I’ll be looking forward to Grandoids with much anticipation.

  37. Coppini says:

    Hey Steve!
    I just discovered this project of yours today. A friend told me something about it when we were talking about this things [artificial intelligence on the computer], and I looked for it in the internet. Found the Kickstart page of yours, read the updates and such, but, at least as I can see here, you haven’t posted anything about this project here since March 29… of 2011!
    So, did you stopped the project or you just stopped posting about it here?

    Anyway, thank you for trying to do this… I always thought about it, and always wanted to see/do something like this… xD

    • stevegrand says:

      Thanks. No, I just stopped posting about it on the Kickstarter site – there’s a private website for my backers, because I promised them an exclusive. The project’s coming along nicely and I’ll say something about it on the KS site eventually :-)

      • Coppini says:

        Ah, ok… I was seeing this wordpress, but there is nothing on it… couldn’t you say something to us that don’t have the “backsite”? A little spoiler, just something like how it is going, how far it is… and if it would be ended by this year or take another five years to finish?.. xP

        Anyway, I really liked the idea and look forward to it! =D

      • stevegrand says:

        It’s about a year out or less, depending on when I hit starvation level! Yep, I’ll do a general update soon. Been thinking of doing so but there’s a lot going on at the moment. Watch this space!

      • Coppini says:

        Ok, nice!
        I just can’t wait for it now… looking for your previous games around here, seeing interviews… the idea of it is just… marvelous!
        Thanks a lot for it!

  38. Joseph says:

    Still really excited by this. Is it coming along well, Steve? Still working on the brains?

    • stevegrand says:

      Pretty well, thanks Joseph. I’m way behind, of course, but it’s coming along. I’m still working on the brains, yes. All the infrastructure is in place but so far all my creature can do is watch flying beachballs (then again, it took me a couple of years just to get a robot to point at bananas!). I’m working on walking and posture control at the moment. After that it gets easy… ;-)

  39. Chris says:

    Hello Steve,

    i want to become a betatester to, i know i am a liitle late with this. Is it still possible ?
    i want to donate 100$ using paypal.

    on August 19, 2011 you wrote :
    “So if you’d like to do that, feel free to send a donation to steve at cyberlife hyphen research dot com and tell me your physical address and a username for the website, and I’ll gratefully add you in. But giving out freebies, except in special cases (like I was hardly going to take money from my son!) wouldn’t be fair to those who’ve supported the project with their hard-earned cash. Hope that works for you.”

    Please tell me if anf how i can donate, because this project ist amazing an i NEED to support it.

    Thanks a lot !

    Chris

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Chris, the answer is in the bit you quoted, but I’ll drop you an email.

      • Oliver Olschina says:

        Hallo Steve,
        Chris told me something about the Grandroids project and i like to donate you 75$ via paypal. Can you tell me how i can donate?

        Thanks a lot!

        Oliver

  40. steff says:

    I have been dreaming of a game like this since I first plugged creatures into my computer. I was 10 when it came out and would spend months running ‘wolfing runs’ and documenting everything about their behaviour and interactions.

    I really cant wait till this comes out!
    I have a mac, will it be mac compatible?

    Also any clues on how long we’re going to have to wait??

    Steff

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Steff, I can’t wait either! Realistically it’s going to be another 12 months. On a good day I get a tiny bit more optimistic but on a bad one I start wondering if I’ll get it all working any time this century! It’s for Mac, PC and Linux. I’ll write an update on my blog soon. Well, soonish.

  41. Bud says:

    This would bring a tear to my eye if I wasn’t already dehydrated. I’ve been searching for this game for about as long as I’ve had a computer and internet access so roughly a decade, or half my life.

    The only thing I can say is thank you.

    • stevegrand says:

      You’re welcome, Bud. Although I haven’t even finished it yet! :-) But thanks very much for the encouragement – I can use all the moral support I can get. Now go drink some water. Or beer. Beer is good.

  42. GZ says:

    Hello Steve,
    I would just like to say that I am very much looking forward to this game. My love of playing the creatures series inspired me to study chemistry which in turn lead to me becoming a doctor. It’s always in the news that computer games ruin people’s morals and motivation but I want you to know that your games do the opposite. They encourage people to learn, to investigate, to experiment and they inspire further learning. I would very much like to know more about the development of Grandroids but I understand that you must be loyal to the people that have made this opportunity possible by backing you. I wish you every success with the game and will be front of the line to order the game when it’s released.

    • stevegrand says:

      That’s a lovely thing to say. Thank you! :-) Just what I needed, actually (just what the doctor ordered?), because I’ve been struggling a bit with Grandroids this past few days and after a while, thinking really, really, really hard starts to lose its lustre! I promise I’ll do an update about Grandroids here soon – it’s on my To Do list but until I can solve a sticky problem I’m a bit short of brainpower!

      • GZ says:

        Perhaps writing the update will give you a chance to take your mind off of the specific problem and also give you a chance to review your progress. My biggest ‘eureka’ moments usually come when I turn away from the problem at hand and review back to what lead me to the problem in the first place.

  43. Jack says:

    Hey Steve Loved Creatures 3 had a play with the gen editor if i had money to give i would Cant wait to see grandroids keep up the good work

  44. Imlora says:

    Woah…… just discovered this…. I was so… trying to be optimistic about creatures 4, but THIS IS WHAT I REALLY WANTED IN MY HEART!!!! Amazing! I am blown away! This is going to be the BEST EVER. IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS I’D GIVE THEM TO YOU! AS IT IS, I WILL PROBABLY GIVE YOU FIVE OR SO! BUT ALTHOUGH I AM POOR, KNOW THAT I GIVE THESE FEW DOLLARS WITH ALL OF THE LOVE IN MY HEART! AND I WILL REALLY MISS THEM! That counts extra, right?? Well, you may not be able to exchange my love and the pain with which I part with my money for goods and services, but you can exchange it for motivation in these hard times! Yay! Just know that I LITERALLY CANNOT WAIT. AND YOU HAVE KILLED ME DEAD WITH THE PROSPECT OF WAITING. BLARGrrGgggbfkjsdfjasdjhfjd xP

  45. Keith says:

    Hey Steve love your work, just a quick question, will they be able to communicate ? I.e. be able to make noise and hear?

    Can’t wait for the release. Sometime this year maybe ?

    • stevegrand says:

      Thanks! Yep, they’ll be able to make sequences of noises and hear each other and things in the world. I haven’t got on to that yet so I don’t know how far I’ll be able to take it in terms of communication, but in principle there’s a lot of scope. One day I’d like them to be able to hear us too, but that may be a later add-on. Some time this year I HOPE! It’s not been an easy trek so far, but if it doesn’t happen this year then I’m going to take up knitting instead!

  46. Thomas samson says:

    I left a message earlier but I think it hasn’t been submitted. I would like to donate money to this great project. Please give me details how to do that if you are still accepting.

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi, sorry Thomas, I had a major computer crash today and only just got things working enough to see your message. I’ll drop you an email shortly.

      Cheers, Steve

      • Rachael says:

        Steve, please pass on the donation information as well! I’m a very big follower of Creatures, and I would LOVE to help support the project!

      • stevegrand says:

        Hi Rachel, thanks very much; I’ll email you too. I don’t like to keep ASKING for donations – it seems wrong somehow – but I really appreciate them when they’re offered! For anyone else who’s desperate to give me their hard-earned cash, drop me an email at steve at cyberlife hyphen research dotcom and I’ll let you know how to go about it.

  47. valixie says:

    Any stock options?

    AI beings are coming. Real AI.

    • stevegrand says:

      Haha! Might be a while before I go public! Business has never been my strong suit. :-) Yep, real AI. Totally genuine emergent, thinking beings. Just very stupid ones.

  48. andyowen42 says:

    Just found out about this, was sad to see the kickstarter was over but then again that means the game is farther along than that. I just found the first and second creatures on Good Old Games so hopefully that can keep me occupied until your game is out. I found out about Creatures 4 and was quite underwhelmed, which led me to your kickstarter, which promptly got me very excited! Can’t wait for this game!!!

  49. Joseph says:

    How are you doing, Steve? Still awaiting Grandroids with eager anticipation. Hope you’re not having too many problems with it.

    You must remember that you are doing something utterly unique within this industry. I’ve just been reading an article about the lack of advancement in video game AI, which obviously prompted a visit to this thread. I firmly believe that if you get Grandroids working to your expectations then it will be revolutionary within the video game industry and, as you did with Creatures, you will probably end up inspiring another generation of kids to study biology!

  50. steff says:

    Hi Steve

    I while back I set up a Facebook page dedicated to Grandroids, because there wasnt one and i figured more people need to know about it! Anyway, it seems to be growing….. alot.
    I keep posting stuff that you say on here or any videos of Grandrids that I find online. However people keep asking me for more info and I dont have it!
    If you have any new videos I’d love to post them.

    Im so excited for this game!

    Steff

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Steff,

      Well I never! I see loads of my KS backers are on the page but nobody has even mentioned it to me, as far as I know (although I admit I’ve had my head down)!

      I don’t have anything to share yet – it’s all been going really badly. Not disastrously badly just slowly badly. I’ve almost got back on track, but there’s not much to show for it just yet. Walking (and balancing and adjusting to terrain, and sitting down, and getting up again when they fall over) turned out to be even more complicated than I’d thought, and I’m quite the pessimist usually. I’ve almost got that working now, I think, and once the stupid critters can actually go places it will all progress more quickly. It’s hard to be intelligent when you can’t move!

      I’ll share as soon as I have something to look at. Meanwhile, thanks for starting the page!

  51. Xilrian says:

    Hello Steve,

    (French here so forget my english),

    I was about to suggest you to accept some donations (I think you have been kinda unlucky to launch your kickstarter campain just before kickstarter became large scalled famous) but after reading most of the comments above I understand it’s maybe allready possible isn’t it ?

    If so I’m interested to give you something and get an access to the private part of http://grandroids.com/ ^^

    Anyway doing programming also myself I know it most of the time take much more time than what was expected so don’t be discouraged and continue you good work ^^

    good luck -_^

    David

    • stevegrand says:

      Bonjour David,

      Yes, I certainly missed out on the “Kickstarter millionaire” stage! Although to be honest I was so embarrassed to be asking for donations in the first place that I wouldn’t have dared ask for more money.

      But as you know, the project has turned into a huge piece of science, as well as a huge piece of code, so I’m extremely grateful for any support I can get! If you or anyone else would like to donate, I’m happy to do it on the same basis as I did for Kickstarter. Just send a PayPal donation to my email (steve at cyberlife-research dot com) and let me know your physical address and the username you’d like to use on the community site and I’ll set you up an account straightaway.

      Thanks very much for the offer and the encouragement!

      - Steve

  52. Ancano says:

    Hello there! I just have a few things to say, then I’ll be on my way..
    Firstly, I love this project and am very eager to see the outcome. I guess the old Creatures games will have to do until then. By the way, my favorite was Creatures 2, even if I had to forcefeed my stupid, beautiful animals sometimes. Or almost all of the time.
    Speaking of Creatures, have you heard of a game in development called Mewgenics? It sounds a lot like the Creatures series, but with cats. But it’ll probably be simpler compared to Creatures, I think.
    I was thinking a bit about custom content for your current Grandroids project, though.. Will that be an option? Maybe just very simple things, like re-skinning a bland creature with a more decorative design, or making a vendor that dispenses a treat that didn’t come with the game, or a mod that lets you pick up creatures when activated, since I doubt that’ll be included in the base game, since it wasn’t in any of the Creatures games without a cheat. It’d probably be harder in a 3D game than in something 2D, but.. well, you get my point. Thanks for reading.

    • stevegrand says:

      Thanks! Nope, I’ve not heard of Mewgenics (what a name!) but I don’t think I really want to look. Always better to pay no attention to the competition when I’m working, I find. :-)

      Yes, there will be huge potential for mods – new virtual objects, tools, medical equipment, you name it. That sort of thing is much easier to support now than it was in the Creatures days. You’ll be able to re-skin a creature and modify the body, although it’s not necessarily trivial, and probably even write your own complete biological AI engine, with a different kind of brain, different chemistry, etc. if you really want to (although you might need a PhD in computational neuroscience and another in computer science to do it…). Plus of course the wide range of things you can do via genetic manipulation. I don’t know what the limits will be yet but I’m making it as open as I can. Not least so that I can add new species of creature as my own research develops.

      And you’ll be able to pick them up – I already need that a lot, because they keep falling over while they’re learning to walk! :-)

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