NOBLE APE MAILOUT - NOVEMBER 2005

NOBLE APE 0.673 to 0.675
NOBLE APE 0.676 - Work in Progress
AD SCIENCE
SCRIPTING THE ION

NOBLE APE 0.673 to 0.675

It seems rather strange that only last month I was writing about Noble Ape 0.672. Following a couple of bug fixes version 0.673 was released quickly followed by 0.674. 0.675 featured the much-anticipated inherited genetics and full-life cycle including birth code. This code introduced the idea of the Noble Ape Simulation as a genetic simulation for testing the survival properties of various genetics characteristics.

I started developing Noble Warfare for a similar reason.

When I lived in the UK, I had the sense that conflict had shaped the genetic make-up of the UK. Whilst relatively peaceful over the past fifty years, the UK's heritage from pre-history to the end of the colonial empire was forged in conflict that resulted in substantial casualties and thus genetic elimination. The same is true for most of Europe and the Middle East.

I haven't been able to find any academic work on the genetic effects of warfare. It is a phenomenon that could easily be simulated with a hybrid of the Noble Ape Simulation and Noble Warfare shaping both peacetime and sporadic organised conflicts.

Developing a genetics simulation requires new features...

NOBLE APE 0.676 - Work in Progress

The biggest feature in the near future is the ability to track each Ape through a unique number on the Map window which is also projected through the Terrain window. This seems like a simple addition. The problem is, up until now, the difference between the monochrome and the colour windows had been hard coded into the Simulation. Changing this one component required substantial code rewriting. This work allows text and lines to be drawn in the colour windows as well a monochrome windows. It will also allow for any sized window in terms of physical dimension or colour bit depth.

At the time of writing this mailout, all the window independent draw routines had been completed. The issue was whether to release this code and a linking version or steam ahead with additional features like naming the apes or establishing the genetic links graphically. On this latter point, I have written briefly in my personal log on the method I want to use to establish hereditary information through the Simulation. Rather than recording the parents of a specific ape or the children of the same ape, each ape can be genetically tested versus another ape. Based on the age of the Ape, whether there is a family link and whether it is child-parent, parent-child or siblings should be achievable. This may produce some interesting results on a closed environment such as the Simulation.

With the new graphics methodology in place the next feature could be bigger windows. I say could because there are a number of features I would like to look at adopting in the Simulation in the near future. Subscribers to the developer mailing list will have read a recent discussion on OGRE and OpenGL. I would like to see a ''traditional'' 3d interface to the Simulation that featured actual visible Noble Apes, plants, animals etc. Representing the genetics in the Noble Ape's fur, for example, would be really cool.

AD SCIENCE

Folks dropping by the site over the past month may have noticed the inclusion of Google's AdSense. I wanted to gage the effectiveness of this technology over a fixed period. The history of Noble Ape has involved testing technology for effectiveness. If it doesn't work to spec, it won't be included with the development. AdSense has failed for a number of reasons. As I strip AdSense down over the next month, I'd like to reformat sections of the Noble Ape site. More on this following the discussion of AdSense.

The original metric for success was the ability to produce $10 of income per month. AdSense generates revenue by advertisers paying for clicks through to their site. The ads are tailored to the content through Google. Google takes a cut of the click through revenue and passes the remaining money on to the site owner. The site is currently averaging about 50c per day in AdSense revenue. About 50c through two clicks per day. The mathematically astute will note that this beats the $10 per month requirement, but I feel aesthetically the site is seriously impacted for that relatively tiny sum.

Whilst the general placement of appropriate ads seems relatively accurate, I do have a particular example which also illustrates an important point.

I have a null view on the creation versus science debate in terms of artificial life. Science is not religion. Religion is not science. Contemporary commercial science is not historically what science has been. Creationism/intelligent design is not historically what religion has been. The US ''debate'' is primarily a function of poor science education, ''science'' press releases producing unintelligible media sound bytes (are eggs/red wine/olive oil bad for you?) and a lack of philosophical understanding of belief, opinion and fact.

Noble Ape is fundamentally a hobby - check out the Plane Insane video clip on the music section of the Noble Ape site for confirmation of this;

http://www.nobleape.com/music/

The questions Noble Ape attempts to answer aren't contemporary scientific questions but more humanist questions - 'can' rather than 'why'. 'Can we model the genetic effects of longterm conflict?' for example.

Enter into this, AdSense, and Google's interpretation of what is written about on the site;

http://www.nobleape.com/docs/ape_at_home.html

An additional caveat, it appears that the AtHome endeavor has died a slow death, so the page is online for a historical note rather than something that is a current link. However, it does illustrate the point that Google is sometimes confused with the content of the Noble Ape site. The feedback from AdSense users online is to modify content to improve Google searching, improve the accurate tailoring of ad content. All become happy with this synergy.

Curiously, I'm not changing the Noble Ape pages to improve the number of people Google-ing ape perversions landing on the Noble Ape site. Most who want to find the site for true Noble Ape related information tend to find the site through Google.

Looking through the site in adding the AdSense link has made me reflect on how content is laid out on the site. I suspect the site could get away with about a quarter of the pages it currently hosts. Over the month I linked the Ecosim, iON and Planet Noble Ape developments in discussion on my personal log. There is no reason why these developments don't share a single page. Similarly the Source Log that is on this site could easily be moved to a couple of PDFs. It is a historical legacy rather than information of current assistance.

SCRIPTING THE ION

Prior to the genetics requests which lead into the graphics rewrite, I had been looking at additional applications of ApeScript. The first thing that came to me was creating an educational version of ApeScript that could draw lines, take keyboard and mouse input and generally produce a contemporary replication of the LOGO functionality of twenty years ago. This would be relatively easy, however it would require a minor rewrite to allow ApeScript to load version specific (Simulation/educational/etc) externally executed functions and global variables.

In my musings about the lesser simulations on the Noble Ape site, it occurred to me that the iON was the perfect candidate for ApeScript too. As with the Simulation, ApeScript could provide the iON with the linking glue between the interface and the graphics. ApeScript would be the game engine logic. This makes a lot of sense for beta testing various scenarios.

In my Log discussion online I mused about the 1:1 replacement of the Noble Ape with the iON. Or the iON with the Noble Ape from the Simulation. Some parity between the combatant in Noble Warfare, the Noble Ape and the iON would produce a fundamentally elegant open source development rationale for all three and ideally link a semi-neglected and a fully-neglected development with the flagship ''product'' (as a contact at Apple referred to the Simulation a couple of weeks ago). Doesn't feel like a product. More a hobby.

Hope all is well with you all,

Tom Barbalet, 28 November 2005.


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