NOBLE APE MAILOUT - NOVEMBER 2006
The Moon Monkeys development was designed to integrate Noble Ape with other simulation environments.
Part of this was also to look at the needs of other simulation environments and the kinds of problems the Noble Ape development solved successfully.
I was contacted during the week by DarwinAtHome's Gerald de Jong. He wanted to investigate the possibility that Noble Ape technology could be used with DarwinAtHome;
As I have been writing about and talking on Moon Monkeys for a number of months, it took me less than a day to port the landscape generation technology from the Noble Ape Simulation to Gerald's preferred language, Java.
Through Mridul's work on Torque, it seems logical to produce a completely object oriented version of the Simulation core and rename this central component of the Simulation. This, in part, seems to be needed as the core directory - the previous home of the Simulation core - is a reserved directory name in Linux.
I have been reworking the Simulation core over the past few weeks, independent of Gerald's request, because I want to translate the ideas of soft and hard from the Simulation core. The soft components relate to the biological simulation and the being simulation including the cognitive simulation. These lend themselves to porting to ApeScript as they change continuously. The hard components of the Simulation core include the landscape and the weather. Obviously the weather changes over time, however it is removed from any interaction layer with the soft component of the Simulation core.
My plan is to provide C++ and Java versions of the hard components of the Simulation core and then work on creating a coherent ApeScript method for the soft components. The Noble Toolkit would be rolled into this hard and soft model depending on the use of the code and the practical need for external simulators, like Gerald. This structural rework will also see changes in the GUI layer to remove the substantial glut of code in the control source file. This seems to be a mishmash of control, interface and implementation specific drawing code.
It will all be sorted out through the next couple of versions. The question remains, will the Simulation core contain a C++ component in the near future? Or at least a pseudo C++ interface?
NOBLE APE 0.683
The new version of the Noble Ape Simulation was released mid-month.
The major change for the Mac version was a larger terrain window. However there had been a number of changes through the Ocelot interface that the general user would not see. In previous versions, over extreme landscapes there was a small chance of a crash and this was eliminated in the new version thanks to complete map rendering.
This technology will be extremely useful for dynamic landscapes or substantially larger landscapes. Both these ideas are currently being considered. Noble Apes with gun powder taking chunks out of the landscape?! Perhaps not with the Simulation but it would be useful with Noble Warfare.
An interesting footnote in this version of the Simulation is with regards to download numbers. The Noble Ape Simulation has experienced a steady decrease in downloads over the past four years. The previous standard set was 750 Mac downloads per version which was maintained through the 0.67x versions. More recent versions saw numbers as low as 450 downloads per version.
Within the first two weeks of release, there were more than 650 downloads of the Mac version and more than 70 downloads for the Windows version and a similar number for the Simulation source code.
As I have been on holiday, I've taken a break from producing the Ape Reality podcast over the past couple of weeks.
Just prior to this break, I reduced the number of shows available in the feed from more than sixty to roughly twenty. This reduction left what I considered to be the best of the podcast to-date from the first episode through to the current episodes.
Seven months into the podcasts, I have taken some stock of the benefits of the podcasting format. Whilst I will continue to produce occasional Ape Reality podcasts, the podcasts to-date have netted around 30 regular listeners. Whilst it is great to know these folks enjoy my podcasts, these 30 people are also folks who seem to be connected with the Noble Ape development or artificial life development in general. As I reduce the Ape Reality podcasts, I should note that the time that would be taken with those podcasts will be invested in the book project I have talked about in earlier mailouts.
My hope is that the book project will reach more people than Ape Reality has to-date and that this is a better use for my immediate time. I will continue to interview and produce the Biota.org podcast as I am having a lot of fun interviewing people in artificial life. I will continue to produce Ape Reality podcasts based on user requests/emails and when major features are released in the Simulation.
Hope all is well with you all,
Tom Barbalet, 27 November 2006.