Organism Grinder: Nowhere Is Evolving

By Adam Smith on February 28th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Nowhere, as Jim noted, is conceptually staggering. It’s a life sim with a cast of procedurally generated abstract organisms, which grown to 800 metres in diameter. They can contain other creatures within their cavities and hollows. Indeed, they can contain entire societies. The latest alpha release contains the first iteration of the creature generation software, allowing players to explore three entities, which represent the same lifeform at different stages of its existence.

If all that sounds distractingly odd, let it also be known that you explore the gargantuan creatures by means of a grappling hook. Video below.

OK, so it’s more of an energy tether than a grappling hook but close enough.

Husband and wife team Duangle are seeking cash so that development can continue at a steady rate. They have just less than a thousand alpha buyers so far and only 16% of their desired funding, but updates are regular, the blog is a interesting read and the game is seeking Greenlight attention.

Watch the initial pitch in Jim’s post if you haven’t already. It’s a powerful tonic.

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22 Comments »

  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    All these games featuring grappling hooks! It’s going to be the new zombies by the time I release GRAPPLO: The Man With The Grappling Hook Arm.

    • RedViv says:

      Isn’t it The New Space, which was The New Bow, which was The New Zombies? I can’t keep track of all these allegations of cheap cashing-in happenings!

    • AngelTear says:

      Now, that reminds me of Blasto, a PS1 shooter/platformer

  2. AngelTear says:

    Is there something wrong (or right?) with me, if at first I read the title as “Orgasm grinder”?
    And then, if I try to apply that logic to the article, it makes a creepy kind of sense…

    It’s a life sim with a cast of procedurally generated abstract orgasms, which grown to 800 metres in diameter. They can contain other creatures within their cavities and hollows. Indeed, they can contain entire societies.

    • Chaz says:

      I too saw that and read “Orgasm Grinder”. Now I’m disappointed.

      I can just picture a mustachioed man standing on a street corner, small monkey perched a top his shoulder whilst he turns the handle grinding away. “Ohhh yes yes! Uuuurrrgh ohhhhh ummmm yes!”

    • phelix says:

      Or, indeed, the video: “After a short time seeding…

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      I came into this article an innocent mind, I leave feeling sullied.

  3. Freud says:

    Oh. Organism.. Drat.

  4. SillyWizard says:

    I was in for a shock when I loaded up RPS and saw “Orgasm Grinder” at the top of the page…

    Oh. So was everybody else, it seems!

  5. frightlever says:

    Buncha people here seem to find orgasms surprising. I got some links that might help you with that.

  6. maconey says:

    Sorry for ruining the party, but there’s no way on earth that they can pull this off.
    Are we supposed to believe that just one guy with no previous experience on AI (according to is CV http://www.leonard-ritter.com/) will develop something “the likes of which the world has never seen before” ?
    Sure, it looks beautiful, but the premise for the AI is not “ambicious”; it’s just plain impossible if you consider the HUGE gap between the current state-of-the-art research on AI and what they pitch to implement.
    The problem with creating such a big expectation is that when they (inevitably) end up delivering something that is nowhere (plop!) near what they promised it will disapoint everybody even if it’s still a great game on its own, and that’d be a very sad thing to happen…

    • lritter says:

      Hi there, this is Leonard, I am the one guy “with no previous experience” (Sylvia wants to let you know that we are two guys – I only do half of the work involved with Nowhere). The base work for AI is actually all there. There have been enough examples of good AI in games in the past 30 years, of which “Creatures” and “Z” are two of many high points. It’s way less complicated than you make it sound. If anything, we’ve had a regression in this field within the past ten years, as most gamedevs keep picking “easier” subjects (among the reasons being lack of experience and an industry-pervasive need for instant gratification). Which is exactly what I’m frustrated with. Developing AI and putting past experience to practice is actually part of the R&D of this project, and exactly what you are paying for. Where else is this kind of progress going to happen? Who else is working on this right now? AI is (among other challenges) a field I’m excited to work in. Most of what we work on is in prototypal stage, and I wish I could show more at this point in time, but AI can’t do interesting stuff without an interesting environment, and these parts are still in production.

      • Chalky says:

        I’m personally a bit too skeptical to put up any money right now from what I’ve seen of the project, but I really do hope you guys succeed with this. It really does look very impressive. I’ll be keeping my eye on it with the full intention of backing it at some point.

        I think one of the things standing in the way is the fact that I find it hard to get my head around how it will actually work. It sounds very exciting, but it’s difficult to gauge the way in which the ideas in the pitch video will be playable. For example, you say you “learn the language” of the society – which obviously means something more simplistic than literally learning a real world language, but the scope of the feature is very unclear – and it’s a similar story with most of the features. It sounds great, but at the same time it all sounds a bit…. Molyneux.

        The best of luck to you guys. I really do hope it gets to a point where I see something about the game that makes me back it.

        • LogicalDash says:

          It’s pretty much been done already though.

          Here’s the alien conversation sim from Captain Blood, running on Amiga.

          In that game the overall course of the conversations was still a decision tree, but there have been games since where conversations were handled in the manner of an Expert System–the game has a graph of not just the physical gameworld, but all the resources and requirements and stuff that it needs for its objectives, and performs pathfinding, same exact stuff it uses to go from Point A to Point B, to solve problems that do not look like finding the shortest path, but are mathematically identical. A decent example for this game would be the computer players in the Civilization series. They nab resources as efficiently they can, they pick a path through the tech tree to the victory condition they deem most statistically probable, and whenever one of those strategies changes they update the other one.

          Anyway yeah, think Civilization if expressing your demands in the diplomacy sequences were itself a puzzle.

          Hanging out on the Nowhere blog, I learned that you’ll eventually be able to grow other, less sentient organisms on the outsides of the Nowherians, like food and clothing. Right now I’m assuming this is also where they write stuff.

      • Zarathruster says:

        I wish you the best of luck: AI is an infamously tricky problem, and one of the hardest parts is just finding the right questions to ask. I suspect the answer won’t come from some kind of AI Manhattan Project, but from some idiosyncratic Einstein figure who comes from the outside with a novel perspective, totally reinventing the way we look at things.

        Any plans for Oculus Rift support? Because that would be truly breathtaking.

        • lritter says:

          No Einsteins here, just slightly deranged Germans. ;-) Oculus Rift support is already implemented. I have a headset here for testing. We consider Nowhere a native launch title, and I want to make sure it’s not just an add-on, but a showcase.

      • wu wei says:

        There have been enough examples of good AI in games in the past 30 years, of which “Creatures” and “Z” are two of many high points. It’s way less complicated than you make it sound.

        “Creatures” modeled brains as neural networks built out of a simulated biochemical substrate…I’d say that’s pretty damn complicated.

  7. DrollRemark says:

    I had plenty of cynicism in the original post, and I’ve yet to see anything to change my mind, but that is a very cool world/creature generation system.

  8. Cinek says:

    That screenshot on top looks like… 1000 times more interesting then the video presentation.

  9. ckpk says:

    We’ll have to see how it turns out, but what they have so far looks really cool visually. It’ll be interesting to see how the game develops