Game developers and artificial life creators, pay attention to this: Uruk is a historical city simulation project being developed in Second Life by the University of Western Sydney and the Federation of American Scientists. I wrote about it a couple years ago, and now thanks to Tomas Trescak, a postgrad student working with project lead Anton Bogdanovych (shaqq Korobase in SL), the simulated city has something else: Avatars created via simulated genetics. Watch this demo video to see what I mean:
"[U]sing this method," Anton tells me, "one can manually design a small number of Second Life avatars… then hit a button and automatically generate a crowd of any size. All avatars in this crowd will look different, but will also have genetic resemblance with the initial population." You can read more about it in this academic paper Bogdanovych co-authored: "Generating Diverse Ethnic Groups with Genetic Algorithms" (.pdf link), and Anton recently e-mailed me about some other crucial details:
"The actual generation is quick and happens in milliseconds, but then baking of the newly created avatar can take around 30 seconds per avatar." The software is not yet open source, but Anton tells me it will be made available in November, and run in both Second Life and OpenSim. "It currently only works on OpenSim only as it's much easier to create new avatars there and no limitations apply in this respect," he tells me. "It's not difficult to bring the tool to work with Second Life too (and we plan to do so), but there are limitations on how many accounts can be created from one IP address in Second Life."
As you may have noticed, the avatars look pretty out of date, and there's a reason for that: "Most of our Second Life work is focused on advancing the Uruk project, so we based our avatars on some older agents we designed for Uruk." However, he added, "There is absolutely no problem with making your avatar look as modern as you wish. Our approach is universal, so as long as you have a group of manually designed avatars – you can use them as the base population and the new generated avatars will have a similar appearance style."
What love to see what SL/OpenSim developers do with this when the code is available in November.Tweet