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Evolutionary War Instructions

Basic Overview

Evolutionary War is much like chess in that two players take turns moving their playing pieces on an 8x8 grid. Each playing piece is an organism with a specific genetic makeup that determines its strength, intelligence, speed, and fertility. On any given turn, a player can select one organism that will perform a single action: shifting, attacking, or reproducing (either sexually by mating or asexually by cloning). Play continues until one player's active organisms have been completely eliminated.





Click an organism to activate it. Then select the target of its action.

Quick-Start Instructions

Speed: determines range of motion when shifting, attacking, or mating.
Fertility: determines number of offspring produced when mating, as well as the chances of successfully cloning an organism.
Intelligence: factors into an organism's chance of survival during an attack.
Note: All things being equal, a more intelligent organism has a better chance of surviving when it actively attacks than when it is the target of an enemy attack.
Strength: factors into an organism's chance of survival during an attack.
Note: A stronger organism will have a better chance of killing multiple weaker enemies in a single attack.

Click an organism once to activate it, then click in one of the indicated positions to either move there or to attack or mate with whatever organism is already in the selected square. Simply moving the cursor over an organism (without clicking) shows all its potential moves and displays its genetic information.

Full Instructions

The Point of the Game
The goal of evolutionary war is essentially to evolve a population strong enough to kill off all the organisms of the enemy population. There are many ways in which this goal may be accomplished and it is up to the player to guide the evolution of his or her organisms to this end. No matter how unskilled a player is, his or her population will evolve no matter what, as a rule of nature, as the weakest are killed off and the strongest and most fertile produce many healthy offspring. Chance plays a large part in the game, as in nature, and all numbers are merely probabilities, not guarantees. It is possible that a superstrong mutant could emerge in a weak and dying population and single-handedly kill off an entire enemy population that is overall more highly evolved. The key is to be constantly aware of the state of all organisms, both friends and enemies, so that the proper course of evolution can be taken to ensure victory.

Getting Started
To begin a new game, click New Game and then select a one-player, two-player, or demo game. In one-player mode, you play against a computer opponent. In two-player mode, two humans can battle each other. Demo mode simply pits the computer against itself to show how the game is played. Each player starts off the game with 8 randomly generated organisms that are generally toward the low end of the evolutionary ladder. Orange always moves first.

Game Play
A typical turn will go something like this: A player will survey his current situation by moving the cursor over his or her organisms slowly. As the player does this, he or she will notice two things about the organism over which the cursor is currently positioned. First, the space which this organism occupies as well as several spaces to its left, right, top, and bottom, have become outlined in colors. These colors indicate the possible actions this organism may take this turn. Second, the genetic information of this specific organism will be displayed in the information panel, telling the player how well suited this organism is to take any action. The colors of the genetic information display correspond to the colors of the outlines, just as certain attributes correspond to certain actions (e.g. green indicates fertility and corresponds to mating, so that any green-outlined organisms are potential mates for the selected organism). Once the player has decided which organism to act with this turn, he or she selects that organism by clicking on it once. This causes that organism to begin rotating and the colored outlines begin pulsing to indicate that an organism has been selected. (Organisms can be deselected as well, by clicking on the gray text that reads "deselect" in the upper right hand corner of the screen.) Then, to take an action, the player will click once again, this time on the square which corresponds to the action he or she wishes to take (e.g. attacking, mating, shifting). The only squares in which action may be taken are indicated by the pulsing colors, and clicking in a square which is not outlined by pulsing colors will have no effect. Once the action has been selected, the organisms involved will become animated, some sounds will play, and then the organisms will come to a halt, indicating that the turn is over and it is time for the other player to begin his or her turn. This is also indicated by a change in the colored bars on the right side of the screen (whichever bar is "moving" is indicates whose turn it is).


The most basic action is the shift. This simply involves an organism moving from one position to another, either vertically or horizontally. No diagonal movement is allowed. The range (maximum shift distance) is determined by the speed of the shifting organism.

Enemy organisms can only be eliminated by attacking. An organism may attack any other enemy organism that is within its range (as determined by the organism's speed). Like shifting, attacking may not occur diagonally. When an attack is declared on an organism, either the attacker or the attacked must die. Survival is determined by the strength and intelligence of the two organisms involved in the attack.

Note: An attack in which the aggressor wins may involve multiple deaths of enemy organisms that are directly behind the original organism which was attacked. This is conditional upon the strength of the attacker. If it is much stronger than the original attacked organism and those directly behind it, it can kill off an entire row of enemies (7 at most). If it is not much stronger, for example if it won the attack due to high intelligence or chance, then it might only kill the one organism which was directly attacked. There is no chance of multiple death, however, if the attacker is defeated by the attacked organism.

Note: Intelligence is an advantage when attacking. In other words, all things being equal, a more intelligent organism has a better chance of surviving when it actively attacks an organism than when it is the target of an enemy attack by that same organism. Much of this is unimportant detail that will not factor heavily into actual gameplay, but serves more as an explanation of the mechanics of the game and the importance of having both strength and intelligence. This information may be important, however, in more advanced strategies. But since the game is largely based on probabilities, there is no guarantee that this information will help at all.

New organisms, and thus better organisms, can only be produced by mating. Mating can occur both sexually and asexually. The most useful method of mating is sexual reproduction. This involves selecting two organisms of the same color, both of which will die and be replaced by either one, two, or three new offspring (depending on the combined fertility of the parents) whose genetic makeup will be some combination of the parents' genes along with a possibility for mutation. Cloning is also a feasible method of reproduction, although it is very risky. By clicking on an organism to activate it and then clicking it again as the target of its action, a clone takes place. Cloning can either produce an exact copy of the original, an organism with about half the fitness of the original, or a "stone" that has zero fitness and can do absolutely nothing in the game. The higher an organism's fertility, the more likely it is to have a successful cloning.

Note: Offspring can only be born into the spaces above, below, to the left and right, and diagonally to the parents or parent. Thus it is sometimes not possible to clone if there is nowhere for the child to be born due to crowding. Likewise, parents who are surrounded by other organisms may have a maximum of two children which will be born into the spaces that the parents occupied before they mated and died.

The Game Board
The game visually consists of an 8x8 grid on the left side of the screen and an information panel on the right side of the screen. The grid is where gameplay takes place. The information panel tells you the genetic makeup of each organism, indicates whose turn it is, shows the current status of each population, and contains buttons for quitting the game and deselecting an organism.

The Information Panel

Genetic Information

The most important part of the information panel is the genetic information in the middle. When a player moves the cursor over any organism, its genetic makeup will appear in this area. An organism's genetic makeup consists of speed, fertility, strength, and intelligence, all of which range from 0 to 10 (10 being the best) and are discussed in detail above.

The upper half of the information panel is for the orange player, while the bottom is for green. The information panel shows the population --the number of organisms currently on the board for any player. It also shows the average fitness -- the current percentage of evolution that has taken place, on average, as compared to the highest potential level of evolution. The colored bar for each player serves multiple purposes. A bar that is constantly changing, like television static, indicates that it is the turn of the player to whom the bar's color corresponds. The bar also represents the evolutionary status of each player's population, reflecting the same information graphically that average fitness does numerically.

The gray words in the top right and bottom right corners of the information panel act like buttons. The quit button ends the current game permanently and brings the user back to the opening screen. The deselect button serves as an undo for the player whose turn it is currently. Clicking the deselect button after an organism has been activated will deactivate it and allow the player to select a different organism to act with this turn.

Typically, a good strategy is to reproduce as much as possible for the first few turns. This will both increase your population and create new, stronger genetic combinations. If a strong enough organism develops that you think you can wipe out your enemy early on, then you may want to move it closer to the enemy organisms and eventually attack with it, but if this attack fails, keep in mind that your opponent will have been mating and evolving while you were wasting time moving your organism around the board.

A player wins the game when his or her opponent has no active organisms remaining. This is also the point at which a player's average fitness will be equal to zero. Thus, a player can have organisms remaining on the board and still lose the game, assuming those organisms all have a fitness that is equal to zero. These organisms have no strength, no intelligence, no speed, and no fertility. These organisms (commonly called "stones" and visibly different from all other organisms by their round shape) are not considered "active" since they can't take any action. Therefore, all organisms other than stones must be eliminated for a player to be defeated.

Misc. Info That is Probably Obvious But Might Help You
organisms get larger and brighter as they become more and more fit
-mating a really good organism with a really bad one will produce one or more medium ones
-an organism with low strength and high intelligence can potentially defeat an organism with high strength and low intelligence, and vice versa

FAQ and Troubleshooting

If you are experiencing low frame rates or skipping in the animations, try quitting all other open programs and then relaunching Evolutionary War. In addition, make sure Processor Cycling is turned OFF in the Energy Saver control panel's Advanced Settings.

Q: How do you play this game?
A: It's complicated. Read the instructions. Watch a demo game.

Q: Why doesn't the game work?
A: Make sure you're using a Macintosh, not a Windows machine. Make sure your computer and monitor are both on and your mouse is plugged in. If the problem isn't resolved, your computer is probably old and slow, or else I'm just a bad programmer who didn't test his software enough.

Q: What is fitness?
A: From an evolutionary standpoint, fitness is an organism's relative suitability to survive. Hence an organism that is smarter, stronger, faster, or more fertile will be overall more fit. Numerically, fitness is computed in this game as a percentage of an organism's potential that has been realized. For example, let us assume an organism has speed 4, fertility 3, strength 6, and intelligence 4. Each of these has a maximum possible value of 10. The fitness of this organism is (4+3+6+4)/(10+10+10+10). That is, 17/40 or 43% fitness.

Q: Why is the computer so stupid when I play in one-player mode?
A: The artificial intelligence used in this game is very basic and should work correctly in 90% of situations. However, in the other 10%, the computer may seem to act strangely, but this is normal. Overall, it has a good balance of strategies and has been tested, showing that it can win some and it can lose some games. In the demo, however, there may be some stalemates, in which case you should quit the game and begin a new demo.

Programming - Grant Schindler
Game Design - Grant Schindler
Graphics - Grant Schindler
Sound - Grant Schindler
Grant Schindler - Barbara and Stephen Schindler

© 2001 Phlogiston Software (PhloSoft)


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