This is a game about a colony of tiny animals known as greedles. The greedles' colony is located on a two-dimensional grid - a grid similar to a chessboard in many ways. In the game, this grid is referred to as the 'matrix'.

Greedles live (very) simple lives: they live, and they die. Occasionally, three lucky greedles will get together and reproduce. That's the extent of it - no television, no Tupperware, no troubles of any kind. They do have one vice, 'tho, to help them pass the time in their other otherwise minimalistic lives - they chat.

Chat, chat, and chat some more, that's the recipe for a happy greedle life.

In fact, greedles are so dependent on constant chatting that when we say it is their very 'raison d'etre', we mean it quite literally - greedles require quality chatter in order to stay alive. With the passing of a greedle-generation, each and every greedle counts how many chat-buddies it has in its immediate vicinity, and decides whether it should keep on living 'n' chatting, or pass on to the next world (in other words, commit greedle-suicide).

Since a greedle considers its immediate vicinity to be all the squares adjacent to it in the matrix (including diagonals), each greedle can have a maximum of eight chat-buddies (the minimum, of course, being zero).

All greedles make their epic existential decision ('to go on living, or to give up the greedle-ghost' as the greedle-minstrels of yore like to recount ad nauseaum ad infinitum) according to the following Draconian rules:

  1. If a greedle has less than two chat-buddies, it dies from poor conversation (too few greedles and the talk gets a tad monotonous - the same subjects keep coming up over and over).
  2. If a greedle has four or more chat-buddies, it dies from poor conversation as well (too many greedles and the talk gets to be rather crazy - everyone tries to speak at once, sheer and utter chaos ensues - just plain madness...)
  3. If a greedle has two or three chat-buddies, it decides to live on for another generation, chatting happily with its friends about two-dimensional weather and other oddities of the matrix.
  4. Special rule: If three (and only three) greedles surround an empty square, they will get together and reproduce to create a newborn greedle to fill that square. This reproductive event is highlighted by a strange little ceremony that unfortunately (due to time and space constraints, and some legal requirements that we'd prefer not to go into) cannot be discussed at length here - but please do see our elegant coffee-table book, 'Do lemmings float in water?' for a photo-essay on the subject.

That's it.

In our wee little Game of Life, you get to modify greedle colonies and see how they evolve over generations. Since a greedle-generation lasts less than a second, it does not take very long to witness the entire lifespan of a greedle colony. As you watch this evolution, you will notice that new greedle births in every generation are coloured light blue, and mature greedles (older than newborns) are dark blue. You can experiment with many different initial patterns of greedles - called 'seed' patterns - to see what kind of colonies evolve from them.

How is all this magic achieved?

Through interactive multimedia!

The basic level of interactivity occurs when you add or delete greedles from the matrix. All you have to do is move your mouse pointer over a cell on the matrix, and click. If the cell is empty, then a greedle will be added there. If the cell is already occupied by a greedle, then the greedle will be 'removed'. We warn you in advance that the greedle will complain about being forcibly removed.

Here are your other controls:

Pattern Storage

Load button

Switch to the Pattern Database in order to load saved seed patterns. A 'seed' pattern is the one you start a greedle colony with - the colony's evolution will be determined by this pattern.

Save button

Switch to the Pattern Database in order to save the pattern currently on-screen to your hard drive as a 'seed' pattern.

Clear button

Clear the matrix of all greedles, and delete all 'seed' patterns stored in the 'rewind' function.

Generation Controls

Rewind button

Our game of Life is kind enough to store in memory some of the recent 'seed' patterns you have been experimenting with. By clicking on this button, you can 'rewind' through these stored patterns. (To permanently save a pattern, use the Save button).

Stop button

This will stop an AutoRun (see below) of the game.

Step button

Every time you click this button, a generation will pass for the colony; some greedles will live, some will die, and a few will be born.

AutoRun button

Clicking this button starts a continuous run (an AutoRun) of the game. This means that generations will pass automatically and continuously until the Stop button (see above) is clicked.

Matrix Size Controls

Small matrix button

Set the matrix size to small (7 x 7).
Good for observing small-scale greedle interaction.

Medium matrix button

Set the matrix size to medium (14 x 14).
This is the size we use unless the colony is really big.

Large matrix button

Set the matrix size to large (21 x 21).
When you're this big, they call you Mr.

Boundary Controls

No boundary button

Make the matrix boundaries connected, so that greedles can pass from one side of the screen to the other. Like Asteroids, except without the UFOs. Or the rocket ship. Or the asteroids.

Boundary button

Make the matrix boundaries into solid walls, so that greedles cannot pass from one side of the screen to the other.

Seeding Density Control

Density control

Set the slider to the desired density of greedles to seed on-screen. Before seeding, all 'old' greedles will be removed from the matrix and the patterns stored in the 'rewind' function will be deleted.

Pattern Database Screen Options
Add Pattern

This button saves the pattern that is currently on the matrix to your Pattern Database. In the status bar, enter the name you want to save the pattern under.

Load Pattern

This button loads the pattern currently selected from the Pattern Database menu and puts in on the matrix. The matrix will be cleared of all greedles first.

Delete Pattern

This button deletes the pattern currently selected on the menu from the Pattern Database. There is no 'undo' function, so take care when deleting patterns from the database.

Cancel button

This button returns you to the main game screen.


For some background information on the Game of Life, please click here.

In any event, have fun. May your greedles have long lives, and periodic equilibria.

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