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A graphics experiment using flock behavior and simple AI to provide basic interaction and 'visual delight' to the user.
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README.md

swarm-navigation

Goal

To develop an experimental visualization of swarm behaviour. I wanted to create an interactive visualization of flocking behaviour. This project was inspired by Craig Reynold’s work in creating algorithms to emulate the behaviour of organic creatures.

I wanted the experience to instill a sense of 'companionship' with the other creatures in your swarm. I purposefully reduced the turn speed, and turn radius of the player fish. This forces the player into a movement scheme similar to his neighbors. As a result of slower turning radius, the player must collect, and rely on the fish in their swarm to make a difference in the environment.

Demo:

Online: alexjohnson.io/swarm-navigation

User Interaction:

How to Play

Swarms navigate the environment. When a fish collects a food, they reproduce, and their health is refreshed. If a fish goes too long without food, they will fade away and die.

You control a single fish. The Player Fish is a single, blue fish with a white outline. The other blue fish are your swarm. They will attempt to flock with you if you are close by.

Hold down the 'LEFT' & 'RIGHT' arrow keys to control the Player Fish's direction. Hold 'UP' & 'DOWN' to make slight adjustments to acceleration.

Inspiration

“A significant property of life-like behavior is unpredictability over moderate time scales... It would be all but impossible to predict which direction they will be moving (say) five minutes later... This property is unique to complex systems and contrasts with both chaotic behavior… and ordered … behavior. This fits with Langton's 1990 observation that life-like phenomena exist poised at the edge of chaos.” (source)

The above quote is from Craig Reynold’s online writings on boids. This project was inspired by the chaotic, yet beautiful nature of organic creatures. I wanted to create an interactive experience that used this theme as a gameplay mechanic.

Running:

Running swarm-navigation on your computer

Load src/index.html from a web server. To run locally, load swarm-navigation/src from an HTTP Server. On Mac OSX, I recommend using MAMP, a desktop app for running local Apache servers.

Boids

This project is inspired by Craig Reynolds' research in modeling flocking behaviour. Reynolds was influenced by the animal motions of flocks such as birds, or fish schools. Reynolds referred to his generic simulated flocking creatures as Boids.

To quote Craig Reynolds,

In 1986 I made a computer model of coordinated animal motion such as bird flocks and fish schools. It was based on three dimensional computational geometry of the sort normally used in computer animation or computer aided design. I called the generic simulated flocking creatures boids. The basic flocking model consists of three simple steering behaviors which describe how an individual boid maneuvers based on the positions and velocities its nearby flockmates (source).

The 3 Principles of Boids:

  • Separation: Avoid crowding flockmates.
  • Alignment: Aim for average heading of flockmates.
  • Cohesion: Aim for average position of flockmates.

Special Thanks:

Inspiration and code from ss5_7_flock, and in class example program, implementing Craig Reynold's classic autonomous steering behaviors. Original code from 'THE NATURE OF CODE' by Daniel Shiffman

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