[youtube=200]23iuPKuPd30[/youtube] A long, long time ago in a star system far, far away... A blue-green world hangs in the void of space, awash with clouds and oceans. Its mass, a little bigger than Earth’s; its atmosphere, a little thicker; its orbit around its parent star, quite a bit further - but that’s just fine, as our host star is a slightly hotter, brighter version of our own sun. The planet has little axial tilt, but it also has an eccentric orbit that causes alternating hot and cold periods throughout the year - meaning seasons are simultaneous in both hemispheres. Otherwise, this planet is rather earth-like in many respects. Around three billion years may have already passed on this emerald orb. In that time, life has taken hold and terraformed the planet for its own benefit, stabilising the climate and pumping vast amounts of oxygen into the seas and atmosphere, ready for a new chapter to begin... But that new chapter has been a long time coming. Microbial life did not give up its dominance easily; it was only in the aftermath of a recent comet impact that multicellular life forms have been able to gain a noticeable foothold. Still, microbes monopolise most of the shallow sea floor, forming a thick carpet of biological ooze that will be hard to dislodge. A moon, similar to our own, also happens to orbit this planet, but in between there is a thin ring system - perhaps the remnants of another moonlet, long since pulled apart by gravitational tides. This pristine world offers spectacular sunrises and sunsets, where there a conscious observer to appreciate it. Indeed, were you to walk upon this planet, there would probably be nothing more than a few green-brown smears to indicate the presence of any life at all. But from such humble beginnings do great things emerge. This is where you come in... What is NESLife? It is a series of ‘evolution games’ that have previously taken place on the NES Forum. Whether you want to ‘play to win’ (with the idea of establishing a species at the top of the food chain or most abundant population), or you simply want to experiment and see what happens, or, some combination of both - you are very welcome to jump in. NESLife games are somewhat unique in that you don’t need to make a lasting commitment to the game. Simply contribute an evolution (max one per customer, per turn) and wait for the update to see what happens next... I’m going to be using the rule innovations introduced by Lord Iggy, and I’ll let his words do the rest of the talking: Spoiler : “This is a NESLife, so many of you will already know the basics. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, I will provide a brief overview. Players in this NES serve as ‘agents’ of evolution, prodding the development of life in various directions. You play by submitting evolutions, which are variations on existing species. You are the archons of branching, mutation and diversification. I, the moderator, am responsible for upholding the harsh, brutal, mighty and inexorable forces of nature. Lineages who have thrived for millions of years may go extinct in a geological blink of an eye if they are unable to cope with changing conditions. Natural disasters may threaten to extinguish all complex life on Lambda. You may propose an evolution that just doesn’t work, and never comes to be at all. Yet, despite all of this, some life will make it through the filters of competition. Some life will thrive, and their descendants will diversify, spreading into countless unique forms, occupying a vast array of different niches in the vast tapestry of ecology. It will not necessarily be the largest, nor the strongest, nor the smartest, but those which are most able to pass their genes on to the next generation, by whatever means necessary. Together, we shall build up a strange and beautiful new world- a world that has never existed, but one that could exist. [...] In previous NESLife games, we have typically used what is sometimes called ‘Lego Genetics’. Players added genes to each new evolution, such as adding on ‘+1 Walking, +1 Poison’. While this worked as a game, I felt that this was a somewhat clumsy and inflexible system that encouraged people to view their evolutions as collections of statistics, rather than as holistic organisms. The game became a race to have the highest carnivory rating, or the highest intelligence rating, and many players would present their evolutions with long-term plans in mind. This second fact bothered me quite a bit, as my education in biology has led me to understand that macroevolution is really just the accumulation, over millions of years, of a series of short-term evolved solutions. In this regime, proper long-term planning is effectively impossible- thus, in real life you wind up with all sorts of interesting leftovers, such as human beings and our astoundingly poor ability to give birth, our inefficient bipedal gait, and our humourously redundant digestive organs (here’s looking at you, appendix). All of these are things that any NESer with a half-decent sense of forward thinking would be careful to avoid. But I want to keep that stuff in the NES. I want to make an earnest attempt to simulate the evolution of all multicellular life on this world. To do that, I am going to attempt to abolish the old building block and statistical genetic system we have used in previous games, replacing it with a more qualitative descriptive system. As organisms get more complex, I am going to begin using ‘templates’ as abbreviations. As a real-life example, I could do a template for mammals, so that I would not have to re-describe the same system repeating in goats, bears, bats, whales, guinea pigs and elephants. This will become more clear as the NES progresses. And while I’m on that topic, I’ll note that the resolution of this NES will be roughly at the level of families. Some well-known examples of families are Dolphins, Pine Trees, and Bees. Thus, each evolution you create can be assumed to contain a variety of individual genera and species.” - Lord Iggy, 2013 ^ I will be illustrating this game with my pixel art creations, for which I have a fetish. Prehistoric Earth looked something like this. What will the NLVII world look like? NESLife VII Essentially, the rules are simple. Each turn, you may choose one already-existing family of life as a starting point. You will be adding two new traits or features - for example, compound eyes and a primitive stomach, or defensive spines and olfactory senses. The list is indeed endless, and I will be on hand to provide any guidance on what does or does not contribute one ‘trait’. Your creation may never work out at all, or it might go extinct before it becomes established, or it may contribute new traits without being quite successful enough to branch out into a whole new family. Otherwise, all going well, it will branch out and form a new node on the tree of life. You can also nominate some existing traits that you’d like to ditch - like lizards no longer growing gills, or humans losing their tails. Nature is not a perfectionist, but she does appreciate a bit of streamlining. TL;DR New Evolution Name: x Evolving from: (what existing family?) New Trait #1: New Trait #2: Removed Trait(s): (optional) Brief Description: Examples: New Evolution Name: Wavy Evolving from: Blobster New Trait #1: A single, large worm-like tail. New Trait #2: antennae to detect vibration. Brief Description: The Wavy features more cellular specialisations than the Blobster. Though it still lacks a true nervous system, it has long, thin appendages on its 'front' end that are able to detect movement in the nearby water. Via a chemical feedback system, its 'tail' end can then attempt to propel the organism in that direction. The Wavy is aggressive, attempting to swallow, suffocate and eventually digest anything smaller than itself. New Evolution Name: Eater Evolving from: Blobster New Trait #1: Digestive juices. New Trait #2: Flexible body form. Brief Description: The Eater looks much like its Blobster ancestors while drifting above the seabed. However, once fully grown, the Eater flattens out into a pancake shape, exposing its digestive cells on its underside, and descends to the seabed. It simply sits on a patch of bacteria or algae and begins extruding digestive juices, created by specialised tissues within its body mass, and the resulting nutrient soup is eventually absorbed by its underside.