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Eugenics (and Evolution)

#1
I have an idea for LT. It might not necessarily be good, but at least it's original. I searched for the term "eugenics" and there are only four matches; one from when I just came up with the idea a few minutes ago and three from back when we were talking about Arthur Schopenhauer. :)

OUTLINE
Will NPCs in Limit Theory be static entities, or will they be living, breathing simulacrums of people who are born, reproduce with each other and die? If LT goes with the latter (and it can be really abstract about how "reproduction" occurs - you could just have a data structure where one NPC of one sex is paired with another NPC of the other), then it offers the possibility of NPCs evolving and - more excitingly - perhaps the opportunity for the player (or an NPC) to direct that evolution.

THEORY
In the real world, the average characteristics of members of a species tend to develop so that the species suits their environment. Organisms that possess traits that better adapt them to their environment tend to survive and reproduce more often than those with traits that are not as well-suited to their environment, and the traits the "fitter" organisms possess become more prevalent among the species. This is called selection. When this is guided by dumb, unintelligent forces, it is called natural selection. When there is an intelligent force that enforces the differential survival and reproduction rates of organisms based on the characteristics they possess, this is called artificial selection or eugenics.

IMPLEMENTATION
NPCs will have their own kind of personalities and possibly other genetically inheritable traits that are relevant to the game. When NPCs reproduce, their offspring will tend to inherit a mix of their parents' characteristics. Two aggressive parents will likely yield an aggressive offspring, whereas the offspring of an aggressive parent and an intellectual parent will likely be somewhat aggressive and somewhat intellectual.

It would be very interesting to see something like this working in Limit Theory. Natural selection could play a huge part in determining the characteristics of factions. Instead of arbitrarily assigning different average characteristics to different factions in the game, perhaps there could be actual reasons why factions possess particular traits due to the history of their development. This would need to be balanced so that different traits don't end up over- or under-represented in the game.

I touched earlier on the possibility of steering the general characteristics of an NPC population in a particular direction. This would rely on artificial selection or eugenics. Want to cull all the stupid, degenerate NPCs from a faction? Selectively kill them, ensure they don't breed. The average intelligence of that population should begin to increase. The reason that Ashkenazi Jews are supposely so intelligent is because of artificial selection, though instead of killing people, I believe they just excluded people too dumb to read from the Torah from their community. Coupled with in-breeding, this led to an increase in the general intelligence of the Ashkenazi Jews, as well as a heightened incidence of many genetic disorders.[1][2]

I would personally find it really enjoyable to selectively kill NPCs for the Greater Good. Or just steer their evolution for fun. I would feel like a god.

REFERENCES
[1] The 2011 Nobel Prize and the Debate over Jewish IQ (http://www.american.com/archive/2011/oc ... -jewish-iq)
[2] Researchers Say Intelligence and Diseases May Be Linked in Ashkenazic Genes (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/03/scien ... c=rss&_r=0)
Last edited by ThymineC on Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#4
rens282 wrote:This sound very cool but won't this be hard to implement. if not this could be a another factor in delegation right? Or am I being stupid again :)
Basic implementation? Piece of cake, probably. I wrote a program a few years ago where you had these snake-like creatures that would chase food and breed. Their offspring would inherit their characteristics and they would evolve over time. All you'd need to do is have a timer associated with NPCs correspond to their lifespan, select NPCs of the opposite sex that operate close to each other to be reproductive partners, and produce a new NPC with a mixture of their characteristics. Great complexity can arise out of very simple systems, can't it Flatfingers? :)

Balancing it? Probably a nightmare. So why not let the computer do it for you using genetic algorithms for game balance? Fitness function: an even representation of all the characteristics that an NPC could exhibit after running history generation within a test scenario for however long a time.

You'd be balancing the system by evolving the algorithms that evolve the NPC's.
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Last edited by ThymineC on Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:44 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#5
Cha0zz wrote:It's an interesting idea, I'm not sure what to think of it.
Ashkenazi Jews
could you please mention your sources or post a link to a scientific study before making claims about a particular group.
Sure. There are a number of competing theories about the particular cultural selective pressures that led Ashkenazi Jews to become particularly intelligent.

Edit: And I threw in a couple in the main post as well.
Last edited by ThymineC on Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#7
Cha0zz wrote:The balancing here might be a bit harder than the balancing for weapons.
I think that we wouldn't want as much nazi-styled factions as other factions even if there fitness is equal to that of others. (Just saying that fitness isn't the only thing that plays here)
I'm sure balancing would be pretty hard, but assuming that the system could be well-balanced, what would you think of it?
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#8
NPCs will have their own kind of personalities and possibly other genetically inheritable traits that are relevant to the game. When NPCs reproduce, their offspring will tend to inherit a mix of their parents' characteristics. Two aggressive parents will likely yield an aggressive offspring, whereas the offspring of an aggressive parent and an intellectual parent will likely be somewhat aggressive and somewhat intellectual.
It's an interesting idea and it could be nice to have it in game (even tough in reality behavior isn't that much influenced by genetics but more by outside influences (your example about aggressive parents isn't quite right, the offspring isn't aggressive because they genetically inherited this treat from their parent (there are of course exceptions) but more because they see their parents being aggressive when they are children, one of the things children do to acquire later useful skills is mimic things their parents do, so they would become aggressive in later life because of what they saw their parents do, if the child was to be adopted after birth by a peaceful family he would be likely to be peaceful himself (in reality its a bit more complicated because of the epigenome)

Somehow I have the feeling that your idea is missing something but I can't quite tell what.
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Idiots. Idiots everywhere. ~Dr. Cha0zz
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#9
Cha0zz wrote:
NPCs will have their own kind of personalities and possibly other genetically inheritable traits that are relevant to the game. When NPCs reproduce, their offspring will tend to inherit a mix of their parents' characteristics. Two aggressive parents will likely yield an aggressive offspring, whereas the offspring of an aggressive parent and an intellectual parent will likely be somewhat aggressive and somewhat intellectual.
It's an interesting idea and it could be nice to have it in game (even tough in reality behavior isn't that much influenced by genetics but more by outside influences (your example about aggressive parents isn't quite right, the offspring isn't aggressive because they genetically inherited this treat from their parent (there are of course exceptions) but more because they see their parents being aggressive when they are children, one of the things children do to acquire later useful skills is mimic things their parents do, so they would become aggressive in later life because of what they saw their parents do, if the child was to be adopted after birth by a peaceful family he would be likely to be peaceful himself (in reality its a bit more complicated because of the epigenome)

Somehow I have the feeling that your idea is missing something but I can't quite tell what.
What makes you such an empiricist? :P Really, I'm not sure whether nature or nurture play a bigger role, but I'm sure nature plays a fair part in the matter. For instance, there is a gene that encodes for a type of enzyme called monoamine oxidase-A, and different alleles of this gene have been correlated with differences in the patterns of aggressive behaviours among individuals (source). People that are aggressive due to inheriting a particular version of the gene can pass on that version to their offspring, increasing the likelihood that they, too, will display aggressive behaviour.

In any case, it's irrelevant whether aggression and other traits are innate or develop as a result of our upbringing, since aggressive parents may not only be passing on aggression-promoting genes, but also raising their children in an aggression-promoting environment, as you've said yourself. At the end of the day, aggressive parents are likely to yield aggressive children, and the same logic should apply to NPCs in-game.

Edit: You know what would be useful? A study of monozygotic twins reared apart that shows the correlation of aggressive behaviour between them. You can judge how much genetics plays a part based on the correlation coefficient, though you'd need some way to operationalise aggressive behaviour.
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#10
ThymineC wrote: What makes you such an empiricist? :P Really, I'm not sure whether nature or nurture play a bigger role, but I'm sure nature plays a fair part in the matter. For instance, there is a gene that encodes for a type of enzyme called monoamine oxidase-A, and different alleles of this gene have been correlated with differences in the patterns of aggressive behaviours among individuals (source). People that are aggressive due to inheriting a particular version of the gene can pass on that version to their offspring, increasing the likelihood that they, too, will display aggressive behaviour.

In any case, it's irrelevant whether aggression and other traits are innate or develop as a result of our upbringing, since aggressive parents may not only be passing on aggression-promoting genes, but also raising their children in an aggression-promoting environment, as you've said yourself. At the end of the day, aggressive parents are likely to yield aggressive children, and the same logic should apply to NPCs in-game.
Woops, I think I formulated myself a bit wrong, I wasn't implying that genetics doesn't play a role in the determination of behavior, it does indeed play a big role, it is however not the only factor playing, there is also an environmental factor playing a big role, the behavior is created in by those 2 factors. I only posted about it because it seemed to me that you were describing a to big role to genetics in this case.

As on the fact that this is totally irrelevant for the gameplay implementation is totally correct, I just wanted to try to explain the role of the environment in behavior (in what I failed apparently :p)

As I said earlier, I think it is a good idea but have the feeling that it isn't complete yet (it's just a gut feeling I could be totally wrong, I don't even know why I think there is missing something)
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Idiots. Idiots everywhere. ~Dr. Cha0zz
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#11
I Was just thinking about your post and its awsome but evolution will take ages. only on the cartaristics front it will help but you still need to plat the game for a long while. On the other side if you implent the [If dead you respawn as a new person or sibling in the same universe][Source text], Then it could be seen in many generations.
07
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#12
rens282 wrote:I Was just thinking about your post and its awsome but evolution will take ages. only on the cartaristics front it will help but you still need to plat the game for a long while. On the other side if you implent the [If dead you respawn as a new person or sibling in the same universe][Source text], Then it could be seen in many generations.
There are a few ways of playing about with time, history generation and reproductive rates to make it work:
  • Making it so NPCs have short lifespans and breed like rabbits (unrealistic).
  • Playing for a really long time and continuing in the form of descendents after you die (link).
  • Starting and stopping history generation at will (link).
  • Travelling back in time, carrying out your holocaust, and then returning to the present day to see the effects (link).
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#13
ThymineC wrote:Great complexity can arise out of very simple systems, can't it Flatfingers? :)
Someone's been reading my posts. :D

This idea generates a lot of internal conflict for me.

Simulationist Me: I really like this idea as simulationist entertainment. Think of the cool results we might get in NPC behaviors!

Mechanics Designer Me: Is this really a meta-feature for the player alone that would be applied outside the gameworld? Or is it something that the player character can do inside the world of the game? What are the gameplay consequences of choosing either of those implementations?

Game-Analytical Me: So this would be about players spending a lot of time committing very specific murders? Also, given that Josh wants NPCs to be able to do what players can do, wouldn't NPCs have to be capable of instituting their own eugenics programs?

Emotional Me: Er... given the feelings that people have about eugenics after the beliefs of Margaret Sanger and others became a justification for genocide, maybe this would be a bit too touchy for a game that's really about other things?

On balance, I'm not averse to the idea that NPCs can breed other NPCs. I just don't know about giving the player (or NPCs) the power to direct that breeding. As always, the main question I ask is whether that feature would support or distract from the desired overall player experience that Josh wants Limit Theory to deliver.
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#14
Edit: You know what would be useful? A study of monozygotic twins reared apart that shows the correlation of aggressive behaviour between them. You can judge how much genetics plays a part based on the correlation coefficient, though you'd need some way to operationalise aggressive behaviour.
There you go http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2899491
This also explains a lot better everything I tried to explain earlier (I think)
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Idiots. Idiots everywhere. ~Dr. Cha0zz
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Re: Eugenics (and Evolution)

#15
Flatfingers wrote:Simulationist Me: I really like this idea as simulationist entertainment. Think of the cool results we might get in NPC behaviors!
Yay. :D
Flatfingers wrote:Mechanics Designer Me: Is this really a meta-feature for the player alone that would be applied outside the gameworld? Or is it something that the player character can do inside the world of the game? What are the gameplay consequences of choosing either of those implementations?
Gameplay consequences:
What would the differences in gameplay be between two identical regions, except that one trait was predominant in one region and another in the second? I don't really know myself, but if you know or have suggestions, then that would probably tie in with this.

Some possibilities off the top of my head:
  • Selecting for criminality (if hereditary) in a region can see the region develop into a cesspit of piracy and black markets over time.
  • Selecting for intelligence in a region can see the factions in it become more technologically progressive, and see the development of advanced technologies stemming from the region. Depending on its other dominant traits, the factions may use this to become dominant over other factions, or enter into mutually beneficial symbioses with other kinds of factions that could utilise their technological superiority.
  • Using your FRACAS system, selecting for acquisitive NPCs on the side of commerce could see the region develop over time into an industrial nexus.
  • Alternatively selecting for charitable NPCs may see the region develop instead into a major trade hub.
  • Again, using your FRACAS system, selecting for sociable NPCs may see the region develop many organisations, coalitions, teams, etc. between NPCs as they will become naturally gregarious.
  • Alternatively selecting for reserved NPCs will yield fewer organisations and many more independently operating NPCs over time.
Flatfingers wrote:Game-Analytical Me: So this would be about players spending a lot of time committing very specific murders? Also, given that Josh wants NPCs to be able to do what players can do, wouldn't NPCs have to be capable of instituting their own eugenics programs?
Killing people was just an example and one that I used because it most easily springs to mind.

"Also, given that Josh wants NPCs to be able to do what players can do, wouldn't NPCs have to be capable of instituting their own eugenics programs?" Yeah, I mentioned that this should be possible in the original post.

Other examples for artificial selection coming off the top of my head include:
  • Setting up a blockade to limit the supply of necessary goods into a system. If NPC's are living, breathing entities, they will probably need to consume food. What sort of NPC would become dominant in a region once you started restricting the supply of food, medicine, etc.? Why not find out?
    • This also has the effect of making the delivery and distribution of food and medicine more meaningful than in games like EVE Online.
  • Encouraging factions to go to war with each other. If one faction is militarily superior to the other, the aggressive NPC's of the inferior faction are likely to go to war and be killed, leaving the more conscientious, intelligent or cowardly members to continue the species.
    • Something like this actually happened in Larry Niven's Ringworld series, where one highly-intellectual species called the Puppeteers incited a war between humankind and another race called the Kzinti, a formerly extremely aggressive race. All the aggressive members of the species went to war against the technologically-superior human race, got killed, and the species as a whole became more peaceful. This was a direct example of eugenics being exercised on a race. (link)
  • A variant of the first example - restricting the supply of food to a region but permitting it to be sold to individual NPCs that display some characteristic that you want to select for. You can increase the average intelligence within a region without directly killing anyone by restricting the supply of food to the region, but exchanging it with NPCs in return for, as an example, weapon blueprints. NPCs that are good at research and blueprint design will tend to get the food they need to live, and hence to breed.
Flatfingers wrote:Emotional Me: Er... given the feelings that people have about eugenics after the beliefs of Margaret Sanger and others became a justification for genocide, maybe this would be a bit too touchy for a game that's really about other things?
I don't know who Margaret Sanger is, but a quick read about her on Wikipedia leads me to believe she was an awesome person. I'll need to read more about her!

Edit: Oh wait, no she's not; she had three children. Cruel woman.

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