You should definitely have a "rapid breeding" mode where high mutation rates and fast generations get you fast evolution. This should be followed by "rapid evolution" where there are predators (eat the three shortest in each generation - relative fitness), natural hazards (kill any taller than X with a probability of Y - absolute fitness), and sexual selection (the one with the biggest flowers gets two extra seeds - relative fitness). You could do experiments like how fast evolution on one or two traits gets to point X, with or without sexual reproduction... etc.
Homunq 22:20, 2 April 2008 (EDT)
Great proposal: creative, achievable, and relevant.
I would love to see some hand drawn & scanned interface mockups added to the wiki page.
I actually like the idea of keeping the growing process slow. Spelunx for the Mac (ancient game) had a tree grower activity where you set specific traits and then plant a tree, it took around 15 minutes during which you had to either wait or go do something else.
Resuming the activity after a period of time would cause all the elapsed time to instantly be calculated, so it would appear that things were growing "overnight".
This causes the user to become invested in their plants, and assign emotional value to them, as they took time to generate.
wade 13:38, 2 April 2008 (EDT)
Funny - two comments, one "speed it up" and the other "slow it down". I agree with the point about emotional value. But Mendelian genetics take 1-10 generations to do an interesting experiment, while directed / "self-directed" evolution takes 100-1000 generations. The maximum time that would be reasonable for that latter kind of experiment would be 10-30 seconds per generation of growth (and the minimum, to keep kids from getting hyper, would be 1-3). Longer experiments could still be run "overnight"
Consider, some kind of "growth hormone" mode that makes plants more twiggy and uninteresting, but allows for the speed necessary for evolution. This could even replace the "designer" mode, as you could get interesting seedstock this way, then by turning off the "growth hormone" do slower mendelevian experiments.
Also, I reread your proposal, and have some specific suggestions:
-you mention dominance as if dominant/recessive were a clear distinction. In fact, as the famous case of sickle-cell anemia highlights, dominance/incomplete dominance is a continuum; the heterozygous phenotype can be anywhere on the continuum from one end (total dominance) to the middle (neither gene dominant), not to mention cases like co-dominant allele variations. In the case of polygenetic traits, the math gets a little more complicated, but you can extend the same concept by having each allele contribute a fixed sum on one dimension, but then applying a nonlinear function to that sum before expressing it as a phenotype.
-you could have some "weed species" which tend to infest the garden, and provide an "herbicide" which controls them. Of course, unless you used the herbicide carefully, you'd get buildup/pollution (affecting your desired species) and/or the pest would evolve resistance. On the other hand, simply weeding it out would be sufficient, and not too much of a hassle IF you didn't let it get a foothold.
Homunq 22:20, 2 April 2008 (EDT)
I'm working to address your suggestions, as well as several ideas that Homunq proposed on IRC. I should have something by tonight; thank you very much for the interest and enthusiasm.
Jair trejo 10:45, 5 April 2008 (CDT)