ANLIFE – a life simulator from the game dev who angered Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki
Japanese publisher Attructure announced ANLIFE: Motion-Learning Life Evolution on August 31. The game will be available for PC (Steam). The game’s announcement has drawn the public’s eye as it comes from a developer whose previous project had famously been called “an insult to life” by the Studio Ghibli director, Hayao Miyazaki.
ANLIFE is centered around simulating the lives of virtual organisms. Unlike most games, ANLIFE has no set goal or end result for the player. The player becomes the “creator” of life, creating and observing virtual organisms that “self-learn” motion inside of a physics engine-based world. The player enjoys “playing God” while observing the process of evolution that the virtual lifeforms go through.
The virtual creatures supposedly exhibit behavior based on Darwin’s principle of natural selection. As the creator of the world, the player can manipulate the laws of physics and natural environment freely, meaning they can make a species thrive by making resources abundant or, conversely, create an Ice Age to raise the bar of survival and watch natural selection take its course.
The player can also “induce sudden mutations” in the virtual organisms and “incorporate unique elements into their DNA,” such as anti-gravitational properties, as well as meddle in reproduction by favoring a particular species. It’s also possible to send the creatures you have created to the zoo that exhibits artificial lifeforms. The game is basically a sandbox for conducting evolutionary experiments on virtual organisms trying to survive.
The core creator of this title is Masayoshi Nakamura of Attructure. In 2009, Nakamura had developed the predecessor to this game, the simulator called “anlife.” This was followed by another simulator project in 2016, which had caused big waves in the public due to a TV program in which Hayao Miyazaki reacted to it, calling it “extremely unpleasant” and commenting that “it felt like an insult to life.”
In the presentation of the simulator, Miyazaki had been shown a demonstration of humanoid models self-learning motion through artificial intelligence. The 3D models used were gory with missing and disfigured body parts, and they made “zombie-like” strained, crawling motions. In response to this, Miyazaki stated that, thinking of his friend who suffers from a physical disability, he could not find anything interesting about the project, adding that the person behind it “surely has no consideration for pain.”
On the other hand, the title ANLIFE, announced this time around, features comparatively lighter, even cute designs for the virtual beings. The goal of the project is described as recreating the profound process of evolution of life on Earth through mechanisms such as heredity and natural selection in a virtual space to bring about new life. While it does exude mad scientist vibes, it is an interesting concept.
ANLIFE: Motion-Learning Life Evolution is planned to be released for PC (Steam). The price and release date have not yet been announced.
Written by. Amber V based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-08-31 16:08 JST)