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City In A Bottle is an interactive project bordering between art, science and gaming, funded by the Flemish Audiovisual Fund.

The game environment is based on the AI-principle of emergent behaviour. Organisms (plants and insects) start off with basic behaviouristic rules and goals. If an opponent is edible, attack it. If an opponent is stronger, flee. When cornered, fight back. Hide in a flock of relatives to minimise the chance of being singled out. Follow a food trail marked by a relative. Expand and defend a productive environment. Grow colourful feathers/flowers to incite reproduction.

Complex social behavior then emerges by itself as organisms interact with each other. Species with a good strategy will survive and evolve over time, will adapt, will look different. The gaming enviroment changes procedurally, there is no preprogrammed story or pathway. We don't control the biotope. The creatures will find their own way and either co-exist or fight for limited space and food.



What does the future bring?

This is just the first phase of a three-phase project. In the next phases we will use the concept of emergence in a social and cultural context.

Here, the game observes the player and responds/improvises on the fly. A player can start out in a room with a table, a door and a plant. As in real life, the number of possible options is limited at first. You could sit at the table, open the door or water the plant. If the door is locked and you don't have a key, you're trapped. Out of boredom you might start talking to the plant. No answer. You walk around a bit and try talking to the plant again. The system will pick up on your interest in having conversations with plants and assign a speaking behavior to plantlife. "Hi!" blurbs the begonia happily. Expressing your desire to leave the room, the plant may eventually adopt the same viral need and offer strategies to help the both of you escape.


Who is involved?

We have a small interdisciplinary team of artists, computer scientists, a biologist and a psychologist working on City In A Bottle. We intend to open source all of our artwork and code.

Nicolas Marinus | director 
Nicolas has a history in illustration, design and advertising and is presently working for a commercial R&D media lab in Brussels. As creative director he is responsible for the overall look and feel of the project.

Ludivine Lechat | artwork
Ludivine is an artist and graphic designer specializing in digital illustrations.  Her work is applied in domains such as the graphic design industry, interior design, computer games, music.  She designs the insects and plants that are at the heart of City In A Bottle.

Tim Vets | sound
Tim is a multidisciplinary artist and musician affiliated with ChampdAction (contemporary music ensemble based in Antwerp, Belgium). He is responsible for the development of the real-time music framework.

Frederik De Bleser | engine
Frederik is a researcher at the Sint Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. His research domains include computer graphics, user interfaces and artificial intelligence. He is the author of NodeBox.

Tom De Smedt | engine
Tom is a PhD student at the Conputational Psycholinguistics research group of the Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium. He has been developing for the NodeBox open-source application since 2004. His research concerns language, creativity, AI and art.


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