close this bookVolume 7: No. 23
View the documentAgent systems
View the documentAutomata and alife
View the documentHigh-level artificial life
View the documentCareer jobs (in our CCJ 7.12 digest this week)
View the documentJournal calls

Robby Garner has implemented a chatterbot for Windows 95, combining elements of several popular bots. Shareware, at . [,, 26Feb97. David Joslin.]

Japan now has several "virtual pet" games available, besides the Tamagochi keychain bird. Tamagotch or Tamagochi may be available in the UK in May or later. Bandai has produced several variants for the Japanese market, and is working on other animals -- including a "tamagotchi angel" living in the afterlife. or . [Xavier Bensky ,, 19Mar97.]

Fujitsu is marketing its Fin-Fin dophin/bird hybrid in the US, for $60. Fin-Fin comes with a sensor that detects movement and sound. Kid's have to gain his trust with play and virtual food before he'll do acrobatics or sing one of his 60 songs. (888) 992-5433. [Newsweek, 14Apr97, p. 12.]

Microsoft hopes to make a few dollars with a $110 interactive Barney. (A plain stuffed Barney is $15; talking Barney is $30-$35.) Interactive Barney has hand and foot pressure sensors that trigger poems or songs, or activate CD-ROM program options. He understands 2K words in stand-alone mode, or 14K with a PC connection. [Kathy Rebello, BW, 17Feb97.] (Bill Gates' 9-month-old daughter may have something to do with this...)

Several commercial games on the market make use of neural networks, according to Steven Woodcock. "Battlecruiser: 3000 AD" uses neural networks for decision making and for pathfinding. Creatures uses a NN/GA combination to train its Norns. Dynamic Gin is a gin rummy game (from ) that adapts to your style of play. Fields of Battle uses stochastic Hopfield nets for WWI battlefield analysis -- shareware from . Epic Megagames says its 7th Legion strategy game will use a neural network for real-time learning. [,, 10Mar97.]

Toby Simpson of CyberLife Technology Ltd. says there have been two major genetic improvements to the Norns since the original release of Creatures, due to a combination of mutation and luck. . [,, 20Mar97.] (Creatures was supposed to be released in the US on 28Jan97, but the distribution deal fell apart. We're still waiting.)

Anthony Bachler is setting up a gene pool (or orphanage?) for Norns on his FTP site. Original Egg Disk Norns are particularly requested. Send your description -- age, sex, generation (if known), and special characteristics -- and attached Norn to . (Sex is not too important, since the sex can be changed.) [, 10Feb97.]

David Lyons is trying to build a race of superintelligent norns. Contact him if you have one with more than 9 brainlobes, or more than 954 neurones. . [, 02Mar97.]

A Creatures mailing list is available from Sam Dluzewski. Send a "SUBSCRIBE: email@address" message to . [Cor Smal ,, 06Feb97.] is a new discussion list for the Creatures alife game (to take such discussion out of and [, 01Apr97.] AOL also has a Creatures message board in its PCGames Forum. [,, 07Mar97.]

Chris Crawford is working on a new interactive fiction (IF) computer game. (He's the author of psycho-political games: Trust and Betrayal, Global Dilemma.) See for "massive detail" about his proposed "Erasmatron" engine. His approach "raises the IF ante to an entirely new level" via built-in character models, scene segues rather than character motion, verb-web analysis of the branching problem, tracking of characters' knowledge (and knowledge of rumors), and other innovative AI techniques. [Jorn Barger ,, 09Apr97.]