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Red in tooth and claw

It takes me back to the old days, it does. Microsoft is sponsoring a new distributed online game called Terrarium, in which you create software creatures to battle it out in a virtual environment. (I don't know whether there's a graphical front end to this environment to help you visualize what it looks like, or whether it's just an abstract environment composed of code.) Microsoft is doing this to show off their new .NET framework (and don't ask me what a "framework" is; I don't understand it), but it immediately makes me think of a long and noble lineage of similar games back in the old days, from Robotwar to Core Wars. There was a really cute visual-interface game some years back, in which you programmed your robots a few turns ahead using a little icon-based visual programming language, and then set them loose to fight each other; more user intervention required, but also much more accessible to non-programmers. One interesting thing about Terrarium is that it's distributed; instead of running all the critters in one big centralized environment, each critter starts out in a terrarium running on a local system, and can then get teleported to other local systems. Whoever codes the most successful critters wins.

I'm not terribly interested in learning the .NET languages, and it's not like I have time anyway. But it does bring back fond memories from high school, of coding little bots for Core Wars. . . .

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