Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development



Long before any of us at PAXsims became preoccupied with conflict, development, peacebuilding, or zombies, we loved dinosaurs. Indeed, had you asked me at age six I would have likely told you I wanted to be a palaeontologist (or an astronaut), not a political scientist.

Fortunately, Ezra Sidran—whose background is in military simulation and artificial intelligence—manages to cover both these interests with his current project, Dinosaur Island. The game itself is about, well, dinosaurs:

Dinosaur Island is a 3D computer simulation with herds of sauropods and ceratopsians, flocks of pteranodons, hunting packs of carnivores and authentic plants and trees from over 65 million years ago all controlled by the user. You can think of Dinosaur Island as a digital terrarium in which a balance between the species and their diets must be maintained or the ecosystem will collapse.

It is up to the user to determine how many and what kinds of dinosaurs and plants populate the island. Start off simple with just a few sauropods and some plants; but you better make sure that those big plant-eaters have the right food to eat. Did you know that many of the plants from the Jurassic were poisonous? You also need to make sure that there are some carnivores around to keep those sauropod herds in check; otherwise they will quickly outstrip their food supplies.

However, the development blog makes frequent comparisons with military simulation and modelling, with discussion on such topics as  “creating a combat model for T. rex versus Edmontosaurus regalis,” “new AI enables T. rex to anticipate prey’s future location,” “how a dinosaur is not like a tank,” and “dinosaurs, tanks and line of sight algorithms.”


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