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Panda-Monium — New and Improved!


Thanks to our indefatigable programmers at Darwinalia Inc., the new and improved version of Panda-Monium is now out: go here.

First of all, great game. I have one of the top 20 scores and I probably enjoy playing a little too much. I am hamstrung, I think, by the fact that I play on a new and fast machine. I am toying with doing things like running disk defrag and antivirus full system scans in the background to make things slow down a bit. Also, the energy depletion at the higher levels does seem a bit extreme to me. My only other complaint is that the turret on the tank moves left to right, but it is controlled by the up and down and arrow keys, while the tank moves backward and forward, but is controlled by the left and right arrow keys. Granted, the back and forward motion of the tank is also left and right accross the screen, but I still think it would be far more intuitive for the arrow keys to be reversed. My problem is that I just can't get my fingers to learn that half the time the up arrow key moves the gun on the turret up, and half the time the up arrow key moves the gun down. When the gun is pointing straight up, the up arrow key moves it down, but when it is pointing right, the up arrow key moves it up. And when the gun is pointing left the up arrow key does nothing. When the gun is left, the down arrow key moves it up! And when the gun is up, both the up and down arrow keys move it down, each in different directions. Since the gun only moves left to right, it makes much more sense to have the left and right arrow keys control the gun. I hate having the up arrow key move the gun down half the time and having the down arrow key moving the gun up half the time. With the left and right arrow keys instead, the left arrow key would always move it left and the right arrow key would always move it right. Much simpler. theonomo
Alright - try this one folks - I discovered the "optimize geometry" feature and I'm thinking performance should be much better now! (Perhaps I'll reduce the energy cost of firing at higher levels to compensate a bit for it being so darn hard) Giff
Wow Anteater - sorry about that! I used a "less than" rather than "less than or equal to" in an if statement! And after all that work you did getting to level 10! A fixed version is uploaded now (make sure to delete your cache). Giff
If you right click on the game and set the quality to low, the game becomes fast. If you set the quality to high, the game turns into slow-motion (which is useful once you get to levels 8-9). I was surprised that level 10 did not have a new panda. anteater
Dave - Your first problem is undoubtedly a caching issue, as the earlier version didn't have the high score screen. As far as performance issues go, there is a fixed 30 frames per second rate. It's just that flash is pretty slow and some machines can't keep up. If I could be sure everyone had flash 8 it might help a little. Reducing the framerate would indeed do what you're talking about. Alternatively, I could adjust the game detail to default to the "medium" setting. Finally, I could couch the entire game in an HTML page to fix the aspect ratio to a smaller resolution (thereby increasing the performance). But ultimately we're not giving out prizes for higher scores, and I hate for the people with fast machines not to get the full silky smooth experience they currently have. Giff
Giff Interesting. On my home computer the high score stuff didn't appear (or I didn't notice because I was in a hurry to leave the house when I was playing but all the new pandas did. On my boat computer (which is newer and quite a bit faster) the new pandas and the high score dialog showed up at the end. What's really interesting (and I haven't yet checked to see if it's a caching of an older version of the game problem) is that the game plays probably 5x faster on one computer vs. the other and my scores are WAY lower on the faster machine. Relatively speaking I have forever to react and line up shots on the slower machine. Amongst my other experiences in the computer world I was a game programmer for an oddment of years during the past decades (my first games were written around 1980 for the Atari 2600 VCS and some other early machines and my last were massively multiplayer internet based circa 2000). Anyhow, the speed problem was one we've had to deal with since the old days when we were doing arcade game knockoffs on home console systems. The home consoles were slow compared to the arcade hardware so we had to cut corners somewhere to get the game speed more or less the same so the home experience was similar to the arcade. Sound and graphics detail was what got cut in almost all cases. There's a very similar problem today when writing games that can run on many different platforms. You might want to compromise a bit by throttling the speed Pandamonium runs on fast systems so it's similar to what slower machines can achieve. I'm not really familiar with the development environment you're using (I've only used VC++ to make downloadable executables) but I should think you have access to (at least) a millisecond resolution counter/timer that can be used to make the game run are more or less the same speed on computers with substantially different CPU and graphics throughput. Just a suggestion. DaveScot
Benji - "Who won the debate between Phil Johnson and William Provine?" As far as arguments, I don't recall either side hitting a homerun, but Johnson held his own. I definitely felt that Johnson had a more sympathetic personality---Provine was kind of condescending, but I don't suppose that should come as a surprise. The video's available for sale at http://www.arn.org/arnproducts/videos/v004sk.htm. russ
An Idist can be a theistic evolutionist! Benjii
Charlie: What you are speaking of is theistic evolution. I would say that most ID'ers would _not_ hold to theistic evolution, and here's why: The whole notion of Intelligent Design is that Intelligence is a causitive force _now_, not before the earth but right now, and is visible even in everyday life. Since people can make directed, intelligent choices it is an observable force, therefore scientifically studyable. If it occurred _before_ the beginning of the world, it would not be an observable force. johnnyb
Who won the debate between Phil Johnson and William Provine? Benjii
Hello Benjii
I guess that's technically theistic evolution though, isn't it? Charlie
hey johnnyb, thanks for the defs. I have one concern with the mention that most ID proponents believe in a progressive evolution with intervention at major steps. What seems so often ignored is this scenario: Common descent is true - it is accomplished by 'natural' means - the specified complexity is accomplished because the inheritance follows (undiscovered) natural laws. How does this suggest design? The same way that the fine tuning of the universe can suggest design: the existence and parameters of these natural laws is unlikely/improbable/impossible without an intelligent agency. It may then be true that evolution created the bacterial flagellum, the knee joint, the eyeball, etc. It may also be true simultaneously that that these are the product of a designing intelligence and could not have arisen in a non-purposeful universe. The discovery of the laws would be worthy, and within the capabilities, of scientific inquiry, and their existence would be evidence of a designer. This is not my personal view, but I think it might be the view of many ID proponents. Charlie
An origins computer game could be loosely based on Contra. You could have 2 players – Dawkins and Gould – who must eliminate an onslaught of alien beings to preserve humanity’s survival! The far superior alien race must be defeated by invoking various “selection pressures” that eventually turn the tide and create an environment where humanity is the most fit to survive. The final level could be named Mount Improbable, where Dawkins and Gould use peppered moth-like reflexes and finch-like resolve to scale the mountain and reach the tippy-top of the fitness peak, thus saving the world. There is also the potential for a fulfilling plotline, with Dawkins and Gould bickering like an elderly married couple about the “specifics” of their task, but when backed up against the wall they unite to confront the “unscientific” nature of the alien race. The weaponry in this game could be quite impressive. The Transitional-Rabbit’s-Foot could be introduced to magically transform Dawkins and Gould into a variety of mythological animals so that nature can “select” them to advance to the next level. The Punk-Eek-Magic-Wand could be used to explain away any apparent difficulties Dawkins and Gould encounter. When the aliens are about to eliminate our heroes, the Metaphysical-Amulet can be used to “predict” such an outcome and thus provide Dawkins and Gould with a way out. Of course, the game could end with Dawkins and Gould finally arriving at the top of Mount Improbable and the screen fading to black . . . Suddenly Daniel Dennett wakes up in bed, looks around in a confused and disoriented state, sighs in disappointment, then yells, “Son of a B**ch!” morpheusfaith
taciturnus: Just FYI, you are using your terms slightly wrong. A designer overlooking the process is NOT theistic evolution, it's actually progressive creation. Here are the terms: Theistic evolution - God set up the initial conditions, everything else ran from there. Some theistic evolutionists allow God to perform miracles _after_ the arrival of man (like Kenneth Miller). Progressive creation - Most ID'ers fall into this category, though ID itself is technically agnostic on what level of involvement the designer had. Universal Common Ancestry is true, but the major steps are accomplished by God. Old Earth creation - mostly the same as progressive creation, though sometimes this is distinguished by rejecting universal common ancestry, and the fossil record showing a sequence of separate creations Young Earth creation - Depending on who you ask, this can mean that the universe is less than 10,000 years old, or just the geologic column. In Ariel Roth's "Origins" book, he classifies pretty much anything that believes that the geologic column is less than 10,000 years old as being a young-earth creationist. The "units of creation" in YEC is roughly at the family level. The fossil record is a record of the flood, sorted by (a) ecological zone, (b) hydrodynamic sorting, and (c) differential escape. Following the flood was a period in which most biodiversity arose, but by natural means. Biodiversification is happening at a slower pace today, because of the downgrading nature of mutations are getting in the way of the biodiversification process. johnnyb
Giff: "Can anyone verify that this exe is nice and safe?" It's safe, tested on a dozen computers, runs fine. It's Pacman with choice audio quotes I dug up last night from Ken Miller, Eugenie Scott, and Dawkins. And when you eat a fruit, Dembski will speak. You start with 5 Dembskis, extra Dembski every 10000 points. hee hee. Hit -ESC- anytime during the game to return your full screen to normal. PhilVaz
Scanned it with AVG. Nothing detected. It's just pacman with the ghosts replaced by the faces of certain people. Gumpngreen
Can anyone verify that this exe is nice and safe? Giff
Phil, Can't look at your game uncommon dissent game here (can't download it), but I'll check it out when I get home. In hoc signo vinces (I checked out your website), Dave T. taciturnus
Phil, I think you are on to something here. Let's flesh these levels out (so to speak): Creationism Level: The gamer populates the Earth with a variety of creatures of his choice and design. However, young Earth creationists think the Earth is about 10,000 years old, compared to the 4.5 billion that mainstream science accepts. Since the typical gaming experience lasts about 2 hours, and 10,000 / 45000000000 = 0.00000022, the gamer would only have 2 x 0.00000022 = 0.00000044 hours = 0.0000267 secs to complete this level. Check my math. This level is a real test of the gamer's twitch reflex. ID level: The gamer populates the Earth with a variety of creatures of his choice and design, based on whatever he wants to accomplish in natural history. He secretly picks a set of creatures that he predicts will be alive at the end of natural history. The game simulates natural history, and at the end points are awarded/subtracted for the accuracy of the gamer's original prediction (points added for creatures alive at end as predicted, subtracted if some creatures survived that gamer did not predict.) During the simulated natural history, the simulation injects minor variations (like varying bird beak size) that spread through the population (or not) by natural selection. Theistic evolution level: Game starts with a few single-celled creatures. Simulation injects variations like the ID level. The gamer is allowed to adjust environmental parameters like climate, volcanoes, meteor strikes, etc. to help evolution along. If creatures get stuck and only seem to vary in a minor manner within type and without major and novel structural changes, gamer may zap a creature into an entirely new form, or a whole bunch of creatures at once, like the Cambrian Explosion. Victory conditions the same as ID level. Blind Watchmaker level: Same as theistic evolution level, but screen is blank and gamer not allowed to force major structural changes. He still has control of the environment and can send in meteor strikes, change the climate, or fire up volcanoes, but with no visual or audio feedback on what the effect is. At game end, screen turns on and the end state of the Earth is compared to the initial state. If final state is little different than original state, gamer loses. If new creatures have appeared with novel structures, the gamer wins and is awarded a Nobel Prize. taciturnus
Hold on, you haven't seen Uncommon Dissent the new game by PhilVaz http://www.bringyou.to/games/UncommonDissent.htm Phil P PhilVaz
tacit: "makes it sound like we are talking about theistic evolution rather than evolution as hardcore naturalists imagine it." I myself have been thinking about a creation-evolution game. Several levels that get increasingly harder: Creation, ID, Theistic Evolution, and Blind Watchmaker level. The game starts at the Big Bang. At the Creation level you can pop creatures into existence at will, but at Blind Watchmaker level, you stare at a blank screen for hours, and nothing seems to happen. Much harder to evolve things at this level. Looks like SPORE is coming to PC first. Various reviews from GameSpot http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/spore/ Phil P PhilVaz
I LOVE the new version of Panda-Monium. Just one question, though. What does the injured panda say? I can't quite make it out. Oh well, gotta get back to killin' pandas. Yowie! David crandaddy
Phil, I checked out your link... this could be a very cool game and the early reviews certainly sound positive. Given that evolution is supposed to run entirely autonomously, and certainly without any intelligent intervention, what there is for the gamer to do is an interesting problem. I can't wait to find out how the gamemakers solved it. This review comment: "Imagine a game that starts with single-celled microorganisms and allows you to control the evolution of a species all the way to galactic conquest." - GameSpy.com - E3 2005 Roundup makes it sound like we are talking about theistic evolution rather than evolution as hardcore naturalists imagine it. The only other way I can see for the gamer to be involved is by intelligently designing the process of evolution itself, in which case the game is a demonstration of the "fine-tuned universe" argument of creationism. It may be that the game will backfire on evolutionists by demonstrating that, for the process to be interesting at all, it's got to have intelligent intervention either in the process itself or in the design of the process. Anyway, it's hard for me to imagine how you could have an interesting video game about evolution without intelligent intervention of some kind, since the gamer is an intelligent agent and he bought the game to play it, not watch it run by itself. But these game creators are a lot more clever than I am, otherwise I'd be rich, and I would not be surprised if they have come up with some clever idea that remains faithful to purely natural evolution. Cheers, DT taciturnus
SalMon: "I am actually anxious to see a game produced by the evolutionists where the player can design their own gradual, detailed, fully-functional biochemical pathway that results in an irreducibly complex entity found in biology." Being done, its called SPORE, produced by the same people who brought you The Sims. Even in the video game world, the evolutionists got it all wrapped up. Sorry folks. And it isn't some rinky dink "Flash" game, its fully 3D and coming out for the Xbox-360 The site below is the official site. We've evolved way beyond Space Invaders and Galaga. ID game programmers need to catch up, but good effort anyway. I make games myself. http://spore.ea.com/ Phil P PhilVaz
Add 'Boss' Levels to the game. In between each round, you would have to fight 'bosses' like Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott and Daniel Dennett. David
jboze said: " i just can’t even begin to understand where science took the turn down this road. i’m no scientist, and common sense tells me, this doesn’t make a shred of sense, yet if i told a group of scientists this worldview, most of them (maybe ALL of them depending on the venue) would call me a fool." My wife and I were at a doctor's office the other day and passed an abstract painting of three large squares on a black background. Only after passing the "art" a second time did we realize that the squares were glue residue where the actual art had been "unstuck" and removed from the frame. The art world has descended to such a place that normal, even educated people can't tell the difference between art, and random splotches. Perhaps the same thing has happened to the science establishment. By their ideological insularity and devotion to materialist dogma, they have departed the realm of common sense in which the rest of us live. russ
People who support ID are actually losing jobs, having careers threatened and professional reputations destroyed for doing so. If the side that is doing this is offended by a video game that lampoons their arguments and ideas, then they are pathetic. russ
Alan Fox "Remember they also laughed at Bozo the clown! " FYI - While this is commonly accepted as true, I have been trying for years to find anyone who actually laughed at Bozo the clown. I have been unable to do so. Watchman
Taciturnus - Try the "p" key... I guess I ought to tell people about that, huh. Giff
Giff, Pandamonium is great stuff. Is there a pause button somewhere for when my kids annoy me about helping them with their homework? taciturnus
jboze Remember they also laughed at Bozo the clown! Alan Fox
off topic, but can someone please explain to me why when flipping thru the program listings for natl geographic channel and the science channel- they have dozens of shows airing on UFO's, wormholes, time travel, etc. and it's all taken seriously as honest scientific thought, but if someone tried to air a show on ID or anything that examines evolution (which is just seen as a given), they would call it pseudoscience and religion as science? i often wonder how a scientist can sit there and say- common ancestry is common sense, and anyone who doesn't buy it is a fool, while at the same time talking about how he's looking into wormholes and hopes to unlock the ability to travel billions of light years in seconds via these wormholes. then, he'll talk about alien life forms and his life long quest as part of SETI to find life in space. space aliens and invisible wormholes are respected topics among "real scientists" but the idea that an intelligent being is behind the many forms of life is psuedoscience and no "real scientist" denies common ancestry? how on earth did we get to this point? it wasn't too long ago that nearly all major scientists were outright creationists, and now you're an anti-science fool if you consider yourself in that camp or leaning toward that camp in any way? (speaking only for myself and my views of course.) i just finished an article on bacteria and viruses and how forms discovered in the 1800's are identical to the same ones we see today, which means that there has been no change to any new type (they haven't gone thru any "macroevolutionary" change). if that's the case, (and i go back again to the fruit flies and e coli they've actually used to SPEED UP the mutation rates), and there is no real change to any new type of life form- why is someone an idiot if they don't buy into common ancestry period? i just can't even begin to understand where science took the turn down this road. i'm no scientist, and common sense tells me, this doesn't make a shred of sense, yet if i told a group of scientists this worldview, most of them (maybe ALL of them depending on the venue) would call me a fool. if majority thought is considered the only reasonable way to go, doesn't that mean that nearly all scientists were fools when einstein showed that some of newton's ideas were wrong? so, if nearly all scientists were wrong (and by way of this thinking, "fools"), isn't it totally arrogant to think that the majority could never possibly find themselves in the same spot again? what did they call the scientists who didn't buy into some of newton's ideas that were wrong? they probably laughed at them and said that anyone who didn't buy into the generally accepted ideas were idiots, no? jboze3131
i feel dumb. i JUST realized what the first panda is saying ("who designed the designer?")- i think that's what it says? i was playing it 10 mins ago, and now i'm not sure. anyhow- it's not easy for me to tell what he's saying. jboze3131
It looks good. I only got to the 3rd level. :-( So far the mockery seems totally appropriate. Example: "Bad design means no design" - this is ridiculous. The space shuttle blows up 2% of the time. I never actually read the specs for the space shuttle, but I would guess that the catastrophic failures were not in the original plan. "Bad design means no design" tells us that we can infer from these failures, that no-one actually ever designed the space shuttle. Hello? Is anyone home? BTW, re the poor design of the Panda: I understand that this specie has been fullfilling at least one design requirement (to survive) for several thousand (?) million (?) years. Thats pretty good for a bad design. Here's another comparison: the space shuttle has hundreds (?) thousands (?) of full-time support technicians working on it. In contrast, the Panda has only the momma bear and the poppa bear (and even they probably end their support role after the first year or so.) The premise of "Bad design" is so utterly & embarrassingly wrong that it deserves some mockery. The repetition is good, too - since it helps to drill in the absurdity. The other premise of the "bad design means no design" argument is that "the designer is perfect." Isnt that ironic for people who claim to not believe in a Designer? Tim Sverduk
DaveScot: Make sure you clear your browser cache before you click the link. I don't see you in the highscore - you may not have the latest version. Giff
Cogzoid: It isn't sarcasm though - that WOULD be a low form of humor. It's a parody - satire - in the tradition of "a modest proposal" and the Simpsons. The arguments really are used, just not in the squeaky panda tone of voice. The humor is in exagerrating just a little to make a point. I sympathize with your sentiment, but naturally I'm a bit defensive (as I've put a lot of time and energy into this little baby). I'm only poking fun at the demonstrably false arguments that have been debunked time and time again, only to reappear ad nauseum. The game was meant to be some comic relief for the ID folks who have to deal with this day in and day out - hearing the same old arguments like never-ending enemies in space invaders or centipede. Better to laugh than shout and scream. Petro: Something is in the works somewhat akin to what you're talking about, though not at the end of each level. Giff
Sarcasm is a low form of humour. And probably one of the most mean-spirited. I guess I hoped that those involved in a intellectual debate would strive to be above it. I guess I was wrong. [Cogzoid, you are out of here. --WmAD] cogzoid
Like the game Giff but how about a quick answer (maybe srolling along the botton) to each of those arguments at the completion of each level, to show just how ridiculous they are. This ll make it both fun and educational!! Petro petro
Giff Ra-men, brother. Ra-men. Only got a chance to play once today. Made it to 75,000 points on level 8. I was a bit rushed though. Keep the laugh lines coming! DaveScot
And it's not like the whole spagetti monster thing gets me riled up. It makes me crack a smile, although the argument it is based on is hopelessly flawed. A little levity and humor really is what this remarkably mean-spirited debate needs, at least in my opinion. Giff
The panda game and the evolution in a box are harmless fun. They are not of a piece with the insults and name-calling that sometimes happen online. I saw Phillip Johnson take some jabs from Will Provine in a taped debate on design at Stanford and I don't think it prevented the two of them from having a substantive and serious debate. russ
I enjoyed the game. People probably need put their thick skin on and get over themselves if they're offended by a silly video game. St. Arbucks
I think the whole gaming thing is cool. I send links to things like this to my friends who are interested in ID (some are supportive of ID, and some are critical of it) and the feedback is generally good. People on both sides of the issue seem to be loosening up a bit (at least in my little sphere of contacts) and I think that the cartoons and games are helping that process. I am actually anxious to see a game produced by the evolutionists where the player can design their own gradual, detailed, fully-functional biochemical pathway that results in an irreducibly complex entity found in biology. This is a game that I would like to play if it were ever to hit the market (but would I have to play it for millions of years before I scored any points?) Sal Monella
I should say I love the "Yowie!" the pandas make. MississippiBoy
Great game! I love the "Yowzah" the pandas make. MississippiBoy
[I removed the carping post to which you are responding here. --WmAD] Whatever do you mean? I have it on good authority that some at pandasthumb appreciate the game for giving a mouthpiece to some of the crushing arguments against ID! http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/09/i_think_were_ge.html#comment-48571 Anyway, I hope the game is only childish in its levity and creativity, not in mean-spiritedness. Honestly, I have heard some decent arguments against ID, and would like to see them debated and addressed. However, it's hard to even hear them because of the high proliferation of falacious arguments (it seems one hears 30 bad arguments for every good one). If I can help people laugh at the bad ones, perhaps that will spur more people to use the good ones, and we can have a more serious and interesting (and dare I say more respectful) debate. Giff
Wow!! Hard to imagine that the already existing version of *Panda-monium* could be progressively enhanced in any way, shape, or form. Now I have hours of improved panda blasting awaiting me at my desktop! BTW. Good luck on the forthcoming debate. Or, should I say . . . may a positive train of cause and effect that was instigated by an Unspecified Designer and front loaded at the time of the Big Bang work in your favor as you seek to defend Intelligent Design theory ;) Yours, Sal Monella Sal Monella

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