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Evolution Board Game Ideas

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dnddmdb
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I recently had the idea of a board game in which players would go through the stages of Evolution (almost like Spore, but up until the end of the Creature Phase).

I had the idea of using 2 boards, the Gene Pool Board and another board (untitled as of now). The Gene Pool Board would be a series of spaces on intersecting circles (like a Scene-It Board). To win, you would need to evolve to the end. I was thinking that each space of advancement would have a number on it, which would be equal to the DNA points you earn in the game. If you get enough, you may move to the next space, while considering spending these points to evolve your Creature. As you go higher in circles, you evolve in different ways (1st circle is Paramecium like, 2nd is fish and other sea creatures, 3rd is primitive reptiles, etc...).

The untitled board would be almost like a Risk-styled type of board, where populations of your Creatures could interact with other Opponent's creatures.

An ideas I had for interaction were to kill off the opponent's Population, setting them back on the Gene Pool Board.

There would be Events, such as Mass Extinction, Climate Change, Disease, Predators arrive, and such.

So, some questions...

-Heard anything like this before?
-How is the 2 Board concept?
-Other interaction ideas
-How the spaces are on the Gene Board are laid out
-Evolutions
-Other Events
-Is it too much like Spore?

Advice is much obliged,

dnddmdb

stuka
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Ursuppe anyone?

Do you know Primordial Soup?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursuppe

dnddmdb
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Well that's not good...

Well, that totally bursted my bubble. That's a lot like what I was thinking of.

Thanks for the heads up,

dnddmdb

dnddmdb
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Should I?

Do you think I should go through with this anyway? I mean, this explores different stages of evolution instead of just Paramecium and Amoebas.

The interaction Board is actually a secondary sort of board, wheras in Primordial Soup it is primary.

DNA Point accumulation is similar, and so is adapting, but you don't so much as rely on other players for food.

Feedback obliged,

dnddmdb

stuka
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Scope too broad

I think a game with such a span - entire evolution - is hardly playable on board. That's why the creators of Primordial Soup chose to concentrate on a narrower segment, amoebas. It is still barely an Euro game.

BBC once had a computer game that presented evolution from the first vertebrates to sentient beings. (unavailable as of now) On board, that game would have used about 1000 pieces, excluding tokens, cards and other accessories needed to keep track of attributes. Then there is dynamic environment. Just too much. Try to narrow it down.

I had a similar challenge when designing a war game with some influences of Civilization. Civ3 or Civ4 would be about 100 kg as a board game, and you'd need a senior accountant to handle the mechanics and attributes. So I went for airforce only, greatly simplifying combat, research and everything.

Think of game time as well. Evolution took billions of years. Now try to tuck it into 90 minutes. Won't work. I'd say stay with sauropods, their story is both interesting and have a mass appeal.

tomi71
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Evolution game concept

Hello! I have created a game called EVOLUTION EARTH. It´s not published yet, but it really consist all of the stages from single celled creatures all the way to the mammals and birds. It´s a kind of an wargame where you use different kind of natural catastrophes, climate changes, ice-ages etc. (about 45) different kind of things that can happen. I also have drifting continents in the game so it´s very dynamic and every game is totally different (yet somehow similar too).
The continents have different kind of climates in them, so the game can look very deserty or jungley or everything between that (5 different climates per continent; 7 of them.)

It´s a very strategic and tactical game where you try to acquire land and/or sea areas and the winner is based upon area control in the end. Species combine their forces in their competition against opponents species and the dynamic thing about this is that same species can be both strong or weak depending whom with they are having competition about natural resources. Also very strong species tend to be weak e.g when climate change occurs (they are too specialized in that kind of climate). Game can also be won by acquiring special things like "having most of reptiles" and "filling one continent with them and things similar like that. Those cards are called "herocards" or something like that. The game has not been translated to english yet. So far only Finnish.

The game "money" is natural resources by which you can buy the effects in the cards e.g asteroid attack costs 15 natural resource tokens.

This game concept took me about ten years to do including all the game graphics (continents, cards, animal tokens (thousands of them), game board and species board). So the game is totally finnished and only needs a translation any more. I´ve been playing and making it better for many years now and it really is now a fun game to play even though you could think that it is a heavy theme. Even though the theme is so large (millions of years of evolution, natural disasters, competition of species etc.) the game is fairly easy to play (it has been played by children who loved it.) The game is very tactical, so one must be very careful when to play some cards and when not to. Also the mechanic which controls who plays first, who next and so on is solely based upon the playing of the cards. Never seen in any other game such a mechanic which I invented last year. I am very proud of it. It makes the game even more strategic!

I wish you all the best but wanted to tell that this concept has been done (at least here in Finland by me). Maybe your concept could be about evolution as well but be emphasized differently. I am sure there are lot of different aspects one could think of.

Btw. If some publisher got interest about this I would gladly tell more. My email is tomi71@gmail.com

I have a plan to show this game (prototype) in Essen 2009 if I can get the money to travel and so on. Hope to see you all there.

edit: more information: the game is for ages 11 up and 2-4 players. It takes about 2 hours to play (sometimes less). With 4 players it can take about 2-3 hours, which is not too much for a big concept like this.

Gogolski
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Who doesn't have an evolution-themed design...

Just like almost everybody else, I too have an evolution-themed game. It all started out as a critter-building game, but soon afterwards, the climate was an added element to the design. Still a little later, plate-tectonics came into the picture, but that proofed too fiddly and impractical.

Some months ago, after being abandoned for some time, I picked the design up again and discussed it with a friend. Players have a few action-points to evolve their creature, migrate or procreate. When players evolve their creatures in certain areas, the creatures go up or down the food-chain, which (partly) determines which creatures are food for others. The place in the food-chain also determines the player-order and the procreation-rate.

I'm not attempting in any way to reproduce an evolutionary sequence like the one on earth. The creatures should not represent real creatures in any way.

Enough about my game...

I have never played scene it and looked it up to get an idea of the intersecting-circles board. To be honest, I really haven't got a clue why the board is a number of circles, it looks like it adds nothing at all.
The gene-pool-board you are proposing adds nothing at all either, if you ask me. A track with symbols (and/or colors) representing what stage of evolution you are in, would probably do the same thing just as good. This track, which is essentially a VictoryPoint-track which must be traveled to the end to win the game, could easily be put around the geographical board where the creatures fight each-other.

Cheese!
Fred.

PlatypusGames
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Evolution: The Game That Evolves As You Play

In 2005, my company, Platypus Games, released Evolution: The Game That Evolves As You Play. This game really had little to do with the actual process of Darwin's Evolution (although that is the backdrop of the game), but rather it is more of a family/party game that has 18 different mind and performance challenges that change (EVOLVE) as the player moves around the board. Ultimately, once the teams or tribes reach the end of the game they have to MUTATE into a SUPER HUMAN and prove their super human abilities by either reading someone's mind or by predicting the future. The challenge cards tell players how to do it...so no telepathy needed! :-)

So, yes, not really the same game that you are talking about creating...but certainly the same backdrop. Ultimately, I think the problem with any kind of games based on ACTUAL Evolution is that it is really a process that takes millions of years to happen...so for armies of creatures to be battling and evolving while they fight doesn't really fit the concept. I would suggest taking that idea though and applying it to something that CAN evolve and mutate quickly (like a virus) and having your armies inflicted with different viruses that could infect your creatures and cause them to have various reactions to a number of circumstances.

Good luck!

Karl Archer

tomi71
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Your game sounds very

Your game sounds very interesting!

I have a comment about the rest of your reply:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interspecific_competition

There really is an element of competition between different kind of species. They compete about food and living space.

It certainly has happened and has affected how species have evolved in millions of years. I don´t think that´s a problem in a game where a game turn can take hundreds of thousands of years.

Of course it´s easier to think it like "a battle" even though it´s more like a very slow process of "arms race".

First I had a very complex and thorough system in my game but I streamlined it to be fast and fun and also easy. I think it could be somewhat a "realistic" too in a sense.

btw. My first language is not english and it´s getting little rusty so forgive me my "way of words".

dnddmdb
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Clarification and Thanks

First of all, thanks to everyone on the feedback I have been given.

Some clarification on the concept of the game:

To stuka:

Thanks for the feedback, its definitely useful.

About the span of the game, perhaps I will narrow it down, Dinosaurs is definitely a good idea, but it may have been done before.

About the time, with 4 players, each circle of the Gene Pool Board would take about 15 minutes max (about 2-3 turns for each player in each circle). If there was about 8 circles, I guess the game would top at about 2 hours. That's playable I believe, but not for quick, casual gaming. I may reduce that.

To tomi71 (first post):

My board game is similar to your idea, but still very different. The basic concept is the same, but instead of counting areas controlled, the winner is the first to evolve into a form of life that can reason (i.e. homo sapiens). It is not exactly war styled, and climate cards affect everyone, and are not used against specific players.

To gogolski:

I too plan to use climate, in the form of counters, on the Interaction Board. Events cause Climates to change, forcing species without certain resistances to migrate to climates better suited to their needs, or they die out.

About the Gene Pool board, there are going to be a few more than 5 intersecting circles. There are 3 paths that can be chosen from as you enter each stage of life. Each space has a number on it (the number of DNA points required to enter that space), and certain symbols, which allow you to gain DNA points or Draw Adaptation Cards, necessary to survive in the ever changing world.

As you progress through each circle (representing an era) your path determines your species, which affects what Adaptations may apply to you.

To PlatypusGames: Your game seems very interesting, though mine will rely more heavily on the actual process of evolution. Thanks for the comments. However, they will not actually "battle" but just interact on a simplified scale (hunt each other, move out of the inhabited range of the other species).

To Tomi71 (2nd Post): Yes, that is definitely something that is going to be incorporated into my game. Every turn, a certain amount of vegetation is placed in each square (or hex) of the interaction board, depending on the current climate. Herbivorous animals will be eating this food, and thus compete there. Those bestowed with the Carnivorous adaptation (all species start as herbivores, as in ecosystems there are far more herbivores than Carnivores) can eat other species, but if species begin to die out from droughts, the carnivores will be at risk too.

And yes, arms race is a far more accurate term.

In addition, NPC style species will pop up on the Gene Pool Board, and they simply eat and move to survive. This creates further competition for the players.

I hope this clears up some of my design ideas. Thank you to everyone for the feedback!

domd
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playtesting?

tomi71 - Your game sounds great and very much like something I wanted to try to design but never found the time. I look forward to seeing it published.

tomi71
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Thank you very much for your

Thank you very much for your kind words. There was many moments that I thought that I quit doing the game but since I had made a promise to do it. I really had no choice. I am glad it happened that way. I will try to publish it as long as I breathe so that´s exactly the same thing again. Never quit and give up is kinda like somekind of motto here.

Let´s never give up! Sometimes one feels that there is no solution to some problem in game development but when given a lot of thought and time it will solve it self. I promise :)

ttgames
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Evolving

Ah, evolution; the fairy tail for grown ups!

(don't worry, i'm not a religious nut!)

kungfugeek
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Something you might want to consider...

IIRC, a species' evolution strategy isn't just relying on mutation, but the right amount of mutation based on how quickly the environment changes. Too little mutation and the species won't adapt to the environment, too much and it will be difficult to establish a population (or something -- I can't remember the real reason too much mutation is bad). I don't know if many evolution-based games take the rate of mutation, as it relates to how quickly then environment changes, into account.

Just a thought.

The Magician
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Tomi71, your game sounds vary

Tomi71, your game sounds vary interesting. I might love to play it if you get it published. I'm currious, what do you use for game pieces?

dnddmdb, I also like your idea for an evolution game. I wish you luck.

I don't see any problem about a game spanning a period of millions of years. Of course, I love big-ass games. If it were me creating a game about evolution, it would be far different because I don't follow Darwinian theory, but nor do I follow Christian or religious theory. That may sound like a contradiction to a dualistic way of thinking about it, but it is not.

The Magician
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PlatypusGames

PlatypusGames wrote:
Ultimately, once the teams or tribes reach the end of the game they have to MUTATE into a SUPER HUMAN and prove their super human abilities by either reading someone's mind or by predicting the future. The challenge cards tell players how to do it...so no telepathy needed! :-)

Do you mind explaining how this mechanic works in your game? How is it that there is no telepathy needed? Is it that they are really just guessing or you guide them through a kind of technique for using their intuitive abilities?

tomi71
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The Magician wrote:Tomi71,

The Magician wrote:
Tomi71, your game sounds vary interesting. I might love to play it if you get it published. I'm currious, what do you use for game pieces?

dnddmdb, I also like your idea for an evolution game. I wish you luck.

I don't see any problem about a game spanning a period of millions of years. Of course, I love big-ass games. If it were me creating a game about evolution, it would be far different because I don't follow Darwinian theory, but nor do I follow Christian or religious theory. That may sound like a contradiction to a dualistic way of thinking about it, but it is not.

I hope you will play it someday :)

For game pieces I use small cardboard tokens which has a 2 things on it. First it has a picture e.g dinosaur and then it has a "colourcode" red, green, yellow or blue.

Then there is this thing which I don´t know the english name yet, but it´s something like a speciesboard (a tablet, plate or tile; don´t know the right word for sure) which can take 1-6 species onto it. Thus giving the strength of each of the species depending of the thing about how many there are of them. (My english sucks; specially in the mornings...). And the colour code tells about their competitive skills and how adaptive they are for climate change for example.

The colors also tell how specialized they are for an environment. The more the same colour the more they are specialized the more they are competitive in that color and the larger they are in size. But they are very weak against climate change because they are not versatile in colour.

So the speciesboard makes the species very dynamic. They can be strong competitors or weak depending against who they are competiting about resources. Don´t know any other game that has such a concept.

I would think that this kind of game wouldn´t actually be too expensive to publish since everything is made of cardboard (except playing cards). Even the species are cardboard tokens. Of course I would love to see them made from plastic or maybe even little animals but I wonder if that would be expensive or difficult to do because there are animals from all eras like e.g cambrian era etc.

thanks for your interest and again sorry for my bad english. It used to be better but maybe my brain is lazier nowadays.

tomi71
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I made a picture about people

I made a picture about people playing Evolution Earth. So this gives a little insight (picture) what the game looks like. Those continents btw are movable and player can move them when he/she plays a "continent" card. So it is a very strategic to consider how you will put the continents into the world so that your species can expand their niches (territories) and compete the areas for themselves.

First the card raises one continent when played. e.g player can raise Africa from ocean.

There are protocontinents before the big ones appear.

I am planning to put more images in a nearby future.

Please comment how you like it.

oh, almost forget the link:
http://img50.imageshack.us/my.php?image=evoluutiopelihuoneds2.jpg

edit:

I put another one too. It has only a game board with tiles and continents and playing cards. It however doesn´t show the resourcetiles or dices (colordices and 1 normal dice).

http://img93.imageshack.us/my.php?image=pelilauta2009imageshackui2.jpg

This is about a play situation where all 7 continents have risen from sea on top of the protocontinents. There has not yet been any continental drift, so the Pangaea has formed. There are four player colours: red, green, yellow and blue. And those speciestablets have some species on them which are also four colored. The tablet shows who "owns" the species. E.g in Africa there are only green players species (2 speciestablets).

In North-American continent (part of pangaea) there are 2 red players´speciestablets and 1 blue players speciestablet.

The continents are in this example as follows: North-America and South-America are rainforests (jungles). Africa is savannah. Eurasia is tundracontinent now (maybe some player has played an iceage there before - it turns the climate into tundra after the devastation). Antarctica is desert. India is rainforest. Australia is Savannah. In the left top corner you can also see that the sea is arctic over there. Some player has played "Sea stream - arctic" card there. (The english names have not been decided yet.)

Hope you enjoyed my little presentation here. I wish to put some more images in future if you like.

edit: uploaded the gamebox too

http://img299.imageshack.us/my.php?image=gameboxofevolutionearthmk4.jpg

The Magician
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Man that's beautiful! Did you

Man that's beautiful! Did you say the continents move in the game? Thanks for sharing this! I hope you Publish this so I can play it.

I like your idea of saving money by having cardboard tokens. That is something I am inclining to do to save on the game I am developing. I want it big and thought if I cut back on game counters, I can concentrate on the boards, cards and everything else and not cost too much.

tomi71
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The Magician wrote:Man that's

The Magician wrote:
Man that's beautiful! Did you say the continents move in the game? Thanks for sharing this! I hope you Publish this so I can play it.

I like your idea of saving money by having cardboard tokens. That is something I am inclining to do to save on the game I am developing. I want it big and thought if I cut back on game counters, I can concentrate on the boards, cards and everything else and not cost too much.

Thank you! Yes, the continents are their own game pieces and at first they rise to their original positions and after that they can be moved the way player wants to. All this happens by playing the card "continent".

I will soon put an image of the game board without continents so you can have a better picture how the continents are put into the board.

edit:
http://img128.imageshack.us/img128/8646/pelilauta2009miniversiohy8.jpg

so there you go. Only game board without continents and species. Those greenish areas are protocontinents which can hold only one speciestile. When continent arises it can hold much more speciestiles e.g Eurasia can hold up to six while South-America can hold 2.

edit 2: There are 12 sea areas which each one can hold up to 3 speciestiles (speciestablets might be a better word for it.)

Katherine
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This evolution game also uses

This evolution game also uses separate gene pool boards.

http://webusers.siba.fi/~sboswell//evg/howlooks.html

Gogolski
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shazzaz wrote:This evolution

shazzaz wrote:
This evolution game also uses separate gene pool boards.

http://webusers.siba.fi/~sboswell//evg/howlooks.html


Woho! That green background really hurts my eyes!

Katherine
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ha! wait till you see the

ha! wait till you see the purple.

tomi71
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Thought it would be wiser to

Thought it would be wiser to delete all of my images since publishers maybe want to keep things secret ? And no more comments from here so thanks everybody.

tomi71
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tomi71 wrote:Thought it would

tomi71 wrote:
Thought it would be wiser to delete all of my images since publishers maybe want to keep things secret ? And no more comments from here so thanks everybody.

In Finnish board game society forum there was a discussion about openness when creating games. So I decided to return the images in case if anybody wondered what´s this going on.

Katherine
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I am glad you did tomi. This

I am glad you did tomi. This forum also encourages openness.

I think sometimes designers are restricted by the publishers from sharing because they demand secrecy (see Dralius' post).

if you have to keep it secret you might find some people willing to discuss through pm. I would not have even had a game for my board if it wasn't for a few good people from this forum helping me out.

tomi71
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Evolution Earth update.

Some update for my Evolution Earth.

I have managed to squeeze the playing time up to an hour now :)

This could be done by "installing" a score system where you score 1 point for every succesful attack (competition or using natural forces; elements=catastrophes) against your opponents species and thus killing one speciestile fully.

The game ends when any player reaches 10 point. However he/she may not be the winner still, because there are these secret continent cards that give bonus points for those species who are on those areas and have a species supremacy there.

I also decided to cut the gameboards sea areas at both ends thus reducing it´s size and making it more square instead of the rectangle shape.

I´ve changed also so, that players can choose the colours of their species in the beginning of the game, this gives player more power and strategy to affect his/her species.

Michael C
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As Gogolski says...

Who hasn't designed an Evolution game at some stage? It's one of th great challenges of game design.

Mine is simply called EVOLUTION, and like Tomi's, it is a strategy/wargame with continental drift - though my drift is historical rather than player-driven (a nice idea that, Tomi). I use Risk counters for pieces and playing cards as the game-driver.

Players strive to rise up the Genus Table which gives them a competitive advantage in the territorial wargame that develops. But here's the kicker: each player can also evolve into an ecological niche. And it's not the carnivorees that the herbivores need to look out for - it's the other herbivores who are competing for the same food!

The game works very well, but it's far too long for today's market (about 8 hours for a full game). And while the drifting continents are really neat, they would make the production costs spiral through the roof.

So this is just one for me and my wargaming friends - until I become uber-famous of course, and Fantasy Flight come knocking at my door. A man can dream, can't he?

FYI, I do remember once reading a (not very complimetary) review of a drifting continents game on BoardGameGeek a couple of years ago, though i'm afraid I can't remember what it was called.

M<

Michael C
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tomi71 wrote: I will soon put

tomi71 wrote:

I will soon put an image of the game board without continents so you can have a better picture how the continents are put into the board.

edit:
http://img128.imageshack.us/img128/8646/pelilauta2009miniversiohy8.jpg

so there you go. Only game board without continents and species. Those greenish areas are protocontinents which can hold only one speciestile. When continent arises it can hold much more speciestiles e.g Eurasia can hold up to six while South-America can hold 2.

I meant to say Tomi, that gameboard looks really beautiful.

How did you solve the problem of continental drift with pieces on the board?

One of the cool things with my design as it stands is that you see the continents split and carry the creatures off with them. It would be much more cost-effective if I could have square continent tiles, instead of actual continent-shaped pieces. But if I did that, players would spend ages transferring pieces from one tile to another.

Anyway, best of luck. If you really have managed to create a realistically 'historical' evolution game with continental drift that plays in less than 2 hours, you deserve to get it published.

M<

The Magician
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Michael C wrote: Anyway, best

Michael C wrote:

Anyway, best of luck. If you really have managed to create a realistically 'historical' evolution game with continental drift that plays in less than 2 hours, you deserve to get it published.

M<


Realistically historical is a no thing because there is contreversy sarounding the history of evolution. I think being creative about the interpretation of evolution is just as relavent as creatively creatig a time travel game.

tomi71
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The Magician wrote:Michael C

The Magician wrote:
Michael C wrote:

Anyway, best of luck. If you really have managed to create a realistically 'historical' evolution game with continental drift that plays in less than 2 hours, you deserve to get it published.

M<


Realistically historical is a no thing because there is contreversy sarounding the history of evolution. I think being creative about the interpretation of evolution is just as relavent as creatively creatig a time travel game.

Yeah. I agree. If evolution would take place now certainly things would go along some same lines, but there would be totally different things too e.g continents might form differently and different kind of natural disasters would occur differently thus affecting species and their evolution and extinction.

Also the replayability is improved by the thing that game is different every time (e.g the climates of the continents can change differently etc. etc.)

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