El Fish

This game was a pioneer on many levels – not the first being a collabration betwwen Russian and American software companies in 1993 (!) – the generational and bespoke nature of a game taht has very tight constraints (camera view) is what interests me….

From Wikipedia:

El-Fish was created by Vladimir Pokhilko, Ph.D. and Alexey Pajitnov, who had backgrounds in mathematics, computer science, and psychology. They were attempting to create software for INTEC (a company that they started) that would be made for “people’s souls”. They developed this idea, calling it “Human Software”, with three rules:

* The software needs to be “aesthetically beautiful”
* The software needs to be constructive
* The software needs to bring feeling to people that they would not otherwise enjoy

El-Fish was developed by many bright minds, most with Ph.D.s, and some had worked on high profile projects such as the Russian space program.

Each fish in El-Fish has a unique Roe, similar to the genome. This allows the user to catch fish and use selective breeding and mutation to create fish to their own tastes for placing them in virtual aquariums. Around 800 possible genetic attributes (fin shape, body color, size, etc) are available, which can be selectively shaped into virtually infinite numbers of unique fish. Once fish are created, El-Fish will algorithmically generate up to 256 animation frames so that the fish will appear to swim smoothly around the tank.

The tank simulator is very customizable for this game’s era. The player can select from a large number of backdrops and tank ornaments for the fish to swim between. The user can also import their own images to use as tank ornaments. El-Fish includes a fractal based plant generator for creating unique aquarium plants. There are several “moving objects” that can be added to the tanks which the fish will react to, such as a cat paw, fibcrab, and a small plastic scuba diver. The user can also procedurally generate background music for their tank using an in-game composer, or choose a separate MIDI music file to be played for each virtual aquarium, and feed the fish.

Leave a comment