Sprout Life

Sprout Life is a model for the evolution of complex life. It extends Conway’s Game of Life, which is famous for having lifelike patterns emerge from simple rules. Sprout Life takes this emergence a step further, creating patterns that reproduce, mutate, and evolve.

Enabling reproduction spontaneously leads to more advanced behaviors. Surviving organisms begin to compete for space and align in battle formations with their siblings.

Watch evolution happen by running Sprout Life on your desktop. Save and load organism genomes and create battles between saved organisms.

Sprout Life

Compiling and Running

Download and Run

You can compile and run Sprout Life with Java 1.8

Download Sprout Life executable SproutLife.jar file, or the source code.

Run SproutLife.jar by opening the file on your desktop, or using the following command line:

java -jar -Xmx2g SproutLife.jar

Compile and Run:

Download maven and follow the maven installation instructions

mvn package to build an executable jar

mvn exec:java to run the application


There are several reasons why Sprout Life is exciting:

Seeds that Sprout - the key idea

A slight change to the rules of GOL allows organisms in Sprout Life to reproduce, mutate, and evolve.

Seed Sprout Illustration

Sprout Animation

Sprout Animation

Sprout Life

Evolution - a race to the bottom?

The initial excitement of developing Sprout Life was that it worked! Organisms do arise, reproduce, and mutate to improve themselves. But what can we see about the direction that evolution seems to take?

The direction towards smallness is not straight forward, and we can still learn a lot from how new abilities are introduced and propagate through the population. Overall though, the trend is to be simple, and simple is boring. Simple is also a fixed boundary beyond which progress isn't possible.

Sprout Life

Overcoming simplicity - initial techniques to maintain complexity

There are a few ways we can encourage our evolutionary model to maintain complexity so as to keep things interesting.

Sprout Life

Competitive Collision Mode - finally achieving growth

In pursuit of bigger, more sophisticated organisms it seems natural to let bigger organisms win collisions. Bigger organisms should come out undamaged and carrying on with reproduction, while smaller organisms have some cells destroyed and may be unable to procreate.

Wiki & Documentation