Fall 2015, Vol. 21, No. 4, Pages 432-444
This article presents a lightweight platform for evolving two-dimensional artificial creatures. The aim of providing such a platform is to reduce the barrier to entry for researchers interested in evolving creatures for artificial life experiments. In effect the novel platform, which is inspired by the Sodarace construction set, makes it easy to set up creative scenarios that test the abilities of Sodarace-like creatures made of masses and springs. In this way it allows the researcher to focus on evolutionary algorithms and dynamics. The new indirectly encoded Sodarace (IESoR) system introduced in this article extends the original Sodarace by enabling the evolution of significantly more complex and regular creature morphologies. These morphologies are themselves encoded by compositional pattern-producing networks (CPPNs), an indirect encoding previously shown effective at encoding regularities and symmetries in structure. The capability of this lightweight system to facilitate research in artificial life is then demonstrated through both walking and jumping domains, in which IESoR discovers a wide breadth of strategies through novelty search with local competition.