Back in March, Ars wrote about PhD student Michael Cook and his artificial intelligence machine called Angelina. Angelina was special because she was creating games from scratch with little help from her human counterparts. By dividing the concept of a computer game up into three defined “species,” or sub-tasks—maps, layouts, and rulesets—Cook and his compatriots at Imperial College in London helped their system auto-generate some simple platformer games.
On Friday, however, Cook released a game called A Puzzling Present which shows off the much of the hard work Cook's put into Angelina (a tail-recursive acronym for "A Novel Game-Evolving Labrat I've Named ANGELINA"). Instead of a simple platformer with maps and obstacles, the latest games by Angelina now include new mechanics for the player (in this particular seasonal game, the character is Santa Claus) at each level. For example, in World 1 of A Puzzling Present, hitting x (or a touch-screen b key in the mobile version) gives Santa an anti-gravity power that sends him to the top of the screen and hitting x again sends him back down. In the second World, hitting x gives Santa an elasticity function, which causes him to bounce ever faster against the surroundings above and below him. These mechanics, Cook says, were created artificially by ANGELINA for this particular game as part of a new system he developed called Mechanic Miner.