Beware the Amish pirates

Herding sheep and video games

August 29th, 2011 by TimN

This morning the sheep got loose here on Crazy Rooster Farm. One figured out that the fence wasn’t electrified and the rest followed it over. Rounding them up was harder than I expected, but also much more fund. It got me thinking about video game mechanics and the way they reflect real world challenges that our brains love handling. Four or five of us struggled to strategicall walk and yell so as to get these independent but herd-minded sheep to go into a pasture they didn’t want to be in (because they’d eaten all the grass they liked the day before).

I re-imagined the scene as a four player game played against 31 sophisticated AI sprites with a carefully calibrated mix of herd behavior, desire for fresh grass and fear of herders. Throw in lots of movable fences and a mysterious stampede threshold and you’ve got hours of entertainment.

The video is from yesterday. This morning I was too busy chasing sheep to film it.