Grobots - Documentation - History

Grobots was most immediately inspired by RoboWar. The first mention of it is just after some RoboWar math in one of Devon's notebooks. Many of the details come from two other programming games, 'bot and Genesis. We encountered 'bot before RoboWar, although it is actually a few years more recent (1991-2), and was itself presumably inspired by RoboWar. Grobots' hardware more closely resembles that of 'bot than RoboWar. Genesis was a game (with an alife element) of programming cells which reproduced, which is where we got that idea. (Has anyone heard anything about 'bot or Genesis in the last five years?)

Both the name and the basic design date back to January 1996. The first design had many extraneous features; the history of Grobots since has been a struggle to simplify without losing the (imagined) feel of the game. (This is usual; most designs start out complicated and only later, if ever, achieve simplicity.) Frequently alternate versions would split off, and rivalry between them would force simplifications that would otherwise not have been made. [Someday Devon should go through old drawing books and transcribe the history of the design. The ways it changed may be illuminating.]

The present implementation was started in January 2000, but work was sporadic. It was ten months before the first robots fought, and fifteen more before all the basic features were done. Some features were removed because they were too hard to implement, and others (such as sensors) were changed drastically. Experience with the implementation caused more changes (sensors again, explosions and force fields, shields). The feel of the game remains close to what we imagined seven years ago. Only some multicellular organism and ecosystem aspects have been lost.

The first alpha release was in March 2002. Matt sent us Gnats and Megadont, the first user sides, a month later. The latter was the first of many user sides that exploited imbalances. Cells aren't supposed to be large or agressive, but how were users supposed to know that?

We released the source in November 2002.

Headless mode was added in August 2005. The full UI was ported to Windows in November 2005.

Grobots by Devon Schudy ( and Warren Schudy (