Rust Oids Save Abandoned

A-life simulator sandbox in Rust

Project README


A Rust-based A-life playground, for Linux (tested on Devuan Ceres) and Windows 10.


Here's roughly how the simulation works. There are 3 types of agents in the world:


These are spawned at a fixed rate by Emitters. Their lifespan is very short and their only purpose is to provide nourishment for the Minions. Minions can detect nearby Resources with their sensor, and detect the nearest Emitters at any distance.


These are the little rustoid critters.

  • Each Minion shape and behaviour are determined by its, practically unique, genotype, which is just a string of bits.
  • Body plan, limb geometry and mass distribution are fully simulated via the box2d physics engine.
  • Body plan, gender, appearance, and brain aspects of the phenotype of each Minion are fully determined by its genetic code.
  • Each Minion's brain is implemented via a simple 3 layer neural network. Brain has no learning capabilities, all behaviour is hardcoded at birth by genotype alone.
  • Each Minion has a sensor to detect nearby Resources and the nearest Emitter, among other variables.
  • Up to 4 inputs from the sensor determine the outputs of the brain which enable actuators if their value exceed certain personality-dependent thresholds. Left and right rudders which exert pull, thrusters push, and a linear brake reduces forward speed.
  • Each action by a Minion, including waiting idle and reproducing, consumes a certain amount of energy. When energy is depleted, the Minion dies and some of its body is released back as Resources.
  • Minions who eat resources can top-up their energy pool, survive longer and grow
  • Minions who grow enough to reach maturity will reproduce via spores.
  • Minions who are unsuccessful at finding and eating food will not leave offspring driving their lineage extinct.


  • The little 5-lobed balls produced by the Minions by means of which they reproduce.
  • During reproduction, the genotype is transmitted but the process introduces a variable number of mutations. Each mutation flips a random bit of the genotype.
  • After a short time, Spores hatch into Minions.
  • If an unfertilized Spore is touched by a Minion of a different gender, of which there are four, it acquires its genetic material and the resulting Minion will have a gene which is a crossover of the two.

The intriguing bit about all of this is that AI, body shape and brain are bred via artificial natural selection - for want of a better name. Practically all observed behaviour is emergent.

Eventually I plan to plug in some sort of gameplay and release as a free game. Strictly evening/weekend toy project: don't hold your breath.


You can interact with the simulation by shooting Resources at the minions. Gamepad supported.


  • feel free to post issues on GitHub
  • also send me interesting gene pools (F6/F7 to get snapshots, see instructions below)


This project started as a test bed for the Rust language and toolchain, GFX and box2d wrapper, and could have not existed without those.


Some rust-oids competing for territory and resources, and the player messing up with them!

Play 1

image 1

image 2


I've built on Ubuntu GNU/Linux, Devuan Ceres GNU/Linux and Windows 10.

On Linux, aside from the full Rust toolchain, the following packages are required (I use apt install, adjust for your own distro):

For Box2D:

  • cmake

For audio:

  • portaudio19-dev
  • libasound2-dev

For gamepad:

  • libudev-dev


cmake can be installed via typing scoop install cmake

Building Windows dependencies is a tedious yak shaving exercise. For convenience, I am redistributing parts of open source projects in the form of headers and prebuilt x64 static libs for Windows 10. Links to the source code are provided below as for licences:


  • Clone this repo and cd into its root
  • cargo run --release run with defaults
  • cargo run --release -- [<gene_pool_file.csv>] [options]


<gene_pool_file.csv> : use the specified gene pool (DDDDMMYYY_hhmmss.csv).

-t : text mode, headless. Simulates as fast as possible, saves every 5 minutes.

-f I : runs in fullscreen on given monitor index I (-f 0)

-w W, -h H : optional window size (-w 1280 -h 900)

-i <snapshot file> : Load from specific snapshot (-i ~/.config/rust-oids/saved_state/20180423_234300.json)

-n : Ignore last snapshot, start from new population"

-a <device index> : Audio device index (portaudio) (-a 0)

How to play

Gamepad is supported (tested with DS4, in Windows via DS4Windows)

  • Left stick, WASD: move
  • Right stick, Q, E: aim
  • L2: fire rate
  • R2, Spacebar: shoot
  • L1, G: slow down
  • R1, H: fast forward
  • L3, F1: toggle HUD
  • LMB: aim and shoot
  • Ctrl + MMB: new random rustoid.
  • Ctrl + LMB: select minion for tracing
  • MMB: new rustoid from current gene pool.
  • RMB drag: camera pan
  • Z: deselect minion for tracing
  • F1, L3: toggle HUD
  • F5: reload shaders (development)
  • F6: snapshot current gene pool into the resources folder
  • F7: quick save
  • F8: reload last save
  • F12, Gamepad select/share: toggle screen sequence capture (EXPERIMENTAL)
  • V,B: set background tone
  • K,L: change light intensity
  • Scroll wheel up, +, Gamepad Up: zoom in
  • Scroll wheel down, -, Gamepad Down: zoom out
  • 1, R3: zoom reset
  • 0, Home: reset camera pan


Copyright 2016-2020 Nicola Orru

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

Other licences

For convenience, I have added some FreeFont assets, which are used in the Conrod GUI.


rust rustlang testbed ai alife ann neural network genetic algorithm gfx box2d wrapper2d hdr msaa alpha tonemapping shader fragment pixel vertex geometry pso gamedev

Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Rust Oids" Project. README Source: itadinanta/rust-oids
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