LittleBear says: It's not like it's rocket surgery or brain science.

Relentless Automata

Current playble, Java Webstart or Windows standalone.

Relentless Automata is the working title of an arena shooter I’ve been working on for over a year now. It’s a game written in Java and making use of the opensource OpenGL binding LWJGL.

One of the ideas I wanted to explore in Relentless Automata was using Conway’s Life in a game. Life has been a fascination of mine since my University days, I think part of the reason it still maintains a hold on me for games is that it’s something mathematical (thus easy for a programmer to grasp) but displaying emergent behaviour (thus allowing for gameplay ideas). The current idea in the game is that Life operates as a background, with patterns recognized and spawned forth to the player’s level. I originally intended to have these patterns spawned from randomly generated playing fields, and before that stable cells would propagate to the front. Neither proved very workable, or at least not yet. So, for the time being set patterns are created which hypnotically run as a background creating enemies.

Recent screen shots:

Relentless Automata

Older screen shots:

Relentless Automata

Relentless Automata

Current Status: I’m taking a little break from Relentless Automata, while working on Shade. Part of this is due to getting stuck a bit on how to continue the progress. But, I suspect I’ll be back working on it shortly. It’s too interesting not to, as I’m thinking I may add another cellular automata rule-set to govern the mass of cells growing in the first image.

The following are a developer’s diary of the game:

Glider Collisions and Constructions
Pattern Recognition
Relentless Automata: The Return
Relentless Automata: Part 25
Relentless Automata: Part 24
Relentless Automata: Part 23
Relentless Automata: Part 22
Relentless Automata: Part 21
Relentless Automata: Part 20
Relentless Automata: Part 19
Relentless Automata: Part 18
Relentless Automata: Part 17
Relentless Automata: Part 16
Relentless Automata: Part 15
Relentless Automata: Part 14
Relentless Automata: Part 13
Relentless Automata: Part 12
Relentless Automata: Part 11
Relentless Automata: Part 10
Relentless Automata: Part 9
Relentless Automata: Part 8
Relentless Automata: Part 7
Relentless Automata: Part 6
Relentless Automata: Part 5
Relentless Automata: Part 4
Relentless Automata: Part 3
Relentless Automata: Part 2
Relentless Automata: Part 1

Related articles:

Collision Detection in Conway’s Life
More About Life…
What Started It All…


  1. ImageBaker v4.0: Video Game Minimalism said,

    January 25, 2007 at 1:57 am

    […] category: Posts | comments(0) powered by WordPress […]

  2. ismellawumpus said,

    April 7, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Nice looking. I want to plaaaaaay… Life has always been interesting to me as well. Nice to see people looking to these sorts of things for inspiration.

  3. the2bears said,

    April 7, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks very much for the comment. RA is getting completely redone. I want to retain alot of the ideas and look, but incorporate some new thoughts as well. Here is something that might be of interest, and be sure to check out Kenta Cho‘s L.A.2.


  4. Rebekah Savage said,

    June 19, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Just a suggestion but why don’t you take a look at the old but classic c64 Hunters Moon by Martin Walker or c64 Mutants both are great implementations of a life like environment and neither have been remade into a new age version. Hunters Moon would be my favourite if I were to choose. Either way good luck with your work 🙂

  5. the2bears said,

    June 19, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Thanks Rebekah, I’m not familiar with either of those games, but I’ll check them out for inspiration.


  6. gingerj said,

    June 28, 2007 at 4:51 am

    Hiya, just a quick query you’ve nailed the art direction just like those ABA games, do you have any tutorials on how these effects can be replicated?


  7. the2bears said,

    June 28, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Heh… you called what I do “art direction” 🙂

    Honestly, though, Mr. Cho’s style has evolved quite a bit and is certainly more complex than mine. I don’t know of any tutorials, experimenting is your best bet. I started out just fooling around with OpenGL primitives, obviously mostly squares and such. I play around with colours, shifting them, alpha values for blending, etc. You’d be surprised how nice things look in motion with the proper colours! Feel free to ask about specifics.


  8. Joe Joe said,

    September 7, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I think the older screens look a lot more impressive an in depth than the newer ones. Just my two cents.

  9. the2bears said,

    September 7, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    You’re right, and hopefully moving forward the new version (really a rewrite) will regain lots of that. The problem with the original was I had painted myself into a corner and really didn’t have much of a game.

    I’m counting on the new approach, of constantly moving back and forth between the Conway field and the “real” field whether through “encouragement” or necessity. This way makes the Conway field far more interactive rather than “just a background”.

    Thanks for looking!


  10. Serprex said,

    October 4, 2007 at 6:50 am

    Older ones have color,which is always nice.Does the newer version include colored systems?Either way,this is quite interesting.Life has depth,and this is making the toy a game

  11. » glitchDS said,

    May 27, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    […] will just perpetuate that fantasy I really do think, though, that it’s an obvious fit for Relentless Automata. It’s also the first time I’ve been motivated to work on that for quite […]

  12. rgz said,

    April 16, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    I encourage you to continue. This is a great idea!

  13. the2bears said,

    April 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the comment rgz. I’m getting burned out by the rapid prototypes, and feel like spending time on something more solid. Wow, it’s really been a long time since I worked on this. A whole game engine ago…


  14. Ben Zack-something said,

    February 14, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Hey how do I play these things you nerd? is looking for online playables.

  15. the2bears said,

    February 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Ben, you must be really desperate to look here 🙂


  16. Shane Pearlman said,

    June 27, 2014 at 6:43 pm


    I’m a student of Java. I have yet to toy around with gaming or graphics, and I am intrigued by the screenshots you’ve posted here for your game Relentless Automata. I was wondering, since: a) I haven’t been able to get it to run in linux 64 bit to play it; b) I would like to study your work; and c) you stated in the readme that you might be willing.. Would you consider sending me the source code?

    Thanks in advance

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