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Games::Worms -- alife simulator for Conway/Patterson/Beeler worms, etc.


  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tPS 
  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tPS / / / / > foo1.ps
  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tTk
  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tTek4010 / / / Games::Worms::Random2


This is an alpha release. The documentation is incomplete, and the interface is not yet finalized.

Occasionally I've seen Perl 5.004_02 for MSWin segfault at global destruction time.

The Tk part, I've only tested under pTk. This's my first hack at Tk, so lets hope all the code I wrote is portable. Suggestions welcome!

I've tested the PostScript part only under GhostScript.

I've tested the Tek interface under MSKermit. I hear xterm has a Tek emulator in it -- I'd be interested to hear if it works well with Worms's Tek interface.



Worms is an implementation of an artificial-life game. It can output via Perl-Tk, Tek4010, and PostScript. It is a game not in the sense of checkers, but in the sense of Conway's Life.

In a Worms universe, worms crawl around an isometric grid of triangles, leaving trails behind them, and turning in accordance to simple rules that are based upon which way they can move at a each junction. From the simple rules emerges surprising complexity.


Allow board-size specifications on the command line.

Better docs.

Maybe a GIF output mode?

More interactive interface in pTk mode?

Currently the interface is pretty much: specify things on the command line, then sit back and watch the worms go, until they all die. Hopefully I (or someone ambitious who knows Tk better than I do) may add more interactivity to the interface.


Start it up by making a Perl program called worms, with the content:

  use Games::Worms;

Then start up with the -t switch specifying which interface to use:

  worms -tTk
    ...for Tk mode
  worms -tPS
    ...for PostScript mode
  worms -tTek4010
    ...for Tektronics mode

Command line arguments thereafter are interpreted as the names of classes worms should come from. (Currently, three are provided in this distribution: Games::Worms::Random, Games::Worms::Random2, and Games::Worms::Beeler.) If no arguments are provided, Worms uses two Random2s and two Beelers.

For each name you specify, if it contains a slash, the rest of that name is passed to the worm as an expression of its rules.

Example specifications:


(A Beeler worm with no rules specified makes up a random rule set when it starts. A Random worm obeys no rules. A Random2 worm is random but consistent.)

If you specify a name starting with '/', it's interpreted as short for 'Games::Worms::Beeler/'. In other words,

  /1a2d3caaa4b   equals   Games::Worms::Beeler/1a2d3caaa4b
  /1A2B3ACAC4B   equals   Games::Worms::Beeler/1A2B3ACAC4B
  /1B2B3AAAB4A   equals   Games::Worms::Beeler/1B2B3AAAB4A

See the Scientific American article on Beeler worms for the meaning of these Beeler worm rule specifications. I don't have the citation for the first run of the article, but it's reproduced with nice addenda in the book cited below.

If you don't want to bother making that little script called "worms", you can just as well invoke Worms via:

  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tTk

  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tPS

  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tTek4010

  perl -MGames::Worms -e worms -- -tTek4010
    Games::Worms::Random  Games::Worms::Random2
    /1a2d3caaa4b /1A2B3ACAC4B /1B2B3AAAB4A


[to be written]


"Worm Paths", chapter 17 in: Martin Gardner, 1986, Knotted Doughnuts and Other Mathematical Entertainments, W. H. Freeman and Company.

"Patterson's Worm", M. Beeler, MIT AI Memo #290. (early 1970s?)

"Worms?" [sic], David Maynard, Electronic Arts, 1983. (A game for the Atari 400 (or 800?), the Commodore 64, and maybe other machines. Games::Worms isn't based on EOA "Worms?", but "Worms?" is the best known implementation of Beeler worms. It uses them as the basis for a very interesting and abstract interactive game.)


Read the source. It's OOPilicious!


Copyright 1999-2006, Sean M. Burke sburke@netadventure.net, all rights reserved. This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.


Current maintainer Avi Finkel avi@finkel.org; Original author Sean M. Burke sburke@cpan.org