Holy shit... This game, and your presentation of it here on Itch.io, has literally left me in awe. I don't know where to start as far as conveying just how impressed I am, and how excited I am to watch the development process anticipating its eventual release. Bravo dude! Bird by Example may just be my current favorite project to keep an eye on.
Bird by Example
A downloadable birds for Windows, macOS, and Linux
In time you will understand the birds as much as they understand you.
Download Bird by Example before it's too late.
Drop .ZIPs of Bird by Example into the mailboxes of Baby Boomers. This is important for the game.
🐦Thanks from Papa🐦
Thank you so much for taking interest in this project! All the support and humour I've seen from Itch users like you is inspiring me to really dive into this project. Don't hesitate to reach out and ask questions and give feedback!
Also JOIN MY DISCORD!! I post screenshots and gifs every few hours of development. It's a great place to get in touch, ask questions, share your own work with me, and chat about whatever!
⁉ FAQ ⁉
Q: No! What the fuck? Why do they have arms?
And thank YOU for joining me today! Please do not swear in front of my birds as they may learn your filth.
Q: This game looks horrifying, why should I not leave immediately?
Bird by Example is — and I say this with great passion:
"A mock RPG where all the other occupants are horrifying birds who mimic your behaviour with deep learning."
It's just like Skyrim but without all those frightening ghouls! In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret... This game IS Skyrim! That's right! I worked on the first version of Skyrim, and it was this! Long before Bethesda was usurped by those fear mongering high-fantasy suits.
Q: Shit... I do like Skyrim...
Yes you do! And it will be just like that! But there will be nothing to be afraid of! In bird world there is nothing to be afraid of! Nothing to be afraid of!
Right now at this very second, the metaphysical bounds of this game hold a throng of hungry birds who wish nothing more than to be like you! Like mama!
These birds have artificial brains that optimize learning challenges using trendy Deep Learning algorithms found in the titular deep and ancient waters directly adjacent to the Silicon Valley.
You will be helping mama™ teach the rest of the birds basic skills which they can apply using their rudimentary environmental awareness and a knack for peer-to-peer teaching to develop a new world order. A world free from Big Ghoul!
Q: Nothing you just said sounds like Skyrim! None of this even sounds like a game!?
Well you're still here. Thaaaaat's capitalism!
Q: No it's not! This game is free!
And it's called the free market! Please settle down.
Q: Ok, so the birds learn? What do they learn?
The birds always learn from their mama™ (you), so you can always try to teach them new things! This will be important for getting them started, as initially their brains are random and ill-equipped for living in this bird-world.
However, birds also learn from each other! This means you can teach one bird, and that bird will teach their friends! (This is important for the game). But this is a double edged sword as it suffers from the issue that — shitty birds will teach better birds to be shittier.
Q: Shitty birds?
I can only assume you are as distressed as I am about shitty birds.
So my solution is that I will be implementing a system for on-the-fly success metrics that you (their mother) can set from your town hall! You can design your own success metric and see how it affects your median population. This is important for the game.
Maybe you try out communism (labour = good), or capitalism (personal wealth = good), or a warrior society (mortal combat = good), or a dictatorship (pampering you = good)! The options will be limitless.
Based on the regime you choose, it will rank birds' effectiveness within this regime, and the most successful ~20% of birds within the current regime will be considered 'teachers', and will pass on their knowledge to the youngsters.
Q: But what is a bird?
A bird is a fictional creature which came to me in a dream last February during an especially cold night. I fear they might be inspired (subconsciously) by both a small subset of lizards, and the darker, distrustful side of us humans.
Q: Can the birds die?
No. Next question.
Q: Will the birds be able to die one day?
Okay you caught me — yes — birds will be able to die, but only from violent deaths. They do not age in the conventional sense. This is important for the game.
Amendment: Starvation is also on the table.
Q: Concerning. What's your goal for this project?
I want more than anything for Bird by Example to be a storytelling engine. I want to develop flexible dynamic systems and hope that emergent play... emerges from the interplay between the AIs and (importantly) you, the player.
Q: You were talking a lot about capitalism up there. Are you a conservative?
No! And how dare you!
Q: Umm, I know a little bit about machine learning and I have some questions...
Each bird uses a deep (6 hidden layers) Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) with ~30 inputs and ~10 outputs. I chose a recurrent neural network because they are most handy for working with sequenced inputs. The sequence these birds use is time. They currently run back-propagation every 0.1 seconds and currently have no preference for 'what' they are learning.
They also 'read' about 20 categories of metadata about objects they see in the environment, including but not limited to:
- Does this object evoke DEATH 💀?
- Does this object evoke THE UNKNOWN👽?
- Does this object evoke POWER🤑?
- Does this object evoke COWARDICE😨?
- Does this object evoke CURIOSITY🧐?
And these evocations inform the transferal of skills between objects of similar category! Amazing! Teach a bird to eat a JUICY pineapple 🍍, and if they see another juicy lookin' thing (orange 🍊, snail 🐌, another bird 🦆) they'll probably choose to eat that too!
Q: Cool, this is scary! (?)
Thank you! Yes, it is.
Q: Can I play this game?
Yes! Please do!
Q: Have you ever seen a bi-
Thank you that's all the time I have today!
|Updated||11 days ago|
|Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux|
|Authors||Noah Burkholder, mama|
|Genre||Simulation, Role Playing|
|Made with||Unity, Blender, Adobe Illustrator|
|Tags||3D, Colorful, Cute, Horror, machine-learning, Sandbox, Singleplayer, Unity|
|Average session||A few minutes|
Click download now to get access to the following files:
- 📌 Community Update 📌27 days ago
- 🚨 Update 0.2.1 Released 🚨75 days ago
- 💀 Coming in 0.2.1 💀86 days ago
- 🎉 Update 0.1.3 Released 🎉95 days ago
- 🍊 Oranges Saved My Life 🍊97 days ago
- 🌲Trees! Neat! 🌳98 days ago
- 🌄 Landscaping! 🌅99 days ago
- 🍏 Mac + Linux Builds Now Available 🐧May 09, 2019
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Thank you for all the encouragement! And special thanks for your support on Patreon! I've already added your name to the Patreon temple in Bird by Example so you'll be immortalized within the game!
This bird has been staring at me since it was posted, so I finally decided to follow its example and give it a try. Since playing Bird By Example, all has become clear to me and I will never again have regrets about my ability to bird. I am bird just the way I am, just as bird intended, and life is good because of it.Good job, dev. You bird well.
very weird... very funny and i love the smacking sounds
Its been a while since a game got me to say what the fresh fuck.
I love it, come to mama
Not gonna lie, I was so ready to quit this game 5 minutes in until I started finding the hidden levels underground about the female bird and the creepy bones of other birds. This was an interesting experience. Also, thanks for the new word to my vocab, estuary lol
mark sent me here
This is one of those games where I went in expecting it to be a cute little game and I come out with several questions, all unanswered... great work :D
How is this scary? This is not scary...
I played your game and questioned it as much playing it as much as I did looking at the screenshots.
Can you make settings for the display for low pc players?
You can set the quality level and resolution in the opening dialogue. That should make it easier on the GPU.
However, if it's still slow, it means your computer can't handle the AI computation on the CPU. Optimizations are on the way, but you'll gotta be patient!
Just as I expected....the update is just as weird and confusing n I LOVE IT! 🤣😂 keep up this work man!!
Just played this game. Was fun to play and look forward to see what gets done to it
Muscle-bound birds gyrate in a corner for 10 minutes. 11 Steroid Fueled Birds out of 10
Things that needs to be improved:The camera pans too fast
Overall the game is good nice job hope the BETA comes out
had fun playing this game
comenze unpoco aburrida pero cuando comenze a perseguir a los pollos me diverti mucho
Very fun and weird. I can see it being much better once some more things to do are added though.
Idk why but being able to go up and punch another bird was oddly satisfying lol
THE LIFE OF JEROME AND HIS 80 KIDS.
that shit was fire.
I looooooooove this video!
Bold move going for maximum bird on your first rodeo, not everyone can handle that.
I don't even know what just happened....but it was weirdly entertaining!
Check my confusion out at 6:56
Hahahah, I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for making this!
gotta say this no fucking game has made me this happy jesus fucking christ
god do I love shitty birds
finally a good game
Honestly very few games on itch have enthralled me as much as this one has, I really hope to see it go somewhere in the future. I'm very intrigued where you even got the idea for machine learning birds that look and act this way. I will be looking forward to what you do with this game in the future, please do not give up on this interesting project.
Gosh, thank you so much! I'm glad it excites you as much as it excites me!
It started out just as a Unity machine learning prototype, and the birds were a spir-of-the-moment decision that immediately I fell in love with. I haven't looked back.
I'm working on this project almost every day, with sporatic development updates posted to my Discord if you're interested. A big new content update should be out within the week!
this game is very weird , but very entertaining even if there was not much to do and no sound , good job
This game was so so weird! It was fun in a way? I just wish there was more things to do apart from punching and running lol.
Thank you so much for playing, and big props to making a video!
I'm working on Bird by Example every day so that there will be more to do. There should be some new content within a week!
So many bird arms. I have no idea what's going on and I love every minute of it.
Wait, your birds have arms? That's not supposed to happen!
smacked this into an indie romp. I never read things before i play them and this time that failed me haha. Hope you enjoy my confusion
Your game starts at 4:50
do you have the controls written down somewhere? my bird mama, poor her, was flailing around on the ground helplessly until i quit the game in pity.
in other words, i cant get up.
There are controls on the billboard in the forest!
A low framerate will cause the physics system to weaken, which is a problem I'm working to solve for 0.1.4.
You can press Numpad -/+ to change the graphical settings on the fly, if that helps raise your FPS at al.
mac version birds convulse on the ground for eternity perfect game ready for release im so excited
Any information you have about this could be very useful!
Do you by any chance get a poor framerate during play?
If so, press Numpad (-) to lower the graphical settings, and see if the birds stand up.
mama loves u
alpha 0.1.3 is out now
please put it on a usb drive and drop it into any mailboxes you may know of (this is important for the game)
Is there any way to follow a specific project on itch.io? Following a dev only seems to alert you when they put out a new title, but I want updates on this.
I have problems with the game.
It has no audio, how can i fix this?
please add to this :0
Awesome project and thanks for sharing it! I only played for about five minutes, but I couldn't see anything to interact with (nothing happens with the bushes and houses). I tried walking in circles around the starting nest to see if the other birds would mimic me, but didn't notice any change in their aimless wandering.
Do you have exaples of actual behaviors the birds can mimic at this stage? I'm sure I wasn't playing long enough to see results, but is would be fun to know what I might try to see some changes in behavior.
Hi Clickityclak! Thank you so much! I'm glad you think so highly of it already.
To answer your question in-depth — In Alpha 0.1.2, the only gameplay that exists is movement and a symbolic, useless punch animation.
Birds will mimic your movement if you are within their line of sight, and you can get them to punch as well by punching while they are looking at you. The more you train this behaviour the more likely they are to mimic it.
The actual parameters of their learning are super rough right now. I'm currently tuning the birds to be less instantaneous with their mimicry, because I've found that they're over-adapting to the immediate moment, and this means they are overwriting long-term behaviours in favour of the short-term.
As for what is planned...
As I type this, I'm working on a huge number of upcoming features. I've already coded the basics for the following:
- The collection, carrying, and storing of objects, including an weight-based encumbering system. I just need to spend a day or two animating in Blender.
- Punching. It just requires some sort of death system. (I already track hit-points.)
- Sustenance. Birds will need to eat or they will die. This will add an amount of natural selection which should help improve the early gene pool a lot. Super important for early-game.
- Squawking. Birds can squawk to temporarily draw attention of other birds to themselves. You will be able to do this too. Helpful for teaching other birds
- Ranking of birds along a 'success metric'. In machine learning terms this is referred to as a cost function. This will enable prioritization of learning for birds so they don't learn from the shittiest of their peers.
- Passing of genes to a new generation, and saving birds' unique neural networks between sessions. (Super super important for deep learning, since the amount of training that needs to happen in a deep network before complex behaviour is seen is substantial.)
- Randomized names. (This one is actually finished, but there's no way to display the names.)
- 'Class archetypes' (think Soldier, Ascetic, Maniac, Farmer). This affects their dispositions toward categories of objects, both within their self-ideal and with their perception of others. This is also finished, but won't become noticeable until we have a few types of interactions happening in gameplay.
- Hunting other animals. There is code for this, but I
need to create a totally new set of models for the actual mob creatures. This will take a while and is fairly low priority compared to gathering/bird-to-bird combat.
Hello there! Really nice upcoming features your have here! I can't wait to see them added to the game!
Have you considered participating in our GDWC #gamedev contest?
Check out our itch.io page for more info :)
This is absolutely beautiful, in the ironic and unironic sense. I love the concept of it; Very simple but also very creative with its execution. It looks promising, even if its a joke lol.