Consider this, for all intents and purposes, an article that I have no where else to put. It certainly doesn't go on the front page here! Two days ago, I was introduced to a new computer game called Black And White by Lionheadd studios. To put it as clearly as possible, this is _the_ top computer game I have _ever_ played, trumping Heroes of Might And Magic 2 from previously occupying that slot. The basic premise is very similar to Populus or Dungeon Keeper, which is no suprise, as the lead programmer is the same. You are a God, and you have subjects who worship you. Those worshippers live out their puny little lives under your leadership, benevolent or violent. In other words, you can throw the little guys off cliffs, or provide them with extra food to keep them alive longer, and happier. Certain actions determine whether you are Good or Evil, Black or White, and the game changes accordingly. In other words, if I throw my villagers into the ocean and Fireball Town Hall to rubble, I am an Evil SOB. That doesn't mean I lose. You can be Evil as easily as good, and you are just as powerful, if not more so. Your hand (i.e., your way of interacting with the world) turns red and demonic, and the ground your village is on becomes black and wasted. Your villagers fear you - And fear is sometimes the best way to make them worship and obey you. On the other hand, I have the option of supplying my villagers with extra food through spells (aka Miracles) and careful allocation of resources. I can heal injured villagers, and protect my people from aggressive acts of other Gods (yes, there are "other" Gods out to get you). If I do, my land will be green and lucious, and I will appear Good and kind. My people will worship me for my benevolent actions. Get the idea? You make the choices - Throw a rock at Town Hall, or throw it out of the harvester's way? The villager's AI is simplistic, but they're fairly intelligent. Give them a round object, and they will "play" with it, eventually "inventing" soccer and playing games. They have childern, make houses, harvest resources, worship you, starve, die, and get buried. That, in and of itself, might be enough to make an interesting game. But then there are the creatures. Near the start of the game, you acquire your choice of one of three creatures - An Ape, a Cow, or a Tiger. Each one has somewhat unique attributes, and they're about the size of a house. No joke. The creatures are given some of THE most advanced AI you will ever face. They learn as you teach them. Throw a rock at one, and it will duck. Throw another rock at the same one, and it might catch it. If it does, it might throw it back... And suddenly you're playing catch with artificial intelligence. Your creatures grow with training and careful parenting, and eventually become the size of mountains. Like you, they can be become either Good or Evil based on their actions. For example, the Tiger creature has a tendancy to eat villagers regularly. He'll chew up anything you put near him, including but not limited to grain, fish, cows, sheep, horses, people, beach balls, teddy bears, dice, trees, bushes, rocks, and, if given the opportunity, birds. He'll learn as you teach him, and eventually reach the point of managing your villages for you, to some extent. He'll feed the villagers, harvest resources, build things, and defend the town. He'll cast all the spells you can cast. Don't like what your creature is doing? Slap the living hell out of him, and he won't repeat his error. Like it? Pet him, and he'll repeat the action in hopes of more petting. He crys when sad, laughs when amused, and just seems shockingly ALIVE. To give one example... I actually witnessed this in-game. My Ape, after a short period of training, learned the Heal spell from me, and, proud of his new power, headed off to town to cast it. Upon arriving, he found, to his great dismay, no one to Heal. He looked up at me, scratched his head in confusion, and started crying a bit. Then he grabbed a passerby and threw him across the landscape, chased him down, and healed him! Why? Because he wanted to try his new skill. He never repeated it - He just wanted to try healing something. And succeeded. A few minutes later, a child died in my village from a rock I accidentally tossed. My Ape walked to the child, picked up the corpse, and started petting it. He put it down, and when the child didn't stand, my Ape STARTED CRYING. He cast Heal three times, and petted the child some more, crying the whole time. Then he wandered off and sat in a corner. I was shocked. You can see why. Want more? I taught my Ape to throw rocks across the ocean by example. He then picked up a rock, and did it himself. I petted him. He wandered down the coast, and found a second rock, and threw that. More petting. He wandered further, found a COW, and threw that. I laughed my head off as he started waving proudly at me after his latest throw. There are actually 15+ creatures in the game, but the Ape is the main one I've used. They all have almost genuine emotions, and they all take MASSIVE amounts of training. It's like raising a small child to be intelligent and thoughtful, or Evil and malicious. The sheer possibilities seem endless, and I can't imagine my Ape getting any MORE cute. The guy is endearing to no end! Oh, the game has a lot of annoying bugs to deal with. I've had it freeze, and it has some funny inconsistancies in later levels, but it's solid and an absolutely blast to play, once you get the hang of it. Seek, and conquer.