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Altera: Higher Level Concepts

Thoughts on Nook Reproduction

Nooks reproduce “asexually” in the sense that each time a Nook reproduces, the younger Nook that splits off can be considered the “child” of the older “parent”. Note that the child and parent are nearly indistinguishable, so it is more similar to an amoeba reproducing than a human.

A given Nook could have many “descendants” if its children all manage to eat a lot of food, and in turn reproduce.

During the course of time, one can imagine several different “species” of Nooks being produced, each with different survival strategies and levels of sophistication.

More advanced Nooks could “breed” less sophisticated Nooks to perform certain functions for them. They could do this by controlling the less sophisticated Nook’s food supply, and selectively eating their children if they do not act according to the traits they are breeding for.

Note that a more advanced Nook could not determine which specifies another Nook is from, except by their movement patterns. I.e., when sitting still, all Nooks of a particular weight appear identically. This could present opportunities for one species to hide themselves as if they were another.

In this way, advanced Nooks could breed Nooks to perform various duties for them.


Nooks of weight 255 could form walls. These walls would protect the inner contents of the wall, since no other Nooks could circumvent them. Such walls would require a lot of food to construct, and would thus be very valuable. Walls could also be multiple layers thick.

Communication Chains

Because nooks can only see within a 9x9 grid, if a group of Nooks wanted to communicate information more quickly than is possible by an individual moving across the world, they could set up a chain of Nooks spaced 9 squares apart, and they could send signals back and forth at a rate of 9x the speed it would be possible otherwise.


Because each Nook looses one-weight during each starvation event, “structures” and individuals would need to be replenished occasionally. One strategy to break through a wall would be to lay “siege” to it, and starve out the Nooks forming the wall, or the inner contents of the Nooks within the wall.


Nooks could “speak” with one another by moving in certain patterns know by other Nooks to mean certain things.

Nooks could “write” by spatially arranging food according to a pattern.

The patterns involved in Writing may be related to the patterns involved in speech, like they are in our world.


Writing could be used to communicate information, but also could be a form of “art”. Perhaps a sequence of food arranged a certain way would be a form of “literature”.

Nooks could also move in certain patterns that don’t communicate information. This could be seen to be “dance,” although the distinction between dance and speech perhaps is unclear.

Likewise, one can imagine less advanced Nooks being trained or bred to act and dance in certain patterns, which are beautiful to Nooks.

E.g., imagine a species of Nook that always reproduced to the right if there is another Nook of the same weight above it. Further, imagine other species of Nooks that act in precisely specified ways. Advanced Nooks could combine these various specifies of Nooks such that, upon being triggered, the collection of Nooks evolves in some beautifully arranged (possibly cyclical) pattern. Maybe one of the advanced Nooks could guide along the evolution of these lesser Nooks—acting like a “composer” in some sense.