You enjoyed SimCity but by now you think that a city is just not large enough anymore? Well, then you should have a look at Sim Earth. This is also a simulator but instead of looking at a cute little city, you’ll have full control over a whole planet! And I’m not talking about making sure that humans can build up a civilization, no… Sim Earth puts you in control of the planet itself… the geosphere, atmosphere, the evolution of simple microbes into fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and finally intelligent life – evolved out of apes, dolphins, or dinosaurs; this game covers a time-span of billions of years.
Sim Earth: The Living Planet was designed by Will Wright and published in 1990 by Maxis. The program uses the Gaia theory from James Lovelock (for an nice introduction about his theory read ‘Gaia: an new Look at Life on Earth’ by James Lovelock). The planet itself, including all vegetation and animals, lives as one big organism. And if something changes, either the physics or the biology, everything changes a bit to regain the balance.
Basically, you control the atmosphere (such as sun power and cloud formation), the geosphere (volcanic activity, erosion, and continental drift), biosphere (reproduction rate, mutation rate and split rate) and the likes. Besides, you can place vegetation, add, move or remove different life forms and enjoy watching them evolve. Of course, you are free to intervene if you don’t like where it is all going. A respectable number of graphs are available to give you a good idea about what your changes are leading to.
Since this simulator deals with such a huge diversity, it’s also a bit more crude than, say, SimCity. That is, for instance, once intelligent life is evolved one can put complete cities at the world. There are no clear goals; just the challenge of evolving intelligent life. Although there is a game-mode, that’s not what this game – excuse me… this program is about. Sim Earth is a simulation for hardcore sim players. It’s a program with a steep learning curve and a somewhat dry gameplay. But in my opinion, this could not really be prevented without keeping the complexity. If you have some or more interest in science, or just want to play around, and see what happens if the planet would for instance be much warmer, this is a program for you.