Resource Limited Game of Life

This applet shows an extension of Conway's Game of Life, which allows to simulate resource based scenarios like forest fires.

Game of Life

The Classic Game of Life is a system developed by John Horton Conway in 1970 which bases on a two dimensional cellular automata. The Field is a plane which is divided into rows and columns. In the classic game of life each cell can either be alive or dead. In the beginning a starting sample of living cells is introduced into the plane which than evolves with simple rules. These rules are based on the number of dead/alive neighbours (eight neighbours given the Moors-Neighbourhood). The rules are as following:

  1. 1.

    A dead cell with exactly three alive neighbours will be alive in the next round.

  2. 2.

    An alive cell with less than two alive neighbours will be dead in the next round due to loneliness.

  3. 3.

    An alive cell with two or three alive neighbours will be remain alive.

  4. 4.

    An alive cell with more than three alive neighbours will die due to overpopulation.

Further reading Information »


In our version we implemented additional rules:

  1. 5.

    Resources: Each cell has an adjustable limited amount of resources. The resources are colour-coded in shades of red. (black means all resource available)

  2. 6.

    An alive cell with no resources left, will jump to the neighbour with the most resources.

  3. 7.

    Recoveryrate: Each cell will recover resources once it has been used. Use the slider to increase the rate. Minimal: no recovery. Maximal: every round one resource is recovered.

  4. 8.

    Firestarter: A cell will become alive in the next round if it was not used for an adjustable amount of time (not rounds).

Each cell will use up resources if was used but will regenerate them over time (The resources colour-coded in shades of red). These resources can be interpreted in different kind of ways. For example this model can simulate the expansion of a species or a forest fire (Preset 1). Note that rule Nr. 8 will affect all cells, but most of them will die out due to rule Nr. 4. This leads to an effect where only recently activated cells will engage in differently behaviour. This can be observed on the outer edges of an active cluster. Notice that the Simulation converges into the classic game of life with resources & recovery rate = 100 (and firestarter = 0). In the other extreme the system will expand at all, because with 0 resources rule Nr. 6 will destroy any active pattern.


  • Set cells alive in the panel by dragging or clicking your left mouse button. The opposite works with the right mouse button.

  • You can toggle hard walls, enable the feature draw a circle and a Glider (moving object).

  • The drop-down menu enables you to change the Grid size.

  • Adjust the resources, recovery of the resources and time between activation with the sliders

  • Preset 1: Forestfire / Culture growing simulation. Enable this preset and draw with the mouse a starting point to watch it grow over time.

  • Preset 2: The System Emerges into a final state of connections. This was not intended but is a quite interesting Outcome. Replace the Walls by either toggling the hard walls or loading this preset again. (best results with big grid size)

  • Preset 3: This was also not intedet but is quite interesting. activate this preset and draw a shape to see the effect.