Image from Steve Bowers

A digital artificial ecosystem residing in a virch. A virchology may be a copy of a ril ecosystem in a ril-like virch or an entirely artificial system in one of the less ril-like virches. Examples of the latter include the five-dimensional rubenstein prime-number colonies popular in 5d Rubensteinian virches.

Virchologies differ from straight ecosystems in the fact that they have to be adapted to a digital environment. A very few high-definition virches can run truly detailed ecosystems, but most ril-like virches use various tricks to merely simulate ecosystems. In more fantastic virches the designers may not even be interested in simulating ril-like ecosystems. Instead they design imaginative virchologies from scratch, which presents its own challenges.

Pure virchologies are designed from scratch and do not require outside intervention to survive in their original environments. If the environment changes, or the virchology is moved, intervention may be necessary, but otherwise the system should be able to run on its own. Rough virchologies are built bit by bit as new users add extra parts to the virchology. These environments may become incredibly diverse and fantastic with time, but the fewer restrictions there are on new contributions the greater the chance that a super-predator or parasite may be introduced to the system and the virchology die out.

The largest recorded modosophont-created pure virchology, in terms of number of species, is the Euopia virch on the F3425-34 server cluster in the Solarian League. It took the Sun Monks 1,200 years to design the 10^9 species straddling three 4-dimensionl layers of existence. The largest recorded rough virchology created solely by modosophonts is the Animals Experiment residing in a server in Alpha Centauri. With approximately 1.2*10^14 species and 10^16 entities, the Animal Experiment has been running for 8000 years with only a few updates in the code and changes of server. Though the origins of the code lie shrouded in legend, it is said that the very seed of the code may originate all the way back in early experiments in AI and flock simulation during the Information Age. Several virches may share the record for the greatest population of entities in a single virchology since a number of low-resolution virches claim to have an infinite number of entities in the virchology.
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Development Notes
Text by Thorbørn Steen
Initially published on 19 July 2007.