Planet of the Apes

By Kate Crawford, November 1997

The face of gaming is changing and it is looking simian. Nervana is a ground-breaking game that offers video quality 'natural' virtual reality with none of those usual jagged edges. The player is thrown into a randomly created island populated by apes and they must find a means of escaping whilst avoiding being eaten, injured or poisoned. The real time rendering is so powerful that you can see the island breeze causing patterns of speckled light on the ground.

The Canberra-based programmer and designer, Tom Barbalet, received an AFC grant for the game. He claims Nervana is unlike any other first person perspective game, and it has many potential applications other than entertainment: "I have developed algorithms that simulate to a very high resolution through incorporating quantum mechanics, number theory and Fourier theory. The simulation on its own could be used for teaching purposes, although when combined with the game it is almost too sexy to be used in schools!"

The game is currently in beta and is due to be released later in the year. So what's next for Tom? A sequel of course: Son of Nervana perhaps? "It's called Nervana Invasion, where a small group of well-armed humans land on the island and try to control it." At last: a cure for Tomb Raider addiction.

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