Hero.Coli

"Experience the journey of a tiny robot in its quest of ensuring the balance and prosperity of a living world.

Discover a world, full of entities and dangers, and help your companion to get strong to survive and achieve his goal."

Overview

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Hero.Coli is a single-player 2D top-down adventure game where the hero, a tiny robot, has to explore a living world, collect and combine functional DNA fragments in order to engineer and control the abilities of his bacterium companion.

During their adventure they will have to face obstacles and challenges with the help of synthetic biology.

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Features

Collect and craft DNA bricks to create your own abilities:

The bacterium you embody can equip a lot of devices: some of these devices can be earned as rewards, others can be built with a crafting system.

Explore an interactive living world at the scale of a cell:

As a bacterium, you evolve at the cell scale and can interact with other lifeforms, environment and nutrients.

Resolve realistic challenges and puzzles based on life science:

With your abilities, solve puzzles and platformer challenges with a lot of freedom:

Discover and learn synthetic biology:

As you progress through the game, you will discover the exciting emerging scientific concept of synthetic biology and its vaste range of applications.

Events & Press

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Events:

  • iGAM4er 2013 - Game showcase ;
  • ICAN Conférences libres, 4th edition - "A video game to promote education and synthetic biology research" ;
  • FOSDEM 2014 - "Citizen science: popularisation & crowdsourcing" ;
  • Accolades:

  • iGAM4er 2013 - Best design prize & Visitors choice.
  • Press:

  • Le Monde Technologies, March 2014 - "Un attrait ludique mais aussi éducatif".

  • Science & Design

    Science & Society

    The emerging discipline of synthetic biology applies engineering principles and methodology to biological systems. Synthetic biologists aim to extend or modify the behavior of biological organisms and engineer them to perform controlled and reliable useful tasks.

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    The founders of the field applied the engineering strategy, based on standardization, decoupling, hierarchization and abstraction to the sciences of life, in order to better understand and deal with the complexity of biological systems, and make biology easier to engineer (Weiss et al., 1999; Weiss, 2001; Endy, 2005; Keasling, 2005). On this purpose synthetic biologists have been defining and compiling standard biological parts, corresponding to DNA sequences with defined structure and function, called BioBricks™. Using these standardized and well-characterized interchangeable biological devices, it is possible to build synthetic complex networks, pathways and functions, in a programmatic fashion inspired by electrical engineering.

    Thus, over the past decade, synthetic biology has been improving the design and construction of synthetic biological systems, and the re-design of existing ones for useful purposes. Nowadays this field holds promising potential to offer technological tools that could be used to benefit society and meet current scientific challenges: energy, biofuels, environmental issues, food production, materials, chemistry, human health, pharmaceuticals, and many others.

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    Hero.Coli aims to promote the promise and potential benefits of synthetic biology, as well as to warn the public about the risks and potential harms. This young interdisciplinary field has considerably grown over the past few years and raises concerns about (anticipated or unanticipated) risks to the environment, biodiversity, biosecurity, ethics, and health; nowadays it is crucial to raise awareness about these issues. Therefore, we aim to promote intellectual responsibility and ethics education regarding the design and engineering of living organisms.

    Goals

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    Educational - Our goals are science outreach in synthetic biology and to design game challenges that stimulate scientific creativity and interest. With Hero.Coli, we want to teach the basics of synthetic biology, thanks to:

  • A contextualized space ;
  • An engaging plot ;
  • An embedded assessment system.
  • Simulation - The players should be allowed to experiment with a flexible and realistic crafting system that uses BioBricks™. BioBricks™ is a standard for DNA interchangeable parts, developed with a view to building biological systems in living cells. We developed a simulator that allows the player to:

  • Collect functional DNA pieces, found in the open Registry of Biological Parts ;
  • Try associations and combinations ;
  • Obtain new devices corresponding to real genetic circuits ;
  • Use them to progress in the game.
  • Research - Generate a community of players interested in the field and encourage them to:

  • Use synthetic biology to solve real scientific problems ;
  • Create new levels, devices and Biobricks™, leading to creative research projects ;
  • Get involved in research and other citizen science projects.
  • Fun - We don't want Hero.Coli to be just a serious game. We want this game to provide fun with:

  • A lot of challenges and secrets ;
  • A free roaming open world ;
  • An important replay value ;
  • An original "look and feel" ;
  • Synthetic biology design

    Make your own character - As you progress through the game, you will be able to collect and create skills for you bacterium, thanks to the use of synthetic biology:

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    Game Mechanics

    Play with devices - Corresponds to the easy difficulty mode and the critical path of the game:

  • Collect devices to unlock new abilities ;
  • Chose the appropriate bacterial abilities to solve the main challenges.
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    Play with BioBricks™ - Corresponds to the medium difficulty and allows the players to access to new areas and rewards:

  • Collect BioBricks™ ;
  • Use your BioBricks™ library to craft new devices and adapt to new challenges.
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    Create synergies between devices - Corresponds to the hard difficulty mode and is required to fully complete the game:

  • Design and craft complex synthetic genetic circuits and tools (switches, oscillators, feedback loops, etc.) ;
  • Use these systems to complete hard challenges.
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    Team & Development

    Team

    This game project is currently under development by a small team at the CRI Paris:

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    Vincent Alexandrine
    Developer

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    Benjamin Brogniart
    Game designer

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    Pierre Collet
    Simulation developer

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    Raphael Goujet
    Lead developer

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    Armella Leung
    Artist

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    Ariel Lindner
    Science advisor

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    Helena Shomar
    Biological engineer, Project founder

    Contributors

    Here are a few lovely contributors that helped us developing this project:

    avatar-man ; credit to Wilson Joseph

    Martin Goldschmid
    Artist

    avatar-man ; credit to Wilson Joseph

    Yann Leflour
    Developer

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    Alexandre Lejeune
    Interactive designer

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    Emilien Santerre
    Developer

    If you wish to help us, by testing the game or contribute to the development, don't hesitate to send us an email.

    Development

    We are using the Unity game engine, and plan to release a highly polished demo version of the game.

    In order to create a scientifically accurate game, we first built the ReactionEngine, our modular homemade simulator for:

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    Users can easily create files to add new BioBricks™, molecules or phenotypes to the game.

    Our long-term objective is to provide a free web-based game and editing tools to the players.